The first MacRo Report Blog Poll is complete, and it shows some interesting results.
We asked our participants to give us their opinion of the one issue that they thought is the most important issue in our local election for the 5 seats on the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners. With 19 candidates in the running, which will be whittled down to ten in the September 14th primary, those who are out knocking on the doors are hearing it firsthand. So, how do our results differ from what the candidates are hearing? We’ll get to that in a moment.
As you can see from the chart on the right, by far the top two concerns of our participants are pretty much in line with major voter concerns on the national level: Taxes and Government Spending (38%) and Preserving Jobs in our Community (28%) … a total of 67%.
This tells us that while there is a lot talk about our national deficit and excessive (some say out of control) government spending, this issue truly resonates with voters locally. Both Frederick City and Frederick County struggled this budget year in controlling spending and each project deficits by the end of this fiscal year. There is also a lot of talk about the amount of taxpayer dollars that goes to public education and the facilities of the Frederick County Public Schools. Of course all that money flows through the guarded gates of the offices of our County Commissioners.
Job loss and job creation is on everyone’s mind. While Frederick County fares better than many other parts of the county with an unemployment rate at 6.2% in May of this year, just two years earlier this factor sat at 3.4%. Washington County to our west hovered at the national average on the mid nines just 3 months ago, up from 5.2% in May of 2008. So in both cases the number of unemployed workers in this region has nearly doubled in the last 24 months. Check out this Bureau of Labor Statistics Chart showing unemployment rates for Frederick, Montgomery and Washington Counties since 1990.
In the middle of the pack of issues is Growth, Traffic and Land Development (we”ll call it the GTD factor). We purposely did not add a negative or positive slant to this issue. And we did not specify the kind of Growth — residential, business or both. We received a few emails on this topic from participants stating that their selection of this topic was that there was not enough growth, while others stated the opposite. So from the 22% showing that put this category in third place, we saw as combination of those who see the GTD factor as bad, those who felt we needed more to stimulate the local economy, those who opposed annexations, and so on.
The poor 7% showing in the poll of the controversial planned Waste to Energy Facility (WTE) may have disappointed those who are strongly opposed to the current Board of County Commissioner decision to move forward this the project. But it seems that the voters have more pressing issues on their minds.
And finally in last place with 5% of the votes is an issue that we have spent a lot of ink on here at the MacRo Report Blog: County/ Municipalities Animosity. We see that as falling into the same trap as the WTE facility.
We had a few comments asking us why the issue of Charter Government as a new form of government for Frederick County was not included. Frankly with the poll offering up 5 choices for issues, we chose the ones that we believed stirred the most debate among candidates, and while Charter is talked about a lot, and will likely be an item of the new Board”s agenda, we think that the electorate needs more education before they will truly cast a ballot in mass on the issue.
So, why do we think that there is some credibility in this poll? While it clearly is unscientific and not a true sampling of a cross section of Frederick County, it is very interesting that in our recent conversations with about 8 of the 19 Commissioner candidates (2 Democrats and 6 Republicans) in the two weeks prior to this poll, each were asked what they were hearing from the voters as the top issues in their campaign efforts. All said that it is “Taxes and Jobs.” The only other two that occasionally come up as a distant 4th and 5th issue is “Growth and WTE.” So if anything, this poll helps confirms what many are hearing.
Here’s how our survey was conducted:
We sent out participation requests to our 3,000 plus email subscribers three times in messages on August 5th, 9thand 11th. With an industry average of 14.8% as an email open rate, our rate was 16.5%. The significant factor is the actual “Click-Through-Rate” – that is the percentage of those who once open the email click through to our blog. In this case with an industry average of 10.8%, we are very pleased with a 27.7% rate.
We also posted daily participation requests on twitter and facebook. We even tried our hand at the facebookadvertisement feature during the eight day period.
So, we thank you for your participation, and we hope that you will chime in on the next poll or survey we post in September!