Not any more

Miller would likely win if he ran again in Toronto: poll

In Canada on August 25, 2010 at 10:29

Mayor David Miller would likely earn “a whopping win” if he ran again, a new poll indicates, with about four in ten Torontonians saying they would rather vote for the two-term incumbent than any of the candidates vying to replace him.

Of 400 people who participated in the Ipsos Reid telephone survey, 39% said they would choose Mr. Miller over any of the competition, while 58% said they would select another candidate even if Mr. Miller was in the race.

Conducted on behalf of the National Post, Global Television and Newstalk 1010 from Friday to Sunday, the poll shows the power of incumbency, experts say, but also highlights a void on the left.

“The flag carrier for the left, or the progressive side, of the municipal agenda in the mayoralty race has not been particularly robust,” said Myer Siemiatycki, an expert in municipal politics at Ryerson University.

Recent poll numbers show Rob Ford — a right-winger running on promises to reduce wasteful spending at City Hall — has taken an 11-point lead in the mayoral race, with 32% support.

Mr. Miller announced last year that he would not seek re-election. His right-hand man, Joe Pantalone, entered the race but has failed to pick up steam as an alternative for left-leaning voters. In recent days, speculation on the left side of the spectrum has focused on a potential reversal by Mr. Miller or a late entry by Councillor Adam Vaughan; both declined to comment yesterday.

If Mr. Miller did enter the race, Ipsos pollster John Wright said, he would win “handily,” likely gaining support at the expense of George Smitherman and in some suburban areas, Mr. Ford.

“It appears that a lot of people would rather have what they know than what they don’t,” Mr. Wright said.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

University of Toronto political scientist Nelson Wiseman says the numbers suggest a “whopping win” for Mr. Miller should he enter the race, considering the remaining votes would be split between four or five other major candidates. But the situation could change, he noted, if Mr. Miller actually stepped up to run.

“Candidates who aren’t candidates are generally more popular than when they are candidates,” Mr. Wiseman said. He also pointed to the strong advantage of incumbency, noting it is “very rare” for a municipal mayor to lose a re-election bid: “You’ve got to live in Vaughan.”

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