Monday, November 10, 2008

NOE 2008 Election Special

Four years ago, the day after John Kerry conceded the 2004 election -- a day so depressing I spent it staring at birds in an effort to console myself, only to make myself more upset when I realized the birds were bound to suffer worst of all -- my paper ran a banner front-page headline declaring that Matt Pear, Nick Galiotto, Laura Macias and The Professor had won election to Mountain View's four open city council seats. The story's "Klemke Wins!" quality notwithstanding, this wasn't so bad in itself. But we found out the very next day that though 100% of precincts had reported, the county had yet to count the paper votes, about 1/4 of the total cast. This led to an embarrassing headline the following week when we had to backtrack from our original story. If there was a saving grace, it was that every other paper made the same mistake in interpreting the county's data, and that none of the results actually changed.

This is a long way of saying that I have at least a plausible excuse for waiting so long to post an election recap. With the possible exception of Measure B (more on that later), the local elections finally appear set. Based on results posted as of 11:00 a.m. Monday morning, it seems safe to say that all incumbents won. But why stop there? This is local politics, after all, and therefore calls for some snide analysis.

Los Altos Hills "Town" Council: Beating John Vidovich
Complete Precincts 9 of 9


PercentVotes
RICH LARSEN
21.38%2,527
JEAN (JOHN) H. MORDO
19.91%2,354
GINGER SUMMIT
19.87%2,349
JIM ABRAHAM
13.47%1,593
TONI C. CASEY
13.18%1,558
JOHN VIDOVICH
12.19%1,441





Three-time mayor Casey, whom some observers have compared Saruman, returned to the local political scene (over the polite objection of the Town Crier) to complete her downfall. The strict property rights, anti-Barn (but, she stressed, pro-Little League) agenda on which she and Abraham ran carried the endorsement of the Palo Alto Daily News but not, to its credit, the Town Crier. She called for an unenforceable moratorium on campaign signs, as they are out of keeping with the city's character. (That character, the Town Crier immediately reminded readers, is "pleasant"). She also claimed the endorsement of both a deceased resident and, less impressively, the organization of which she is president. And, as the Town Crier accurately predicted, her organization attacked Mayor Mordo with last-minute mailers that wrongly accused him of breaking the law and labeled him as arrogant after he publicly apologized for false statements he had made.

She finished behind every other candidate except for Vidovich, who didn't spend a dime on his campaign despite the million dollars in unwanted federal subsidies he had lying around. It's refreshing to see not even Los Altos Hills is conservative enough that affiliation with the Bush Administration is a winning platform. Perhaps the town is becoming an ideopolis.

Mountain View City Council: Read NOE, win a seat
Completed Precincts 43 of 43


PercentVotes
LAURA MACIAS
17.73%13,315
TOM MEANS
15.31%11,497
MIKE KASPERZAK
13.82%10,383
JOHN INKS
13.62%10,231
JOHN R. MCALISTER
10.21%7,666
CHRIS CLARK
9.76%7,332
ALICIA CRANK
8.31%6,240
TRACY GORDON
5.87%4,410
DIANA WANG
5.37%4,030





Maybe it's an infinitesimally small sample size (I'm still waiting for new correspondent Happy to run the appropriate regression analysis), but if there's one trend that jumped out at me from the Mountain View returns, it's that the winners tend to read NOE, at least occasionally. The Professor, a regular commenter, and Macias, who once called this post "smarmy" (which I still choose to take as a compliment), cruised to reelection. Kasperzak finished third, returning to the council as a Democrat. I don't have any evidence that fourth-place finisher John Inks is a NOE reader, but I also don't have any evidence that he isn't.

The surprise, according to both the Voice's analysis and this theory, is that Miz Crank did not fare better. This is somewhat of a shame for the city. Perhaps her emphasis on public safety resonated less as economic shocks and other big news made the six homicides earlier this year fade from the collective conscience. As it happens, it's beginning to look like that spike in the murder rate was more statistical noise than some kind of violent crime wave. I can't say I'm sorry about that, but it might have been better for Miz Crank's campaign had that not been the case.

Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District Board: Forgiving Phil Fallaice
Completed Precincts 76 of 76

LinkPercentVotes
SUSAN SWEELEY
43.64%24,442
PHIL FAILLACE
32.21%18,040
COLIN RUDOLPH
24.15%13,526

Sweeley ran away with the board's first contested election in years, overcoming an unfortunate paraphrasing about the achievement gap in a Voice profile. I'd like to think that the difference in support between Sweeley and fellow incumbent Faillace is a result of people remembering the latter's effort to ruin the science curriculum at the high school back in 1997 (an effort which in turn forced me to give a speech to the student body in protest, taking off my shirt only when the closing lines didn't go over as well as I had hoped). I think a much more likely explanation is that the district has 6,000 voters who vote like my mom.

Santa Clara County Measure B: Not forgiving BART-to-San-Jose
Completed Precincts 1,142 of 1,142


PercentVotes
YES
66.48%393,322
NO
33.52%198,319





BART-to-San-Jose looks headed to defeat, again, no thanks to the local papers. The most mystifying twist this election was that so many of them finally caved in and endorsed this misguided project. It seemed almost like they were sick of having to argue against it. Or perhaps they were adhering to Koland's stance on high-speed rail: 'We waste billions of dollars on a lot of these, and we usually don't get anything cool in return.'

The only thing about this proposal that has changed since local papers and county voters rejected it in 2006 is that BART boosters had the decency not to hold hospitals and social services hostage this time. It's not as if tunneling under downtown San Jose to pick up a small fraction of riders at a huge portion of the cost suddenly became a good idea. Of course, defeat at the polls hasn't stopped the project before, and it probably won't stop the project this time. But that's no reason to endorse it.

5 comments:

Lauren said...

It's about time someone with some sanity got elected to the LAH council. Ginger will do a great job, and the town's pathways will benefit. I spent the day after the 2004 election sitting at my desk at the TC trying not to cry.

Anonymous said...

Wow, NOE. How many hours did this take you?

Nemesis of Evil said...

It helped to have an injured foot and Koland to heckle me until I got it done, but all the same it put a serious dent in the time I had allocated to read every new comment on fivethirtyeight.com today.

BigDra said...

Is that the same Lauren who wrote the glam piece on Toni Casey for the TC (that led me to write a furious letter denouncing Casey and co)? She's now glad to see her lose?

(see: http://nemesisofevil.blogspot.com/2006/10/strange-rumblings-in-los-altos-hills.html)

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that the The Professor is currently in NY celebrating his victory. Feels that he received a mandate by increasing his vote total from 4 years ago. Has been seen touring NY and all the special events. Watched the Bruins play last thursday night (and lose to) Michigan in Madison Square Garden. (Was that NOE trying to hit on the Bruin cheer squad girls?) Also allegedly seen at the the final homecoming tour show of Kayo Dot saturday night. Only infraction was that he was apparently left off the guest list for the opening of Mortons Steak house in which Mayor Bloomberg attended. Apparently the professor assumed the three police officers at the Marriot hotel were there as his escort.

The Press Aid to The Professor