The key to the election is the fact that – unlike recent past elections (2000, 2002, 2004) – there is NO significant driving force (that is, a Presidential or a competitive Governor’s race) that will bring out the “casual voter” to the polls (and forget the state initiatives – people aren’t really going to turn out JUST for them).
Thus, MP voters will be there to either vote specifically on the council race or if they’re interested in one of the two local Measures: J (playing fields at Bayfront) or K (the utility tax). Examining each scenario:
1) If they’re there to specifically vote on the council:
You’ve got to give the opponents slate (Robinson-Cline-Bressler) the edge. The incumbents Winkler and Duboc have ticked off way too many people in this town, particularly in the last year. As such, R-C-B have a motivated base equivalent to the “anyone-but-Bush” vote in 2004 (with the difference being that, unlike 2004 when Kerry was effectively framed in negative terms, W-D-B haven’t been able to do that effectively with “nice guys” R-C-B who haven’t made any significant missteps along the way). On the other hand, I wonder just how much support Winkler and Duboc will actually enjoy from their base. I think they’ll find out that while strong support will be there for Mr. Boyle, who has a good background and support from business types, they won’t be getting the votes they are thinking they will from their base (that is, people who voted for them last time around).
2) If they’re there to specifically vote on Measure J:
This is where W-D-B HAS to pick up votes to get elected. They have tried as hard as possible to align themselves with Measure J to try to get parents voting “Yes” on it (“for the kids”) to automatically then vote for them as well. Will it work – more than likely with such “Yes” voters. However, the real question is just how much actual support is there for Measure J. I’d say that if a voter finds out that there’s a $10-17 million price tag associated with this measure, it’s a “no-go” (and thus a no-go with voting for W-D-B). The question therefore is: How well did R-C-B and Measure J opponents get word out to parents about the price tag to discourage “yes” votes on J (my guess is that the soccer folks know fully well, given that both Robinson and Dressler are involved in the leagues, while the baseball parents don’t, as the M-A Little League head apparently send out a Measure J/W-D-B endorsing email to parents. However, as soccer seems to be more popular than baseball these days, W-D-B comes up on the short end of the stick overall.)
3) If they’re there to specifically vote on Measure K:
If a voter is coming out just to vote on Measure K, it’s gonna be a “no” vote, so it’s highly unlikely that they would vote for either Winkler or Duboc, who had this measure put up for consideration in the first place. Measure K has hardly been discussed anyway, so there’s probably a very tiny amount of voters that will come out just because of Measure K anyway.
So, all in all, the election comes down to just how many Measure J supporters there are out there. W-D-B needs more than 50%: I think it’ll be around 50% at best.
The one wild card in all this is Belle Haven. If R-C-B have been able to garner strong support (through Andy Cohen, no doubt) from the same Belle Haven community leaders that brought people out in full force when budget cuts were discussed earlier this year, then R-C-B will have a distinct advantage that will more than negate any “measure J” vote in my mind.
So finally a prediction:
Robinson and Cline from the opponents slate get in, with Robinson getting the most votes overall.
Newcomer Boyle from the incumbent slate gets in, getting the second most votes overall.
Duboc and Bressler fall short – both not that close, nor that far away from 3rd place finisher Cline.
Winkler getting a strong dose of reality with a last-place showing, trailing the 3 winners badly (and probably complaining about it in one last email to her supporters).
Anyway, there it is. Please comment – after all, we’ve got some time to kill until the votes are counted and the winners announced!