A new poll, commissioned by CP24, suggests outspoken spendthrift Rob Ford may be inching slightly over the competition in the race to take over the mayor's seat in Toronto's municipal election this fall.

The Nanos research poll shows it's a horse-race between Ford and former Ontario cabinet minister George Smitherman. Ford garnered 17.8 per cent support while Smitherman received 15.9 per cent support.

However, the survey shows that 38.9 per cent of Toronto voters are undecided, which means that the frontrunners can easily slip to the back of the pack if they fail to impress the electorate.

The poll, which was commissioned by CP24, CTV Toronto and the Globe and Mail, puts deputy mayor Joe Pantalone trailing in third place with 10 per cent support. Liberal backbencher Rocco Rossi the fourth most popular candidate with 9 per cent of the vote.

Trailing the pack are magazine publisher Sarah Thomson (5.8 per cent) and long-time councillor Giorgio Mammoliti (2.5 per cent).

The results were compiled after a random telephone survey of 1,000 likely Toronto municipal voters between June 7 and June 11.

People were asked "If an election were held today, who would be your first and second choice?"

The results are accurate to 3.1 percentage points (plus or minus), 19 times out of 20.

Ford ‘fiscally responsible'

According to the poll, 17.4 per cent of people say Ford is their first choice because he's fiscally responsible.

Rob Ford said he's not surprised voters said that because people know he's a "no-nonsense kind of guy."

"I'm going to watch every cent spent at city hall and they say thank God it's about time," he said. "People are actually thanking me for getting into the race."

Nearly 7 per cent of respondents also said Ford was honest and trustworthy. Only 0.6 per cent felt the same way about Smitherman.

Those who picked Smitherman as their first choice said they like the fact that he has the most political experience.

Smitherman was out of town Sunday at a mayor's conference in China. He couldn't be reached for comment.

Pollster Nik Nanos said no candidate should feel too confident just yet, especially considering the high number of undecided voters.

"With that number of undecided voters we know historically that those voters tend to vote based on how the candidates and their campaigns perform," he said. "(That) means they're going to be sizing up all the different candidates and try to see who will make the best mayor for Toronto."

Respondents were given a chance to pick a mayor from outside the current pool of candidates. About 70 per cent said no one came to mind and 8 per cent said they were unsure.

Among the popular would-be candidates are:

  • Former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory (14.7 per cent)
  • Current Toronto mayor David Miller (2.4 per cent)
  • Former Toronto mayor Mel Lastman (1.9 per cent)
  • TTC Chair and former mayoral hopeful Adam Giambrone (1.1 per cent)

Taxes, TTC a priority

Although a big number of respondents seemed unsure about their choice for mayor, those surveyed were clear on the biggest issues facing Toronto.

The city's overstretched budget and large deficit concerns 20.5 per cent of voters, according to the survey. High taxes (16.7 per cent) and the state of public transit (16.4 per cent) are also big election issues.

Traffic congestion, the economy, affordable housing, crime and the city's decaying infrastructure are also on voters' minds.

But the poll showed voters were least concerned with the Toronto District School Board, parking, user fees, the Island Airport and selling the city's assets.

(However, 57.7 per cent of respondents say they oppose a sale of Toronto Hydro.)

About 11 per cent of those surveyed said they were unsure of which election issue matters most to them.

Other interesting findings include:

  • 54.2 per cent say they oppose having road tolls in Toronto
  • Nearly 57 per cent say they want the number of city councillors reduced
  • 50.8 per cent support having more dedicated bike lanes
  • About 22 per cent say they'd vote for Thomson because she's a woman

To view more details about the poll and its impact, visit the Globe and Mail.

To see the survey in its entirety, please visit www.nanosresearch.com