Friday, November 9, 2007

Post-Game Analysis

Detailed precinct-by-precinct vote totals are now available at the website of the Franklin County Board of Elections. I spent a little time with the numbers to see what would pop out. Here's some basic statistics:

  • There are 71 precincts in the Hilliard School District.
  • A total of 15,915 votes were cast, with each voter allowed to vote for two candidates. It is a fact that some chose to vote for only one candidate, so the total number of voters was something more than 15,915/2, or 7,958. There are approximately 43,000 registered voters in the school district.
  • While collecting the most votes (4,533), Doug Maggied came in second to Dave Lundregan in the number of precincts won, 28 to 29.
  • Although I came in last place in terms of votes (3,276) and precincts won (8), I beat Dick Hammond in 27 precincts, Doug Maggied in 17, and Dave Lundregan in 14. I was one of the top two vote getters in 20 precincts.
  • The precincts I did best in are in the southern half of the district, but span the whole width of the district. They included Columbus, Brown Twp, and Hilliard precincts, and a range of home values.
  • The flyers seem to have been the best method for telling people about my agenda, although well-place signs seemed to have helped as well – meaning at an intersection and close enough to the road that people who are stopped could read the website address. Too bad a number of these vanished in the last days of the campaign (Norwich Twp officials: was it really necessary to mow 4 days before the election?).

I think the chances are very good that had I distributed an addition 2,000 flyers (I passed out 1,000), I would have won a seat. That's the hard lesson I learned in this election, and the consequence of not seeking any advice from those who have run for office at this level. A friend who sat on the Board of Education for Worthington City Schools says it takes about $3,000 to win a Board seat in these parts. It turns out that my spending would have been about that had I printed the extra 2,000 flyers.

It should be noted that the candidates who won, Doug Maggied and Dave Lundregan, were also the candidates endorsed by the teachers' union, the Hilliard Education Association. The HEA endorsement brings with it two important things: a) the votes of a large fraction of the 1,000 or so members of the union, as well as spouses and maybe other relatives; and, b) financial support in the production of campaign material and the feet on the street to distribute it. One cannot underestimate the weight the HEA brings to the election. I don't know exactly why they chose not to endorse me, but it probably had something to do with the fact that I said if we don't get a levy passed before 2009, we're going to need to lay off a lot of teachers.

It's troubling that the teachers' union can have so much influence on the outcome of a school board election. While most of the time, the Board, the administrators, the teachers, the staff, and the citizens of the district are all focused on delivering a great educational experience to our kids, there are definitely times, like now, when the Board the and the union are on the opposite sides of the table. While lots of ancillary matters are negotiated into the union's collective bargaining agreement, the main topic is compensation and benefits. When the financial situation is challenging, as it is now, it seems like it's very important for the Board members to have undiluted allegiance to the people who elected them.

I think that we'll find out, when the final campaign spending reports are filed in December, that money isn't everything however. I suspect that Dick Hammond spent the most of the four of us. Not only did he mail a full-color, two-sided flyer to the homes of voters, he robo-called many as well. His money came from well recognized politicians, including Mayor Don Schonhardt, State Rep Larry Wolpert, Judge Charles Schneider, and Hilliard City Councilman Brett Sciotto.

Many lessons learned.


  1. I was surprised the Northwest News didn't interview you afterwards - they spoke to the other three. I guess they spoke to Hammond because he was an incumbent.

    I thought the flyers were excellent - well-researched & well-written - but even if you'd given out 2000 more you'd have only reached about 340 voters (2000 * .17 voting rate). And maybe only three-quarters would've been persuaded, which means only about +255 votes. Where am I going wrong?

    I think there should've been more people writing into the Northwest News. Only hardcore voters read the opinion page of the paper, but then that's who you want to reach.

    I can tell you that had I not stumbled onto your website six months or more ago I wouldn't have voted given the lack of issues and competitive races on the ballot. Sad but true...

  2. TS:

    To be fair, they did call the house and ask where I would be after the election. My wife told them the truth - that I was working as an election official in Upper Arlington.

    The guesstimate on flyers comes from looking at the precinct-by-precinct numbers and knowing where I passed out flyers. There was definitely a correlation.

    I sincerely appreciate your support and feedback. Next time around I'll be a little wiser. Meanwhile I remain as engaged as I was prior to deciding to run. I'll be at the Board meeting tomorrow night to make my ongoing request: that they mount a serious effort to educate the community about school funding -- sooner rather than later.

    See you.