Poll offers hope and despair for Gregor Robertson's political opponents

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


Should Gregor Robertson's plummeting approval ratings concern Vision?

At first blush, a review of the newly released poll by Justason Marketing Intelligence regarding the municipal scene in Vancouver appears to be enough to send both the NPA and COPE into a mild depression. With a little over a year to go before the election, 52% of decided voters told Justason they would vote Vision Vancouver if an election were held tomorrow. Meanwhile, 28% said they would vote NPA, while a mere 13% said they’d vote COPE. This is good news for Vision, but a more in depth analysis of the data reveals there are some clouds forming on the horizon for the governing party.

This is why they are so worried and have recently gone on the attack against their opponents.

I am very skeptical of all polling at the municipal level in between elections. That’s because pollsters ask 100% of the population their voting intentions when we know about 30% or less of the electorate actually cast a ballot. In Vancouver, we also know older voters and those who live on the West Side also vote in greater numbers than their younger or East Side counterparts. If this important data point is not properly factored into the equation, you are guaranteed to get skewed results.

In this poll, Justason went out of her way to point out that the older the voter was, the more likely they were to vote for the NPA. In the important 65+ demographic, the NPA was actually leading (37% vs 33%). Meanwhile, in the 35 and under demographic, which traditionally has a much lower turnout, Justason reports Vision has a commanding lead over the NPA and COPE. As a result, while the overall poll results show Vision with a massive lead over its nearest rival, that support may be a lot softer than it appears.

The most concerning data point for Vision has to be the declining trend line for their leader Mayor Gregor Robertson. According to Vision’s own internal polling, last spring Robertson was sitting at a 78% approval rating. This has now plummeted to below 50%, and by all accounts appears to be in free fall. If you recall, a few months after the Olympics in Torino, Sam Sullivan was sitting at about a 65% approval rating. It led some media types to ask how the Mayor could have such “low” numbers shortly after the Games.

Fast forward to the 2010 Olympics and it would appear this event actually dragged down Robertson’s numbers below even those of Sullivan. His spinmeisters are busy saying that 49% is a great number compared to other politicians. That may be true, but he is now trailing his own party in popularity. We all know these poll results have Vision’s backroom boys and girls wondering what they can do to reverse this trajectory – and fast.

Another area of concern is how the public have now clearly associated Robertson’s administration to the success or failure of the Olympic Village housing project and solving homelessness. Shortly after the election the Mayor and his provincial counterparts struck their own deal for financing the South East False Creek development and are on the hook. As a result, he now politically “owns” the project.

The public will have no appetite for him blaming previous governments regarding the fact that the 250 units of social housing remain empty as we head into the last year of his mandate. If this project goes south, so too do his polling numbers.

In terms of homelessness, the poll demonstrated it was still the number one issue concerning Vancouverites. This too is a red flag for the Mayor who ran on a campaign platform of ending homelessness in Vancouver by 2015. By now, the Mayor was hoping all of those ribbon cuttings at social housing projects initiated by the previous NPA administration would have begun to pay dividends for him in the polls. Not so.

One reason might be the fact a recent survey found that homelessness had actually gone up 12% since Gregor Robertson took over from Sam Sullivan. As a result, every time anyone sees a homeless person wandering the streets of Vancouver, they inevitably ask why the Mayor hasn’t done anything for this person. If there is not major progress made to lower the overall rate of homelessness (not just street homelessness) by 2011, the Mayor may well find this becomes an issue his NPA opponents could pounce on in the next election.

Overall, I think the poll results provide both hope and despair for the NPA. On the negative side, there remains a lot of work yet to do before next year if they are going to beat an incumbent. On the positive side even without a leader, almost no media coverage or any visible presence in the community, they are still polling at around 30% support. One can only imagine what the NPA could do if they actually got their act together and secured a half decent NPA mayoral candidate next spring. This would instantly give them a 5-7% bump in the polls and would make the election extremely competitive – yet it is still Robertson’s to lose, by a country mile.

