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Game Change For Mayor Ford

Poll shows controversial mayor losing ground even with his strongest supporters.

Ford Strongholds North York, Scarborough Leading Trend

May 17, 2012 (Toronto) – A new poll taken Tuesday (May 15) shows that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is facing falling approval ratings among his strongest supporters for the first time since the October 2010 election. Approval of Mayor Ford declined in North York (by 16% from 56% to 40%) and Scarborough (by 7% from 48% to 41%) since a similar poll in February.

John Willis, Director of Research for the polling firm Strategic Communications Inc., said that the changing dynamic in North York and Scarborough is the first significant drop in strong approval since the election in 2010.

The trend in these areas of the city – which have been seen by Ford and his opponents as the heartland of his ‘Ford Nation’ base of voter support – has driven down the Mayor’s city-wide approval rating by 7 points to 35%, according to the survey by polling firm Strategic Communications, Inc.

Meanwhile, 48% disapprove of the Mayor’s performance, up 1%.

“Ford was never very popular with some voters, especially those who live downtown,” Willis said. “But a core of strong approval for his style and his agenda had remained steady through all the ups and downs at City Hall. He is now challenged with falling approval among his most loyal supporters,” Willis said.

The new poll is being released as the Mayor reversed his previous opposition to attending a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

The numbers also show that Mayor Ford is starting to compete with David Miller’s poor approval score in the wake of the summer 2009 municipal services strike. At that time (September 2009) the Toronto Sun reported that Miller hit a low of 29% approval among Toronto residents and the polling firm that conducted the survey declared ‘Miller time is over’. Shortly thereafter, Miller took the opportunity to announce he would not run for Mayor again.

“For the first time, we’re seeing a new dynamic – Ford Nation itself appears to be peeling away and that is changing the game for the Mayor,” Willis said. “We can speculate that he is fully aware of this changing dynamic and we may be witnessing a change in style on his part as a result.”

The figures come in a poll from research firm Strategic Communications, Inc. that gathered the views of a representative sample of 952 Toronto residents by telephone on Tuesday evening.

The Stratcom survey data, in summary and with historical tracking back to March 2011, is reproduced in table format at […].

This survey was fielded using Stratcom’s Rapid Poll, an automated phone poll, on May 15th, 2012, yielding a sample of 954 completed surveys and a margin of error of +/-3.2%, 19 times out of 20 had the entire 18+ population of Toronto been polled. This data was statistically weighted to ensure that the sample’s regional gender and age composition reflects that of the actual Toronto population according to the 2006 Census. The data was analyzed using SPSS 12.0.

Strategic Communications Inc. (Stratcom) is a full service opinion research and communications firm with offices in Toronto and Vancouver. The company has been providing quantitative and qualitative public affairs research since 1991. Stratcom has been the official pollster to 24 Hours newspaper in Vancouver, and its research has been recognized in The Wall Street Journal, Maclean’s Magazine, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and Vancouver Sun newspapers, among others.

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