This is something I started looking at after I saw the precinct results, but it has taken some time to run the numbers and type up.
One of the big things that jumped out at me when I was looking through the precinct data was that the Dunbar vote combined with the undervote (ballots where Democratic voters chose not to vote in the County Executive race) combine to be a very significant 30% of Democrats that voted against Ken Ulman. If that isn't a warning sign to Ken that he needs to give assurances to his Democratic base that he is hearing their concerns I do not know what is. More interesting is to see which precincts were trying to send Ken a signal that he has to come out strong and address their concerns. I decided to examine the precentage of anti-Ulman votes within Ken's council district by precinct.
These first three precinct are the Dorsey Search neighborhood where Ken grew up and his parents still live. The anti-Ulman precentage in the teens is about the max range I expected for the primary. Ken was going to be the nominee and Harry Dunbar spent virtually no money, had virtually no volunteers, and other than show up at forums I saw no evidence that he was actively campaigning (door-to-door, lit drops, mailers, phone banking, ads, etc.). Harry was never a credible choice to face a well financed Republican who was and is campaigning agressively. Frankly, I thought Harry would be lucky to break 10% because -- on top of not actively campaigning -- he made himself into such a joke.
So now let's work our way through other precincts:
OK, this is where alarm bells should be ringing. Just shy of 30% of Democratic voters that chose to vote in the primary in this precinct also chose NOT to vote for Ken. This, particularly at this level of votes, is an active choice. So what area is in this precinct: As we see from the map above that this is the Downtown Lakefront, the Vantage Point neighborhood of Town Center, the apartment next to the Central Library, the east side of Running Brook, Ten Mills Road, and Columbia Road south of Ten Mills Road. Thus some of the area most impacted by Downtown Columbia redevelopment.
Here we have a quarter of Democratic voters that chose to vote in the primary also choosing not to vote for Ken. This area is the Warfield Triangle neighborhood of Town Center and the inner side of Green Mountain Circle and Faulkner Ridge Circle.
The previous two precincts are interesting because they are the two non-Columbia precincts in the district. Ken beat Mary Kay four years ago in both these districts with the latter precinct being Ken's fifth best precinct in 2002. Boy times seem to have changed in this latter precinct.
This is Ken's best non-River Hill/non-Dorsey Search precinct and the only one that the anti-Ulman vote is under 20%. It includes Hobbit's Glen, the north side of Clary's Forest, and the west side of Ceder Lane/Harpers Farm Road. Outside of River Hill this is probably the farthest Columbia section of the district from Downtown.
This is the outside of the Green Mountain Circle and Faulkner Ridge Circle and the south side of Hesperus Drive. Ken actually does better here than the rest of Wilde Lake which is interesting, but the anti-Ken vote is still over 20%.
Ken's base in River Hill in this precinct and Precinct 5-22 are still Ken's best precincts. It was Ken's landslide in 5-22 four years ago that put Ken over the top of Mary Kay.
Interestingly the west side of Running Brook and the east side of Hesperus is tied with Precinct 5-6 for his worst precincts in county council district 4.
This precinct includes the Banneker neighborhood of Town Center, but it is a very small part of a large precinct that takes in a good chunk of Hickory Ridge. This was one of Ken's better precincts in 2002 and he still does slightly better here than any of the neighboring precincts.
The area of Columbia Road between Ten Mills Road and Rt 108 has just shy of a quarter of voters choosing not to vote for Ken.
River Hill still is Ken's strongest precincts.
So what do we learn from all of this. No precincts match up well with village or neighborhood lines, but Ken does poorly in most of the precincts have a significant chunck of their voters living in the Town Center and Wilde Lake areas. In fact, only 3 precincts in the non-River Hill/non-Dorsey Search Columbia parts of the district have an anti-Ulman precentage under 23.9%. The fact that the anti-Ulman numbers are also strong in 5-09, 5-13, 5-17, and 5-21 shows that the concern is pretty broad in parts of Columbia not immediately next to downtown. I live on the east side of Columbia and I hear concerns about the downtown planning from a lot of others on the east side.
I take these numbers as a very bad sign for Ken. I worked on Ken's campaign in 2002 and walked large chunks of these precincts for him. There is no way to spin these numbers other than that Ken is in touble with his base. There is a great need for Ken to solidify his base by coming out strong and giving voters specific guarantees about what any redevelopment under his administration will or will not do. At this point the community has spoken at public meetings, CA elections, and the primaries and every time they have expressed concern with the downtown plans. Ken needs to show that he has heard them. This staying aloof, running a front porch campaign (some also call it Rose Garden campaign) will not work and Ken will lose. If he does lose he will have no one to blame but himself. I privately told Ken the issue of this election would be development as we walked out together after the final day of charrette week and that I was hearing a lot of concern in the community.
This election will come down to this: Will Ken solidify his base? Will Chris Merdon convince enough hard core Columbia Democrats that he is better on growth and committed enough on public services to not undermine our great schools and public safety services by fiscally irresponsibly cutting taxes?
This race has always been Ken's to lose, because of the generic numbers of the county, but so far he is on the way to doing just that. Howard County voters will swing vote on the issues and if you don't get out in the community and listen, learn, and respond to voters concerns you will lose elections.