Political interest low: Poll - Metro US

Political interest low: Poll

Calgary voters may be turning an ice-cold shoulder to civic politics, according to an exclusive Metro Calgary/Ivrnet automated telephone poll.

Under 30 per cent of Calgarians went to the municipal polls in 2007, which is fewer than those who cast a ballot in 2004.

Based on results after Calgarians were surveyed from June 24 to 27, nearly 16-months prior to the 2010 municipal election, that number could drop even further.

Of 14,319 households where live contact through an automated telephone survey was made, only 1,090 respondents indicated they were likely to vote — or just under eight per cent.

Public opinion research consultant Janet Brown isn’t surprised by the numbers — in fact, she says could have predicted the results beforehand.

“People just didn’t want to answer the poll because the issue was just not on their radar,” she said.

Brown pointed out a similar exclusive Metro/Ivrnet poll done in October on the U.S. presidential race garnered a five to one response rate, as opposed to the recent municipal politics poll, which attracted a dismal 13 to one response rate.

With issues like the Memorial Drive promenade, pedestrian bridges, park and ride fees and Plan-It Calgary, civic participation has been alive and well in Calgary recently, but engagement with politics remains low.

“The point is there are a lot of issues out there, and they’re engaged in the issues, but what they don’t seem to be engaged in is the personalities,” said Brown.

Mount Royal political scientist Duane Bratt said the voter turnout for municipal elections is even lower than that of provincial or federal elections.

“The things that people talk about on an ongoing basis; police coverage, roads and garbage collection are quite high — but their actual engagement in the process is quite low compared to federal and provincial elections.”

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