The Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce released the results of an extensive poll of likely Oakland voters, and the news reflects not only every single anecdotal report or conversation this blogger has had with Oaklanders over the last year, but provides a kind of statistical foundation for why the Mayor’s fundraising turnout and money-raising numbers are low.
The survey was conducted by EMC and consisted of contacting 500 “likely voters” in Oakland. Their are some who question the poll data because it’s unfavorable to Quan, and others because its racial bias is heavily toward whites in Oakland.
But the deeper issue for me is not that the results are not favorable to Mayor Quan, but that they directly square with what I have heard people say to me regardless of whether their demographics would have them considered likely voters or not.
It also explains why Mayor Quan’s fundraisers are consistently poorly attended, at least to this writing:
In other words, Mayor Quan’s in big trouble, so much so that the field is wide open for a challenger without previous experience in Oakland Politics at the Oakland City Council, Alameda County Supervisor or California Assembly level.
Here are the main results of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce Poll:
Direction of the City
Only one-quarter of voters feel the City is headed in the right direction
Over half feel less safe than they did a year ago
Even so, voters like Oakland and think it’s a good place to live
Some of the best things about living in Oakland are the culture, diversity,and the weather
The worst thing about living in Oakland is the crime
Voters in Oakland frequently ride BART, visit parks and open spaces, libraries,and shop/dine in Uptown and Downtown
Voters are generally favorable toward new business (national retail storestoo!), and encouraging companies to move to Oakland
Support for renewing Measure Y is below necessary threshold, but voters are very favorable toward components of measure (indicating that they just mightnot know that much about it)
Sports Team Questions Are Not Adjusted For Won / Loss Record Or TV
The survey also indicates a luke-warm attitude toward sports organizations in Oakland, but everyone knows how a city feels about its sports teams varies directly with wins and losses. Thus, it’s no surprise that 82 percent of the people contacted did not attend a Raiders game or an A’s game. But it did not ask if the Oaklanders surveyed watched the teams on television. Thus, the poll’s flawed in that it implies a lack of interest in the Raiders or the Warriors, when it may be that the Oaklanders contacted may not be able to afford the money or the time to attend the contests, but are interested in the games. Moreover, the survey failed to include any question about the Oakland A’s.
The Poll Survey Is Biased Toward Whites In Coverage, But…
The poll does “slant” toward those who are older and white: 51 percent white, 19 percent black, 8 percent Latino, 7 percent Asian, 4 percent bi-racial, 3 percent multi-racial, 4 percent other, and 3 percent refused to answer the question.
Still, taking away a 20 percent part of Mayor Quan’s unfavorable rating (based on the assumption that a more racially balanced poll will ‘slant’ 20 percent in her direction) still leaves her with a majority who think she’s not doing a good job. In other words, the level of disatisfaction with Mayor Quan is so great, it’s hard to see a more racially-balanced poll coming out in her favor.
Here are the full poll results, straight from the Oakland Chamber of Commerce website, followed by the raw data from the survey itself. I took the PDF files and placed them on Scribd then embedded them in this blog post.
I’ve given you enough information to allow you to draw your own conclusions.
How Jean Quan Could Win
As I said in the video, it’s one thing for Mayor Quan to have negative ratings, but if any of the current candidates don’t present themselves as viable alternatives to her, Quan could wind up being re-elected. It’s easy to cast doubt on Mayor Quan now, but what she presents is a scenario never before seen in Oakland Politics: the re-election of an incumbent female mayor of Oakland.
Since the late 80s, Oakland has historically favored female political incumbent candidates over male candidates, with some notable exceptions – but we’ve never had a woman Mayor to test that expectation.
And Rank Choice Voting arguably pushed Dan Kalb into the Oakland City Council District One seat as he beat the polling front runner Amy Lemley 51.7 percent to 48.2 percent. But note that Lemley was the only female candidate in that race, and not an incumbent, as Jane Brunner, who held the seat, ran an unsuccessful campaign for City Attorney, losing to Barbara Parker. Had Amy ran a “joint ticket” with another woman, I argue that Lemley would have won over Kalb.
Quan’s danger this year is that she is, as of this writing, the only female running for Mayor. While she will not benefit from the kind of “joint ticket” strategy she ran with Oakland At Large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan in 2010, if California First Lady Anne Gust Brown (rumored to be interested in running) officially enters the race and copies that 2010 approach with Quan, it vastly improves Jean’s chances of winning.
Where fundraising front-runner Brian Parker could win outright is if, for some reason, Quan teams up with him – that gives Parker access to the Chinese community that he currently lacks, at least compared to what he would gain with Quan. Joe Tuman’s chances vastly improve if Parker teams up with him in that Joe stands a better chance of getting black and minority votes, as he’s currently perceived as a “white, hills” candidate. Parker, Quan, and Tuman all see the negatives in teaming up with each other as of this writing. Under that scenario, Tuman’s backers would go to Parker, who’s got a lot in common with him, before they go to Quan. But Quan’s Asian / Latino and older black voting base is there, and largely unpolled.
In a low-turnout, they will make the difference.
The real test will come when the candidate debates are held. More on that, later.