It's not often science says I got something right. But my instinct that voters who ordinarily are reliably conservative and Republican would determine the outcome of Propositions 1, 2 and 3 appears to have a basis in reality.
Andy Brunelle, who works for the U.S. Forest Service and was an aide to former Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus, attended a post-election forum where I argued the hypothetical "Sugar City mom" I spoke of during the campaign had defected from her voting habits and helped kill all three propositions.
Brunelle quotes me at the opening of his lengthy and chart-rich post on his
"interstices" blog on Tumblr.
“I think the reason the (hypothetical) Sugar City mom voted against these measures was because she knew her kids’ teachers and she did not think that they were thugs and she thought that they were really doing the best they could with resources that probably aren’t adequate.”
After plowing through election results by county, the defection of Mitt Romney voters, age data and the percent of LDS membership, Brunelle finds the relationship my gut told me existed.
"When controlling for the Obama voters, those for whom there is a high confidence they all pretty much voted No on Prop. 1, the lion’s share of the remaining voters appear to fit the profile of the Sugar City mom, or her spouse, family and friends," Brunelle writes. "Veteran political reporter Dan Popkey was on the money."
Brunelle understood I meant the "Sugar City mom" as a metaphorical figure who helps explain why Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, Gov. Butch Otter and most GOP lawmaker so badly misjudged the electorate.
Writes Brunelle: "The Sugar City mom should not be taken as a literal example of female and/or LDS voters, but rather a symbol through which the SCMI illustrates voters who have some connection with public schools as parents, grandparents or having goodwill for local teachers or the school system.
"For counties more than 50 percent LDS the SCMI represents those with the largest Romney voter pool, and thus highest percentage of cross over voting. The counties clustered at the low end of LDS membership showed a percent increase in the No vote on Prop. 1 ranging widely, from six percent to more than 30 percent. But the role of public school enrollment scattered the vertical alignment of these data points more in a diagonal direction, and thus a stronger relationship for the SCMI and No vote on Prop. 1. This shows the variables making up the SCMI do measure different elements in a county’s population and social structure. The combined effect arrays the counties closer to a more predictable regression line.
"Keep in mind these counties are of different population and voting numbers and the strong relationship does not necessarily mean 80 percent of the cross over voters fit the SCMI - No vote on Prop. 1 profile. The twelve counties that are 50 percent or more LDS population represent 23 percent of the voter turnout (and 26 percent of election day registration), so most voters are resident of the 32 counties with less than 40 percent LDS population. The relationship does pick up an important dynamic that played out in the election at both ends of the SCMI, though it appears school enrollment played a more important role in the lower percentage LDS counties and Romney cross over voters in the high percentage LDS counties."
Brunelle's posting is full of data for those able to understand. And for those who struggle with regression lines, the text explains what he's up to. Give it a read if you have a chance.
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