Friday, September 28, 2007

Analysis of the 9/25/07 Election Results: Why Schofield Lost

Reports of the after-election event for the Tim Schofield campaign were that, as the returns started coming in, the mood turned to "dejected", stunned, or somber. His supporters were expecting a much better result than a distant third in Tuesday's preliminary municipal election.

It is fairly clear that Mark Ciommo campaign had an effective get-out-the-vote effort on election day, resulting in a first-place finish.

Inspection of the results for Greg Glennon show that a strong majority of the Russian Jewish senior bloc voted for him -- as did the more general senior vote in the neighboring precinct -- leading to his second-place showing.

But what led to the defeat of Schofield's effort in which he missed second place by nearly 300 votes? There are two answers, in order of decreasing likelihood: (1) Failure to get-out-the-vote in what should have been his strongholds of Ward 21, particularly along Commonwealth Avenue; and (2) a split in the institutional expansion vote, particularly due to the participation of fifth-place finisher Alex Selvig.

The analysis here is based on the unofficial returns by precinct that I recently posted.

Glennon Blocs Senior Vote From Ciommo

There is little question that seniors voted heavily for Glennon in this election.

Wallingford Road's Ward 21, Precinct 13 went 303-142-57 for Glennon-Ciommo-Schofield. It wasn't a voting bloc per se, but instead the Russian Jewish senior vote broke well but not overwhelmingly for Glennon at 56%, indicating that there was no formal endorsement for any one candidate by ward boss Naakh Visoky. Compare with November 8, 2005, when incumbent Councilor Jerry McDermott carried 80% of the precinct at 507-114 against Paul Creighton -- that was a voting bloc.

But far more interesting was the senior-heavy, but not so overtly Russian, neighboring Precinct 12 in Ward 21, which includes other senior housing buildings like Covenant House. This precinct sailed into Glennon's hands 147-75 over Ciommo, which is surprising considering Ciommo's connections with seniors at his job as Executive Director of the Veronica Smith Senior Center. In 2005, the precinct went only 55%-44% for McDermott, even though McDermott had the endorsed bloc over on Wallingford Road, indicating how those two precinct votes do not always follow each other. Glennon's victory in 21/12 threw another more than 100 votes to him relative to Schofield.

I'm sure Glennon will be able to read the writing on the walls: he won a place in the finals by gaining 372 votes over Schofield from these two precincts. He's got some helpers to thank.

Ciommo was expected to do well with seniors district-wide, but that is more difficult to assess based on the precinct-level results and the lack of an exit poll.

Not Getting-Out-the-Vote in Progressive Ward 21

After seeing the 303 and 147 Glennon votes in those two precincts, the next biggest thing that stands out in the precinct results is the horrendously low voter turnout in all of the rest of Ward 21. Nine of those other 12 precincts had voter turnout of 1.6 to 5.5%. Yes, you saw that correctly, Ward 21, Precinct 8 had only 1.6% of registered voters show up at the polls, compared to a district-wide average of 12.5%!

If you ignore the two senior-heavy precincts, Ward 21 is generally known to be more progressive than its neighboring Irish Catholic Ward 22 to the west; Ward 21 should have been part of the Schofield base. Schofield did, in fact, win six of the Ward 21 precincts, but did so by getting only 12 to 20 votes in each of those six precincts. The same six precincts had 9-16% voter turnout in the municipal election of November 2005, disproportionately higher relative to the overall turnout rates. All six precincts together could barely make up the ground Glennon gained in 21/12 alone, and were nowhere close to Glennon's relative gain in 21/13.

Silver Lining for Schofield

There is one little nugget that Schofield's campaign should enjoy: he was the only candidate to get votes in the double digits (i.e., at least ten) in each and every one of the 27 precincts. Ciommo, Glennon, and Rosie Hanlon managed ten or more votes each in 20 precincts; Selvig did it in ten precincts. Schofield can take heart that he saw some broad support across the district.

Irish Catholic Vote in Ward 22 Oak Square

This really was a battleground between Ciommo and Schofield in Precincts 7 and 11, with Glennon carrying on in third place. But Precinct 13 went very big for Glennon, no doubt due to the influence of his mentor who lives here lived here until recently, former State Representative Brian Golden. When you put all three precincts together, it all went heavily for Ciommo. Glennon and
Schofield were only separated by two votes, keeping Schofield from making up ground lost on the senior vote.

Institutional Expansion Vote Split, But Could've Swung Election

The issue of institutional expansion gave rise to Selvig's candidacy, but also was a significant factor for Hanlon and Schofield -- long-time and three-month members, respectively, of the Boston College Task Force. First-time candidate Selvig carried nearly 300 votes, and they really did come from the neighborhoods adjacent to Boston College's Brighton Campus and Harvard University's Allston Campus. Selvig picked up 23% of all of his votes carrying his home Precinct 8 in Ward 22, north and west of the land formerly owned by St. John's Seminary. The other precincts he carried at least ten votes were nearly all either adjacent to 22/8 (i.e., precincts 3, 4, 9, and 10) or in the heart of Harvard's Allston country in Ward 22, Precincts 1 and 2; but in the Harvard area, he got beaten soundly by all four other candidates. In short, he carried the BC vote (barely), but Ciommo and Schofield took the Harvard vote. Overall, Ciommo edged Schofield out on the institutional expansion precincts, contrary to my prediction.

