A LEADING political analyst has declared the mayoral election "a two-horse race" with the bookies putting Acting Mayor Paul Tully in poll position to win the Ipswich mayoralty, with Cr Andrew Antoniolli hot on his tail.
Betting agency Sportsbet has Cr Tully paying $2, and favourite, with Cr Antoniolli at $3.
Following Cr Tully and Cr Antoniolli is: Peter Robinson ($8), Dallas Klass ($10), Gary Duffy ($17), Patricia Petersen ($19), Jack Paff ($21), Paul Rix ($26), Brett Morrissey ($26), Ken Salter ($41) and Peter Luxton ($41).
Who will get your vote in the 2017 Ipswich City Council election for mayor?
Social scientist Jeff Sommerfeld, who has worked on numerous campaigns including that of Ian Rickuss MP at the last state election, said that in betting terms "Tully is the horse to beat".
Mr Sommerfeld said Cr Tully's recognition factor, revealed by a recent ReachTEL poll to be 93.1%, combined with his experience and electoral success across four decades had him in a strong position.
"Paul Tully is a big personality," Mr Sommerfeld said.
"Each time you see him speaking on an issue it is one that relates to the punters. He always seems like the battler's champ.
"He is extremely well known, even outside Ipswich, and has a statewide profile. Tully has been around for long period of time where he has shown he can pull votes.
"But that doesn't mean that other 'Ipswich factors' won't play out in this election."
Mr Sommerfeld said that even though Cr Antoniolli was an ALP member, it would be the resources of the ALP "machine" prior to, and on, election day that would assist Cr Tully.
"Paul Tully is a long serving member of the Labor Party and whoever has the party machine behind him has an advantage, and from what I have seen that is Tully."
Cr Antoniolli has presented himself as an agent of change from within the council, promising more transparency and accountability. They have almost been his mantras.
Mr Sommerfeld said it would come down to whether Cr Antoniolli could convince voters in a short space of time whether he was that agent for change.
"Around 80% of voters accepted the current council direction at the last mayoral election when they voted for Paul Pisasale," Mr Sommerfeld said
"So for Andrew Antoniolli to come out and say he is going to change that direction, he is going to have to make the case for change.
"He has a much more difficult task than Tully."
A ReachTEL poll recently showed that 41% of those quizzed would vote for someone other than a current councillor and Mr Sommerfeld said that highlighted "one of the unique features of this election".
"The big question is: Has the mood substantially changed since the voters were asked 12 months ago?"
While the bookmakers do not decide the election, Mr Sommerfeld said the odds were often on the money.
"The betting odds are normally very reflective when you look at election outcomes in Australia and internationally," he said.
"Bookmakers normally get it right."
Mr Sommerfeld said that the nine non-councillor candidates had an uphill struggle.
"They are no chance," he said.
"They don't have Glenn Druery, the preference whisperer, operating in Ipswich and helping them swap preferences.
"If they are not swapping preferences amongst each other with the help of someone like Druery then they are all outsiders.
"It is the two leading candidates only in this race."
Mr Sommerfeld said his tip to win was Cr Tully, while offering up the way that Cr Antoniolli could come through and claim victory.
"Antoniolli has got to be able to grab the voters, take them with him on his journey and make the case for change," he said.
Sportsbet's Willy Byrne explained why his agency had Cr Tully as the favourite.
"Mr Tully is a long-serving councillor and lives and breathes Ipswich. He's been a politician for almost 40 years and as the acting mayor he is entitled to be favourite to win the upcoming election,'' Mr Byrne said.
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