About Jon Elliston
An Asheville-based mountain journalist: Former Mountain Xpress managing editor. Investigations and open government editor at Carolina Public Press. Senior contributing editor at WNC magazine.

25 thoughts on “Asheville primary election results: The final numbers

  1. zen

    i can’t believe only 1 in 10 people would vote. But at least the votes are moving in the direction i wanted (except for Shad Marsh)

  2. JWTJr

    Primaries never get much turnout. Shad didn’t have a shot. Terry is a lock.

  3. One in ten people vote in local elections. Between five and six in ten people believe national elections are more important than local elections. Four percent of people know that elections are a sham, somehow.

    Yes, I know the numbers don’t add up. It is a set of all numbers in the set that are not contained in the set of numbers not in the set. Duh. I guess they didn’t teach statistics at A-B Tech, either?

  4. For all my years of following local elections I’ve wondered about the way the BOE reports results. (And, of course, this year I am particularly tuned in.) In multi candidate races they report the percentages of total votes cast rather than total ballots cast. So in this report I am credited with 19.63 percent of the votes. What I think is more informative is that 52 percent of the people who cast ballots voted for our campaign. Fifty percent of ballots were cast for Gordon Smith and 46 percent for Esther Manheimer. (This then offers a meaningful comparison to 48 percent of ballots cast for Jan Davis in 2007).

  5. And to continue with the top three in the 2007 primary:
    Brownie Newman garnered 45 percent.
    Bryan Freeborn picked up 36 percent.

    The newsworthy piece here is that two years ago the incumbents were the top three finishers. This year the incumbents didn’t fare so well.

  6. James L

    And to continue in the same mode of the current council, candidates are lining up to compare statistics about how popular they think they are rather than concerning themselves with the actual business of serving on city council. God help us.

    While turnouts are low for primaries, especially with nothing more than council on the ballot, I’ve heard from way to many people this time that said they weren’t going to vote because of the lack of any competant candidates. It’s a sad state of affairs when a city can’t field a better crop of citizens willing to serve on council for reasons other than vanity or ego.

  7. J

    Cecil’s interpretation of the election turnout numbers are somewhat bizarre and totally inconsistent, and should never be used.

    By comparing percentages of previous elections, Cecil erroneously assumes that all elections are the same. They are not.

    In 2007, Jan Davis, Brownie Newman, and Bryan Freeborn were all on the primary ticket. This time around, there were only two incumbents on the primary ticket, bringing significantly less incumbent name ID.

    In 2007, 13% of the electorate voted in the primary. (This takes 7k voters http://tinyurl.com/yepkdlz out of the 57k registered voters in Asheville http://tinyurl.com/ya275tq) So, if Cecil wants meaningful comparisons, maybe this means more people cared in 2007.

    Furthermore, there were 15 candidates running in 2007, this time there were effectively nine candidates running. Newman and Freeborn got 45% and 36% out of 15 candidates, seemingly more of a challenge than getting 52% of 11%, in which four of the candidates running made no sincere effort to raise money to campaign.

    While Cecil should be given credit for energizing his base to turn out in a low turnout year, his crowning himself as more popular than Newman and Freeborn is not really comparable.

  8. J- had no intention of crowning myself. I just think that presenting results as a percentage of the ballots rather than a percentage of the votes is more meaningful.

    And your point about the number of candidates is well taken. I’m not a statistician and I don’t play one on TV.

    “Let Asheville Vote” and development were the driving forces in the 2007 race. So far there are no populist uprisings on the radar this year, and development issues have been back-burnered by the economy.

    And, wow the base came through! Thanks all around to a fantastic grass roots organization!

  9. disenfranchised

    Cecil,

    Thank you for your dedication to the community and being somebody who is worth voting for. You’re the reason I bothered to vote yesterday.

    I’m hoping you can bring some transparency to Council… Bob Oast allow Council to run behind closed doors far too often! I want to see my sausage made…
    Thank you!

  10. Jeff Fobes

    Carl Mumpower’s post-election email (excerpts):

    I placed 5th in a line-up of 6 candidates with a total voter turnout of 11.1%.  A couple of notes on that outcome-
     
    1)      The top three primary winners typically win the general election.
    2)      The gap between the first three in the next three in this election is dramatic.
    3)      The election was realistically decided by the 90% of the voters who stayed home. 
     
    It is interesting to note that we came in first in more precincts than any candidate (15) but placed 5th in the overall standings. 
     
    What’s next? 
    I will not be doing anything different over the coming month.  As I said early on – after 8 years the people of Asheville know my name and what I stand for.  I will return for a third term with enthusiasm or depart with gratitude per their decision. 
     
    In terms of campaigning forward, I will participate actively in all forums, respond to surveys, be available for questions, and come anywhere to meet with any group of citizens.  I will not be spending any money on my campaign – either my own or anyone else’s.  I am not interested in purchasing a seat on Asheville’s City Council.
     