The people who stop by Brighton Centered are typically interested and involved in the institutional expansion issue. And they broke for Schofield, followed by Selvig, in that failed poll in July. Could Selvig and Hanlon, who were both active in the issue before the campaign, have driven enough institutional expansion votes away from Schofield to bump him out of second place? Quite possibly, although difficult to prove. I suspect most supporters liked Selvig because of his knowledge of the issue and aggressive stance, but not so much because of non-A-B money; Schofield shared the broad knowledge, but was far more diplomatic than aggressive on the issue in the campaign. I think this implies some degree of overlap among their supporters.

How Did My Predictions Fare?

Prediction: Voter turnout 5000 or significantly more (i.e., up to 6000).
Reality: 4521 votes, or 10% below (or up to 25% below) my prediction.
Judgment: Not bad. I think a lot of people were surprised with the lower-than-expected turnout in an election that everyone thought was high-profile (except at the Boston Globe and Boston Herald).

Prediction: Wallingford Road not vote as a bloc, but instead breaking for Glennon at 65-25-10% for Glennon-Ciommo-Schofield.
Reality: Wallingford Road not vote as a bloc, but instead breaking for Glennon at 56-26-11. Pretty damn close.

Prediction: Elderly vote 60-25-15% for Ciommo-Hanlon-Schofield in Ward 21, Precinct 12.
Reality: Elderly vote 27-8-8% for Ciommo-Hanlon-Schofield in Ward 21, Precinct 12, with Glennon carrying 53%.
Judgment: Couldn't have been more wrong. Surprise of the night for Glennon.

Schofield carries the institutional expansion vote, with Glennon and Ciommo way behind tied for 4th place.
Reality: Ciommo carried the institutional expansion vote, with Schofield close behind and Glennon in third.

Prediction: Glennon won't carry his own precinct [i.e., Schofield takes it].
Reality: Glennon doesn't carry his own precinct -- Ciommo takes it.

Prediction: Schofield gives Ciommo a run for his money in Irish Catholic strongholds in Oak Square at 55-45 for Ciommo-Schofield in Ward 22, Precincts 7 and 11. [I mistakenly wrote 13, which is a much more conservative precinct.]
Reality: Schofield gives Ciommo a run for his money, but Glennon is a strong third. Just counting the two candidates has Ciommo-Schofield at 59-41%, pretty close.

Analysis: Schofield campaign best organized, Ciommo a little bit of a hit, Glennon organization in disarray.
Reality: On election day, Ciommo's organization got out the vote and Schofield didn't. Glennon organization's performance unclear, since so much of his vote came from blocs partnering with others.

Prediction: The race was going to be damn close between Schofield, Ciommo, and Glennon.
Reality: The race was quite close, but only between Ciommo and Glennon.

Prediction: Hanlon 675 votes, Selvig 300. [After correcting down by 25% to account for my mistake, described above, in the overall turnout.]
Reality: Hanlon 576 votes, Selvig 293.

Prediction: Schofield-Ciommo-Glennon-Hanlon-Selvig.
Reality: Ciommo-Glennon-Schofield-Hanlon-Selvig.

Prediction: The Russian vote determines second place, not first.
Reality: The Russian vote determines second place, not first -- but you might instead argue that the split of institutional expansion votes determined second place.

Summary: with odds-making like that, bring on the casinos!


Nicholas said...

Wow, an entry about something other than how to hurt Boston College! I must be on the wrong blog.

Michael Pahre said...

Wow, that is a pretty ignorant comment. You might try reading this blog more extensively.

Only 15 out of the last 100 posts to this blog mention Boston College at all; quite a number of those references are in passing, where the main subject of the story is something different.

Do your research next time.

nao said...

As far as I could see, Schofield didn't really run a campaign. I got a couple of pieces of literature and a last minute e mail appeal for volunteers. But I never saw a house sign, bumper sticker, or any other kind of 'mass' publicity. I'm a senior, but don't live in one of the 'projects'

Enzo said...

Thanks for the analysis. The outcome seems to demonstrate that institutional expansion is really irrelevant to the larger electorate. Certainly the old people don't care about it, or can be bought off easily.

Nothing will change until people put their money into lawsuits against the city, the developers and the colleges, and into candidates who can actually establish a power base of "do nothing" rather than continued consumption of open space. That's why BC doesn't enact these giant expansions in Newton and Harvard doesn't expand in Cambridge.