Despite a summer of campaigning and an announcement blitz by mayoral challenger Gord Steeves, Judy Wasylycia-Leis has a comfortable lead in Winnipeg's race for mayor, according to a unique crowd-funded poll released Thursday.
Wasylycia-Leis a former NDP MP and MLA has a comfortable 16-point lead over Steeves, her nearest challenger. Among decided voters, Wasylycia-Leis enjoys the support of 39 per cent of them. That's nearly unchanged from the 42 per cent of votes she won in the last election and mirrors the result of the last major civic poll done in February.
Meanwhile, according to Probe Research's poll, Steeves has the support of 23 per cent of decided voters, a six-point increase from February. Privacy lawyer Brian Bowman earned 16 per cent of the vote.
Those results, and those of a similar poll released earlier Thursday, had Steeves calling for other candidates on the right to step aside so the vote isn't split between them.
"To prevent the NDP from taking over city hall, it is necessary to consolidate the support of right-of-centre voters," Steeves said in a statement. "It is clear from the Probe poll that Judy Wasylycia-Leis can only be defeated with one right-of-centre candidate in the mayoral race."
Pollsters Curtis Brown and Scott MacKay stressed that campaigns matter, 28 per cent of voters are still undecided and there remains eight weeks until Winnipeggers hit the polls Oct. 22.
Wasylycia-Leis's hold on her core support has been remarkably stable, despite a low-key campaign. She leads in all quadrants of the city except the southeast, which includes St. Vital, where Steeves was a longtime city councillor. She is seen as the best candidate to tackle most top issues, including renewing public trust in city hall and repairing infrastructure. And her supporters told pollsters they are very firm in their intentions to vote for her.
"To beat Judy, at this point, a lot of things have to break in a perfect order," said Brown.
That includes the unlikely withdrawal of Bowman and Paula Havixbeck from the race and the continued erosion of Wasylycia-Leis's support to indigenous leader Robert-Falcon Ouellette, who is a strong second choice among committed Judy voters.
Ouellette enjoys 10 per cent of the vote while Havixbeck trails badly with seven per cent.
Also released Thursday was a poll commissioned by online news outlet ChrisD.ca that also gave Wasylycia-Leis a strong lead among decided voters. But, the second-place position differed, and the number of undecided voters was much higher.
ChrisD.ca's poll, a random sampling of 606 Winnipeg voters, was done by the Forum research group using a one-day round of robocalls. It also found Wasylycia-Leis has the support of 34 per cent of voters, followed by Bowman at 20 per cent, Steeves at 19 per cent, Ouellette at 10 per cent and Havixbeck at three per cent.
But, a significant number of respondents -- 39 per cent -- were undecided.
Forum's polling methods, which rely on touch-tone responses, have come under fire, most recently during the federal byelection in Brandon-Souris. There, a last-minute, one-day Forum survey put the Liberals ahead by 29 points. Instead, Liberal candidate Rolf Dinsdale lost to the Conservatives.
What do you think of the mayoral horse race that is shaping up? Join the conversation in the comments below.
Question: As you may have heard, Winnipeggers will go to the polls this October to elect a Mayor. There are eight candidates running for mayor. Which of the following candidates would you be most likely to vote for? (Among decided voters)
- Judy Wasylycia-Leis - 39%
- Gord Steeves - 23%
- Brian Bowman - 16%
- Robert-Falcon Ouelette - 10%
- Paula Havixbeck - 7%
- David Sanders - 4%
- Mike Vogiatzakis - 1%
- Michel Fillion - 1%
Question: When you think about this year's elections for mayor and city council, what is the most important issue you would like the next mayor and city council to deal with? And what other issues would you urge the next mayor and council to deal with? (Voters could name more than one issue.)
- Road disrepair - 69%
- Accountability - 48%
- Water/frozen pipes - 30%
- Taxes - 29%
- Poverty/homelessness - 26%
- Downtown/urban renewal - 24%
- Crime - 23%
- Economy - 19%
Other poll highlights:
- Wasylycia-Leis has the firmest support. Roughly 90 per cent of her supporters say they are very, or fairly, certain to vote for her.
- Ouellette has the most momentum, based on the number of people who say their opinion of him has improved or worsened. A net of 16 per cent of voters said their opinion of him has improved in recent months. Steeves has negative momentum, with a net of 28 per cent of voters saying they have a worse view of him now.
- Steeves has strong support among men and high-income earners. And, he's viewed as the best candidate the deal with crime.
About the poll:
Online surveys were sent to some of the more than 3,000 willing respondents to Probe polls. The online surveys were filled out by more than 600 people between Aug. 22 and 25. The results were weighted to reflect the true gender, age and income breakdowns in Winnipeg. It was funded through a unique crowd-sourcing model, with the major contributors being the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg and Manitoba Forward along with nearly 40 others. The results are considered to be accurate to + or - four per cent, 95 per cent of the time.