Another election came and went this past week here in Davidson, and to say the least, it was an interesting one. We had a real election discussing real issues. This was not a coronation of a predetermined slate. All of the candidates were credible, and all brought something different to the discussion. We now have two new faces on the board, and the results of that will likely have a lasting effect on our town.
Over the next month or so as the new Board is seated, more detailed data becomes available on who actually voted, and the town itself settles in with new leaders, we'll be doing a few post mortem stories here at aShortChronicle on what all happened this past campaign season. I hope you find them interesting, but honestly these are as much for me as anyone else. As one of the candidates I can truly say it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. It was also incredibly positive even though I was not quite successful in making it to the Board. I don't want to forget that.
So, how did this election turn out when looking at the numbers and delving deeper into them beyond just looking at who placed in the top five? Here are some nuggets.
Compared to 2011, the electorate this election cycle remained amazingly stable both in total numbers of voters as well as where that turnout originated. Some of that is good, some is still a bit disappointing.
Turnout % for precinct 206 is probably artificially low this year due to the large number of additional students who registered to vote in the Amendment 1 referendum last year. When you take out registered voters with college addresses, voter turnout % in Precinct 206 was almost identical to Precinct 127 - coming in at 26.9%. Since Davidson College students almost never vote in the town's municipal elections, this more accurately reflects how the town's two precincts compared.
Davidson voters from Iredell County once again almost all stayed home. In 2011 7 voters from the Davidson Pointe neighborhood voted. This year only 17. It will be interesting to watch this neighborhood in coming elections now that it is almost fully built out and actually has hundreds of voters. If they ever decide to go to the polls, those voters could have a dramatic impact on the outcome.
How close was it?
Competitive best describes the outcome this cycle. Only 144 votes separated 3rd through 7th place.
I placed 7th, but considering my status as a newcomer to Davidson I am actually thrilled to have gotten this close. 953 people voted for the "new guy", and I can not thank them enough for having the confidence to cast a vote for me.
One takeaway to glean from that goes back to the first article David Boraks wrote on DavidsonNews.net when I filed to run. (See Rick Short enters Davidson commissioner race.) In this piece DNN clearly points out how I have challenged the Town Board on issues. After this election, I'd say the real takeaway is that a strong plurality of voters ultimately voted for a person who has consistently challenged the Town on issues and decisions. Combine that with the facts that another challenger, Beth Cashion, received by far the most votes and a third challenger, Stacey Anderson, was also elected, and there seems to be a clear indication that the town is willing to accept new ideas along with new faces.
Where did candidates get their votes?
The above chart shows where each candidate got their votes between precincts 127 and 206. The totals do not include the handful of absentee or curbside votes each candidate received, so they differ slightly from the grand totals for each candidate. Precinct 206 covers voters primarily from the Village Area and 127 covers mostly East Davidson.
As you can see, the four incumbents skewed strongly towards the town center while the four challengers drew more evenly from both precincts. This idea of "skew" was first covered here after the last Davidson election. In the 2011 election, Commissioner Wessner had the largest skew. This time she came in sixth. The heavy dependence on one part of town was likely a contributing factor in that result.
Two other things jump out from this chart.
The first is that Beth Cashion had by far the smallest skew and received by far the largest number of votes. That is a very positive thing for our town to have our next Mayor Pro-Tem enjoying such a broad base of support.
The second is somewhat ironic. This year Commissioner Fuller had the largest skew - pulling nearly two thirds of his vote total from one precinct. It is ironic because his campaign slogan was "a single community with many neighborhoods". It appears that campaign slogan did not quite result in the balanced election-day totals that it would imply.
Who "didn't vote"?
Certainly, and unfortunately, most people did not vote in this election. One can take that as a sign that most people are happy with how things are running. Or, it could be taken as a sign that people just don't care. Or even worse, they think it doesn't matter. Regardless, more people need to go to the polls.
But what about those of us who did actually go to the polls? How many of us did not vote for the full options on the ballot - meaning the undervote? Who did not cast five votes in the Commissioners race or vote for Mayor Woods in the Mayor's race where he ran unopposed.
The Commissioners race had about a 20% undervote this year while Mayor Woods received a 23.4% undervote when write-ins are included. Read into that what you will. However, it definitely says there is a portion of the electorate who did not feel they had a full slate of options to their liking, so they chose not to vote for the candidates on the ballot.
If anything, that means there is room for more candidates next time.