According to the results of a Mainstreet Media poll released Saturday, the race to become mayor of Calgary appears to be Bill Smith’s to lose but a local political scientist suggests the race is far more competitive than the poll numbers suggest.

The Mainstreet Media poll, which surveyed 1,500 Calgarians by telephone on October 3 and 4, placed Smith (48 per cent)17 percentage points ahead of Naheed Nenshi (31 %), the incumbent mayor. According to Mainstreet Media, the poll’s margin of error is +/- 2.53 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The poll results released Saturday were the second in a week to show a healthy lead for Bill Smith.

“We’re pretty excited about them,” said Smith. “The numbers look great but there’s a lot of hard work between now and the 16th. It sure has encouraged our supporters and our volunteers.”

Smith says the results are reflective of what he’s hearing during his conversations with Calgarians but he has no plans to rest on his laurels.

“The polls are telling me I need to work harder, our team needs to work harder and we need to get Calgarians out to vote if they want change.”

Representatives of the Nenshi camp issued the following statement regarding the poll results.

"We have great confidence in our internal numbers," said Chima Nkemdirim of the Naheed Nenshi Re-election Campaign. "We'll leave it up to the media to question the validity of the polls. We strongly believe that Calgarians will vote to move forward...not backwards."

Nkemdirim says the camp’s polls suggest Nenshi will be victorious on October 16.

Duane Bratt, a Mount Royal University political scientist, says he doesn’t expect a landslide victory for any of the candidates.

“There’s a number of these things that show and tell me that it’s a very tight race,” said Bratt. “Just look at the lawn signs. There’s plenty of Bill Smith lawn signs, there’s also plenty of Naheed Nenshi signs. Nothing tells me that this is a landslide victory for Smith. This tells me we’re in a very competitive race.”

Bratt says poll results can potentially change and shape voting preferences adding the Mainstreet Media poll respondents may not be an accurate portrayal of Calgary voters based on age, gender, political leanings or location within the city.

“They’re computer generated telephone calls, they’re not live individuals,” said Bratt of the poll’s approach. “How many people are willing to stay on the phone when it’s a computer voice? We’ve seen the breakdown that they’ve polled 1,500 people but we don’t know if it’s a representative sample.”

Bratt adds dissension often motivates poll participation. “What we have seen is that people that are angry, people that want change, are the ones most likely to stay on the line,” said Bratt. “If you’re happy, you’re more likely to hang up.”

With files from CTV's Brad MacLeod