Predicting voter turnout is never an easy task, especially in off (or odd) year elections like this years. Predicting actual winners is equally difficult as it all boils down to who gets out the vote and who doesn’t. I’ll try to make a stab at these with educated guesses based on past history and trends.
As of 10/28/11, the Boulder County Clerk’s Office is reporting that 170,993 ballots have been mailed countywide, and 38,442 have been returned from voters (22%). 11,281 have been returned “undeliverable” (6.6%). In 2009, Longmont had a turnout rate of about 37%, with about 17,000 votes for citywide races and 7,000 votes in Ward 2. This year, Ward 1 (considering similar turnout) should have less than 7,000 total votes, and Ward 3 possibly less than 6,000 total votes.
When I hear people I consider fairly intelligent and aware of what’s going on in Longmont ask “is there an election in Longmont this year?“, it answers my question of why turnout is always too low in off-year elections. I suspect we’ll probably see somewhere between 37%-40% turnout based on a contentious mayoral race, but more likely because of the Comcast/fiber issue (Longmont 2A) as well as the statewide school/tax ballot issue Proposition 103.
As always, results are based on who gets out the vote and who doesn’t. I have my own ideas of how it’s going to go, but I’ll withhold those and point out some numbers.
Bryan Baum beat former Mayor Roger Lange in 2009 by 1,364 votes, or about 8%. Mayor Lange was a long-time council member, and mayor obviously, and was well known and well liked. I don’t recall any negative campaigning done on his behalf or against him, but he still couldn’t hit 46% of votes. To expect a relative unknown (with people doing some dastardly things on his behalf) running a fairly inept campaign, I can’t see Dennis Coombs receiving all of Lange’s votes, PLUS the other 683 required to overtake Baum. Even take away 500 of Baums votes (highly unlikely) and give them to Coombs and it’s still not enough – again, considering Coombs gets all of Lange’s votes. I see this race as pretty difficult for Coombs to pull off. As previously mentioned, Baum is far out in front in contributions and spending.
This will be a three way race with the odds of anyone breaking over 50% of the vote unlikely. I think Brian Hansen‘s negatives, regardless of name ID, and Suzzanne Painter‘s inexperience coupled with little support in the way of contributions will probably lead to Brian Bagley winning. There’s a good chance also that Hansen and Painter will split voters. The more that happens, the better it works out for Bagley. As previously mentioned, Bagley has a huge lead in contributions and spending.
Sean McCoy beat Bonnie Finley by 242 votes in 2007, and they are matched up again for 2011. I can’t believe that any city councilmember has higher negatives than Sean McCoy, actually through a source I heard via polling it’s not even close. Finley has raised more than 4 times in contributions and has regular ads in the Times-Call print and online edition. Considering everything over the last four years, if 122 voters aren’t persuaded to flip to Finley, there is no hope for Ward 3.
I suspect this will be the closest of all the races, quite possibly having someone winning by less than 150 votes. Sarah Levison did get 7,009 votes in 2007 to Gabe Santos‘ 6,319, but they didn’t have a viable third candidate (no offense Paul Tiger). Ron Gallegos will peel away some of those 7009 votes, as will Heath Carroll. People that voted for Gallegos in the past in Ward 3 possibly will do so again. Carroll has gained name ID through Times-Call stories of his signs being stolen and his banner being slashed to pieces. Levison has some negative name ID, only second to McCoy, via some polling. Will it be enough? Too close to call.
I keep an eye on the “chatter”, and it seems to be leaning towards the current 4-3 council becoming 5-2 at the very least, with 6-1 very possible, and an outside chance at a clean sweep 7-0. In all reality, knowing some of the current and possible future councilmembers, it will never really be a 7-0, and often at times the 4 in the current 4-3 are far from harmonious. How the newer councilmembers blend in is hard to say, but it can’t be any worse than Levison, Hansen, and McCoy. As I’ve written, they are Longmont’s version of the “Party of NO” and are obstructionists just for the sake of being a collective pain in the ass, essentially. There’s no nice way to put it.
Voters would do well to clean up the mess left behind by the 2007 election and give someone new a chance, with the exception of incumbent Mayor Baum who deserves another 2 year term.
Next, we’ll sift through the fallout after the election.