Edmonton heading in 'wrong direction,' Sohi on the ropes: Leger poll

‘On some of the issues, or many of the issues, that residents in Edmonton feel are really important, the current mayor and council just don’t seem to be performing that well on’

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New polling suggests were he to run for re-election tomorrow, Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi would be hard-pressed to win.

Leger’s poll numbers suggest that just 16 per cent of people are likely to vote for Sohi, who would face voters in October 2025, should he choose to run again, and two-thirds feel the city is heading in the wrong direction.

Interviewed Monday morning, Andrew Enns, Leger’s executive vice-president for Central Canada, said the numbers suggest few Edmontonians would be likely to vote for Sohi, and 43 per cent would vote for “someone else.”

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Men are more likely than women to vote for someone else other than Sohi, the poll showed.

“Obviously these aren’t really great numbers for the current mayor, if he’s got intentions to run again,” Enns said.

Incumbent mayors usually bring a fairly significant advantage in name recognition and familiarity with issues that challengers tend to have to work pretty hard to overcome, Enns said.

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Among men, the “someone else” number jumps to 50 per cent, though more men (18 per cent) than women (14 per cent) say they would likely vote for Sohi.

Overall, 32 per cent said they don’t know who they would vote for and 7 per cent say they would not vote in the next municipal election.

Leger poll numbers for May also suggest two-thirds believe Edmonton is headed in the “wrong direction.”

Among Edmontonians over age 55, that figure climbs to 80 per cent.

Even among the 22 per cent who do believe Edmonton is headed in the right direction, just 40 per cent would vote for Sohi.

Members of Edmonton city council take part in a public hearing on district planning at city hall on Tuesday, May 28, 2024.
Members of Edmonton city council take part in a public hearing on district planning at city hall on Tuesday, May 28, 2024. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

On their own “personal top issue,” Edmontonians overall aren’t happy.

The poll indicates three-in-10 Edmontonians believe Sohi is doing a poor job on their personal top issue, compared to just one-in-10 who believe he’s doing a good job.

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“We’ve got sort of a very hypothetical, but there’s a municipal ballot at the end of our poll that that says the current mayor wouldn’t do well,” he said.

“On some of the issues, or many of the issues, that residents in Edmonton feel are really important, the current mayor and council just don’t seem to be performing that well on,” Enns said.

“In terms of civic politics , things are not good right now for the current administration there,” he said.

Housing, property taxes top issues

The poll showed few — 14 per cent — of Edmontonians believe the 8.9 per cent property tax increase recently approved by council is justified.

Over three in five Edmontonians believe that Edmonton’s fast population growth is concerning.

The top five issues cited by those polled were housing prices/affordability at 21 per cent, property taxes (14 per cent), homelessness (13 per cent), the economy (11 per cent), crime/public safety/policing (10 per cent), with jobs, infrastructure condition, opioid/overdoes/toxicity crisis trailing.

The lowest five concerns ranking at two per cent or under included ethical/honest government, fees and charges for services, alternative transportation — bikes and walking paths, transit service and environment and climate change.

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When it comes to issues where Edmontonians believe Sohi is doing a good job, he fares well on alternative transportation (43 per cent), good condition of infrastructure (39 per cent), ethical government  (39 per cent) and environmental issues (38 per cent).

Edmonton skyline
Homes and the downtown skyline is seen from the Griesbach neighbourhood in Edmonton, on Tuesday, April 2, 2019. Postmedia file Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

Just 25 per cent polled gave the city a “good job” rating on crime and law enforcement, despite a jump in the law enforcement budget.

“They’re either not getting value for that increase, or it’s not getting communicated in terms of how it’s actually making things safer in the city,” Enns said.

Only 26 per cent agree the city’s police budget increase is “making a noticeable impact on safety in the city.”

Just 16 per cent say the mayor is doing a good job on property taxes and housing prices/affordability.

‘Really passionate’

Asked if Edmonton was going “in the right direction,” two-thirds of Edmontonians believe the direction of Edmonton is headed in the wrong direction.

Edmontonians who would vote for Sohi were more likely to think Edmonton is headed in the right direction.

Pollsters look not just where in the scale respondents fall, but at the intensity of sentiment.

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“I look at the ratio between that ‘strongly wrong track’ versus ‘strongly right direction,’ because in this day and age, it’s those who are really passionate about something that are most likely to be vocal,” Enns said.

“They’re most likely to speak up at a dinner party about something or write a letter. Right now, I have to think that there’s a lot of people who are sharing their opinions on what’s wrong with the current mayor and council, as opposed to what’s right.”

Using a weighted sample to reflect the actual Edmonton population, the online survey of adult Edmonton respondents had quotas in place for demographics fitting Statistics Canada estimates, with 401 Edmonton residents polled.

It was a random sampling from a proprietary research panel.

“Typically, a margin of error is not attached to panel-based surveys, but if this was a random probability sample, the margin of error would be +/-4.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20,” Enns said.

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