Poll: Davis voters oppose socializing electricity

Poll: Davis voters oppose socializing electricity


Partners-for-a-Greener-DavisThe city of Davis is renowned for its liberal local politics, green bicycle paths, local farmer’s market, Whole Earth Festival, percentage of those with graduate degrees, and the campus of the University of California, Davis. The city is about the last place in California one would expect opposition to the city creating its own, green-oriented municipal electric utility to replace ownership by the private Pacific Gas & Electric.

However, a new poll sponsored by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers found a plurality of Davis voters, 47 percent, opposed creating a municipal electric utility. The poll was conducted by the independent Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates.

IBEW spokesperson Hunter Stern said:

“Davis voters see through the false promises. Politicians promise green power at not greater cost.  But voters understand that’s just empty rhetoric. Davis deserves safe, reliable power that is truly green.  This plan is not it, and voters know it.”

FMM&A, as the polling firm calls itself, sent the union a memo concluding (boldface and underline in original):

“Overall, the survey found that voters are satisfied with the services provided by PG&E, and are strongly inclined to oppose a proposal for the City of Davis to take over the electric utility. An overwhelming majority of voters are satisfied with PG&E – particularly with the utility’s reliability. Voters are not confident that the City of Davis could do a better job, and perceive PG&E as both the better service and also more likely to achieve clean energy goals. When asked directly, a plurality of voters would oppose a City of Davis takeover of the electric utility, and anticipate that such a takeover would have a negative impact on the City budget, electricity rates, and service reliability.”

      Union Poll on City of Davis Takeover of PG&E by City

Definitely Yes 8% TOTAL YES 34%
Probably Yes 16%
Undecided, lean  Yes 10%
Undecided, lean No 8% TOTAL NO 47%
Probably No 17%
Definitely No 22%
Don’t Know, Not Available 19% TOTAL DON’T KNOW 19%
Source: International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers sponsored opinion poll

Obama supporters

Of course, an opinion poll funded by an electrical workers’ union whose members work for PG&E must be scrutinized more deeply.  The poll was conducted of 400 telephone interviews with voters in Davis, with a sampling error of 4.9 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval.

According to City-Data.com, 65 percent of voters in Davis in 2012 voted for Barack Obama for president. So like most university towns, this is a heavily liberal, Democratic city. Here’s the breakdown of opposition to the city electricity takeover:

  • 85 percent of Republicans
  • 46 percent of independents
  • 42 percent of Democrats

Rates trump environment

An interesting aspect was that the survey found that, while Davis residents were concerned about the environment, they were more concerned about their own electricity rates:

“As shown in Figure 7 below, pluralities of voters feel that such a change would have a negative impact on the City’s budget, what they pay for electricity, and the reliability of electricity service. At the same time, most voters feel that the change would have a positive impact on job opportunities and clean energy consumption in Davis.”

Davis electricity, Figure 7

In short, even liberal voters who strongly backed President Obama and seek a cleaner environment also vote their pocketbooks. It’s something the politicians should take into account.



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  1. Donkey
    Donkey 20 March, 2014, 18:21

    If you like your electricity, you can keep your electricity!! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous 21 March, 2014, 18:10

    This is standard operating procedure for the management of PG&E and IBEW 1245 (whose workers are almost entirely PG&E employees) at this point. PG&E earned a lot of negative press about its anti-competitive activities that fulminated with Prop 16. After they lost, they changed strategy to play “good cop” and leave IBEW 1245 to play “bad cop”.

    All new competitive threats are opposed by IBEW 1245’s multi-million dollar budget and used to trash possible competition while praising PG&E. In exchange, IBEW continues to get sweetheart, overpriced deals which PG&E happily pays because it passes on those costs to its ratepayers. PG&E meanwhile plays good cop by redoubling its spending of public goods funds (money they collect from customers and are required to distribute, rather than any actual generosity) in contested areas to improve their image.

    It’s a brilliant strategy, really.

    Reply this comment

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