With the goal of focusing voters and the Wake County Board of Commissioners on the 2018 elections and school funding, Raleigh pollster Dean Debnam released a survey Monday that says 82 percent of likely Democratic primary voters think commissioners should have fully funded the Wake school board’s budget request.
Debnam owns the nationally recognized, Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling company as well other business interests. The company received at B+ from the polling site FiveThirtyEight in 2016 but has also been questioned for partisanship and for asking off-the-wall questions.
PPP spokesman Russ Swindell said Monday that Debnam commissioned the poll to remind people that Wake commissioners are on the May 8, 2018, ballot, as well as to assess likely Democrats’ preferences.
“I think that perhaps with decisions that are still being made at the school board level and the county commission level, more information on what’s on the mind of Democratic primary voters might be useful as they decide how to fund schools,” Swindell said. “I think that elections are kind of always the mind of elected officials.”
In June, the Board of Commissioners members voted to provide $21 million in new funding for the 160,000-student public
system. In funding the system at $430.9 million, commissioners turned down, among other items, an estimated in $10 million for counselors for troubled students. “Also 85% of voters think the School Board’s request for funding for staff counselors for Wake County school children should have been fully funded,” Debnam said in a statement.
Another section surveyed how well the commissioners who voted against meeting the school board’s funding request would fare against a hypothetical female candidate who would have voted for full funding. Debnam says he was not thinking of a specific candidate.
“Right now there’s only one woman County Commissioner, despite women making up a majority of voters in the county,” Debnam’s statement said. “It seems the best way for the women on the school board to get the schools funded might be to run against the male county commissioners.”
The poll, to be released Tuesday, showed all the male commissioners who voted against increased school funding running behind the hypothetical woman by more than 50 percentage points.
Polling took place between Friday and Sunday, during which Public Policy Polling interviewed 510 voters who said they were likely to vote in the Democratic primary. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.3 percent.