The anti-Rob Ford campaign is swaying Torontonians and reversing Ford’s momentum, suggests a new Toronto Star-Citytv poll that shows him heading into the election’s final week virtually tied with George Smitherman.
“The criticism of Rob Ford is sticking and it’s resonating and at this stage his momentum is negative,” said Jodi Shanoff, a senior vice-president of Angus Reid Public Opinion, which conducted the poll.
The survey of 1,001 Torontonians on Thursday and Friday by Angus Reid Public Opinion shows 41 per cent of decided voters supporting Ford, compared to 40 per cent for Smitherman and 16 per cent for Joe Pantalone. Three per cent picked other candidates.
With the civic election on Oct. 25, one in five respondents remained undecided.
The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. That puts the front-runners in a dead heat, with Ford having lost most or all of the 13-point lead he enjoyed one month ago in the previous Star poll.
The Ford juggernaut that saw the Etobicoke councillor surge in polls from spring to September on a vow to “stop the gravy train at city hall” appears to have started rolling backwards.
The poll also found that so-called strategic voting has taken hold, with 21 per cent of Torontonians backing one candidate to ensure another doesn’t get elected.
Forty per cent of Smitherman supporters say they are voting strategically. He is encouraging the practice, targeting centre-right supporters of Rocco Rossi until Rossi dropped out last week, and going especially hard after Pantalone’s “progressive” following, declaring: “A vote for Joe Pantalone is a vote for Rob Ford.”
“The anybody-but-Ford campaign has had some traction and George Smitherman is the beneficiary of that,” Shanoff said.
And, it appears, Pantalone supporters remain ripe for the picking.