It's still Brian Bigger's election to lose, but the latest opinion poll in Greater Sudbury's mayor race has found an “unprecedented” number of voters still undecided heading into Monday's election.
The Oraclepoll Research survey was commissioned by Northern Life and was conducted on Oct. 21-22. It found that, of decided voters, Bigger had 31 per cent of support, with 23 per cent for Dan Melanson, and 21 per cent for John Rodriguez.
Ron Dupuis now sits at 16 per cent, while Jeff Huska has five per cent. The remaining candidates had a total of four per cent.
However, 34.1 per cent were undecided, a drop of five per cent from the last Oraclepoll conducted Oct. 14 and Oct. 16, but still a huge number just days before an election.
Bigger had the support of 20.3 per cent of decided voters, followed by Melanson at 15.4 per cent, Rodriguez at 13.7 per cent, Dupuis at 10.4, 3.3 per cent for Huska and 2.7 per cent for the remaining candidates.
Oraclepoll President Paul Seccaspina said in a release this “has become a two-person race for the mayor’s job in Greater Sudbury,” between Bigger and Melanson. However, it's the large undecided vote that surprises him.
“I have been doing public opinion polling for a quarter century,” said Seccaspina, “And I have never seen such a high undecided number just a few days before the election. That tells me there is no clear and decisive frontrunner – that either Bigger or Melanson could win this.
“With that level of undecided, either one of them could jump or fall considerably between now and Oct. 27."
At 20.8 per cent, Seccaspina said former mayor John Rodriguez seems to have hit a wall. He has high name recognition after decades in politics, yet his polling numbers haven’t changed in two months. Seccaspina says that indicates the likelihood of him making up an 11-point gap in five days is “almost statistically impossible.” Other challengers are also too far behind to make up the gap in polls, he said.
He said Bigger’s four-per-cent drop in the past few days may have something to do with his campaign becoming relatively quiet the past week, while the Melanson campaign seems to be getting more aggressive, including the recent announcement he wants to replace the city’s chief administrative officer.
“Bigger started the campaign with a bang and I wouldn’t doubt that given his early lead, Mr. Bigger is hoping he has done enough to ride out the rest of the campaign and win this,” said Seccaspina. “While people should expect Mr. Melanson to step up the pressure with platform announcements and advertising in the final few days. This could be the closest mayoral election in the amalgamated city’s history.”
The Oraclepoll survey of 400 residents over age 18 was conducted by live person-to-person callers and has a margin of error of plus/minus 4.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
Voters were asked, “If a municipal election was held today, which of the following candidates would you most likely support or be leaning towards for Mayor in the City of Greater of Sudbury?”