Feeling Prescient?

Any A2 politicos out there willing to go out on a limb and make a guess as to whether the proposed WISD millage will pass or fail and share with us why you think so? The WISD millage poll on the site is almost too close to call, with over 500 votes in. From the poll data, it appears as though the small percentage of undecided voters will, literally, decide when they go to vote.

I’ll go out on a limb and predict the millage will fail by a slim margin, by perhaps as little as between 1-2 percent of the total vote. I believe that voters will cite the hike in taxes during hard economic times as the main reason for voting against the millage.

Anyone else care to chime in?

Short URL: http://www.a2politico.com/?p=1400

31 Comments for “Feeling Prescient?”

  1. Messers Kestenbaum and Cahill should each be asked to write about their respective positions on the upcoming vote on whether to hold a constitutional convention. The posts would be informative and interesting, I think.

  2. Okay, I forgot to mention rioting in the streets. That, too!

  3. Please join me in voting NO on a constitutional convention next year. There is nothing structurally wrong with Michigan’s government. Our problems can be traced to the decline and final collapse of our principal industry over the past thirty years.

    Having a constitutional convention in a time of severe economic and social frustration is a recipe for disaster. You thought the August anti-health-care events were disturbing? Wait until tens/hundreds of thousands of permanently unemployed Michiganders come to the convention to grasp at the assortment of quack nostrums that a convention is bound to throw up!

    The Michigan State Police will probably have to keep order outside the convention hall.

  4. A2Dem, you missed the next part of the quote: “I can’t imagine a person who would refrain from voting because of a comment from me.”

    Indeed, I am like any other politician who endorses a candidate. That’s because I am like any other politician, period. I am subject to exactly the same constraints and incentives as any other partisan elected official at any level, who has to raise money, run in partisan primaries, etc., etc.

    Like I wrote earlier, if you want county clerks to be neutral, you shouldn’t be electing them on the partisan ballot. Same with township clerks and, perhaps, the Secretary of State, all of whom have major election responsibilities. The Supreme Court ought to be nonpartisan, too.

    These changes could never be accomplished through a standalone constitutional amendment, because the Legislature could never come up with the required two-thirds vote in both houses, and no one is sufficiently motivated to get half a million signatures to put it on the ballot.

    Therefore, I hope you will join with me in voting “yes” on the constitutional convention proposal in November 2010 (this ballot question comes up automatically every 16 years).

    Everyone with a vested interest in Michigan’s severely dysfunctional state and local government will be screaming at you to VOTE NO. They will spend millions on radio and TV ads predicting higher taxes, gay marriage, abolition of term limits, runaway inflation, rising lake levels, gun confiscation, dog and cat suffrage, alcohol prohibition, sex in public schools, toxic chemical plants in YOUR neighborhood, chattel slavery, socialism, and blight in the apple trees.

    If you join the “vote no” crowd, I don’t want to hear any more from you about vows of neutrality. Either you want to fix things, or you don’t. The current constitution, weighed down as it is with dozens of greedy and spiteful amendments over the years, is an abysmal failure, and next year we finally have an opportunity to do something about it.

  5. “Few people have any idea who we are, or what we do, and fewer still are influenced by anything we happen to say?” Who do you think reads this blog? You have endorsed candidates in past races. Why do it if no one listens to you, knows who you are or cares about what you say? By doing so, you’re trying to influence the outcome of the election, just like every other politician who endorses a candidate. I actually like to idea of clerks, once elected, taking a vow of neutrality in contested elections.

  6. Those of us in local government who are not full of ourselves know that few people have any idea who we are, or what we do, and fewer still are influenced by anything we happen to say. I can’t imagine a person who would refrain from voting because of a comment from me. And my advice to everyone, online and in person, is always “go vote!”

    Moreover, predictions about elections (no matter who makes them) are notoriously unreliable. We’ve seen this in a couple of Detroit mayoral elections where the winner defied conventional wisdom. The New Hampshire primary last year wasn’t supposed to go for Hillary Clinton, but it did.

    The fact that nobody really knows what is going to happen is what provides the dramatic tension of Election Night.

    “Every vote should count” is the new ethic in election administration. Before Florida 2000, it was common practice to not bother counting up ballots that couldn’t affect the outcome. Not any more. And this is a very good thing in my opinion.

  7. I’m glad Yale89 asked the question. It helped me realize that my question wasn’t about neutrality, but about voter participation (which is also distinct from turnout.) It’s about the idea that each vote counts and is worth taking the time to cast. I wonder if the clerks might have an un(der)-tapped positive influence on voter behavior. Making outcome predictions seems like the opposite of a positive influence of that sort.

  8. If you want neutral, non-partisan county officials, you should elect them on the non-partisan ballot, or have Bob Guenzel appoint them like other county department heads.