As for COPE, I simply don’t think there is any hope. At 13% in the polls, and the real prospect of them not running a mayoral candidate again, they will get completely wiped out in the next election. Even if Vision were to only run eight council spots (which is a point of hot debate within the party at the moment) and leave two open for COPE, I doubt any of them would get elected. That’s because a resurgent NPA will likely get 3-4 seats at a minimum, which would leave little room for candidates from a rump third party.

After having won a massive majority in the 2002 civic election, I think we are witnessing the dying days of what once was a household name in Vancouver politics. It’s kind of sad if you ask me. What would COPE patriarchs Harry Rankin or Bruce Eriksen think if they were still alive?

As I’ve reported here earlier, this has been a very bad summer for the Mayor. He went from boy wonder to boy blunder within weeks. His relations with Vancouver’s media (with a few notable exceptions) are at an all time low, and it will take a major jolt to turn that around with the current set of players. If the Mayor doesn’t begin to turn around his plummeting approval ratings, by next time this year we may be witnessing some interesting scenarios that haven’t been seen here in these parts for a long time.

What if the NPA runs on a campaign platform of “send a strong contingent of NPAers to 12th and Cambie to hold Gregor Robertson and his Vision team in check”. Then what if the Mayor wins, but 6 NPA council candidates make it over the top? It would mean we would have a Vision mayor, with an NPA majority on council. It could make for either a very effective bi-partisan atmosphere, or could result in massive bickering between the Mayor and his council colleagues, his "f***ing NPA Hacks" comment notwithstanding.

I found this poll to be an interesting read. Do I put much stock into whether it accurately reflects the public’s true voting patterns? Not really. I’ll reserve final judgment until the votes are counted in November 2011.

What do you think? Is this poll an accurate reflection of what might happen in the next civic election? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

- Post by Daniel


In addition to the issues you raise (demographics, voter turn-out), one problem with municipal polls in Vancouver is the one-answer response to a ballot question that allows multiple answers. So while COPE may be polling at only 13%, they will likely pick up votes from Vision supporters and vice versa. That is assuming that they run complementary slate.

"In terms of homelessness, the poll demonstrated it was still the number one issue concerning Vancouverites."

Had to dig this tidbit up, but at the 2008 mayoral homelessness debate at St. Andrew’s Wesley Church, Mayor Moonbeam was asked this question/his response:

Q: "How will you pay for your homelessness plans?"

A: “We are in the process of costing the plan BUT IT WON'T COST MUCH". [emphasis added]

That was the first inkling that I had that Mayor Moonbeam was a bit over his head.

As to his current 49% approval rating, down from a whopping 78% in May, that's a HUGE drop.

One must remember that in 2008, Gregor could do no wrong, VV signed up 10,000 (?) members and thousands came out for the VV mayoral contest. With their momentum, VV was akin to an unstoppable freight train resulting in their electoral landslide.

As to his current 49% approval rating, down from a whopping 78% in May (if that poll was even correct), that's a HUGE drop.

As I posted over at FB's site, six months prior to the November, 2005 election an Ipsos poll showed:

1. Mayor Larry Campbell – with a 72% approval rating;

2. COPE council – 63% approval;


Much, much higher approval ratings than VV mayor/council now has.

Nevertheless, during the 2005 election, the NPA won a 6-5 majority on council and also won majorities on both school and parks boards.

The question is: Will history repeat itself?

Daniel, good analysis, but as you implied the only poll that counts is on election day, 14 odd months away.

There will be hundreds of polls between now and then, and are only really useful for those whose business it is to either spin gold or spin a web of discontent from the numbers. The party in power always seems to have the upper hand as they can use the polls as an effective tool to adjust message and focus, while the opposition are only able to throw eggs sort of speak, so remember don't use up all your NPA eggs before next year.

The voting public is always fickle and has a very short memory.... it really depends on whats cooking next summer much closer to voting day (luckily for VV). Should be an interesting ride.

newly educated or should I say "quick learner",

Those "NPA eggs" are coming from the "gift that keeps giving", Visions' arrogance.

Using them up implies, they're about to end. You wouldn't know something now would you?

Oh, I almost "forgot", you're "newly educated" so what would you know about all these "eggs" coming to an end.

