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Stats Suggest Dems Need About 10,000 Votes

by ARLnow.com March 26, 2012 at 11:56 am 6,832 57 Comments

If the past five special elections are a guide, Democrats will need to muster about 10,000 votes to win tomorrow’s County Board special election.

Democratic candidate and School Board member Libby Garvey is facing two candidates who have both run for the County Board before: Republican Mark Kelly and Green Party candidate Audrey Clement.

Clement received 9,728 votes in the 2011 November general election, when she was the sole challenger to Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada, who both ended up winning reelection. Kelly received 20,570 votes to Democratic incumbent Chris Zimmerman’s 32,894 votes in November 2010. Special elections, however, tend to attract far fewer voters.

As detailed in an email from Arlington County Treasurer and amateur election statistician Frank O’Leary (see table, above), the turnout for special elections has ranged between 18,000 and 22,000 over the past 22 years, compared to the more than 57,000 votes cast in the 2010 County Board election. In two of those special elections — 1993 and 1999 — low turnout helped to propel a Republican to victory over a Democrat.

O’Leary thinks tomorrow may see near-record low turnout, thanks in part to voter fatigue. Democrats voted in a primary in August, a general election in November, a caucus in January, and are now being asked to go to the polls yet again. Plus, there’s the issue of party unity.

“Some may still be nursing grudges as a result of the five dimensional recent Democratic primary (which evidenced a dismal turnout, even allowing for winter weather),” O’Leary noted. That opens up the opportunity for Clement or Kelly to pull out a surprise victory, if either can get enough voters to the polls.

Since 1990, no Democrat has received fewer than 9,143 votes in a County Board special election. At the same time, no Republican (or third party) has received more than 9,788 votes. As such, 10,000 may be the magic number for any of the three candidates.

  • South Walter Reed

    Regardless of what happens tomorrow, I think we can all agree that Frank O’Leary is the worst.

    • Captain Obvious


      • Arlington Democrat

        Plus 1000. No one conducted himself or herself worse in that election than O’Leary. Arlington will be better off when he is gone from the scene.

        • T.G.E.0.A….

          Well, he helped crap on Bondi and Zimmerman, so that was nicely done.

  • dave schutz

    I can’t imagine that Garvey won’t win: even if she gets way fewer than 10000 votes, the Reeps and the Greens will split the anti-Dem vote. Suppose she got 8000 out of an 18000 voter turnout. Then to beat her, either Kelly or Clement would have to get 80 % of the non-Garvey vote. Not going to happen.

  • Kevin Diffily

    I absolutely want to give my vote to Audrey Clement but am concerned with splitting the vote. Having Kelly in there is a nightmare.

    • bemused bystander

      Interesting that you see the Republican as the intruder or third-party renegade here.

      • speonjosh

        Why? In Arlington, them’s the facts. Well, almost. People are so trained to only vote for two parties that I’d be surprised if Clement comes in second.

        • drax

          Anyone who does something you don’t like is “trained.”

    • Patrick

      Ah yes b/c we wouldn’t want anyone to dissent on the next vote to continue the slush fund for the artisphere.

    • OldTimer

      Four annoying campaign calls from the Clement campaign early yesterday. Good effort, but calling FOUR times? May have called more, but I blocked the number!

      • Josh S

        Oo – how do you do that?

        • nom de guerre

          it’s a “new technology” that’s called caller ID

  • Tabs

    Where is the election this time? Normal polling places or hard-to-get-to-without-a-car school?

    • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

      The hard to get to places were the choices made by the individual parties…this election will be at the normal polling places.

      • Tabs

        Ah, thanks.

      • speonjosh

        Because it’s an actual election instead of a club vote.

  • KalashniKEV

    Wow… what happened in 1996?

    • cj

      Chris Zimmerman was elected by a large majority.

    • Democrat

      Bill Clinton was re-elected and the federal deficit dropped to $107 billion on its way to the first surpluses since 1969 before the trend was reversed under Bush…

      • speonjosh


      • Independent

        I’ll give Bill Clinton credit, he was willing to work with the opposition and compromise with the Republican Congress to get to that surplus, unlike someone who currently resides at 1600 Penn Ave. And Bush and the Republicans coming out of the Clinton recession, were irresponsible and started us on a road to yearly deficits. But the trendline under Obama and the two years he had free reign with complete control of Congress is even more steep than it was under Bush. So the fact is, both parties have been completely irresponsible and deserve the blame. If only there was a viable alternative or if you could believe that they would be fiscally responsible.

        • drax

          You don’t think Obama is compromising with the GOP? When he just let the extension of the Bush tax cuts go without a peep?

          Granted, back then, they were both working to cut the deficit instead of grow it.

