Wednesday, October 7, 2009

School Board Polling

We've known since the beginning of September that the endorsees of the Wake Community Schools Alliance were probably going to sweep the school board election.

A survey we conducted then found that 61% of voters in District 1 were opposed to the district's diversity policy, that 63% in District 2 were, that 57% in District 7 were, and that 63% in District 9 were. Those numbers all match up more or less with the results last night.

Concerns over the policy were enough to get voters to cross party lines. 40% of people we had identified as likely voters for yesterday were Democrats while only 34% were Republicans. But that same group of voters said by a 43-32 margin that it preferred to vote for GOP Board of Education candidates this year.

Overall 61% of voters opposed the policy with only 29% in support of it in that early September poll. Perhaps most telling 46% of African Americans were opposed to it with only 39% supportive. And even Democrats overall were only narrowly supportive, 49/39, while Republicans were opposed 82/9 and independents were 66/25.

Last week we polled the horse race in each of the four districts. We showed all of the WCSA endorsees winning, but not by the sorts of margins they ended up getting last night. That's because our polling was focused on people who had voted in at least one off year election since 2003. The landslide nature of the victories is an indication that many people who had never voted in a school board election before came out yesterday, and that they were all there to vote for WCSA candidates.

Cathy Truitt's decision to run to the left of John Tedesco in the runoff is an interesting one because our poll found that 68% of her supporters are opposed to the district's diversity policy while only 11% favor it. She may risk losing many of the voters she had yesterday by reaching out to the supporters of Horace Tart, although I guess there's a reasonable school of thought that she has no chance to win without drawing clear differences between herself and Tedesco.

Interestingly even Tart's supporters only said they were in favor of the existing Wake policy by a 44-34 margin.

For all the money spent and hard campaigning of the last month these races were effectively decided a long time ago. Rarely is an election so fixated on one issue that voters are so passionate about, and when that is the case the candidates who are on the side of the majority of the public end up winning. Not a lot of minds were being changed one way or the other about the current policy.


David Lee said...

Well now we know that Cathy Truitt or someone who has influence with her reads your blog/results!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the data. It confirms anecdotal comments I heard from my peers. It also confirms WCPSS administration & Board & Wake Ed. Partnership were into their Group Think mode and long ago stopped listening to their customers...the taxpayers. Hopefully the elections results shattered the Group Think mindset and they are now ready to tackle the real issues...Education for children at all ends of the spectrum - poor to rich, academically challenged to gifted -- without regards to their geographic location.
I received two polling calls from your org. I am one of the Dems that voted for a Republican in District 9.

Anonymous said...

It looks like Chris Fitzsimon at NC Policy Watch made a big mistake publishing his bigoted tirade against the winning school board candidates, before reading your Public Policy Poll.

First, rather than address the issues and facts, Fitzsimon simply smeared the winning school board candidates, their supporters and voters, by calling the “resegrationist” who thought they had a “mandate for to return to separate and allegedly equal schools.” Fitzsimon complained that the “resegrationist” represented only “three percent” of the Wake County voters.

Fitzsimon smear attack is readily refuted by simple math and facts. In reality, as your poll pointed out: “Overall 61% of voters opposed the policy with only 29% in support of it in that early September poll. Perhaps most telling 46% of African Americans were opposed to it with only 39% supportive.”

So does Fitzsimon really thinks that 46% of African Americans are resegrationist, and only 29% support desegregation? Or will Fitzsimon admit that he is simply waging a vicious smear campaign by the playing the race card and calling the winning school board candidates and their supporters regregationist, even when those supporters include most African Americans?

Can we not have an honest debate, and election campaigns, about school board issues, including school assignment policies, mandatory year round schools, school construction and the overall quality of education, without the Fitzsimon and the far left-wing calling the people they disagree, including the African Americans, racist?

Anonymous said...

How were the polling questions asked? Do Blacks know the real reason behind the diversity plan? If you ask people do they want kids to go to a school closer to their neighborhood, they will say yes. It's convenient! Polls are sometimes misleading. Especially if people don't have facts or data before answering. How quickly we forget "The City of Raleigh Schools" and Wake County Public School" in the 70's...

Anonymous said...

I just want too take some time out thank the active members for doing what you do and make this community great im a long time reader and first time poster so i just wanted to say thanks.

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