Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[URBAN NOTE] Three links on Rob Ford's rising approval ratings

Torontoist's Hamutal Dotan was the first source I read noting that a new poll indicated not only were his approving ratings rising, but that in the case of an election running against two pairs of left-leaning candidates (George Smitherman and Adam Vaughan, then George Smitherman and Olivia Chow) only NDP MP Chow in the second pairing had a chance of beating him.

The National Post's Natalie Alcoba detailed the poll, performed by Forum Research with 806 people polled last Friday.

The survey by Forum Research of 806 Torontonians on Friday found that 48% approve of the job Mr. Ford is doing, up from 45% a month ago and 42% in mid December. More than half, conversely, disapprove of his performance, the poll found.

Mr. Ford is especially popular among people over 65 (56%), households earning less than $20,000 a year (57%) and those living in Etobicoke, York or Scarborough. The interactive voice response telephone survey is considered accurate plus or minus 5%, 19 times out of 20.

[. . .]

“It appears the mayor’s close brush with unemployment has given him a significant bump. At the same time, while he still defeats his old opponent George Smitherman, he can’t stop a Chow candidacy,” Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff said in a press release.

Writing for MacLean's, Ivor Tossell says that Ford simply floats over problems.

Ford’s popularity is rising again, despite everything, or perhaps because of it. A series of legal proceedings, each one harder to explain in a soundbite than the last, has supplied him with all the persecution he needs. In Montreal, they stuff safes so full of cash they can’t be closed. In Toronto, the mayor gets investigated for renting an $840 bus just before filing his nomination papers. Public sentiment mysteriously fails to ignite.

You can take two views about the nature of Rob Ford. One is that he is doomed by his own vices. The other is this: Contrary to all laws of nature, Rob Ford floats.

When negatives refuse to stick to a politician, we typically start talking about Teflon. With Ford, I prefer to think the man has a natural buoyancy. When he is not actively weighing himself down with self-destruction, his support will rise.

The catch with Ford, of course is that the more he tries to govern, the more he self-destructs. So to achieve maximum buoyancy, all he has to do is nothing: Cut ribbons, fulminate on talk radio, lose stunt votes against community spending. The good news for him is that the vaguaries of the mayor’s job description make this entirely workable in practice, and reasonably saleable at the polls.

Metro Toronto's Matt Elliott is not so easy on Ford.

It didn’t escape my notice yesterday that when Ford started to listing his mayoral accomplishments in his post-victory speech, virtually none of them came from the last six months of his term. Aside from a mention of this year’s budget — which he barely commented on as it was put together by former budget chief Mike Del Grande — all the major victories he listed came from well before his legal troubles began. Reading the speech, it’d be fair to assume that the mayor hasn’t really accomplished much lately.

That’s a frustrating reality to live in. Toronto is a city that needs strong leadership. Issues like the Toronto casino or the question of how to improve traffic congestion require a decisive voice. We haven’t had it.

But it also didn’t escape my notice that a new Forum Research opinion poll has Ford at a 48 per cent approval rating. That’s the highest it’s been in more than a year. I don’t expect it to stay in that range, but it seems likely that Ford’s overall popularity has been improved to some degree through his legal troubles.

I’ve got a pretty good guess as to why. When Ford is actually able to focus on the business of being the mayor, the question voters ask themselves is whether he has the right ideas for the city. His popularity rises and falls based on that criteria. But when the mayor is routinely in court fighting to keep his job, the question voters are forced to ask themselves is whether Ford deserves to be the mayor of Toronto.

And the answer to that question is, I think, pretty obvious for a lot of people: Yeah, of course he does. He won an election.
Tags: democracy, politics, toronto, urban note
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