And Then There Were Three…

…Okay, that’s not accurate; Toronto does have more than three options when it comes to who the next mayor will be but really, one of these three people: John Tory, Olivia Chow or Rob Ford, will be mayor.

I think this is from The Star (though obviously I did some editing)
I think this is from The Star (well, the original version)

Based on the latest polls, this election is John Tory’s to lose and while he’s at 40 per cent now, I wouldn’t be shocked if on October 27 he comes in a close second. Why? Well, think about what’s appealing about Tory to people. Is his charisma and his ability to connect with people? Not really. His impressive but doable platform? No. A great moment on the campaign trail where he clearly presented himself as a leader? If there was, I didn’t hear about it.

No, my theory is that Tory is doing well in the polls because, unless you’re a devotee of either Ford or Chow, he’s you’re only choice. Sure, you could say you’re undecided but at this stage that looks a little ignorant. So if you want to look like you’re a smart, informed member of the city who doesn’t lean too far either way, you say that you’re supporting Tory. But will you actually get out and vote for Tory? Well, that probably depends on what else you’ve got going on that day, if it’s raining, if you have to work late… Assuming Ford stays in the race*, I don’t think Tory will pull in 40 per cent of votes. He just doesn’t have the real supporters to do it.

I also have to wonder how many Tory supporters will switch their votes to Ford once they’re in the privacy of the voting booth. One thing you keep hearing over and over again about Tory is that he just doesn’t seem trustworthy. When it comes to Tory and Ford, it’s a bit of a “the devil you know and the devil you don’t” position and I think more than a few people will go with the devil they know (to be clear, I don’t think Ford’s better than Tory but I can see how some people would think that).

So if not Tory, then Olivia Chow? Not according to the latest poll numbers and not if she keeps running such a muddled campaign. If Chow loses, and right now it looks like she will, I feel like her campaign will be used as an example of what not to do when striving to be mayor. She started off so strongly, with legitimate buzz even, but now she’s polling below Ford. (Can you imagine that statement six months ago?)

While I’m a leftist, I was not a fan of Chow entering the mayoral race. In addition to having a ton of baggage, I feel that she just doesn’t have the ideas or the spark to be a great mayor. However, I have no problems saying that she’s better than the alternatives because unlike them, I don’t see her causing any notable damage to Toronto.

Of course, that’s not really an angle that Chow can run on. Her team clearly realizes the whole “baggage” issue and has been trying to as centralist who won’t tax and spend. This new image is turning off her traditional base while others aren’t simply aren’t buying it. It doesn’t help that she doesn’t have many memorable ideas for her potential term. Quick, name one proposal she’s campaigned around. Odds are you’re either thinking of something from her NDP days or her bus proposal, which is just too sensible for this circus.

At this point, I believe that the only way Chow could win is if she panders, possibly shamelessly, to her natural base: students, union workers, downtown elites and immigrants. Oh yes, this strategy will leave her open to plenty of attacks from Tory and Ford and will likely turn off the undecided but it should also lead to a few more votes, maybe just enough to push her past Tory.

Chow’s decline is the second more shocking aspect of the 2014 mayoral race. The number one is, of course, that Rob Ford is still in it and still a bit of a contender. If he won though, well, that wouldn’t shock me. Horrify and disgust me yes but I wouldn’t be surprised. After all, of the three, he has the most devoted voter base. Unlike with Tory, people who say that they are going to vote for Ford are actually going to get out there and do just that.

He’s also got the tightest, clearest campaign and has positioned himself perfectly at this point in the race. Running in a somewhat distant second lets him be the underdog and that works perfectly with the whole “redemption” story that his team has created for him. For him to pull off a win, he needs to not be leading the in the polls, so that he can better position himself as just “an average taxpayer.” A second place spot also helps to appeal to borderline supporters, who might not bother to vote if they felt confident that he was going to win (the opposite of this will also impact Tory).

Of course, we’ve still got seven weeks until election day. For someone like Ford, that’s a long time to keep his “new” self together as well as ensure that any other past incidents stay buried for just a little longer. More surprising than a win from Ford would be him to get through the next few weeks without a minor scandal.

Or a trip to the hospital. *I’m just finishing up this post and there’s a breaking news broadcast that Ford’s between admitted to the hospital with abdominal pains, possibly even a tumour. (I probably shouldn’t publish this but I’ve spent too much time on this post so it’s going up.)
I have no idea who will win this election at this point. And if anyone does, they’re either lying or delusional.

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