Tuesday, August 17, 2010

City of Victoria by-election and referendum

It is now just over three months before election day in November, we still do not know if it will be the 20th or the 27th.   The council by-election is very quiet and really a sideshow, it is the referendum that will be interesting.

There is still only one declared candidate, Barry Hobbis.    Rumours are out there of two or three more, but given the amount of work involved in being able to get elected, I do not see anyone that strikes me as ready to come into the race and win.

When it comes to the referendum, I am curious about how the campaign will go.

  • Will council members be actively campaigning for a Yes vote?
  • What will council be allowed to spend and send out to the public to try and get a Yes vote?  Are they limited by campaign spending?
  • Will council threaten to raise taxes if there is a No vote?
  • Will the Johnsonstreetbridge.org become a campaign team against the new bridge?
  • Will there be an active Yes campaign and who will be in charge of it?  I am assuming the Chamber of Commerce will be involved, but can they mount a serious campaign?
  • Will Barry Hobbis campaign against the new bridge and offer other options he will pursue once on council?

To this point the energy and effort has been 90% on the side of the people wanting to preserve the bridge.   I can see that this core group has the energy to continue the campaign, I can not say the same of anyone on the side that wants to replace the bridge.   Outside of council, there is no clear champion for the new bridge.

Council had a poll done in May and then another one in August, they have to be careful with this data.   Did either the poll state how motivated the people are to vote in the referendum?  Realistically the poll needed to have reached about 3000 to 4000 eligible voters to be able to get 350-500 respondents that are actually going to vote in the election.   The May poll reached 600 people and found that 79% of them were planning on voting in the referendum, they even had 50% saying they would definitely vote.   These numbers are utterly out of whack with reality, it is unrealistic to expect more than a 25% voter turn out for the referendum.

In the August poll they once again got very, very high results for how many people would be voting in November.   These numbers are simply and utterly out of sync with reality.  Since we know that the numbers are clearly way out of whack in the results, how does one then read any of the rest of the data?   Can one rely on the preference data?   What you have to understand is that the majority of people that answered the poll lied to the pollster about at least one question.   Did they lie for other questions?

If a large number of people who will not be voting, even though they said would, indicated they wanted a new bridge, what is the implication on the referendum?   The data from the poll is suspect at best and wildly misleading at worst.

In the poll they should have asked "did you sign the petition" and "how will you vote in the referendum?"   though this last one is really not very useful as the majority of people lied about their intention of voting in the election.  Really there should have been a question of about if they voted in 2008 or the poll should have only used the names of people that voted in 2008.

I suspect council is going to be sitting smugly and thinking that this referendum will pass because of the data they have from a very flawed poll.
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