Yard sign for Jacquelyn McCormick

With the election little more than a week away, local campaigns can be frustrating for political junkies. There are no polls for amateur Nate Silvers to pore over, no phalanx of commentators wondering about every slip or coup, no barrage of television ads to sift. So how can we take the temperature before election day?

Yard sign for Gordon Wozniak

I spent part of this morning wandering around the streets of my district, District 8, where incumbent Gordon Wozniak is facing challengers Stewart Jones and Jacquelyn McCormick (incidentally, Jones sent in his answers to Berkeleyside’s questions on Friday and I’ve updated the page to incorporate his responses). I know counting yard signs is a highly imperfect means of judging an election contest, but it’s one of the few straws we have in our local elections.

Yard sign for Stewart Jones

I covered over half of the streets in District 8. McCormick has a clear lead in yard signs, with Jones and Wozniak tied for second place. There were several houses that had both McCormick and Jones signs, an indication that some voters are picking up on the idea of voting the challengers 1 and 2 on the ranked choice voting ballot as a way to increase the odds of unseating the incumbent. Wozniak signs seemed to come in groups: you can go a long way without seeing any, and then there are four houses in a row showing their support for Wozniak.

What other indicators are there? I’ve had at least three leaflets through my door from McCormick and two from Jones. None from Wozniak. Both McCormick and Jones have come personally to my door. Wozniak has not (although I was invited last night to a neighbor’s house to join a discussion with Wozniak). Wozniak, however, is using his email lists regularly. I’ve had four campaign emails from him since the end of September. McCormick has clearly built her own lists: I’ve had three emails from her. Jones, however, has not sent out any emails that I’ve received as a voter.

What do these indicators mean? I’m not going to be an amateur political scientist on this purely anecdotal evidence. But in District 8, the City Council election is clearly being vigorously contested.

What do other Berkeleyside readers see in their districts? Let us know in the comments below.

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...