November 2, 2007 - Sign Up For Another Term
Have you heard the news? There is an election next week. Three seats on the Santa Barbara City Council are up for grabs. The race is between the three incumbents and five challengers. The issues are light blue lines, traffic roundabouts, affordable housing, transportation, building heights, and maintaining small town charm. With so much at stake, you would think that people would be up in arms and on their feet - canvassing neighborhoods, standing on soapboxes, commenting on blogs, and putting up yard signs.
You would think.
But, the buzz surrounding the election this year sounds more like a quiet whisper in the library. With the exception of maybe David Pritchett (grin), no one seems to care.
To prove our point, the dedicated staff of edhat.com went out to count the yard signs. We blue-lined the car -- drove around using up non-renewable resources and emitting greenhouse gases -- to survey neighborhoods all over town. Our sign-seeing tour turned into a marathon. We drove 26 miles in two-and-a-half hours. One reason that it took so long was that we saw a lot of Friends of Ed along the way. And when we run into friends, we have to stop and chat. The other reason our progress was slow was that we stopped to take a picture of each and every sign.
Using an estimate of 10 blocks in a mile means that we drove 260 city blocks yesterday looking for signs. However, our two-and-a-half hour tour uncovered a paltry 65 unique signs in front of 56 houses. That means that roughly one out of every five blocks in town has a sign - and those are blocks with houses on both sides of the street.
If you trust the signs, you would have to say that the incumbents are in trouble this year. The candidates with the most sticks in the ground were three of the challengers - Francisco, sign champ by far, followed by Giddens and Hotchkiss. Now the dedicated staff is not sure whether these are the signs of change, or simply signs of frustration. In other words, it could just be that the voters who are most motivated (the ones posting signs) are also the ones who support a regime change in City Hall.
We did find a regional bias for sign display. Francisco owns the upper Eastside. Das Williams is king of the Mesa. Giddens did particularly well in the area up from Shoreline Park. Two years ago, signs in the lower Eastside heavily supported Grant House. This year, there are no signs there at all.
Check out this cool interactive bar chart showing how many signs we found for each candidate. You can mouse-over the graph to see the actual signs that were counted.
There was another low voter turnout for the Edhat contest yesterday - and most subscribers went with the incumbents. Only S-Dawg and El Smurfo picked Francisco. The tiebreaker went to El Smurfo, who guessed that his candidate would have 23% of the signs. The actual percentage was 27%.