Can Bailao (or Matlow) catch up to Chow in mayor’s race?

A poll conducted in the days following the first major debate of mayoralty candidates shows Olivia Chow still well ahead in the race with 30 per cent of decided voters opting for her.

This is in line with various polls released over the past two weeks since Chow announced her candidacy.

But while evidence she is maintaining her support may be welcome news for her, it may also be concerning that her support has not notably increased.

The fear may be that she has hit a ceiling with five weeks to go before the election.

As more of the “undecided” voters make up their minds and as several hopefuls fade in support or drop out of the race, it is possible that votes could coalesce behind one or two of Chow’s rivals.

This process may be starting now, judging by the poll released today.

The Mainstreet Research survey, conducted May 16 and 17, found Ana Bailao in second place with 21 per cent of decided voters. That’s still well behind Chow, but up six points since last week’s Mainstreet poll.

Olivia Chow and Josh Matlow at debate
RIVALS: Leading candidate Chow, left, is also fending off a challenge from Toronto–St. Paul’s councillor Josh Matlow.

Further behind but still within reach is Josh Matlow with 14 per cent.

This represents a four-percent increase for Matlow since the previous poll and separates him from Mark Saunders in fourth place at 10 per cent.

Mitzie Hunter is fifth with nine per cent.

Brad Bradford has fallen to seventh place — and practically out of the race — with only four per cent of the decided vote, according to the Mainstreet survey.

Sparks came in debate

All these candidates, except Saunders (who was invited but cited a scheduling conflict), took part in the first major debate hosted by the Daily Food Bank on May 15.

Candidates were given a chance to make opening and closing remarks, and to answer three questions — about food insecurity, affordable housing, and making the TTC safe and affordable.

But the sparks came during the period when candidates got to direct questions to each other.

As the frontrunner, Chow took most of the heat then. All other candidates took aim at her, questioning how she would pay for her programs, how much she would raise taxes, and the extent of her plan to building affordable housing.

For her part, Chow clearly and passionately defended her positions.

Her own question was directed to Bradford, castigating him for supporting increased TTC fares.

3,500 in live audience

It is not known whether the debate performances affected the Mainstreet polling, carried out over the next two days.

While the audience for the debate in the food bank warehouse seemed to number about 150, Daily Bread has estimated 3,500 watched at least part of the debate as it streamed live on May 15.

About 14,ooo people have watched it on YouTube since then.

Countless others, of course, have seen clips from the debate on news programs and social media platforms.

Mainstreet Research says the survey was conducted with a sample of 1,125 Torontonians, 18 years or older, with automated interviews over landlines and cell phones.