By Lauren Casey

Indianapolis Mayor

Greg Ballard

led his Democratic challenger Melina

Kennedy

by double-digits roughly one week before Tuesday's election.

Ballard topped Kennedy 44 percent to 33 percent in a

WISH-TV/Franklin College poll. The

Libertarian candidate, Chris

Bowen

, had 2 percent of the vote in the poll.

About 400 likely voters in Marion County answered survey

questions by phone from Oct. 29 to Oct. 31. The results have a margin of error

of plus or minus 4.9 percent.

"People like what we're doing," Ballard said

Thursday morning on WISH-TV's Daybreak. "It's heart-warming that people

like it."

WISH-TV and Franklin College hired Michigan-based EPIC-MRA

to conduct what was the first and likely only independent poll for the 2011

Indianapolis mayoral race

.

It found that one in five of those surveyed remained

undecided, leaving room for Kennedy to get back into a closer race.

On Thursday morning, Kennedy said she was

"encouraged" by the poll results because less than 50 percent of

respondents said they would vote for Ballard. That's a sign, she said, that

voters aren't "ready to elect the incumbent."

"The only poll that matters is Election

Day

," Kennedy said on WISH-TV. "We'll continue to run hard

through Election Day."

Kennedy also saw good news in early voting. Among poll

respondents who said they'd already voted, 44 percent said they voted for

Kennedy, 30 percent for Ballard and 26 percent refused to answer.

Ballard became

the city's mayor

after one of the biggest upsets in Indiana's political

history when he defeated two-term incumbent mayor Bart Peterson just four years

ago.

Kennedy served as an advisor to Peterson's campaign.After Peterson won his seat as mayor,

Kennedy became his deputy mayor for economic development.

Now the question for voters is to decide whether the city

was in better shape under Ballard's

leadership

the past four years or would be better served by Kennedy.

When asked if the city of Indianapolis and Marion County are

on the right track, the majority of those surveyed said yes. Fifty-five percent

said the city is headed in the right direction, with 33 percent saying it is on

the wrong track.

The candidates have flooded local television and radio

stations with ads and mailboxes with fliers.

Kennedy focused most of her attention on educational

issues

, although only 9 percent of poll respondents said they would vote

for her because of her stand on those issues.

For Kennedy, the survey showed that the top reason —

30 percent of those surveyed mentioned it — for her support came from her

being a Democrat. The second reason, at 11 percent, was because her supporters

do not like Ballard. Education was third.

Ballard promoted his record on jobs and his handling of city

affairs the past four years. Thirty-six percent of the poll's respondents said

they thought he deserved another term because he has done a good job.

Overall, 62 percent of those polled gave a positive rating

to Ballard's performance as mayor.Only 36 percent gave his job a negative rating.

"I do believe our city is moving in the right

direction, especially compared to other cities," Ballard said Thursday

morning on WISH-TV.

The poll found the second most-cited reason for Ballard's

support was a dislike for Kennedy.Just 7 percent of Ballard's supporters in the poll said that they would

vote for him because of his positions on the issues; 7 percent also said they'd

support him because he is a Republican.

This year's mayoral race has been the most expensive in

Indianapolis history. Kennedy has raised nearly $3 million, including more than

$230,000 in contributions in the campaign's closing weeks.

Ballard has raised more than $3 million but has so far

lagged in late money.

Of those polled, 46 percent consider themselves Democrats

with 37 percent as Republicans.Only 14 percent considered themselves independent voters.

The above is one of an

ongoing series of reports from the Indiana Statehouse by students at the

Franklin College Pulliam School of Journalism.

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