Just two weeks before residents are set to receive Measure I ballots, the local committee campaigning in favor of the surface water project claims to have snatched the early lead in the election, based on a poll it conducted in late December.
After surveying 300 “likely voters” in Davis, campaign supporters predict the project will be approved by an estimated 65 to 75 percent of voters. The measure needs a majority vote for approval.
Moore Methods, the Sacramento-based company that aggregated the data, built in a margin of error of plus or minus 5.7 percent in the poll’s results. The survey was taken between Dec. 27 and 31.
According to Jim Moore, owner of Moore Methods, the polling company picked the 300 random residents by scanning the state voter records and determining, based on voting history, who would be most likely to vote in an all mail-in election in Davis.
“We draw a sample in the way that guarantees that the people you interview are a cross-section of people most likely to vote,” Moore said.
The poll estimates that 85 percent of the public shows “broad awareness” of the water project measure and 70 percent are in “strong support” of it.
The results also showed that 63 percent of those surveyed say they support the city’s water plan and 11 percent are opposed, based on what they have read or heard about the project.
“The survey confirms even stronger support than we expected, with 70 percent in favor of the measure as printed on the ballot,” Pryor said. “Davis voters have followed the issue closely, understand it well and a strong majority support the unanimous decision of our City Council to move forward with Woodland on this important project.”
Meanwhile, Michael Harrington, a representative of the No on Measure I group, said he’s not convinced these results will mean much in terms of the final outcome of the vote, especially considering the Yes on I group won’t release the entire questionnaire and results.
“I understand why they would want to announce a positive poll right now because it gives them the appearance of being successful,” Harrington told The Enterprise in a phone interview Friday.
“However, the public should have a right to know how they conducted it, the full questionnaire and the full results, including all the methodology to set up the poll.
“They’re refusing to release … all of the results.”
The survey script went as follows:
“What is your opinion of the water quality which the city of Davis provides to its residents — excellent, good, fair or poor?” 39 percent said “fair,” 29 percent “good,” 24 “poor” and 8 “excellent.”
“To supply drinking water in your household, do you …?” 45 percent said they have a water filter, 34 percent said they purchase bottled water and 33 percent said they have a water softener.
“In recent years, the issue of building a new water supply facility for Davis has been discussed by the City Council. Are you familiar with this issue?” 85 percent said yes, 15 percent said no.
“The Davis City Council recently approved a long-term plan to improve city water supplies. From what you’ve heard of this plan, do you support or oppose it?” 63 percent said they support it, 11 percent were opposed and 26 percent had no opinion.
And finally, “after listening to the ballot language, would you likely support or oppose Measure I?” Seventy percent said they would support it, 12 percent said they would oppose it and 18 percent had no opinion.
Ballots for the all-mail election will be sent to registered voters the week of Feb. 4 and are due back to the Yolo County Elections Office by March 5.
The Woodland-Davis surface water project will pump water from the Sacramento River, treat it and pipe it to Davis and Woodland, replacing each city’s reliance on deteriorating ground well drinking water supplies, except during peak periods of consumption.
City engineers have estimated the project, which will cost Davis about $113 million — $245 million in total between Davis and Woodland — will triple water utility bills citywide.
Arguments and rebuttals for and against Measure I can be found under the elections page of the city clerk’s section of the city’s website, www.cityofdavis.org. They also were published on last Sunday’s op-ed page in The Davis Enterprise.
— Reach Tom Sakash at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash