With seven weeks to go in the race to become Toronto’s next mayor, former MP and councillor Olivia Chow is already taking a commanding lead, according to recent polls.
A Forum Poll sampling of 2,000 Toronto residents on May 6 and 7 shows Chow supported by 33 per cent of decided voters.
In the tighter race for second place are Toronto–St. Paul’s councillor Josh Matlow and former police chief Mark Saunders both at 14 per cent.
Chow’s surge is also reflected in slightly earlier poll results released by Mainstreet Research.
Mainstreet has Chow with 31 per cent of decided voters, in the survey of 1,056 adults surveyed May 5 and 6.
One surprising result
However, second place in the Mainstreet poll goes to former councillor Ana Bailao with 17 per cent, followed by Matlow with 15 per cent and Saunders at 12 per cent.
What may be most surprising to voters in the east end, home of Beaches-York councillor Brad Bradford, is that the polls show their representative is not among those contenders.
Bradford, considered an ally of former mayor John Tory and touted as a possible successor, is placing sixth so far. The recent Forum and Mainstreet polls both show him not only far behind the four leaders but overtaken by Scarborough–Guildwood MPP Mitzie Hunter.
The winner who’s not running
But before any of the leading candidates start feeling too secure in their poll standings, three things should be borne in mind.
Firstly, the race is still much closer to the beginning than the end. Major shifts before byelection day on June 26 would not be surprising.
Secondly, the polls show nearly a third of voters undecided at this point.
And thirdly, the voter’s real preference for next mayor, at least according to one poll, is someone who is not even in the race: John Tory.
One poll shows he would be the choice of 42 per cent of voters if he were on the ballot. Which may indicate voters are not keen on having to go to the polls to pick a replacement.