Thursday, April 19, 2007

Observations on Chicago's Runoffs

The voting ended barely 36 hours ago. While many pundits have declared the elections' meaning already, sometimes real conclusions take longer to come to the surface. Here, rather, are some observations on what happened last Tuesday.

Raising the most money
The candidate who reported raising the most since the February elections won 8 of 12 contests: Fiorretti, Dowell, Foulkes, Lane, Colon, Daley, Moore, and Stone. In the 21st, Howard Brookins was out-raised nearly 2:1 and still won the vote by 20 percentage points. In the 24th, Sharon Denise Dixon reported raising only $10K since the February elections; incumbent Michael Chandler reported twelve times that much, but Dixon appears to have won with a 128-vote margin. And in the 32nd, incumbent Ted Matlak reported raising $265K more than Scott Waguespack; outraised more than nine to one, Waguespack appears to have won with a 122-vote margin.

Ballot Position and vote margins
The candidate with first ballot position won 9 of the 12 contests. Interestingly, in two of the three races where the vote margin is less than 200 votes, the apparent winner had the second ballot position: in the 32nd, Scott Waguespack was 2nd on the ballot, and in the 24th, Sharon Denise Dixon was 2nd on the ballot. Though it its tempting to wonder if the results might have been clearer had the ballot positions been reversed, it also bears remembering that this was the only race on the ballot; all voters came to the polls with only one race, and two candidates, to consider.

Turnout decided most of these races. Just one in four voters went to the polls. In losing to Bernie Stone, 50th Ward candidate Naisy Dolar's vote totals would have been enough to win in seven of the 11 other races (in the 3rd, 15th, 24th, 32nd, 35th, 43rd, and 49th Wards).

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