Both Amendment 66, board vote were pocketbook issues for some
Well, another election cycle has come and gone, and now begins the analysis of what really happened and what it means.
Electoral decision-making is a fork in the road that has always been seen as fraught with the possibility of misadventure.
Literature is replete with examples of meeting the devil at a crossroads, and travelers assumed it was easy to have evil befall them because there is almost always an unfamiliar path and that can mean disaster.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of peril with the well trodden path, but people tend to cling to that one, which we saw in the Mesa County school district races, where the prevailing winds blew in candidates supported by the education establishment.
I have to say, the teachers’ union did a great job of organizing for this election. Its leaders and members just outhustled their opponents and projected a solid front for their candidates.
It paid off, for which they should be congratulated. I might have wished for a different result, but I can’t begrudge people the fruits of their labor.
I honestly felt pretty sure that one of the reform candidates would win, possibly even two. But I think, in hindsight, the union’s slate of candidates were so thoroughly locked together in their campaign and perception, that it paid off by dragging a weaker candidate along to victory with the others.
Whether the effort put into trying to elect reform candidates will translate into greater scrutiny of school board activities after the election is an open question. My best prediction is that it won’t.
For whatever reason, no matter how much everyone talks about the importance of the educational system, ultimately, it seems the feeling is, we have people to take care of it and that’s the end of the discussion. As commentator P.J. O’Rourke said, “Everyone wants to save the world but no one wants to help mom with the dishes.”
To many people, these smaller elections seem like interviewing someone to wash your car — not that glamorous or seemingly important. It’s not until someone ruins your paint job that you wish you had spent a little more time on the hiring process.
School board elections will always turn out one enthusiastic group and that’s people who work for the school district. While the rest of the voters are concerned with sort of fuzzy, high-minded ideas like “better results,” the school district employees get to vote for their bosses.
If that was the deal in your workplace, I bet you’d show up bright and early to vote, as well.
What was interesting to me was the fact that most of these same people voted to defeat Amendment 66, the class-warfare tax increase on the ballot that was supposedly going to go for schools or something, and, by golly, it was going to be great.
These results seem strange unless you realize that people voted with their pocketbook in both of those races.
The education lobby convinced employees and their families that if they elected reform candidates, they were doomed, while those with eyes in their head could read Amendment 66 and had a hard time seeing benefit, but they could easily see expense.
The interesting statistic in all of this is the under votes in the election — that is, people who voted in other parts of the election but didn’t mark anything for certain board seats or issues. A fairly consistent 11 percent of voters in the election didn’t vote for any school board candidate, but only about 7/10 of 1 percent of those voting chose not to cast a vote on Amendment 66, which was crushed.
It’s a fascinating example of how important it is for political operatives to clearly frame their points of view.
While Amendment 66 supporters were hazy on the details, opponents nailed their talking points of unclear purpose, loss of local control and an enormous tax increase.
On the Amendment 66 question, voters felt confident enough in their viewpoints to vote decisively and firmly, while in the school board election, a significant number of the electorate was unsure about the candidates and chose to do nothing.
Statewide, effectively framed conservative issues and candidates won — merely good intentions did not.
Rick Wagner writes more on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.