Monday, February 22, 2010

Dr. Klumpp analyzes the judicial primary results

A recognizable Irish surname conferred a significant advantage on Cook County judicial candidates in the primary campaign just concluded but, according to Albert J. Klumpp, PhD, a Research Analyst with the Chicago firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, female candidates and candidates slated by the Cook County Democratic party did not receive the same advantage as similar candidates have in past campaigns.

Dr. Klumpp has analyzed various components that seem to provide advantages to judicial candidates in the voting booth. In the following table, adapted from a table sent to me by Dr. Klumpp (meaning that any errors are mine, not his), the "Evaluations/Endorsements" component refers to favorable evaluations by both the Chicago Bar Association and the Chicago Council of Lawyers and a sweep of endorsements made by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. Note, too, that the 2010 figures apply to the nine contested countywide judicial contests in the Democratic Primary, including the three races for the Appellate Court.



Irish name
Top ballot position4.
Democratic slating11.

The analysis shows a dramatic fall-off in the advantage formerly enjoyed by female candidates. "Where did the gender vote go?" Klumpp asked in an email. He supplies a possible answer: "All in all, the results look like they came from an angry male electorate."

There are other factors that Dr. Klumpp tracks in his ongoing research into judicial elections. One factor that he tracks as influencing outcomes is campaign spending. This analysis takes longer to complete, however, because campaign spending disclosures are not yet complete. Dr. Klumpp believes that campaign spending is more influential in subcircuit elections than in the elections countywide but, in terms of these other factors, as a preliminary conclusion, Dr. Klumpp would agree that the same tendencies seen in countywide races this year seem to apply in the subcircuits as well.

Dr. Klumpp's most recent article on the subject of judicial elections is in the January 2010 issue of the CBA Record, "What Influences the Voters?"


Michael Strom said...

"Angry male electorate?" Shees, that's a reading only a statistician could love. Sometimes it's helpful to look for something other than just the numbers. For example, both races in the 9th Subcircuit featured lone female candidates (Abbey Romanek, Mary Trew) in fields of 4 & 6 candidates, respectively. Both lost, pending any change via recount in the Otaka vacancy. In both races the female candidates were credible, and drew substantial support. However, the successful candidates (Geary Kull, Steven Bernstein) are exceptionally well-known in the crucial vote-rich Evanston portion of the subcircuit. It is a bit absurd to look at these races and see Bernstein -- strongly supported by Jan Schakowsky, and a long-time Evanston Alderman -- as the product of an angry male electorate. Women candidates will continue to do well in the 9th, but it is important to keep in mind that a better-known judicial candidate will always do well in the usually-anonymous world of judicial elections.

If you look to the countywide Appellate Court races, women won 2 of 3, and may well have swept all three if not for the split caused by 3 of the 5 candidates in Judge Epstein's race being female. Doesn't sound so angry to me.

Albert said...

Name recognition can certainly be valuable, but it wasn’t of much value to Bernstein. According to latest count (pending the provisional ballots, I think), Bernstein won 30 percent subcircuit-wide; in Evanston Township he won 39 percent. Even in the rest of the subcircuit, Bernstein either won or came in a close second (currently Bender first with 6,712 votes and Bernstein with 6,710—and that includes Bender’s and other candidates’ home areas where they presumably got their own bumps). So it was not determinative, or even a major factor.

The gender vote was very low in this primary throughout the county. For whatever reason, many of the voters who support female candidates (and who came out in huge numbers when Hillary was on the ballot in 2008) stayed home this time. This hurt both Romanek and Trew. It won’t be clear until the campaign spending reports come in whether or not this made the difference between winning and losing, but both contests were so close that it may well have.

None of the three appellate contests was decided by gender. Pucinski won not because of gender but because of a 20-point name recognition bump (which she also got in 2006 when she ran for circuit court). Without it, Tom Hogan would have won. Rochford had nearly every advantage and won as the lone female in her contest but managed only 39 percent; based on past years, she should have been in the mid- to high 40s.

As for voter anger: In times when the electorate is discontented generally or suspicious of judicial candidates specifically (such as post-Greylord), Cook County voters are more likely to disregard party recommendations. That’s backed by historical evidence as far back as the early 1920s. In last month’s contests the countywide slate got a bump of only around 30,000 votes—a shockingly small number but entirely consistent with the political climate right now.