August 20th, 2010
George Smitherman is favoured when the members are exposed to the candidates in person, but Rob Ford is preferred when members vote online, unexposed to the candidates.
When CARP polled members of the audience (primarily CARP members) at the CARP Mayoral Debate on August 11, George Smitherman won handily, going from 19% preference to 43% preference during the course of the debate. When CARP members are polled as part of the ActionOnline newsletter, Rob Ford is clearly preferred to George Smitherman, 30% to 19%.
It is thought that the discrepancy between these findings is the effect of being personally exposed to the candidates in a debate format. While Smitherman held exactly the same preference score at the beginning of the debate as he did in the online poll (19%), exposure to his ideas improved the live audience!s reaction to him, and Rob Ford was unable to score as high as ten points.
Asking preference within the context of an online poll, however, where respondents are not exposed to the candidates, may lead some to answer based on what they have heard second hand, rather than experienced. While Transit City and the city budget are both seen to be equally important issues before the debate (mentioned by about a quarter each), after hearing from the candidates, one third of members select the city budget as a critical issue, compared to one fifth who pick Transit City.
These findings are mirrored in the online poll, where one third say the city budget is most critical, followed by those who mention Transit City and traffic congestion.