Mario Canseco, VP communications with Angus Reid polling, sounds positively giddy about the latest polling results the company released. Speaking with the Vancouver Sun's Jeff Lee last week, he commented upon Mayor Gregor Robertson's higher standing among women than men voters. "There is something alluring about a guy who shows up at work riding a bicycle," he says.
Canseco, a contributor to The Tyee, Common Ground and Vancouver Sun's "Community of Interest" blog seems to think that Gregor Robertson is holding his own during a time when many politicians are hitting rock bottom. Of course, what the numbers mean depends entirely upon your perspective. Cansenco gives his own analysis in a few highly supportive quotes including the one about Robertson riding his bike to work:
"This is great news for an incumbent"
"What's fascinating is that Robertson has such a high approval rating."
"It is rare for someone in Canada to be over 40 per cent, so having someone at 43 per cent is something of a phenomenon."
Robertson gets what Canseco says are "impressive marks" for his actions on the environment...
Canseco said overall the poll is good news for Robertson, who clearly has engaged the public with his policies and platforms.
It's not clear if Jeff Lee had to hand Canseco a towel after the interview, but there is no doubting that the Angus Reid VP thinks that Gregor Robertson is the shizzit. So we must ask, what do the numbers really say?
Well, if I were Gregor Robertson I'd not be betting the organic farm on my re-election chances. Only 31% of those polled thought that Mayor Gregor should be given another term of office. And the numbers get much worse for Hizzoner:
- Despite no opponent, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson's approval rating drops again. Last spring the Mayor's office released numbers showing Robertson with a 78% approval rating. In September that approval rating dropped to 49%. The recent Angus Reid poll shows Robertson six points lower at 43%.
- A majority of those polled – 47% – disapprove of Robertson's performance. That's what is referred to as having "high negatives" in the polling business. For example, Carole James also had high negatives entering the 2009 election where she lost to Gordon Campbell.
- While only 31% think he should be re-elected, a whopping 40% say he doesn't deserve a second term, and 29% 'don't know'.
- Support for Robertson's performance is highest among those living in households that earn less than $50,000 per year, and lowest among those who make more than $100,000 per year. As anyone who understands campaigning, lower incomes = lower voter turnout.
- Amazingly, on the Hornby bike lane a majority (53 per cent) opposing the creation of the lane and 42 per cent support it. Vision have taken an issue that would be a slam dunk positive and turned it into a negative.
- Robertson has 55% of men disapproving of him, and 47% of women approving. This will make for some awkward conversations at dinner next year.
But the statistic that must absolutely have sent shockwaves through Robertson's office is the public perception of Vision's performance on homelessness.
- Most people — 57 per cent — believed the homelessness problem had not improved. More alarmingly, 17 per cent believe it has worsened, with just one in 10 believing it had improved.
Mayor Gregor went on the defensive in an interview with Jeff Lee. Robertson in essence says that the public just don't get it.
"People, who for whatever reasons aren't noticing the change, don't remember how many people were sleeping on the streets two years ago," the Mayor said. "It is a big drop in the street population, but peoples' memories of the conditions of our streets doesn't seem to be there. It is a worry if people don't feel motivated and encouraged that we're turning the corner. But it demonstrates the opportunity we have because people are still disillusioned and concerned about the fact there's hundreds still on the streets."
So, in other words, "Come on, folks, can't I get a little love here? Can't you see that your Mayor is dealing with those unsightly street people?"
Robertson's failed efforts at reducing homelessness (the April 2010 count showed the homeless population had increased 12% since 2008), while at the same time spinning it that "street" homelessness has gone down will someday get one of those George Orwell awards for doublespeak. For now though it remains a sad problem and the Mayor can't seem to figure out how to deliver on his promise.
The biggest, and perhaps only ace up Vision Vancouver's sleeve is the continued hybernation by the NPA. Their early nominations strategy resulted in three acclamations and one completely unnecessary contest between two Park Board nominees that will draw very few rank and file supporters out to vote on November 19th.
Robertson can afford to fall even further in the polls if he has no credible opponent. But even Vision's backroom hacks know that having your party leader's popularity drop virtually in half within seven months is not a good result. Staff from Angus Reid might be jumping up and down at these results, but somehow I doubt Robertson is.
What do you think? Is Gregor Robertson going to run in 2011 and will he win?
- post by Mike