Star 13 poll shows tight mayor's race

Mayor Bart Peterson

Mary Milz/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - A new Star 13 poll on the Indianapolis mayor's race shows a tight contest less than two weeks before Election Day. It gives Democratic Mayor Bart Peterson a slim four-point lead.

When asked who they'd vote for, 43% of those polled said Peterson, 39% said Republican challenger Greg Ballard and 5% said Libertarian Fred Peterson.

Peterson, a two-term incumbent said of the poll, "I know it's a cliche, but Election Day is really the only poll that matters."

Ballard, a political novice who's never run for office, said he wasn't surprised by the numbers.

"We always assumed it was close, closer than others thought because of all the anecdotal information," Ballard said. "And now this confirms that a lot of people want a different direction."

The poll identified taxes and crime as the two top issues. While Peterson spear-headed a new crime-fighting package, he paid for it by raising income taxes right after the property tax fiasco hit, prompting protests.

"Certainly the tax issue pushed everything else off the agenda the last few months, so people are reacting against the party in power, the mayor in power, the council," said IUPUI political science professor Bill Blomquist.

Blomquist said anger over taxes also explains Peterson's dip in popularity. When asked, "Do you approve of the mayor's job," 50% of those polled said yes and 40% said no. Pollster Ann Selzer says the mayor's approval rating is another indicator of how close the race is.

"He does not have this in the bag so far with people who've been able to observe what he's done in office," Selzer said.

Taking a closer look, the poll shows a clear gender gap. It shows women favoring Peterson 46% to 34% and men favoring Ballard 44% to 38%. The poll also shows African-Americans solidly behind the mayor, with 73% polled planning to vote for him and just 10% for Ballard. White voters said they preferred Ballard by a 47% to 35% margin.

As for whether either plans to change their strategy in light of the new numbers, Ballard said, "I don't think we'll change anything, because I think what we're doing is working.

"Polls aren't going to change what I do. I always run a positive campaign and I'll keep doing the right thing as I see it," said Peterson.

The poll was done by Selzer and Company of Des Moines, Iowa. It was based on interviews with 400 Marion County residents who said they're likely to vote in the mayor's race. The margin of error is +- 4.9 percentage points.

See complete results of the Star 13 poll here Election Guide

Note: An earlier version of this story reported slightly different poll results. This story has been revised to present results that would more closely reflect voter turnout based on 2004 election results in Indiana.