This is not an official blog of the City. It is the work of Mark Kapel who is solely responsible for content.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Election 2013. The Precinct vote for Candidates

Below is an Precinct Map of Oakland County. The green rectangle with a  wave, bump, or little mountain inside is the City of Bloomfield Hills. The City, delineated by straight lines on all four sides and with the little mountain inside is one of the easiest communities  to identify in maps like these,
The mountain  is actually Vaughan Rd coming into Long Lake Road before descending into Woodward Avenue. It is the result of  Cranbrook Schools and the city roads wrapping around it look closely and you  will see that the  Green rectangle lies on a diagonal line. That is Woodward Avenue. North of the bump is Precinct 1 which votes at City Hall. South of the bump is Precinct 2 which  votes at the Congressional Church at Cranbrook Road and Woodward Avenue.

Below is the  the Precinct Map in more "real " life. With proper magnification you make out your house number, Pink is precinct 1.  Light Green is Precinct 2. Blue is water.
City Hall and the Church polling locations are indicated by the tips of white triangles,

Top vote getter Stuart Sherr's literature said he was the only candidate with a unique skill set of  qualifications.  Residents didn't believe that  and gave almost  the same number of votes to Candidate Pat Hardy who made no such claim. The two candidates  were separated by a 12 vote margin (11 in Precinct 1  and a one vote margin in Precinct 2),
 Like gift wrapping on Christmas, voters tore through the external  packaging and put  their presents in two categories. Incumbent and Challenger. Of the two residents preferred the first group electing  two incumbents and one challenger.

If one looks at the precinct vote as two separate elections rather than one certain details lost in the  Mélange à quatre become apparent.

All the candidates, including "write in " got the majority of their votes in Precinct one  which  cast 1099 votes on election day. It was there that the election was decided.
Hardy and Sherr combined vote total was 651.Coakley and Kapel's was 445.

Precinct 2 cast 686 votes of which 395 were cast for Hardy or Sherr. Coakley and Kapel got 291.

In the "race between Hardy and Sherr" there were no surprises. It  was a dead heat at every turn enroute to 12 vote margin of victory for Sherr out of  the  approximately 1000 votes cast for the two candidates Some may consider that a surprising outcome between a 10 year  Commission veteran and a nine month first time Commissioner. Sheer however campaigned hard and spent in excess of $4000 of his own money. Hardy's campaign was  more quiet   and the behind the scenes.

The Coakley and Kapel voting was  full of of surprises. For one Coakley did phenomenally well in Precinct One earning 267 votes to Kapel's 178. That was a 89 vote difference  was the biggest component in what would be a 112 vote margin of victory for Coakley.

Surprise Number 2 is Coakley's anemic vote total in Precinct 2. Here Coakley received 157  votes to Kapel's 134. A mere 23 vote margin made much smaller by           pre-election  expectations. In Precinct 2 Coakley is a favorite son and long time officer and president of the Rudgate Home Owner's Association,  is billed as the City's largest. Every before the election pundits were pencilling in precinct two for Coakley. On election day 686 votes were cast by Precinct 2. A hundred votes more for Coakley would have made him the top vote getter in the whole election.  
Two factors may provide an explanation. Voters prefered incumbents to challengers by a large margin and ballot rotation. 

The latter, mandated by the state of Michigan for fairness, uses alphabetical order to place names on the ballot.At every precinct that the candidate names rotated In a twenty Precinct  community  like Birmingham the candidate names will rotate five times for four candidates.
In two precinct Bloomfield Hills, that happened only once. In ballots sent to Precinct 1 , the alphabetical order was Coakley-Hardy-Kapel-Sherr. In Ballots sent to precinct 2 the order was  Hardy-Kapel-Sherr-Coakley. 

Take it a step further and assign a value  by numbering  the positions top to bottom 4-3-2-1.Hardy with a first and second positions is most favored with 7. Next was Kapel with 5 (best position 2nd in precinct 2).Coakley with 4 was third (Best position first in Precinct 1) and last Sherr with 2. 

What does Ballot position mean ? Why nothing at all. Just ask  Scheer, Stuart  or Zambricki, Michael  (City Commissioner 1989 to 2013) who never lost a City election.

That said, with the wisdom of the proverbial smoked filled room and the concurrence the State of Michigan, ballot rotation may be used with caution to explain anomalies in a small universe.

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