Poll: Barkat front-runner in race for J'lem mayor

Poll shows J'lem opposition leader would handily defeat opponents MK Porush and billionaire tycoon Arkadi Gaydamak.

barkat 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
barkat 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat has taken a commanding lead in the city's mayoral race, and would handily defeat his two opponents, a public opinion poll released Friday found. The results of the newspaper poll, which came just two weeks after after MK Meir Porush was chosen by his United Torah Judaism Party to replace Mayor Uri Lupolianski, was almost certain to increase party pressure from Lupolianski acolytes to allow the mayor to run for a second term, or to field an alternative haredi candidate in the November election. In a three-way race, Barkat would win 49 percent of the vote, compared to 31% for Porush and 15% for the billionaire tycoon Arkadi Gaydamak, the Dahaf Institute poll published in the Jerusalem weekly Yediot Yerushalayim found. An alternative race between Barkat, Lupolianski, and Gaydamak would be much closer, with Barkat only marginally ahead of Lupolianski 45 to 40%, with Gaydamak again lagging a distant third with only 11% of the vote, the poll found. The poll also indicated that the more secular opponents Barkat faces in a city where a third of Jewish voters are haredi, the less chance he has to win the race. Until now, Gaydamak has refused to join forces with Barkat, despite his repeated bottom barrel placement in multiple polls. The poll also found that a whopping 70% of city residents feel that the capital is becoming increasingly haredi. This view is shared by 87% of secular respondents as well as 63% of haredi respondents. Immediately after his selection earlier this month, Porush insisted that he was determined to stay in the race to the end, even though Barkat associates have wondered aloud whether Lupolianski might not be called back at the eleventh-hour to run in the race. The poll, which was carried out among 500 city residents, did not cite a margin of error.