Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford had a no good, terrible, very bad week.
However, the first poll compiled after his trifecta of new scandals — and sudden announcement he’s taking leave from his job and campaign to get substance abuse treatment — contains one indicator he may have a chance to hold on to his political career.
The poll, which was conducted by Forum Research Inc. Thursday and released Friday, does contain a lot of bad news for Ford. If he does keep up his re-election campaign, he’s now dropped to third place behind Olivia Chow and John Tory with 22%. In the last FRI poll released April 15, Ford was in second place.
Chow, who is now the frontrunner, has widened her lead since that last poll. Last month, Chow was just 7 points ahead of Ford. Friday’s poll has her with an 11-point lead.
Additionally, Ford’s approval rating has dropped precipitously since last month’s poll. He’s down eight points and is now at 38%.
Still, the poll did include a real glimmer of hope for Ford. It showed 32% of Toronto voters “will vote for Rob Ford in the next municipal election if he goes to rehab and gets clean.” That question did not pit Ford against any of his challengers. However, in a race with five candidates where the frontrunner is in first place with 33%, it shows there theoretically could be a strong enough base left for Ford to be a contender if he manages a successful rehab stint.
In a statement accompanying the poll, Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D., the president and founder of Forum Research, noted Ford’s plummeting approval and standing might indicate even his staunchest supporters have had enough of his scandals. However, Bozinoff also indicated going to rehab may allow the mayor to bank on a sympathy vote.
“It appears there is finally a limit to what Ford Nation will stand for, and the mayor may have passed it,” Bozinoff said. “Nonetheless, the mayor’s decision to seek help has touched a strong sympathetic nerve, especially among his supporters.”
On Thursday, Ford’s brother, Toronto City Councillor Doug Ford, told reporters the mayor is attending a “30-day inpatient treatment program.” City Manager Joe Pennachetti told reporters Thursday that, if Ford does not return by July, the City Council will have to excuse his absence. If they do not, the mayor’s office would become vacant, but Ford would still be eligible to run in the election, which will be held Oct. 27.
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