Phil Goff has established a commanding lead in the Auckland mayoral race with fewer than four weeks until voting begins, according to one poll.
The Mt Roskill MP and former Labour leader recorded 60.3 per cent among those who expressed a preference in a poll by Survey Sampling International, commissioned by the Spinoff in association with Jennings Murphy.
His closest challenger at this stage is former Xero executive Victoria Crone, on 15.5 per cent.
Crone has almost double the current support of John Palino, who finished second to the current mayor, Len Brown, in the last election.
The other candidate from the right, Mark Thomas, has the support of only 3.3 per cent of decided voters, the poll shows, trailing even left-wing firebrand Penny Bright, on 4.6 per cent.
The combined backing for the three leading centre-right candidates - Crone, Palino and Thomas - at 26.7 per cent remains less than half that of Goff. While the result gives the impression of a coronation, there is a glimmer of hope for Goff's opponents, with just under 44 per cent of respondents saying they did not know who they would support.
When accounting for undecideds, Goff's figure is 31.2 per cent, Crone 8 per cent, Palino 4.1 per cent, Bright 2.4 per cent, Thomas 1.7 per cent, David Hay 1.4 per cent and other candidates 2.9 per cent, while 4.6 per cent answered "no intention of voting".
Goff has faced criticism, including from Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, for a largely vanilla campaign. With such a comfortable lead over his rivals it is perhaps little wonder that he has adopted a low-risk strategy.
He has vowed to cut council spending by between three and six per cent, introduce road charges and cap rates rises at 2.5 per cent if he wins.
In his fiscal policy, released this month, he pledged to restore public confidence in the management of ratepayer money.
"Unfortunately trust and confidence in the council has fallen to a very low level and the expected savings from amalgamation have not been made over the past six years," he said.
He promises not to sell shares in Auckland Airport or Watercare Services. He won't sell port land and would not contemplate selling the port business until its long-term future was resolved.
He favours a national strategy that could involve the merger of Auckland and Tauranga ports.
Crone also wants to keep rates low, capping the average increase at 2 per cent annually, deliver at least $500m in savings through cutting waste and and get debt under control.
Goff says it's too early to get too excited about any poll as the only that really matters is the one carried out on voting day.
"One of the biggest challenges is to know what will be the turn-out in the election and who turns out to vote, so I'm certainly not taking it for granted and putting every effort into the campaign and meeting as many people as possible."
However, he admits that he is well known and recognised which helps in running for the top job.
"I have got a very good reaction on the ground form people. People know me. I think one of the problems with local government is that people often look at the ballot paper and go 'I don't know who these people are'. People have had 30 years to make an assessment of me, my integrity and my character and competency."
Goff says after beating the streets, he's discovered five main issues that appear to be bugging residents: housing, transport, environment, lack of police/crime and having an efficiently run council.
"I will be announcing my housing policy this weekend and transport policy shortly thereafter as well as an environment policy. So people will have reasonably well thought-out policies to look at in the run up to the voting which starts in about four weeks' time."
Survey Sampling International (SSI) conducted an online survey among a representative sample of 760 Auckland residents aged 18 and over with quota applied to gender, age and region within Auckland.
All respondents were screened to ensure they were New Zealand residents and eligible to vote.
The polling period was from August 17 to 19 and the margin of error is plus or minus 3.6%.