An interesting election last night in Clear Creek Amana: a case where a drop in turnout may actually indicate an increase in support.
The CCA bond issue passed 78-22%. It's a general rule of our local politics that any money issue starts off with about a 20% automatic no vote, driven by either ideology (Tax Bad) or self-interest (MY kids are out of school). So to reach that magic 60% for a bond, and subtracting that 20% Automatic No, you have to win 75% of the remaining 80% of the electorate.
Yesterday's issue won pretty much everyone EXCEPT the Automatic No. As expected, the Yes was highest in the high-growth areas on the east end of the district: 83% in Tiffin and a North Korean 93% on the west side of North Liberty.
During the day, based on turnout and based on past elections, I was predicting a 67 or 68% win. My benchmark was the February 2006 vote that built North Bend Elementary, the "new" school that's already crowded. That vote saw similar high support in North Liberty and Tiffin, but strong opposition in Iowa County in the former Amana school district, where growth is slower.
Amana voters have always shown a sharply different voting pattern to the Johnson County part, both for candidates and for bonds. So my 67-68% estimate was based on a 75% No vote out of Amana like they saw in 2006.
Instead, Amana voted two to one YES yesterday, kicking the result up from the solid win of 2006 to the near-consensus level of 78%.
That near consensus may have been why turnout dropped. In 2006, with active opposition from Amana, both the Yes and No sides stepped up their early voting and election day efforts, and cranked turnout up to 41%.
But yesterday, turnout slipped to 16%. Weather may have been a factor; I can't remember the exact conditions of 2006 but it was at the same time of year. But weather didn't hurt turnout in Swisher, where a divisive mayor's race yesterday drew 48% to the polls.
More of a factor, I think? With no active opposition and a near consensus that the project was needed, there was less of a sense of urgency and more confidence. So paradoxically, the drop in turnout was likely an indicator of the increase in support. I'm just a blogger not a professor, but someone should write a journal article.