Friday, November 14, 2008

The dance continues

Blake's rebutting my rebuttals, and labeling my identification of a statistical trend as 'tortured logic.'

But let's go down the path again, shall we?

District Six was a contested race that featured media coverage, advertisements and active campaigning by two candidates. Then District Eight was a non-contested race that featured a popular and well-known incumbent running unopposed.

Both of those races featured 73 percent participation.

Blake, with a straight face, is arguing that District 10 - which includes both of those districts - voted at an 88 percent clip in this non-contested race. I mean, seriously, that's crazy talk.

What makes perfect sense, and is consistent with historical voter participation trends, is 73 to 75 percent (roughly 18,000).

Of course, I'm not sure why I'm trying to make this point since Blake already made it himself ...

The (District Six) contest drew little interest, even among district residents. Only 5,284 of the 7,240 people who cast ballots in the district bothered to vote in the commission race.

If Blake concedes there was little interest in this contested race, how is it feasible that more voters would participate in a non-contested race that featured the same precincts and drew less media attention in the final months due to one candidate dropping out?

Addressing this bullet point ...

Ninety-five percent of voters voted in contested District 4, 6 and 8 commission races in 2004.

That point is conceded ... for the general election. But that does little to change the fact that the statistical trend for the 2006 and 2008 elections presents substantially differing conclusions. Nor does it take into consideration the fact that the high participation rates came during a time of partisan local races, meaning more voters were inclined to vote straight party tickets as they often do on race at the top of the ballot (and as the data suggests in 2006 and 2008). Partisan local races granted the low-information voter with an additional piece of information on the candidates through their party identification and, according to this data, results in participation levels that parallel the ones for top-of-the-ticket races.

Non-partisan local races, particularly at the commission level, have resulted in non-participation rates of 25 to 30 percent (and totals from both parties for the primary election in 2004 suggest participation levels of 67 percent in District Four, 88 percent in District Six and 77 percent in District Eight).

Signs were posted alerting voters that Dodson had dropped out, but given that he was still on the ballot, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that at least 30 percent and possibly more than 50 percent of voters pushed the button next to his name, depending on how many of them saw the signs and were aware he’d dropped out.

There’s no way to be sure, but I’m convinced Dodson would’ve won if he’d stayed in the race, and he may have won more votes than Hamby anyway.

Well, there's good data which suggests that 25 to 30 percent of those voters would not have pulled the lever for either candidate. It's the remaining voters we don't know about, though it could be assumed that the balance might back Dodson. Whether or not Dodson would have defeated Hamby is another discussion altogether.

Dodson was a formidable opponent with an incumbent status and top-notch campaigning skills (you don't knock off an incumbent as he did in 2004 without them). Of course, it's impossible to predict who would have won or what voter backed who on Election Day since there was absolutely no campaign to speak of. This thing died before it got started, so we just don't know.

There were no debates between the two. There were no radio ads. There were no neighborhood meetings. There were no pieces of mail. There was minimal knocking on doors. There was no campaign, and in the absence of a campaign it's crazy to argue who would or wouldn't have won.

Perhaps it would have been Dodson. Maybe 65-35. Or Hamby could have pulled out a 55-45 win. We don't know.

All we do know is that there is verifiable statistical evidence that suggests 25 to 30 percent of the voters opted to not participate in local races, and that Hamby - running unopposed but with Dodson's name remaining on the ballot - picked up 10,741 votes. Factoring these two variables together presents us with an clear advantage over Dodson in any hypothetical vote competition between the two.


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