Monday, February 04, 2013

Cheshire election history (1979-2012): The power of incumbency

From 1979 to 2012, we've had 17 local elections.  We've also had four Council districts (1st District2nd District3rd District, and 4th District) since Cheshire got a Charter with elections beginning in November 1971.  So since 1979, we've had 68 Council district elections.

Of those 68 elections, only four elections have seen elected incumbents defeated:

1991 -- 3rd District, George Bowman (D) defeated Gil Leslie (R)

1995 -- 2nd District, Tom Stretton (D) defeated John Perotti (R)

2003 -- 4th District, Tim White (R) defeated Lynn Salzer (D)

2009 -- 3rd District, Andy Falvey (R) defeated Laura Dicaprio (D)

There have been a number of appointed incumbents defeated at the polls.  But my point here is about the power of incumbency for elected Council members.

So only four times in 68 elections* have elected incumbents lost reelection.  Elected incumbents normally win.  And two times, elected incumbents were not even challenged:

2001 -- 1st District, Sheldon Dill (R)

2011 -- 1st District, David Schrumm (R)

Before I began this study of Cheshire's election history, I knew that the federal and state levels reelected incumbents about 95% of the time.  Now we know that the same holds true for local elections in the Council districts.

And one last tidbit... of the four challengers who won, three of them won on their first time out.  Who was the stupid one who thought he could beat the odds even after losing once?  Me!  :)

Tim White

* Of the 68 elections, I'm not really certain that it was all elected incumbents who ran in the 1979 contest.  And I did find the 1971 to 1977 election records in the Town Clerk's Office, but they're not a high priority for me.  So that data collection will wait.


Tim White said...

Looking at the data somewhat differently... of the 64 elections, only 44 (or 48 of 68, if you include 1979) elections had an incumbent running.

So you could also say that only 4 of 44 elections had elected incumbents run and win.

Tim White said...

So however this statistic is typically viewed, it's either a 90% of 95% reelect rate.

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