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Mainstreet’s future with Postmedia uncertain after botched Calgary election poll

Postmedia-owned newspaper National Post are displayed. Postmedia is reportedly putting its relationship with Mainstreet Research “on hold.”.
Postmedia-owned newspaper National Post are displayed. Postmedia is reportedly putting its relationship with Mainstreet Research “on hold.”. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

According to the Calgary Herald, Postmedia is putting its relationship with Mainstreet Research “on hold.” This is pending internal reviews of its research methods and social media policy.

Before Calgary’s civic election, Mainstreet’s polls predicted a huge 13-point win for Bill Smith in Calgary’s mayoral race. They were proven completely wrong when Naheed Nenshi swept to victory 7.6 points ahead.

READ MORE: Mainstreet Research apologizes for ‘catastrophic polling failure’ in 2017 Calgary election

Mount Royal University’s Duane Bratt told 630CHED’s Ryan Jespersen he doesn’t buy the conspiracy theories that Mainstreet was in the pocket of either Smith or Nenshi.

“I do not believe that Quito or Mainstreet or Posted was working for a campaign or against a campaign. I think that is wrong.” Bratt said.

“But the perception is out there, and that is unfortunate. My criticism was about representative samples.”

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Bratt said there were numerous red flags, including an unusually low number of undecided voters and an unusually high level of support for a conservative candidate among female voters.

He also said there was an inexplicably huge shift in support from Nenshi to Smith among young voters in one of the later polls.

Bratt said when he took to Twitter with his concerns, Mainstreet struck back hard. On the eve of the vote, the company promised “retribution” against critics like Bratt.

Bratt admitted that even as a tenured professor, Mainstreet’s aggressive tone gave him pause.

“Had I been wrong, or had Smith won, would I have been facing these pieces of retribution? And the point is, it shouldn’t have mattered whether I was, in the end, whether I was right or whether I was wrong,” Bratt said.

“I was giving, I thought, fair comment at the time.”

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Chief executive Quito Maggi has since apologized, but Bratt told Jespersen he wasn’t impressed.

“When he apologized, he said, you know, ‘It was a vicious campaign.’ There was this kind of blame on all sides. No. There wasn’t blame on all sides,” Bratt said.

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“I said harsh things about the Smith campaign. I said harsh things about the Nenshi campaign. I never got that sort of activity. Instead, I got it from a pollster.”

Bratt added that while he was able to speak from a relatively secure position, there may have been others critical of Mainstreet’s methodology who were intimidated into silence.