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Poll shows 26 per cent of Torontonians think Rob Ford should be re-elected

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaves the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts CFL football game in Hamilton September 3, 2012. The Argos won 33-30.

MIKE CASSESE/REUTERS

Toronto's next mayoral election is still two years away, but only one in four voters seem willing to give Mayor Rob Ford a second term, a new poll shows.

In a Nanos Research telephone survey conducted between Sept. 29 and Oct. 4, 400 Torontonians were asked which of two views best reflected their personal opinion: Mr. Ford should be re-elected or it will be time for change in the next election?

Only 26 per cent of respondents said Mr. Ford should be re-elected, while 56 per cent supported a mayoral change and 18 per cent were unsure.

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Men were more likely to support Mr. Ford than women (29 per cent and 23 per cent respectively).

The Globe's Kelly Grant spoke with pollster Nik Nanos about the results. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Q: What do you make of that result?

A: What it means is that for Rob Ford, with all the controversies that he has to deal with, he still has one out of every four voters in the bag at this particular point in time. The thing is, people are twice as likely to think the next election is going to be time for a change. The big question is about those voters who are unsure. Where will they move? We have to realize at this point there's no real counterpoint to Rob Ford as an alternative. If it's a two-person race come the next election, it's going to be much more difficult for Rob Ford as opposed to a field of multiple candidates.

Q: How much impact does the "time for a change" question have? How much does that influence people's votes?

A: The irony of it is that the last election was time for a change. Ford was the agent of change. Two years later, people are thinking it's time to change the agent of change. I think it speaks to the fact that perhaps Rob Ford has not delivered the type of change that people want.

Q: We talked about a week ago now about the fact that Rob seems to be different from other politicians in that things that would sink another politician seem not to stick to him in the same way. Considering all the troubles he's had, are you surprised he still has the support of one in four voters?

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A: I think based on his performance in the last municipal election, we have to remember that Rob Ford has delivered change to the city of Toronto, whether people like it or not. I think what this speaks to is the fact that he's a polarizing figure, and that even through the polarization and so forth, that he still has one out of every four Torontonians who believe at this point he should be re-elected. What we don't know is whether this is the low point for him or not? Because I think if you're looking at a lot of the controversies that he's dealing with in the media, I think one could argue that this has to be a low point or near a low point and he's still at 26 per cent. If he can deliver the type of change that people want and can actually have a track record to run on in the next election, based on what he believes he's accomplished in his term as mayor, it's not inconceivable that he can start pushing his support up. But a lot of it is going to have to do with the practicality of what he has delivered as mayor of Toronto.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

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