With only 10 days remaining before the Detroit mayoral election, Mike Duggan continues to maintain a significant lead over Benny Napoleon, according to an exclusive Deadline Detroit poll.
Fifty-eight percent of likely voters surveyed said they would vote for Duggan, while 32 percent said they would cast their ballot for Napoleon, the poll showed.
Ten percent of those surveyed said they are undecided, which is not good news for Napoleon; even if he managed to take all the undecided votes, he still would fall short of Duggan’s total.
Duggan easily carried every category of voter in the poll: male, female, black and white, as well as voters who have a union member in their families.
Oliver Sanders Jr., 65, a lifelong Detroiter, said he’s voting for Duggan.
“I think at this time, Detroit is ready for a change, someone who can push that through,” he said. “We need a change in a different direction, someone who can really inspire.”
Speaking of Duggan, Sanders said, “If things don’t change I have to leave.”
Nicholas Ruffin, 58, said he’s got nothing against Duggan, but he’s voting for Napoleon, whom he believes has the makings of a good mayor.
“He’ll be able to pull it off,” Ruffin said.
Duggan’s lead in the Deadline Detroit poll mirrors results of a survey in late September by the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV in which he received 49 percent to Napoleon’s 25 percent of eligible voters polled.
In the August primary, Duggan finished first even though his name did not appear on the ballot. As a write-in candidate, he bested runner-up Napoleon by more than 20,000 votes.
The Deadline Detroit poll of 500 likely voters was conducted Wednesday and Thursday by Douglas Fulmer & Associates. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percenage points.
Duggan is the former head of the Detroit Medical Center who also served as the deputy Wayne County executive, the Wayne County prosecutor and the head of the suburban bus system. Napoleon, the Wayne County Sheriff, was a Detroit police officer who worked his way up from patrolman to chief.
The election, Nov. 5, has been overshadowed by the city’s struggle with Chapter 9 bankruptcy under Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, whose power usurps that of the city’s elected officials. Whoever is elected will have to negotiate with Orr over what functions – if any – the emergency manager will allow them to run. Mayor Dave Bing has lost all of his executive power under Orr.
Despite all, voters remain optimistic about Detroit's future
Napoleon has attempted to link Duggan to Gov. Rick Snyder, who appointed Orr to the post in March, because there was contact in the past between Lansing officials and Duggan over Detroit’s financial plight. But Duggan has denied he was a candidate for emergency manager, saying he has always opposed taking away the rights of citizen to elect their leaders.
If Duggan is elected, he would become Detroit’s first white mayor in 40 years. Voters in the Deadline Detroit poll interviewed by a reporter said race played no role in their choice.
A comeback by Napoleon at this late stage of the campaign would appear to be problematical. In 2005, incumbent Kwame Kilpatrick, who had finished second in the primary to Freman Hendrix, trailed in the polls but surged in the final weeks and won the election.
Kilpatrick was aided by appearing to be a statesman at the funeral of Rosa Parks, marathon campaigning and especially by an infusion of cash by a number of Detroit business people. But in this election, Duggan is the candidate who has attracted the support of Detroit’s corporate leaders and that backing has enabled him to run the majority of TV advertising.
Despite the turbulence of bankruptcy and rule by emergency manager, plus constant media reports about
crime and faulty city services, voters surveyed expressed optimism about Detroit’s future.
Asked how they saw the direction of the City of Detroit going over the next five years, 72 percent answered either significantly better, much better or better. Eight percent believe the city would stay the same; six percent said it will get worse. Fourteen were unsure.
One poll participant, Yolanda Kiel, 62, echoed other respondents in saying she is bullish on Detroit.
“I think it will be a better city because I think it’s going to require more people who are skilled and educated in technology and who are visionaries. I think there will be more people like that in charge.”
Voters also approved of the leasing of Belle Isle to the state of Michigan to run the island as a state park, which has been a highly contentious issue before the city council. Fifty-three percent approved of the transfer; 36 percent disapproved and 11 percent were unsure.
Detroit voters also strongly oppose selling art from the Detroit Institute of Arts during the bankruptcy proceedings. While there is no plan to sell anything now, the artwork is considered a city asset and could be auctioned to satisfy creditors, including former city workers who are likely to lose portions of their pensions.
The poll asked if the city of Detroit should sell off art from the DIA to help fund City workers’ pensions.
Sixty-five percent answered no; 22 percent said yes. Thirteen percent were undecided.