Friday, November 18, 2011

2011 Whatcom County General Election Charts

Do you believe in what you see?...Wastin my timein the waitin lineDo you believe in what you see?
(from "Do You Believe" by Zero7)

Preliminary Election Charts.Standard disclaimer applies: Accuracy of this data and these charts cannot be guaranteed. You should crunch your own numbers and not present my work as your own. Send me any corrections or comments you may have.  Data  is here. I am missing 11/10 count such that 11/10 and 11/12 roll up into one large sample.  I have not bothered with the last counts of a few hundred voters. Clicking on my screenshot open office charts enlarges them in blogger.

Some concepts appropriate for the 'science' for "[registered] voter participation": "Fall off" describes the decreasing voter participation rate. The theory, as statistically demonstrated below, is that early voters complete greater percentages of their ballot than later voters. "Ballot fatigue" describes the tendency of voters to complete less and less of their individual ballot. "Ballot fatigue" is such an important issue that states, like WA, mandate the ballot order in such a fashion so that state based initiatives and offices receive 'priority' or an earlier position on the ballot.  Both phenomena also help us here in this election to [possibly] infer that the ballots received and counted later were actually mailed or 'drop boxed' later.

Participation Rates: Left hand are cumulative. Right side are per count.
Below we see that voter participation (per count) for Larson/Kremen was statistically similar for Ericksen/Louws.  Despite the fact that Crawford/Maginnis was arguably Whatcom County's the most defined left/right county race (HE a land use consultant for developers/SHE a regulatory scientist with ECY), the race suffered a collapse in voter participation rate. It is true that port commissioner, auditor, and Brenner vs. Black races had  lower participation rates. But these races started out at lower participation rates as well.

Vote counts come in different sized samples in a 'Vote By Mail' election. After the sample that counted 57,044 (11/12) ballots, the vote swung decidedly against the Democratic backed candidates. Maginnis lost her race on the 11/14 count. She went in up 601 and came out down 623. A 1222 vote swing in a count of less than 5396 votes for that race! She never recovered.  As I see it, Crawford increased his percentage of the vote in over 100 of 120 precincts in that count. And yet, the participation rate in the vote steadily declined with every count, suggesting that these were truly 'late, conservative' voters.

This is the existing precinct vote totals for '(Crawford -Maginnis on 11/12)/(Crawford-Maginnis on 11/12). (e.g. a ratio   of increase/decrease per precinct).  For the 11/14 count (5396 total votes for the Maginnis/Crawford race), Crawford appears to have increased his percentage of the vote in 100 out of 120 precincts for that vote count. This statistic is fairly contrived. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Participation Rates...

This chart is updated after yesterday's misleading post.  I had totaled the County Executive votes incorrectly.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

$322K raised for the top two races ...and counting....

These are the funding stats for the Mayor's Race and County Executive Race as of tonight (11/06/2011). Last minute spending yet to come? Looks like Dan Pike is pulling away in money raised and spent. Debt as well....

As of yesterday at 11:30 AM, 34,122 ballots have been returned. Remember to Vote.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Barbara Brenner Interview

The amount of money raised for local elections in Bellingham and Whatcom County (pop ~200,00) as of November 3, 2011 looks like this:

Contributions Expenditures Debt Ind Sup Ind Opp
Whatcom $452,569.07 $381,527.07 $42,351.11 $22,721.31 $16,328.23
Bellingham $214,980.95 $198,116.36 $21,445.44 $5,815.76 $0.00
Totals $667,550.02 $579,643.43 $63,796.55 $28,537.07 $16,328.23

All told, well over three quarters of a million dollars will probably be spent before next Tuesday (from contributions,debt,indedependent support and oppostion)  in some of the most dramatic, well-debated, well-funded and (clearly) well-advised local races seen here in some time. Clearly the consequences of such levels of spending will not be trivial for the politics of Bellingham and Whatcom County. Not now, nor in the future.

Although I will not recommend any candidates for this election, I decided to interview Barbara Brenner after listening to a number of the debates. I was fascinated with a number of facets of Barbara Brenner: her self-imposed financial restrictions, her enthusiasm, her call to personal responsibility, and her apparent intelligence and charisma. After emailing her a request for an interview, she called me immediately and left a number. I found Ms. Brenner exceptionally approachable in our phone conversation. I was very interested in talking with her because among all this year's local candidates, Barbara Brenner stands out for her dogged refusal to accept political donations of any type. "I just sent a $50 and a $250 donation back last week. I told them I couldn't accept it."

Renowned for her ability to represent the community, she likes to stay focused on digging through the details of most legislation and proposals for their impact on the community. "Part of the reason I run as an independent is centered around my belief that if we lose the local level to big money, we've lost local politics." The candidate to date has spent less than $4000 of her money on her campaign despite receiving only a $20,000 salary as a council member. "Donations", Ms. Brenner believes, "make it a lot harder to remain independent as a local resource." "It is really important to me that I don't get labeled as beholden to anyone." Recently, Ms. Brenner designed her own campaign flyers and had them printed at a local business. Her husband built her website which they rent for $15/month.

Such fiscal conservatism is part of the Brenner campaign rhetoric with regards to perks, salaries and administrative expenditures in the County Council budget. However, she believes
strongly in supporting social services like the Food Bank and WIC. "Not only have I always supported the Food Bank, I have always pushed for more dollars for them... I did not accept any donations to my campaign and told people to please send that money to the food bank."  Ms. Brenner makes the point that "she understands how hard it can be for most citizens in need to access government and get services: "It's about the local level. Who can those in need in Whatcom County depend upon if it is not politicians at the local level? That's who we should be here for."

Since the state and local budgetary cutbacks, Council member Brenner has been somewhat disappointed by a lack of cooperation at the state and federal level. This she attributes to declining budgets: "When the economy was stronger, we saw a greater flow of income from the state. It's easier for state and local officials to work together when there is more funding for local services." Ms. Brenner intuits that her reputation as an independent may have lost her some support from the Democratic party. "I like all the local officials, but sometimes because of my frankness I am not sure they are able to appreciate me." She rejects as hypocritical some of the personal attacks against her person in the recent election:

"I'm a person who cares and I won't turn on anyone. People have to be able to trust politicians at the local level. Trust is really important...Whether I am re-elected or not, all you have to do is ask because I don't ever turn my back on those about whom I care about. I don't even turn my back on those I don't."

As a personal note, Councilmember Brenner has been accused of having 'outbursts'. To vet such accusations, I watched a small number of hours (2 sessions) of County Council on DVD from the Bellingham Public Library which you can do by loading a media viewer like VLC Media player on your PC. I didn't see anything that looked like 'outbursts' in the August and September 2011 meetings. What I saw instead was an extraordinarily intelligent council person attempting to get public officials to answer important questions. I thought Ms. Brenner looked like the brightest tool in the shed in these meetings. Her ability to dig through documentation and create meaningful comment about the issues was impressive. So was her patient but persistent method in querying public officials.

This election may see Bellingham and Whatcom County candidates spending over $750,000 in campaign expenditures. Has politics in Whatcom County really become so well-monied that we can no longer appreciate the honesty, gifts, and integrity of a long term community stalwart like Barbara Brenner?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Expenditures and Contributions

Pulled down and summed up from the PDC tonight:

Contributions Expenditures Debt Ind Sup Ind Opp
Whatcom $451,128.28 $362,891.36 $42,351.11 $22,521.31 $16,328.23
Bellingham $213,822.90 $168,459.80 $9,087.44 $4,221.58 $0.00
Totals $664,951.18 $531,351.16 $51,438.55 $26,742.89 $16,328.23