Monday, April 13, 2009

Voter Turnout

The recent one-vote margin for the Monona city council has generated a bit of discussion. As a political science graduate (Illinois, '79) I am fascinated by this stuff.

Here's a bit of info I found.

From Prof. Charles Franklin of the UW, a post about the relation of voting and age:


From the US Census Bureau, enough data to fill a swiming pool: Voting and Registration Data.
And discussion by Milwaukee blogger Dan Cody about moving the spring elections to the fall:

Dan Cody - “Left on the Lake” » Eliminating Spring Elections ...


  1. C, I think this is good stuff, but you have a number of compounding factors in Monona that is going to increase the number of young people with families who turnout AND I disagree with your assumption that an Obama voter = a Green/Progressive (whatever that is) voter.
    They are:
    1. At Large Seats for all Races.
    Which causes much conversation and discussion about one, two or three votes and who do they go to-
    2. The school district races.
    Which drives to the voter booth because we are scared. (I mean scared in a general sense.)

  2. *Could* be. I certainly do think that Obama voters are a lot more likely to be progressive/liberal than McCain voters (let's leave Green out of it). I don't think it is a one-to-one correlation by any means. But you could look at Monona's history in prior elections and project that Obama would do well here.

    However, my beginning hypothesis was that spring voters are more conservative than fall voters. But, Falk carried Monona with nearly 66% and Abrahamson with just over 77%. So, if those can be considered suurogates for 'liberal candidates', then my hypothesis is taking on water.

  3. People like to be partisan.

    Most say they hate partisan politics, but turn out is higher nationwide in the fall elections.
    This could be both a "I will only vote for this party," and a "I hate how partisan party A is so I'm voting for party B" mentallity.

    The point being without the party lable next to a name, many voters don't know who to like or hate. Moving the election to the fall would increase voter turn out, but until people are encouraged to research the candidates, the extra voters would probably just guess who to vote for.

    There is a UW professor, Kent Goldstein, who shows that people say they hate negative campaign ads, but they work, so candidates keep making them. It's not a huge stretch to say people say hate negative campaign ads, but they promote voter turnout.

    I don't think his research says it makes smarter voters. If you can find a way to do this, it wont matter when elections are held.

  4. Scared of what?

  5. "2. The school district races.
    Which drives to the voter booth because we are scared. (I mean scared in a general sense.)"

    Scared of what?

  6. Thanks for making me look stupid....oh, wait I did that.

  7. "Scared of what?"

    It has been my obersvation that many people are scared of what the implications are of letting CG OR Monona get too many brd members from their community on the brd OR brd members who are too vocal or too strong handed.

    The implication would mean that your community is disadvantaged.

    Sometimes-I believe there is truth in the arguement other times a lot of hot air. However, it has the net affect (?) of driving younger voters to the polls than would normally go in the spring. Fear motives many a soul.

  8. What ARE the implications of getting too many members from one community on the school board?