WINA Survey: Build the Bypass

WINA is reporting on the results of a survey (176k PDF) that they’ve commissioned, which seems to show majority support for the construction of a western bypass. The survey of 400 registered voters in the 22901, 22902, 22903, and 22911 ZIP codes shows that 57% of those polled favor the construction of the western bypass. 51% agree with the statement “The bypass is a good idea and we need to get going on it.” 13% said that the bypass should go to Wal-Mart, 35% to the airport, and the 37% clear up to Ruckersville. 67% said that Charlottesville bears some responsibility to non-local drivers that should allow for a bypass. The survey has a margin of error of 4.9%. 7:20pm Update: I compared the sample demographics to the census demographics, and it doesn’t appear that these results can be generalized to the population as a whole. Read the comments for details.

25 Responses to “WINA Survey: Build the Bypass”


  • This sample is extremely questionable. It’s simply not representative of the population of each ZIP code, so I don’t see how the findings can be generalized.

    I compared U.S. Census Bureau data on income and age statistics for all four ZIP codes in question — 22901, 22902, 22903 and 22911 — to the survey data, and found that the population sampled by Andres McKenna Research isn’t even close to being representative of each respective ZIP code.

    Consider age. Of those that reported their age, 12.1% are under 35. The census reports that 46.4% of 22901 is under 35. 44.7% of those in the survey are 35-54, while the census reports that this age group makes up just 29.5% of the population. This is true in every ZIP code. 16.9% of those surveyed in 22902 are under 35; 48.9% of the 22902 population is under 35. For 22903, 19.7% vs. 68.1%. For 22911, 8.3% vs. 47.8%. The differences are enormous, and this continues clear up through the age brackets: the greater the age, the more over represented that it is. (Such as 12.4% in surveyed 22903 are older than 70, while precisely half of that — mere 6.2% of the population — is actually of that age bracket in that ZIP code.

    Then consider income, which is just as egregious. Of those surveyed that reported their income, 28.5% in 22901 reported making less than $40k. The census reports that 39.5% of 22901 makes that much. In 22902, 29.1% of those surveyed report making less than $40k; the census shows that 53.8% of the population has an income in that range. In 22903, the difference is amazing: 20.4% versus 59.3%. In 22911, 13.9% vs. 27.4%. As with age, the trend of overrepresentation carries through the ranks here: the more wealthy that a group is, the more likely that they are to be over represented.

    WINA is to be lauded for commissioning a survey — that’s something that Media General is just too lame to ever pony up the money for — but perhaps they would do well to choose a research firm that will provide them with more useful data. This survey provides interesting information about what 400 old, rich people think about the bypass. Nothing more.

  • If anybody wants a CSV file of the data comparisons, just e-mail me. I’ll be happy to send it to you for a more thorough review, so you can double-check my math, etc.

    Oh, and I used this census data on income, and this census data on age ranges.

  • I don’t think there is any ulterior motive assignable to the survey process. The problem surveyors face is finding people who have the time and availability to answer their questions.

    That said, maybe all of the low-earning young people were unable to answer the survey because they were in their cars, stuck in traffic, waiting for the bypass to be built…

  • Waldo`s comments may or may not be valid. The proper approach may be to address his comments to Andres McKenna Research for a response by the originator of the survey for enlightenment of their thinking , methodology, and charge. They may not read this little forum.

  • ulterior motive is irrelevant; you don’t have to have evil ulterior motive to do weak work. plus I don’t think that Waldo was implying there were ulterior motives; he’s saying it’s an unreliable statistical sample.

    yes, people doing surveys face problems. but if the way one does a survey produces data that one cannot generalize from, then one should not generalize from the data. there’s nothing necessarily wrong with doing a weak survey, but there is something wrong with drawing flawed conclusions from it and making policy decisions based on those flawed conclusions.

    example of flawed conclusion = "because our survey of 400 old, rich people shows that half of them want the bypass, therefore there is widespread public support for the bypass!"

    I’m not saying that there isn’t widespread support for the bypass–maybe there is. but if waldo is right (and clearly he’s had some recent coursework in statistical sampling methodology), then this survey doesn’t prove that.

  • Waldo`s comments may or may not be valid. The proper approach may be to address his comments to Andres McKenna Research for a response by the originator of the survey for enlightenment of their thinking , methodology, and charge.

    Eh, somebody else can do that if they wish. I’m not so concerned with it as to take it up with the research firm. :) I’m sure the last thing they want is to be dealing with folks that aren’t their customers, but that simply read the poll and disagreed with it.

    And, just to call it up anew, my numbers are available to anybody who wants them; just ask. I ain’t a polling firm, just a college student. :) As you said, my comments may very well not be valid. I won’t know, particularly, until at least one other person has done the math and come to the same conclusion.

  • I don’t think there is any ulterior motive assignable to the survey process. The problem surveyors face is finding people who have the time and availability to answer their questions.

