Tax fa­tigue en­er­gizes Smith’s rise

Nen­shi nar­rows gap be­hind ri­val to 11 points, says Post­media poll


Ris­ing city taxes may be the driv­ing force be­hind Bill Smith’s sur­pris­ing poll re­sults, a new sur­vey sug­gests with just days to go be­fore Cal­gar­i­ans cast their bal­lots for mayor in Mon­day’s civic elec­tion.

The Main­street Re­search/Post­media poll for the Calgary Her­ald and Calgary Sun shows Smith with the sup­port of 47 per cent of poll par­tic­i­pants, 11 points ahead of in­cum­bent Na­heed Nen­shi.

When re­spon­dents who said they would vote for Smith were asked why, the No. 1 rea­son was his prom­ise to hold the line on taxes, cited by more than one in four peo­ple.

“(Taxes) are what’s driv­ing vot­ers to him,” said poll­ster Quito Maggi. “That can’t be over­stated, how big of a role taxes and spend­ing at city hall are play­ing in this elec­tion.”

Since throw­ing his hat into the may­oral race in June, Smith hasn’t re­vealed de­tailed poli­cies but has run on a plat­form of change and promised to rein in ex­ces­sive tax in­creases and city spend­ing.

It’s a mes­sage that ap­pears to have struck a chord with an elec­torate hit hard by an on­go­ing eco­nomic re­ces­sion, said Maggi.

“In good times, when peo­ple’s in­comes are in­creas­ing be­yond in­fla­tion, peo­ple don’t think about their taxes, their util­ity bills, things are great, things are won­der­ful,” Maggi said. “When times get tough ... that leads to an ap­petite for change.”

An ear­lier Main­street poll and a poll com­mis­sioned by the Calgary Cham­ber of Com­merce both found taxes were the pri­mary con­cerns for vot­ers ahead of the Oct. 16 elec­tion.

“Cam­paign­ing on change and prop­erty taxes and city spend­ing was enough,” Maggi said of Smith’s cam­paign.

“Peo­ple may not be­lieve that run­ning on a small is­sues plat­form is enough, es­pe­cially run­ning against a cam­paign that is very pol­icy-heavy, but it’s enough this time.”

In the lat­est Main­street poll, 27 per cent of Smith sup­port­ers listed taxes as the rea­son that best re­flected why they’re vot­ing for him, while 22 per cent said he was the best avail­able op­tion among can­di­dates, and 17 per cent said his val­ues re­flect their val­ues.

Re­spon­dents who said they were sup­port­ing Nen­shi were also asked why, and his abil­ity to rep­re­sent Calgary on a pro­vin­cial, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional level emerged as the top re­sponse, cited by 22 per cent of peo­ple.

Eigh­teen per cent of Nen­shi sup­port­ers said he was the best avail­able op­tion among can­di­dates, while 15 per cent said they were vot­ing for him be­cause of the city’s fi­nan­cial per­for­mance un­der his lead­er­ship.

The in­ter­ac­tive voice re­sponse sur­vey polled 1,500 Cal­gar­i­ans over both land lines and cell­phones on Tues­day and Wed­nes­day.

It fol­lows two other Main­street polls, heav­ily crit­i­cized by Nen­shi’s team, that have put Smith ahead of Nen­shi, the first by nine points and the sec­ond by 17.

An on­line poll com­mis­sioned by a pro-tran­sit group and con­ducted Oct. 7 to 10 found Nen­shi was ahead of Smith by 15 points.

But this week’s Main­street poll has Smith ahead of Nen­shi by 11 points, with the in­cum­bent at 36 per cent back­ing among all vot­ers.

Coun. An­dre Chabot is a dis­tant third in the poll, with six per cent sup­port, while two per cent of re­spon­dents said they’ll vote for one of the other seven men vy­ing for coun­cil’s top job.

Maggi said the num­bers show Nen­shi is run­ning out of time and the data points to Smith be­com­ing the next mayor of Calgary.

“If you be­lieve in mir­a­cles, then there is a pos­si­bil­ity that Nen­shi wins on Mon­day, but it’s go­ing to take a mir­a­cle,” said Maggi of the lat­est poll re­sults.

Ten per cent of poll par­tic­i­pants said they are un­de­cided ahead of Mon­day’s elec­tion, a slight drop from the last poll, done on Oct. 3 and 4, which tal­lied un­de­cided vot­ers at 13 per cent.

The other men vy­ing for the mayor’s chair are David Lapp, Emile Gabriel, Larry Heather, Ja­son Achtymichuk, Brent Chisholm, Cur­tis Ol­son and Stan Wa­ciak.

The Main­street Re­search/Post­media poll is con­sid­ered ac­cu­rate to within 3.1 per­cent­age points, 19 times out of 20.

Bill Smith

Na­heed Nen­shi


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