Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Is Mayor Dewey Bartlett Up or Down? It Depends…

Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett may—or may not—be highly unpopular with city voters.

If that sounds a little ambiguous, that's because it is.

We're referring to a recent Sooner Poll, the results of which appeared on the front page of the Tulsa World on Sunday. The World headline summed up the Bartlett poll question in unambiguous terms: "Poll shows most would vote against Bartlett."

True—but the numbers are not exactly as firm as they might seem. 

In fact, the numbers showed that only 26 percent of voters would vote for Bartlett over "another candidate." Fifty-eight percent opted for another candidate.

Ah, but there's the rub.  

"Another candidate" is not a person and, as an abstract idea, it's pretty easy to choose this imaginary improvement over a real (and flawed) actual mayor. In other words, don't bet the farm on a mystical candidate who can easily defeat Bartlett in the next city election.

There are many other problems with making predictions about the mayor's future based on a poll taken now for an election to be held in 2013. As the Sooner Poll's Bill Shapard noted in the World, it's a long time before the mayor faces the the voters.

Mayor Bartlett can also take comfort in his "negatives" compared to the city council's "negatives." On that question, Bartlett's "somewhat disapprove" and "strongly disapprove" ratings were 46 percent, while the council's ratings in the same categories were a whopping 71 percent.

That last figure is no surprise to critics of the outgoing council, almost of whom were booted out (or chose not to run) in elections this year.