Four reasons for landslide municipal election results, says Hamilton professor

News Nov 05, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

Political science professor Peter Graefe suggests why incumbents received high vote tallies

By Gord Bowes, News staff

The turnout was the lowest in the last four elections, but some of the results were still incredible by any standard, says a politic science professor at McMaster University.

Eight of the Hamilton city councillors re-elected on Oct. 27 received over 70 per cent of the votes cast in their ward. Four had 80 per cent or more.

“It’s something I haven’t seen before,” says professor Peter Graefe.

All three Mountain councillors had very high vote counts. Tom Jackson collected 80.83 per cent in Ward 6. Scott Duvall was just a tick shy of 80 per cent in Ward 7, while in Ward 8, Terry Whitehead had 76.54 per cent.

Graefe said there are four main reasons for the high percentages: no big ward issues to bring voters out; any divisive issues such as the downtown casino debate were sorted out long before the vote; the councillors are generally risk-adverse; and voters naturally view the person in office as the stronger candidate.

“Citizens aren’t stupid,” said Graefe. “They see the strength of those candidates who get re-elected more strongly.”

As far as the low turnout, he said, the people who made the trek to the polls would be those who vote every election and would likely be the same voters who put the incumbents into office in the past.

Grafe added he’s surprised at the play-it-safe approach of the Hamilton’s incumbents.

“You would think with the size of the majorities they’ve had in the past that they’d be willing to displease some of their local voters in order to do something they thought was right for Hamilton,” he said.

“When you look at what they say around the council table, most times, they are most cautious to ensure their decision is not going to cost them votes locally regardless of what they feel the benefit of a given decision might be for the city as a whole.”

The vote totals were high-water marks for Duval and Whitehead.

This was Jackson’s ninth victory and second highest share of the vote — in 2000 he had 88.5 per cent in a race against David Riess.

“They continue to give me their tremendous support with such an overwhelming, resounding victory,” Jackson of his constituents. “I’m so very humbled by it.”

Jackson has a 100-member campaign team that began working on the re-election campaign in earnest in June. He said he knocked on about two-thirds of the doors in his ward during the campaign.

Sam Merulla (Ward 4), Brenda Johnson (Ward 11) and Robert Pasuta (Ward 14) each had a higher percentage of the vote than Jackson did this time. However, during Jackson’s 26 years in office, his 88 per cent in 2000 is second only to Chad Collins’ 90 per cent in 2006 as far as councillor elections go.

In the public school board races, Kathy Archer won a tight race in Ward 6 with 33 per cent of the vote; Dawn Danko had 66 per cent in Ward 7 and veteran trustee Wes Hicks had 72 per cent.

In the Catholic trustee races, Joe Baiardo won Ward 6 with 63 per cent of the ballots cast and John Valvasori had nearly 70 per cent in Ward 8. Pat Daly was acclaimed in Ward 7.

Danko’s 66 per cent was higher than retiring longtime trustee Lillian Orban received in the previous three elections.

Graefe said it is sometimes easier for challengers when they have an incumbent and their record to attack.

“If you have an open race, people don’t have someone to vote against, they have to vote for someone,” he said, “so the capacity to reach voters and make yourself look like the serious candidate would pay off.”

Popular politician

Perpetually popular Ward 6 councillor Tom Jackson has often received a large percentage of the total votes cast by east Mountain residents.

Year Voter turnout Percentage of votes

2014    43.1% (ward) 80.8%

2010    40.4% (citywide)   54.9%    

2006    37.2% (citywide)   79.7%    

2003    37.9% (citywide)   74.8%    

2000    n/a     87%        

1997    n/a n/a        

1994*   41.9%    65.1%        

1991*   n/a    58.55%        

1988*   50.09%     48.37% (second most votes)

* Two councillors elected

sources: City of Hamilton, Wikipedia

Four reasons for landslide municipal election results, says Hamilton professor

News Nov 05, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

Political science professor Peter Graefe suggests why incumbents received high vote tallies

By Gord Bowes, News staff

The turnout was the lowest in the last four elections, but some of the results were still incredible by any standard, says a politic science professor at McMaster University.

Eight of the Hamilton city councillors re-elected on Oct. 27 received over 70 per cent of the votes cast in their ward. Four had 80 per cent or more.

“It’s something I haven’t seen before,” says professor Peter Graefe.

All three Mountain councillors had very high vote counts. Tom Jackson collected 80.83 per cent in Ward 6. Scott Duvall was just a tick shy of 80 per cent in Ward 7, while in Ward 8, Terry Whitehead had 76.54 per cent.

Graefe said there are four main reasons for the high percentages: no big ward issues to bring voters out; any divisive issues such as the downtown casino debate were sorted out long before the vote; the councillors are generally risk-adverse; and voters naturally view the person in office as the stronger candidate.

“Citizens aren’t stupid,” said Graefe. “They see the strength of those candidates who get re-elected more strongly.”

As far as the low turnout, he said, the people who made the trek to the polls would be those who vote every election and would likely be the same voters who put the incumbents into office in the past.

Grafe added he’s surprised at the play-it-safe approach of the Hamilton’s incumbents.

“You would think with the size of the majorities they’ve had in the past that they’d be willing to displease some of their local voters in order to do something they thought was right for Hamilton,” he said.

“When you look at what they say around the council table, most times, they are most cautious to ensure their decision is not going to cost them votes locally regardless of what they feel the benefit of a given decision might be for the city as a whole.”

The vote totals were high-water marks for Duval and Whitehead.

This was Jackson’s ninth victory and second highest share of the vote — in 2000 he had 88.5 per cent in a race against David Riess.

“They continue to give me their tremendous support with such an overwhelming, resounding victory,” Jackson of his constituents. “I’m so very humbled by it.”

