Wednesday, September 12, 2007
not a lot for Robert 'Lot' Muscheck
(Photo Credits ©2007 Stephen Holt/Special to The Tribune)
First off, congrats to Ralph Becker and Dave Buhler, who made it past the SLC mayoral primary yesterday. Secondly, a sad congratulations to BYU poly sci Professor Kelly Patterson, who estimated turnout to be 28,000. The actual result: 27,239 people voted in this election, out of 94,578 registered voters for a city of about 180,000 people. In other words, 28.8% turnout and only 15% of the residents of Salt Lake City are deciding which two people might be the other 85%'s mayor.
Other than Jenny Wilson (I will get to her in a second), the most dubious number of the whole night goes to Robert "Lot" Muscheck. This protest candidate got a grand total of...[drum roll please]...fourteen (14) votes. That's right, other than his nuclear family, maybe his brothers' or sisters' family voted for him. That is impressively bad.
We all knew that Keith Christensen was sinking fast ever since he left the GOP, which must have a) struck primary voters as opportunistic and b) reminded them that he was a Republican. But Jenny's fall from first to third place (a mere 1,206 votes separated her from making into the next round, while 2,916 separated Becker from Buhler and 4,122 separated Becker from Wilson) was the most startling. A few predicted this would happen. I got the feeling it would but wasn't brave enough to voice it on my blog before a commenter beat me to it on Ethan's.
Everyone who knows anything about this race knew it was going to be a low turnout affair. Similarly, it is common knowledge that those who do turn out in such elections are usually more partisan and activist than regular voters, let alone like the average public. So running to the center, like Keith and to a lesser extent Jenny did, hurt them. While Buhler pretended to run in the middle, it seems the SLC Republicans figured out that he was their guy.
Becker by contrast focused on liberal activists. He hosted a screening at the Broadway on a documentary on electric cars. Every piece of advertising focused on his liberal creditials, whether it was a sign attached to a bicyclist, or a mailer with Utah's only two homosexual legislators. Moreover, Ralph already represented one of the most liberal and activist areas in the whole city--the Avenues and Capitol Hill-- so he had a built in advantage of already being known by said activists and having a voting record to back up his campaign strategy. He also ran a relatively mistake-free campaign.
Jenny spent her last dollars robo-calling my wife and I 4 or 5 times because we are frequent voters. Even if I hadn't already decided to vote for Becker out of fear that he wouldn't make it to the next round, my friend Dave Everitt, and his blogger outreach, these calls would have sent me over the edge to Becker anyway. First off, one is enough. The repeated nature of it pissed me off. Also, having the fire chief calling in didn't sell me. I never picked up the other ones, but I assume they were from Carroon and maybe Jenny herself.
I didn't have the inside access to the Wilson campaign like I did for Becker's. But from the emails her campaign sent me, I got the impression that hers was a 30,000 feet campaign, whereas Becker's focus was ground-based. And look who surged even beyond the last poll, and who blew a 25-point lead.
In the end, no matter how great of a elected official you would be in office, if you are running, you need to get your people to the polls in droves. No amount of spending or endorsements will overcome that.
Kudos to Jenny for being gracious in defeat and endorsing Becker immediately. I don't recommend Ralph should take Rocky up on that endorsement thing, since he seems to have the Liberman-Midas touch these days.
I am ready to predict that Becker will blow the doors off Buhler in the general, with most of Jenny's supporters going to Ralph (as well as some of Keith's) and Buhler gaining only about 10 points in a two person race.