With just four days until the municipal election, a new poll shows Peterborough mayoral candidate Diane Therrien holding a commanding lead, but incumbent mayor Daryl Bennett has serious doubts about the poll’s reliability.
The poll was commissioned by Peterborough Examiner city hall opinion columnist David Goyette, who is also the former campaign manager and executive assistant to Bennett.
Goyette managed mayor Bennett’s successful mayoral campaign in 2010 and then served as his executive assistant from 2010 to 2014, before resigning after the 2014 municipal election.
The poll surveyed 534 people and shows Therrien with a significant lead, as 60 per cent of respondents by phone said they would vote Therrien for mayor this election, while 23 per cent said they would vote for Bennett and 17 per cent remained undecided. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
Goyette hired Toronto-based research and marketing firm Campaign Research Inc. to do the polling. The company told Global Peterborough it stands by its process and the results.
Still, Bennett has his doubts and dismisses the results. He says in 2014, Goyette, who was working on his campaign at the time, offered to run a favourable poll ahead of the municipal election.
“David (Goyette) suggested … that he would have a poll conducted from one of the firms that he’s familiar with in Toronto and try and get us a favourable response to my mayoral candidacy at that time,” Bennett said. “I refused to make use of that type of activity because I believe we don’t need people from Toronto telling people from Peterborough how they should be thinking towards voting.”
When asked about Bennett’s claim, Goyette says he only “offered” to do a poll in 2014 to see how well the mayor was doing and was adamant that there was “never” any suggestion that there would be a poll that was somehow “fixed.”
“I am a profoundly ethical person,” Goyette said. “I would never in a million years consider something of that sort.”
Although the opinion poll shows a favourable result for Therrien, she says the only numbers that concern her will come on election day.
“I’ve received lots of encouraging messages this morning but ultimately the results of the poll don’t matter,” Therien said Thursday. “What matters is the results on election day and so we are going to continue to work hard through the next four days and we’re really encouraging people to get out and vote because that is what matters.”
The opinion poll was conducted during the evenings of Oct. 9-10 and received a total of 534 respondents by phone.
Goyette says he funded the poll himself and the Peterborough Examiner, which published his poll and opinion piece, disclosed that he paid for the poll himself.
Examiner editor-in-chief Kennedy Gordon declined to comment for this story, citing his company’s policy of not speaking to “other” media.
The election is set for Oct. 22. Polls are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.