A new poll has confirmed Efeso Collins as the frontrunner to win the Auckland mayoralty and the failure of his opponents to coalesce around one candidate.
The Key Research poll of decided voters has the Manukau councillor on 28 per cent, five points ahead of restaurateur Leo Molloy on 23 per cent, followed by businessman Wayne Brown on 21 per cent, Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck on 19 per cent and freelance media operator Craig Lord on 8 per cent.
The poll of 753 Aucklanders found 45 per cent of people were undecided.
The poll was commissioned by Brown following his disappointing showing in a Ratepayers' Alliance-Curia mayoral poll earlier this month which had him on 15 per cent among decided voters.
That poll had Collins on 27 per cent, Molloy 23 per cent, Beck 18 per cent, Lord 13 per cent and lawyer Ted Johnston 5 per cent.
It was taken between July 18 and July 24 - after Molloy's well-publicised, expletive-laden television interview with comedian Guy Williams.
At the time, Brown said the interview signalled to voters that Molloy has no judgment and is ill-equipped to be Auckland's next mayor.
Brown today said he wanted a "warts and all" poll, saying if it showed his position was hopeless he would have pulled out of the race on October 8.
But he was encouraged by the poll result, pointing to the results that included undecided voters, which had him on 12 per cent, one point behind Molloy, "who has been out there for months with high name recognition and high negatives".
"I'm not going to pull out. I'm moving up on the others and I think Leo has peaked," Brown said.
Molloy said it was "just another poll" but was surprised Brown was on 21 per cent and added Beck had not made any progress.
"Efeso is still five [points] ahead of me. That's a bit disappointing. I thought he might start running out of energy soon," he said.
Collins said he might have a small lead but that lead is marginal and it remains a very tight race.
"My focus is that people I am speaking to will confirm they will support me and when the undecideds come over the fence, whichever way they go, they will be supporting my campaign," he said.
Beck also said it is a tight race with a large number of undecided voters, saying Collins is benefiting from a split vote among his opponents.
"One thing I am hearing from people is if they are a centre-right voter, it helps if they know there is an endorsed centre-right candidate," said Beck, who has been endorsed by National's de facto local government arm Communities and Residents (C&R).
"If I was debating with just Efeso and me, what we would get is a really strong contest of ideas and it would be a different scenario to having four or five other people," she said.
Lord said he did not read anything into the poll, particularly when 45 per cent of people were undecided.
The poll also showed transport issues are top of mind for Aucklanders (22 per cent), closely followed by council/over-staffing/governance/candidates' history (20 per cent) and transparency/listening to ratepayers (15 per cent). Climate change and the environment was only important for 4 per cent of respondents.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 per cent.