Thursday, June 5, 2008

Plainfield's Primary Election: What does it mean?

Congratulations to the Democratic Party winners who will be on the ballot for City Council in November: challengers Annie McWilliams for Council at large and Adrian Mapp for 3rd Ward. Lets not forget Bill Reid, who ran uncontested in the 1st ward. And there still is a Republican Party in town, to be represented by Deborah Dowe for the Council at large seat in November.

Some of my fellow Democrats are now cringing. I made the mistake of mentioning the opponents name, a no no in campaign tactics. I will make up for it by campaigning hard for Annie McWilliams who will be running against ......?????. Is that better?

It's hard to draw conclusions from election results in Plainfield because we are such a diverse town. And I don't just mean diversity along the black-white-hispanic-asian dimension. We are diverse socio-economically, culturally and politically.

By the way, can you name the Plainfield ward that is the most diverse along the racial, ethnic and family income dimensions? Hint - it is the same ward for all three dimensions. The answer will be in my next blog.

Here is my take on the election results:

1. A good door to door campaign trumped pay to play money this time around. I have yet to see the final spending reports but my guess is that the incumbents outspent the challengers by a 3 - 1 or 4 - 1 margin. Good news for good government!

2. Direct voter contact led our walkers to believe that people are impatient with local government. Mayor Robinson Briggs, who was campaigning actively for the incumbents, apparently did not deliver many votes. Significant pluralities for McWilliams and Mapp bear this out. They were not easy to find on the ballot but people were looking for their names. McWilliams' 1800 to 1000 vote victory over Gibson would have been much greater if we factored in ballot position.

3. Lack of action on roads was a concern over and over again. Taxes also. The incumbents campaigned on "the lowest tax increase in the county". The voters didn't care or didn't believe it.

4. The McWilliams name is still important. Not to take anything away from Annie. She ran a very good campaign as her own person.

5. The New Democrat label, thought by some to have suffered irreparable damage in the last few years, did not harm McWilliams and Mapp. On the other hand, it is not clear if it helped them either. The challengers did not use it much and the incumbents actually did use it, thinking it would work against McWilliams and Mapp.

6. Adrian Mapp's vote total might have been even higher if not for Olive Lynch's candidacy. She made a surprisingly strong showing.

One of the best comments I heard on election day was from a local resident who works for the state legislature in Trenton. He said the total Plainfield vote is more important than who wins local elections. Resource allocation decisions at the county, state and even national levels are influenced by the size of the voting public. How are we doing so far this year? Barack Obama certainly benefited from a very good Plainfield turnout in February. In the June primary, a slow year for local elections, Plainfields turnout was better than expected. McWilliams and Mapp get much of the credit for that. Our man in Trenton predicted a Plainfield vote total of 1600 based on his analysis of previous years voting totals. It was close to 3000. The challenge for all Plainfield Democrats is how to come together to maximize our potential influence.


Anonymous said...

My guess is Ward 2.

Anonymous said...

On your takes- #1 Right on. Harrison (Pete) Williams ex Senator was elected to the House by defeating the entrenched Republicans with a personal hand shaking campaign. Union County in those days was as Republican as it is Democratic today.

#3 Is it not time the city government paid attention to its inner structure. Do something about it besides talk.

The rest-New Democrats, old Democrats I am sure that wounds will quickly heal and ther will be no way to distinquish. You all are very adaptable.