Ideas and policies key to Robertson win in Vancouver; stability a deciding factor for supporters of Hepner in Surrey

VANCOUVER mayor-2012-robertson

VANCOUVER’S mayor has been re-elected on the strength of his ideas and policies, while Surrey voters opted to continue with the status quo after pondering other alternatives, a new Insights West post-election survey of municipal voters has found.

In the online survey of voters who took part in this month’s election, British Columbia’s most populous municipalities reported a high level of engagement with some aspects of the campaign, including watching ads (85% in Vancouver, 87% in Surrey) and media stories (83% in Vancouver, 78% in Surrey). The proportion of residents who watched or attended a debate is lower (20% in Vancouver, 15% in Surrey).

When asked about the factors that led them to choose a candidate, Vancouverites who voted for incumbent Gregor Robertson of Vision Vancouver cite ideas and policies (53%), a desire for stability (21%) and disgust with other candidates (13%). Those who supported Non-Partisan Association (NPA) candidate Kirk LaPointe were primarily motivated by change (53%), and to a lesser extent, by disgust with other candidates (17%) and ideas and policies (16%).

In Surrey, residents who voted for Surrey First candidate Linda Hepner say a desire of stability (35%) was at the top of their list, followed by her ideas and policies (32%) and her party (17%). In contrast, voters who supported Safe Surrey Coalition candidate Doug McCallum cite his ideas and policies (56%) and a desire for change (16%). One Surrey contender Barinder Rasode holds similar numbers (62% on ideas and policies, and 12% on desire for change).

The issues that had the most significant impact on Vancouver voters are transportation (33%), pipelines (30%), transparency (28%) and housing (27%). Less than one-in-five voters say the CUPE donation (18%), the fact that LaPointe does not live in Vancouver (15%), the claims of corruption by the NPA (12%), the defamation lawsuit filed by Vision Vancouver (also 12%), and the incumbent mayor’s apology on the final week of the campaign (10%) had a significant impact on their vote.


“IN spite of the discussions that emerged in the final week of the campaign, neither of the two contending parties experienced a bump in support,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West. “NPA voters were looking for change long before the stories broke, while Vision’s electorate was motivated by pipelines and transportation, and did not care much about LaPointe’s residence.”

The issues that had the most significant impact on Surrey voters are McCallum’s previous record as mayor (46%), the candidate’s views on crime (31%), the endorsement of Hepner by outgoing mayor Dianne Watts (28%, and 43% for Surrey First voters) and transportation (21%).

“Stability was the name of the game for Hepner voters, particularly after the endorsement from Dianne Watts,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs at Insights West. “Conversely, McCallum and Rasode connected very well on policies, but just not with enough people to make a difference.”

The exit polls mirror the results of election day, but allow for a deeper analysis of demographics. Women and residents aged 18 to 34 decidedly supported Robertson, while men and residents aged 55 and over were more likely to vote for LaPointe. While Robertson saw one third of his voters from 2011 erode to LaPointe (22%) and Coalition of Progressive Electors candidate Meena Wong (11%), he garnered the support of almost half (47%) of “new” municipal voters (residents who did not cast a ballot in the 2011 election).

In Surrey, Hepner benefitted from a late shift from the 18- to 34-year-old voters, who were considering Rasode as a candidate to support with a week to go in the race, but ultimately moved to the Surrey First column.

Most of Vancouver’s voters had their minds made up about which candidate to support in the early stages of the campaign, with three-in-four (74%) saying they made their final voting decision before the final week of campaigning began. The situation was vastly different in Surrey, where three-in-five voters (59%) made their “final decision” in the last week or on election day, including 73% of those aged 18-34. Across Surrey, 67% of Hepner’s voters say they settled on her in the last week or on election day, compared to 57% for McCallum and 56% for Rasode.

Most Vancouverites perceived negativity in the campaign from the two main parties (54% for Vision, 58% for the NPA). Both COPE (48%) and the Green Party of Vancouver (53%) are regarded as having run a positive campaign. In Surrey, the three main parties get good numbers on running a positive campaign (61% for Surrey First, 51% for One Surrey, 41% for Safe Surrey Coalition).


WHEN it comes to City Council, the two-party system seems to continue in Vancouver, with 31% of voters backing Vision Vancouver primarily, and 30% supporting the NPA. When asked about ideology, voters regard Vision as “centre-left” (33%), the NPA as “centre-right” (29%), COPE as “left” (29%), and the Greens also as “left” (26%).

Surrey First benefitted from the support of three quarters (74%) of Hepner voters, who said they voted primarily for its council slate. The proportion of McCallum voters who went with Safe Surrey Coalition in council (34%) and Rasode voters who went with One Surrey in council (27%) is decidedly smaller. However, two-in-five voters cannot pin down the parties as having a specific ideology. The top answer for all three is “centre” (28% for Surrey First, 18% for Safe Surrey Coalition, 20% for One Surrey).

In Vancouver, 43% of voters say they took a list of candidates to help them cast their ballot in the election—a proportion that increases slightly to 46% in Surrey.