Thursday, June 16, 2011

9 Days Until the Election- Election Truths VS Myths

Courtesy Cherokee Phoenix

One theme we’ve noticed more than once in the comments on our Facebook page, is the notion that Chad Smith was elected by the ‘at-large’ voters, those who live out of state or at least outside of the 14 county area.

So, at we decided to find the Truth, which just takes a little bit of math.  In 2007, Smith won 59% of the vote (8,035), and his opponent, Stacy Leeds, won 41% (5675).   The election results are available online, so we checked it out. When you open the link, click on General Election Results and it will open an Excel Spreadsheet, and that's where we're getting the numbers we will use below.

The short version (before we get into the math that might make your eyes glaze over), is that in 2007, Smith won the overall walk-in vote, the mail-in vote by people who voted in-district, and the mail in vote for at-large voters.

Here are the totals.  You have to make one assumption, but we’ll get to that, and if you look at the results very long, we think you’ll agree it’s a fair assmption:

2007 Election
Type of voter Smith raw Smith % Leeds raw Leeds %
walkin 4130 51% 3705 49%
at-large * 1975 73.50% 712 26.50%
in district mail-in 1930 61% 1258 39%
Totals 8035 59% 5675 41%

*At-large council races went 74% and 73% in favor of candidates supported by Smith; 73.5 was used as an average.  If you disagree with this assumption and think Leeds won a larger share of the at-large vote, then that means her numbers would go down and Smith's would go up for the in-district mail-in vote, because we are only talking about how to divide the overall mail-in vote, which went 3,905 to Smith and 1,970 to Leeds.

To break down the walk-in vote, The Truth is that Smith won in 18 of the 31 precincts, Leeds won 12, and one, Muldrow, was a dead heat at 161 votes each.

Smith won seven of the nine districts, winning everywhere but Adair and Cherokee County.

Smith did win the overall mail-in vote by a larger margin than the walk-in vote.  Absentee voters voted 66% for Smith and 34% for Leeds, but that is a little deceptive, because most of those voters who voted by mail live in-district.  There were 2,687 people who voted at-large and another 3,138 who voted by mail but live in district.

There were actually more Cherokees who voted by mail who lived IN the districts than who live outside.

There were 2,687 votes in one at-large council race, and 2,676 votes in another.  Both seats were won by council members who Smith supported and likewise they supported Smith.  Jack Baker got 74% of the vote in his race, and Julia Coates got 73% of the vote.

Let’s do a little more math-- this is where that asterisk on the above chart comes into play. If Smith got approximately the same percentage of votes from at-large Cherokees as Baker and Coates, he would have won 1,975 at-large votes and Leeds would have gotten at-large 712 votes.

Smith’s total mail-in votes were 3,905, so if you subtract out 1,975, you have 1,930 in-district votes by mail for Smith.  Leeds got 1,970 total mail-in votes and if you subtract our 712, you would have 1,258 in district votes by mail.  So Smith got about 61% of the in-district mail in vote, and Leeds got about 39% of the in-district mail-in vote.

So here’s what it all means:
More people vote by mail in-district than out.
More people vote in person than by mail
In 2007, Smith won both the walk-in and mail-in votes.  Mail-in votes did not decide the election.
The numbers do show that Smith in 2007 was more popular with at-large citizens than he was with walk-in voters but he was still elected chief by both segments of the voting public.

I’m sure the supporters of the losing candidate, whoever he may be, will have reasons why they are unhappy.  Hopefully they will be real reasons, not the rumors we’ve debunked today. 

Coming soon (as soon as we can get our hands on ‘em): the last pre-election campaign finance reports.

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