Poll Shows Mayor Gregor Robertson With Huge Lead

The latest polling numbers released in the Vancouver election are good news for Mayor Gregor Robertson. Thankfully, Suzanne Anton’s anti-bike lane agenda seems to be floundering.

What interests me is the analysis of the numbers done by Frances Bula in the Globe and Mail – Poll shows Gregor Robertson in lead but predicts divided council

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson starts the 2011 municipal campaign with a comfortable lead, but could end up heading a divided council that could stall the agenda of his Vision Vancouver party, a new poll suggests.

What a flawed conclusion. The raw numbers from the polling are as follows:

Gregor Robertson 68%
Suzanne Anton 32%
Vision 37%
NPA 29%
Green 19%
COPE 11%

I’m guessing the conclusion that this would result in a “divided council” was made by taking the party support and assuming that it would correlate with the number of councillors elected from each party. But that’s not how the voting system works.

Each voter gets 10 votes for city councillors, to distribute as they see fit, but only the NPA is running a full slate of 10 candidates. COPE and Vision are running a co-operative slate of 7 and 3 candidates respectively, and the Green party only has a single candidate for Council.

Only the last sentence of the G&M article addresses this:
“since Vision and COPE are supporting each other and their supporters are likely to vote for each others’ council candidates, the two parties had combined support of 48 per cent in the recent poll.”

This is key. That and which other 9 candidates the 19% of respondents backing the Greens will vote for.

Because the pollster doesn’t ask about 2nd choice preferences, it’s difficult to judge what combinations of candidates voters will choose. But there is one indicator – the vote for mayor, which Gregor Robertson leads 68% to 32%.

Conveniently, if you add up Vision + COPE + Green party support, you get 67%. So, it’s highly likely that supporters of those parties will vote for candidates from the other parties. The only problem is there are 11 candidates and only 10 spots. That will likely allow 1 or 2 NPA candidates to squeeze in, but is unlikely to lead to a “divided council”. I wonder if Frances Bula was just trying to add some drama to the election.


  1. Not one of the NPA candidates – with the exception of Anton – has ANY experience on council. To top it off, Suzanne Anton is an obsequious flip-flopper of the highest order. Anton will go which-ever way she thinks the wind is blowing. I certainly hope that the good people of Vancouver have more sense than to pay attention to all that expensive advertising and continue to ignore the NPA.


  2. Interested: You’re forgetting that Elizabeth Ball is a former council candidate. As for the the main thesis by canadianveggie, you are not factoring in political dynamics, such as the considerable split within COPE over Tim Louis, and the fact that he was largely responsible for the birth of Vision because of the fracture within Larry Campbell’s COPE council. There are as many Vision people, I think, who will not want to vote for Louis as there are dedicated Louis people who see Vision as the antithesis of what they believe in. So those may well translate into an opportunity for other candidates.
    I don’t think you can underestimate Carr. She’s got loads of name recognition. The question is whether she has the election machinery on voting day to mobilize her vote.
    All of this uncertainty can only be good for the NPA, which must be hoping to nibble out the bottom four seats, usually separated by only a few hundred votes.


    • Thanks for the reply Jeff.

      You have good points. They make sense from a seasoned political watcher’s perspective, but none of them are supported by the polling numbers (not totally contradicted either). What I take offence to is journalists writing about predicted electoral outcomes and trying to justify it with polling numbers that don’t support their thesis. There’s nothing in the numbers to indicate a split within COPE, or that Ball will poll ahead of the NPA, or that Carr will garner more than 19% of the vote (which surely isn’t enough to win).

      I’m sure there will be lots of people who don’t vote for clean slates (with most parties running partial slates it’s inevitable), but without polling voters on who their 2nd choice is, it is impossible to determine that from this poll.

      What is pretty clear is that NPA is not picking up support from COPE or Green voters, or at least Anton isn’t – as her numbers are only 3% higher than her party. That doesn’t bode well from NPA candidates, and yet not a single newspaper article mentioned this. The one obvious conclusion you could draw from the numbers, someone missed.

      The poll also doesn’t ask about Garossino or the NSV party, who seem to be getting a bit of buzz. If it translates into seats, we’ll see.

      I really like the Green Party, but Adrian Carr is a perennial underachiever. She always manages to garner lots of media attention and buzz, but has never finished higher than 3rd place. Last election people thought she had a chance at Vancouver Centre – she finished 4th and saw her vote drop by from 18% in 2008 to 15% in 2011.

      You’re right that the NPA is hoping for as much uncertainty as possible. It’s pretty clear that the CityCaucus twitter feed is pumping Garossino, Carr, and the NSV as much as possible. The media also seems happy to promote a ‘horse race’ story line when the polls don’t indicate it.


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