A recent snapshot poll on this site taken over the past week shows an apparent dead heat among four of the candidates for the City Council 7th District seat, with Lewis, Newbille, Robinson, Powell, and UNDECIDED all grabbing 20% of the vote (give or take). What do the results really indicate?
This poll is interesting, and maybe accurate in it’s own way though I would hesitate to take the numbers at face value. I’ve run polls before, and they have been fantastically wrong. This historical disconnect between predictions and reality can simply be chalked up to the fact that this site is not equally accessed through the greater Church Hill area. I know that my traffic has grown a bit since 2006, and anecdotally it seems that the readership is more geographically diverse. There is still the sense, though, that there is an imbalance.
Let’s look at some numbers. A similar poll taken in 2006 in the McQuinn v Malone contest for this same seat showed Mr.Malone taking 77% of the vote. On election day, Mr.Malone actually capture 43% of the vote.
The same 2006 poll results for the school board seat might be more informative. That poll showed: Ronald Bond 8%, Donald Coleman 21%, Delores Murray 13%, Keith West 45%, and UNDECIDED 13%. West did go on win that very close election with 32% of the vote. Coleman and Murray were only a few votes behind.
There are more unknowns in the current race, but we might be able to draw some parallels. Like Murray, Newbille is the establishment candidate – REA endorsement, likely endorsement by the Richmond Democrats, support from other politicians. Like Coleman, Robinson is a credible challenger with ties to the community. Running from the Broad Street corridor, both Lewis and Powell are vying to for the Keith West spot.
Kenney and Bond have both run before and neither appears to be gaining any more traction this time around.
There are differences here. Newbille has potentially more baggage than Murray but is also substantially more qualified. Robinson doesn’t have the organization that Coleman had, but seems to be getting more support across the board.
For some perspective on Lewis & Powell, we have to look at how West won. I missed the meat of that race, but I do remember that he had a ton of signs all over the neighborhood. I’ve also heard people say that they thought that he was black; I’m not sure what to make of that. Statistically, West dominated voting precinct 701 and then took his winning margin out of the closer numbers in 705 – the two most southern precincts in the district. He also out polled Coleman in 701 and 702, the two most northern of the precincts. (7th District voting precinct maps)
As of right now, though, it doesn’t look like either of these two candidates will be pulling many votes north of Q Street. Ride down Mosby Street or Fairmount Avenue, or up Mechanicsville Turnpike, and there is a sea of McQuinn signs paired with signs for Ms.Newbille and Ms.Robinson in people’s front yards. No Lewis, no Powell, and Mr.Bond’s only signs in front of the corner store and on the public median.
I can’t be all CNN/NBC/etc and say there is a leader within x%. I do think though that there are pretty clearly two front runners, though, and not much precedent for a surprise here.