Winnipeg's two leading mayoral candidates are heading for a photo finish in the Oct. 27 election race.
According to a Winnipeg Free Press/CBC Manitoba poll conducted by Leger Marketing, incumbent Sam Katz has a slight lead over opponent Judy Wasylycia-Leis.
Among voters who intend to vote and have done so in the past, 38 per cent say they will support Katz, while 32 per cent plan to cast a ballot for Wasylycia-Leis, the former NDP MP for the Winnipeg North riding.
Another 18 per cent are still undecided and "a six-point lead is by no means a comfortable edge," according to Leger.
The other candidates, Rav Gill and Brad Gross, each received one per cent support of those who participated in the survey.
Katz's lead shrinks considerably when the determination of those polled is considered. Wasylycia-Leis' supporters are hard-core, engaged in the campaign and likely to vote.
The Katz support is softer, less committed and perhaps less inclined to vote, said Dave Scholz, vice president of Leger Marketing.
"If anybody's not going to show up [at the ballot box] it's likely to be people who told us they would vote for him, as opposed to people who will vote for her," Scholz said.
"The challenge for him is make sure that those people are getting out to vote — giving them a reason to get out and vote on that day."
"[But] when looking at those who say they are very interested in the campaign right now, Judy Wasylycia-Leis enjoys a slight lead over the incumbent, suggesting that momentum may be going her way. Voter turnout figures come election day will be crucial as low turnout will likely advantage Judy."
Bad weather or good TV programming could keep those "soft voters" at home, Scholz said.
The "determined" support was based on questions posed to the respondents, including:
- How important is this election is to you?
- How involved are you personally in this election?
"We found that people who say they will vote for [Wasylycia-Leis] tend to have a stronger interest in the election than people who say will vote for Sam Katz," said Scholz.
"If she can deliver that core support, "she'll make up that six per cent very, very quickly," he added.
"It's one of those great elections in that you've got someone who's an incumbent, who people know very, very well. But at same time, the challenger is known very well from her role in other political situations, so [there are] two strong people coming into an election and it's not going to be an easy one to call on election night."
The poll results come from a random telephone survey of 800 adults living in Winnipeg. It was conducted from Oct. 6-17 and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.