I’m asking because I was somewhat surprised at how easily Moe Baddourah won the runoff yesterday. Nothing against Moe — I wish him all the best, and hope he’s a very successful council member — but that’s not the way I thought it would end up. I thought Daniel Coble would win, although not run away with it. I saw a Baddourah win as possible, but again, I figured it would be close.
My reasoning was as follows. I thought:
- Moe had pretty much received all of his potential support in the first go-round. I had seen him as the pro-business, suspicious-of-government candidate in the race, and that he got all of those voters on April 3.
- All voters who were attracted to Jenny Isgett’s theme that since the district had been represented by a woman for 30 years, it should go for her, seemed more likely to go for Coble in the runoff.
- Coble’s support was more visible, and seemed more enthusiastic. I really felt for Moe at that neighborhood association meeting where Brett shot the video. At one point he mentioned that the small crowd seemed to be 90 percent for Coble, and I think he was right.
- Everybody who I knew had declared for a candidate had declared for Coble. I can’t think of anybody who publicly endorsed Moe in the last couple of weeks. That doesn’t mean no one did, but the news didn’t get to me. (Yes, someone will inevitably say that personal endorsements are meaningless, as someone always does but they’ll be wrong. In fact, in an election with no reported polling, they’re about all you have to go by. And even if they didn’t mean much individually, they ALL seemed to go to Coble, which had to be indicative of something.)
But all that reasoning added up to nothing, which leaves me speculating as to the reason it went the other way:
- Moe and Jenny were actually the anti-establishment vote, or the anti-Coble (as in Bob) vote, if you will. Jenny voters only had one non-Coble candidate left, and so they went for him.
- Voters reacted against Coble’s youth.
- Every one of those public endorsements — Belinda Gergel, James Smith, Steve Morrison, Kit Smith and to a lesser extent Mike Miller — counted against Coble with an electorate that was in an anti-establishment mood. Coble was definitely the Shandonista candidate, and maybe voters in other areas (and perhaps in Shandon itself) reacted against that.
- One of the few issues on which there was a noticeable difference between the candidates — the water/sewer money, funding the bus system — meant more to voters in those neighborhoods than I could tell as an outsider. (But this explanation seems unlikely, because the differences between them were mere matters of degree, not fundamental values.)
- There’s more dissatisfaction with the current city council than I had thought (and voting for Baddourah was more of a vote for “change”). I had heard a lot less general grumbling since Benjamin, Plaugh, Gergel and Newman had been elected, but maybe the honeymoon is truly over.
- Moe had told me he had learned a lot from losing to Seth Rose two years ago. And remember, Seth was an anti-establishment candidate, because he also beat Kit Smith’s chosen successor (a fellow Bennettsville boy). Part of that was a lot of knocking on doors. Of course, Coble did that, too. But maybe there were some organizational things I couldn’t see that really helped Moe turn out his identified supporters — which is everything in such a tiny-turnout election. (But I knew Moe didn’t do everything that Seth did, because Seth advertised on this blog. Ahem.)
As far as tactics are concerned, I could just ask Moe. And I will when I see him. But I’m more interested in why the tactics worked — that is to say, I’m more curious about what the voters themselves were thinking. And since there was no exit polling, I’m asking now.
So how about it, District 3 voters? Whether you backed Baddourah or Coble, why did you do so? Your answers may bear significantly on the future course of Columbia.