Let me educate you then. Magee, Ballum, Robertson and company didn't wake up one morning, all of a sudden arrogant.

No, they developed their hatred for people like me (the general electoral type) over time and during their group kumbaya sessions.

This hatred, arrogance, or whatever we'd like to call it today, cannot be reduced without some serious therapy, or perhaps even some anti-psychotic medications.

So, the "eggs" won't end anytime soon and I'm quite comfortable knowing that Vision will continue their slide into next spring or summer.

Short memory...I don't think so. Thats when the campaign will be ramping up for the fall.

Now I was just on Alex Tsakumis' site and I suggest you all head over there RIGHT NOW. Daniel, Mike, get your ass over there and do a follow-up asap.

newly educated....you've just been schooled.

What? AGT breaking news that FD Elements is paying Jonny Rossi as a contractor. Are they the same company that registered mayorofvancouver.ca and got a $50K untendered contract from the city of vancouver?


Say it ain't so...

Alex has outdone himself...the truth always prevails..

Yes "say it ain't so", thats the one.

Proof of what we've suspected all along.

The mayor needs to fire his staff now, or resign in disgrace.

Talk about low. Looks like the hit list was really a "to do" list for little Jonny Ross.

you obviously didn't read the post.

wow unbelievable response, so completely over the top even for you. Were your hands shaking when you typed it in?

Damn, you really are serious aren't you! But thankfully, you are definitely not the general electoral type, but in a class of your own, a very very small class.

Hey all. Take a look at Global Tv's interview with Robertson on say it ain't so's comment. He laughingly claims he's never ever heard of FD Element. A little nose stretcher wouldn't you say considering what Tsakumis reveals today.

"just schooled",

Looks like you need some meds of your own.

The monikers people choose tell more about them, then most ever intend.

Grow a pair and tell us your real name.

Didn't someone named Vancouver Kid anonymously blog about how bad and horrible the NPA and Sam Sullivan was? Didn't Vancouver Kid spew out a lot of venom then get rewarded for all his hard work by landing a taxpayer funded job in the Mayor's office. Looks like history may be repeating itself. Me thinks that's what another youngster is trying to do with his pathetic excuse for a blog.

I'm starting to really like Mr./(or Ms?) Dissappointed/Newly Educated/Sunshine and Lollipops/Comeonnow (moniker on Ross' site) for the same reason that I wanted Ross to take over communications for the Mayor's office going forward.

Alex has ruined everything!


His spelling, grammar and logic are all poor, hey no problem, nose to the trough to swill more public dollars. Ain't politics grand!?!

Kevin Quinlan, (as blogger Vancouver Kid) and now Mayor Moonbeam's executive assistant, already gave a heads up on the pro-active VV attitudes toward politicizing the public service:


"I'd argue that this stems from Vancouver's still-imbedded-but-painfully-outdated notion of civic government as non-partisan and being solely concerned with efficiency and delivering services. Why does the Mayor need staff when the bureaucracy makes all the policy decisions, right?"


VV is politicizing Vancouver's public service to the detriment of the city.

If I was the NPA, one of the planks that I would run on is "Stop Politicizing the Public Service" and properly make VV wear their foibles.

It certainly is a matter that will ring with the electorate and provide a further boost toward their future support.

This definitely represents the begining of the start of the downfall of happy mayor:


The Thought of The Day

"How does one say in 'American': 'Listen up people, this is a hold up. Everyone down. Keep quiet and no one gets hurt!'?"

Excellent point made, Todd. Politicizing a City Hall is rather common in US. It is a highly corrupt system and it shows. No wonder Vision's choice for the new Deputy City Manager (and the many others parachuted in senior positions)was 'selected' from there. From the most corrupt city in America, Chicago that is to Vancouver, with love...Vision Vancouver.

By far, Vision's main goal, as shown clearly in their not so 'transparent agenda' was to get their chops on as many jobs in the City Hall. It's like the scumbag/ beach bum trying to rape his girlfriend into a forced pregnancy, hoping that her well off 'daddy' will give them his blessings instead of putting the gun on his sorry ass and giving him the boot.

