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Rob Ford poses after a day of door-to-door canvassing in Scarborough.

JENNIFER ROBERTS/The Globe and Mail

Rob Ford has taken a lead in the race for mayor of Toronto, according to the first new poll to be released in two months.

The Etobicoke councillor has the backing of 37.6 per cent of decided voters and a nearly nine-point lead over George Smitherman, who enjoys 28.7 per cent support.

The Pollstra Research poll puts Joe Pantalone at 15.5 per cent and Sarah Thomson at 10.3 per cent; Rocco Rossi has slipped into last place at 7.9 per cent.

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Thirty-two per cent of voters remain undecided, the poll found.

Pollstra's telephone survey of 432 Torontonians - which was conducted between July 30 and Aug. 5 - also reveals how Mr. Ford's appeal has grown beyond his right-wing base.

He eclipsed Mr. Smitherman, the former Liberal deputy premier, among respondents who identified themselves as Liberals: 36.8 per cent said they would vote for Mr. Ford, 34.2 per cent for Mr. Smitherman.

Mr. Ford is the choice of 65.7 per cent of Conservatives and 20 per cent of New Democrats, whose top pick is Mr. Pantalone.

The poll is more good news for Sarah Thomson, who has gone from fringe candidate to genuine contender.

The poll has a margin of error plus or minus 3.8, 19 times out of 20.

Pollstra Research is a little-known, two-year-old polling firm whose Canadian offices are based out of Hamilton, Ont. Its parent company, Prime Contact, specializes in voter identification for campaigns in Canada and the U.S.

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Josh Justice, the president of Pollstra Research, refused to say who had paid for the poll, other than to describe the funder as a non-partisan research organization which asked that its name be withheld.

Pollstra did some polling for candidate Giorgio Mammoliti before he dropped out of the mayor's race.

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