CTV Poll: Torontonians evenly split in their belief of Rob Ford crack allegations
Toronto residents are evenly split about whether to believe drug allegations against their embattled mayor -- yet one-third of them would re-elect Rob Ford if an election was held tomorrow.
According to a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted for CTV News and CP24, practically half of Torontonians (49%) say they believe Ford when he says he does not smoke crack cocaine, and 51 per cent say they do not believe him.
When comparing Toronto’s downtown core to its surrounding suburbs, the results are more mixed: 61 per cent of people polled in the mayor’s own community of Etobicoke believe him, as opposed to only 40 per cent of those living downtown.
For the past two weeks, the Toronto mayor has been facing a firestorm of questions over allegations that he was reportedly captured on video smoking out of what appears to be a crack pipe. A description of the video’s content was first reported by U.S. website Gawker and then the Toronto Star in mid-May.
The existence or content of the video has not been verified by CTV News.
Responding to the allegations in recent weeks, Ford has said that he does not smoke crack cocaine, calling the claims “ridiculous.”
“In the court of public opinion, the jury is split right down the middle,” Ipsos Reid senior vice-president John Wright told CTVNews.ca.
“The reason is that while there is a crushing weight of innuendo and inference from unattributable or unnamed sources (in recent media reports), there is not an ounce of pure evidence that has surfaced.
“What we have is half the public of Toronto believing that this is a media conspiracy … and the other half believing that where there’s smoke there’s fire.”
The poll was conducted between May 29 and May 31, barely two weeks after reports of the video first surfaced.
The survey also found that a third of respondents (34%) said they would vote to re-elect Ford as mayor if an election were held tomorrow -- a drop of nine percentage points of those who said they voted for him in 2010.
Intent to vote for Ford in the next election was highest in the suburbs of Etobicoke (45%) and North York (41%), but lower in the suburbs of Scarborough (32%) and York/East York (29%). Support for Ford was lowest in Toronto’s downtown core, with only a quarter (24%) of those polled stating they’d cast a vote for the mayor again.
Ford dismissed the poll’s results Saturday evening.
“I’ve never listened to polls before -- the only poll that counts is on (Election Day) 2014,” he told CP24’s Cristina Tenaglia.
Wright said that roughly 40 per cent of those polled were “very vocal” about their dislike for Ford, while around 20 per cent were very vocal about how much they like him.
“The sound and the fury is more to those who disapprove, but his vote numbers are only down (about) 10 points since the election,” he said.
But “to put this in perspective,” Wright noted that with Rob Ford’s overall support sitting at 34 per cent, the mayor still has more support than Prime Minister Stephen Harper has across the country.
The poll also found that Toronto residents are uncertain if the alleged video exists: 55 per cent of those polled believe the video “exists and is real” and 45 per cent believe it is “a hoax and part of a conspiracy to discredit the mayor.”
It also revealed an exact 50-50 split over whether Torontonians feel the drug allegations serve an example of a “persistent agenda” by the media to bring Ford down.
The Mayor and his brother, Toronto Coun. Doug Ford, have lashed out at the media in the wake of the allegations, suggesting the allegations were part of an ongoing smear campaign by The Toronto Star and other outlets.
Wright said the results reflect the public’s uncertainty over who to believe regarding the allegations: The mayor or the media.
“The defence, in many ways, is standing up in the court of public opinion,” he said. “I think that is what is saving the numbers from going any lower at the moment.”
Wright added that given the poll results, he doesn’t anticipate the mayor stepping aside any time soon.
“If he’s decided to stick it out, and if all that continues is unattributable sources and innuendo, then he’s leaning into the wind,” he said. “He’s weathering it right now.”
A total of 530 Torontonians were interviewed online for the poll, which is considered accurate within plus or minus five percentage points.