I say when the time comes, Vancouver Daddy, should forgive his 'daughter' for her stupidity and blow the mother(Robertson foul language in here)er Vision's ass into 'political oblivion', for good.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

you are without a doubt the best..

Have you ever had the chance to watch the "you tube clip" I posted weeks back?
"Detroit in ruins! Crowder goes ghetto."
well worth the watch...

Did I mention, I really enjoy your posts, musings, art form :-)

Enjoy your day..

Not on topic - exactly - but interesting:

New cyclist numbers
Jordan Armstrong | Email news tips to jordan.armstrong@corusent.com

With roughly 60-thousand cyclist trips in the City of Vancouver each day, some riders are bound to break the rules. CKNW decided to get a rough idea of just how many are.

Of the 262 cyclists who rode by our un-scientific survey location next to the Dunsmuir bike lane and Citadel Parade over a span of one hour Wednesday, 50 rode through a red light and there were 3 close calls with pedestrians.

City Councillor and avid cyclist Geoff Meggs says he's stunned by those numbers, "Cyclists and cars share the road, but they follow the same rules and there's no two ways around it. We'd like to do more on the public education front, and I've been spending time trying to reach out to ICBC and other organizations that have a direct involvement, because not all the drivers in the city are from Vancouver and not all the cyclists are either."

However, the news isn't all bad. 90% of the cyclists we counted were wearing helmets.

The Vancouver Police Department is responsible for handing out infraction tickets, but they've so far been unavailable for comment.

I wonder what the per capita count of 'rule breakers' would be if you sat at an intersection and counted the number of cars doing something illegal.

Wow boohoo, that anticipated reponse
took less time than I thought.


@boohoo Are u nuts? Do you really think if 50 cars per hour blew through a red light downtown this wouldn't be topping the news. That's about how many bicycles went through a red light when CKNW stood there for an hour. Why can't you just admit cyclists have a problem obeying the law and help save a life by chastising them?

No one mode of transportation has any sort of unique problem with rule following/breaking... How many cars going along the viaduct do you think kept to the 50 km/hr speed limit along it? People do what's convenient to do and easy to get away with no matter what they're driving/riding.


My point is you could sit anywhere and find people breaking the law. So what? I can admit cyclists break the law. So do drivers, pedestrians, skateboarders, everyone. What's your point?

Jay, this 'response' it the norm for cycling 'advocates'.

Any time cyclists and safety are discussed or questioned, you can place money on this response and this exact wording as put forward by 'boohoo' to be the 'rebuttal'.

It is so predictable - it is boring.

It is like they all take it out of some 'play book'.


I'm 'not sure' why you use 'quotation' marks so 'much'. Just say what you want to say.

Also, I probably cycle less than 5% of my total travel time. So I should be pissed about all this infrastructure being given to cyclists shouldn't I?

A driver who supports more cycling infrastructure! My god, mind blown.

My question is why do we get so up in arms about cyclists running red lights or stop signs or not wearing a helmet or whatever, but we've come to accept as a permanent state of being drivers running stop signs, speeding, dying on our streets every year. Or why we have come to accept jaywalking. Why is that? What makes cyclists so special that they need all this extra attention?

easy boohoo, drivers pay their bills. We are each accountable to insurance costs and increased insurance costs if we prove irresponsible or get injured. We hit a biker, they sue us, they get paid, we pay more.
Biker hits a car or pedestrian, boohoo.

And Max, they do have a playbook. It usually starts like a tweet like this from Chris Keam

Please take a moment to voice your support for the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition. The anti-cycling squad is out in full force today.... 10:08 AM Aug 13th via HootSuite

WTF is going on here. This post is about polls and popularity.
The direction of this thread illustrates how the bicycle discussion takes all of the oxygen out of the room so that nothing else can exist.
I don't mind the bicycle discussion, I hate the relentless, non-stop, in your grill(pun intended)proselytizing approach that both sides of the discussion use.

