One would think that Huntersville was about to fall into the abyss after Tuesday's drubbing at the polls. One also would likely think the relentless mocking of other electeds and the future mayor shows a staggering amount of "sore loserism".
Reading it, gives the impression a supremely popular politician had just been bushwhacked by some unruly upstarts and the town would hardly be able to limp along without her.
However, a quick look at the historical numbers tells a somewhat different and more realistic story. The below chart compiled from data available at MeckBOE.org shows Swains numbers in each of her mayoral campaigns.
In her first successful campaign in 2007, Swain won with less than half of the vote in a 4-way contest. 2009 was a very tight contest. In 2011, she won big but turnout was way down. In 2013, she barely squeaked out the win against Commissioner Jim Puckett. In 2015 she lost big as her support collapsed.
Here is what one sees in the numbers.
Based on her vote total in the lowest turnout election, it looks like Swain had roughly 2150 loyal voters through her first 4 mayoral contests. As turnout went up from that floor she got a few more votes, but she never really gained a larger loyal following. Her relative popularity among actual voters never really increased.
All things being equal, in 2015 she should have gotten about 2450 votes based on turnout instead if the 1947 she received. Not only did she not get the extra votes based on the higher turnout from the 2011 floor, but she saw significant erosion in her 2150 voter base.
Mayor Swain lost in 2015 not because she was bushwhacked. She lost because she was not overwhelmingly popular among the actual voting public to begin with and a significant chunk of even her most loyal base abandoned her.