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Bibb takes the lead over Kelley in Baldwin Wallace Cleveland mayoral poll

Justin Bibb received the most votes in the Sept. 14 primary election. [Taylor Haggerty / Ideastream Public Media]
Justin Bibb standing in a crowd.

A new survey from Baldwin Wallace University shows Cleveland mayoral candidate Justin Bibb ahead of opponent Kevin Kelley by about 9 percentage points. But many of those surveyed remain unsure of who they’ll be voting for this November.

Bibb has a lead among respondents of all ages and races, according to a BW press release, with roughly 34 percent compared to Kelley’s 25 percent. But some 40 percent of respondents remain undecided. Just over 400 registered voters were surveyed between Sept. 27 and Oct. 8, including phone and online responses.

Early voting in Cleveland began Oct. 7.

“It’s likely that the 40 percent who are undecided includes a mix of primary voters who chose a candidate other than Bibb or Kelley,” said Tom Sutton, director of BW’s Community Research Institute. “Each candidate has received endorsements from East Side primary opponents.”

Bibb’s lead is strongest with Black voters, at 26 percentage points. He also leads with other racial minorities, which were grouped together due to the small sample size. But the gap with white voters drops to just 3 percentage points between the two candidates, which is within the poll’s 5.1 percent margin of error.

As for issues of concern for Cleveland voters, neighborhood safety came out on top of a list of 15 options, at about 46 percent. School quality was close behind at about 40 percent, followed by police response times and how police treat residents.

“Public safety and education are top of mind for Cleveland voters,” Sutton said. “Timely response and how residents are treated by police are persistent concerns.” 

Despite ongoing conversations about addressing the digital divide in Cleveland, the issue came in last for respondents of the survey at about 3 percent.

The survey also asked respondents which changes in the Cleveland area have had the biggest impact on their lives. The most common answers included improvements at public parks like Edgewater and Euclid Beach, while the renovation of Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse and the Republican National Convention in 2016 fell to the bottom.

“Parks, improved housing and gathering spaces are more important to voters than the splash of costly high-profile events and upgraded entertainment venues,” Sutton said.