David Rodeback's Blog

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Tuesday, October 4, 2005
Small and Large Surprises in American Fork Primary Election Results

I've posted the election returns for today's American Fork municipal primary election. I'm a little late; I was in a campaign strategy meeting for my favorite city council candidate.

It's time to report on the accuracy of my predictions and add another comment or two.

In the mayoral race I correctly predicted that Heber Thompson and Councilman Shirl LeBaron would advance, and that George Brown would not. But I had LeBaron winning handily, not being trounced by Thompson 1376 to 515. This is stunning. In the actual event, if you doubled LeBaron's numbers and added Brown's 317 to them, you still would not have enough votes to beat Thompson today. I may have seriously underestimated the effectiveness of the Thompson campaign, seriously overestimated LeBaron's campaign prowess, grossly underrated the level of anti-incumbent fervor, or failed fully to assess how badly LeBaron damaged himself with Friday's Harrington mailer.

In the race for two four-year city council seats, I picked Councilwoman Juel Belmont, Heidi Rodeback, Terry Fox, and Councilman Jimmie Cates to advance, in that order. I was right as to who would advance, but that was a no-brainer. In the end the other five candidates' combined votes were less than the fourth-place finisher's votes. But I mangled the order. Fox finished first by a substantial margin, which to me is a small surprise. The other three were in essentially a dead heat, but Cates finished second, Rodeback third, and Belmont a surprising fourth. (As a matter of fact, Rodeback won in Belmont's precinct.) I realize I was guessing, not working from polling data, but my confidence in my own ability to read an election is somewhat tarnished.

In the race for the two-year half-term on the city council, Dale Gunther finished far ahead, as I predicted. I was just guessing who would finish second, and it doesn't matter, really, but I had Colin Strasburg finishing second and Marc Ellison third, when their actual finishes were reversed.

It is tempting to make too much of the relative vote counts of the victors, but the fact of the matter is that at least as many people who did not vote today will likely vote November 8. Relatively small differences in how these additional voters vote, compared to today's primary voters, could easily be enough to turn the primary results for this race upside down.

So, in short, as to who advances, I picked seven of eight, and the eighth doesn't matter much. As to the order of their finish, which admittedly matters less, I picked two of eight. Not so hot.

The general election is five weeks away. It will be an interesting campaign.

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