    I definitely did not assert and wouldn’t assert that there was any ulterior motive. I have known Brad Eure for a decade — he’s a stand-up guy, and I would argue long and loud with anybody who would accuse him of rigging a survey. And it would be professional suicide for a polling firm to do likewise.

    I suspect that it was simply a cheap survey. Surveys are, after all, really expensive. (As I can testify, working on the Weed campaign, where we’re getting one done right now at the cost of a very nice car.) No doubt WINA didn’t want to spend a boatload on this, and it’s really expensive to do enough polling to get a representative sample. (Hence, I assume, the small sample size.) So the research firm used the data from the first 400 people who completed the survey, and that was that.

    I want to reemphasize: WINA/Eure Communications is to be lauded for funding this survey. This is the kind of big-boy journalism that we just don’t tend to find in this town. It’s quite impressive.

  • man, that was a close call on the bypass.

    Doesn’t the rest of VA understand that we in the this area have fought high and low againist this bypass. Just because it will take you an extra hour to drive on 29 to get from DC from Lychburg, tough. We don’t want more paving and destruction of trees. We need to widen more lanes. We need to build upwards in Cville rather then outward towards the Airport. And we need to get people to move in the city and to take their bikes to work. They shouldn’t live in the county and take their SUV’s to work.

    <DOWN WITH BYPASS>

  • I knew you’d come around, IamDaMan3. ;)

  • Consider age. Of those that reported their age, 12.1% are under 35. The census reports that 46.4% of 22901 is under 35.

    I’m not that into math, but I wonder if the discrepancy here, which possibly spreads across the other age ranges, is that the census considers EVERYBODY, including infants, while the survey would justifiably consider ONLY those 18 or older? If you take out the under-18 polulation, doesn’t that change the demographic calculus across the board? Might that change make the survey’s demographics more accurately reflect the populace, if not make it entirely dead-on?

    It seems that might explain the differences, and might possibly remove the possible tilt toward the “old and rich.”

  • NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND! :p

  • I’m not that into math, but I wonder if the discrepancy here, which possibly spreads across the other age ranges, is that the census considers EVERYBODY, including infants, while the survey would justifiably consider ONLY those 18 or older? If you take out the under-18 polulation, doesn’t that change the demographic calculus across the board?

    Good point, I should have calculated and presented those numbers as well. I have to run off to class for the rest of the day, so I can’t crunch all of the numbers right now, but I’ll just pick a sample.

    Before that, though, I believe this difference is irrelevant for income. (But, again, I am definitely no expert.) The census does not calculate income for minors, save to factor whatever income they might receive and report into their household. I’m not sure that there’s any way to get around the income being skewed.

    Let’s look at age. In 22902, 16.9% of those surveyed are between the ages of 18-34. The census shows that 18-34 year olds make up (Note that I’ve had to estimate, because the Census lists 15-19 as a contiguous block.) 23.24% of the population. However, if we readjust that to be the surveyed portion of the population (that is, as a percentage of those 18 or older), we find that this group represents 18% of the population, which is damned near dead on to what was surveyed. So, for 22902, I conclude (based on this back-of-the-envelope math) that their age range, while not representative of the population, is representative of those 18 or older.

    I’ll be interested to see how this shakes out for the rest of the ZIP codes. If anybody else wants to review this data and do the math for me, I wouldn’t complain any. :)

  • Waldo just because the zip codes data is as you say does not mean the sample represents those stats you quote. The polling could be selected from a known or qualified pool of respondents. Younger demo may be over or under represented, you have no idea. The factors could have been adjusted by qualifying the respondents.

    What Waldo has done is obscure a poll that points out something that some people (Nimby’s) think can’t be true. My observation from similar personal experience is that the bypass opponents are a vocal and motivated minority. Many people want a bypass to thru traffic off 29. I wager that if you took a poll of cville residents they would be in favor of the meadow creek parkway as well.

    My question is given that VDOT has bought a great deal of the land, what are the chances that they will give it back?

  • I should have added that census data and voter data are not the same thing and it is wrong to imply that they are. Only voters matter on a questions such as this, not just the population that exists.

    Why? Because this study is for office holders who make policy as much or more than the average citizen.

  • Waldo said, "This survey provides interesting information about what 400 old, rich people think about the bypass. Nothing more. "

    The above flat," I am Truth" , type statement is what prompted my comment re Waldo`s assessment of the survey. That and the knowledge polling is, or can be, a complicated subject and cannot prudently be flatly rebutted with a "back-of-the-envelope" slap.

  • My observation from similar personal experience is that the bypass opponents are a vocal and motivated minority. Many people want a bypass to thru traffic off 29.

    Those are my observations as well. I’d amend that to state that MOST people want a bypass, not just many. It’s a definite majority, possibly not so silent for much longer.

  • I actually agree with that statement. I think the only time I ever saw the majority stand up was during that BOS meeting over the Hollymead Town Center. I recall so many people protesting before the meeting. You would think everyone was againist it. But when I went to that meeting, it appear it was (DON"T QUOTE ME WALDO) 65% for and 35% againist it. However, to this day you still hear the minority saying that everyone for it was wrong. You would read about that in the ever so popular Cville.