Hey, WTF, you are right, that approach sort of reminds you of the Gregorian chant mindset of Vision and their approach to planning.
These guys need to stop the car in order to honk the horn. Or, in language the Visionistas can understand, they need to stop their bicycles in order to ring the bell.
These ideological whackjobs, indeed, have had their collective bells rung.

interesting stats on the bikes. That is about 19% of the riders. Wonder what would happen if 19% of cars ran red lights on Dunsmuir?


This is my point. Drivers speed, drive through crosswalks with peds waiting, run orange/red lights, they do all the same things cyclists do--why is that not such a big deal? Why aren't there blog posts about that? Hundreds of people die annually from car accidents, why is that socially accepted?

Pedestrians jaywalk all the time, why aren't their blogs about that?

What makes cycling and cyclists so special?

Q: Why did the chicken cross the bike lane?

A: To get a Vision Vancouver no-bid contract.

Q: Why did the chicken cross the bike lane?

A: Because of the Vision Vancouver food cart mirage.

Max rox.

So i got asked to do a mustel poll on the street outside my office regarding the bikelane.
A bike courier was locking up next to me about to do it as well.
As I answered with my opposition to the lane(s), i waited for the biker to jump in and cancel out my results.
Amazingly (at least to me), when I said "opposed" to the key bikelane question the courier jumps in and says "you can put me down for that too". He went on to talk about how no one asks them about the bike lanes and they are the ones on the street all day trying to make a living downtown. He said him and all his colleagues are against the lanes and mentioned how he now gets berated by people yelling at him to get in the bikelane all the time.

Q: Why did the chicken cross the bike lane?

A: To pick up secret payments from Vision Vancouver for work as a pretend blogger.

(Sorry rf, I wish I could take the credit..:)

"Do you really think if 50 cars per hour blew through a red light downtown this wouldn't be topping the news."

Unfortunately, when it comes to cars and news, there are usually much more tragic and bloody stories to run, so the pervasive scofflaw behaviour of automobile drivers isn't newsworthy. 'Car runs red light' is the equivalent of 'dog bites man' and is about as likely to make the news as 'Sun Rises in East'.

If there were column inches allocated proportionately for drivers willfully ignoring road rules in Vancouver as are dedicated to cyclists disobeying traffic laws there would be little room for anything other than a litany of endless stories about speeding, texting, and other common driving infractions. I strongly encourage everyone to pay close attention to the news and the frequency with which car accidents and fatalities are reported.

It's a sobering realization to fully grasp just how many lives are stolen through our willingness to countenance all the minor infractions that, in the long run, create a climate of truly dangerous scofflaw behaviour that results in so many people of all ages dying easily preventable deaths.

"And Max, they do have a playbook. It usually starts like a tweet like this from Chris Keam

Please take a moment to voice your support for the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition. The anti-cycling squad is out in full force today.... 10:08 AM Aug 13th via HootSuite "

I suppose I should be flattered RF, knowing as I do that you consider effective communications the mark of a leader, per your comments yesterday over at the House of Fabula, but actually it's kind of creepy to be cyber-stalked. :-)



'cyberstalked'? seriously? (probably not, but i'll digress anyway).

You have your website linked to your name and a twitter link on the front page.

2 clicks.

You're like one of those gals who has her brand new fake breasts hanging half way out of of a low cut top and then complains people are always looking at them!

Oh RF...

They're real and they're fabulous, albeit kinda hairy.

yes, I'm teasing you.



Under Robertson the city's credit has been downgraded from AAA to AA.
We have increased homelessness of 12%, spending for the mayor's office reno of $250,000, a billion debt on the O Village,$21,000,000 spent to buy the Vanoc building for the VPD, 24,000,000 for a 311 line, $1,000,000 to reno city hall,$50,000 to swear this mutt in, $8,000,000 for the Heritage Line to run for 2 months and more waste is reported. We all had a great deal of hope for Gregor but he is a sad failure. After spending like a drunken sailor we now have a shortfall of $20,000 and more homeless people on the streets and a city with no long term business plan and a staff at city hall in near revolt and oh damn, there is so much more this mayor has failed at the list is too large to repeat here.
Overall, let's find a mayor not in the NPA, Cope or Vision.

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