          The bottom line is that you can’t credit or blame either party entirely for deficits. So much of deficits are simply due to poor economic conditions and the lack of tax revenue that results.

          • Suburban Not Urban

            It’s convenient that you left out wasteful spending and over-promised unsustainable entitlements; again by both parties.

          • Josh S

            The focus must remain on the entitlement programs. Absolutely. Raise the retirement age. Tax up to a higher salary. Heck, maybe even means test Social Security, although I don’t know how much of a dent that would make….

          • drax

            I didn’t leave them out at all.

          • Zoning Victim

            We have the debt we have because Americans insist on services they’re not willing to pay for; blaming the economy for our debt when the GDP’s largest drop was 8.9%, all of the drops in the GDP have been short lived and we’ve only run a budget surplus for 12 years since 1940 is a copout.

          • drax

            Quite true. We should be running surpluses in good years, but we haven’t since 2000, and that’s an indication that we spend more than we’re willing to pay for.

          • dk

            ding ding!!

    • Wayne Kubicki

      Republican candidate in the 1996 Special Election was Scott Stone, who had been Oliver North’s Arlington campaign coordinator in North’s 1994 U.S, Senate run.

      That explain the results?

      • KalashniKEV

        Yeah… that makes sense. I was suspecting voter fraud. 🙂

        • drax

          It’s fraud whenever you lose.

          • KalashniKEV

            I just don’t understand how a guy like Zimmerman could get elected…

          • Josh S

            You’ve been spending too much with yourself and people like yourself. Lots of people like Zimmerman.

          • drax

            Because you live in a tiny bubble.

  • T.G.E.0.A….

    How much (taxapayer) time and resources does O’Leary waste on this hobby?

  • novasteve

    How dare we think of not having a democrat dominated board! Gulag for all dissidents!

  • Tabs

    No calls?

    I guess Libby figures this one’s in the bag.

    • dave schutz

      I saw her at my Metro stop this morning – it was good and cold, and she was there and chatting up voters. Didn’t look complacent to me, though I think she could afford to be, with two other candidates competing for the anti-Dem vote.

  • Just me

    It’s easy to talk to voters in the morning at Metro stations. They’re on their way to work and don’t have the time to ask tough questions.

    • jackson

      You’re right, it is “just you.”

  • Mary-Austin

    I am torn between Kelly and Clement. We need some new blood on the County Board. It’s not like we’re voting for president here… time to shake things up a little.

    • Holly

      I don’t mean to be naive, but what needs changing?

      I’ve been a resident here for over twenty years. We have some of the best schools in the country, innovative smart growth, an area that has been courting business development to compliment our federal presence, and have a great quality of life that’s supported by a top-notch police and fire department. So is the gripe tax rates?

      It seems the board is pretty reflective of our deep blue population. I wouldn’t go out to Topeka KS and argue that they need more Democratic representation in their local government just for the sake of diversity.

      • Josh S

        Well said, Holly. I think what you say is largely true.

        Nevertheless, there is no way I’m voting for the status quo at any level these days……if for nothing else than the Green Party needs to get more experience actually holding office, so they can realize that sitting on the sidelines talking about utopian solutions does no one any good. Get in there, learn the hard realities of governing, refine your message and maybe become a viable Third Party that this country so desperately needs.

      • drax

        Hmm. I looked up Topeka and found this crazy situation:

        On October 11, 2011, the Topeka city council agreed to repeal the ordinance banning domestic violence in an effort to force the Shawnee County District Attorney to prosecute the cases. Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor said that the DA “would no longer prosecute misdemeanors committed in Topeka, including domestic battery, because his office could no longer do so after county commissioners cut his budget by 10 percent.” The next day, Taylor said that his office would “commence the review and filing of misdemeanors decriminalized by the City of Topeka.” The same day it was announced that 17% of the employees in the District Attorney’s office would be laid off.

        I’m glad I live in Arlington, I’ll put it that way.

      • sue

        school capacity–this democratic board SUCKS when it comes to this issue. Quit resting on the laurels of the past 20 years. Anyone with young kids knows enough wasn’t done in the past when all the predictors for at least the past 10 years predicted this growth. Ohhh..we’lll jsut get more ‘relocatable space’..TRAILERS that cover the play areas…and we’ll find the 1 study that says class size doesn’t matter.

        It is definitely time to shake things up. Things are slipping away.

        • drax

          Yes, sue, it’s much more likely that Republicans are going to raise and spend massive amounts for public schools. LOL.

        • dk

          Umm…I have young kids and I don’t really agree with you about school board malfeasance/mismanagement. Except the hiring of the current superintendent. I don’t like him much.

          As for TRAILERS, my son’s class is in one right now. And….honestly, I could not care less. The trailer classrooms are large and sunny, soundproofing is excellent, and the trailer is fully equipped with bathrooms and water fountains. TRAILERS have turned out to be a complete non-issue in my opinion.

