Referendums and Rubbish

If you accept what you read and hear through the local punditry, you would most certainly be convinced that this election is a referendum on Mayor Thane and by proxy Chalmers.That is after all the common wisdom and how dare you question the wisdom of the punditry.
I would expect that if the public truly wanted to send a message or truly felt such outrage at the current state of affairs that voters would turn out in droves to send forth such a message. In other words, you would expect that voter turnout would be higher under such a scenario.
Unfortunately the numbers show quite the opposite for the current election compared to the 2005 election. I chose the 2005 election as it is not a mayoral election similar to the most recent election as you would expect a mayoral election to have an even higher turnout. Also note that as the 2nd ward did not have a contested race in 2005, I went back to 2001.
Here are the numbers:

Ward20052009Change%Change
1st1043717-326-31.3%
2nd*** (figures 2001)881499-382-43.4%
3rd692561-131-18.9%
4th575403-172-29.9%
5th959402-557-58.1%
Total Turnout41502582-1568-37.8%

 

The drop in turnout for the recent election is simply stunning. I do not have a theory as to why but I can tell you that to view this election as a referendum with a plummet in turnout strikes me as fanciful narrative. What is also quite striking is the low turn out in the 5th ward where if we again accept the conventional wisdom that Chalmers formed the basis of the referendum, you would expect strong turnout. However, you see quite the opposite and in fact, the 5th ward shows the largest drop in turnout of any ward.
I’ll post more detailed numbers tomorrow hopefully.

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10 Responses

  1. Diane says:

    Okay. However, while the turnout may have been low, can you look at the numbers between candidates are what to look at. In the 5th, Capone had 60 and Leggerio had 300 plus?
    Bill and I discussed the numbers in the 4th and I had less of a spread this time than last although the overall numbers were down.
    While it may not have been against the mayor, it was not for her candidates. But from comments I heard, “where is the line for the mayor”? some people were negative about her and her priorities. They are fed up and especially about gerry.

    • flippinamsterdam says:

      Diane
      I have no reason to doubt your anecdotes on the mayor. What I’m trying to deconstruct is what does the election tell us on a larger scale on voters’ mindset. As of now, I can only conclude that voters have chosen to sit this one out; apathy may be the clear winner here as hard as it is for us political junkies to admit.

      • Diane says:

        Apathy may hit the nail on the head. Why else so few in opposition on the 5th ward. I just wish that people would get out and vote. So much time and effort goes into an election….

      • straightshooter says:

        These wards need to be broken down further. In the 5th ward people didn’t come out because they laughed and said the incumbents are going to win, why bother. Unfortunate yes but that is reality.

  2. loyalsouthsider says:

    Flippin’,
    I have to agree with Diane about the 5th ward election results. The Mayor claims that the majority of the 5th ward is in favor of the redevelopment of Chalmers, I feel the result of the election proves otherwise. If so many were in favor, one would think these people would have come out in droves to show their support to the candidate that was willing to give Kaufman another opportunity to do so.
    What say you?

    • flippinamsterdam says:

      ls,
      I could counter that if so many were against Chalmers that they would have come out in droves yet looking at turnout, the numbers are down significantly compared to 2005. If Chalmers is such a hot issue, you would expect turnout to be higher not lower. I find it confusing to be perfectly blunt.

  3. loyalsouthsider says:

    To be honest Flippin’ I am as fed up with Chalmers as you and the rest of Amsterdam. Hopefully…soon there will no longer be a Chalmers building to discuss.
    I cannot comment as to why more people did not come out to vote. I happen to be against giving Kaufman another option agreement, and I can only be happy that the majority of those who DID vote, voted in favor of Mr. Leggiero, who is also in favor of the demolition of the building.
    Hope you are feeling better!

  4. Crazy from the Heat says:

    Looking at the numbers …the one conclusion that I see is a split in the democratic party. The third ward is a classic example of the split, I also believe the chalmers issue is very secondary to what is happening in the city itself ( open holes in the roads, no streets paved….hydrants). The city is looking for quality of life change, but doesn’t know how to go about it.
    I am democrat(true blue so to speak)but I like the mix of the council with the exception of one incumbent. I’m not a fan of the mayors drive on chalmers (to much like the dump)but if she would sit down with the alderman and make an informed decision.The pain of development/redevelopment, would be less hurtful to those that want the same old same old.
    Again the numbers are what they are, and reflect the mood of the country…very dysfunctional

  5. madmirth says:

    Just curious, I don’t think it would effect numbers that much, but any idea of population changes between the two elections?

    • flippinamsterdam says:

      I think that’s a hard number to get; while it’s possible to get the current list of registered voters, I think getting them historically or accurate population figures are problematic. I agree that the impact on the numbers would not be dramatic given the decline in population.

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