Friday, March 6, 2015

Survey says water concerns top list for local voters

From page A1 | September 04, 2014 |

A new city survey released last week and shown in its entirety Tuesday night to the City Council reveals that Davis voters are more concerned about water than any other single topic.

Plus, The Enterprise remains the No. 1 news source in town despite the city website, word of mouth, social media and television seemingly taking away some market share since 2007, when the city did a similar poll.

The city hired Godbe Research to conduct the poll to inform the City Council about a variety of issues, including satisfaction with city services and thoughts about parcel taxes. Workers conducted the survey shortly after the June 3 election, from June 11 to 16, with a statistically significant sample size of 504 registered voters representing what Godbe determined were 35,825 registered likely voters in Davis.

Respondents represented both genders, all voting ages, many ethnic surnames and a wide range of years residents had lived in town. Fifty-five percent were residents who had lived in Davis 10 or more years.

The sample size gives a slightly more than 95 percent confidence level, according to Godbe Research, meaning there is a 4.3 percent margin of error in all responses.

When it comes to issues facing Davis, 17 percent of likely voters said water quality is their No. 1 concern, and 43 percent of them reported having a water softener. Water rates came in second, at 13 percent. Taxes were mentioned first by 4.2 percent of respondents, nearly double what the concern was in 2007.

Quality of roads and streets and city employee salaries and benefits were both 1 percent, a question not asked in 2007. That paled in comparison to people who thought there were no big issues in Davis at all, at 4 percent, down from 7 percent in 2007.

City leaders looked at the parcel tax portion of the survey in late June and found disappointing results that could be read in a variety of ways because of the timing of the poll, for example, and changing results based on how much and how long the proposed parcel tax would be.

The less money and less time the parcel tax covers, the more respondents said they would support it. In every case, however, the city faced a tough fight to achieve a passing margin.

A series of satisfaction surveys showed that while individual results for various city services were statistically insignificant from the largely positive results of the 2007 survey, the overall picture the respondents painted is that satisfaction is slightly lower than seven years ago.

The survey showed 63.5 percent of people surveyed in 2014 did not make a visit to city offices, up from 55.1 percent in 2007. Of those folks, people who said they had both excellent and good interactions with city staff — 67 percent — and poor or very poor interactions — about 20 percent — increased from 2007, when 83 percent said they had a good experience, and only 14 percent said they had a bad experience.

News sources

The Davis Enterprise far outstripped other media outlets for the attention of local residents, at 34.7 percent of the survey share — down from 48.8 percent in 2007 — with television news coming in second at 7.6 percent, The Sacramento Bee at 2.3 percent and The California Aggie at 0.9 percent. Other local media outlets include the largely defunct website Davis Patch at 0.4 percent of the survey share and the 8-year-old Davis Vanguard blog at 0.3 percent of market share.

At least, that was when respondents could remember the names of their media outlets.

The question was asked open-ended, allowing for respondents to show that the Davis city website/unknown general Internet sources made up 29.5 percent of the market share, up from 26 percent in 2007. As The Enterprise and many other media outlets have Internet presences and Google pulls news from random media sources, it’s unknown what that figure means, except a strong showing for the city website and perhaps confusion among the public about where they are getting their information.

Speaking of confusion: Word of mouth, no information sources and respondents who specifically said they had no idea where their information came from showed significant gains from 2007, up to 14.7 percent combined  from 4.5 percent in 2007.

This seems to show more people are disengaged from news sources than in 2007, far more than those who have turned to social media (2.3 percent), radio (1.4 percent) or any local news source created in the past decade combined. In fact, ignorance may be the single largest growth category among likely voters.

So who are these folks? The poll showed people ages 40-49 were more likely than any other group to get their news from word-of mouth, at 20.5 percent, than the next biggest group, 18- to 29-year-old voters, at 9.2 percent.

— Reach Dave Ryan at [email protected] or call 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at




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