District Elections for Asheville – Manipulated Surveys and Gerrymandered Power

April 26, 2017

From: Buncombe GOP
To: Buncombe County Republicans and Our Partners in Good Governance
Subject: District Elections for Asheville – Manipulated Surveys and Gerrymandered Power

Those who believe in diversity of thought have concerns about the lack of balance on Asheville’s governing body. Since 2009, to one degree or another, every member has self-proclaimed as a liberal or progressive. The range of political views, per voting record, runs from left to far left. Conservative or even moderate representation = zero. Consider the wisdom of George Patton – “If everyone is thinking alike then somebody isn’t thinking.”

Mind if we share the BCGOP view on the importance of diversity of thought? If you have one handy, hold up a silver dollar. Depending on which angle of view you take, you may see Lady Liberty or the American Eagle. Both sides matter and neither is necessarily right or wrong. When everyone is looking from only one side – important things get missed.

Asheville’s City Council took the unusual step of using tax dollars to fund a survey of how residents felt about the possibility of District Elections. Here’s what we have learned about that phone poll—

  • The study cost $7,500
  • There were 400 participants
  • Each was asked – per the final report – approximately 25+/- questions
  • The final report was 43 pages long
  • Participants were 51% Democrats – 16% Republicans

Flags

1) We were unable to determine how many participants completed the questions. That matters – because those who do so are usually invested in the subject – note Dem/Rep ratio above. It’s also a factor in overall survey reliability and validity outcomes. When was the last time you were willing to answer 25+/- questions on a phone survey?

2) This poll makes classic Survey 101 mistakes – leading questions (“I don’t want to change the way we elect members of City Council. I like being able to cast a vote for every seat on City Council.”); loaded questions (“I believe single-member districts are a good way to ensure all racial groups in Asheville have equal representation on City Council.”); and double-barreled questions (“Creating single-member districts in Asheville opens the door to a redistricting process, similar to what takes place in Raleigh when it comes to redrawing Congressional and Legislative lines ever 10 years. I’m afraid this would invite Gerrymandering and more partisan politics into a municipal government where elections are non-partisan.”) Whew – That last one covered all three.

3) That our homogeneous elected city body uses taxpayer funds to pursue a biased survey against a potential threat to power (District Elections) comes as a disappointment. That they would do it so recklessly, well…

There is truth in the suggestion that Asheville’s size does not merit district elections. However, with the demographic lock that the left has on Asheville’s voting population, district elections offer a realistic, fair and prudent path to balanced representation on Asheville’s governing body.

For those who believe diversity of thought matters, this issue is a no-brainer. For those who believe it is ethical to gerrymander total domination of local government with bogus surveys, apparently, it isn’t.

Carl Mumpower, Chair, BCGOP