Calgary

Poll suggests 'staggering' drop in approval rating for Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi

A new poll suggests Calgarians have soured on Mayor Naheed Nenshi and city council in general, with more than half of respondents saying they disapprove of him and even more saying they’re not happy with the whole group running the city.

'Most of their ire seems directed at Mayor Nenshi'

A poll by ThinkHQ found a 22-percentage-point drop in Mayor Naheed Nenshi's approval ratings. (CBC)

A new poll suggests Calgarians have soured on Mayor Naheed Nenshi and city council in general, with more than half of respondents saying they disapprove of him and even more saying they're not happy with the whole group running the city.

ThinkHQ's poll found that 39 per cent of Calgarians say they approve of the performance of Nenshi, compared with 55 per cent who disapprove — 37 per cent of them strongly, the firm said in a news release.

That represents a 22 percentage-point drop in the mayor's approval, year over year.

"Calgarians clearly are not happy with how city hall is operating today, but most of their ire seems directed at Mayor Nenshi," said ThinkHQ president Marc Henry.

"You would likely need to go back almost 40 years to find a sitting Calgary mayor with approval this low, and the year-over-year drop in his approval is staggering."

ThinkHQ’s poll found that 39 per cent of Calgarians say they approve of the performance of Mayor Naheed Nenshi, compared with 55 per cent who disapprove. (ThinkHQ)

Ratings for council overall are even more negative than the mayor's.  

Fewer than one-third (32 per cent) of those interviewed approve of council as a whole while 60 per cent disapprove.  

"The irony is that if these numbers were to hold, most members of council could likely be re-elected, but that's not the case for Mayor Nenshi," said Henry, who was chief of staff for mayor Dave Bronconnier.

"It would be very unlikely for the mayor to contest and win re-election with approval this low."

Mayor Nenshi responded to the poll during a news scrum at city hall. 

"We have an incredibly well managed balance sheet," he said. "We have an incredibly well managed city and taxes, the lowest in the country. These are all really good things. And it's time for us to continue to remind people of that. Instead of allowing ourselves to get down into this mire of negativity."

'I have a job to do'

Nenshi told CBC News that he has never governed with a focus on the next election.

"One of the things about me as a politician that's different than other politicians is, I never ever think about the next election," he said. "I always give new politicians the same advice, which is be the best one-term person you can be.

"You've been given three or four years, it's a magnificent gift to wake up every single morning and do the best job you can possibly do and then decide, 'do you want to run for re-election.' So I will be making that decision, I don't know, late 2020 or early 2021. In the meantime I have a job to do."

Nenshi's approval ratings seem to be slightly higher among women, residents of the northeast and the inner city, and those under the age of 35, declining sharply with age, the poll found.

By contrast, the poll suggests almost half of Calgarians are happy with the performance of their own councillors.

Almost one-half (49 per cent) said they approve of their councillor, while 34 per cent disapprove and 17 per cent were unsure.

The firm noted that its online survey uses a representative but non-random sample, so a margin of error is not applicable. But a probability sample of this size would yield a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points at a 95 per cent confidence interval, ThinkHQ said.

ThinkHQ president Marc Henry says it would be very unlikely for the mayor to win re-election with approval this low. (ThinkHQ)

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