Wasylycia-Leis leading Winnipeg mayoral race, 2 polls find

Two early election polls put Judy Wasylycia-Leis in the front of the race for the mayor's job in Winnipeg.

Gord Steeves, Brian Bowman close behind, according to survey results

An early election poll puts Judy Wasylycia-Leis in the front of the race for the mayor's job in Winnipeg. 1:53

Two early election polls put Judy Wasylycia-Leis in the front of the race for the mayor's job in Winnipeg.

The results of a Probe Research online survey, dubbed "Canada's first crowdsourced election survey," says 39 per cent of decided survey respondents said they would vote for Wasylycia-Leis in the Oct. 22 civic election.

Another poll that was commissioned by ChrisD.ca and conducted by Toronto-based Forum Research, suggests 21 per cent of those contacted would vote for Wasylycia-Leis.

"One single poll doesn't mean too much. Two polls that go in the same direction — which is what we have today with Forum and Probe, both putting Wasylycia-Leis way ahead of her two nearest opponents — then that tells me something," said Raymond Hébert, a local political scientist, told CBC News.

The results of the Forum Research poll were released to the public on Thursday morning, while the results of the Probe Research survey were sent that afternoon to those who contributed to the crowdsourcing campaign.

A total of 606 Winnipeggers responded to the Forum poll, which was conducted on Wednesday. About 39 per cent of respondents said they were undecided.

Wasylycia-Leis said while she is happy with the Forum results, she is concerned that 39 per cent of those polled in that survey said they are undecided.

"The results are encouraging but I still think it indicates a close race,” she said. "High undecided  for me, that indicates there is a lot of work to do and the next two months are critical."

She added, "We have a lot of work to do to get our ideas across to Winnipeggers and to demonstrate how my position is distinct from other candidates."

Brian Bowman and Gord Steeves are virtually tied for second place according to the poll, both registering at 13 and 12 per cent respectively.

Accountability and infrastructure were the top issues for those polled.

The Forum poll was conducted by interactive voice response with a margin of error of three per cent, 19 times out of 20.

In a statement, Bowman said he's "encouraged to be gaining momentum with Winnipeg residents, most of whom are looking for fresh, positive change.

"We offer a strong alternative to the status quo. And so we will be working hard to earn the confidence of Winnipeggers, including those who are currently undecided, before October 22nd," he added.

Poll puts Ouellette ahead of Havixbeck

The Forum poll puts Robert-Falcon Ouellette at six per cent, ahead of rival candidate and current city councillor Paula Havixbeck (two per cent).

Ouellette said he's "extremely happy" because he's a candidate "who no one had even heard about three months ago [and] is now sitting in fourth place, in front of a municipal councillor."

He said while he's encouraged by the poll's findings, the high percentage of undecided voters leaves a lot of room for him to grow.

But Havixbeck and Michael Vogiatzakis, who was not in the Forum poll's top five, said they are not giving any stock to the results.

"I thought it was quite laughable," Havixbeck said.

"When I go to a restaurant now,  when I go to a coffee shop, at least half the coffee shop is getting up to come and shake my hand, telling me that they're supporting me."

Havixbeck and Vogiatzakis noted that 39 per cent of respondents are still not decided, and both noted that Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi was elected in 2010 despite being ranked last in pre-election polling there.

"I'm not really concerned [about] where I stand in the polls," Vogiatzakis said.

"This election should be about the people of Winnipeg. And I'm going to do my best to let the people know what I will do and how I will be a different mayor and how I will change the city."

Ouellette said he recently travelled to Calgary to get some advice from Nenshi.

Probe poll puts Steeves in 2nd place

In the Probe poll, Steeves came in second place at 23 per cent, followed by Bowman with 16 per cent, Ouellette at 10 per cent and Havixbeck at seven per cent.

“Right from the beginning of this campaign, we have had three right-of-centre candidates running to be mayor. 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.”

David Sanders came in at four per cent, while Vogiatzakis and Michel Fillion rounded out the pack at one per cent each.

Those who responded to the survey cited road disrepair, accountability and problems with city water pipes as their three most important issues.

The poll was conducted by Probe Research and funded through a public crowdsourcing campaign. The United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg and Manitoba Forward, a citizen group, donated the highest amounts.

Probe Research collected 603 online surveys through its custom online panel between Aug. 22 and Aug. 25.

Officials with the polling firm say the respondents are Winnipeg residents who have previously agreed to phone surveys and agreed to be contacted for future polls.

The poll questions were emailed to respondents, who were also asked a screening question to ensure they are Winnipeggers.

Variables include the ages and genders of the respondents, as well as what region of the city they live in.

Local political analyst Chris Adams says there's still a lot of time left in the campaign, and polls in August are not a great indication.

"Usually we expect, in a civic election in October, the campaign really aggressively gets going in September after Labour Day," he said. "So right now, we are in the salad days before the critical period."


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