Post-election analysis

Published May 5, 2012

I’m not a trustee today, but I’m definitely a Monday-morning quarterback. So after capturing a disappointing 482 votes, I tried to find a way  to put it all into perspective.

Luckily I’m about to marry a Ph.D. candidate and statistics wizard. So I convinced Kristen M. Allison, M.A., CCC-SLP, to crunch the election results into numbers that are more digestible.

She excluded nine candidates from her analysis who were endorsed by PS4RS or had widespread name recognition in an attempt to determine what voters were looking for when choosing a trustee.

First, the year in which candidates graduated played a significant role. Those who graduated more recently were less likely to capture votes than those who graduated a long time ago. At the age of 33, I wouldn’t exactly call myself young, but my “youth” hurt my candidacy. The preference for older candidates was something I didn’t anticipate.

Second, residency affected vote totals. Pennsylvania candidates who lived in counties with higher total alumni association membership were more likely to get votes. For example, a candidate living in Columbia County, which has 413 alumni association members, had a significant disadvantage to a candidate in Centre County, which has 8,020 members. With only 462 members in the entire state of Wisconsin, my residency probably played a significant negative role.

Finally, candidates’ ballot positions also impacted the number of votes they earned. The person who appeared first on the ballot was more likely to get votes than someone farther down on the list. I was 62nd on the ballot, and ironically came in 62nd place.

So to do well in this election, you had to be older, live in an area of Pennsylvania with a lot of enthusiastic alumni and have a higher ballot position.

I’m sure we won’t see 86 candidates run for the board next year, so some of these factors won’t apply. But the residency factor will probably hold true for eternity, which is why those living in Centre County, Allegheny County and the Philadelphia suburbs will always have an advantage over the rest of us.