Yesterday, I tweeted about the number of election signs I saw on my commute to and from work. It was a completely un-scientific way of determining candidate support, but, hell, whatever.
Last night, I decided to do a more extensive tour of Capital Ward to see who is getting the most signs out. I was out for about an hour and a half, and you cover a fair amount of ground by bike in that time.
Again, this was completely not scientific. I rode around Old Ottawa South and the Glebe somewhat randomly (and I didn’t make it to Old Ottawa East, the Glebe Annex or Heron Park), and I didn’t count the signs. I was just getting an impression.
And, you know, this doesn’t really matter that much. Signs don’t vote. And a sign might be in front of a house with one voter, with multiple voters all supporting the same candidate or multiple voters supporting various candidates.
But, you know, it’s not nothing, either. Extensive signs are a…sign…that a candidate has a base of support. It gets the candidate’s name out to the neighbourhood. And since people don’t always follow that closely, signs of popularity could confer a feeling of competence–if so many people are supporting this candidate, they can’t be a nutjob.
And, of course, people like winners. If you look like you’re leading the race, that could help you actually lead the race.
So, with that way-too-long intro to a not-so-important blog post, let’s get on with it…
I started out in Old Ottawa South (I had some library books to return). The first signs I saw were for Christine McAllister. That might make some sense. Being on the border with the Glebe–and considering her extensive activity in the Glebe community–the northern edge of OOS might more naturally be amenable to her.
As I rode on, I started seeing more and more signs for Shawn Menard. This, too, makes sense. He’s the one challenger who lives in OOS (Chernushenko lives in OOS, too). Every time I would go a couple of blocks without seeing any signs, I’d almost immediately come across a Menard sign. Usually, I’d come across a cluster of them.
(This is sort of interesting, and not specific to Menard. In a number spots in the Glebe, I would see clusters of signs for a specific candidate–mostly McAllister, but also Menard and a couple of times for Tony Carricato. This could be due, in part, to where they canvassed, where they happen to have friends or where they happen to have volunteers to put up signs…but still, it’s noticeable.)
Going only on signs, Menard seems to own Old Ottawa South. Aside from the first two McAllister signs I saw, I didn’t see any non-Menard signs.
(Before anyone gets mad and yells, hey, there are, too, signs for *Candidate Name*, I’m not saying there aren’t, just that I didn’t see them.)
In OOS, I saw no signs for Carricato, Jide Afolabi or, notably, the incumbent, David Chernushenko.
After a good tour of OOS, I headed back to the Glebe. Again, based solely on signs, this is McAllister territory. The neighbourhood is littered with her signs. Generally, if I went a few blocks without seeing a sign, I’d quickly run across one of hers. It was always the clusters that I saw in OOS with Menard’s signs, but she there’s really good coverage.
And, again, not surprising. McAllister has been very involved in the community for many years, so she should have leg-up. Also, having announced early and received an endorsement from MP and cabinet minister Catherine McKenna, she’s had the time and the profile to garner such support.
Menard probably had the next most signs up. And, again, often in clusters. Menard needs to compete in the Glebe, but I don’t know that anyone would expect him to beat out the others in this neighbourhood.
I saw no Carricato signs on my way home from work, yesterday, but I started seeing more last night. He definitely has some support, but it doesn’t seem to be as extensive as the other two. This race has three candidates from the Glebe, and two have been on the community executive. Carricato announced back in the spring, so he’s been spending months canvassing. I think one would hope to see a few more signs considering all the work he’s done (and he really has been campaigning hard).
Now, I saw a few more signs up this morning on my commute, so it may just be a case of getting his signs out…but another thing to keep track of in a campaign is who have the most volunteers out working for them. That’s an important part of the campaign–both because it looks better, and because it makes your campaign more effective.
I only saw one sign for Afolabi, and I almost missed it because it was obscured by a bush (actually, I did miss it, but then doubled-back and saw it). Now, I know that Afolabi has been working Old Ottawa East, and I didn’t go there, so maybe that’s where more of his support is. But I was always a little concerned about his candidacy. With McAllister and Carricato coming from the local community association, that’s more local cred than Afolabi has (that’s not to say he isn’t a credible candidate…it’s just about his profile in the ward).
Finally, and this is the most noteworthy thing, zero signs for David Chernushenko.
Now, maybe he’s just waiting for the weekend or something to get his signs out. Maybe he wants one big push rather than having them trickle out–that’d make a good statement. But he was also seeking people to take lawn signs this past week (more on that later), so that makes me think he might not have had enough takers right away.
It’s been pretty clear this year that Chernushenko is running scared. He knows there’s a lot of discontent and that he’s going to have to work hard to hold on to his council seat. He’s appeared more resigned and defeated this term of council, and he’ll need to campaign hard to change people’s impressions of him.
He’s still the incumbent, with all the advantages that entails, but he’s got a harder path to re-election than most.
So I’ll probably be keeping track (unofficially and unscientifically) of the sign wars over the course of the campaign. As I said, my observations won’t mean that much, but, hey, it means something and it’s kind of fun…in a way. I mean, we won’t be able to avoid the signs.