          I will grant that trailers merely buy the county some time and are not a long-term solution, and that covering play areas with trailers is very problematic.

          • sue

            You obviously aren’t at the trailer park school where the trailers are completely covering the blacktops and all outdoor space.

            Don’t worry–it’s coming your way soon.

            New buidlings should have been in the works 10 years ago. We had no expansions or new buildings while the population models were well known.

            The current board does not give a shit about expanding class size. We are one of the richest counties in the nation and this is unacceptable.

      • Mary-Austin

        I just get the impression the Democrats on the board think they own the place. I remember a few years ago they wanted to build a huge halfway house in my neighborhood. At one of the meetings one of the board members essentially said to me “we can do whatever we want”. And they did despite a huge opposition from the neighborhood.
        I want someone who doesn’t necessarily think exactly like the other board members. Maybe there could be some debate once in a while.

        • sue


          Arlington votes Dem without even thinking about it. Automatically–not doing any research.

          I voted Dem in the Presidential election—I will not be doing it in my local election.

        • sue

          Btw, we got the same response in front of the School Board. One member was actually asleep!!

  • sue

    Why is the headline DEMS? No matter how I vote in the General Election…for this county election–democrats suck.

  • Car-Free Diet

    Sue, I do not agree with your characterization of Democrats. I know many Democrats, and several of my close friends are Democrats. Many of the Democrats I know are loyal, caring, up-standing citizens.

    However, I do believe ARLnow’s title for this article betrays a certain bias in favor of Democrats. I believe the titles “Stats Suggest Greens Need About 10,000 Votes” or even, “Stats Suggest GOP Needs About 10,000 Votes” would be just as accurate because in only one of the Special Elections listed did the total vote count exceed 20,000.

    I think it is fair to believe the reference to “Dems” in the title is due to the writer unwittingly disclosing their bias for Dems; or more likely, knowingly reflecting the pro-Democratic bias of their readership.

    • We wrote it that way because Democrats are *expected* to win by most. The point of the article is that that’s hardly a given. Your attempt to find bias in the headline is misguided at best.

  • sue

    I also owe a clarifcation: not all democrats suck. The Democrat running for board sucks based on past performance.

  • Marvin

    Mr. Marvin,

    Thank you for your message. I can assure you that the fact you saw the light flashing on your machine is not indicative of a defect. It’s actually a good thing, because it means the machine’s battery is in the process of becoming fully charged. The machines sit dormant for about two weeks, between the time we set them up and seal them before the election and election morning. This will always cause the machine’s battery to drain somewhat, in the same manner that the battery in a cell phone or laptop loses charge if not used. So when the poll workers plug the machines in first thing in the morning, the battery starts the process of charging. I see you indicated you voted early, at 6:30 am, so a charging battery at that time is perfectly normal. Once the battery is fully charged, the light becomes solid green.

    As for the issue of the poll worker telling you you approached from the “wrong side,” we’ll address that with the chief election officer and assure this individual receives appropriate training. Thank you for bringing this to our attention and I am sorry if this caused you inconvenience or confusion.

    For more information about elections in Arlington, please visit our website at http://www.arlingtonva.us/vote.

    Linda Lindberg, General Registrar

    Office of Voter Registration and Electoral Board

    2100 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 320

    Arlington, VA 22201-5400

    703-228-3456 | 703-228-3659 fax | 703-228-4611 tty

    [email protected]


    P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.

    This communication is subject to public disclosure under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

    From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]]
    Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 11:59 AM
    To: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; Linda Lindberg
    Subject: Voter Complaint: 3/27/2012 11:58:48 AM

    Virginia State Board of Elections On-Line Voter Complaint

    County/City (Required)
    Name: Arlington
    Code: 013

    Precinct: 025 – ARLINGTON FOREST

    Polling Location: CULPEPPER GARDEN

    Incident Type: Voting Equipment

    Date and Time the Incident Happened: March 27, 2012 0630

    Description of the Incident (Required):
    Hello I am curious if my vote will be thrown out. After receiving my voter card I walked to the voting machine. The poll worker told me that I came in the out door. Stating I should have walked around and approached the booth from the other side of the room. There was no sign stating “how to get to the booth”. He unlocked the machine and allowed me to proceed. I commented that the low battery light was red and blinking. He mumbled something I couldn’t comprehend. I voted and left. I was one of two voters in the polling station. I wonder if my vote will be counted or thrown out due to some sort of technical tactic by the obvious liberally biased polling workers. Can you verify if there are technical problems with the voting equipment? If so, the poll workers were informed early enough to make accommodations but probably didn’t. Thanks!


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