Dennis O’Keefe leads Sheilagh O’Leary in race for St. John’s Mayor

vocmabacusA survey of eligible voters in the City of St. John’s by VOCM and polling firm Abacus Data finds that incumbent Mayor Dennis O’Keefe leads city councillor Sheilagh O’Leary by fifteen percentage points (42% vs. 27%) among all voters while Geoff Chaulk gets 1% of the vote.  Thirty percent of eligible voters are undecided.

In the election for Deputy Mayor, former Deputy Mayor Ron Ellsworth is well ahead Jennifer McCreath leading by 59 percentage points (66% vs. 7%) with 27% of eligible voters undecided.

Dennis O’Keefe’s lead is larger among “likely” voters

Among those eligible voters likely to return their mail-in ballot (St. John’s uses a mail-in balloting system), O’Keefe’s lead grows to 19 percentage points, leading O’Leary 46% to 27% with Geoff Chaulk at 1%.  Twenty-seven percent of likely voters are undecided.

Comparing Likely Voters and All Eligible Voters
Mayoral Voting Intentions

Vote Choice

All Eligible Voters

All Likely Voters*

All Eligible Committed Voters

All Likely Committed Voters

Dennis O’Keefe

42%

46%

60%

62%

Sheilagh O’Leary

27%

27%

39%

37%

Geoff Chaulk

1%

1%

1%

1%

Undecided

30%

27%

N (Weighted)

436

365

307

268

*Abacus Data classifies individuals as likely voters based on their response to six questions in the survey including their interest in politics, likelihood to vote, past voting behaviour, and how closely they have been following the election.

Mayoral Election – Subgroup Analysis

Dennis O’Keefe does best among eligible voters aged 60 and over (48%) and among provincial Progressive Conservative Party (53%) and Liberal Party (49%) supporters.

Sheilagh O’Leary leads only among provincial NDP supporters (44%).

“Federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair made some waves when he encouraged Sheilagh O’Leary to run for Mayor last March,” said Abacus Data CEO David Coletto.  “O’Leary is leading among provincial NDP supporters but that lead is not large enough to make up for O’Keefe’s lead among Tory and Liberal supporters.”

Does Mayor O’Keefe Deserve to Be Re-elected?

After the vote intention question, respondents were asked whether they believed Mayor O’Keefe deserved to be re-elected or whether it was time for a change.

Overall, 45% of eligible voters said they believed that Mayor O’Keefe deserves to be re-elected compared with 39% who believed he did not and it was time for a change.  Sixteen percent of respondents were unsure.

Among likely voters, 49% believed Mayor O’Keefe deserved to be re-elected while 38% believed it was time for a change.

Do you think Mayor Dennis O’Keefe deserves to be re-elected or is it time for a change?

Response

All Eligible Voters

All Likely Voters*

Voted for O’Keefe in 2009

Following the election very or somewhat closely

Deserves to be re-elected

45%

49%

61%

46%

Time for a change

39%

38%

29%

44%

Don’t know

16%

12%

11%

10%

N (Weighted)

436

365

226

207

*Abacus Data classifies individuals as likely voters based on their response to six questions in the survey including their interest in politics, likelihood to vote, past voting behaviour, and how closely they have been following the election.

“O’Keefe is in a good position for re-election but there is an opportunity for O’Leary to close the gap in the next three weeks,” added Coletto.  “Those who have been paying closer attention to the election are split on whether they believe that O’Keefe deserves to be re-elected.  This suggests that as election day approaches and more St. John’s residents pay attention to the election, the race may tighten.”

“However, despite these opportunities for O’Leary, O’Keefe leads among those likely to vote including older residents and those that voted in the last municipal election.  He has a strong base of support among Tory and Liberal supporters and leads in all parts of the city.”

“O’Leary’s challenge is to increase interest in the election and convert all those undecided voters and those who don’t believe O’Keefe deserves to be re-elected into her supporters.  It’s a difficult task but not an impossible one for Councillor O’Leary,” said Coletto.

Ron Ellsworth Cruising to Victory

In the other city-wide election, former Deputy Mayor Ron Ellsworth is headed towards an easy victory as the VOCM-Abacus Data survey finds him leading Jennifer McCreath by 59 percentage points.  Among all eligible voters, Ellsworth has the support of 66% of respondents compared with 7% for McCreath.  Twenty-seven percent of respondents were undecided.

Among likely voters, Ellsworth’s lead is even larger, leading McCreath by 66 percentage points, 72% to 6% with 22% of likely voters saying they are undecided.

David Coletto is CEO of Abacus Data and leads its Public Affairs research practice. He has a PhD from the University of Calgary and is an adjunct professor at Carleton University.  He’s an avid road cyclist.

Contact David Coletto:

T: 613-232-2806 x. 248

E: david@abacusdata.ca

W: http://www.abacusdata.ca

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