Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Kennedy Will Win...er, wait...No, Ballard Will Win...um, hold on...

I was fully prepared to post my 2011 Indianapolis Mayoral prediction today.  My initial post was to declare my belief the Melina Kennedy would win the Mayor's race with 49% of the vote, Ballard coming in at 47%, and the remaining 4% going to Libertarian Chris Bowen.

With the lack of publicly available polls, I had to base my prediction on other things. First, the tone of the campaigns.  The Kennedy campaign seems to have gotten progressively nicer, while the Ballard camp seems to have gotten angrier lately.  Second, the lack of polls being released by the campaigns seemed to be an indicator of a tight race that neither side was willing to give up too much info on.

Third, there's a bunch of Republicans pissed off at Greg Ballard for things like the water company, the parking meters, the back-scratching of political buddies, etc.  While Bowen has ran a relatively quiet campaign and was excluded from most debates, I fully expected to see many Republicans either vote for him or take a pass on Mayoral voting altogether, rather than vote for Ballard or Kennedy. This, of course, would push Bowen's percentage up a bit.

There's been a sequence of news in the last day or so that has made me reconsider my position.  Twice.

First, word spread Monday of a couple of internal polls that Fox 59 had gotten a hold of.  One poll, from the Ballard campaign, was said to have been taken within the last week and indicated that he had a double-digit lead, 51%-39%, with Bowen coming in at 2%.  A second poll, from the Kennedy campaign, indicated that she had a 2-point lead that was within the margin of error.  Kennedy's poll was said to have been taken about two weeks ago.

Of course, both campaigns are likely to release polling information that shows them in the best light.  The fact that Kennedy's best shot at this was a two-week old poll that has her in a statistical dead heat with Ballard can't mean good news for the Kennedy campaign.  Abdul-Hakim Shabazz was quick to point out on his Indiana Barrister blog that those numbers are the exact same numbers released by Marion County Democratic Chairman Ed Treacy on September 23rd.  That coincidence is strong enough to make one doubt the validity of the Kennedy campaign statement that the poll given to Fox 59 is only two weeks old.

So, I began to rethink my initial prediction.  In light of this new information, I was willing to now say that Ballard was going to win re-election.  My new guess, based on that polling, was 52%-47%-3%. Ballard with a strong but not enormous win over Kennedy, and Bowen's numbers a little lower because of it.

OK, so I'm ready to run with this story now.  Right?

But wait...

This morning, Gary Welsh over at Advance Indiana wrote that early voting numbers are through the roof this year. According to his story, early turnout numbers are almost twice what they were at this time in 2007, and almost as high as last year's Congressional election year.

Traditional thinking would tend to indicate that is an incredibly strong sign for Kennedy.  Early voting is, as a rule, a Democratic stronghold.  While Republicans are now, at the last minute, trying to push their people for early voting, the Marion County GOP has been opposed to any expansion of the process this year.  It's all about votes when it comes to decision making for parties, so that opposition would lead you to believe Republicans are sure Kennedy and/or other Democrats favor strongly from early voting.

So let's sum this up.  Lack of polling results being released seems to be a slight favor to Kennedy.  But then some polling results are released but they are questionable but they seem to indicate a strong favor for Ballard.  But early voting results are through the roof which seems to be a good thing for Kennedy. (You get that?)

I guess I'll just split the difference and predict the race as 48%-48%-4%.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if we see a recount necessary on this one.


  1. 52, 47, 3? That adds up to 102. However, the 48, 48, 2 is correct. I see it going 50-48-2 in Melina's favor.

  2. "Third, there's a bunch of Republicans pissed off at Greg Ballard for things like the water company, the parking meters, the back-scratching of political buddies, etc."

    I totally agree with that, however, I don't think Kennedy has exploited those potential issues. She had to link the unpopular, anti-fiscal conservative Ballard policies directly to the Mayor to get outside of in-the-know core conservatives who are angry at Ballard. She hasn't done that.

    I would add something else to your analysis. The big, last minute contributors are going heavily to Kennedy - about 3 or 4 to 1. Those are insiders placing bets on what they believe will be the winning horse. It's not a reach ton consider those folks have some inside polling info that we don't have.

  3. @Morgan, you are obviously correct about my bad math there. I was trying to state a 5% Ballard win with a 3% Bowen turnout, so 51%-46%-3%. Sorry about that.

  4. @Paul - While I didn't include that in my writing, I had thought about that (and should have included it.)

    I think the influx of Kennedy money mixed with what are otherwise poor samples coming from the Kennedy camp, tied together with the Ballard's huge internal poll numbers, create the kind of "You'd think Ballard's leading, but there's really an even mix" numbers I talk about at the end.