Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shelley's Revenge?

Since I haven't seen a detailed breakdown of the vote, I'm commenting with less information than even a TV analyst, but I can't help but wonder how much the constant feuding between Shelley and the two Cynthias hurt Willard-Lewis tonight. I expected Willard-Lewis to win the election, because I expected her to get more crossover vote. I guess that I overestimated the number of Clarkson-haters among the city's white voters, because I seem to have been mistaken. Obviously I was wrong about the outcome, I seem to have been wrong about the crossover voting. I wouldn't expect much crossover voting in Lakeview, but I'm curious about how much Willard-Lewis got in the Uptown, University/Carrollton and Mid-City parts of District A. I suspect it was significantly lower than Nagin's crossover vote, even lower than could be accounted for by the absence of strategic voting by "Couhig conservatives."

Another possible factor in the election is the possibility that Clarkson's attack ads were more effective than Willard-Lewis'. To believe that, you'd have to believe that the electorate has become to sophisticated to be fooled by selectively edited sound bites. I personally have no problem with attack ads based on an opponent's record, provided the ads are basically honest, but hate ads that rely on edited quotes or clumsy statements. I doubt that most voters make that distinction, but Lewis' ads were based on Clarkson answering a question poorly, while Clarkson's were based on the fact that CWL introduced the new sanitation code that favored two major campaign donors. It's anice thought, but I don't know if I'm buying it myself. The fact that Willard-Lewis ran the first attack ads makes me think that her own polling gave her cause for concern before the campaign turned nasty. At any rate, Daddy Willard was a total jerk for calling Clarkson's attack ads racist. His daughter runs attack ads, her opponent responds with attack ads of her own, and Daddy Willard takes it as a sign that some don't want to work for unity, but want to return to "separatism."

If it was the garbage contracts that cost Willard-Lewis the election*, she has only herself to blame. Even if you think that the Times Picayune's coverage of the issue was questionable, I don't, Willard-Lewis had over two weeks to respond to the first report; she never did. Of course, if she won't vote to either renegotiate the caost of the contacts or hold the contractors to them, she wouldn't have a response. I hope the other council members are at least wondering if that's what cost Willard-Lewis, especially the ambitious members of the council.

Added thought
Early in the evening, before the results started to come in, Charles Rice said that the absentee vote was nearly evenly split between the two at-large candidates, with Clarkson only leading 50-49. This made him think that the election might be closer than anybody expected. He actually said it twice and neither Norman Robinson or the other two guest analysts on WDSU asked what he meant by "closer than anybody expected." It did make me wonder if Rice saw poll results that we didn't.

*They were the focus of Clarkson's attacks.

Rather than crossover, I would first look at turnout in mostly white neighborhoods, and see if it wasn't significantly higher than majority black neighborhoods.

After assessing variations in turnout, then perhaps the black crossover vote in Algiers might be of interst.

WDSU's Norman Robinson fumbled every other statement that came out of his mouth. He was an awful host, and his analysts Harry Connick sr, Charles Rice, and some young Poli Sci prof were articulate but bland and un-insightful.
Turnout was the obvious key and W-L was obviously done in by the depopulation of her district. Still, I'm curious why W-L's crossover was so low compared to what some other black candidates have received. There are parts of Midura's district where I would have expected more crossover vote, but not enough to make a 3,000 vote difference.

Charles Rice said something early on that really struck me. He said that the absentee voting was nearly evenly split between Clarkson and W-L, with Clarkson only having a slight edge, the election might be closer than anybody expected. My immediate thought was WTF is he talking about -- everybody expects a nail-biter. Then I thought about W-L's decision to go negative and wondered if he saw polling that we didn't.
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