    The question has come up about my needing to campaign harder.  I have been campaigning hard – by serving my office in a principled, energetic, creative, and persistent fashion.  As the only conservative member of the Council (as measured by voting records) I have been given generous opportunity through the media to illuminate my positions.   No one could have asked for more and no one has had more visibility on political matters in our community. 
     
    My standing in the vote outcome comes down to voter turnout and voter choice.  Although I have a demonstrated unwillingness to seduce voters, there is no issue with name recognition or visibility – the things that most candidates are spending money on.  The voters of Asheville have quietly said that they may want other leadership – either with their vote or by staying home.
     
    Looking back, my consistent stance has been toward being careful with other people’s money, supporting traditional values, and resisting the expansion of socialistic governance at the local level.  I would not change a thing and will not change a thing going forward. 
    What I will do is work hard over the next thirty days and then accept the final decision of the voters with peace of mind. 

  11. Piffy!

    [b]I will not be spending any money on my campaign – either my own or anyone else’s. I am not interested in purchasing a seat on Asheville’s City Council.[/b]

    So, spending money on a campaign is ‘purchasing a council seat’?

    It sounds like he never wanted to win anyway?

  12. JWTJr

    So, spending money on a campaign is ‘purchasing a council seat’?

    Essentially yes. Campaigns cost money and there is a very direct correlation on money spent and winning.

  13. Jeff Fobes

    Mumpower corrects his email newsletter comments about the election.

    In his first comments, Mumpower wrote: “It is interesting to note that we came in first in more precincts than any candidate (15) but placed 5th in the overall standings.”

    In a later mailing, Mumpower corrected the number 15: “the correct number of precincts, per Citizen-Times staff writer Joel Burgess, is 8 precincts versus the 15 note below.  Our apologies for the error – whether on our end or per flaws in the on-line map, it was unintentional.”

  14. RE: Mumpower:

    Claiming you won first in however many districts you want is one thing, but when you share 1 of 3 votes cast with two other candidates, does that really make you a winner?

    How about when you tie with another candidate with 2 votes? Does that count?

    I suddenly like Herman Mumster. He seems incredibly optimistic. At least, I assume he wrote his own post-mortem of the primary. Since he’s not taking any money I guess he didn’t pay a PR person. Right?

  15. ashevillelokel

    Clearly the citizens of Ashevegas could care less about the Council race…. looks like Mummys’ days are numbered.

  16. JWTJr

    Maybe there’s some burn out from the last election. I don’t think that kind of intensity can hold up indefinitely. However, we won’t know for sure til the general election.

  17. Jeff Fobes

    From Ashvegas:
    The race for Asheville City Council: Some instant analysis, the Obama effect and a look to what’s next

    An excerpt: “So why did Bothwell, Smith and Manheimer – all three newcomers to elected office and campaigning (although Bothwell ran for Buncombe County commissioner last year) – do so well?

    “I credit what I’m calling the “Obama effect.” Lots of Democrats are still riding high after last November’s big win. On the national level, the Obama campaign put in place a new grassroots structure that I think is now benefitting local candidates, along with the general “winner’s mentality” that’s still swirling.”

    THE WHOLE POST AT:
    http://ashvegas.squarespace.com/journal/2009/10/8/the-race-for-asheville-city-council-some-instant-analysis-th.html

  18. Piffy!

    [b]“I credit what I’m calling the “Obama effect.” Lots of Democrats are still riding high after last November’s big win.[/b]

    i call it the “Bush effect”. Former Republicans are still severely disenfranchised and unhappy with their candidates, and largely staying home, as they did in November.

  19. JWTJr

    “i call it the “Bush effect”. Former Republicans are still severely disenfranchised and unhappy with their candidates, and largely staying home, as they did in November.”

    I agree what the Bush effect affected turnout last year. I don’t think that will be the case next year or 2012. Want to put a wager on it?

  20. Piffy!

    2012? I thought we were talking about the city council primaries. But if the Republicans keep out-Democrating the Democrats, and vice versa, it’s hard to believe it matters either way.

  21. JWTJr

    OMG – they are talking about a second stimulus!? We’ve only spent 10% – 12% of the first one!

    If they actually do this, it will guarantee a massive turn out for the Republicans in the next national election.

    What are they thinking?

  22. Jennifer Rennicks

    It seems like I feel this way each after each election – primary or general – but I cannot believe how few people engage in our electoral process. 100 years ago, half the population wasn’t able to vote; 50 years ago, African Americans risked beatings and death threats to cast ballots; today millions of people in other countries face these same risks. With the outstanding early voting system that our state offers there is simply no valid excuse – and I bet many of the people who don’t show up to vote are the same complaining about the outcomes. Climbing down off my soapbox now…..

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