    (There will be a constitutional convention question on the 2010 ballot; if you want to bring about major structural changes in state and local government, please vote yes! The Chamber of Commerce and other conservative groups are planning to spend a lot of money to convince you otherwise — because it raises the possibility of a graduated income tax. The Scary Voice Lady will be all over the airwaves next year.)

    Under the system we have, my continuance in office, for all practical purposes, is decided in the Democratic primary. If challenged, I will be attacked for being insufficiently partisan and too friendly to Republicans; I will have to explain and defend abstract concepts like basic fairness and following the law. Someone who came at me the other way would be dismissed as a crank.

    As I said above, election law assumes that everyone is partisan, including me. Accordingly, the most important moving parts are shielded from my influence. As a candidate for re-election, I am not allowed to enter any polling place but my own, and I cannot see or touch any voted ballots unless there is a recount (and even then, bipartisan teams of election workers do the touching). My authority over elections, such as it is, is shared with 25 local clerks, most of whom are independently elected. And every aspect of the election is scrutinized by the bipartisan Board of Canvassers, who are nominated for that position by the county party chairs.

    Elections are only a small part of this job — the election staff (who do more than just elections) is less than 10% of the people who work for me. I’m also in charge of recording deeds and mortgages, birth and death certificates and marriage licenses, concealed weapons permits, notary commissions, campaign finance reports, circuit court records, just to mention the highlights.

  9. Why shouldn’t the County Clerk take a vow of neutrality? It’s the “perception,” that the person who oversee elections can be influenced politically and that’s pretty scary to me. If you have political “allies,” that means perhaps you may also have political “enemies.”

  10. Larry, you changed the subject from predicting outcomes to predicting turnout. Maybe I didn’t make clear that that’s the type of prediction I was referring to. Hope election day went smoothly for you and your staff.

  11. Education concerns are always a major part any thriving city, but in this case I think if we are interested improving Ann Arbor’s system, we should come up with an Ann Arbor solution. I think tax dollars going towards other cities school systems, with no say in how it’s allocated isn’t right. It costs us a lot of money to live in this city and be able to take advantage of what it has to offer. I hope this doesn’t pass, and I think it will loose, but by a closer margin than I’d like. My .02

  12. I doubt very much that anyone who reads a2politico will miss voting today, if they are eligible.

    Practically ALL clerks make predictions about the voter turnout. Indeed, we need to have a handle on that to make sure enough ballots are printed.

  13. A2Politico, I find it interesting that Larry’s interest in talking politics is so strong relative to a possible consideration for voters deciding whether to bother voting. The participation rate is low. Making predictions seems contrary to other efforts by the clerk’s office to improve that participation rate. Why NOT raise an eyebrow about that, now or ever?

    Larry, thanks for the response. Do you see what I’m wondering about? Do you think that my thinking is off base or might it be something worth considering further?

  14. Well, considering that both the major parties benefit from excluding everyone else, it doesn’t seem like a very fair “approximation” for Mr. Elhady, now does it? For the sake of the Independent candidate, keep an eye on those “bi-partisan” poll workers, will ya Larry?

  15. I don’t have a prediction on the 4th Ward race.

    We don’t have “independent” poll workers. The best approximation is to have poll workers who identify with two different established parties.

  16. Larry, I didn’t mean to imply that you personally count all the votes all by yourself. (We can…ahem…trust Diebold to do that.) Nor did I mean to imply that your involvement somehow influences the outcome. My deference to your prediction was based on your greater election experience and knowledge of similar millage attempts of the past.

    I have to ask if you have a prediction for the Higgins/Elhady race? Now I’m not asking who you endorse, just who you think will win.

    And how does “two poll workers of opposite parties” at “every critical point of ballot handling” work when one of the candidates, like Elhady, is an Independent?

  17. Well then, whichever way the millage goes, somebody is going to be surprised at the outcome.

    Me, I’m a political figure, elected on the partisan ballot, where I have to compete (at least theoretically) with partisan candidates, ally with partisan candidates for other offices, raise money from partisan donors, attend fundraisers, and so on. Becoming county clerk does not entail taking vows of public neutrality on issues and candidates.

    Moreover, I am not personally counting the votes. The whole election process is based on the assumption that no one is nonpartisan. Every poll worker must declare a party preference. Every critical point of ballot handling must be done by two poll workers of opposite parties. The Board of Canvassers, which certifies the outcome, consists of two Democrats and two Republicans, all nominated by their respective party chairs.

  18. The millage is going to pass. It might not carry outside Ann Arbor, but I think Ann Arbor will have enough registered voters go to the polls to carry it. Ann Arbor voters have always supported education, and won’t stop now.

