By Luke Thomas
Editor’s note: This article has been updated since its initial publication.
October 17, 2011
Mayoral contenders take note. Close your campaign offices, pay up your outstanding debts, cry and go home. The race for mayor is over. Interim Mayor Ed Lee will be crowned San Francisco’s next elected mayor.
That’s the questionable takeaway message one gets a from the latest poll published by the Bay Citizen and the University of San Francisco in the early hours of Monday morning, the results of which has Lee the projected winner after 9 rounds of ranked-choice ballot tabulations.
“Voters across the City continue to give broad and strong support to Mayor Lee because they already know what he has accomplished so far as Mayor this year and agree with his focus on creating jobs for the future,” said Lee campaign manager Bill Barnes. “We’re pleased the poll confirms what our volunteers are hearing on the ground, but we knows polls don’t vote, people do. Our campaign takes nothing for granted and we’re working hard every day to elect Mayor Ed Lee to a full term and keep San Francisco’s economy on the right track.”
New Jersey-based Maximum Research, Inc conducted the poll of 551 likely registered voters between October 7 and October 13. The poll was commissioned and paid for by the Bay Citizen at a cost of $10,000, confirmed newly minted Bay Citizen managing editor Steve Fainaru.
Raw data from the poll, including the questions asked and the respondents’ responses, is expected be made available online later this week, said Bay Citizen political reporter Gerry Shih.
The BayCitizen, a non-profit founded in January 2010, has built a reputation of being one of the most objective and cutting-edge news organizations serving the Bay Area. Billionaire philanthropist Warren Hellman, The Fisher Family, Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, Mimi and Peter Haas Fund, William and Elizabeth Patterson Foundation, Jeff and Laurie Ubben and Diane B. Wilsey, among others, funds it.
Fog City Journal sent emails to the campaigns of the leading mayoral contenders to gauge their responses to the poll and what, if anything, they plan to do to combat what appears to be foregone conclusion. Here’s what they had to say:
“In the span of a couple days, we’ve gotten more hints that Ed Lee is illegally coordinating with an independent expenditure, and news that every major candidate except Michela has violated the city’s campaign finance laws,” said Alioto-Pier campaign spokesperson Sterling Clifford. “There’s a lot to communicate to voters and enough time to do it. Remember, the poll showed almost a quarter of the electorate undecided. ”
Supervisor John Avalos
“We had hundreds of people on the street on Saturday and all of our phones were full at the same time,” said Supervisor John Avalos.
“We have more people coming in the door every day.
“We are campaigning to build progressive power and an alternative to the establishment which gives tax breaks to $7 billion companies like Twitter, representing the 1%. Ron Conway is a billionaire, a twitter investor and a big donor to Ed Lee’s campaign.
“The last day of the poll was before I was interviewed on national television. That event has made a big difference in my public support, all favorable.”
Board of Supervisors President David Chiu
“Last time I checked, polls and pundits didn’t get to decide this election, voters do,” said Chiu campaign spokesperson Addisu Demissie. “There are 22 days left in this campaign and David is going to keep spending his time talking to with those voters about his record of results, his vision for the future, and his desire to shake things up at City Hall. The more that voters learn about David Chiu, the more votes he will get – we remain extremely confident about that.”
“When I ran for Supervisor, the polls had me losing by 6% three days before the election,” said former District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty.
“I am working harder and happier than ever.
“I take no offense at the Bay Citizen calling me a Zombie, Walking Dead is one of the biggest hits this season.
“But they are undeniably wrong. I raised $18,622 this weekend alone.
“Guess what? My commercial aired during the premiere of Walking Dead last night. This poll was taken right when I started airing and I’ve been bowled over by all the people who stop me to say how they love my ads and positive approach.
“I will not break stride over the next 22 days, this is a marathon and I’m sprinting to the finish.”
“Another sad example of newspapers trying to cement election outcomes before voters can even vote,” said former District 7 Supervisor Tony Hall. “They hide the full sample and cross-table detail necessary to critique the methodology, and yet they admit to the using suspect technique of sample-weighting. We have our strongest materials ahead of us for these closing weeks and we expect they will change voters minds.”
City Attorney Dennis Herrera
“The Bay Citizen poll — like every poll — is a snapshot in time, which largely preceded the arrival of Voter Information Pamphlets and absentee ballots. It reflects the same uncertainty we’ve seen in the race for weeks,” said Herrera campaign spokesperson Matt Dorsey.
“The poll also shows that the incumbent mayor isn’t improving his standing with voters. Despite nearly $2 million in combined spending to push Lee’s candidacy, about 7 out of 10 voters aren’t picking him as their first choice for Mayor.
“The Bay Citizen poll also shows that voters remain unsure about their choices. More than one-fifth of voters are undecided on their first choice, with dramatically more voters undecided about second and third-choices, which will decide the outcome. So, the race is still wide open.
“Dennis Herrera remains the top challenger to Ed Lee. Herrera is a proven vote-getter, and he’s the one candidate who has shown he can win as an underdog. He did it in 2001 as a candidate for City Attorney, and he can do it again.”
“With so many voters still undecided, Ed Lee’s support declining amidst a growing web of ethical scandals, and with twenty-two days left, we know the only poll that counts is on November 8th,” said Rees Campaign Manager Nick Panagopoulos. “The fact is that most San Franciscans have only just begun receiving their ballots, evaluating the candidates and learning how to fully participate in the city’s ranked-choice voting system.
“An entrepreneur and educator with a record of results, Joanna Rees offers a real choice and stands apart in a field crowded with city hall insiders. She is waging an aggressive, grassroots campaign that’s focused on creating jobs, strengthening schools, and bringing our city government out of the shadows and into the 21st century. And that’s why every day, more and more San Franciscans are joining our campaign for new leadership and a new approach to city government.”
Senator Leland Yee
“I’m not sure about the polling methodology used by the Bay Citizen, nor have I ever heard of the polling firm they used doing a political poll in San Francisco or elsewhere,” said Yee campaign spokesperson Jim Stearns.
“In my opinion, these numbers simply don’t reflect the reality that every one of the campaigns opposing Lee is experiencing on the ground — lots of undecided, a definite drop in Lee’s support, a wide open race.
“We’re going to continue to run an aggressive, strong, grassroots campaign up through Election Day.”
Responses from the campaigns to elect Public Defender Jeff Adachi and Assessor Phil Ting were not forthcoming at the time of publishing. Their responses will be added when/if they respond.