Vanguard Analysis: Will Measure P Pass?

Proponents of the Water Initiative turned in signatures in January
Proponents of the Water Initiative turned in signatures in January

At the end of Election Night’s vote count, we saw Measure P passing with 51.2 percent of the vote. Its lead at the end of the night was 264. However, unlike for John Munn, the trend for Measure P was narrowing the gap. As a result, there is a chance, depending on a number of factors, that Measure P could ultimately be defeated.

When the first returns came in just after the close of polls, Measure P was passing with about 54% percent of the vote by about 550 votes. John Munn was ahead of Rochelle Swanson by 73 votes.

As we noted in the other article, the interesting thing is that John Munn, while clearly linked with Measure P, underperformed the measure by 1600 votes. That left him 213 votes out of second at the close of the night, while Measure P’s gap closed to a 264 vote lead.

Interestingly enough, the change in their margins exactly trended with each other. John Munn lost 286 votes to Rochelle Swanson among Election Day votes and Measure P lost by 286 votes on Election Day.

By our count then, on Election Day, Measure P was defeated by a 53-47 margin. That was enough to close the pre-Election Day gap, but not overcome it.

We ran a few scenarios, given the likely numbers of votes remaining and the results are very interesting.

We know that there are about 9600 outstanding votes in Yolo County. The elections office could not tell us the proportion of those votes that are Davis. So we ran two scenarios, one where there is 2000 votes to be counted and one where there are 3000.

If there are just 2000 votes to be counted, Measure P would have to receive over 57% no votes in order for it to go down to defeat. If there are 3000 votes to be counted, Measure P would need to receive just under 55% of no votes in order to be defeated. It would have to get up to 4000 for the percentage of votes to defeat Measure O to mirror the Election Day distribution of votes.

How likely is there to be 4000 votes to be counted? Given that there are just under 11,000 votes cast, it is possible, but we think 3000 is more likely. The No on P would have to increase its frequency in those votes over pre-election and Election Day totals, and that does not seem that likely.

Based on our analysis, it is unlikely that Measure P will end up being defeated, but not impossible.

The pre-election vote totals are obviously not a complete snapshot. While voting by mail has become institutionalized to the mainstream electorate, there are small differences in the voter breakdown, which still tends to be older and more conservative than the Election Day electorate.

However, it does help us analyze temporally a bit of what was happening at the time when Matt Williams felt the need along with Donna Lemongello to alter the water rates.

Matt Williams references his experiences when canvassing, and it is clear that at the time he presented the revised water rates to council, Measure P was passing and by a significant margin.

There will be a tendency for core Measure P opponents to put blame on Matt Williams and Donna Lemongello for the passage of Measure P, if the result holds, but the numbers do not bear that out.

If anything, the numbers show that those who voted on Election Day and therefore had access to the knowledge of the discussion and the council’s action were far more likely to vote against Measure P than those who voted earlier. If anything, the action of council, as well as Matt Williams and Donna Lemongello, helped to narrow the gap.


The other interesting thing is the map of Davis.

There are some clear exceptions in the core of downtown, but for the most part, the peripheral subdivisions, which tend to be newer, more wealthy and more conservative (as well as pro-development), were the ones that voted to support Measure P.

The core of town, with some exceptions, tends to be older and more liberal, and they voted against Measure P.

That suggests that the revolt against the water rates tended to be by wealthier and more conservative people than those supporting the water rates. That is a fascinating finding that will warrant additional attention.

Bottom line, unless there was a drastic shift, we expect Measure P to pass. We do not know what that means policywise for the city of Davis.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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    1. David Greenwald

      Separating the core activists from the core constituency is important. After all the periphery of the city is not necessarily made up of exclusively older voters.

  1. Frankly

    There are some clear exceptions in the core of downtown, but for the most part, the peripheral subdivisions, which tend to be newer, more wealthy and more conservative (as well as pro-development), were the ones that voted to support Measure P.

    The core of town, with some exceptions, tends to be older and more liberal, and they voted against Measure P.

    I’m glad that someone mentioned this. I have been thinking the same for some time. This is a very interesting geographic/demographic consideration. How does political views correlate with where a person chooses to live… or does living in a location influence politics?

    If you live on the periphery you are already quite familiar with traffic and the need to travel great distances to shop in this town. I think you are more likely to have a more realistic and practical view of the impacts and benefits for some peripheral development. You are more likely to support change, both because you don’t fear the impacts as much and because you would value the benefit more. Conversely, if you live in the core you are likely lacking sufficient perspective for how those on the periphery live. You much more easily bike or walk to shop. You like things the way they are and don’t want them to change. So you vote accordingly for things that help prevent change.

    But again, my question is does that more dense urban lifestyle attract more liberal-leaning people, or does it create them… or both. The suburbs always tend to be more red and the core urban areas more blue.

    Asked another way, are lefties always more dense or does more density cause more left-ness?

    My thinking it that it is a little of both.

    When you think about the initial migration of Europeans to America… it was people that wanted to be left alone. They wanted freedom and independence. That was the basis for a lot of our founding documents and our values and, frankly, the reason that we ended up the greatest nation on God’s green earth. That fierce independence was unique in a world that was otherwise hyper-dense and tending toward socialism and other forms of collectivism.

    Americans tended to want some land between themselves and their neighbors. The valued privacy.

    What is interesting to me is the great level of conflict and incongruity with the views of Davis liberals on the subject of city growth and development. They keep opining for greater density while also opposing many of the changes that would result in greater density. I hear the claims from these liberals that they like Davis the way it is… or in some cases, the way it was.

    But related to the initial point here… I see Davis growing more geographically polarized with respect to many policy issues. And I think the core area liberals will be more and more on the losing end of the debates going forward.

  2. Davis Progressive

    this article debunks a few myths, the first of which is that matt williams enabled the water project to fail by posing his alernative cbfr. unfortunately the rates were killed by the incompetence of staff and the failure of the council and city to explain math to the second most educated city in the country.

    also very interesting that munn underperformed p by so much.

  3. Davis Progressive

    the analysis also belies the notion that measure p was somehow a progressive measure, it was a conservative measure than some notable progressives joined in with. with mr. toad were here posting to make light of that.

    1. Barack Palin

      Yeah, I miss Toad. DP, how do you feel about Toad getting outed for supposedly having multiple aliases? Do you think that was right when there are others on here also using multiple aliases that so far haven’t been outed?

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