Expert says Winnipeg municipal election too close to call, despite Murray leading in polls

Winnipeg saw record turnout for advance polling ahead of Wednesday’s election. Alex Karpa reports on why that is and who’s ahead in the polls in the final days of the campaign.

By Alex Karpa

Nearly 42,000 voters headed to the polls for advance voting ahead of Wednesday’s election, which is up over 5 per cent from the previous election in 2018.

Political science professor Christopher Adams says this is because there will be a new leader at city hall.

“I would say when we don’t have incumbents, we have higher turnout, higher interest, just because there are more people reaching for the brass ring,” said Adams, a professor at the University of Manitoba.

“We’re seeing record numbers which shows a great amount of interest about this civic election.”

In 2014, voter turnout was just over 50 per cent when Brian Bowman won his first term in office. When he ran again in 2018, there was only 42 per cent voter turnout – the lowest for Winnipeg since 2006.


Adams expects there will be more voters, including young voters, coming out for this election, especially in wards without an incumbent running.

“There are more contenders for that,” he said. “I would also say in some wards where there might be close races, even if there is an incumbent, I’m thinking Transcona. Shawn Nason, who is the incumbent, is running against Russ Wyatt, who is a well-known politician, who was the incumbent a few years ago. I would say there are some ward races where there is an incumbent but where there is going to be high turnout and a lot of interest on voting day.”

Poll: Murray is frontrunner; Gillingham in second

According to recent polling by Leger, 28 per cent of the decided voters would vote for frontrunner Glen Murray, who was Winnipeg’s mayor from 1998-2004. He’s campaigned on a promise to tackle crime and fix the city’s financial woes.

Not far behind is Scott Gillingham at 19 per cent, with a gap that has narrowed in recent weeks.

But Adams says polls don’t always predict the correct outcome.

“We did see two elections ago that Brian Bowman came from behind,” said Adams. “Judy Wasylycia-Leis was very much leading in the polls a few weeks prior to election date, and probe research had her ahead and Bowman came from behind and won. This might very well happen in this election, there might be a contender that catches up to Glen Murray.”

Adams says he is not making any hard predictions ahead of the election but says there are four main frontrunners.

“Glen Murray because of the polls we have seen,” he said. “I would say Scott Gillingham has consistently been in second place, and a few others that are trying to make a breakthrough, Kevin Klein and Shaun Loney, who is the progressive kind of candidate.”
Winnipeg votes for its new mayor on Wednesday. Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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