Wednesday, July 23, 2014

HoCo BoE & HCEA (On Apples and Ballots)

A follow-up on my post from yesterday:

There is enough general mishegas going on in and around the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS to you and me) that could lead to a major upheaval in the Board of Education race. Given the players and issues involved, there is sufficient atmospheric volatility that might generate some unexpected outcomes.    

Nevertheless, I would still wager that both incumbents seeking another term in office will be re-elected.  Perhaps one of them ends up in third place but, as of this writing, Vaillancourt and French are good bets for a one-two finish in November.

Regarding the impact of the Howard County Education Association (HCEA) on the HoCo BoE primary election results….well, I thought I already wrote about this.  A long-time reader asked me about it and I was 95% certain it was covered in another post.  So I searched for it online, nothing. 

I have a folder containing about a dozen half-written posts…just random paragraphs sitting around, waiting to be shaped into something, or discarded entirely.  As it turns out, the BoE/Apple Ballot text was right there. So let me combine that (brief) review with the precinct analysis I conducted recently.

In short, the HCEA endorsement of Altwerger, Beams, Furman and Vaillancourt were significant vote drivers, and were of particular importance for the first three names in this sentence.  Given the amount (of dollars) spent on the race by the candidates themselves (negligible), the HCEA money and muscle that went to work for the four constituted a major voter information delivery vehicle. And it produced.

Let us look at this another way.  If you collapse all of the candidate votes (at the polls, absentee, provisional and early voting center) into one bucket and divide it by the number of precincts in Howard County (118), you end up with the following votes in this artificially constructed “average” precinct:

1.     Vaillancourt   134 (HCEA backed)(Incumbent)
2.     French             124 (Incumbent)
3.   Altwerger       108 (HCEA backed)
4.   Furman          101 (HCEA backed)
____________________________________Top Four Vote-Getters
5.   Beams              85 (HCEA backed)
6.   O’Connor         72
7.   Dyer                  65
8.   Smith                57
____________________________________Top Eight Advance to the General Election
9.   Kornreich         54
10. Butler                50    
11. Evans Arthurs 49    
12. Andrews           49
13. Baek                   47
As always, this is strictly my opinion.  While I don’t have any poll data to verify the following hypothesis, I believe – without the HCEA endorsement – that Vaillancourt would have placed second in the June election.  Her 10-vote per precinct victory margin over French – who is practically a Howard County institution - was supplied by her inclusion on the Apple Ballot. 

And while Altwerger, Furman and Beams are known in certain communities, none of them have the name ID enjoyed by the two incumbents on the ballot; not amongst the primary electorate as a whole.  Dyer is probably better known than those three, even if his Fav/Unfav nets out break-even or negative (again, I have no current data on this). So while they all have strengths, I am inclined to believe that their respective third, fourth and fifth place finishes were driven, in large measure, by the energetic support of the HCEA.

So let future candidates for the BoE – incumbents and challengers alike – take note of that.

Will I be writing about the Kittleman ad blitz soon? Oh yes.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

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