    I think that is the major problem in this area. You have either one way or no way. Take the recent events with city coucil, Richards isn’t on the card because she is FOR the MPW. Yet she is a (D).

    I don’t know.

  • What happened to synchronizing all the lights on 29? I thought there was a lot of money put forth for this project? Seems when I catch a yellow light at Arlington Blvd, Barracks Rd Shopping Ctr, Barracks Rd, The bypass, Hydraulic, Greenbriar and Rio, before I get out of town to get stopped again at Forest Lakes South and Hollymead on my way to work, that just everything turning red at the same time would make a nice difference alone. Getting rid of that frustration would go a long way in the eyes of many commuters.

    Rio Rd, on the other hand, is simply handling traffic it can’t. If i was in charge, I’d build a bypass from 29 to 250, and get everyone off Rio. I guess we know why I’m not in charge. You’ve probably figured out that I live near Rio by now.

    Regardless, this survey is probably more accurate than most opposing the building of the western bypass would like to admit.

    The cost of living in a town as desirable of Charlottesville probably means conceding it taking on a more city/suburb atmosphere. That or moving all the commuters into town in fancy apartment buildings that reach as high as Monticello and forcing all the poor people out into surrounding counties. Some people would call that gentrification.

    Point is, there’s no simple solution to this, we’ve gotten ourselves into a mess that will be hard to get out of. Preventing future development would drive land values and thus taxes so high that many of us wouldn’t be able to continue to live here. Letting anything happen would make us Northern Virginia or, perhaps more accurately, Fredricksburg. Allowing well designed Development, as well as conceding that people will live outside of town and work in town, plus providing for them is probably the best middle ground each side can meet. Sadly, this will require some more paving of formerly green land, but it at least keeps this a somewhat acceptable place for this lifelong resident to remain.

  • Waldo just because the zip codes data is as you say does not mean the sample represents those stats you quote. The polling could be selected from a known or qualified pool of respondents. Younger demo may be over or under represented, you have no idea.

    Indeed, I don’t know for sure — that’s why surveys ought to include all of that data. If the dataset and sample methods are not fully disclosed, then the results are inherently dubious.

    Many people want a bypass to thru traffic off 29.

    I don’t doubt that you’re right. It may even be a majority. But all that we know for sure right now is that a majority of 400 statistically-unusually-wealthy (and, in some areas, old) people believe that it should be built. What does that mean? I’m not sure. For example, I would have guessed that wealthier people are more likely to oppose the bypass, because they’re more likely to own land that could be devalued (if it’s near the proposed route). So perhaps we can assume that support is, in fact, even higher than the 51% shown from this survey. Or perhaps not. We don’t know.

  • interesting how this is all taking shape. I wasn’t surpise it didn’t pass the senate but I am surpise how quickly it is getting reconsider.

  • What we know is that a study shows people want the 29 bypass built. What I will bet is we will soon see another poll that will give a different view because PEC will make sure that the questions are properly worded. Give me the result you want and let me design the questions, I can get you the answers you need.

    I think, though I know it’s an example, that wealth in this county is very highly NIMBY. Look at the largest individual that gave the most in the last supervisor elections. They were wealthy environmentalists. The members of PEC have perhaps the wealthiest members of any civic group in the county.

    NIMBYs have a secret weapon, well not that secret. It’s the power of obfuscation and delay. Agree that the Meadowcreek/29bypass is need in some way, just not in any doable or in an agreeable way. The pro roads people have the power of frustration-traffic now really sucks so lets get some people in hear that will build some roads.

    We know that in a real poll a majority of those polled really want the bypass built.

  • What you say is true. But what you are missing is that NIMBY is a perfectly understandable sentiment. If you had rolling hills and pastoral views, would you want megawatt assholes passing by day and night? I want the bypass built BAD, but I can understand THEIR POV.

    Again, this problem is just another eruption of a failing system. Sorry to be a boring record, but these endemic problems, political blocades and social dysfunction can only lead to erroneous structural planning.

  • My guess is that there were a good many respondents who assumed the question was about the Meadowcreek Parkway. Unlike the readers of this site, most people don’t follow local issues terribly closely. Think about it: Given that the Meadowcreek Parkway has been in all the headlines lately and the pollsters did not apparently preface their questions with any background on which controversial road project they were asking about (which is a critical oversight as I see it), my guess is that a lot of people when they heard "29 Bypass" (not even "Western Bypass," but "29 Bypass" — and remember, the Meadowcreek Parkway itself might qualify as a "29 Bypass"), were not responding with the right road project in mind.

  • if that is the case, people still WANT something built MCP or bypass. People don’t want 15 lanes down 29N.

  • "My guess is that there were a good many respondents who assumed the question was about the Meadowcreek Parkway."

    Smart . Good thinking.

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