With Sherlock Holmes back in movie theaters and 2011 winding down, it seems appropriate to apply some ratiocination (as opposed to rationalization) to the November election results in Hudson. What really happened?
In the wake of any election, people naturally will float theories to answer the questions: Why did Candidate Dick win? Why did Candidate Jane lose? And, what “message” were the voters sending? But it’s rare for such theories to get tethered to any verifiable facts. Instead, these tend only to reflect the victors’ desire to project a mastery of politics (that everything happened according to their master plan) and the losers’ need to deflect blame.
This two-part article will aim to avoid both of those predictable postures by first reviewing the limited—but telling—data available, discussing a few of the theories which have been floated, and then drawing only those conclusions which can be reasonably derived from the facts.
First, then, below are 10 key data points worth pondering:
- Less than half of those eligible—46.8%, to be precise—cast votes for Mayor. 1,700 did show up and assert their preference. But nearly 2,000 others did not.
- As the chart above shows, that turnout was unusually, even historically, low. I cannot find evidence of a lighter turnout for any contested Mayoral race in Hudson any time in the past generation, and certainly not in the past decade.
- This turnout crash can’t be attributed to a loss in registered voters, as the number eligible to vote has remained pretty constant during the period considered. (For example, the number registered to vote in Hudson in 2002 was 3,697; today it’s 3,687.)
- 50 people showed up at the polls, yet did not vote for either Mayoral candidate.
- Hallenbeck’s margin of victory was 50 votes.
- Turnout was especially low in the 2nd Ward, dropping from a high of 483 in 2007 to just 290 in 2011. That’s almost 200 “missing” voters, four times the margin of victory.
- Turnout hovered around 50% in most of the City, except for the 2nd and 4th Wards, which were way down at 39% and 42%, respectively. (And without the high level of participation via absentee ballots by residents of the Firemen’s home, the 4th Ward’s showing might have been even worse.)
- There was only a small percentage difference (52% vs. 49.5%) in turnout among Republicans vs. Democrats. But since there are over three times as many Dems as GOP members in Hudson, that small percentage difference got magnified in terms of actual votes cast, with the former in effect losing 50 more potential supporters.
- Turnout likewise wasunusually light among members of the Bangaladeshi community. Historically, these recently-minted registrants have participated at impressive rates well over 90%, enjoying their newfound citizenship. But this time around, their turnout was more like 50%.
- Hallenbeck won a single suburban district—5-2, which is the northernmost part of town, nestled among the “boulevards” of Greenport—by 112 votes, more than double his margin of victory. In other words, the result would have been reversed if not for that district, which in recent years has felt increasingly alienated and distant from Hudson’s downtown.
In Part II tomorrow, I’ll move from these hard data to a few ratiocinated conclusions.