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City Hall Watcher Special: The end is near. The end is here. (Plus a special offer.)
Surprise! It’s a SPECIAL EDITION of City Hall Watcher to wrap up a few last-minute items before election day.
I’ve taken a look at ward-by-ward data from the advance vote, which offers some promising signs for one candidate in particular. I’ve also got updates to the POLL TRACKER, the ENDORSEMENT MATRIX and the latest from my PLATFORM VIEW series. And some links to some podcasts you can check out, where you can hear even more of my thoughts about this election.
I’ve also got a special offer for those who aren’t already City Hall Watcher subscribers. For a limited time, you can subscribe to City Hall Watcher and get your first month FREE.
You’ll have instant straight-to-your-inbox access to all my post-election analysis and coverage of the new mayor’s first Council meeting in July. You’ll also get to read my next LOBBYIST WATCH report, covering all the lobbying action during the peak of the campaign period.
And, of course, it’ll get you access to all the election analysis from the past couple of months, like:
🔭 PLATFORM VIEW: my capsule reviews of various mayoral policy platforms.
🗳️ VOTING HISTORY: A look at how mayoral candidates with recent Council experience voted on dozens of important issues.
💵 MATLOW’S MONEY & BRADFORD’S BUCKS: A look at where Councillor Josh Matlow and Councillor Brad Bradford got financial support in last fall’s municipal election.
🏡 HOUSE LEAGUE SCORES: An attempt to quantify which members of Council most often opposed zoning-related items on Council.
Hope you’ll consider signing up!
— Matt Elliott
What the advance vote tells us
The City has provided a ward-by-ward breakdown of the 129,745 votes cast in the early vote window between June 8 and June 13. I, of course, made a chart.
Using the Voter Statistics Open Data file from last fall’s election — the numbers will have changed a bit since then, but probably not by a lot — I can also estimate advance vote as a percentage of total eligible voters in each ward.
Kevin Rupasinghe then turned the data into a handy map showing the early vote share per 1,000 eligible voters.
To take the number crunching even further, I compared the per-ward advance vote for this election with the per-ward advance vote for last fall, both in raw terms and as a percentage of eligible voters. I also threw in last year’s provincial election result for each ward/riding.
The numbers look good for Olivia Chow. The top six wards with the strongest growth in the advance vote are all NDP-held ridings. By contrast, four of the five ridings that saw a decline in advance votes from last fall’s numbers are PC-held ridings.
Will this have any kind of predictive power? It’s hard to say. But we do know these advance votes are significant — depending on turnout, they likely represent between 15% and 25% of the total vote.
What we don’t know at this point is whether the early vote is representative of enthusiasm for Chow or just enthusiasm for getting voting done and over with. We’ll find out Monday.
💈 Poll Tracker: Will Tory’s endorsement matter?
I’m expecting a few more polls before election day, but the overall state of the race remains pretty stable, despite the efforts of former mayors and current premiers.
The latest Mainstreet Research poll has Ana Bailão up nine points following former mayor John Tory’s endorsement. Still, I’d caution that Mainstreet has consistently had Bailão’s numbers higher than any other pollster. Since the start of the campaign, Bailão’s average with Mainstreet is 18% — close to double the average she’s received in polls by Forum Research and Liaison Strategies.
As you’d expect, this morning’s Liaison Strategies poll is a little less enthusiastic about Bailão. It has Bailão up five points following the Tory endorsement, but it also has Olivia Chow up one point among decided voters.
In both polls, Chow’s lead remains well outside the margin of error, so the Bailão team will need to hope for more last-minute movement to make this a close race on Monday.
I’d expect at least two more polls this weekend — a final Forum Research survey and a final Mainstreet survey. In the next issue of this newsletter, I’ll compare the final numbers for each pollster with the election results.
🕶️ Endorsement Matrix update: Councillor Mike Colle enters the Matrix
The Endorsement Matrix has been updated. Councillor Mike Collle endorsed Ana Bailão at a campaign event yesterday, bringing her total number of Council endorsements to nine. The sheer number of endorsements — she’d have ten likely votes on any given issue, counting herself — definitely suggests Bailão would be ready to work to make things happen at Council.
The average “Team Tory” score from her endorsers is 87% — meaning her endorsers voted with John Tory on 87% of significant items. She’s the most status quo candidate, and the status quo likes that.
On the other hand, Chow’s smaller list of endorsers includes a lot of new councillors, and Councillor Gord Perks — who voted against Tory more than anyone else last term.
🔭 Platform View: On plans to fix CafeTO, give everyone $1,000 and slash the land transfer tax for first-time buyers — and a look at John Tory’s endorsement of Ana Bailão
My PLATFORM VIEW series has wrapped up. I looked at 29 candidate platform proposals, with a few diversions along the way. Here’s the latest:
Ana Bailão’s Plan to Revitalize Sports Fields for Kids and Families: ⭐️½ (1.5 out of five)
Olivia Chow’s plan to “fix CaféTO”: ⭐️⭐️½ (2.5 out of five)
Xiaohua Gong’s Plan for a “Vibrant, re-energized new economy!”: ⚫️ (Zero out of five)
Ana Bailão’s endorsement by former mayor John Tory: ⭐️⭐️ (2 out of five)
Mark Saunders’ plan to “Save Homebuyers Over $20,000”: ⚫️ (Zero out of five)
More from Matt: on the value of a candidate who brings some 90s nostalgia — plus some pre-election listening
📰 For the Toronto Star this week, I looked at the accusation that Olivia Chow is a candidate stuck in the 1990s, and… found out maybe that’s a good thing?
🤖 Here’s something really cool. I’ve been working with the team at TorontoVerse over the last couple of months as they build a GPT-powered chatbot that can answer questions about Toronto’s operating budget. It’s still in active development — and as an open-source project, you can contribute! — but it’s already super useful.
I wrote about TorontoBot here: the article includes links to join the Discord, where you can start asking your own budget questions.
🎧 I also appeared as co-host of Canadaland’s WAG THE DOUG podcast this week, talking about the mayoral election with my old pal Jonathan Goldsbie. We cover the gamut, from the serious candidates to the not-so-serious.
🎧 The final pre-election Toronto Star Opinionator Panel also taped this week, with me, Ed Keenan, Emma Teitel and Shawn Micallef, reacting to Tory’s endorsement and picking our highlights and lowlights from the campaign that was.
Don’t forget to vote
The next regular issue of this newsletter will be out on Tuesday, with a look at the results and the path forward for the new mayor. Remember, you can get the issue as part of a SPECIAL OFFER for new subscribers offering 30 days free.
And remember to vote, too, if you haven’t already. Voting booths open at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 26, and close at 8 p.m. Voting is fun. With phone books getting rarer, where else will you see 100+ names on one sheet of paper?