  19. Quite an interesting exercise. Well, here goes. The millage won’t pass in Ann Arbor, nor will it pass in the outlying communities. It’s not the right moment to ask taxpayers for more money.

  20. County Clerk Kestenbaum makes donations to local political candidates and, at time, gives his endorsements. Why raise an eyebrow now over his guess about the outcome of the millage?

  21. Larry, I wonder if the ego has gotten the better of you. Do you think it’s necessary or appropriate for the county clerk to make election predictions? If so, why?

  22. I expect the majority of A2Politico’s users are from AA City. That fact means that our poll is not an accurate reflection of county-wide sentiment: It is more in favor of the millage than a county-wide poll would be.

    • David, once again, congratulations! You submitted the 600th comment to A2Politico. Thanks! I think I’ll have to invest in A2Politico refrigerator magnets or something to send out to mark milestones.

      As for who’s visiting, the blog has visitors from all over the county and all over Michigan, as well as regulars in Washington, DC and Arlington, VA. California and Washington State, Indiana, Ohio, Toronto, Canada, Oregon and Pennsylvania. Of course, there are the local regulars who read several times daily from City Hall and the County Building, as well as those from Lansing. Lots of folks are reading from U of M offices. About two-thirds of the daily reads come from Washtenaw county/Ann Arbor (my own reads/visits are not factored into the stats, or the percentages would, obviously, be skewed). I NEVER expected anyone outside of Ann Arbor to read the blog. I’m pleasantly surprised they do.

  23. Thanks for the info, A2P. Going by the poll results, which seem reliable, it seems likely that the millage will PASS. My reasoning is that the titles and content of the articles on this site have taken a position against the millage, for the most part, which will attract like-minded visitors. This skews the group who took part in the poll to include a higher ratio that are against the millage than would be found in a random sampling. Since the poll results here are evenly split, for and against, I will have to assume that the sampling who will actually show up to vote, will include a higher ratio in favor of the millage.

    But the County Clerk’s prediction that those who don’t live in Ann Arbor will vote it down by a huge margin may override all this. The smart money would have to go with the man who is counting the votes.

  24. I was wondering, is the poll resistant to being “gamed”. Does it register multiple votes from the same location? Or does it require just a bit more sophistication and make you delete a cookie first before you can vote again?

    I need answers to these questions to determine the reliability of the poll, before I can make a prediction.

    • Michael, the polls are set to track IP addresses and use cookies. You can erase cookies, but to spoof an IP address takes some determination. If someone is that desperate to vote more than once, they should knock themselves out.

  25. I’d be very surprised if the overall results are less than 60% “no”.

    Maybe it will be close in Ann Arbor, but the rest of the county will vote it down by a huge margin. I expect the vote pattern will be similar to the 2005 jail millage, which was 62% no, 38% yes.

  26. Look what was posted on A2.com Looks like your work.

    Looking at the pro millage ad, I was surprised at all the teacher’s unions that were listed. In addition to the unions and one lonely PTO, I looked at the colored pictures of community leaders and just thought, DOES EVERYONE HAVE THEIR HAND IN THE COOKIE JAR?


    1. James Cameron- Attorney to the School District. If you want to defend us in another lawsuit because we tried to scam the subs….,you had better put your name on this. Please put how much your firm has made from us these last 5 years?

    2. Steve Dobson–United Way Chair–Well, if you want one dime from our employees, you had better work on this one pal. Think our teacher’s need to donate to our schools (our own non-profit) vs. to you.

    3. Simone Lightfoot, AAPS Parent AKA as Director of NAACP National Voter Fund. Simone, are you really happy with our performance with African American students and do you think more money is going to help that?

    4. Bob Chapman, CEO United Bankcorp–Bet you have some $$$ of the school district in your vault. Another $11,000,000 is looking good ain’t it?

    5. State Rep. Rebekah Warren –A $2000 gift from the MEA and little threat about never working in Lansing again will surely get your endorsement.

    6. And even though he did not get a colored picture, Norman Herbert–Please tell us how much he has made from the school district. Bet he is getting rich on the back of our kids!

    I agree with the tag line at the bottom of your ad, Let’s take our children’s future back into our own hands!

  27. I think the millage may pass. Better vote early and often!

  28. Larry Kestenbaum is predicting a large margin against the passage of the millage on ArborUpdate. He said a rule of thumb is that millages pass only when there is no organized opposition. Since there is significant opposition, the expectation is that many voters will jump to the no column.

  29. I predict that the millage will fail countywide by 2-1. The strategy of the proponents was to build up a heavy “yes” margin within Ann Arbor City, expecting that the rest of the county6 would be split.

    Unfortunately, I see no evidence that AA will vote “yes”, much less by a heavy margin. I’m voting “yes”.

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