Thursday, April 14, 2011

Indianapolis City-County Council Race; Don't Forget the Female Factor

Over at Indy Democrat, Jon Easter pens a column about the effect ballot placement has on election results.  He suggests that the Republican challenger to the slate, Jocelyn-Tandy Adande, who is first on the list of five candidates could have an advantage.

Easter is right, of course. Ballot placement does have an effect, in  particular on who wins in a list race.  The worst place is to be in the middle of a list.  Candidates at the very end tend to stand out a little more than those who are in the middle of the pack.  The best place to study this effect is in delegate races where most primary voters know few if any of the delegates.  In those races, those who are near the top of the alphabetical list tend to score better.

This "alpha effect: is most pronounced in low-profile elections.  When you get to the big races where voters actually know the candidates the order of those candidates does not matter nearly as much.

But if you look at those list races, such as a delegate contest or a race for judge, another bias rears its head. Female candidates almost always do better in list races than males do, at least here in Indianapolis.  If the race is between a little known male Candidate A and an unknown female Candidate B, B will almost always win.

I would put gender ahead of the "alpha effect" as an influence on low profile list races.  Another factor, which isn't just confined to list races, is that if a candidate has an unusual or foreign sounding name, they tend to lose support.  Sorry to say, but there is still some xenophobia out there.  I always thought Vop Osili was at a decided disadvantage because of his name.

Let's not forget that in 2007, Barb Malone (a common American sounding name) beat out slated Republican at large candidate, Michale Jezierski.  Mike had the strike of being male and having a somewhat unusual last name.  Of course, he didn't receive any support as the slated candidate either. Then GOP county chairman Tom John decided to assist just just one Republican slated at-large candidate, Kent Smith.

Let's look at the 2011 Republican at-large candidates:

Jocelyn-Tandy Adande
Jackie Cissell
Michael Kalscheur
Barbara Malone
Angel Rivera

Jon Easter theorizes that Rivera is safe because he's an incumbent.  I'm not sure I agree with that.  Rivera has never been in a Republican primary before.  He's not that well known and his time on the council certainly has not endeared himself to fiscal conservatives.  Plus, there is an unfortunate segment of voters, many Republicans, who have a knee jerk reaction to anything Hispanic.  They might not say it out loud, but it is a bias that could show up in the privacy of a voting booth.

Still if one of the four slated candidates dropped for the list, I'd have to guess Michael Kalscheur.  He's male, in the middle of the pack, and has an uncommon last name.

On the other hand Jocelyn-Tandy Adande is not an unknown for many voters. She's run for several offices as both a Republican and a Democrat.  Plus her name is unusual and has a hyphen.  Voters don't like hyphens for some reason.

All in all, I'd predict the slated candidates would win, but it's not the slam dunk some people may think it is.  Again, think of the 2007 Barb Malone example.


Blog Admin said...

I think the slated candidates benefit from this being a municipal primary, and thus the most motivated to go out and vote are people who are involved in the inner-party workings already. The non-slated candidates basically have to bring out people who weren't planning on voting.

I didn't know Malone wasn't slated back in 2007. That's very interesting.

Paul K. Ogden said...

The trouble for the insiders though is that the "slate" has lost a lot of credibility, even with precinct committeemen. They see party bosses as making the choices, not them. It's taken a long time for them to figure that out but it's sinking in. There is also not near the stigma for running against the slate as it used to be. Here we have Malone being slated when four years ago she ran against the slate.

Blog Admin said...

And Leroy Robinson, one of the slated Ds for At-Large Council, ran against the slate against Cherish Pryor a few years back as well.

Downtown Indy said...

Bobby Kern and JTA both played the name-change game. I never knew she was his campaign manager, though.

Ben said...

Paul, as for the Slate, we just need to look back at the Fishburn nightmare to see what a joke it is.
Ginny Cain ran unslated so I see your point.

However we all know that the first name on a ballot in a primary is worth about 3-4 points. So she may well pull it out. However Im not too concernd about it. Not one single Republican at large will win this rodeo.

The only Rs that are safe are the ones that are running unopposed.

Walker should be happy that Vop Osili did not run at large, it would have been a blood bath for Walker if Osili had done that.

It will be fun to see what the financials look like on Friday

Paul K. Ogden said...

"we all know that the first name on a ballot in a primary is worth about 3-4 points."

Ben, it depends on the race. If it's a high profile race where voters know then candidate, then placement doesn't matter.

I do wish Indiana would scrap this alphabetical order nonsense. They ought to do a drawing for positions.

Downtown Indy said...

Better still, put the challenger at the top, incumbent at the bottom.

Ben said...

Paul, do you know if it is a sate law concerning name placement.Seems to me that it is a issue for the SOS.

But since our SOS is a POS he may not be able to address the situaiton from his pending jail cell.

Paul, I agree it does depent on the race

M Theory said...


He's Indiana's Re-Legalization lobbyist.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Ben, I never really loooked up the exact statute, but I have always seeen that it is alphabetical order.

The SOS actually has virtually no say over the conduct of elections. CW is right about that. That's a function of the county clerk. If anyone could vary the order of names it would be the county clerk. I kind of doubt they have that authority though. You've inspired me though to try to find it in the code.

Wilson46201 said...

As a Democrat, I certainly hope Jocelyn Whats-her-name gets the nomination! She will be a total embarrassment to the GOP as the tawdry tales of her checkered and shady past come tumbling out.

M Theory said...

Jocelyn might make things fun!

Queen916 said...

Downtown Indy: I was asked by Bob Kern's Aunt after the May Primary to help him when he beat the Democrat slated candidate for congress in 1998.

I have advised and assisted several individuals who have dared to seek public office whether or not they were political insiders or slated.

For the record, I have worked as a campaign manager and as a coordinator for several major candidates who were elected, and are presently serving in their respective offices, regardles of their Political Party affiliation.
[Canadidates for School Board, legislative, local, state and federal, also judges to name a few.