MIAMI (CBS4) – A new Miami Herald-CBS4-Univision 23 poll shows that Miami Mayor Carlos Alvarez and District 13 commissioner Natacha Seijas will likely be turned out of office when the recall election currently underway ends March 15th.
The poll, released Sunday, was conducted last week by Bendixen & Amandi International among 400 voters who had voted, or plan to vote, in the recall election. The numbers paint a grim picture for the two politicians who are fighting for their political lives: Alvarez, facing the voters due to a recall drive sparked by billionaire Norman Braman for a county tax increase; Seijas, one of the commissioners who voted for that increase.
In the overall recall vote for Alvarez, who is facing voters countywide, a clear majority of those polled, 67 percent, answered yes when asked if Alvarez should be recalled. Only 18 percent said no, and relatively few voters, just 15 percent, said they had yet to make up their mind.
Among those who said they had voted already early, the numbers were even more discouraging for the mayor; 76 said said they had voted to recall Alvarez. About 86 percent of the voters who had actually gone to polling places voted for recall while 73 percent of absentee voters said they had voted against the mayor.
Hispanic voters lead the way in the recall tide with 76 percent for it. A clear majority of Anglo voters, 66 percent, said they voted for recall. The only bloc where Alvarez seems to have some hope is among black voters, where just 49 percent of those surveyed voted for recall. But even there 31 percent said they had yet to make up their mind.
VOTERS BLAME TAXES
So why do the majority of the voters surveyed want Alvarez out? Close to half, 41 percent, said it was because Alvarez raised the tax rate, even though he had just recommended the tax increase and the commission approved it. Fifteen percent said he had been ineffective as mayor and 12 percent cited his support of the new Marlins stadium. But clearly, it was the tax increase which fueled the apparent voter anger.
Among those voting No for recall only 17 percent said they want to keep Alvarez because he’s done a good job as mayor, 7 percent said it was because of the county budget and the services it preserved and 3 percent said it was because he has been honest and ethical. But the majority, 51 percent said they just don’t think a recall is necessary.
As voters sit down to fill out absentee ballots or vote at the polls, the poll indicates a clear majority of those voters don’t think much of Mayor Alvarez. Only 3 percent rated his performance excellent and only 12 percent said he was doing a good job. But half the voters surveyed, 50 percent, said he was doing a poor job and nearly 28 percent said he was just mediocre; an overall 75 percent negative rating.
Again, the highest negative rating came from Hispanic voters while black voters were kinder, with 6 percent saying Alvarez has done an excellent job. But even among that more supportive group, 67 percent gave him an overall negative rating.
ETHICS AN ISSUE
Mayor Alvarez, who ran for office as a former police chief on a platform of open and ethical government, apparently hasn’t seen that message resonate among voters during this recall. When asked “Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Carlos Alvarez has engaged in unethical activity during his tenure as Mayor of Miami‐Dade County,”almost half, 48 percent agreed, and 25 pecent were not sure.
Alvarez has touted his accomplishments as Mayor as a reason voters should retain him, but he might not like what the voters surveyed think.
When asked, “Carlos Alvarez has been Mayor of Miami‐Dade County for the past six years. In your opinion, what is Mayor Carlos Alvarez’s biggest accomplishment?”, a whopping 80 percent said “None” or don’t know. The next closest answer was his role in winning approval for the Marlins Stadium at 3 percent. Budget, jobs, services and creation of the Strong Mayor position, all points touted by Mayor Alvarez, ranked even lower among voters.
RECALL ARCHITECT BRAMAN GETS HIGH MARKS
The recall effort was led by Braman, a billionaire businessman and auto dealer who fought Alvarez on the Marlins Stadium issue and was incensed when the Mayor supported tax increases to pay for, among other things, raises for some county workers at a time when Miami-Dade was battling double-digit unemployment among taxpayers.
So what did those polled think of him? Braman outscored Alvarez among all demographic groups. 66 percent said he is “…is a principled community activist”, while just 12 percent view him, as supporters of Alvarez have claimed, as “…a wealthy troublemaker.”
SEIJAS LOSING HISPANIC BASE
Also on the recall ballot in parts of Miami-Dade, including the Hialeah and Miami Lakes area, is District 13 Commissioner Natacha Seijas, who voted for the budget Alvarez supported. She is just one of five commissioners targeted by community groups for recall, and the first to face the voters after sufficient petitions were signed to place her on the ballot.
Seijas fought bitterly to nullify the election, but gave up the battle as a judge was preparing to rule on her challenge. She believes she is the victim of a political vendetta, and after being almost automatically re-elected every 4 years since winning a seat on the commission in 1993, she has expressed confidence the voters will keep her in office.
That confidence may be misplaced, according to the poll results.
Overall, among the voters surveyed, 60 percent said they would vote “Yes” to recall Seijas, with 18 percent undecided. Of those who said they had already cast their ballots, 65 percent said they voted against keeping Seijas, while 57 percent who said they had yet to vote said they, too, would vote to recall her.
District 13 is heavily Hispanic and considered to be Seijas’ base. If so, she appears to have lost it; 66 percent of those surveyed said they had voted or will vote “Yes” to recall, while 55 percent of Anglo voters appear to reject her.
ANTI-SEIJAS VOTERS GET PERSONAL
Even though the recall vote, like all Miami-Dade countywide elections, is non partisan, pollsters asked questions about political affiliation. Seijas appears to have lost Republican and Independent voters, with 65 percent in each group saying they would vote “Yes” to recall her.
Why are voters saying “Yes” to that recall? Unlike the Alvarez recall, where this poll indicates it’s all about the taxes, only 37 percent of those polled listed that as their reason to vote to recall Seijas. Sixteen percent said she has been ineffective as a county commissioner and 8% said it was because she approved the Marlins Stadium funding.
But in a district which has regularly re-elected her every 4 years for almost 2 decades, 21% apparently want to recall her because, “Seijas has been described as combative and abrasive.” In other words, they want her out because they don’t like her.
The poll, conducted for The Miami Herald, WFOR-CBS4, and Univision 23 by Bendixen and Amandi International, questioned 400 voters countywide who said they had voted or intended to vote in the recall election. For the District 13 race, 400 likely voters in that district were questioned. The questions were asked March 2 an March 3, 2011. The questions were asked in the language of the voter questioned. The margin of error is 4.9%.
You can read CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald’s poll analysis here.