CBC TorontoOntario Votes 2011

Toronto Votes: Playing the numbers game

Joe Pantalone
Joe Pantalone
(The Campaign to Elect Joe Pantalone)
Jamie Strashin

By Jamie Strashin

In the days since Sarah Thomson departed a mayor's race she could never win, there has been much debate about who will throw in the towel next.

But will Thomson's departure have any real impact? And if Rocco Rossi decides to end his bid, as a recent Toronto Star article suggested, will it matter?

It's unclear if either will be able to offer George Smitherman the guaranteed numbers he needs to be the definitive "Anybody but Ford" candidate. Even if you accept Thomson had nine or 10 per cent of the decided vote, how many of these people will now support Smitherman?

Will they stay home? Or vote for Ford? No one knows. The same thing goes for Rossi. Only Joe Pantalone's departure will impact the result of this election.

The wrong man at the wrong time?

Many watching the race say that for Pantalone, it now has to be a question of when - not if. He must realize that a significant majority of the electorate have already rejected a legacy he seeks to maintain.

But his core supporters think otherwise. They are committed to the belief that Toronto is a city on the grow that doesn't need major fixing, as Ford has said repeatedly. He also has more voters in his corner than either Thomson or Rossi. Pantalone been polling at anywhere from 10 to 15 per cent.

If Pantalone dropped out, his supporters would surely flock to Smitherman. There are few of them who would ever contemplate voting for Ford. And the thought of the Etobicoke councillor as mayor would surely drive them to the polls on election night.

But Pantalone's age and political tenure makes any conversation about his departure difficult. As someone from the Smitherman camp told me: "Nobody wants to tell Joe to go."

How do you tell a man who has done nothing but win in elected politics that he cannot succeed this time?

He needs to be convinced that everything he has worked his entire political life to achieve is in jeopardy. And he may be the only one who can stop it.