Friday, November 10, 2006

Issue Six Passes

Today was the day I planned on doing a postmortem on Issue 6. I spent much of my blogging time last night adding up precinct numbers into ward totals and calculating the percentages.

Then today the ABJ wrote basically the same story. So, to make this interesting, I'll share a little inside information. Going into this third round of getting this levy passed, we were faced with two sets of facts: 1) The vote in traditionally friendly wards 3, 4 and 5 was down and 2) We were getting killed in South Akron.

Politicos will tell you there is a science turning 3,4 and 5 (the predominantly Afican-American inner city wards.) The politicos that tell you this with the most force are those that market their services doing so, but that's a subject for another day. Anyway, we kind of took it on faith that the campaigns would do as much of that as could be done.

What we decided to do, grassroots, parent-heavy group that we were, was find more voters across the board. We pursued, if you will, the Ten Ward Strategy.

The graphic accompanying the ABJ story unfortunately doesn't appear online, so I'll reproduce it here so we can talk about it.

As you can see, the strategy worked. The traditionally strong support in 3, 4, 5 and 8 held steady. But we closed the gap by at least a couple of points in each of the wards voting against the levy.

Not to say Next Step was the whole deal. Certainly many factors helped out. It was a Democratic year and, though we have plenty of Republican support and Dem opposition, fact is, to the extent Repub voting was down, it didn't hurt. Similarly we were hurt in May by the fact that there was no primary enticing voters in Tim Ryan's 17th District, but a heated Governor's race on the Republican side. The vote in 1, 2 and 10 were noticably off from the last levy that passed in 2000.

And of course, there was the rest of the campaign. The messaging -- tying good schools to economic development, was far crisper this time. They cut and aired some excellent ads on that theme featuring area businessmen. The campaign overall had better organization, more participation from staff and parents, and far more participation from students.

Also, people just generally got the message that the situation really was serious. Some events over the summer did not break in our favor, which worried me, but overall the Board of Ed. kept sounding the theme that, no really, we need the money.

It's impossible to tell where one factor left off and the other took up. But I was extremely proud in the work my friends in Next Step did to make the campaign more grassroots.

I did want to test my impression that the win was more a matter of closing the gap in the losing areas than boosting turnout in the friendly wards. At this point in the process, turnout numbers are suspect, as I was recently and embarassingly reminded. So instead, I calculated for each ward, the percentage that ward represents of the total "yes" vote. This is a Blogger table, so stand by for annoying white space.

So yes, the story of the win was greater support in those ward that have voted the levy down, not ever more support in the friendly areas. This bodes better for APS going forward. No one was happy with the divide from north and west to south and east. Support for the schools is by no means uniform, but if this turns out to be a trend, it is a positive one.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the analysis. And even more thanks for your efforts along with everybody else who worked so hard to pass the levy.

As a resident of Ward 9, I know full well that this is an area of Akron that is living hand to mouth. For the most part, we are working class folks. There are a lot of kids here who roam around unsupervised and who speak and act in rough ways -- not the ideal examples of what an APS school child should be. And yet, I have had many wonderful students in my classroom who were born and raised in Kenmore.

I also know there is a lot of local pride in Kenmore HS. On the other hand, there are many retired persons living here who find it difficult to budget for more property taxes. Perhaps if seniors' medical needs were less expensive, they'd find it easier to vote for levies.

On election day, I was poll greeting at precinct A for the Dems with my Tom Sawyer sign and Sherrod Brown buttons. The levy coordinator for Ward 9 stopped by and gave me an Issue 6 sign to plant at my feet. He was very pleased by the turnout and thought it boded well for the levy. He turned out to be right.

You should have seen how happy all of us were at school on Wednesday morning -- students and staff gave up a huge cheer in the morning with the announcement that Issue 6 had passed. We can more forward again without the dark clouds hanging over the possibility of more jobs lost and good things taken away from our students. We are all incredibly grateful for the work of your committee.