Thursday, March 23, 2017

It was a dismal voter turnout the last election cycle, on Election Day, March 14th.

It’s difficult to analyze the last election results and come to any firm conclusions. The elections in March 2015 were dismal as well. However, the 2016 elections were a relatively high voter turnout and all the incumbents (Mayor Triolo, Vice Mayor Maxwell, and Commissioner Amoroso) were all re-elected in landslides. The 2016 Neighborhood Bond referendum was a significantly high voter turnout and passed by a “whopping” 69%.

The 2016 bond referendum was in November and that’s important. Back in 2013 elections of candidates in the City of Lake Worth were moved to March from November. One theory is there remains some confusion for voters here in the City. There could be some truth to that. Presidential election years also draw more attention.

However, voter turnout was terrible county-wide last March 14th, not just in Lake Worth. So it cuts both ways.

McVoy raised 25% more money than Omari Hardy, a political newcomer, who is now Commissioner Hardy. How much did McVoy spend for each vote? Find that out below. By far, now-Commissioner Herman Robinson raised the most campaign dollars.

It surprised a lot of people when Omari Hardy and Herman Robinson won their elections outright and both of them avoided a run-off.  The conventional wisdom is an incumbent will win, or have a big advantage, in a low turnout election since the incumbent has a base already in place and name recognition. My bet is then-Commissioner McVoy was very disappointed and surprised on the night of March 14th.

However, if there is a trend, I believe it’s this: The power and effectiveness of endorsements. This was quite noticeable in the 2016 Jeff Clemens race for the State Senate last year. The power of endorsements from other elected officials is on the rise. The more the better. And getting those endorsements lined up early is key. Prior to even having any challengers Clemens had a long list of endorsements and that payed off in the end.

And this last election on March 14th is showing something else: The power of a Palm Beach Post endorsement is dwindling here in Central Palm Beach County. Again, the conventional belief used to be a Post endorsement can draw 10% more votes. After tallying up the Post’s endorsements for last March 14th the likelihood of the candidate endorsed actually winning was about 50%, a coin toss.

And for organizations that make endorsements it’s time to take notice and reconsider who to endorse just by using a checklist and a candidates voting record. Sort of like picking the best horse in a race by just using recent race results and nothing else. If this trend continues then some of these organizations will find themselves ineffective and meaningless. Just check writers.

If you’re going to endorse someone let voters know why.

For example, the Realtors Political Advocacy Committee wrote $1,000 checks to then-Commissioner McVoy and Maryanne Polizzi. Did they take the time to call Realtors here in Lake Worth?

For elections going forward think another lesson is this: Raising money is very important. But just as important is having an excited, motivated, and well-organized campaign staff. Both the Hardy and Robinson campaign staffs were very well run with strong leaders coordinating everything.

Having a good group of volunteers can more than make up for the weaknesses of a candidate. For example, Robinson’s difficulty with communication never became an issue. His campaign staff was leaps and bounds ahead getting Herman’s message out. Hardy’s perceived weakness as a newcomer was turned into an asset. His campaign team took to the high road and never looked back. Any misgivings people had were quickly erased after hearing the message of Omari Hardy.

Hardy raised, from the latest G3 campaign report, $9,965. McVoy raised $13,091, about 25% more than Hardy, and approximately $13 per vote. Hardy? About $8 per vote.

Why does this mean? Nothing really except as a matter of perspective. Last year the money raised by Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell, a huge amount of money, was an issue for some in the press and others here in town upset the Anarchist Ryan Hartman basically got clobbered on Election Day.

But what the supporters of Hartman conveniently forgot to mention is when that money for Maxwell started pouring in. It was after it being discovered that Ryan Hartman had a big problem with police in general when he wrote about “shooting all cops we see by their selves”, and:

“Happy F%&# The Police Day! Remember children. All Cops Are Bastards! Have a great day!”

And on campaign signs: the public may becoming immune to them. McVoy signs went up all over the City the night before election day. And many of Hardy’s and Robinson’s signs disappeared. But signs don’t vote.

And going forward, it would probably be a good idea to consider more carefully which former commissioners for help to get elected. Former commissioners Nadine Burns and Retha Lowe were very helpful for Herman Robinson. On the other hand, McVoy reaching out to Cara Jennings was probably not very helpful at all.

No comments: