Thursday, September 21, 2006

Multiple Challengers

Often, an Aldermanic election with one challenger pits the corrupt seated incumbent vs. the reformer challenger, and the voters are either on one side or the other. For argument's sake, let's say that amounts to 50% of the voters who are pro-incumbent (ie, he's doing a fine job, let him keep going, besides I don't even know who this other guy is), and 50% of the voters who are anti-incumbent (oh this guy is a no-good, lazy Machine man).

Throw a third candidate into the mix, and the theory says that the anti-incumbent vote is now split 25% and 25% between the two challengers. This leaves the incumbent with, viola, 50%, or at the very least another term in office.

Looking back at data from 2003 Municipal Elections in Chicago, we can see a few Wards where this may have been true.

25th Ward
Daniel Solis - 55% (4087)
Ambrosio Medrano - 36% (2651)
Antonio Zotta - 10% (708)

49th Ward
Joe Moore - 55% (3603)
Tom Bradley - 18% (1228)
Michael Harrington - 27% (1835)

3rd Ward
Dorothy Tillman - 52% (4107)
Pat Dowell - 35% (2779)
Kenny Sawyer - 9% (731)
Dorothy Oliver-Harris - 4% (271)

It is possible in these elections, had there been only one challenger, the outcomes may have been different. May. Because even if all of the challengers' votes were combined and tallied together, the incumbent still would earn more than 50% of the vote. The theory is that with one concentrated challenger message (not 2 or 3 different messages which may confuse a voter into sticking with what currently works - the incumbent), a few incumbent supporters could have been swayed.


Another twist on the 'third candidate theory' is in the 1st Ward, where both candidates were basically tied, nobody receiving a majority of the votes, forcing a runoff.

1st Ward
Jessee Granato - 48% (3330)
Manny Flores - 49% (3386)
Howard Crawford, JR - 3% (214)

The 214 votes cast on behalf of Howard Crawford could have easily given one of the candidates the victory.

All that having been said, if a person feels they should run, they should run. That's my opinion.

3 Comments:

Blogger Thomas Westgard said...

Interesting stuff, sir - Please keep up the posting!

12:35 PM  
Blogger Hugh said...

> if a person feels they should run, they should run.

Of course.

> Throw a third candidate into the mix, and the theory says that the anti-incumbent vote is now split ..
> This leaves the incumbent with ... another term in office.

Incumbent Aldermen usually win. You presented data from 4 races, the incumbents won in 3. It is not at all clear that the data you presented supports your theory.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Hugh said...

Consider this:

Challengers do better against incumbents in run-offs.

We had 5 run-offs in 2003:

1st ward: challenger Flores forces a run-off and beats incumbent Ald.
Granato

12th ward: challenger Cardenas forces a run-off and beats incumbent Ald. Frias

21st ward: challenger Brookins forces a run-off and beats incumbent Ald. DeVille

Meanwhile:

6th ward: incumbent Ald. Lyle prevails in run-off

15th ward: incumbent Ald. Thomas prevails in run-off (against heavy-weight opponent former Chicago Bulls star Bob "Butterbean" Love)

Challengers prevailed in 3 out of 5 run-offs.

11:41 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home