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:

Ward 2005 2009 Change %Change
1st 1043 717 -326 -31.3%
2nd*** (figures 2001) 881 499 -382 -43.4%
3rd 692 561 -131 -18.9%
4th 575 403 -172 -29.9%
5th 959 402 -557 -58.1%
Total Turnout 4150 2582 -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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