After Public Defender Jeff Adachi entered the mayoral race on Aug. 12, polling firm Public Opinion Strategies conducted a survey of 500 likely voters to determine the No. 1 choice among the newly expanded field of candidates. The poll, commissioned by an independent expenditure committee not advocating for any mayoral candidate, was conducted over the phone from Aug. 14-16.
The poll shows current Mayor Ed Lee is in the lead with 29 percent of the vote, trailed closely by that savvy dark horse called “undecided,” who came in at 28 percent. How did Adachi fare? Only days into the race, 5 percent of those polled said they would give him their first-choice vote. This puts him right in the middle of the pack of candidates who have been campaigning for months.
After Ed Lee and undecided, the breakdown of the poll results is as follows: Dennis Herrera and Leland Yee each with 7 percent, John Avalos with 6 percent, Adachi and Bevan Dufty with 5 percent, Michela Alioto-Pier with 4 percent, David Chiu and Joanna Rees with 3 percent, Tony Hall with 1 percent and zero votes for Phil Ting.
A different poll was conducted by SurveyUSA on July 30 and 31, and showed Lee with 35 percent of first-choice votes, so this new poll indicates that Lee is holding steady in the 30 percent range. Lee’s lead is big but not unbeatable if the other candidates will step up and take him on. If they don’t, Lee is going to walk away with this election.
Aside from it being early on in the election season, the reason candidates have been so darned nice to one another is because ranked-choice voting forces candidates to suck up to each other’s supporters. An example of this theory is if I’m nice to Lee, hopefully Lee’s supporters will list me as their second choice.
But a candidate’s second-choice votes only get counted if they lose in an early round of voting. If he stays at more than 20 points ahead of everyone, Lee’s second-choice votes will never be counted. Which is why there is no reason for other candidates to continue treating Lee like another belle at the cotillion.
Well, almost no reason. Some candidates will still dance with Lee because they want Lee’s endorsement for some other office or a job in the Lee administration. One candidate for whom that is not an option is State Sen. Leland Yee, who is openly despised by Lee kingmaker Rose Pak. Add the fact that Yee may lose his Senate seat in statewide redistricting and it looks like Yee would have nothing to lose by brawling with Lee.
The bottom line on these poll numbers is that other candidates need to swing if they want to prevent Lee’s waltz into a full term as mayor.
Candidates are playing nice at debates
I have had the honor of moderating three mayoral debates so far this year. For those of you who missed them, here is what I’m seeing:
– Every single candidate said that if elected, they would keep Greg Suhr on as police chief. (Note that Tony Hall and Terry Baum were not present at the debate where that question was asked.)
– Bevan Dufty’s swing vote at the Board of Supervisors is what got Lee appointed to be interim mayor in the first place, and it looks like there’s still a lot of mutual admiration. Right around the time Ed Lee entered the race, Dufty started speaking out at every debate about how he has a “black agenda.” You know who needs help with the black vote and gay vote? Ed Lee. Look for Dufty to shore up those constituencies and then tell his supporters to give their second choice votes to Lee.
– At the last debate that the mayor attended, Leland Yee lashed out at Ed Lee over Lee’s use of the term “city family” to describe the group of unions and politicians (oh, and Warren Hellman) who negotiated the “city plan” pension reform proposal. “Who is in this city family and why doesn’t it include Jeff Adachi?.” Yee asked. In the next debate Yee gave a softball question to Adachi. Perhaps Yee is trying to create a coalition with Adachi, the one other candidate not afraid to take on Lee.
– Subjects that come up at every debate are middle-income housing, jobs and the flight of families from San Francisco. Folks appear to be more worried about their own ability to stay in San Francisco and less about services for the indigent. The theme this year is “Charity Begins at Home.”
Public defender can put name on Prop. D
Public Defender Jeff Adachi has just been given the green light from the Ethics Commission to use his name and image to advance his pension reform measure, Proposition D on this November’s ballot. The only catch is that the Prop. D promotional materials cannot advocate for Adachi’s mayoral campaign.
Despite this restriction, the line between “Adachi for mayor” and “Yes on Proposition D” remains blurry. In fact, Richard Schlackman, the lead consultant on the Prop. D campaign, quit the Prop. D effort the day Adachi announced his bid for mayor because Schlackman had promised not to run any mayoral campaigns and the two appeared to be too entangled.
According to Adachi, “Rich did an incredible job of bringing the Prop. D pension reform campaign to where it is now.” Democratic strategists Tad Devine and Julian Mulvey will continue to manage the Prop. D campaign.