Friday, September 28, 2007

Of Maps and Men, breaking down the vote totals in Fall River's 2007 Preliminary Election.

View Larger Map

With the preliminary election over and the dust settling there has been much speculation about what the results of the general election will be and who will be the next mayor of Fall River.

The top two vote getters are Representative Bob Correia and Representative David Sullivan both with square of in the general election.

I've heard various theories of why it will be one candidate over the other and thought it might be fun to look at these numbers and see what can make of them.

Robert Correia 4271
David Sullivan 2516
Alfredo Alves 2260
Brad Kilby 2207
Eric Poulin 2165
William Whitty 2054
Manny Alves 106
Ken Medeiros 74
Total 15653

Clearly Bob Correia took the majority of the vote 41% more people voted for Bob Correia than for Dave Sullivan and I've heard many people say that such a large difference will be impossible for Sullivan to make up.
But wait!
Correia's 4271 votes is only 27% of the total votes cast. In other words more than 2/3 of the voters voted for someone other than Bob Correia. True, Sullivan only received 16% of the vote. Neither man has anywhere close to a majority and so a key question becomes which way will the remaining 57% vote in the general election.

Now looking at the map above, there are red pins that represent precincts that Correia won, blue pins for the precincts Sullivan one and green for the precincts that were won by one of the candidates that didn't make it past the preliminary.

So, looking at the map we can see the Correia dominated the south end of the city winning every precinct he represents and even taking two that are in Sullivan's district.

That seems pretty ominous, should Correia declare victory? Not just yet.

Geographically, Correia is said to represent the south end and Sullivan is said to represent the north. Again, looking at the map we see that while Bob Correia certainly dominated the south ending voting and a close look at the vote totals show that Sullivan didn't dominate the precincts he won in any comparable way. (As we get into this we'll define the north end as north of I-195 and the south end as south of it.)

It's looking good for Bob, or is it?

A look at the top 6 candidates show that 5 of them, Sullivan, Alves, Kilby, Poulin, and Whitty all received roughly between 2-2,500 votes. Of course Bob received 4271 but Sullivan, Kilby, Poulin, and Whitty are all north end residents. Which very well could mean that they were splitting the same base.

Bob may well have dominated the south end simply because a.) he is the 'south end' rep. and b.) because he spent a tremendous amount of money, which translated into more dollars spent getting the vote out. We'll get into the money part a bit later.

If you look at the totals Correia received 30% or more of the vote in 11 precincts all of them in the south end. In those 11 precincts only 3 times did a challenger receive over 20% of the vote, in each case it was Al Alves. A look at the north end votes shows a much tighter cluster, Sullivan never achieves 30% of the vote and the vote totals seem to be much closer together.

While I don't claim to have a crystal ball it would seem to me that Bob Correia will have a tough time improving much on his south end totals. Simply the Correia turnout was so strong in the south end that I have to believe that those who didn't vote for Bob, are just not going to vote for him.

However, in the north end where you had several candidates drawing from the same base things could be quite different. You can assume that Sullivan will gain the majority of the votes here now that he is not competing against other north end candidates.

Okay, so let's play around with the numbers a bit, keep in mind that I'm using the precinct totals so they won't include absentee ballots, etc.

So for our first scenario we'll simply take the total votes (15151) subtract Dave's total (2411) and Bob's (4125) to see that 8615 people voted for one of the other candidates. Now doing the math and looking at the map, we see that Bob got 27% of the vote and won the majority of the precincts. Let's assume that the remaining for (8615) splits with Bob still getting 27% and Dave getting 73%. Yes, I agree that's not very likely, but just to have some fun with the numbers and because Dave probably will gain more in the general than Bob because Dave will no longer face several north end opponents.

So for Scenario 1 our totals look like this:
Sullivan 8,700
Correia 6,106

Scaling the mix back to 60/40 mix (again the advantage to Sullivan who will no longer face several north end opponents) gives us these results.
Sullivan 7,580
Correia 7,571

What if instead of trying to figure out where the 'remaining' votes will go,.we just assume that each man will carry 60% of his own turf? Using I-195 as the boundary between north and south our results look like this.
Sullivan 7,665
Correia 7,485

Maybe Bob hasn't won it yet after all!

Lefty's view: Now, this all just having some fun with the numbers, and I could surely change the criteria around and have Bob Correia come out on top each time. In fact pretty much any calculation that doesn't try to adjust for all the north end candidates in the preliminary will just about automatically have Correia come out on top.

If there is a point to all this, I guess it would be too say don't consider this a decided race because it's not. 57% of the vote went to other candidates and there is no telling how they will vote in the general election. Some will speculate that the 'Alves vote' will go to Bob Correia an the 'Poulin vote' will go to Sullivan and so on and so forth but nobody knows for sure.

What is very telling is that Correia was able to dominate the south end in a way that Sullivan was unable to do in the north. A large part of that is because Bob Correia spent more than twice as much as anyone else raised, (He raised $151,215, and spent nearly all of it.) to get out his vote. Also Correia didn't face off against a host of south end candidates, the way Dave Sullivan did in the north part of the city.

Now that we're heading toward the general election the playing field may be a little more even and of the three scenarios I threw out I think it's very likely that Sullivan could get 60% of the north end vote, and that might be enough to win.

*A special thanks to Fall River Community for providing me with the voting totals


Anonymous said...


The analysis provided here is spot on, in my opinion. One thing that has to be considered is that the north end precincts have more voters (9A - 1099). So, Dave doesn't have to dominate the north by the same percentage as Bob dominates the South end.

Just like Sullivan's percentage is diminished in the North End by the number of candidate, there's no way he will get only 11% of the South End votes either.

Sullivan needs to hit the ward 3 where voter turnout is high and it is not as Portuguese as other wards such as ward 4.

Dave needs to get at least 35% of the South End vote to even make this competetive - quite hard considering he varies from 8-18%.


Lefty said...

Thanks, and thanks again for the data.

Truthfully I played around with the numbers over and over again looking to see what would happen if I made this change or that adjustment, and then wrote the blog post based on what I found.

As far as where Sullivan should concentrate his efforts, or Correia for that matter, I would have to see data that showed me how many people vote in general elections and from what precinct, look for trends and compare.

You mention Ward 3, but looking at the results I would say Ward 1, 2b,2c 4b, 4c all look like places where Sullivan could make strong gains.