Sunday, January 25, 2009

Comparing Two Nashville Councilmanic Districts on the English Only and General Election Results

Earlier today I compared the English Only vote in my precinct to the November presidential results in the same.  I also compared those results to a precinct in Joelton outside Davidson County's urban core.

I thought it would be interesting to crunch the broader numbers in District 19, my home district, and compare them to District 3, which is the home district of the Joelton precinct I looked at earlier today.  District 19 encompasses a large part of Downtown and urban neighborhoods bordering the western leg of the inner highway loop.  District 3 begins in north Nashville at Briley Parkway and fans to the northern border of Davidson County. While 19 is among the inner core districts that were instrumental in defeating English Only, 3 includes outer-ring suburban neighborhoods where support for English Only was more mixed.

The first thing that stands out to me about the vote results is that District 3 does a better job at GOTV than District 19 does.  In spite of stereotypes of machine-like qualities to urban voter turn-out, only 11% of 19's registered voters turned out last week, compared to 17% in District 3. According to reports, 19 was one of the districts Howard Gentry robocalled late, and it is not clear that he had much of an effect.

But the real shocker to me is that the same can be said of turnout for the November presidential election. District 3 turned out an impressive 82% of their registered voters (7825 of 9555) compared to a rather anemic 61% turnout for District 19 (6044 of 9992). The November numbers are shocking to me given the historic and popular qualities of the Obama candidacy and the expectations of urban neighborhoods.

And yet, it is not as if District 3 voters were mobilized against Obama. On November 4, the number of District 3 voters choosing Obama was exactly 4 voters less than the total November turnout in District 19.  77% of District 3 voters cast their votes for Obama. 87% of District 19 voters cast their ballots for Obama (though a higher percentage, fewer numbers voted for Obama in District 19).  Clearly, the 2008 campaign motivated voters in both districts to turn out to vote for Obama, but in District 3 more registered voters were motivated to vote period (and 800 more voted for Obama than in District 19). I cannot make sense of the disparity.

While there is some continuity in District 19 between its choice for Obama and its rejection of English Only, District 3's November and January results are disparate. I maintain that a progressive district will not only vote for the first African American president, but will also tend to oppose English Only. Moreover, I tend to assume that levels of progressiveness rise with an increase in density and urbanization. So, it makes sense to me to see that Obama won by 87% of the vote and that English Only lost by 79% of the vote in District 19.

District 3 is another matter. Obama won by 77% of the vote in November.  However, in January, English Only won 54% of the vote. Perhaps the results correlate with the idea that less urban parts of Davidson County are only sometimes as progressive as and generally less progressive than the urban core. Another explanation could be that the progressives in District 3 simply were not as motivated to go to the polls by English Only as they were by Barack Obama.

There are indications within the District 3 results of correlation between Obama voters and English Only opponents in the two Brick Church Pike precincts. Those were the only District 3 precincts to vote against English Only (all of District 19's precincts voted against English Only). They were also the precincts that broke most heavily for Obama in November (only one other District 3 precinct voted for Obama, but it also voted for English Only).

Explaining the differences require more follow-up beyond poll interpretation. I would also like to see how perceived ethnic competitiveness in either district might have effected the results.

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