Residents split over who to believe in Ford controversy: poll
Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Saturday, June 1, 2013 6:17PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, June 2, 2013 12:41AM EDT
Mayor Rob Ford may be facing tough questions over ongoing allegations against him, but roughly half of Torontonians say they still believe him.
A new poll shows that 49 per cent of Torontonians believe Ford when he says he does not use crack cocaine, while 51 per cent do not believe him.
The poll, conducted by Ipsos Reid for CP24 and CTV News between May 29 and May 31, is considered accurate to within plus or minus five percentage points.
The poll data also reveals a regional divide in terms of which citizens are likely to believe the mayor. Just four in 10 downtown residents believe Ford, while approximately 50 per cent or more of residents polled in Scarborough, York/ East York and North York believe him. Etobicoke residents (61 per cent) were most inclined to believe Ford.
Drug allegations have swirled around the mayor since mid-May when the U.S. website Gawker and The Toronto Star reported that they had seen an alleged cell phone video in which Ford appears to be smoking crack cocaine.
CP24 has not seen the video and cannot verify its authenticity.
Both the mayor and his brother, Counc. Doug Ford, have described the allegations as a media vendetta against them.
Half of the poll’s respondents agreed with that characterization of the ongoing controversy.
Asked whether they believe a video actually exists, 45 per cent of residents said they believe the video is a hoax and part of a conspiracy to discredit the mayor, while a slim majority (55 %) said they believe the video does in fact exist.
Overall, the poll shows the controversy has lowered the mayor’s prospects for re-election, though the next election is still more than a year away.
Asked whether they would vote to re-elect the mayor if an election were held tomorrow, just one in three Torontonians (34 %) said yes. That compares with 43 per cent of respondents who said they voted for Ford in the last mayoral election in 2010.
Shrugging off the poll’s findings Saturday, Mayor Rob Ford told CP24 he’s not concerned about the apparent decline in support.
“I’ve never listened to polls before,” Ford told CP24 outside city hall. “The only poll that counts is on Oct. 27, 2014.”
Responding to chalk messages scrawled all over city hall Saturday calling for his resignation, the mayor said “people have the right to their opinion.”
However a decline in support now might not necessarily translate into a loss of support come election time. Speaking with CP24 about the poll, Ipsos Reid senior vice president John Wright said history shows that advance polls are often not indicators of how a candidate will actually fair at the ballot box.
“As an example, Brian Mulroney at this stage in his years was sitting at about 17 per cent in the polls. Rob Ford is double,” Wright said. “If you want to put it even in perspective today, Rob Ford has more support across Toronto than Stephen Harper has across the country at 30 per cent.”
Wright also said the poll indicates that the media appear to be on trial in the court of public opinion as well, with the split in opinion indicating people are unwilling to wholly buy into the allegations against the mayor without seeing firm evidence.
In addition to the downtown-suburban divide, the poll also found Ford’s support is strongest among men and senior citizens.
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