The Mayoral Electograph—appearing occasionally on Torontoist—combines poll data, statistical analysis, whimsy, and personal bias to assess the fortunes of key mayoral candidates in a colourful, easy-to-read chart–style thing.
With less than two months to go, Joe Pantalone is fading on the left, centre-right candidates Smitherman, Thomson, and Rossi are all fishing in the same vote pool, and opinion polls put Rob Ford closer than ever to blustering himself into the mayor’s office. This turn of events perplexes the twittering classes in their lavender pantsuits, who gather in stuccoed salons to peer through bejeweled monocles at iPads bearing the grim news, and weep in the remembering of a young flaxen-haired promise called David Miller. Still, in late August of 2003, Miller himself trailed a distant fourth in the polls behind Barbara Hall, John Nunziata, and John Tory—and we all know how that turned out. Here’s how we see it right now.
Rob FordElectograph Score: 8/10 (+2)
The enigma that is Rob Ford continues to lead the pack, in spite of recent legal revelations and the fact that he’s doing more gaffing than a six-armed tuna fisherman. Not only are his controversial comments about everything from bike lanes to refugees not hurting him, it seems likely that the media attention he’s getting is working in his favour. More troubling than a decade-old DUI is that the pride of Etobicoke has yet to present any real solutions for the key issues facing the city, and may not even understand what they are. His platform essentially involves getting half of city council to fire itself, then using the savings to cut taxes and hire a bunch of cops, a stratagem so impractical and mathematically unsound that it could be discredited by a chimpanzee with a slide rule. Still, Ford’s carefully crafted persona as a straight-shooting cost-cutter who stands up for the little guy resonates with a lot of people who vote, and that’s why we’ve got him out in front.
Joe PantaloneElectograph Score: 2.5/10 (-.5)
Poor Joe Pantalone—even with a high profile if unsurprising endorsement from NDP leader Jack Layton, he can’t seem to get ahead. In spite of being a seasoned city councillor who’s been in the public eye for decades, he’s now frequently—although not always—polling behind newbie candidate Sarah Thomson. Part of his problem is that rightly or wrongly he’s associated in the public mind with an alleged culture of waste and bad management at city hall that’s constantly being referenced by the other candidates. However, the same Ipsos-Reid poll that gave Ford a big lead also indicated that David Miller could still win handily if the election were held now, implying that it’s not just Joe’s left-wing politics hurting him but something more Pantalone-specific He’s also soft-spoken and polite in an election year where rage is all the rage, so maybe it’s just that no one can hear him over the ruckus.
Rocco RossiElectograph Score: 2.5/10 (+.5)
Electograph is holding steady on Rocco Rossi in spite of lousy showings in the polls lately. He came in with little name recognition, and was side-swiped when Rob Ford scooped many of the right-leaning voters that Rossi had been courting. Lately, he’s been working to raise his profile through relentless use of social media and online ads (in fact there’s an excellent chance he’s smirking at you from the left side of your screen as you read this), and by turning up all shiny-headed and glad-handed at every festival, parade, and convenience store opening in the city. Even so, he doesn’t get much mainstream media affection, unlike front-runner Ford whose every utterance eventually leads to an explanatory press conference. However, Rossi isn’t giving up—this week Liberal strategist Warren Kinsella joined his team as an adviser, and Rossi secured some much-needed press when he proposed voter recalls for non-performing politicos. Rossi is smart and has money burning a hole in his pocket, and if voters start paying more attention as we get down to the wire, he could still have a shot.
George SmithermanElectograph Score: 6/10 (unchanged)
George Smitherman continues to lose ground to the Ford juggernaut, and his campaign team is concerned enough that of late they’re investing as much effort into lambasting Rob Ford as they are into promoting their own candidate. Dozens of Smitherman’s old chums from the provincial Liberals have banded together to put together a brochure endorsing him (think “We Are the World” without the music or the star power), although it’s unclear whether this will be helpful, what with the eHealth skeleton long out of the closet and doing the Macarena around the living room. Polls and common sense suggest Smitherman is more popular among residents of Toronto, while Ford’s staunchest support comes from the riding-mower crowd in the inner suburbs, so it may come down to who gets out the vote most effectively.
Sarah ThomsonElectograph Score: 2.5/10 (+1.5)
We give Sarah Thomson the biggest bump of the big five, as she continues to evolve from token female to legitimate contender. She’s been consistent in her positions, even potentially unpopular ones like imposing road tolls to cover the cost of transit improvements, and is surprisingly interested in green issues for a self-described “business” candidate. Thomson also has celebrated non-candidate John Tory’s sons George and John Jr. working on her campaign, and in addition to whatever political savvy the Tory spawn bring to the table, Thomson may benefit from a perceived endorsement by their father. She remains a dark horse in this race, but a lot can happen in two months.
Candidates’ illustrations by Brian McLachlan/Torontoist. Electograph design by Marc Lostracco/Torontoist.