In a recent snapshot of voter intention, Brian Bigger has the edge in the race to become Greater Sudbury's next mayor.
In an Oraclepoll Research telephone survey commissioned by NorthernLife.ca, Bigger — who is on leave as the city's auditor general — is polling at 33.2 per cent among decided voters.
Dan Melanson, one of the founders of the Greater Sudbury Taxpayers' Association, sits in second at 23.7 per cent, slightly ahead of former mayor and Nickel Belt MP John Rodriguez, who's polling at 22.3 per cent.
Ward 5 Coun. Ron Dupuis is in distant fourth at 9.6 per cent, followed by Jeff Huska at 6.4 per cent. Support for the remaining four candidates — Ed Pokonzie, Jeanne Brohart, Richard Majkot and David Pepescu, totals 4.8 per cent.
With the election still several weeks away, fully a quarter (25 per cent) of the 500 voters polled were still undecided about their choice for the city's next mayor.
Factoring the undecideds into the mix and Bigger's lead drops to 25 per cent, with Melanson at 17.8 per cent, Rodriguez at 16.8 per cent, Dupuis at 7.2 per cent and Huska at 4.8. Support for the remaining four candidates drops slightly to 3.6 per cent.
The survey commissioned by NorthernLife.ca also looked at the divide between voters closer to the city core and those in the surrounding communities, as well as the split between male and female voters.
When it comes to geography, Melanson, at 31.8 per cent, has a slight edge over Bigger in the city core, where support for the former auditor general is 31.2 per cent.
But it's Bigger who has the edge over Melanson in the city's outlying areas, with 34.7 per cent support, to Melanson's 18 per cent.
Rodriguez also tops Melanson in outlying areas, polling at 26.1 per cent. The former mayor, however, has just 16.9 per cent support closer to downtown.
Moving beyond the top three mayoral candidaqtes, Dupuis claimed 7.1 per cent support in Sudbury and 11.3 per cent in outlying areas, while Huska has 11 per cent in Sudbury and 3.2 per cent in outlying areas.
Support for the bottom four candidates is soft in Sudbury at 1.9 per cent, but slightly higher outside at 6.8 per cent.
When it comes to gender, the poll also found women prefer Bigger over any of the other candidates.
His support is 37.2 per cent among women to Melanson's 19.7 per cent and Rodriguez's 17 per cent.
On the flip side, slightly more male voters prefer Melanson (29.4 per cent) to Bigger (27.5 per cent). For a frontrunner, Rodriguez polled relatively low among men at 17 per cent.
Moving beyond the top three, Dupuis claimed 11.8 per cent of support among men and 8.1 per cent among women. Huska's support is 7.2 per cent among men and 5.8 per cent among women.
The remaining four candidates had support among 7.2 per cent of men and 3.1 per cent among women.
Digging deeper, the poll also asked voters what it is about their preferred candidate that they liked.
The most popular answer, at 22 per cent, was the candidate's platform/issues/policy, with simple name recognition coming in next at 14 per cent.
However, 13 per cent of those polled weren't sure why they supported one candidate over another.
That's followed by experience at 10 per cent. A candidate's vision, knowledge of city or their familiarity with voter needs came in at nine per cent, while a knowledge of city finances specifically polled at six per cent, on par with a candidate's perceived honesty, trustworthiness or transparency.
The need for the city simply to elect a new council came near the bottom of the list at five per cent, whereas a candidate's perceived knowledge or intelligence was of interest to four per cent of those polled.
That a candidate was just better was popular with three per cent of those polled.
This report represents the findings from a telephone survey of 500 City of Greater Sudbury residents 18 years of age and older. The survey was conducted by Oraclepoll for NorthernLife.ca.
The surveys were conducted between Sept. 24 and Sept. 26. The margin of error for this 500-person survey is +/- 4.4 per cent, and is considered accurate 19 times out of 20.