Danville politics and voter memory

A recent editorial in the Danville Advocate Messenger gave a rather scathing and critical review of certain members of our current city council. They describe that three of the commissioners (Hunstad, Montgomery, and Louis) are conspiring to undermine the current council-manager form of city government and appoint political allies to positions of influence:


The editorial board finishes with this rhetorical flourish:

The voters can only hope to make sure a light is shone on the city’s activities by watching closely. These commissioners are doing their dirty work early in their tenure because they think you will soon forget. Don’t give them the satisfaction.

While I have sympathy (to a certain extent…) for the editorial board’s rhetorical argument, political science research suggests that most Danville voters will forget about most of this by the time the next election rolls around. Most American voters have very short political memories, and by the time an election rolls around, most voters have forgotten most of the details of the entire campaign, not to mention things that happened before the campaign. This suggests that by the time the next Danville city council election comes around (November 2012), the recent city manager controversy will likely not be on the radar screen, unless the media (primarily the Advocate Messenger) and challenging candidates make a strong and concerted effort to rail on the issue ad nauseam during the campaign.

I’d like to think that such will not be the case, but observation and analysis of American voting behavior suggests otherwise.

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