Poll: Lupolianski, Barkat in dead heat

Survey to predict J'lem's next mayor finds newcomers Gaydamak, Levy trailing far behind front-runners.

JlemMayorCandidates224.8 (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski and Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat are in a statistical dead heat ahead of next year's mayoral elections, a public opinion poll released this weekend showed. Lupolianski and Barkat would each garner 44 percent of the vote in an expected repeat face-off between the two men, while 7% said they would not vote and an additional 5% are undecided, according to the poll published in the Jerusalem weekly Yediot Yerushalayim. In a multiple candidate race, no one candidate would garner the requisite 40% of the vote to win a first-round, the poll found, with Lupolianski leading with 37% followed by Barkat at 31%, while the Russian-Israeli billionaire tycoon Arkadi Gaydamak in third place at 14% and the former Jerusalem police chief Mickey Levy trailing at only 8%. The results unequivocally indicate that multiple secular candidates will again work in Lupolianski's favor, while more than one haredi candidate would help Barkat. Barkat, the self-made hi tech millionaire who ran as an independent in the last mayoral elections, is the only candidate to have publicly declared his intention to run in next year's race, although Gaydamak has announced his intentions to run in press interviews. Lupolianski, who is widely perceived as being the front-runner in a city where one-third of the Jewish voters are haredi, has not announced his intentions to run for a second five-year term although he is widely expected to do so. Similar polls in the run-up to the last mayoral elections also showed Lupolianksi and Barkat tied, with the poll, published in a general sector newspaper, inaccurately favoring the non-haredi candidates. At the same time, the poll also finds that Lupolianski would crush the former Shas leader Aryeh Deri 48% to 25% in a hypothetical one on one race. The poll also found that a majority of the public feels that Lupolianski has unequivocally failed in dealing with four key municipal issues: sanitation, infrastructure and roads, education, and poverty. Yet, in a seemingly contradictory finding, at the same time a majority of respondents say that there have been positive changes in the city. A total of 58% say that Lupolianski has done a bad or very bad job in dealing with city sanitation - one of his key campaign promises before the last elections and a top city issue for voters - while 56% say that the mayor has faired badly or very badly in handling city poverty, the poll finds. A whopping 68% say the mayor has done badly or very badly in dealing with transportation and traffic jams - in large measure to the city's derailed light rail system - and 47% say that the mayor has done a bad or very bad job in improving the educational system in the city. Despite these failing marks on major municipal issues, 43% of respondents say that there have been good changes in the city during the mayor's term, compared to 38% who say there have been no changes and 16% who say that there were bad changes. The Dahaf poll did not cite a margin of error.