Efeso Collins has opened up a handy lead in the Auckland mayoral race among the crowded field of candidates, a new poll shows.
The latest Ratepayers' Alliance-Curia mayoral poll places Collins in the box seat to be the next Mayor of Auckland so long as the trailing pack fails to coalesce around one candidate.
Collins has 27 per cent support among committed voters in the poll of 500 Aucklanders.
Trailing the Manukau councillor, who has been endorsed by Labour and the Greens, is restaurateur Leo Molloy on 23 per cent, Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck on 18 per cent, businessman Wayne Brown on 15 per cent, freelance media operator Craig Lord on 13 per cent and lawyer Ted Johnston on 5 per cent.
The poll, conducted between July 3-10, found 35 per cent did not know who they would support, but just one in three Aucklanders voted at the Auckland Council elections in 2019.
Auckland Ratepayers' Alliance spokesman Josh Van Veen said the poll showed Aucklanders do not want to be governed by a mayor beholden to official advice and the dictates of Wellington but want a mayor advocating for radical change.
"If the National Party won't endorse one of the anti-establishment candidates it might as well join Labour and endorse Efeso Collins," he said.
Van Veen said a candidate for change cannot win in such a crowded field. With nominations opening on Friday some of the candidates should put principle before ego and bow out, he said.
Today's poll breaks the deadlock in last month's Ratepayers' Alliance-Curia poll that showed virtually nothing separating Collins, Molloy, Beck and Brown who each had 20-21 per cent support and Lord not far behind on 16 per cent.
Collins said the only poll that matters begins with postal voting on September 16, but it is heartening to see growing support from Aucklanders in what clearly is a tight race.
"As this poll shows, there are still a lot of undecided voters so we will stay focused on presenting our positive vision for a better connected, more inclusive city out to all our communities, across Auckland," he said.
Collins' lead comes a week after he released his plans for transport, including his flagship policy of free public transport and expanding the public transport network, but little detail of how he will fund these expensive promises when inflation and soaring costs are forcing the council to tighten its belt.
The poll was also conducted days after Collins was embroiled in a road rage incident involving his wife and children in his mayoral campaign car, and whether or not abuse was hurled at the family or between two motorists.
Molloy said it was a better poll than last month because there is a clear distance between second, third and fourth.
He called on Beck to drop out of the race after her poll numbers fell from last month and his rose.
"This poll has confirmed what we have known all along. This is a two-horse race between the Labour-endorsed career politician Efeso Collins and me.
"Viv needs to think about what is best for Auckland. Auckland cannot afford to split the vote this election, Auckland cannot afford Efeso Collins," said Molloy, adding he is the only truly independent candidate not controlled by special interests.
The poll has Beck trailing Collins and Molloy, but the centre-right candidate received a boost last night when the executive of National's de facto local government arm, Communities & Residents, voted to endorse her.
President Kit Parkinson said it was the first time in 12 years that C&R had endorsed a mayoral candidate but after 12 years of left-wing mayors it had decided to back Beck as the "best candidate for the mayoralty".
Beck was delighted to be endorsed by C&R, saying she is hearing there is a strong desire for change and having an endorsed centre-right candidate is helpful to voters.
On the poll, Beck said it is still early days, there are still a lot of undecided voters and it looks to be a tight race.
Earlier this month, Beck took a page out of National's playbook by pledging to scrap light rail in favour of "affordable" rapid bus projects across the region.
Brown, who is promoting himself as the "fixer" for Auckland, said the result was not what he wanted to hear and did not bear witness to what he was finding.
"I'm highly suspicious of the poll. I'm filling the halls. I've got big groups in communities working for me and it just doesn't make sense," he said.
Asked if he would stand aside, Brown said: "We are going to commission a poll that questions if people are going to vote because we have been aiming our campaign at 50-plus people who own property. At that stage, I will reassess."
Lord said he could not read anything into a 500-person poll, saying he is comfortable with the support he is getting in the real world and remains confident.
Johnston, who finds himself in sixth place, said the poll result was a good start.
"I'm the underdog and I can beat them(the other candidates)," he said.
The poll of 500 Aucklanders has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 per cent.
The elections are set down for October 8. Voting papers will be sent out to people on the electoral roll between September 16-21.
Voting opens on September 16 and votes have to be cast by noon on October 8. The initial results will be announced shortly afterwards.
Final results will be confirmed between October 14-19.
Nominations for the mayoralty, council and 21 Local Boards close on August 12.