How might Paul Smiley vote on the new Danville City Commission?

The results from the 2012 Boyle County Exit Poll allow us to examine whether there is any evidence of how Danville’s new city commissioners are likely to vote over the next two years. Below is a table of correlations between self-reported voting for each of the seven commission candidates among Danville voters, as well as self-reported approval for Mayor Hunstad:

 
Hunstad approval
Smiley
Montgomery
Louis
Hamner
Atkins
Caudill
Stevens
Hunstad approval
1
0.059
.315(*)
.384(*)
-.182(*)
-.265(*)
-.254(*)
-.214(*)
Smiley
0.059
1
0.032
.106(*)
-.305(*)
-0.062
-0.068
0.01
Montgomery
.315(*)
0.032
1
.275(*)
-.141(*)
-.268(*)
-.172(*)
-.233(*)
Louis
.384(*)
.106(*)
.275(*)
1
-.138(*)
-.304(*)
-.270(*)
-.118(*)
Hamner
-.182(*)
-.305(*)
-.141(*)
-.138(*)
1
.096(*)
.120(*)
.159(*)
Atkins
-.265(*)
-0.062
-.268(*)
-.304(*)
.096(*)
1
.267(*)
.225(*)
Caudill
-.254(*)
-0.068
-.172(*)
-.270(*)
.120(*)
.267(*)
1
.253(*)
Stevens
-.214(*)
0.01
-.233(*)
-.118(*)
.159(*)
.225(*)
.253(*)
1

In plain English, positive numbers mean that, in general, the voters selected both of the two candidates on the same ballot, or voted for the candidate and indicated approval for Mayor Hunstad on the survey. Negative numbers indicate that voters did not tend to vote for those two candidates on the same ballot. The bigger the number, the stronger the relationship in either direction. Also, the asterisk (*) indicates that there is strong evidence that a relationship exists and is not just due to random sampling error (for statistics nerds: it’s statistically significant at p<0.05).

From these correlations, we can discern some clear patterns. Not surprisingly, those who voted for Atkins and Caudill tended to vote strongly for Stevens and strongly against Louis and Montgomery. There is also a relationship between voting for Atkins/Caudill and Hamner, although the relationship is weaker than that for Stevens. Conversely, those who voted for Montgomery also voted strongly for Louis.

Also, as we would expect, approval of Mayor Hunstad is highly correlated with voting for Montgomery and Louis and with voting against Caudill, Atkins, and Stevens. This is not surprising given that Hunstad, Montgomery, and Louis  voted together (and against Atkins/Caudill) on some key controversial issues over the past two years.

To me, the interesting thing to note is the lack of a clear pattern for voting for Paul Smiley. Voting for Smiley was not highly related to approval for Mayor Hunstad or voting for several of the other candidates. There is a weak relationship between voting for Smiley and Louis (but not Montgomery) and between voting for Smiley but not for Hamner.

This all suggests the following narrative: most Danville voters either voted for Atkins/Caudill/Stevens or Montgomery/Louis. They then had to choose among Hamner and Smiley for the last 1 or 2 votes, respectively. It seems that the Atkins/Caudill/Stevens voters split their last vote between Hamner and Smiley, while more Montgomery/Louis voters choose Smiley over Hamner. 

Based on voter perceptions, then, as evidenced through these voting patterns, it seems that Danville voters expect that over the next two years there will be a majority voting bloc of J.H. Atkins, Kevin Caudill, and Paige Stevens, with Mayor Hunstad on the other side, and Paul Smiley a “swing” voter in the middle. Whether Smiley opts to side with the Mayor or with the majority might not ultimately matter, though, as the three-member majority of Atkins/Caudill/Stevens will be able to decide any vote as long as they vote together.

At the same time, I urge caution in making too much of this conclusion. Previous analysis indicates that even among the previous commission with a clear 3-2 split, they voted unanimously 90% of the time. I expect the same will be true over the next two years.

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