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.
Five weeks out and things just keep looking better and better for Rob Ford.
The early autumn air is redolent of sweat, barbeque sauce, and carbon monoxide as his supporters prepare for a victory tailgate party on the Jarvis Street bike lane, while Smitherman, Rossi, and Thomson continue to jockey for position as the “Anybody But Ford” candidate of choice, and little Joe Pantalone shuffles his feet socialistically and mutters “Wait and see” to an oblivious electorate. So is Ford a shoo-in, or are there still other possibilities out there? Let’s talk it out.
Rob FordElectograph Score: 9/10 (+1)
As everyone who’s interested knows by now, the latest Nanos poll gives Ford the younger almost half of the decided vote, with 25% of those surveyed still undecided. Still more surprising is that Etobicoke’s favourite son is polling ahead everywhere including the former City of Toronto, where the common wisdom had it that the downtown transit-riding elites would support Smitherman. But in a tough economy, with the working classes not finding much work and the middle class squeezed on all sides, Ford’s brand of “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” is a big seller and common sense be damned. You don’t have to be Stephen Hawking to figure out that cutting the City Hall paper clip budget isn’t going to buy a whole lot of subway, but man, it sure feels good to stick it to those fat-cat gravy-training communards, doesn’t it?
Realistically, for Ford to lose, he’d probably have to get busted in some kind of uber-gaffe like running a meth lab out of City Hall, and even then there’s a pretty good chance that his forgiving constituency would write that off as a misguided attempt to balance the municipal budget. If Ford does find a blunder that sticks, he’d likely still win unless the rest of the vote coalesced pretty firmly around one of the other candidates, something that shows no signs of happening thus far. Still, strange things can happen in politics.
Joe PantaloneElectograph Score: 3.5/10 (+1)
Electograph gives Joe Pantalone a bump to reflect the fact that the Nanos poll puts him firmly in third place, almost within margin-of-error distance of George Smitherman. That sounds good, but as the only Miller-surrogate left in the race, he should be doing a whole lot better.
What’s happening is that the “progressive” vote is finally accepting that neither David Miller nor Adam Giambrone is coming back, and they’re grudgingly lining up behind the deputy mayor (even if Miller himself isn’t). Regardless, Pantalone won’t be wearing the mayor’s sash this year—in an election season where outrage against the City Hall machine is driving Ford to the top, Joe’s low-key railing against diesel trains just sounds forced and a little passive-aggressive.
Rocco RossiElectograph Score: 2.5/10 (unchanged)
What the hell, Rocco? With the chips down, time running out, and the polls still not showing any positive movement for Rossi, his campaign has started firing on all cylinders. Unfortunately, that means attracting attention to himself at all costs like a tween with his first Facebook page, making tin-foil hat commitments to magical traffic tunnels and releasing strange self-mocking ads that portray him as a smug, bespectacled Mussolini courting the mafia vote. And the radio spots? Fugedaboutit! See, Electograph can do it, too.
Platform-wise, Rossi was always on the right, but has now firmly positioned himself as, well, Rob Ford, taking up the latter’s cry to slash city council in half while cutting the budgets of the survivors. Rossi’s claim to be a political outsider also rings a little hollow, seeing as he was national director of the Liberal party and has been an advisor to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. Rossi stays electographically static this week, but we’re liking his chances less and less. Ba-da-boom ba-da-bing.
George SmithermanElectograph Score: 5/10 (-1)
Is it hubris that has brought George so low? The one-time pack leader has suffered not only from Ford’s surging popularity, but from a dramatic decline in his own support. Generally pretty moderate, after a summer of transit plans and “signature parks,” he’s tried to fight Ford by reviving the Furious George brand with a motion sickness–inducing weave to the right, calling for a “war on waste” and promising to freeze property taxes. He’s been lent public support by prominent Liberal and Conservative politicos, but it hasn’t bought him anything, probably reflecting the public’s cranky distrust of the establishment. At this point, Smitherman has been thoroughly trampled by the Ford rage-parade, and if he’s going to be mayor he’d better hope Rossi and Thomson drop out and support him.
Sarah ThomsonElectograph Score: 2/10 (-.5)
Sarah Thomson has also hitched herself to the fiscal accountability wagon, although without quite the level of manufactured fury evident with certain other candidates. Her recent promise to cut councillor budgets and dock pay for absenteeism lines her up with the other centre-right contenders trying to sprinkle their campaigns with the Ford pixie dust (equal parts choler, over-simplification, and icing sugar), but she has surprisingly progressive ideas around other issues such as funding for the arts and how to better integrate cyclists into Toronto traffic. Unhappily for her, she has yet to find the issue to give her the push she needs with the voting public, and her poll numbers have barely budged. We hate to say it, but with just over a month until
Candidates’ illustrations by Brian McLachlan/Torontoist. Electograph design by Marc Lostracco/Torontoist.