Recent polls by Forum show some interesting details.
I recognize almost all the names proposed except David Soknacki. According to Wikipedia, he ran for Mayor of Scarborough and was a city councillor in the past. He announced he will run, but, frankly, I don't see how he could possibly win, especially against such big names with such big machines behind them.
Denzil Minnan-Wong performs very poorly. A funny personal story; when I first met him I had no idea who he was, and almost offered him a slice of pizza as I'd bought one too many. I'm surprised he, as one of the more well known right-wingers on council did not perform better even in polls without many right-wing opponents.
Adam Vaughan did well up until Chow announced she was running. While there is no official "Toronto NDP" the unofficial rules mean Vaughan can't and won't run against her.
Sarah Thomson has polled well in some of the heats, but she has not been able really improve on her past standing. I compare her to Martha Hall Findlay in the recent Liberal leadership. MHF finished last in her first contest but managed a near second in the more recent contest. Thomson could do the same, but I can not see her winning.
Bob Rae, George Smitherman, Shelly Carrol, Michael Bryant, and Jose Canseco have all been polled and do well, but, none of them seem to be gearing up for a run.
John Tory polls well. I don't see him gearing up for a run, but, these poll numbers are so good and so frequent, I can not count him out.
Karen Stintz has announced she will run. She is the current head of the TTC, and a former Ford ally. She's seen as right-moderate and could be seen as occupying the same space politically that John Tory does.
Olivia Chow also wants to run. She commands a great deal of personal support and can rely on a good base of 20% of the vote just for being an NDPer.
Rob Ford will run again unless he's tossed in jail, which seems unlikely, or his brother and mother abandon support for him, which seems less likely.
So what do the polls tell us?
First, they tell us that against Rob Ford, almost anybody has the potential to win. Head to Head, Ford-Tory, Ford-Chow, and Ford-Stintz leads to poll numbers within a few points of one another. It gets far more complicated the more candidates you add.
John Tory seems to be the biggest spoiler. In any 3 or 4 way race that includes him, Ford seems to come closest to victory.
Karen Stintz elicits the largest "dont know" responses, indicating that voters are unfamiliar with her. It is my guess that once she becomes more well known these poll numbers will change.
Olivia Chow, like it or not, seems to have the best chance to defeat Ford; being able to defeat or almost defeat him in every contest she is in.
So, who are the swing voters?
#1 - Transit Users
Most people who actually use the system do not support Ford's idea of what the TTC should be. These voters also seem unimpressed with John Tory, relative to the levels of support he gets from drivers. Transit users are thus more liable to swing between Stintz and Chow. Chow, as a well known advocate for better Transit has their trust, while Stintz seems to be able to say "I'm a right-winger but you can trust me with your transit network"
#2 - The Middle Class
The largest chunk of supporters for Rob Ford comes not from the super rich, but from those making between $40K and $80K a year. How close these people stick to Ford will determine if he can win, and if not, who will take his place. Stintz performs slightly better than Chow does here, compared to her base vote, and this may cause troubles for Chow if they move en masse.
#3 - Smitherman Voters
Most people who voted for Smitherman last time are split on what to do now. In 3-way races they seem far more liable to back the more "moderate" candidate, but this changes in 4-way races where they trend more towards the strongest candidate to beat Ford.
#4 - Ford Voters
John Tory seems able to do something that the others can not; convince Ford voters to vote for somebody other than Ford. With so many of them, this could be the key to victory. Ironically, Tory's ability to do the same for non-Ford voters may also split the vote.
Overall, these polls are chalk full of numbers. If you are like me and love to sit around and analyze this stuff, you are in for a fun day!
Disclaimer: As a Toronto resident I can vote in the next election and plan to. Of these field of candidates I'll almost certainly be voting for Karen Stintz; though I could be swayed by another candidate who makes transit a top priority. My support may thus bias my coverage, and unlike my other declared supports, this one may be unknown to readers, so, I wanted to include this information to be transparent.
I should also add that I have an intense dislike of John Tory.