Monday, November 16, 2009

Post-Election Analysis: Icarus Falling

Part 2 in a series

Thought I was different and it seems I’m just the same
As a game I put my hand over the flame
Thought I was smarter as I flew into the sun
But it turned out the way it does with everyone

---lyrics from the song Moth on the album Revelations by Audioslave

This isn’t the first time I’ve highlighted noteworthy lyrics by Chris Cornell. I’ve always been a student of the lesson of man and his limitations. There can often be many different motivations for reaching beyond them. In my case, I’m guilty of being an idealist. Idealism often leads to the pursuit of lofty goals but it’s also a path that leads directly into the sun. Tough gig.

The election is over. I lost. The alternative choice we had hoped to provide by creating the independent No New Tax Party ballot line was not fully embraced by the electorate, although we pulled some significant numbers in spite of prognostications otherwise. In the end, it simply wasn’t enough.

The ramifications of our involvement though have caused many to speculate that “we split the vote” and were responsible for the paradigm shift of power in the town. A Republican supermajority was transformed into a Democrat supermajority overnight. It was a Democrat sweep of epic proportion.

So what does that mean? First, it means some people (ousted Republican incumbents and their leadership) are really, really p*ssed. They attribute the loss solely to the existence of the No New Tax Party. They assume that we split the vote and ALL our votes, or at least the majority of them, would’ve gone to the Republican candidate. Maybe, but I don’t agree. The argument is fair enough but I think it’s too simplistic. Here’s why: it doesn’t account for the fact that we appealed to independent voters, some that may not have even voted otherwise and also that we commanded many Democrat votes as well. It also doesn’t account for the impact of an ill-advised Republican attempt to create a new town-wide tax district prior to the election. In other words, it’s plausible that the Republicans lost because of their own missteps. There is an element of party arrogance that hasn’t been acknowledged. People definitely wanted and voted for “change.” We tried to provide it in the form of the No New Tax Party but instead the voter opted for the “change” offered by the Democrats. In my opinion, the Republicans would’ve lost the election either way, albeit by a narrower margin perhaps.

Let’s take a closer look at my race in particular. Remember, I won the primary in September to secure the Republican ballot line and thus, essentially returned the dynamic in my race to the traditional dynamic of two-party politics. I was competing in a separate, special election rolled into the general election. My opponent was a Democrat, who also had the Conservative endorsement. I’ve been the recipient of some Republican leadership wrath because they lost control of the town when their candidates fell to the Democrats. They blame me. I don’t believe the blame is warranted but I understand how I make a convenient scapegoat. If the Republican leadership really was interested in keeping seats, they would’ve supported me after I rightfully won the Republican primary. They didn’t. Moreover, a prominent Republican state assemblyman appeared on my Democratic opponent’s campaign mailer days before the general election. I lost by 572 votes and actually commanded more total votes than either of the two big dog Republican candidates running for the 4 year terms in the other race. Not too shabby in my book. Maybe some party support could’ve changed the outcome?

Let’s forget about the “what-if’s?” I lost. I only had a Democratic opponent. There wasn’t anyone else “to split the vote” unless I want to count my Republican primary opponent who stayed in the race on two minor party lines and garnered 403 votes. My point is the night belonged to the Democrats likely no matter what. Oddly, that point is in the same instant scoffed at by the Republican leadership when it’s being used to explain their defeat, but then offered as the reason for my defeat had I had their support or not.

We created the No New Tax Party in response to a perception that voters wanted an alternative. Undeniably, some did. I garnered 3098 votes unofficially in my race. I suspect about half of those were cast on the No New Tax Party line. Overall, however, the voter dynamic we envisioned and were relying on to win the election never materialized as evidenced by our individual totals on our independent line. We failed to motivate enough unaffiliated voters to come out and vote for us. We also didn’t pull enough from the two parties.

Failure? In some views, yes. Not in mine. I’ve always believed failure is an integral part of eventual success. Let’s consider it victory delayed. We most certainly lost, but we also had many noteworthy accomplishments that hopefully, strengthen the foundation of future third party independent campaigns.

Next series installment: Inside the Numbers

1 comment:

Brad Littlefield said...

According to the certified election results ( ), you garnered 3265 votes in your race. 1079 were on the No New Tax Party ballot line. These results are commendable considering that you had neither the support from an established party nor the funding invested by and in your opponent. I encourage you to remain involved and to try again in 2011. It was my honor working with you in attempting to change the local political landscape.