Murray maintains wide lead with decided voters: poll

Whether it is nostalgia, name recognition or running a good campaign, with little more than five weeks remaining before Winnipeggers choose their next mayor, Glen Murray continues to hold a commanding lead over the 11-candidate field.

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Whether it is nostalgia, name recognition or running a good campaign, with little more than five weeks remaining before Winnipeggers choose their next mayor, Glen Murray continues to hold a commanding lead over the 11-candidate field.

A recent Free Press-CTV Winnipeg poll conducted by Probe Research shows Murray with a more than 2-1 advantage over his closest rivals — with 40 per cent of decided voters saying they would cast their ballot for the former mayor (who held the seat from 1998-2004) in the Oct. 26 election.

That number is down from the 44 per cent support a similar poll in July reported.

Coun. Scott Gillingham (St. James) was second at 15 per cent (down one percentage point from July), followed by social entrepreneur Shaun Loney, who jumped to 14 per cent support (from six per cent).

Former mayor Glen Murray has a commanding lead in early polling for the upcoming civic election. (Winnipeg Free Press file)

Coun. Kevin Klein (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood) was in fourth place, at 10 per cent.

Former Liberal MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette suffered the steepest decline between polls, dropping to seven per cent support from 13 per cent in July.

Jenny Motkaluk (runner-up in the 2018 election) was sixth, with four per cent of decided voters’ support. Former Manitoba Liberal leader Rana Bokhari was at three per cent, as was Wilderness Supply store owner Rick Shone.

Added together, the total support for the second-, third- and fourth-place candidates is still less than Murray’s number.

“I still have a keen sense of responsibility and gratitude for the trust people have, but I always say you run like you’re in second place — you run hard and you never take anything for granted,” Murray (also a city councillor from 1989-98) said on Friday.

With summer over, it is only now voters are really paying attention to candidates and the issues, Gillingham said.

“I’ve got a credible plan,” he said. “Voters will see, when election day comes, they have a choice between my credible plan and Glen’s nostalgia.

“There is still a large percentage of voters in this poll who have not made a decision. I will continue to work really hard.”

Probe principal Mary Agnes Welch agreed there is a large chunk of votes still available: only four in 10 decided voters had locked in a preferred choice — and 39 per cent of those asked said they were still undecided.

“So you could say Glen Murray has an insurmountable lead or that voters are still fickle about their choices,” Welch said. “Voters are still making up their minds. Even those who said they are leaning towards a candidate said they could change their mind.”

Of those who said they will vote for Murray, only 37 per cent said they are very certain about their choice and 60 per cent said they are somewhat certain.

For Gillingham supporters, 43 per cent said they are very certain and 48 per cent are somewhat certain. Loney’s numbers split at 49 per cent very certain and 48 per cent somewhat certain.

That 39 per cent undecided block could help either the candidates hoping to move forward or bolster the front-runner, Welch said.

“Two things happen: most don’t vote or they break the way everyone else does.”

The newest poll will likely disappoint Ouellette and Motkaluk most, Welch said.

“Earlier in the summer, (Ouellette) was getting more attention from voters than he is now. His campaign hasn’t caught fire and his support has really dropped,” she said.

“With Motkaluk, there are a couple more candidates on the centre right, so she is being overshadowed by Gillingham and Klein.”

Does a large lead in the polls mean Murray should be dusting off the mayor’s chair? Ask Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

In 2014, Wasylycia-Leis was riding high in the polls for months, with Gord Steeves and Brian Bowman battling for a distant second.

“Two weeks out in 2014, we were leading every candidate substantially, everywhere in the city and with women and men. Then we had the bottom get knocked out from under us,” Wasylycia-Leis said this week.

“A tsunami came in that we did not feel until days before the election.”

Mayoral candidate Scott Gillingham is currently polling second at 15 per cent. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Bowman (who had pulled ahead of Steeves) began linking Wasylycia-Leis, a former provincial NDP cabinet minister and MP, with the then-Selinger NDP provincial government, which had recently raised the PST to eight per cent.

“I can remember talking to people at a shopping mall and suddenly feeling a cold shoulder and then someone yelled out, ‘You’re just going to raise taxes.’ It was too late to turn things around,” she said.

Bowman won the first of his two terms by a wide margin. He is not seeking a third term.

Wasylycia-Leis said her experience should be a lesson for all mayoral candidates.

“The campaign is just really starting now,” she said. “The numbers can change on a dime. I say to everyone, you’ve got to use every second you can to tell people who you are. Based on my experience, anything can happen.”

Social entrepreneur Shaun Loney jumped to 14 per cent support. (Ruth Bonneville / WInnipeg Free Press files)

Having Murray return to the mayor’s chair would be more than nostalgia, said University of Winnipeg Prof. Jino Distasio.

“I think in terms of mayors the last number of years, you really have to look back to Glen Murray’s time when a good urban vision as part of a platform,” the director of the Institute of Urban Studies said.

“The development of rapid transit was under Murray’s time. It was Sam Katz, who in his first two weeks in office cancelled Murray’s transit program, only to start it a while later. We need a really comprehensive transportation plan and a champion for it.”

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

Survey says

The Free Press-CTV Probe Research poll surveyed 600 Winnipeg adults Sept. 8-18.

The random and representative sample consisted of 236 Winnipeggers recruited by live agent operators, 208 found using interactive voice response, and 156 from Probe Research’s online panel.

There were 318 decided voters in the survey. All participants did the survey on an online platform. Probe placed a 95 per cent certainty the poll results will be plus or minus four per cent.

Where the top five mayoral candidate contenders are getting their support:

• Glen Murray: leads in all areas of the city, with his strongest support, at 48 per cent, in the core area. Has 49 per cent support of decided women and 34 per cent of men. Most popular with provincial NDP supporters (50 per cent) and provincial Liberals (53 per cent).

• Scott Gillingham: most popular with Progressive Conservative supporters at 32 per cent. At 19 per cent, is more popular with decided men than woman (nine per cent).

• Shaun Loney: second-most popular candidate with NDP supporters, at 23 per cent. Twenty per cent of university graduates support him, with zero per cent of people with high school education or less. Eighteen per cent of decided women support him, versus 11 per cent of men.

• Kevin Klein: 23 per cent of PC supporters, 26 per cent of people with a high school diploma or less.

• Robert-Falcon Ouellette: more popular among Indigenous Winnipeggers (19 per cent) and BIPOC/racialized citizens (17 per cent).

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