Thursday, November 10, 2005

Postmortem Pt. 2: Measuring the Jimmy DiMora Effect.

The left side of the blogosphere is full of armchair post-RON analysis. Most of what I've seen centers on the complexity of the issue and/or the OhioFirst ad campaign. I'll chime in on each of these in a later post, but first lets look at something novel: the effect that high-profile Democratic opposition had.

Opposition by Democrats varied from county to county. In Stark County, party chair Johnnie Maier openly campaigned against the issues. In Cuyahoga chair Jimmy DiMora spoke out against it early (notwithstanding Democracy Guy's out-of-jail-free card) and recorded robo-calls for Ohio First. In contrast, in Franklin County the local party checked off the issues on their sample ballot. In the middle was Summit where the party took no position and the chair, while voicing personal opposition, stayed out of the fray publicly. Judging from Toledo Councilman Frank Szollisi's blog, Lucas County saw at least some high-profile Democratic endorsement.

One can crudely measure the effect by comparing the RON results to results in the '04 Presidential election. The Secretary of State's cite has '04 Presidential election results here and the county-by-county RON results here. For simplicity's sake I'll concentrate on the heart of RON -- Issue 4.

Here is the breakdown of Kerry's percentage in the presidential race in the five counties mentioned above:

And here are the RON results:

The first thing that stands out is the magnitude of the clock-cleaning. RON won nowhere. In fact this chart shows two of the three counties where Issue 4 broke 40% (the other being Athens).

In addition, when eyeballing the numbers it looks like RON did worse in relation to Kerry in those counties where Democrats actively campaigned against it. Let’s crunch the numbers a bit more, subtracting Issue 4’s percentage of the vote from Kerry’s. No doubt my readers who actually know statistics can give me ten reasons why this won’t give an accurate measure, but bear with me:

The two counties where Democrats actively campaigned against RON, the drop from Kerry support is strikingly higher – more than 10 percentage points – than the difference where the party either supported it or remained neutral. The difference between support (Franklin and Lucas) and neutrality (Summit) is probably too close to be measured by a yardstick as crude as this, but the raw number is again consistent with where one would expect.

The lesson? Democratic establishment support was not sufficient for RON to succeed, but opposition was fatal. The actions of Maier and DiMora had a real effect on the outcome. Anyone working on a ballot issue in the future should at least attempt to head off opposition up front.

(And by the way, making tables on Blogger is nearly impossible.)


k-pho said...

Nicely done.

Are you going to drop a note to John Greene suggesting this as a research topic for one of his students?

Of course, the real difficulty isn't the stats, it's coming up with an objective measure of dem opposition