Sunday, October 26, 2008

Arcata Pre-Election Poll

Posted by on Sun, Oct 26, 2008 at 10:18 AM

When we hazarded a guess on who might take a seat in the Arcata City Council election, it was admittedly based solely on guesswork. Now, thanks to Prof. Mark Larson from Humboldt State University's Journalism & Mass Communication Dept. some polling has been done.

Here are the results:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

A recent poll of 422 registered "likely" voters in Arcata asking whom they would vote for in the Nov. 4 Arcata City Council election shows Michael Winkler with a lead at 42.7 percent, and a statistical tie, given the error margin, among Susan Ornelas at 29.4 percent; Shane Brinton at 25.8 percent, and Michael Machi at 22.8 percent. About one-third of the sample (33.2 percent) weren’t sure whom they would vote for in the city council election.

Results for other city council candidates include: Jason Grow, 9.7 percent; and, Geronimo Garcia, 5.0 percent.

The survey also found 68.5 percent in favor of Measure F, the initiative proposing to enact the ordinance to prohibit military recruitment of persons under the age of 18, with 24.4 percent opposed.  Another 7.1 percent said they didn’t know how they would vote on Measure F.

Respondents favored Measure G as well, with 66.6 percent saying they would vote to support the proposed three-quarter cent sales tax for governmental purposes within the City of Arcata. About one fourth (25.4 percent) said they opposed Measure G and 8.0 percent said they didn’t know how they would vote on Measure G.

"This is a lower level of undecided voters for the city council race with only one incumbent running, compared to prior pre-election polls we’ve conducted in Arcata," said Mark Larson, journalism professor at Humboldt State University, who sponsored the poll. Larson and students in his research class have previously conducted polls on Arcata’s city council election and ballot measures from 1976 to 2000 and again in 2006.

The error margin for a random sample of 422 is plus or minus 4.9 percent, with a confidence level of 95 percent.

"These data suggest Winkler has a comfortable lead at the time the poll was taken, given that he has a lead of twice the error margin over his nearest competitor," said Larson. "The poll results show the other two city council seat may be up for grabs depending on the turn out and how the undecided choose to vote."

"I caution everyone not to interpret poll results as predictions of the results of actual elections," said Larson. "Polls with random samples reflect voters’ opinions at the time of the poll. In the past, however, Arcata’s actual election results have turned out to be similar to our poll results in the past."

The random sample was selected from public records of Arcata registered voters who listed telephone numbers, including those with cell phone numbers. The poll was conducted between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Oct. 20-23. There was a refusal rate of 35.5 percent, typical of refusal rates found in previous telephone surveys in Arcata, said Larson.

The poll results include only those registered voters who said it was likely that they would be voting on Nov. 4.  Only 13 of the 435 registered voters who participated in the poll said they were unsure or it was unlikely that they would be voting on Nov. 4, a drop from the 2006 survey, said Larson.

The sample included 44.5 percent men and 55.6 percent women, similar to (within the error margin) of the population of Arcata voters. The age of voters in the sample broke down to 43.4 percent from 18-29 years old, 13.0 percent from 30 to 39, 11.1 percent from 40 to 49, 13.3 percent from 50 to 59, and 19.2 percent 60 and older. "By chance, it appears this sample may have over-sampled slightly those aged 18 to 29 and under-sampled slightly those over age 50 compared to those who voted in recent city elections," said Larson.

The actual questions in the pre-election survey read:

Q: There are six candidates are running for three seats on the Arcata City Council.  The candidates are: Michael Machi, Michael Winkler, Jason Grow, Geronimo Garcia, Susan Ornelas and Shane Brinton.

IF THE ELECTION WERE HELD TODAY, who would you vote for?  You may vote for three.

(# of votes)       (percent)*

Michael Machi            96            22.8%

Michael Winkler        180            42.7%

Jason Grow               41              9.7%

Geronimo Garcia       21              5.0%

Susan Ornelas          124            29.4%

Shane Brinton          109            25.8%

Don’t Know             140            33.2%

*May total more than 100 percent due to being able to choose up to three candidates.

Total polled = 422 registered "likely" voters.

Q: In addition, Arcata voters will vote on proposed Measure F and Measure G. On the ballot, Measure F reads, "Shall the City of Arcata enact the proposed ordinance entitled, An Ordinance to Prohibit the Military Recruitment of Any Person Under the Age of Eighteen?"

Measure F Results:

(# of votes)    (percent)

Yes:             289        68.5%

No:              103        24.4%

Don’t Know: 30          7.1%

Total polled = 422 registered "likely" voters.

Q: On the ballot, Measure G reads, "Shall the City of Arcata enact a three-quarter cent sales tax for general governmental purposes, such as: Filling potholes, maintaining and repairing city streets; Increasing police staffing to improve downtown, Plaza, city forest, and park safety; Improving pedestrian and bicycle safety; Enhancing community and neighborhood safety; (and) Providing safer sidewalks, pathways to schools, bicycle lanes, and wheelchair access…with a Citizens’ Oversight Committee to ensure fiscal accountability and conduct annual audits of all expenditures?"

IF THE ELECTION WERE HELD TODAY, how would you vote on this Measure, "YES" or "NO"?

Measure G Results:

(# of votes)     (percent)

Yes:               281        66.6%

No:               107        25.4%

Don’t Know:  34          8.0%

Total polled = 422 registered "likely" voters.

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Bob Doran

Bob Doran

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