Jackson has a 100-member campaign team that began working on the re-election campaign in earnest in June. He said he knocked on about two-thirds of the doors in his ward during the campaign.

Sam Merulla (Ward 4), Brenda Johnson (Ward 11) and Robert Pasuta (Ward 14) each had a higher percentage of the vote than Jackson did this time. However, during Jackson’s 26 years in office, his 88 per cent in 2000 is second only to Chad Collins’ 90 per cent in 2006 as far as councillor elections go.

In the public school board races, Kathy Archer won a tight race in Ward 6 with 33 per cent of the vote; Dawn Danko had 66 per cent in Ward 7 and veteran trustee Wes Hicks had 72 per cent.

In the Catholic trustee races, Joe Baiardo won Ward 6 with 63 per cent of the ballots cast and John Valvasori had nearly 70 per cent in Ward 8. Pat Daly was acclaimed in Ward 7.

Danko’s 66 per cent was higher than retiring longtime trustee Lillian Orban received in the previous three elections.

Graefe said it is sometimes easier for challengers when they have an incumbent and their record to attack.

“If you have an open race, people don’t have someone to vote against, they have to vote for someone,” he said, “so the capacity to reach voters and make yourself look like the serious candidate would pay off.”

Popular politician

Perpetually popular Ward 6 councillor Tom Jackson has often received a large percentage of the total votes cast by east Mountain residents.

Year Voter turnout Percentage of votes

2014    43.1% (ward) 80.8%

2010    40.4% (citywide)   54.9%    

2006    37.2% (citywide)   79.7%    

2003    37.9% (citywide)   74.8%    

2000    n/a     87%        

1997    n/a n/a        

1994*   41.9%    65.1%        

1991*   n/a    58.55%        

1988*   50.09%     48.37% (second most votes)

* Two councillors elected

sources: City of Hamilton, Wikipedia

Four reasons for landslide municipal election results, says Hamilton professor

News Nov 05, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

Political science professor Peter Graefe suggests why incumbents received high vote tallies

By Gord Bowes, News staff

The turnout was the lowest in the last four elections, but some of the results were still incredible by any standard, says a politic science professor at McMaster University.

Eight of the Hamilton city councillors re-elected on Oct. 27 received over 70 per cent of the votes cast in their ward. Four had 80 per cent or more.

“It’s something I haven’t seen before,” says professor Peter Graefe.

All three Mountain councillors had very high vote counts. Tom Jackson collected 80.83 per cent in Ward 6. Scott Duvall was just a tick shy of 80 per cent in Ward 7, while in Ward 8, Terry Whitehead had 76.54 per cent.

Graefe said there are four main reasons for the high percentages: no big ward issues to bring voters out; any divisive issues such as the downtown casino debate were sorted out long before the vote; the councillors are generally risk-adverse; and voters naturally view the person in office as the stronger candidate.

“Citizens aren’t stupid,” said Graefe. “They see the strength of those candidates who get re-elected more strongly.”

As far as the low turnout, he said, the people who made the trek to the polls would be those who vote every election and would likely be the same voters who put the incumbents into office in the past.

Grafe added he’s surprised at the play-it-safe approach of the Hamilton’s incumbents.

“You would think with the size of the majorities they’ve had in the past that they’d be willing to displease some of their local voters in order to do something they thought was right for Hamilton,” he said.

“When you look at what they say around the council table, most times, they are most cautious to ensure their decision is not going to cost them votes locally regardless of what they feel the benefit of a given decision might be for the city as a whole.”

The vote totals were high-water marks for Duval and Whitehead.

This was Jackson’s ninth victory and second highest share of the vote — in 2000 he had 88.5 per cent in a race against David Riess.

“They continue to give me their tremendous support with such an overwhelming, resounding victory,” Jackson of his constituents. “I’m so very humbled by it.”

Jackson has a 100-member campaign team that began working on the re-election campaign in earnest in June. He said he knocked on about two-thirds of the doors in his ward during the campaign.

Sam Merulla (Ward 4), Brenda Johnson (Ward 11) and Robert Pasuta (Ward 14) each had a higher percentage of the vote than Jackson did this time. However, during Jackson’s 26 years in office, his 88 per cent in 2000 is second only to Chad Collins’ 90 per cent in 2006 as far as councillor elections go.

In the public school board races, Kathy Archer won a tight race in Ward 6 with 33 per cent of the vote; Dawn Danko had 66 per cent in Ward 7 and veteran trustee Wes Hicks had 72 per cent.

In the Catholic trustee races, Joe Baiardo won Ward 6 with 63 per cent of the ballots cast and John Valvasori had nearly 70 per cent in Ward 8. Pat Daly was acclaimed in Ward 7.

Danko’s 66 per cent was higher than retiring longtime trustee Lillian Orban received in the previous three elections.

Graefe said it is sometimes easier for challengers when they have an incumbent and their record to attack.

“If you have an open race, people don’t have someone to vote against, they have to vote for someone,” he said, “so the capacity to reach voters and make yourself look like the serious candidate would pay off.”

Popular politician

Perpetually popular Ward 6 councillor Tom Jackson has often received a large percentage of the total votes cast by east Mountain residents.

Year Voter turnout Percentage of votes

2014    43.1% (ward) 80.8%

2010    40.4% (citywide)   54.9%    

2006    37.2% (citywide)   79.7%    

2003    37.9% (citywide)   74.8%    

2000    n/a     87%        

1997    n/a n/a        

1994*   41.9%    65.1%        

1991*   n/a    58.55%        

1988*   50.09%     48.37% (second most votes)

* Two councillors elected

sources: City of Hamilton, Wikipedia