It must be an election because we now have polling data. In a Forum Poll released Tuesday looking at the Guelph Mayoral race, it seems as if current mayor, Karen Farbridge, had best be prepared to look for new work on October 28. Of course, this poll comes fairly early in the (real) campaign, and we all know the unreliability of polling in the last couple of years, but is it an indication that Farbridge may come up short for a fourth term in office, and that Cam Guthrie's gambit to trade his Ward 4 seat for the mayor's chain will work out?
In a random sampling, Forum found that Guthrie had 36 per cent support about decided Guelph voters; Farbridge meanwhile was 15 points back at 21 per cent. University professor Jason Blokhuis came in third with four per cent, while Andrew Donovan, John Legere, and Joseph St. Denis each got one per cent a piece. Nicholas Ross, it seems, did not out any points on the board. A total of 36 per cent of voters are still undecided, so there are still a lot of votes up for grabs.
Breaking down the numbers further, Guthrie's share of the vote is characterized as older, low income $20-$40,000), least educated (high school or less), childless and are typically PC voters provincially; Farbridge supporters tend to be younger, male, wealthy ($100,000+), with the most education and are Liberal voters provincially.
The numbers that really hurt Farbridge though are approval ratings. While four out of every five voters are aware of Guthrie, he enjoys a 73 per cent approval rating among them for his work as a city councillor. Farbridge, by comparison, enjoys only 37 per cent approval for her current tenure as mayor. In comparing the two recent controversies: the Urbacon ruling and the transit lockout, voters polled said that the wrongful dismissal of the city hall contractors will weigh more on their vote than the labour disruption on city buses. 53 per cent said that the Urbacon ruling will affect their vote over 40 per cent for the transit lockout, although the majority in both cases say that it will affect their vote in favour of Guthrie.
"It looks like the controversies of her administration have caught up with her, and Karen Farbridge may have to surrender her chain of office. Cam Guthrie has obviously tapped into a vein of conservative-leaning support that sees big money city-building projects as unnecessary," said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.
Working to Farbridge's (and the other candidates') advantage is that there's a lot of time to kill between now and October 27, but that also means that Guthrie has a lot of time to solidify and expand his lead. Either way, consider the campaign on!