With two weeks left until election day, a new poll shows a tightening race and new frontrunner in the bid to be Calgary’s next mayor.
The poll, conducted by Leger for the Calgary Firefighters Association between Oct. 1 and 4, has Ward 3 Coun. Jyoti Gondek in the lead with 27 per cent of decided voters.
Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas, who has led every poll throughout the campaign, is slightly behind Gondek at 24 per cent.
The poll showed the other candidates in the top five included Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Davison at 12 per cent, Brad Field at five per cent and Jan Damery at three per cent.
“It’s largely a two-person race, and then the remaining candidates have remained relatively consistent in terms of where they fall in the polls,” Eddie Sheppard with Leger said. “The gap is definitely shortening between Farkas and Gondek.”
According to the poll, 29 per cent of respondents remain undecided.
Among those undecided voters, the polls showed eight per cent were leaning towards a Gondek vote and seven per cent towards a Farkas vote.
“I think given how tight it is currently, I’m not sure there will be a clear-cut winner right up until really the day of the election,” Sheppard said.
With such a large portion of the population undecided, Farkas said his campaign won’t be letting its foot off the gas in the final two weeks of the race.
“We’re working as hard as we can in this final stretch to get the vote out and show Calgarians that they have a choice that is alternative,” Farkas told Global News on Tuesday. “Ultimately, there is one poll that counts and that is election day.”
The Leger poll also identified a difference in voters behind the top two candidates with respondents older than 55 favouring Farkas and those aged between 18 and 44 planning to support Gondek.
According to the poll, 28 per cent of male respondents and 19 per cent of female respondents prefer Farkas while 25 per cent of male respondents and 26 per cent of female respondents supported Gondek.
“Having momentum, being able to provide an optimistic, hopeful platform really shifts towards Jyoti,” Gondek’s campaign manager Stephen Carter said. “People want to vote for Calgary; they don’t want to be voting against Calgary.”
The Leger poll was published just weeks after a ThinkHQ poll, conducted between Sept. 13 and 16, showed Farkas in the lead with 30 per cent of respondents at the time in support, with Gondek behind the frontrunner at 25 per cent. The poll also showed 28 per cent of respondents were undecided at the time.
According to Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt, the federal election, the provincial COVID-19 response and a rise in engaged municipal voters are all probable factors in the shift in public opinion.
However, Bratt pointed to Calgary city council’s vote to mandate the vaccine passport as a key moment between the release of both polls.
“Even people like Sean Chu and Joe Magliocca, the typical group that votes the same way, all voted in favour of vaccine (passport) mandates and Farkas didn’t,” Bratt said. “I think that shows a bit of an outlier in a city that supports vaccine (passport) mandates with over 80 per cent.”
The Leger poll showed strong support for the Calgary Fire Department.
Seventy-three per cent of respondents said they’d be less likely to vote for a mayoral candidate who proposed to reduce the number of fire halls, firefighters or fire trucks.
The Calgary Firefighters Association told Global News the department has taken the brunt of $35 million in cuts.
“Since the city has been getting bigger and bigger over the last number of years, the fire department has been getting stretched thinner and thinner. So for us, this is the most important election in a generation,” Calgary Firefighters Association spokesperson Matt Osborne told Global News.
“So we’re engaging with candidates, we’re engaging with our future leaders to make sure they know that the fire department needs the tools to do our job.”
There are 27 people vying to be Calgary’s next mayor in the upcoming election, with more than 100 candidates running to sit on city council representing 14 wards.
Advance voting is open daily until 7 p.m. and will run until Oct. 10, when it closes at 3 p.m.
Election day is on Oct. 18.
The online survey done between Oct. 1 and 4 had 500 voting-aged Calgarians participating through computer-assisted web interviewing technology. A comparable probability-based random sample of the same size would have a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The data was also compared to a similar poll conducted from Sept. 24 to 27.