Thursday, November 13, 2014

City of Victoria Mayor's Race - some last thoughts

I am posting this because CTV Vancouver Island came by yesterday and asked me to predict the City of Victoria mayor race.

The race for mayor of the City of Victoria this time has been the most interesting one in the decades and the only time I know of where there have been four strong candidates.  We have seen more and better coverage of the election by the media than in a long.

The single most important factor that will decide who wins the race will be who increases the voter turnout the most.

We have seen a dramatic increase in voters at the advance polls, a big enough increase that it is more than just the natural increase that has been happening in all elections over the last decade.  This is most likely happening for two reasons - more people are interested in voting and the campaigns are working harder to get people out to vote.

Ida Chong
To say that it is odd to see a former BC Liberal cabinet minister run for mayor in Victoria is putting it lightly.  To give you an idea how weak the BC Liberal brand name is in Victoria, consider that in the 2013 election the the two provincial ridings that cover the City of Victoria are the only two in all of BC where the BC Liberal candidate did not come 1st or 2nd in the last four provincial elections.

Victoria is the municipality in this region where the issue of residency in the city is not that big an issue, but on the other hand it does not help you especially if you are running for mayor.  It says something that the chamber crowd could not find a Victoria resident to make a run on the right.

In the last week Ida Chong has started to no longer just focus on Dean Fortin but on Lisa Helps.  Rumour has it that the polling the campaign had done showed Lisa leading.

I have not seen nor heard of any strong grassroots support for Ida Chong.   I am not seeing many volunteers.  I know of no one who is excited about her campaign.  It is like the chamber crowd is going through the motions as a quixotic campaign as a protest against the strong left wing tendency of the city of Victoria council.

Stephen Andrew
He came into the race very late and I think this is a handicap he is having trouble overcoming.  
One of the problems in municipal elections is that the campaign team has to be built up from scratch and that takes a lot of time and effort.  In a provincial or federal election major political parties have a core group of people that have been the campaign in past elections and that means you do not need to build it up.   In most municipal elections the only thing that the campaign team has in common is support for the candidate.  There is no sense of a team, tt takes a couple of months to build this.   Stephen Andrew may just be getting the team spirit properly in place this week.

In many ways he looks more like a mayor than anyone else has in a long time, but then I watch his YouTube intro video and I am left with more of the impression that he would make for a very good councilor and not the mayor.    There is nothing really wrong with the campaign, just rough edges that need more polish.  Once again something that comes about because the campaign started so late.

The one thing Stephen Andrew has going for him is his name recognition.   A lot of people trust him.   He may get a lot of last minute people voting for him, people that may finally make their decision when they have their ballot in front of them.

Dean Fortin
My true Orange friends in Victoria are voting for him, or so they tell me.   Many of them sound like they are giving me the NDP party line and show no enthusiasm for Dean Fortin.   Interestingly most of them are dismissive of Lisa Helps as a serious candidate.   Certainly there has been a whisper from the orange side of the spectrum that Lisa can not win and will only split the vote letting Ida win.

Dean has been very good at keeping to his message about why he should be re-elected, the problem is that I do not see it going over well with people who are neutral or negative about him.   People that are not disposed to supporting him seem to be energized by how he answers questions and this motivating a number of them to work against him.

I see little reason evidence that his campaign will get any new people to vote him.   I expect his 2008 results are a reasonable measure of the upper end of his possible support.  That would be enough to win if voter turnout is no higher in this election than past elections but I do think we will see a significant rise in voter turnout.

Lisa Helps
Yes, I support her to be the next mayor.  

What Lisa has going for her is the most organized ground campaign I have ever seen for a local election in this region.   Somewhere close to 400 people have volunteered for her campaign.  Not only do they have a large group of volunteers, Lisa started her campaign early enough to make this group a real team.

What her campaign is doing very well is the boring grind of the basic campaign 101.   They are IDing their vote and they seem to have the system in place to get their vote out on Saturday.   Calling supporters on election day and getting them to vote is much more important in local elections than federal or provincial ones.   Doing this well boosts voter turn out.    While I can not prove it, I think the dramatic increase in advance voting in the City of Victoria is largely down to the organization of Lisa Helps campaign.  

In my opinion, Lisa's very strong grass roots campaign is what will win the election for her.   The partial details of three polls that have been shared with me each show that Lisa is leading among the decided vote, though undecided is still very large.

Final Comments
While my preference is that Lisa Helps is elected as mayor, I think the City would be well served by Stephen Andrew as well.    But do not forget that the mayor only has one vote on the council.   As it stands, we are likely to see between three and five strongly NDP oriented people elected to Victoria City council and if it is five, both Lisa Helps and Stephen Andrew would be in the minority on the council.

I think a voter turn out of between 35% and 45% (22,000 to 29,000 voters) is probable
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