Matlow leading tight race for mayor, new poll shows

Josh Matlow is leading the race for Toronto mayor at this point, according to new poll results released by Mainstreet Research yesterday.

This is a big improvement for the Toronto-St. Paul’s councillor who placed second in a Mainstreet poll a month ago.

But before Matlow’s supporters get too excited or his detractors get too distressed, several caveats have to be noted.

First, it’s early days — with the election more than two months away.

And the survey of voting intentions shows the candidates clumped together without any one or two candidates soaring ahead yet.

Splitting the vote

Despite leading the poll, Matlow is favoured by only 14.8 per cent of voters, which may be expected since the race is so crowded. Mainstreet included 15 of the 40-plus known contenders in its survey, including some who haven’t registered as candidates yet.

The latter includes Olivia Chow, the former MP and longtime councillor. Her 13.2 per cent may be worrying for Matlow as she is, like him, considered a progressive and could split the left-of-centre vote, especially after she registers (as expected next  week) and starts serious campaigning.

More worrying though may be what could happen if Chow does not run. When asked how they would vote in that case, more Chow supporters said they would switch to supporting former Davenport councillor Ana Bailao than would move to backing Matlow.

Most surprising result

Bailao is already Matlow’s strongest opponent, according to the poll, with 13.7 per cent of the vote.

Mainstreet says it carried out the survey on April 12 and April 13 by automated phone interviews with a sample of 785 adults living in Toronto.

The most surprising result in the poll may be the relatively poor showing of Brad Bradford. The Beaches-East York councillor scored less than six per cent in voting intentions.

Bradford has received much media coverage for a campaign that really began nearly two months ago with the formation of a high-powered advisory committee. On council Bradford was considered an ally of Mayor John Tory and he may be splitting the moderate vote with Bailao who once served as Tory’s deputy mayor.

Also among the tightly packed leaders in the Mainstreet survey is former police chief Mark Saunders with 10.3 per cent.

Saunders is also chosen in the poll as the candidate most trusted to “address violent crime and safety including on the TTC,” drawing 18 per cent support. Bailao and Matlow follow in second and third place by this measure.

On who is most trusted to solve Toronto’s affordable housing problem, Bailao, Matlow and Chow are ranked at the top almost identically with about 16 per cent, according to the survey.