FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — 42% Didier – 41% Henry.

A new poll conducted for Republican Councilman Tom Didier showed him “functionally tied” with incumbent Democrat Tom Henry in the 2023 race for Fort Wayne mayor.

Both are expected – but neither has officially filed – to run. Both would face primary challengers in May before a possible November head-to-head contest.

A summary of the early January poll was obtained Friday by WANE 15. It was conducted among 300 registered voters in the city by Meeting Street Insights with a margin of error of 5.66%. WANE 15 asked for a full release of the poll data but was told by Didier’s campaign the data would not be made available.

“The memo summarizes the key points from the data,” emailed Derek Pillie, with the Didier campaign.

The summary showed Didier leads with committed voters (30%-27%), men (48% – 36%), and older voters (44%-41%).

Women favored Henry (45%-37%) as do younger voters slightly, ages 18-54 (40%-39%).

More troublesome for Henry might be the image ratings.

“Eight out of ten (81%) Fort Wayne voters have heard of Didier and nearly half view him favorably (42%),” the summary said. “By comparison, Tom Henry is known to 96% of voters in the city and, while his favorables are a few points higher, his unfavorables are three times that of Didier’s (51% favorable – 36% unfavorable).”

Henry, through a statement, downplayed the poll.

“My focus is on the needs of our citizens and the City of Fort Wayne. Campaigns are not won or lost in January. I must first win the support of my party in May before I think about the general election in November. While we may face-off against each other later this year, I wish Councilman Didier well in his contested primary.”   

Mayor Tom Henry

Two-thirds of respondents said the city is headed in the right direction (67% right – 23% wrong) but a third (32%) of voters who approve of Henry’s performance indicated they don’t plan to vote for him.

“This data strongly suggests that voters credit the city’s direction to more than just the job the Mayor is going,” the report said,

WANE 15 reached Didier by phone Friday.

“We felt like we were on the right track but wanted to make sure,” he said of the poll. “We wanted a better picture of my strengths and weaknesses and the mayor’s.”

Didier reiterated his campaign would be positive and he would not use the mayor’s OWI arrest against him.

“You can’t sell negative,” Didier said.

Currently, the only candidates filed to run are Republican Councilman Jason Arp and Democrat Jorge Fernandez.

The primary election is Tuesday, May 2.