Hold the phone: city commissions bond referendum poll

IT'S FOR YOU: Pollsters will be calling Asheville registered voters to gauge opinions on the bond referendum over the next couple of days. Photo by Virginia Daffron

While polls are the order of the day in a presidential election year, Asheville’s politics aren’t usually the focus of professionally conducted opinion research. That’s about to change, as a poll commissioned by the city may even now be dialing phone numbers to gauge city voters’ attitudes toward a potential bond referendum and the projects it could fund.

At City Council’s second work session on the bond issue on June 28, City Director of Communication and Public Engagement Dawa Hitch told Council members that her department has hired Campaign Research and Strategy, a Columbia, South Carolina-based consulting firm.

The city engaged CRS to undertake a 400-sample study, which the firm estimates will yield a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent. The study will cost $8,000 and will take 12 to 15 minutes to administer by phone.

According to CRS’s proposal, which Hitch provided to Xpress, the purpose of the study is to “better understand what residents from the City of Asheville, NC identify as priorities facing the city and its government.” The study will also examine, the letter continues, which projects city residents would support as bond issues.

The study will target registered voters over both land lines and cell phones. The polling sample will be designed to reflect expected turnout in a presidential election, based on the 2012 presidential election turnout. “Thus, if 25 percent of registered voters who cast votes in November 2012 were over the age of 65,” CRS wrote, “then 25 percent of the interviews in this polling sample would come from voters older than 65.” While polling targets will be randomly selected within identified groups, the firm said, “if 25 percent of Asheville’s turnout in 2012 was made up of African-American voters, then 25 percent of the completed interviews would be with African Americans.”

The proposal states that, under ideal conditions, the data collection phase of the study would be completed within a three-day period. The consultant recommends finalizing the questionnaire and “getting things ready to put the poll out into the field” on June 28, with polling continuing through June 30 or July 1, concluding before the July 4 weekend.

Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler urged Xpress readers to “…answer the phone and the questions — please!”

Hitch comments, “City Council will use the results to inform their decisions as they move towards possible submission of an application to the Local Government Commission for a bond referendum on this November’s ballot.”

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About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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