Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday October 20, 2018
At least one robocall poll suggests a divisive LRT project has turned Hamilton’s mayoral election race into a statistical dead heat.
An automated telephone survey by Forum Research of 1,556 residents showed 39 per cent support pro-LRT incumbent Fred Eisenberger while 38 percent back anti-LRT challenger Vito Sgro. Other respondents either said they will choose another of the 15 mayoral candidates (12%) or were undecided (12%).
Respondents – a majority reached by landline – were similarly divided when asked how they felt about the contentious $1-billion light rail line, said Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff. Half said they opposed the project, while 46% were supportive.
And when those residents were specifically informed about the positions of both candidates on LRT and asked to choose between them again, the support split at 43 percent each.
“It is so close, the numbers are almost identical,” said Bozinoff of the survey, which claims a margin of error of 2.48%, with total sample results considered accurate 19 times out of 20. “What it means – because municipal voter turnout is not great – is that it is important for both sides to get out their vote on Monday.”
Forum Research was not paid for the survey and plans to release the results publicly Friday, said Bozinoff. The firm periodically conducts polls and offers the results for free to drum up clients.
Bozinoff noted light rail transit was also an issue – but not the top priority – for voters polled in a paid Forum survey conducted for The Spectator during the 2014 election.
This time, fully a third of respondents called LRT the top issue that would influence their vote.
By contrast, 17 percent chose taxes, 15 percent chose infrastructure/roads and nine-percent chose public safety. “Often, the top issue is taxes,” Bozinoff said. “Clearly, people feel very strongly about this (LRT) issue.”
Interestingly, the majority of respondents who offered an opinion about LRT feel passionately about the project, one way or another. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)