By Nick Vaughn, The Aggregate News
Maybe it is just me, but alternative history has always peaked my interest. As a budding historian nearly finished with my Bachelor’s Degree in History, I know that alternative history is something we should stay away from, at least in a formal sense. History is already at the whims of subjectivity. Alternate history is arguably even more subjective. Often times clouded by wishful thinking, alternate history can sometimes fall off the deep end and become just downright goofy.
What would have happened in JFK or RFK had not been assassinated? What if the South had won the Civil War? What if the Third Reich would have succeeded? What if Ross Perot hadn’t run as an Independent? These are reasonable questions and some of the alternative answers are quite entertaining.
Instead of tackling a big question with many moving parts, I am going to tackle a smaller question and look at the 2019 New Albany Mayoral Race. The question: What if David White had run as an Independent instead of in the Democratic Primary? The answer: well, it depends. One thing that makes alternative politics a little bit easier to analyze is because we have numbers and data to look at. While there are most certainly intangibles behind each and every vote, for argument’s sake I will be ignoring that and just looking strictly at the numbers. I’ll also throw in some of my own analysis and opinion to make the answer to the question a bit more interesting.
First, here’s what we know (all numbers from the Floyd County Clerk’s website):
- 3,058 people voted for a mayoral candidate in the Democratic Primary
- 1,721 people voted for Jeff Gahan (inc.) — 56%
- 1,337 people voted for David White — 43%
- Jeff Gahan received 303 fewer votes in 2019 than he did in 2015
- David White received 12 more votes than he did in 2019
We also know that Mark Seabrook and Dan Coffey are two other candidates who are running for Mayor right now. For argument’s sake, we’ll assume that both Seabrook and Coffey would still run for Mayor in this scenario, making the Mayoral Race a four-way between Jeff Gahan (D), Mark Seabrook (R), David White (I), and Dan Coffey (I).
Using most recent election numbers as a baseline, we can assume the following:
- Gahan has 1,721 votes in a four-way race
- White has 1,337 votes
- Seabrook (using 2015 Kevin Zurschmiede numbers) has 2,695
- Coffey (using 2015 City Council election numbers) has 491
But I do not think these numbers are the end of the story. I’m going to throw some of my own speculation about how I think the 2019 Mayoral Race would shake out if David White were running as an Independent in a four-way race.
- We know voter turnout in 2019 is going to be lower than it was in 2015 based on the Primary Election turnout numbers. In the 2019 Primary, only 14% of voters voted. In the 2015 General Election, nearly a quarter of voters voted. To me, this means White and Gahan’s numbers are much more reliable to go off of than Seabrook’s and Coffey’s. Adjusting for turnout being about 18% (a guesstimate), Seabrook’s vote totals would decrease to 2,209 and Coffey’s would decrease to 402. Conversely, Gahan’s number of votes would increase to 2,030 and White’s would increase to 1,577.
2. In a General Election, people have the ability to vote straight ticket (by picking one party for every position (please never do this)) or they could split their ticket and vote for each individual race. Because of this, I think it would be reasonable to assume that Coffey would steal 200 votes each from Gahan and Seabrook, while I think it would be fair to guess White would steal 500 votes from Seabrook (whether it be for Seabrook’s health reasons, preference for White, etc.). These deductions and additions would put the hypothetical vote totals at White with 2,077 votes, Gahan with 1,830 votes, Seabrook with 1,509 votes, and Coffey with 802 votes.
So really, the 2019 Mayoral Race in New Albany, if it were a four-way race, would be beholden to about a 900 vote swing. If the dice were rolled right, then that would mean David White would be elected Mayor in November and become the first Independent to be elected Mayor of New Albany since Robert Brooks in 1942.
For more articles from Nick Vaughn, visit The Aggregate News.