Despite the boundless optimism shown by Toronto mayor Rob Ford (and his brother Doug) regarding this fall's mayoral election, a new poll indicates that the real race might be between two of his challengers.
A Nanos Research Poll that surveyed 600 Torontonians by phone between July 2 and July 5 reveals that John Tory would get the votes of 39.1 percent of decided voters if they went to the polls today.
Olivia Chow would snag 32.7 percent, and Ford languished at 21.7 percent. (David Soknacki and Karen Stintz would round out the field at less than five percent each.)
The random poll, commissioned by the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points 19 times out of 20.
"Rob Ford has little growth potential at this time given that he is not the second preference for many supporters of either top two contenders," Nanos stated.
Mayor Ford, who recently returned from about two months in rehab to treat drug and alcohol problems, has been relatively quiet since he resumed his city-council duties.
Maybe Rob and Doug will remember that his high approval ratings came when he had a similarly high public profile.
Not to forecast a return to his previous moist and garrulous state, but a carefully staged over-refreshed outburst or two prior to the October 27 election might help restore his old popularity.
After all, relapse is an expected part of the recovery process, and voters might sympathize with someone who, despite his best efforts to get clean, is really just demonstrating that he is only human, like them.
But that would be a cynical viewpoint.