Members who frequent our Facebook page will know that PI chair Hal Tyler has crunched quite a few numbers for us since the General Election. Toward the end of November, he dug down into the list of race winners and losers recorded on the AZ Secretary of State’s Elections webpages and came up with a load of actionable information. On the 20th, Hal posted “Election Analysis Part 1: Yavapai County Edition” in which he broke down the numbers pertaining to the federal and statewide candidates PI voted to endorse, all of whom happened to be Democrats. None of our hometown candidates who energized PI with their progressive platforms and personal grit succeeded in their bid for office. “But here in Yavapai county,” Hal writes, “we were incredibly successful at swaying Independent voters and turning out Democrats, and we held down the margins for Republicans like McSally and Gaynor enough for the blue counties (plus an edge in Maricopa) to win this. We did what Indivisible groups in Alabama did to get Doug Jones (Roy Moore ran 5-10 points behind Trump in the rural areas), and because of our work we have a Democrat representing us in the Senate.”
In “Election Analysis Supplemental: Background on Congressional District 4,” posted on Nov. 25, Hal dug even deeper to give us a much needed perspective on the nature of the Brill for Congress campaign. I, for one, didn’t fully grasp how stacked the odds were against Brill, and I’m glad I didn’t. Hal concludes, “I don’t know if enough focus has been paid to the act of bravery and sacrifice that Dr. David Brill, his family, and his campaign volunteers made in running in this district.” Here’s a challenge for all PI members: Read Hal’s posts if you haven’t already and then come up with a meaningful way to thank David Brill and family as a group. And while we’re at it we should thank also Jo Craycraft, Jan Manolis, and Ed Gogek, our valiant champions in LD1.
Addendum: Non-Partisan Doesn’t Mean Neutral
Let’s hope the AZ Dems are busy crunching numbers and listening to voters in order to pick a winning strategy for federal and statewide races in 2020. Hereabouts in Yavapai County, we have unfinished business related to the propositions considered in the 2018 election. Officially, PI endorsed a Yes on Prop 127 and No on Prop 305. Unofficially, PI recommended Yes on 125, No on 126, and No on 306. Here’s a quick refresher on the five 2018 Propositions:
125: Permit the state to adjust certain benefits in the corrections officers’ and elected officials’ retirement systems to alleviate pension underfunding.
126: Prohibit the state and each county, city, town, district, or other political subdivision in AZ from imposing a new or increased tax on services in the future.
127: Imposing new mandate requiring nongovernmental electric utilities to increase the portion of their retail energy sales generated from certain types of renewable energy resources to 50% by 2030.
305: Expand eligibility for Education Empowerment Scholarships (aka vouchers).
306: Prohibit candidates who finance their political campaigns with public funding from the Citizens Clean Elections Commission from transferring any campaign funds to a political party or PAC.
This table compares PI’s recommendations with the ballot outcome in Yavapai, Coconino, and Mohave counties.
Interesting to see the Yavapai County outcome perfectly aligned with the statewide result on all five initiatives. Where the Coconino vote differed from the YC/AZ outcome (No on 306) the margin of victory was razor thin (411 votes). Where Mohave differed from the YC/AZ outcome (on 125) 6,390 votes decided the issue against. No surprise, perhaps, that Coconino voters came a lot closer to passing 127 than did either YC or Mohave; Prop 126, considered an anti-public education measure by those who understood its implications, passed in Coconino by about the same number of votes (6k-ish) that sank 127 there. Prop 305 was nevertheless roundly rejected in all three counties with 65% of voters voting no, in near perfect sync with the statewide tally.
Whether the slight variations among these three rural counties stem from our different demographics, geography, the effectiveness of local activists, or some other factors, PI went two of five in a contest where party label wasn’t a prime factor. And we lost big in YC on the measures that mattered most to us. What’s the takeaway for our region and what might we have done differently? We put a good deal of energy into defeating 305 and boosting 127, but maybe YC voters needed more information about 126 and 306 than we were able to disseminate in time. By the way, statewide, the proposition that got the highest number of votes was 127, with over 2.3 million votes cast on the 2,409,910 ballots counted. Prop 305 came in second on the voter engagement scale with close to 2.25 votes cast; Props 126, 306, and 125 attracted lower voter participation, in descending order. Notice that depending on the measure, anywhere from 100k to 225k votes weren’t cast on one or more propositions. While these non-responses wouldn’t have changed the outcome even if all had gone our way, it does show that many thousands of voters weren’t comfortable voting on a given ballot measure. How many more cast a vote without conviction? Our PI Education, Environmental, and Elections teams might want to drill down into the available 2018 data for YC as they look ahead to the next round of ballot initiatives.