Only a few minutes after voting ended at 8 p.m. on the evening of Nov. 2, CNN used exit polling conducted throughout the day to call the Michigan governor’s race in favor of Republican Rick Snyder. Even before polls opened, the only real question for most analysts was the margin of Snyder’s expected victory.
Margin of victory was also the main interest offered in local races, but with expectations for the identity of the victorious party reversed from the gubernatorial contest. Ann Arbor voters returned Democratic incumbents to five city council seats and the mayorship. For Steve Bean, who mounted an independent campaign for mayor, and for city council challengers Republican John Floyd (Ward 5), independent Newcombe Clark (Ward 5) and Libertarian Emily Salvette (Ward 2), the final raw tally did not offer many bright spots.
Bean managed about 18% of the vote in the mayor’s race. Floyd and Clark drew 22% and 9%, respectively, in the Ward 5 city council race, and Salvette received 21% in the Ward 2 council contest. Unless they are robots, it’s hard to imagine that any of their egos escaped completely unscathed. And despite the fact that Newcombe Clark’s door hangers depict a very cheerful robot with an NC insignia, I do not believe that Clark himself is a robot. So at some level, given their sheer humanity, the results must feel at least a little bit like a personal rejection by the electorate.
On the flip side, it’s hard to imagine that an incumbent like mayor John Hieftje, or Carsten Hohnke (Ward 5) or Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) – perhaps even more so Sandi Smith (Ward 1), Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and Margie Teall (Ward 4), who were all elected unopposed – could interpret the results as anything less than an overwhelming endorsement of their job performance.
Challengers and incumbents alike would be wrong in those interpretations, I think.
But as far as local races go, far more interesting to me than performing a postmortem on the council and mayor’s campaigns would be to take a look at the race for the library board, where there was little campaigning by the candidates. The outcome was not completely clear until the votes from outside the city and all absentee ballots from the city of Ann Arbor had been counted. That came at around 4 a.m. – almost eight hours after CNN had already called the governor’s race.
Vivienne Armentrout would have been a winning choice of city of Ann Arbor voters who voted in person at the polls. But once absentee ballots and votes from outside the city were included, she narrowly missed joining the board. Instead, incumbents Barbara Murphy, Edward Surovell, and Jan Barney Newman retained their seats.