Calgary residents want Nenshi to stick to guns with Flames, but may not re-elect him

There’s a new poll out in Calgary that should let us see how the Flames owners’ war of words with Mayor Naheed Nenshi over whether paying taxes that everybody else pays should count as “private money” toward an arena is going over with the general public. So, how’s it going over?

Forty-seven per cent of respondents who participated in a Mainstream Research/Postmedia poll for the Calgary Herald/Calgary Sun say the city “should stand firm on its commitment to get the best arena deal for taxpayers,” even if that means the NHL team moves away from Calgary.

Thirty-nine per cent of people who answered the interactive voice response survey on their cellphone or landline said they don’t think the city should stand firm, while 14 per cent of the 1,000 respondents weren’t sure.

That’s a strange way of wording a poll question, especially since Flames execs have only made the most tentative of move threats (and don’t have a lot of good options for places to move to). Still, a plurality of respondents saying, “Stick to your guns, let ’em leave if that’s the way they’re going to be,” is pretty notable.

In a poll with more immediate import, meanwhile, Nenshi is reportedly trailing challenger Bill Smith in the runup to the mayoral election a week from Monday. If you scroll down and look at the breakdown of the numbers, though, you’ll see that the gap is mostly among women over the age of 50 — which, even if it doesn’t imply polling funny business as Nenshi’s team insists, probably is an indication that this isn’t angry hockey fans who are threatening his re-election.


23 comments on “Calgary residents want Nenshi to stick to guns with Flames, but may not re-elect him

  1. Don’t be naive, Neil. That arena poll is biased and if Nenshi gets dumped it’s yet another politician getting booted because he “stuck to his guns” on an arena deal.

    • Let’s see, that’s 1) concern trolling (you’re only trying to protect me from being “naive”), and 2) argument by assertion (clearly the arena poll must be biased because it doesn’t agree with your conclusions). Yep, all the classic Ben Miller hallmarks.

    • “Yet another”? When is the last time a pol stood up against a major arena deal in general? Let alone did so and lost an election because of it? It’s happened but quite rarely.

      • “Lost an election because of it” = zero, unless you count Greg Nickels in Seattle, who was mostly booted because he neglected to shovel the streets after it snowed.

      • Faulconer in San Diego will be a big test. I don’t think there’s anyone who has been able to stay in office after playing hardball with a team and having that team leave. Slay in St. Louis chose not to run. Nickels in Seattle was ousted for a variety of reasons, Sonics included. You could argue that McCrory in Charlotte and White in Cleveland got to stay, but in those cases A) the owners were dicks, and B) a deal to build a government-funded arena had already been set up by the time they were up for re-election.

        • You can think whatever you want, but last time I made a list of mayors who ran for re-election after teams left, there were six to ten who’d won, and then Nickels.

          I may have the list at home if anyone wants me to look for it, but you all can use Wikipedia just like I did.

          • I can’t find any that got re-elected when teams left after arena fights, aside from White & McCrory.

          • For starters:

            Robert Wagner Jr., New York/Brooklyn
            Lionel Wilson, Oakland
            Richard Riordan, Los Angeles

            If you’re just counting arenas, there’s Roger Hedgecock in San Diego and Jimmy Griffin in Buffalo, both of whom lost the same team (the Braves/Clippers) while in office, and both of whom were re-elected. Susan Ann Thompson in Winnipeg and Philip Owen in Vancouver didn’t run for re-election. Maynard Jackson in Atlanta was term-limited after the Flames left, but then he managed to come back and get re-elected after an eight-year gap.

            At this point we’re starting to run out of remotely recent NBA and NHL franchise relocations. Who was mayor of Kansas City when the Scouts left, and did anyone care?

          • A significant percentage of Mayors who have signed bad deals ‘on behalf’ of their electorate choose not to run in the following election as well.

            Scruggs in Glendale would be a case in point, Mandel’s shameful gift to Mr. Katz another. And as you’ve often pointed out Miami’s Mayor was recalled (at least in part) for betraying his voters to serve the interests of the Loria family.

            Did Cincinnati’s mayor and council (or Hamilton County execs) change over the years or was it basically the same group that gave away the farm to the Bengals and Reds?

            Most voters are not single issue voters and do not make their decision based on professional sports related negotiations.

            One of the hallmarks of any “Save Our (insert team name here)” campaigns really ought to be that the sports team was never “ours” in the first place.

            If it were it could not have been used as a tool to extract welfare for billionaires from taxpayers, the majority of whom make less than $60k annually.

          • Kansas City Mo mayor in 1976 was Charlie Wheeler who was elected in 1975 and tried running for Senate instead of running for a third term in 1979.

            Richard Buckley was mayor in 1980 when the Kings left for California, but he was elected two more times finally losing the mayorship in 1991, by not running in the election.

        • St Louis Mayor Schoemehl was reelected to a third term in 1989 after the Grid-Birds (Cardinals) moved to Arizona in 1988.

  2. 1) I don’t want to see anyone be naive, and 2) my argument is based on the term “stick to your guns”, which has naturally positive connotations. If the poll had used the term “stubborn”, the percentage supporting would’ve been far lower.

    • If my grandma had wheels, she’d be a Harley.

      Die-hard sports fans (i.e. people most likely to defend hometown teams above all else) don’t wield anywhere near the level of influence over local politics as they believe — otherwise, polls on stadium handouts would be seeing banana republic-level support regardless of how the questions are worded. This may be because die-hard sports fans hardly associate with anyone other than other die-hard sports fans, ergo they end up vastly overestimating their ranks.

    • What if the poll had used the term “stand firm,” which is what it actually did say?

      • Positive connotation. Even more positive than “stick to your guns”, which can offend sensitive anti-gun Canadians.

    • (It’s a terrible poll question in a lot of ways — not just the wording but the fact that it presupposes that the Flames are threatening to leave, which they haven’t — but saying “stick to your guns” wasn’t part of that.)

      • Poll questions are not structured randomly. The company structured the question this way for a reason, obviously. I’ll leave it to readers to determine for themselves what that reason might be, and who might be paying the polling company for this particular “research”.

  3. Related to the NHL (and special tax breaks called tax-exempt municipal bonds): Senators Come Together Following NFL Protests, Owners Afraid Of What’s Coming Next

  4. If Nenshi is really trailing in the polls (which, when viewed as a whole, I doubt) he should be reassured by this. The accuracy of modern polling companies research is extraordinarily low.