John Banks could be donning the Auckland City mayoral chains again this year, according to a nzherald.co.nz poll.
With more than 3600 votes cast by 8.00pm today, Mr Banks was polling at 56 per cent, while the incumbent Dick Hubbard was in second place at 26 per cent.
Mr Hubbard, a succesful businessman, defeated Mr Banks at the last mayoral election in 2004.
The other two candidates to have publicly expressed an interest in running this time are adult entertainment entrepreneur Steve Crow and councillor Dr John Hinchcliff.
Mr Crow had 13 per cent of the vote and Dr Hinchcliff 5 per cent.
Mr Banks was door knocking in Grafton when the Herald called earlier today.
"I'm flattered. That's made my day," he said.
Mr Banks said he would continue door knocking and handing out leaflets at bus stops.
He said the feedback he had gotten so far confirmed his opinion that the council needed decisive leadership and accountability.
"The council is out of control with its chequebook," Mr Banks said.
Mayor Dick Hubbard was giving a speech at the Local Government Conference in Dunedin and unavailable for comment.
If Mr Banks was successful he would only be the second mayor in Auckland's history to re-claim the chains after previously being forced to give them up.
Auckland local government historian Dr Graham Bush said Sir Dove-Myer Robinson came back to win the mayoralty in 1968 after losing in 1965.
Third place Steve Crow said he was delighted with the result, given he had not done any promotional activity specifically for the mayoralty race.
The pornographer said he was planning on some publicity but it would not be "boobs on bikes".
"I won't do that for the mayoralty but let's say it will be different," Mr Crow said.
He said he was sick of the way Auckland was being managed.
"And I'm one of these people who believe you can't complain unless you get off your arse and do something about it."
Dr Bush said because the council ran a 'First Past the Post' format, votes could get split and change an election result.
"If you look back, in some cases it's fair to say there could have been a different result," Dr Bush said.
But Mr Crow said his candidacy would get people to vote who otherwise would have stayed at home.
"The voting numbers are pretty abysmal but this will be an interesting race," Mr Crow said.
John Hinchcliff, on five per cent, said it was early days but he was surprised by the results.
"I would be loathe to comment. My campaign has only recently been launched. I'm well known in academic circles but perhaps not outside of that," Mr Hinchcliff said.
Senior political studies lecturer at the University of Auckland Joe Atkinson said digital polls were no better than "straw polls" or "tea leaf" polls.
"Polls become more accurate before an election as indications of where people might be going. They're next to useless this far out from an election," Mr Atkinson said.
He said it ws important to remember that on-line polls did not represent a random sample of respondents.
"There is also a possibility of a write-in campaign. One group might be able to get a large number of friends to vote. Any organisation would be able to bias it easily," Mr Atkinson said.
* The poll does not claim to be scientific but only allows one vote per computer. By 12.38pm, 2256 votes had been cast.