A recent survey found supporters of Mayor John Tory and his leading challenger, Gil Penalosa, share significant common ground on several high-profile issues, including overwhelming support for a citywide ban on handguns.

The findings from Vox Pop Labs, the data science firm behind Vote Compass, showed that 83 per cent of Tory’s supporters strongly believe handguns should be prohibited in Toronto, while 80 per cent of people who favour Penalosa feel the same way.

Vote Compass: See which candidate is right for you

A majority of Tory and Penalosa backers also support improving social services to combat crime, creating more homeless shelters (even in neighbourhoods that don’t welcome them), building more subway lines, combating climate change even if it’s costly, and setting a limit on rent increases.

The survey is based on responses from more than 10,600 Torontonians between Oct. 5 and Oct. 18. The data is weighted by various personal characteristics — such as age, gender and income — to accurately reflect the city’s population.

Still, the survey demonstrated a wide range of opinion among Tory’s supporters on many issues, an indication of the two-term mayor’s broad-based appeal, which he’s worked hard to cultivate.

“He very much tries to position himself as a centrist candidate,” noted Clifton van der Linden, founder of Vox Pop Labs and an assistant professor of political science at McMaster University.

Interestingly, a majority of both Tory and Penalosa supporters disagreed with the premise that Toronto should keep taxes low even if it results in fewer services for residents.

However, most folks who favour the incumbent mayor also said they’d like property taxes to stay the same or decrease — in contrast to a majority of Penalosa fans who support increasing taxes.

People who prefer Tory also tended to oppose cuts to the Toronto Police Service’s budget and approved of efforts to clear homeless encampments from city parks. On those issues, folks who support Penalosa and other left-leaning candidates, like Sarah Climenhaga and Chloe-Marie Brown, mostly disagreed.

Climate change, bike lanes, Indigenous reconciliation, public transportation, social services and rental protections were high-priority issues for progressive voters.

Regardless of any common ground, Tory and Penalosa’s supporters still identified quite differently when it came to political ideology.

According to a survey of more than 13,000 people, those who favoured the incumbent mayor indicated they were, on average, centre-right. Penalosa’s supporters, meanwhile, gravitated to the left side of the political spectrum, though not as far to the left as those who planned to vote for Brown, according to Vox Pop Labs. The survey asked respondents to place themselves on a scale between 0 and 10, where 0 is left and 10 is right.

Supporters of Jack Yan, a young financial analyst, identified as further right than those who prefer the mayor, and their policy views reflected those leanings.

“People say, ‘Well, there’s nothing left or right about your preferences on garbage pickup,’ ” van der Linden said.

And there’s some truth to that, he continued. (The overlapping opinion on several issues appears to back that up.) However, van der Linden believes these new findings challenge the notion that — despite a lack of political parties — municipal elections are bereft of ideology.

“The Toronto municipal election is, to a certain extent, an ideological battleground.”

Ben Mussett is a Toronto-based general assignment reporter for the Star. Reach him via email: