Polls have a way of skewing the views of the media—and that can affect the magnitude of coverage for certain candidates.
For example, the last civic election survey by Mario Canseco at Research Co. left an impression that Coun. Hector Bremner's new party, Yes Vancouver, was lagging behind better-known civic political brands.
The Greens, NPA, the Coalition of Progressive Electors, and Vision Vancouver all registered a higher number of respondents who would "definitely" or "probably" consider voting for them.
Another poll conducted by Canseco had Bremner in fourth place in the mayoral race behind former NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, NPA candidate Ken Sim, and independent Shauna Sylvester.
But does all of this mean that Bremner, whose campaign is anchored on the "Let's Fix Housing" slogan, is out of the mayoral race?
I would argue that with a week to go until Election Day and with the advance poll already open, the Yes Vancouver standard-bearer is still very much in contention.
Here are two reasons why.
1. The Canseco polls are done over the Internet in English in a city with 274,210 residents whose mother tongue was not English or French in 2016, according to the federal census. This elevates the likelihood that the results might not have captured voting blocs that could be more inclined to support Bremner.
2. Polls are snapshots in time and don't always account for stumbles by candidates as a campaign progresses.
NPA mayoral hopeful Ken Sim and his council candidates might have a ton of signs in some single-family areas, notably on the West Side. However, that's sometimes more an indication of a well-financed campaign than a wellspring of popular support.
Sim has not a single candidate on his NPA council slate who can speak a Chinese language. That's rather shocking, given the party's traditional reliance on support from first-generation immigrants from Chinese-speaking countries.
The census showed 133,810 people in Vancouver have a Chinese language as their mother tongue. That's 21 percent of the city's population.
Not all of them are citizens, which is a requirement for voting, and not all of the citizens whose mother language is a Chinese dialect will vote.
Nevertheless, the NPA's assumption that having a mayoral candidate with Chinese ancestry—even if he isn't fluent in a Chinese dialect—would be enough to win the support of Chinese-speaking voters may prove costly when the ballots are counted.
This weekend, the NPA is trying to reach out to English-speaking voters with radio ads pitched to those who previously voted Vision Vancouver. It's a sign that the NPA feels that it needs to expand its appeal in order to win.
Bremner's Yes Vancouver, on the other hand, has two council candidates of Chinese ancestry, giving the slate full fluency in Cantonese and Mandarin.
In addition, Yes Vancouver has two council candidates of Punjabi ancestry, including Brinder Bains, who owns three Cobs Bread franchises in the city. She is a well-known member of the LGBT community in the West End and a resident of Yaletown.
The other Yes Vancouver candidate of Punjabi ancestry, pharmacist Jaspreet Virdi, is a turban-wearing Sikh in South Vancouver. He's the owner of Main Care Pharmacy on the northwest corner of Main Street and East 57th Avenue.
Sim has another major hurdle: low name recognition going into the race. Bremner, on the other hand, is far better known, having already been elected to council.
But Bremner's going to need some luck if he's to make a breakthrough.
Independent Shauna Sylvester will have to continue eating into the NPA's traditional support among upper middle-class white voters on the West Side who tend to vote Liberal federally.
The NPA radio campaign is designed to blunt her momentum with these types of voters.
If a well-financed party like the NPA has a problem, the default solution is invariably to throw money at it to cauterize the wound. The problem for Sim, however, is that many disgruntled former Vision voters on the West Side listen to CBC Radio, which doesn't take advertising.
For Bremner to succeed, Sylvester is also going to have to become a choice for many NDP and Green supporters who are uncomfortable with Stewart's ties to Big Labour. If Sylvester pulls down Stewart's support, it creates room for Bremner to win with a relatively low percentage of the popular vote.
This has suddenly become more likely after Global B.C. repeatedly broadcast an audiotape this weekend of Stewart's campaign manager, Neil Monckton, threatening to sue a Sim supporter over a tweet about labour's support for Stewart. Two weekends in a row, Global has taken a run at the Stewart campaign's ties to unions, which is no doubt rankling Monckton and the rest of his team.
But ultimately, Bremner's trump card will have to be high turnout in the Filipino community, which he's been courting for years.
His wife, Virginia, was born in the Philippines and Bremner has a very high profile due to his countless appearances at churches, parties, and dinners hosted by Filipino Canadians. One Philippines-born friend told me recently that nowadays, there appears to be no event that's too small for Bremner to attend.
The community's population isn't huge—only about 28,000 Vancouverites can speak Tagalog, which is seen by some, though not all, as the national language of the Philippines.
However in a race in which 35,000 or 40,000 votes might be enough to be elected mayor, this community could prove to be decisive.
Meanwhile, Bremner's call to "legalize housing" is directed at the city's large number of millennials, as well as members of immigrant communities who dream of owning a home.
The video below, featuring Yes Vancouver council candidate and retail entrepreneur Stephanie Ostler, is yet another reflection of Bremner's targeted messaging.
So can Bremner win the mayoral race in the same way he won the last council by-election, with just 27 percent of the vote?
On the one-year anniversary of Bremner's last election victory, notwithstanding Canseco's polls, it's still possible to say "Yes".
This conclusion is based on Yes Vancouver's microtargeting of the LGBT, Filipino Canadian, South Asian, and Chinese communities, not to mention its heavy focus on millennial voters.
This mayoral election is still up for grabs.
This explains Yes Vancouver's latest video, which is designed to persuade potential supporters to get their butts into polling stations across the city.More