Saturday, November 14, 2015

Davidson election by the numbers

Update: The original version of this post incorrectly stated Davidson Pct 206 only had turnout of 8.8%.  The correct turnout was 15.1%.  Double counting of data on the MeckBOE caused the error.  Apologies for the error on my part.

Well, numbers have finally rolled in this past week that give a little more color on the recent election in Davidson.

One might think with so little choice on the ballot there wouldn't be much to gleen from the election.

Not true.  You just have to look closely.

Based on preliminary turnout numbers provided by MeckBOE, turnout was down this cycle with only 1267 voters heading to the polls this year versus 2139 voters who turned out in 2013.  That's a 40% drop.  Not good.  Not good at all.

In this piece written before the election, we covered the topic of how to "supercharge" your vote through selective voting, or withholding a vote that might otherwise be cast.

Here is a look at those numbers.  In the uncontested Mayor's race the impact of this certainly tempers Mayor John Woods "victory".

Woods "won" the race with 87.89% of the vote while there were 127 write-in votes, or 12.11%.  Compared to 2013 the write-ins were up significantly in terms of both raw numbers and percentage of the vote.  In 2013, there were only 86 write-ins for just 4.89% of the total vote.

Things get even more interesting when looking at the "undervote", or those who cast a ballot but left the Mayor's race blank.  When the undervote is included only 72.6% of voters pulled the lever for Woods.  Again the totals were different when looking at the precinct level.  69.6% in 127 versus 73.5% in 206.

As a frame of reference, the hotly contested mayoral race in Huntersville had tiny numbers of these "protest" votes.  There, only 7 write-in ballots were cast and even fewer left the race blank.  Well over 99% of voters made a selection from the two listed candidates.

Davidon's high rate of protest votes in the Mayor's race certainly says more about the need for candidates than anything else, but if over 1/4 of voters won't vote for a sitting incumbent even when that incumbent is the only option, that is certainly not a good thing.

In the race for the Board of Commissioners, again there were not any real surprises with who won.  All of the incumbents were reelected.  However, it is worth noting that the top 3 vote getters were all people on record as opposing the I77 HOT lanes project.

Some readers may be surprised to see that political newcomer Michael Angell received as many votes as he did.  Angell ran what can best be described as a "stealth" campaign.  Or more directly, he did not do a lot of traditional campaigning.  One could likely attribute this to the fact to the was the only candidate openly opposed to the controversial Catalyst Project.  That may have been the only thing many voters knew about him, but for well over 500 voters that was enough.

A couple of positive things can also be seen in the data.

First, none of the candidates were terribly skewed in where they got their votes relative to the other candidates.  Meaning all of their percentage vote totals between precincts were fairly close - between 35-45% from precinct 127 with the remainder from precinct 206.  Since 206 has a much larger share of registered voters, that seems about right.

Also, there was a decent amount of "strategic" voting - meaning voters did not always fill out a full slate of votes.  The overall undervote in this race was also about 1/4 of the votes that could have been cast.  However, in this type of plurality election some under voting is common, and it appears voters still voted for 3-4 candidates on average.

There is always something interesting in the numbers even in races where there is not much competition.

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