If you watched the two City Council meetings on May 16, 2023, the Work Session discussing election reform at 11:30 followed by the City Council Afternoon Session at 1:00, we wonder if you noticed what we noticed.

We were disappointed but not surprised at the way city survey data was perceived differently by some councilors at these two separate meetings.

At the work session on election reform, once more just like each previous time the City Survey results were brought up, either the Mayor, Councilor Melton or Councilor Branch made sure to point out the survey conducted by the Community Engagement Department at the direction of the City Council was “self-selected” and therefore not a reliable barometer of actual residents’ views.

Just as a reminder, the city survey was conducted online and in-person at city conducted listening sessions over several weeks.

There were 1,267 respondents and 73% of those respondents DO NOT SUPPORT 4-YEAR TERMS for city council members.

Some councilors don’t like these results, so they discount them as invalid.

Less than 2 hours later, in the Afternoon Session, they heard a report about the success of the downtown Raleigh “social district” known as Sip N Stroll, where people are allowed to drink alcoholic beverages on the street, in a specified area downtown, if purchased from a participating vendor.

The Downtown Raleigh Association presented data to the Council from their survey which was also not a scientific poll. In fact they used a similar process to gather their data as was used to gather the data about election reform with both online and in-person options.

They had 921 responses (27% fewer than the election survey).

30% of the respondents were downtown residents. But, they also conducted dedicated business feedback sessions. So, they asked for the opinions of the people who benefit financially from the program.

Their results showed 77% think the program has had a positive impact downtown. So, quite similar to the 73% result opposed to 4-year terms.

Not once did any councilor object to the data saying it was “self-selected” or not a scientific representative sample of the city as a whole.

Why?  Because the councilors liked the result.

Is the difference in reaction to these two survey results considered “confirmation bias” or just rank hypocrisy? 

Livable Raleigh Editorial Team

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