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Debate viewers pick Chow, Ford in real-time voting

In another first, CityNews gave viewers an opportunity to participate in the first televised Toronto mayoral debate on Wednesday by letting them vote in real time on how the top five candidates fared. And it appears rivals Olivia Chow and Rob Ford came out on top.

The contenders — Chow, Ford, David Soknacki, Karen Stintz and John Tory — were asked questions on three topics: leadership, finances and transit. And viewers were asked to respond either by tweeting, texting or clicking on a poll online.

CityNews partnered with California company Poll Everywhere on the real-time voting. At one point during the debate, the response overwhelmed Poll Everywhere’s servers and caused delays for some people who were clicking to vote. The firm told CityNews that all texts and tweets were registered in the vote calculations. The results below are unscientific.

Before the debate began, 38 per cent of voters believed Chow would win the debate, followed by Tory (35 per cent) and Ford (20 per cent).

And after the debate, viewers said Chow still had their votes at 43 per cent. But Ford stepped into second place with 34 per cent and Tory finished third at 19 per cent. Stintz registered about the same before and after the debate at three per cent, while Soknacki appeared to register even less after the debate at two per cent, down from five per cent.

During the debate, viewers said they trusted Chow the most when it comes to transit. Nearly 40 per cent said they trusted Chow, who wants “an above-ground train” (LRT) in Scarborough compared to Ford, who wants a Scarborough subway, at 31 per cent and Tory, who also favours the subway, at 22 per cent.

But on finances, voters said they trusted Ford the most with the city’s budget followed by Chow and Tory. Using his popular rhetoric of “stopping the gravy train,” Ford told viewers that during his term in office he saved taxpayers $1 billion, a figure that has been disputed in media reports and by the city manager.

Ford also came out on top as the person voters most trust to lead Toronto at 40 per cent, followed by Chow at 32 per cent and Tory at 24 per cent. The incumbent told viewers that the crack cocaine scandal that has dogged him since it first surfaced last May is a story people have heard already. “It’s rewind, rewind, rewind.” But he said he was elected to watch taxypayers’ dollars and that’s what he’s done.