Toronto mayoral debate set for tonight as polls show Olivia Chow widening lead

New polling ahead of the Toronto mayoral byelection suggests the race’s clear frontrunner is widening their lead.

The fresh polling comes as some of the main candidates get set to participate in the campaign’s second debate on Monday evening.

The top six polling candidates have been invited to the televised debate at the Daily Bread Food Bank in Etobicoke. Ana Bailão, Brad Bradford, Olivia Chow, Mitzie Hunter and Josh Matlow have confirmed their attendance. Former Toronto police chief Mark Saunders declined the invitation.

The debate is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and will be streamed live on the Daily Bread’s website.

The latest survey from Liaison Strategies suggests the current frontrunner Chow’s lead is growing over other top candidates. The poll conducted Friday and Saturday surveyed more than 1,200 decided and undecided Toronto voters.

The results have Chow with 20 per cent support amongst all voters and 30 per cent support amongst only decided voters. It is a two and three point gain, respectively, from the previous poll conducted a week earlier.

Former Toronto police chief Mark Saunders was second amongst decided voters (16 per cent), while Coun. Josh Matlow is close behind at 15 per cent.

Toronto mayor poll

“The story of the election so far has been Olivia Chow’s slow but steady ascent,” says David Valentin, Principal of Liaison Strategies. “Since announcing Chow has dominated public opinion surveys and this week it’s not different.”

A Mainstreet Research Poll conducted last week showed Chow with 31 per cent support of decided voters – more than double that of second place Ana Bailao (15 per cent).

A total of 102 candidates have registered to run for mayor in the byelection set for June 26, including a dog named Molly.

“Turnout in byelections is always a mystery though it would be surprising, despite 102 candidates, if it exceeded turnout for the last Toronto general election,” says Valentin. “Campaigns have a lot of work to do to reach the large pool of undecided voters.”

It’s the highest number of candidates ever registered to run for mayor, surpassing the previous high of 65 in the 2014 municipal election. In 2022, there were 31 candidates seeking the mayor’s job.

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