Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's approval rating is at its highest point since last June, a new poll by Forum Research Inc. has found.
The automated telephone poll of Toronto residents found that 47 per cent of those surveyed approve of the mayor's work, up from 41 per cent last month, and an analysis of the numbers by Forum Research suggests that Mr. Ford would be the likely winner in a three-way race if an election were held today.
That's good news for a mayor who has looked increasingly isolated at City Hall in recent months, following a string of setbacks on his transit agenda and a marked slip in his influence on council.
"He's kind of on the comeback trail," said Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research.
Mr. Bozinoff said that the mayor's difficulties with council could actually help him in the next election, since they will allow Mr. Ford to present himself as an underdog to voters and lay blame on an intransigent council for stifling his reform plans.
The poll suggests Toronto residents support several notable aspects on Mr. Ford's agenda, including his push for subways over light rail transit and his desire to privatize cleaning services at municipal buildings.
On transit, about 60 per cent of those polled said they favour a subway-based transit plan to light rail, with higher levels of support for subways outside of the downtown core.
"He's going to have a lot of issues I think he can run on [in an election]" Mr. Bozinoff said. "Saying, 'Look, I want to build the subway, I wanted more outsourcing, I want to get rid of the land transfer tax... and I couldn't because of council.' That's ideal to run on."
Mr. Bozinoff said the heightened approval numbers likely reflect several big wins by Mr. Ford during recent months, including his success at winning labour peace this spring after a series of hardball negotiations with city workers.
And the mayor's decision to again shun the city's Pride Parade is unlikely to come at a significant political cost, the poll suggests. Although 44 per cent of those surveyed believe Mr. Ford should attend the event, another 25 per cent said he shouldn't and 29 per cent said the choice should be his.
The automated telephone poll survey of 812 adult Toronto residents was conducted on April 18 and is considered accurate within plus or minus 3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.