- New West Anchor
- How did election signs compare to voting results in New West?
How did election signs compare to voting results in New West?
Turns out, signs aren't a great indicator of the direction an election is taking
Two Community First signs and one Progressives sign adorn the grass in front of a New Westminster home. / Dustin Godfrey, New West Anchor
Do election signs work?
Not so much, it would seem, if this past local election is any indication—the official results, broken down by polling station, are now out.
Prior to the election, we counted every sign we could find and broke the data down by candidate, party, and area of the city.
If there was significant overlap between the two, there would still remain a chicken-and-egg question: whether the signs were indicative of successful marketing or a sign of a pre-existing intention to vote.
The latter still can’t be ruled out—after all, the signs were almost exclusively on single-family housing properties, meaning they represented only a certain demographic within the city.
But a lacking correlation between signs and votes would appear to diminish the marketing power of election signs.
While the New West Progressives had signs at far more households than Community First, the latter slate has dominated both council and school board.
However, there is one caveat: while Community First-affiliated candidates held every council seat prior to this year’s election, the Progressives made some inroads, electing its first two councillors.
Here, you can find some of our graphs comparing the prevalence of signs with how the vote ultimately panned out.
A different council
If the signs were any indication of how the election would have gone, we might have had a fairly different-looking city council and school board.
In both the sign count and the vote count, Community First candidate Patrick Johnstone led mayoral candidates.
But Progressives candidate Ken Armstrong and independent Chuck Puchmayr effectively switched places. While Armstrong secured about a third of the vote and about a quarter of the mayoral signs, Puchmayr had about a third of the signs and a quarter of the vote.
And in terms of city councillors, Daniel Fontaine would have had the most of all votes, if the signs were any indication. Instead, the longtime Progressives candidate landed at the bottom of all successfully elected councillors.
Kathleen Carlsen similarly had more signs than any other school board trustee candidate, but the Progressives nominee came second-last in voting.
Nadine Nakagawa, by contrast, had among the fewest signs of all council candidates, but the Community First candidate, who led voting in the 2018 election, landed firmly in the middle of the pack among elected candidates.
And Community First candidate Marc Andres, with fewer signs than any other school board candidate, came in second place among trustees.
Other candidates, however, landed much closer in their share of the vote to their share of the signs.
Danielle Connelly, with the New West Progressives, accounted for 11.8% of the school board election signs prior to the election, while scoring 11.9% of the vote.
Community First’s Dee Beattie, similarly, accounted for 11.5% of the signs and 11.6% of the votes among school board candidates.
Among council candidates, Community First’s Bereket Kebede was closest in vote share to his share of the signs, with 7.1% and 6.6% respectively.
But those candidates were the exception, not the rule.
Besides Beattie, Connelly, and Kebede, no other candidate for school board or council had a share of the vote that came within a percentage point of their share of the signs.
The geographical vote
In terms of geography, there was some overlap between the prevalence of a slate’s signs and the number of votes that slate got per candidate.
For instance, Queensborough had a fair number more households showing Progressives signs, and that slate also led in voting at the only polling station in that neighbourhood. Massey Victory Heights similarly favoured the Progressives in both signage and vote share.
But for the most part, the geographic vote was the inverse of the geographic share of signs.
While the Progressives led in just four of 15 election day polling stations, the slate had their signs up on more properties in all but a couple of neighbourhoods—namely, Sapperton and Brow of the Hill.