Support for Ford spreading across Toronto: poll
Rob Ford is in the fast lane to the mayor's office after taking a commanding 24-point lead over his closest competitor, according to a new poll showing the city councillor has gained in popularity across the city and among voters of all party affiliations.
The Nanos Research poll, conducted for CTV, the Globe and Mail, and CP24, found that Ford leads in every region of Toronto as well as every age group, gender, and nearly every political affiliation.
Amongst likely voters who have decided who they would vote for, 45.6 per cent say they would make Ford the next mayor.
The number is more than twice that of his nearest rival, former provincial cabinet minister George Smitherman, who has support from 21.3 per cent of decided voters.
Toronto's municipal election will be held on Oct. 25.
A lead of that size, this late in the race, will make it difficult for another candidate to catch Ford, pollster Nik Nanos told CTV News.
"What really has to happen is for Rob Ford to make a mistake or some sensational thing to come on the stage that would disrupt the Ford campaign so to speak," he said.
Ford's promise to rein in spending at city hall has resonated in the polls since he entered the race in late March and jumped almost immediately into a statistical tie for the lead.
A Nanos Research poll conducted in June had the penny-pinching Etobicoke city councillor leading Smitherman by two percentage points.
Ford was upbeat on Sunday, but told CTV News his team was not celebrating just yet.
"We're just being very humble and working very hard," he said.
Smitherman was not deterred by the poll results, telling CTV News he was the only candidate that could catch Ford.
"There are two candidates with the prospect of being mayor and I'm really hoping to marshal more people behind my vision for a city that's inclusive and that builds on Toronto's strengths rather than rips it apart," he said.
The poll ranks support for the candidates, among decided voters, as follows:
• Rob Ford -- 45.8 per cent
• Ex-deputy premier George Smitherman -- 21.3 per cent
• Deputy mayor Joe Pantalone -- 16.8 per cent
• Former Liberal insider Rocco Rossi -- 9.7 per cent
• Business leader Sarah Thomson -- 6.4 per cent
Rossi's campaign was forging ahead, despite slipping slightly in the polls. Campaign manager Bernie Morton said he is hoping to capture the anti-Ford vote.
"We expect that Torontonians are now going to rally around a coalition style candidate who can take on Rob Ford and it will be a horse race to the end," Morton said.
The most recent poll also revealed that transportation, taxes and the city's debt load remain the top concerns among voters. Six out of 10 likely voters consider one of those the most important issue facing the City of Toronto.
Of the 1,021 Torontonians polled by Nanos, 25 per cent said they have not yet made a final decision, down from 38.9 per cent in June.
Among those who have made a decision, Ford holds the lead in almost every category.
The recent findings suggest Ford is gaining support in every part of the city, expanding his appeal out from his support base in suburban Etobicoke.
He holds the highest level of support in Etobicoke (62.4 per cent), North York (48.3 per cent), Scarborough (46.3 per cent) and the region defined as the old city of Toronto (37.2 per cent).
Pantalone is running second in Etobicoke (16.5 per cent) and North York (17.1 per cent), while Smitherman is Ford's closest competitor in Scarborough (22.3 per cent) and Toronto (30.3 per cent).
Ford's supporters, once primarily over the age of 60, now come from every age category. Women are also almost as likely as men to vote for Ford.
Also surprising is Ford's ability to bridge the gap between political affiliations. While his support is based most amongst conservatives, where he holds 61.9 per cent of decided supporters, he only trails Smitherman amongst those who usually vote Liberals by two percentage points, and is in a statistical tie with Pantalone amongst NDP supporters.
Nearly half of those who say they have no strong party allegiances also said they will be voting for Ford.
The poll was a random telephone survey of 1,021 likely voters and can be considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The polling took place between September 14 and 16.