How winnable are Spring elections?
Consider this a reply, or a part 2, to the post I made about fall elections.
One thing I’ve noticed in looking at past election results in researching my current novel project, is the remarkable stability of Spring elections when you match up FBK against an organized opposition.
Rule: Spring elections are winnable, but the opposition never quite seems to get the winning formulae worked out to make it happen – it usually requires a coalition with rebellious Greeks, which are hard to find and cultivate.
Moreover, there has been no Student Body President elected in the last 20 years who was not a member of FBK; the group hasn’t always endorsed the winner (1992, 2004), but the winner has always been a Key. That’s an interesting little tidbit, isn’t it? That even the Independent movement’s greatest triumphs have involved an FBK member who bolted from the group’s chosen slate.
Anyway, the Senate results across most years involving a competent and organized opposition are remarkable stable. Even the popular vote in recent years has been similar (both 2007 and 2008 had Gator Party winning just over 4900 votes). Here is what the Senate results have looked like for the opposition/GDI:
1) The slate of CLAS Senators, in whole or in part
2) The slate of Engineering Senators
3) A piece of, if not the entire, Graduate Student slate
4) A couple medical/health-related Senate seats
More successful slates have won Architecture, Fine Arts, the Law School, and NRE/Forestry (back when they had a seat or two). One opposition slate, the coalition Swamp Party of 2002, even punctured and carried most of the Freshmen/Sophomore slates (while losing Engineering and Grad Students).
Now, we can quibble about % and turnout rates, but a strong Spring result for the opposition will almost always involve the 4 elements I mentioned above. And you can gain clues as to how things are going by the results in those 4 elements – if the GDIs lose Engineering, for example, it’s probably not a good sign; likewise, an actual sweep of CLAS and Grad Students, is probably a good sign.
One thing you have to be careful, though, is to not repeat the 2001 SUN strategy of maximizing your turnout in the base districts I mentioned, while neglecting support in other areas. The SUN strategy gets you closer to winning the Exec slate, which is important, but it minimizes your Senate cadre, which helps in the long-term (especially if/when you lose the Exec). This is how the aforementioned Swamp of 2002 was so successful – virtually none of their Senators outside of the medical/health-related colleges won by huge margins, but they kept their Exec slate running close by having all of their Senate candidates running close, enabling them to win more seats even as they lost the election by 500 votes.
So, in the aggregate and ignoring specific voting figures, you can still see a remarkably stable pattern in what a solid GDI/opposition slate can win – and thus you can tell what you need to shoot for when compiling your electoral coalition.