Bowman leads Motkaluk 2-to-1 in mayoral poll, but majority of voters still undecided
'We don't love him, we don't mind him, but we are open to other alternatives': pollster
Brian Bowman is Winnipeg's preferred choice for mayor, but "a huge pool" of undecided voters means the incumbent candidate has yet to have a lock on re-election in October.
That's the conclusion of a CBC-commissioned Probe Research poll that suggests 22 per cent of Winnipeg voters intend to select Bowman as mayor on Oct. 24.
Eleven per cent would choose challenger Jenny Motkaluk, according to the poll, which found 57 per cent of Winnipeg adults undecided about their intentions during the final week of August.
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"There's a huge pool of undecideds," said Mary Agnes Welch, a senior Probe researcher. "More than half of Winnipeggers are undecided on who they want to vote for for mayor. That's a sizable number, even two months out from an election."
Probe Research polls of mayoral voting intentions in 2010 and 2014 pegged undecided voters at 25 per cent and 23 per cent of the population, respectively, approximately one month before the vote.
Although Bowman leads Motkaluk two- to-one in the poll, the large proportion of undecideds suggests the incumbent could be looking over his shoulder, Welch said.
"I wouldn't call it a horse race by any stretch yet, but I think Jenny Motkaluk might be doing a little better than a lot of people anticipated at this point," the pollster said.
Bowman called the poll encouraging but said the only poll that matters is on election day.
"I have no illusions. I am going to have to work very hard with my volunteer team, that you saw here tonight, to earn the support of Winnipeggers," Bowman said following a Thursday night campaign launch at RBC Convention Centre.
Motkaluk also said she's pleased by the Probe poll.
"That puts us within striking distance," she said Thursday in an interview at her Ness Avenue campaign office.
"For a first-term incumbent mayor to be only polling at 22 per cent, indicates to me that Winnipeggers are looking for a change."
The online Probe Research poll of 600 Winnipeg adults, recruited from a panel to reflect the general population, was conducted between Aug. 27 and 31. It has an error margin of four per cent.
The poll suggests seven other mayoral candidates — Don Woodstock, Tim Diack, Umar Hayat, Doug Wilson, Chris Clacio, Desmond Thomas and Venkat Rao Machiraju — enjoy a combined total of five per cent support from Winnipeg voters.
A 10th mayoral candidate, Ed Ackerman, had yet to register prior when the poll was conducted.
Incumbent's approval down
Probe Research also asked voters about Bowman's performance as mayor and found his approval rating has slid over the past year.
The poll suggests 52 per cent of Winnipeggers strongly or moderately approve of Bowman's performance, down from 59 per cent during the fall of 2017.
"He's still at 52 per cent approval which is not bad in a city that is cranky about a lot of stuff," Welch said.
"We don't love him, we don't mind him, but we are open to other alternatives and I think to some degree the Portage and Main issue really has been a catalyst."
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The same Probe Research poll found 67 per cent of Winnipeggers oppose reopening the intersection to pedestrians, something Bowman promised when he ran for mayor in 2014.
Bowman said he attributes the drop in his approval to some changes he's made at city hall, including the institution of growth fees.
"They've been difficult changes," he said. "You're going to have people that are going to agree or disagree. One thing that I think Winnipeggers know is that I've been working very hard and I've been honest about the challenges Winnipeg faces and I'm going to continue to do that."