As Torontonians eagerly await the mayoral election to replace former Mayor John Tory, front-runner Olivia Chow has emerged as the clear favourite among decided voters, commanding an impressive 38 percent in the latest polls. Her lead of over 25 points against her closest competitor has solidified her position as the frontrunner. However, as history has shown, being in the lead does not guarantee victory on election day. While Chow seems poised for success, past electoral surprises remind us of the unpredictable nature of politics.
Several examples throughout political history demonstrate how front runners have faltered in the final stretch of a race, leading to their eventual defeat. One such case occurred during the 2006 California gubernatorial election. Phil Angelides, the Democratic candidate, maintained a comfortable lead in the polls for an extended period. However, his campaign suffered from missteps, including financial mismanagement and an inability to connect with voters effectively. These blunders contributed to his ultimate defeat by the incumbent Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Another notable instance transpired during the 1984 United States presidential election. Walter Mondale, the Democratic nominee, initially held a significant lead over the incumbent, Ronald Reagan. However, a pivotal moment during a debate dramatically shifted the tides. Reagan masterfully deflected concerns about his age by joking, “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” This well-timed remark resonated with voters and was crucial in Mondale’s subsequent loss.
While these cautionary tales highlight the potential for a front-runner’s downfall, Olivia Chow has garnered substantial support through her policies, experience, and distinguished public service record. Thus far, she has avoided major scandals that could undermine her lead. Barring significant mishaps, Chow appears to be on track to become Toronto’s top bureaucrat.
If the polls hold and Olivia Chow emerges victorious, she will join an exclusive group as the third woman to hold the distinction of Mayor of Toronto. Barbara Hall, a former city councillor who served Ward Seven for ten years, became Toronto’s 61st Mayor from December 1, 1994, to December 31, 1997. Before her, June Rowlands held the position of Toronto’s 60th Mayor from December 1, 1991, to November 30, 1994. Furthermore, Chow would make history as the first mayor of colour, representing one of Canada’s most multicultural communities.
As the mayoral race in Toronto enters its final weeks, Olivia Chow stands as the frontrunner with a commanding lead in the polls and a strong presence in the signage war. However, while the odds seem in her favour, election surprises are not unheard of. A political blunder, a misstep, or the revelation of a last-minute scandal can alter the path to victory. Only time will tell if Chow can maintain her lead and secure her place as Toronto’s next mayor. Torontonians eagerly await the outcome, recognizing the potential for history to repeat itself or for new records to be written.