That's compared to Oraclepoll's Sept. 24-25 poll, which pegged the number of undecided voters at 24.8 per cent. Paul Seccaspina, of Oraclepoll, said the surge in undecided voters is a bad sign for Bigger, because it shows many who were initially supporting him are now taking a closer look at his platform. As the frontrunner, Bigger is also bearing the brunt of negative attacks – attacks that are making an impression on voters.
“Everyone is taking out the knives and going after Bigger,” Seccaspina said. “Bigger is at the higher end of where I projected him to be. He's got nowhere to go but down.”
He points to the Oct. 15 all-candidates debate hosted by the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce as a turning point. He said there was a marked change in voter support when Sudburians were surveyed Oct. 16, as opposed to Oct. 14, the night before the debate.
“After the chamber debate, these guys were in a dead heat – it was Melanson at 28.5 per cent, Bigger at 30 per cent.” Seccaspina said. “It was a bad night for Bigger … Apparently he was on his phone all night, getting texts.
“So the chamber debate left people with a lot more confusion in their minds about who they want running city hall.”
Since he emerged as the frontrunner in a September poll by Oraclepoll, Bigger has become the main target of the nine other candidates for mayor in the Oct. 27 election.
In particular, Rodriguez has hammered him over Bigger's promise to freeze taxes in his first year in office without cutting services or laying off staff. While Bigger has said he can find the $13 million needed to accomplish that goal, he has refused to provide details about where the money will come from.
In a statement Sunday, Bigger again addressed the matter of the tax freeze:
“As I have stated previously, a tax freeze can be implemented while maintaining service levels and jobs at the city. We are aware of the waste seen to date, including untendered work, the cost overruns at the transit garage, missing asphalt and the money that has gone missing with the transit ticket scandal.
“I'm confident that once I am mayor, we will be able to look at the books and find the best way to spend Sudburians' hard earned tax dollars.”
Rodriguez has also criticized Bigger's refusal to take a stance on the location of a proposed casino in Sudbury. He's linked that refusal to the fact his campaign manager's family once proposed a plan to build the casino on property the family owns downtown.
In response, Bigger has said any casino decision would be a decision of council.
“Until a viable proposal is put forward to council by the OLG, I’m not going to speculate on this project,” he said in a statement. “At this time, there is no proposal.
“Should one come forward, council should make a decision on what’s in the best interests of the city. Diane Suski, while my campaign manager, does not have business dealings with the Citadel Holdings. I also understand that no proposal to build the casino was ever submitted by the company.”
Rodriguez has challenged Bigger to a one-on-one debate, which Bigger has declined.
But Seccaspina said the criticisms are having an effect. The fact the number of undecided voters has surged is unusual, he said. Usually that number drops as election day nears.
“The closer you get to an election, people take a longer, closer look at who's available,” he said. “Bigger hasn't really moved. But what you're getting now is more people saying to themselves, 'You know, maybe I got to take a longer look at this.'
“If I'm Melanson, I keep talking about policy.”
The poll was conducted on two nights – Oct. 14 and Oct. 16. Live telephone interviews with 500 residents were conducted between 6-9 p.m., and the results are considered accurate plus or minus 4.4 per cent, 19 out of 20 times.
When undecided voters are not included, Bigger sits at 34.9 per cent, Melanson at 21.7 per cent, Rodriguez at 19.8 per cent, Dupuis at 15.1 per cent, Huska at 4.7 per cent and the remaining candidates at 3.8 per cent.