Friday, November 21, 2008

Con-con voting in black wards

Even tho the Con-Con was defeated on Election Day, Ramsin Canon over at Mechanics has some analysis nestled in his latest post asking if Chicago is ready for reform. This analysis is according to the racial make-up of particular wards:
First, there is the Constitutional Convention vote from this past election. The Con Con was a good government issue in its most distilled form; a vote for the Con Con was a vote against the status quo. Given that there was little effective organized support for a "yes" vote and a well-financed disinformation campaign for a "no" vote, it is surprising that Chicago over-performed the rest of Illinois by 13 percent. Particularly considering that Illinois' entire power structure comes from Chicago — every constitutional officer, and both legislative leaders — that Chicagoans expressed a greater will for reform than the rest of the state indicates something.

"Yes" won eight wards: all of them majority black or Latino. A total of 18 wards came in within two and half points. All 16 are majority black or Latino. The First Ward, which is plurality Latino, was within six. The Yes vote's best white ward was the Lakefront liberally-est of them all, the 49th Ward, East Rogers Park. It went 53-46 against. But city-wide, only two wards didn't over-perform the state's yes vote: the 41st Ward, which is represented by the City Council's only Republican, and the old Machine's holdout ward, the far southwest side 19th. (Surprisingly, Mike Madigan's 13th Ward over-performed the state). Looking at suburban Cook County, the pattern holds; the strongest "Yes" townships Cicero, Calumet and Thornton, all three with large minority populations.

Is there a reasonable conclusion to draw from these results? One interpretation is that minority voters are ahead of a generational and demographic shift in the city electorate that is less constrained by traditional voting patterns and willing if not eager to remake the political establishment. This is amplified by the results of the 2007 aldermanic elections, which saw incumbents lose at a greater clip than they had in a decade. The Readers' Ben Joravsky, in a short exploration of the results of the Con Con vote, points out that only two thirds of voters who voted in the city even bothered to vote on the Con Con issue. Considering the lopsided spending of the two sides of the issue, and the heavy-hitters pushing for a No (not to mention the natural constituency the anti- forces had: pensioners), it is even more surprising that Chicago voters voted for reform at a greater rate than Illinoisans generally.

Second, though less compelling, are the results of the Forrest Claypool/John Stroger primary. In that case, we can expect black wards to have come in strong for Stroger, a pillar of the black political establishment in Chicago for a generation. Stroger also had the backing of the then-still-kind of popular governor and the nominal support of the mayor. But Stroger was utterly rejected at the polls in 17 wards, where he lost to Claypool by a 60-40 margin or worse — in 10 wards, the difference was 70-30 or greater. Overall, Claypool won 20 wards — including three majority or plurality Latino wards, and was competitive in another three, two of which are majority Latino. It is not possible to simply attribute Stroger's losses in these wards to voting along racial lines; of the "ethnic white" wards, Stroger won two and was competitive in two more.

Voting "Yes" on Con Con and voting for Claypool against Stroger are both acts of a sort of political leap of faith. In both cases, voters were acting more as a rejection of the status quo than in support of a positive alternative. They were willing to invite the unknown out of disgust with what they saw.
Looking at the totals for the 6th on the Con-Con I didn't see anything resembling over performance.In fact the Con-Con lost bad in the 6th having only won about 42% of the vote.

I see it won in these black wards the 3rd, 15th, 16th, & 20th. In other wards well the vote was very close but lost in the 7th, 17th, 28th, & 37th wards.You can check citywide results here. Just realized it'll take you to a page for online results go under "Select the Contest from the List Box Below - November, 2008 General" then click on the down arrow and look for "Proposed Call Convention".

If Quinn was successful in his lawsuit in challenging these results even if the defeat was resounding outside of Chicago, I wonder if it was possible to flip certain groups to the cause?

1 comment:

  1. In a recent press conference prior to the 2008 general elections Daley said “Every homeowner understands that higher property tax bills this year are also the result of our state's over-reliance on property taxes to fund education. Every homeowner also understands that as long as the legislature in Springfield doesn't fundamentally reform the way education is funded so that local property taxpayers don't unfairly carry the burden, there will be year to year pressure for our schools to increase taxes."

    But where was Daley’s stand, et al, on the need for a citizens convention that could have been the key to reforming our property tax mess and our under funded school system?

    Hopes for long-overdue reforms in Illinois property taxation, school funding, and stronger political ethic laws were dashed with the defeat of the Illinois Constitutional Convention Referendum.

    But yes Chicago and Cook County is ready for reform!

    Despite the prejudicial wording on the ballot measure confused voters, and opponents sewed the seeds of fear that killed the initiative – the 1,442,196 yes votes for a Con Con was, at the very least, a demand for a more equitable tax system to better educate our children and to keep our property tax bills payable.

    2008 con con yes votes translated into a whopping 60% increase from the 990,109 yes votes in 1988.

    While dusty politicians, union and political lobbyists suggested that the best way to institute needed reforms was to wait on our legislators or elect new legislators to grapple with these issues---only 2 legislators were retired this election. We should trust that these legislators will not be influenced by special interests or be subject to the leadership, as the architects of perpetual gridlock.

    Prominent thinkers endorsed a vote yes on calling a citizens convention. Paul Vallas, nationally recognized former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools for raising test scores and balancing budgets. And Cook County Assessor James Houlihan and Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.---all know a thing or two about the dire need for more equitable systems for taxation and school funding.

    Unfortunately, their support, along with the efforts of under funded grassroots organizations (left, right and center), was not enough to bring the national mandate for change in alignment with local needs for action.

    Chicago minority communities strongly supported the referendum, while communities with higher number of union and public employees tended to oppose it. In Chicago, for example, minority communities cast the highest number of yes votes for the constitutional convention ---between 48% to 55% of the electorate.

    The highest votes ---50% or greater voted yes for a con con referendum in communities like Englewood, West and East Garfield Park, Lawndale, Chicago Lawn, Chatham, and Greater Grand Crossing. These are neighborhoods with citizens that have seen first hand the inequities of our school funding and tax systems. These communities voted on faith and not fear in spite of a $600,000 radio and TV anti-Con Con ads.

    In communities like Rogers Park, Logan Square, Village of Cicero, etc 49% cast yes votes for con con---- largely do to the excellent grassroots canvassing and organizing of United Power for Action and Justice. Look out for this incredible force in any public policy legislation or referendum!

    In Mt. Greenwood and Jefferson-Edison Park, with heavy populations of public employees and retirees, voters heard their pensions might be threatened, and they voted against Con Con by 70%.

    In Chicago there was a 47% increase in yes votes compared to the last con con election in 1988. There was a 23% drop in the city’s no votes compared to 1988 election. In Cook County there was a 52% increase in yes votes and a 58% increase in Cook suburban townships.

    A huge price was paid for the no vote stealthily orchestrated by union bosses and well connected political consultants. That price was a continuation of under funded public school system in areas that have low to modest priced homes and of course, higher property tax bills in the future.

    Let's see how our civic leaders, teacher unions, mayors and legislators solve the largest district-to-district educational funding gap in the nation in the coming years.

    My crystal ball sees a lot of finger pointers before solutions.

    But signs of reform are very evident in the con con election results and I do smell change in the air for Illinois.

    Andrea Raila


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