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"They made some big mistakes" - Nenshi responds to Mainstreet election investigation

(Photo by Chelsey Harms/660 NEWS)

While Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi still needs to read the report of the polling firm that predicted multiple times he would lose in the last municipal election, he is commenting on some of what he’s seen.

“Clearly they made some big mistakes,” Nenshi said Monday, the same day the report came out.

Mainstreet released results of an internal investigation conducted after it botched its predictions, calling a 13-point victory for challenger Bill Smith.

The investigation says while it “found absolutely no evidence that the polling errors were intentional or malicious,” factors included not getting enough young voters and that Nenshi voters didn’t respond to its polls.

It’s that finding that caught Nenshi’s eye.

“People who vote for Nenshi won’t answer polls, but that doesn’t that mean the poll is wrong? Because isn’t the whole point of polling to get a random sample?” Nenshi said. “So I suppose they’ll have a lot of questions to ask themselves.”

Mainstreet president Quito Maggi also apologized to Nenshi – among other candidates – and said Calgary has voting factors that aren’t found elsewhere in Canada.

“It really was astonishing,” Maggi said. “I wish it hadn’t happened to me, but part of it is, it’s a great learning experience.”

As for the apology, Nenshi had a simple response.

“Well thanks so much,” he said.

It wasn’t just the multiple wrong predictions that drew criticism from other pollsters, political commentators, and professors, but the way Mainstreet responded to some of that criticism.

Maggi said it’s led to a review of its communications strategy after some of those online fights.

“We took it personally,” Maggi said. “I was hurt at some of the accusations that got quite outlandish, (and) engaged on social media that was completely inappropriate. I completely take responsibility for that.”

During the run-up to the campaign, a Mainstreet vice-president told 660 NEWS that it would do a case study and single out those who made comments the company didn’t like.

One of its main critics, Mount Royal University Professor Duane Bratt, said he didn’t accept the apology Mainstreet had offered to him.

Maggi said he’s also no longer planning to pursue legal action against Nenshi’s campaign pollster Brian Singh, asking for a retraction of comments Singh made against Mainstreet during the campaign.

As of Monday afternoon, however, Singh said he hadn’t yet gotten notice of the letter being rescinded.

Singh also took to Twitter to pose some questions on the Mainstreet investigation.

“‘Tendency among Nenshi voters not to respond to Mainstreet Polls?’ How come other polls picked up the support? Witnessing the problem, should this not have had the opposite effect?” one Singh tweet said.

“‘Great comeback win (for Nenshi)?” Is Mainstreet inferring that their polls were correct in the end? What exactly does this statement mean given the content & context of this document?’ another tweet said.

To read Mainstreet’s full report, click here:
https://www.mainstreetresearch.ca/calgary-election-perfect-storm/