* Friday, November 1, 8 pm update: It turns out that an approval rating poll was conducted last night the results were 44% in favour of the job that Ford’s currently doing. I guess there are a lot more pseudo-disenfranchised out there then I thought.*
Since this is a blog about Toronto, I guess I should post something about yesterday’s revelation by Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair that his force has, and he has seen, the infamous Rob Ford crack video (far more in-depth and elegant writing on the topic can be found here).
Actually, scratch that; I’m going to post instead about how, despite the confirmed existence of the video, Ford could still win next year’s election.
Now, all of the following is assuming two things: Ford doesn’t get arrested (so far, that’s looking good) and some kind of physical element doesn’t take him out (come on, it’s crossed your mind too). If either of those issues pop up, then no, we won’t have Ford more years. But if he stays healthy and out of jail, well it could happen and here’s how.
Ford’s voter base is based is largely made up of two groups of people. The first group contains people who identify themselves as fiscal conservatives. They like Ford because he says what they want to hear, takes on the unions and rallies against government spending. While they are embarrassed by the whole crack video thing, as long as Ford’s not using government money to buy crack, they’ll give him a pass on it.
Now, this group could largely be persuaded to vote for another candidate but that option would need to be someone who has a long and solid record of being a strong, budget-focused right-wing candidate (so no, not Karen Stintz). But I’m not convinced we’ll see such a candidate because while this person could capture a serious percentage of Ford’s existing supporters, our mystery right-winger wouldn’t be able to get enough of the votes to win. The end result would be a new mayor who comes from either a moderate or left-wing position. While this sounds great to me, it’s a scenario that makes any fiscal conservative squirm.
I would like to think that any serious, right-wing candidates are already well aware of this scenario and are asking themselves, “What’s worst, having Rob Ford run the city for another four years or having it run by someone who’s not afraid of tax hikes?” While I’m hoping that at least one right-winger decides that it’s worth it to run and take Ford out, I’m not convinced that will happen.
The other large chunk of people who make up Ford’s voter base are a group I call the pseudo-disenfranchised. These are people who are mad at the modern world, downtowners and LRTS. They believe themselves to be disenfranchised though the reasoning generally isn’t that solid (hence the “pseudo” part). They also almost all identify as fiscal conservatives though not all fiscal conservatives are pseudo-disenfranchised. The big difference between them and the purely fiscal conservatives is that they don’t view Ford as just a politician, they view him as a friend and they aren’t going to let their friend down. Yes, these are the people who call into radio shows and comment on news articles, vehemently defending Ford.
But while they are loud, they aren’t as numerous as you would think. I imagine that a new mayoral approval poll will be announced sometime next week and once that number’s out, then we’ll know how many pseudo-disenfranchised Ford supporters are out there.
I’m guessing that this poll will give the mayor an approval rating in the low-to-mid-20s. So no, not a huge number but still impressive given all of this. And that number translates into enough voters who, when combined with the fiscal conservatives who don’t have anyone else to vote, and a few other odds and ends (people who only care about a subway to Scarborough; journalists who find Ford good for business), will give Ford another term.
Unless Ford is up against one strong, moderate-to-left (but not too left) candidate, then… then I can see him being taken out. But I’m not convinced that we’re going to end up with that scenario.
Okay, enough politics talk. Let’s go get ready for tonight’s pumpkin crawl in Trinity-Bellwoods.