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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:

Mayor
Gregor Robertson 68%
Suzanne Anton 32%
Parties
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.

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