Note: The original text of this piece has been updated to reflect the final count published by the Maryland State Board of Elections on Friday evening, May 6, 2016.
First of all, our sincere and enthusiastic congratulations to Democratic Nominee for Mayor Catherine Pugh. Senator, soon to be Mayor Pugh has worked long and hard over a noteworthy career of public service. Hers is a well-deserved victory. We wish her luck and can only hope that she lives up to her potential and to the promise of her candidacy. …One more comment about Ms. Pugh in a moment.
If you’ve been to BaltimoreRising.org before, you know that ours is a website that likes data. Today – the morning after the 2016 Presidential primary – will be no exception. Use the link below to see a single page spreadsheet that shows you the results for Mayor and other information we think you’ll find interesting. It’s a PDF that you can blow up and print if you’d like.
With these data in front of you, here, in no particular order, are some comments…
1. As of the major candidate’s ranking in the Sun’s November 2015 poll, Sheila Dixon was in the lead by a good margin, but 3 candidates – Pugh, Stokes and Mosby were pretty much tied for second place. Just a few months later, Mosby had dropped out, Stokes would get only 3.5% of the vote and, of course, Pugh would overtake Dixon to win.
What happened to Stokes and Mosby? Campaign strategy and management could have been a problem, but money is certainly the obvious answer.
2. Embry and Warnock were never really in the race. Because they’re White candidates? No. Because, each for very different reasons, they failed to appeal to Black or even a majority of White voters. Elizabeth Embry, an extremely talented prospect for elected office, ran a campaign that was too narrowly focused. Hopefully, she’s run again soon for Mayor or another office. David Warnock spent a fortune on an overly nuanced campaign, too long on slow-motion artistic effects, figuratively and literally, and way too short on a message that voters would find compelling. This was his first race and probably his last.
3. By the Sun’s March 2016 poll results, it became obvious that it was only a two person race. …And what if there were a runoff between the two leading candidates, neither of whom won a majority of the votes yesterday? We suspect that Pugh would have won by an even greater margin, but we’ll never know, will we?
4. Speaking of margins of victory, notice that the difference between Catherine Pugh and Sheila Dixon was only 2446 votes.
5. Look at the different amounts of money these candidates raised – and its relationship to the order in which they finished. Certainly raising money helps a candidate get the voters’ attention, but it’s also true that money flows to the perceived winner and to the candidate – Bernie Sanders, for example – who inspires voters. It’s a chicken and egg thing.
The outlier in these numbers is the $2.5+ million raised by David Warnock, $1.8 million of which, round numbers, was his own money. Pull out those loans and other funds he raised from business relationships, and the correlation between funding and standing in the results goes way up.
6. In the last column on the right, we’ve calculated the cost per vote. The two leading candidates averaged $23/vote received. Embry and Stokes were at $40/vote and $52/vote respectively. As for David Warnock, his contributors should be asking for their money back.
7. Last point… Seven others running for Mayor received a total of only 5119 votes. Why were they running? DeRay McKesson received two-thirds (3445) of the total cast for these candidates. One candidate managed only 66 votes.
And now for the “Now what?” portion of this post…
If it wasn’t already abundantly clear, we need to limit candidates running to those who can manage a minimum number of signatures on a petition or by some other means. And we absolutely need to expand the $6000 limit on contributions and/or loans to include the candidate. Had this rule been in effect, candidates like David Warnock and Donald Trump would think twice before filing.
As for virtually Mayor-Elect Catherine Pugh, we really do want her to succeed. That said, she’ll have an uphill battle against the city’s government and business culture, but also to overcome the long-standing tradition of small programs that characterize her campaign platform for economic growth. She has the talent and, figuratively speaking of course, the balls to significantly reduce unemployment and poverty while she’s in office. It’s a battle she’ll need to win or risk becoming just another next contestant to have been elected Mayor and to have, once again, wasted the potential of a great American city.