Calgary

Gondek leads mayoral race, with 33% of Calgarians still undecided: CBC News poll

A new poll conducted exclusively for CBC Calgary by Janet Brown Opinion Research shows Jyoti Gondek leading a crowded field in the race to become Calgary's next mayor, and sheds light on how voters align on the key issues.

Poll suggests name recognition is key in the mayoral race

Calgary's municipal election is set for Oct. 18. A new poll done for CBC News has found there's a new frontrunner in Calgary's mayoral race. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Editor's note:  This CBC survey was conducted Sept. 22 to 30, 2021 by Alberta-based Trend Research under the direction of Janet Brown Opinion Research. The survey sampled 1,000 residents of the City of Calgary. As always, it should be remembered that a poll is a snapshot in time.


A new poll conducted exclusively for CBC Calgary shows Jyoti Gondek leading a crowded field in the race to become Calgary's next mayor.

Gondek has 40 per cent support among decided and leaning voters. Jeromy Farkas is a close second with 32 per cent support. And Jeff Davison is third with 11 per cent support.

Among the other candidates running, Jan Damery and Brad Field each garner four per cent support, and the rest of the candidates each have the support of two per cent or less.

Thirty-three per cent of Calgary voters remain undecided.


Still, the numbers among decided voters are not the whole story. Name recognition is also a factor in the race.

Name recognition

With just over one week left before election day, the poll suggests name recognition is key in the mayoral campaign race.

Name recognition is the most important currency in municipal politics. Candidates seeking office at the federal or provincial level get to run under a political party banner. And this political party affiliation provides a shorthand that helps voters understand what the candidate stands for.

Without this shorthand, a politician's personal brand is far more important in a municipal election.

This new poll suggests those with significant name recognition have an edge. The candidates who have previously served on Calgary city council have a clear advantage over other candidates as a result.

You can see this relationship in the table below.


In addition to asking how they would vote if an election were held today, survey respondents were asked both if they had heard of each of the 27 mayoral candidates, and if they were considering voting for them. 

Jeromy Farkas had the highest name recognition at 73 per cent, followed by Jyoti Gondek at 66 per cent and Jeff Davison at 55 per cent. 

Brad Field, one of the first candidates to launch his mayoralty campaign almost one year ago, had 34 per cent name recognition. 

Kevin J. Johnston, who was recently sentenced by an Ontario court, is an outlier. Although he is familiar to 31 per cent of respondents, only 1 per cent said they would consider voting for him.

Important issues

When asked which issues are most important in determining their vote, Gondek voters are most likely to mention the COVID-19 pandemic (37 per cent), poverty and homelessness (36 per cent), and economic development (30 per cent).

Farkas voters are most likely to say their most important issues are city spending and the city budget (60 per cent), property taxes (52 per cent), and economic development (29 per cent).

Davison voters are most likely to say their most important issues are employment and job creation (36 per cent), economic development (30 per cent), and the COVID-19 pandemic (30 per cent).


Other voting pattern alignments

Voters for Gondek, Farkas and Davison also align along with other patterns, including perspectives on outgoing mayor Naheed Nenshi, and how people self-identified on a left-right spectrum.

You can see that in the table below:


Most of Jyoti Gondek's support comes from voters who approve of the job Nenshi has done as mayor over the last four years (91 per cent), and those who identify as politically left-leaning (62 per cent). 

Jeromy Farkas' support comes mainly from those who disapprove of Nenshi (72 per cent), and identify as right-leaning (66 per cent).

Jeff Davison is attracting support from a group of voters who tend to approve of Nenshi (62 per cent), but identify as right-leaning. (50 per cent). 

An election in unusual times

Candidates in this 2021 mayoral race are campaigning in unusual times.

Coverage of the municipal election has often been pre-empted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal election, and the ongoing turmoil within the UCP caucus. As well, rising COVID-19 case numbers prevented candidates from holding or attending large events or rallies that would have given them the kind of face-to-face interaction that proved so beneficial for Nenshi in 2010.

Given all this uncertainty, it's also not entirely surprising that voters would gravitate to candidates who are familiar to them and who have experience in municipal politics.


Methodology:

This survey was conducted Sept. 22-30, 2021 by Alberta-based Trend Research under the direction of Janet Brown Opinion Research. The survey sampled 1,000 residents of the City of Calgary aged 18 and over, randomly selected from Trend Research's online panel. Quotas were set to ensure representativeness in terms of city quadrant, age and gender. Minimal weights were applied to match Statistics Canada population data. A comparable margin of error for a study with a probabilistic sample of this size would be plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. For subsets, the margin of error is larger.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janet Brown

Freelance contributor

Janet Brown is a longtime political commentator and pollster in Alberta.

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