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Poll shows Ballard leading mayoral race

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Mayor Greg Ballard in August addressing participants in Veterans Appreciation Day at the American Legion Mall. - REBECCA TOWNSEND
  • Rebecca Townsend
  • Mayor Greg Ballard in August addressing participants in Veterans Appreciation Day at the American Legion Mall.

By Lauren Casey

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard led his Democratic challenger Melina Kennedy by double-digits roughly one week before Tuesday's election.

Ballard topped Kennedy 44 percent to 33 percent in a WISH-TV/Franklin College poll. The Libertarian candidate, Chris Bowen, had 2 percent of the vote in the poll.

About 400 likely voters in Marion County answered survey questions by phone from Oct. 29 to Oct. 31. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.

"People like what we're doing," Ballard said Thursday morning on WISH-TV's Daybreak. "It's heart-warming that people like it."

WISH-TV and Franklin College hired Michigan-based EPIC-MRA to conduct what was the first and likely only independent poll for the 2011 Indianapolis mayoral race.

Melina Kennedy unveiling her crime prevention plan on July 28. - REBECCA TOWNSEND
  • Rebecca Townsend
  • Melina Kennedy unveiling her crime prevention plan on July 28.

It found that one in five of those surveyed remained undecided, leaving room for Kennedy to get back into a closer race.

On Thursday morning, Kennedy said she was "encouraged" by the poll results because less than 50 percent of respondents said they would vote for Ballard. That's a sign, she said, that voters aren't "ready to elect the incumbent."

"The only poll that matters is Election Day," Kennedy said on WISH-TV. "We'll continue to run hard through Election Day."

Kennedy also saw good news in early voting. Among poll respondents who said they'd already voted, 44 percent said they voted for Kennedy, 30 percent for Ballard and 26 percent refused to answer.

Ballard became the city's mayor after one of the biggest upsets in Indiana's political history when he defeated two-term incumbent mayor Bart Peterson just four years ago.

Kennedy served as an advisor to Peterson's campaign.After Peterson won his seat as mayor, Kennedy became his deputy mayor for economic development.

Candidate Chris Bowen during his candidate profile interview at NUVO this summer.
  • Candidate Chris Bowen during his candidate profile interview at NUVO this summer.

Now the question for voters is to decide whether the city was in better shape under Ballard's leadership the past four years or would be better served by Kennedy.

When asked if the city of Indianapolis and Marion County are on the right track, the majority of those surveyed said yes. Fifty-five percent said the city is headed in the right direction, with 33 percent saying it is on the wrong track.

The candidates have flooded local television and radio stations with ads and mailboxes with fliers.

Kennedy focused most of her attention on educational issues, although only 9 percent of poll respondents said they would vote for her because of her stand on those issues.

For Kennedy, the survey showed that the top reason — 30 percent of those surveyed mentioned it — for her support came from her being a Democrat. The second reason, at 11 percent, was because her supporters do not like Ballard. Education was third.

Ballard promoted his record on jobs and his handling of city affairs the past four years. Thirty-six percent of the poll's respondents said they thought he deserved another term because he has done a good job.

Overall, 62 percent of those polled gave a positive rating to Ballard's performance as mayor.Only 36 percent gave his job a negative rating.

"I do believe our city is moving in the right direction, especially compared to other cities," Ballard said Thursday morning on WISH-TV.

The poll found the second most-cited reason for Ballard's support was a dislike for Kennedy.Just 7 percent of Ballard's supporters in the poll said that they would vote for him because of his positions on the issues; 7 percent also said they'd support him because he is a Republican.

This year's mayoral race has been the most expensive in Indianapolis history. Kennedy has raised nearly $3 million, including more than $230,000 in contributions in the campaign's closing weeks.

Ballard has raised more than $3 million but has so far lagged in late money.

Of those polled, 46 percent consider themselves Democrats with 37 percent as Republicans.Only 14 percent considered themselves independent voters.

Candidates Melina Kennedy, Chris Bowen and Greg Ballard. Click here for help making your pick.
  • Candidates Melina Kennedy, Chris Bowen and Greg Ballard. Click here for help making your pick.

The above is one of an ongoing series of reports from the Indiana Statehouse by students at the Franklin College Pulliam School of Journalism.

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