Hammond lead reflects dramatic turn in mayoral campaign

To quote Hillary Clinton, What Happened?

Our poll results indicate that five weeks out from the civic election, voters are also Mad as Hell.

The front-runner in our mayoral poll, by a lap, is Stephen Hammond, lawyer, consultant and leader of the aggressively named community group that spoke out against the tent city behind the courthouse for nearly a year in 2015-2016.

The Mad as Hell-ions morphed into NewCouncil.ca, with Hammond now at the head of a five-person slate that could potentially take over city council.

Are we getting ahead of ourselves? Perhaps. Or maybe the voters are ahead of the rest of us and have made up their minds to move in a new direction.

Of course, it’s still early days, far too soon to count Lisa Helps out. To many people, the campaign is only starting, if they’re even aware it’s happening, the election on an earlier date than usual this time.

The candidates will continue to make their case and meet each other in debate at election forums and in the media, and the challengers will be held to a higher level of scrutiny than they have to this point.

Our poll results are nothing less than astounding. Hammond in the lead is a surprise, but by more than a two-to-one margin over Helps borders on shocking.

We are also amazed at the level of participation, 508 votes. That’s more than 2% of the 24,655 voters who participated in the last election in 2014.

Now, it’s possible The Record is attracting more change agents than supporters of the current mayor. And yes we have found various web portals directing people to our site, and in one case, our poll.

We used a number of safeguards to prevent people from voting more than once, but nearly any polling system–even the election itself–relies on the honesty and goodwill of the participants.

But if Hammond supporters out-organized the Helps people and sent voters to The Record, that’s what elections are all about–GOTV, Get(ting) Out The Vote.

But this can be a double-edged sword. Many a candidate has peaked too soon or fallen short because their over-confident supporters failed to show up on election day.

Newcomer Bruce McGuigan, who teaches sociology at Vancouver Island University and just entered the race last week, came third in our poll. Considering this strong finish for a newcomer relatively unknown in Victoria, he may prove to be a factor, either as a contender or a vote-splitter.

And someone who isn’t even running for mayor, Councillor Ben Isitt, ranked fourth. We allowed our participants to write in a candidate of their choice and after Isitt was added by one voter, 28 others agreed he should lead the city. He was the only write-in, by the way, other than a few humorous additions like John A. Macdonald.

Only on Oct. 20 will we know What Happened. But at Hammond’s campaign launch in August, he said he was inspired to enter the race by Hillary’s book of that name about the U.S. presidential election. Of course, he added, she lost.

 

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