Survey Says: What’s the ‘ballot box question’ for Metro Vancouver voters on Oct 20?

October 19, 2018

“Who represents real change?”

“Who can I trust?”

“Who has the most experience for the job?”

These are among the common questions we think about when deciding who to vote for in any given election. Then of course, there are the big issues, and how each candidate proposes to deal with them. Every survey or poll we’ve seen (including our own VoteLocal survey of residents, businesses and local politicians in September)suggests that housing – specifically affordable housing – is the biggest issue in the 2018 civic election campaign in Metro Vancouver.

In these final few days leading up to the vote on October 20th, FleishmanHillard HighRoad and Mustel Group fielded a follow-up survey among municipal politicians and new candidates. We wanted to hear from the people who’ve been out knocking on doors and promoting their platforms at community meetings and debates, to get their perspective on the level of awareness and engagement of the electorate in this campaign. More than 120 current politicians and new candidates responded. The survey also included key community leaders from a variety of sectors including business, health,environment, education, community services, arts and culture.

We found affordable housing continues to be the key issue in the minds of voters, according to the politicians, followed at some distance by overdevelopment/densification , transportation/transit, crime/safety and taxation.  Community leaders agree.

Regardless of the issue, the key ballot question according to politicians is “Who best represents an opportunity for real change at city hall” followed closely by “Who can I trust”. Community leaders have a different perspective and tend to think the key deciding factor will be “Who has the experience to get the job done on the issues I care about”.

But awareness among voters about the civic election and the candidates running appears to be mediocre with 45% of politicians rating awareness high or somewhat high, in comparison to 55% rating it low or somewhat low. Community leaders have the same perspective.

However, politicians and community leaders say that voters tend to be engaged on the issues, even if they are not particularly well informed about the candidates. Three-in-four politicians and an almost equal proportion of community leaders believe voters are at least ‘somewhat’engaged.

Interest and concern about the issues, and desire for change, is driving this engagement. Some politicians also report as evidence good turnout at debates, open houses and all-candidates meetings. But others believe voters are too overwhelmed by the number of candidates, too busy keeping their heads above water to get engaged and/or simply apathetic. For more observations from civic election candidates about what they’ve experienced at the doorsteps and in community meetings, we’ve published a selection of candidate comments here: Tales from the campaign trail: Survey of 120+ Metro Van candidates shows hope for voter turnout

About the survey:

  • Completed by 121 mayors, councillors and new candidates
  • Community leader organizations invited to participate included: chambers of commerce and boards of trade, not-for-profits, educators,community service organizations, arts and multicultural organizations, health authorities and business improvement associations
  • Survey dates: October 12-18th, 2018

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