This morning I conducted an analysis of the Danville precinct election returns from yesterday’s local elections. I calculated the winning margin advantage of all the city candidates (mayoral and city commission) as well as U.S. House and Senate candidates on a precinct-by-precinct basis to see if there are any interesting patterns. In essence, we can see if precincts that tended to show a higher degree of support for one candidate were more or less likely to show a higher degree of support for another candidate. Here are my main findings:
- Danville has a non-partisan system of elections for mayor and city council. Sure enough, there was no observable pattern between voting for the Republican candidates Rand Paul or Andy Barr and either of the mayoral candidates, Gay or Hunstad. There was also no observable relationship between partisan voting at the state level and voting for city commissioner candidates… except for J. H. Atkins. Precincts that had a higher degree of support for Democratic candidates at the state level were more likely to have a higher degree of support for commissioner candidate J. H. Atkins.
- Precincts that were more likely to vote for Mayor-elect Hunstad were much more likely to have higher vote totals for non-incumbent candidates Louis, Montgomery, Cline, and Isaacs, and conversely much lower vote totals for incumbents Crowley, Caudill, and Hamner. Pro-Hunstad precincts were also less likely to have higher pro-Atkins vote totals, but that relationship was much weaker, which might explain why Atkins and Hunstad both won their respective campaigns.
The conclusion that I draw is that yesterday’s election in Danville was indeed a “partisan” election, in the sense that there seemed to be a de facto “incumbent party” and “non-incumbent” party. Voters in the Danville election seemed to vote mostly on a pro-incumbent or anti-incumbent slate, which was something that Mayor Coomer specifically recommended on several occasions this fall. Thus, Mayor-elect Hunstad and Commissioners-elect Louis, Montgomery, Atkins benefited greatly from simply being “outsiders” in a year when many Danville voters were upset about some of the recent controversial issues (e.g. town hall renovations, mandatory recycling program, etc.) that the incumbent city commissioners had approved. I would argue that this, more than anything else, is the most likely explanation for yesterday’s election results.
Important note: because these data are on a precinct-by-precinct basis, it is impossible to draw definitive conclusions about the voting patterns of individual voters. Instead, I draw these conclusions based on patterns observed at the precinct level, supported by historical patterns of American voting habits.