Polls show pull for a progressive mayor

Torontonians appear eager to elect a progressive mayor after 13 years of rule from the political centre and right, according to multiple opinion polls.

While results from different firms have varied since April, they all show the most left-leaning prominent candidates — former NDP MP Olivia Chow and City Councillor Josh Matlow — with combined support significantly higher than that of rivals on the political right.

A Liaison Strategies poll of 1,311 Torontonians conducted Wednesday and Thursday found Chow with the support of 29 per cent of decided voters — a front-runner position she has maintained for weeks.

Liaison has former police chief Mark Saunders and former Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter in a statistical tie for second place, at 17 and 15 per cent respectively.

Behind them are Matlow at 11 per cent, City Councillor Brad Bradford at 10 per cent, former councillor Ana Bailão at eight per cent, former Toronto Sun columnist Anthony Furey at three per cent and City Councillor Anthony Perruzza at one per cent. Five per cent of respondents chose someone else among the total of 102 candidates.

The margin of error for the interactive voice recording survey is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points 19 times out of 20. A significant number of respondents — 28 per cent — said they haven’t decided who they will support in the June 26 election to replace John Tory, who resigned in February.

The newest poll gave Matlow and Chow combined support of 40 per cent of decided voters — double that of conservative candidates Saunders and Furey. Adding Bradford, considered a centre-right candidate, bumps up support on that side of the political ledger to 30 per cent.

Liaison polls suggest, however, that Matlow’s shared of decided voters has slumped considerably from 23 per cent in mid-April while Chow’s rose from 22 per cent.

Issues figuring in the campaign so far include affordable housing, public safety, bike lanes and property taxes.

Most prominent candidates have said Toronto’s services and infrastructure are in decline after years under Tory, considered a right-leaning centrist, and populist conservative Rob Ford. The pandemic has drastically reduced city revenues while sending costs soaring.

“The city is facing challenges with housing and transit that lend themselves well to campaigns from the left,” said David Valentin, principal of Liaison Strategies.

“The candidates with biggest name recognition have come from the left and they have experienced campaign teams that were in place right away.”

Crime, he said, “while still an ongoing concern in the city, is much less of a hot topic right now. We have seen less sensational headlines in recent weeks.

“In earlier issue polling we found a strong desire for change. Chow and Matlow have done a good job so far in articulating how they would be different from Tory — the other candidates less so.”

Another new poll, from Mainstreet Research, had Chow in the lead with 30 per cent of decided voters, followed by Bailão at 21 per cent, Matlow at 14 per cent, Saunders at 10 per cent, Hunter at nine per cent, Furey at seven per cent, Bradford at four per cent, policy analyst Chloe Brown at two per cent and anti-vaccination conspiracy theorist Chris (Sky) Saccoccia at one per cent.

Some 26 per cent of respondents were undecided.

That poll has Bailão up four percentage points from the previous week and firmly in second place. Mainstreet has consistently polled Bailão higher than Liaison or Forum Research, which had her at seven per cent in mid-May.

Like the other polls, Mainstreet gives Chow and Matlow combined support of significantly more decided voters than the combined totals of conservative counterparts.

The Mainstreet automated telephone interviews of 1,125 Torontonians were conducted last Tuesday and Wednesday. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points at the 95 per cent confidence level.

David Rider is the Star’s City Hall bureau chief and a reporter covering city hall and municipal politics. Follow him on Twitter: @dmrider


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