A new Herald on Sunday-Phoenix poll shows the Manukau mayor's South Auckland supporters have turned out in unprecedented numbers, giving him 56 per cent support among those who say they have already voted.
Oozing confidence, Brown has seemingly abandoned his platform of unity and conciliation. Earlier in the week, he had said publicly he might offer Banks a job if he won the mayoralty. Yesterday, he accused Banks of having "jelly knees" on transport, the issue that matters most to Aucklanders.
Brown's supporters appear to have voted early, giving him a big lead.
The poll indicates that Banks has won only 33 per cent of the votes cast so far, but he can still theoretically close the gap. To have a chance, he has to persuade many less-committed supporters to make the effort of ticking the box and mailing back their voting forms.
Phoenix Research director David Fougere said the figures suggested Banks would close in on Brown if more people turned out to vote. But are they interested?
Yesterday afternoon, Banks said his campaign team was preparing for a final push to turn out voters, with the last week "absolutely crucial" to the result.
There had been a "very poor turnout so far", and he hoped to see at least 45 per cent of eligible voter return their ballots.
Banks insisted his own polling showed him "neck-and-neck" with Brown. "This is going to be a race to the line - there's going to be very few votes in it this time next week."
So far, Brown's core supporters on his home turf of Manukau have voted in far higher numbers than those in Banks' strongholds of Auckland City and the North Shore. But even in Auckland City, Brown has a slight lead.
Banks is in the lead only on the North Shore and among those who are uncertain about whether they will vote.
The usually well-mannered mayoral exchanges turned sticky yesterday when Brown accused Banks of going "jelly knees" on public transport policy.
But Brown insisted he wasn't complacent. "Nothing's ever in the bag," he said.
Brown's focus in the final days would be on urging people to send their ballots before Wednesday or to hand them in in person at local libraries.
"I've led in almost all the polls. If the one on October 9 comes through with that result I'd be absolutely delirious."
The poll shows Brown receiving overwhelming support in Manukau, and from Maori and Polynesian voters (85 per cent).
AUT social sciences lecturer Charles Crothers said the poll confirmed that Brown did better than Banks among those on lower incomes. "There is very strong support for Brown from those most likely to see themselves as worse off."
The poll was undertaken between Monday and Friday this week, surveying 893 Aucklanders who either have already voted in the local body elections or say they definitely or probably will vote.
The margin of error is +/- 3.3 per cent.
ONLY ONE WEEK TO GO
There is less than a week to go until voting in the local elections close.
The deadline for ballots is noon on Saturday, October 9.
Although postal votes must be mailed by Wednesday, people can still hand in their ballots at libraries right up to the midday deadline.
About 80 per cent of the votes will have been counted by then, and the final votes are expected to be counted by 7 o'clock that evening.
There are some exciting battles: singer Suzanne Prentice takes on Tim Shadbolt in Invercargill; former deputy prime minister Jim Anderton challenges earthquake Mayor Bob Parker in Christchurch; Kerry Prendergast tries to fight off all-comers in Wellington. And, in the new Auckland Supercity of 1.4 million people, Len Brown takes on John Banks in the contest to lead the biggest city this country has seen.
The Herald on Sunday will bring you the late-breaking details of the local body elections counts from all around New Zealand - who won, who lost, and who had an election result they will never forget.
Most importantly, we explain what it means for you. Is Auckland turning Brown, John Key?
Acknlwledgements: Herald on Sunday.