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Bowman has big lead, poll shows

Incumbent mayoral candidate Brian Bowman has reason to smile based on recent poll numbers.


Incumbent mayoral candidate Brian Bowman has reason to smile based on recent poll numbers.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/10/2018 (605 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Incumbent Brian Bowman has built a huge lead over his closest mayoral competitor — with just three weeks left in the election.

Bowman has the support of 61 per cent of decided respondents, compared with 28 per cent for his closest rival, Jenny Motkaluk, a new Probe poll commissioned by the Winnipeg Free Press and CTV Winnipeg has found.

Mary Agnes Welch, a research associate at Probe, said Motkaluk has a tough road ahead if she hopes to slow down Bowman’s momentum.

"Anything is possible in a election, but for a challenger to close that gap, there has to be a fair bit of interest, momentum, a sexiness to an election — and we’re seeing in some ways the exact opposite of that in this campaign," Welch said. "I sense we are not obsessively engaged in this election and that makes it a little trickier for a challenger to knock out an incumbent, which is always tricky."


The poll found:

• Bowman is the preferred candidate across all demographic sub-groups.

• Bowman leads in voter support in all areas of the city, with his support strongest in the southwest (69 per cent, compared with 21 per cent for Motkaluk) and southeast (64 per cent for Bowman, 25 per cent for Motkaluk). The gap between the two is narrowest in the northeast, where Motkaluk is polling at 40 per cent, compared with 53 per cent for Bowman.

• Bowman’s strongest level of support is among those who say they are Liberals (72 per cent) and New Democrats (69 per cent), compared with 52 per cent among PC-leaning voters. Motkaluk’s biggest base are the PCs (37 per cent), compared with 21 per cent from Liberals, and 19 per cent from the provincial NDP.

• The percentage of undecided respondent is at 32 per cent, down considerably from the 57 per cent undecided Probe found in a poll commissioned by CBC in late August. In that poll, Bowman had support of 22 per cent of respondents, with Motkaluk at 11 per cent.

From Motkaluk’s and her supporters’ point of view, the election remains up for grabs, as there is still a large number of respondents reporting they are undecided. Among those who marked "don’t know" for their answer, that group (39 per cent) outdrew Bowman (34 per cent) and Motkaluk (15 per cent).

Welch said when the 39 per cent undecided were asked on a follow-up question who they were leaning towards, support for Bowman climbed to 61 per cent, compared to 28 per cent for Motkaluk -- and the number of undecided dropped to the 32 per cent figure used on the poll.


Welch said it’s not unusual to have 30 per cent of respondents mark "don’t know" on election polling, and that group doesn’t usually vote come election day.

Motkaluk is basically where Bowman was four years ago: with three weeks left in the 2014 campaign, Judy Wasylycia-Leis had the support of 41 per cent of decided voters, with Bowman in second at 23 per cent. On election night, Bowman was able to do what no one thought possible, capturing 47.5 per cent of ballots cast to Wasylycia-Leis’ 24.9 per cent.

It will take an unexpected incident or a major gaffe on Bowman’s part for Motkaluk to bridge the gap, Welch said, or Motkaluk’s team will have to show skills on election day no one has yet seen.

Aaron Moore, an associate professor of political studies at the University of Winnipeg, said he’s not surprised by the polling results, and doesn’t think Motkaluk will get the last-minute bounce Bowman did four years ago.

Moore said Motkaluk is offering voters a narrow, limited vision for the city that is only appealing to right-wing voters and has left her campaign with little room to grow.

"I think Motkaluk’s campaign is floundering a bit right now," he said. "She’s playing to her base and she needs to broaden her support."

Moore said he doesn’t expect to see Motkaluk show the kind of end-of-game strength Bowman did in 2014.

Bowman's leading competitor for the mayor's office, Jenny Motkaluk has work to do if she wants to catch Bowman in the polls.


Bowman's leading competitor for the mayor's office, Jenny Motkaluk has work to do if she wants to catch Bowman in the polls.

'I think Motkaluk’s campaign is floundering a bit right now. She’s playing to her base and she needs to broaden her support' – Aaron Moore, associate professor of political studies at the University of Winnipeg

"Bowman, who doesn’t really have any left-wing competition, is straddling the centre and that’s a giant chunk of the electorate," Moore said. "Motkaluk’s capacity to grow is much more limited than Brian Bowman’s was in 2014, because she can only really expand among right-wing voters and that really leaves him with the advantage in this election."

Motkaluk, who along with Bowman, was shown a summary of the poll results Wednesday, said she’s focusing her efforts on the large number of undecided.

"Once again polls are telling us that a huge block of voters are still undecided and that no candidate has this locked up," Motkaluk said in an email statement to the Free Press. "Understandably, Winnipeggers are demanding more concrete commitments before they cast their ballot, so that’s what I intend to deliver."

Kelly McCrae, Bowman’s campaign manager, said the poll results will not alter plans for the rest of the campaign.

"Mayor Bowman will continue working to communicate his vision for a safe and inclusive city for families that plans for one million people strong," McCrae said. "There is only one poll that matters, and that is election day."

Welch said what’s been lacking in the campaign has been any vision or big-picture thinking — from either of the two front-runners.

"What we haven’t seen from either candidate is a particularly dream or vision for the city," Welch said. "In that way, the campaign is conservative. Small promises, small, street-level issues, pretty limited promises for change, from both of them."

The Free Press, along with WinnipegREALTORS, is sponsoring a mayoral forum for all candidates at the Centre culturel franco-manitobain Thursday.

The civic election is Oct. 24.



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Updated on Thursday, October 4, 2018 at 10:37 AM CDT: Typos fixed.

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