8 wards that will decide the 2014 Toronto election
It's barely three months old, but so far the 2014 Toronto mayoral campaign has already seen plenty of twists and turns. Olivia Chow, long-time favourite of the left, quit federal politics to seek the city's top job while Rob Ford, still a contender despite months of drug-related scandal, suddenly split for rehab in the States, taking a sizeable hit in the polls.
The most recent projections put Ford in third place (22% down from 27%) behind John Tory (27%) and Olivia Chow (33%,) the lowest he's been since winning election in 2010. The Forum Research poll, which was conducted Thursday evening in the aftermath of the latest video scandal, reflected the opinions of 888 Toronto residents reached by phone and is considered accurate considered accurate within 3 percentage points.
Though it might be something of a crap shoot (with Ford expected to return, who knows what's going to happen in this election) here are five wards that will likely play a pivotal role in deciding who becomes the next mayor.
WARDS 1 AND 42 - 2010: FORD, 2006: MILLER, 2003: MILLER
Tucked up in the city's northern corners, wards 1 and 42 are bellwethers of Toronto elections. The results of the mayoral votes in Etobicoke North and Scarborough-Rouge River have matched the overall winner in all of the last four elections (though the ward boundaries were different in 1997.) Ford scored strong victories in 2010, but in 2006 and 2003, both constituencies went to Miller. Mel Lastman took the wards that included these neighbourhoods in 1997. History says that wins here are essential to taking the election.
WARD 16 - 2010: SMITHERMAN, 2006: MILLER, 2003: TORY
Eglinton-Lawrence was a close win for George Smitherman in 2010; Ford lost by just 9.8%, or 1,431 votes. One ward over, the incumbent won convincingly by 27.5%, suggesting this is constituency could swing. John Tory was victorious here in 2003 during his first stab at Toronto politics. Three years later, Ward 16 was taken by David Miller. Ward 16 could go to Olivia Chow or a strong conservative candidate, most likely John Tory, as he has a history of winning in this part of the city.
WARDS 25 AND 26 - 2010: FORD, 2006: PITFIELD, 2003: TORY
The two Don Valley West wards, currently represented by councillors Jaye Robinson and John Parker respectively, went to Rob Ford by a hair in 2010 (727 votes in Ward 25 and just 50 in Ward 26.) In 2006, these were the lone wards scored by Jane Pitfield during Miller's landslide victory. In 2003 they were won by John Tory. It looks like these conservative-leaning wards, like Ward 16, could go either way in 2014.
WARD 31 - 2010: FORD, 2006: MILLER, 2003: MILLER
In 2010, the northernmost of the two Beaches-East York wards went to Rob Ford by about 8.2%. Typically, downtown (in voting terms, a rough upside down T shape from the Humber River to Victoria Park Ave. and north up the Spadina line to about the 401) is the exclusive domain of the strongest liberal candidate, but this was one area Ford managed to steal. If he, Tory, or Stintz, can do it again, it would likely be part of an election victory.
WARDS 35 AND 36 - 2010: FORD, 2006: MILLER, 2003: MILLER
The pair of Scarborough Southwest wards went to Rob Ford in 2010 but, in the three elections before that, both were won by David Miller or (under different ward boundaries) Barbara Hall. Liberal candidates will see these as areas where Ford's grip can be easily weakened, especially in light of recent events. They are currently represented by councillors Michelle Berardinetti and Gary Crawford respectively.
Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.