Notes on Election Results (and Some Housekeeping)

Let’s review some election results and consider what we’ve learned and what we might foresee.

United States Senate

Republicans seized a majority in the US Senate, picking up at least seven seats. However, they don’t have a veto-proof or even filibuster-proof majority. So expect gridlock to shift around a little, and the President to have to trade his golf clubs for a pen now and then to veto some bills. But at least a lot more bills — substantive ones, I mean — passed by the House might get to the Senate floor for debate and a vote. That will be a nice change.

It appears that Senator Orrin Hatch will become chair of the Senate Finance Committee and President Pro Tem of the Senate. We’ll find out if that’s worth something (as I thought when I campaigned for him) or just a nice-sounding theory (as the opposition thought).

US House of Representatives

As I write this, we’re still waiting for some returns from the Western US, especially California, but it appears that the Republicans will increase their House majority by at least ten seats. They still won’t have a veto-proof majority, but with their different rules they don’t have filibusters, so 60% is not a meaningful threshold.

In my congressional district, Jason Chaffetz won with about 72% of the vote. Democrat Brian Wonnacott pulled in about 23% of the vote. I am sorry if this sounds harsh, but running an especially weak candidate in a year when Democrats generally do poorly gives them a very useful number for the next Democrat campaign for the seat. It tells them that 22% of the voters will vote for any Democrat with a pulse. That’s their starting point, and they know how many more votes they need to win.

I watched 4th District returns from when Mia Love was 7% down until she finished 3% up, defeating Doug Owens. This change is not a surprising development; part of her district is in Salt Lake County, where votes tend to get counted faster, and where there are some heavily Democratic areas. I care less that Utah is sending an African-American woman to the House than that we’re sending a conservative to replace Jim Matheson, but you know what the news story will be.

State Governors

Only a handful of states weren’t voting on governors today, Utah being one of the few. Right now, it looks as if 31 of 46 races went Republican, a net gain of three for Republicans.

Utah Constitutional Amendments

The voters said, 56% to 44%, no, you can’t pack the Utah State Tax Commission with Republicans. Good for us. Amendment A failed.

We agreed to tweak the constitutional language about electing a lieutenant governor, 60% to 40%. Amendment B passed.

And the voters said, 62% to 38%, that I was wrong in thinking it was a good idea to let certain high state officials have their own legal counsel, if needed. Amendment C failed.

Utah County Commission Seat A

I would have been mildly surprised had Republican Greg Graves beaten write-in candidate Bill Freeze by a narrow margin. I am astonished that Graves won 72% to 28%. I note that about 19,000 voters, or 26% of the votes cast in this race, were straight-line Republican votes, which suggests the voters didn’t even bother to look at the names on their ballots. Any Republican with a pulse is good enough for some people, maybe. Forgive me, but what are you people thinking?

Profuse thanks to Bill for running, though. I hope he runs again — next time from inside the party.

State School Board, District 9

Joel Wright beat incumbent Heather Groom, 46% to 38% — more of a margin than I expected. Joylin Lincoln —’s first guest columnist — finished with about 16%. I voted for Wright, but I thought there was a good chance than he and Lincoln would divide the outsider vote enough that Groom, the establishment candidate (more or less) would win. I’m happy to be wrong about that.

I’m earnestly hoping to see Lincoln run for something again. With her first campaign under her belt, she could be a formidable candidate next time.

Alpine School Board, District 3

I am more than a little relieved to report that John Burton eked out a 1% victory — yes, 50.5% to 49.5% in the unofficial results — over Chris Jolley. The unofficial margin is 73 votes. We’ll want to watch that race, to see if still-uncounted (unreceived, but properly postmarked) absentee ballots and provisional ballots close the gap. But for now, I am relieved that the unprepared zealot did not win, and disappointed that there wasn’t a more suitable, well-qualified challenger for Burton in the race.

This was a close one. Don’t let anyone tell you your vote doesn’t matter — or your outspoken support, expressed in person or via social media.

Pleasant Grove Public Safety Bond

Pleasant Grove’s bond issue for new public safety facilities went down by 5%. This is unfortunate. Watch for a guest post coming soon at about this, but with much broader application and insight (or I wouldn’t be so eager to publish it at this point).

American Fork’s PARC Tax

PARC passed. But allow me to put that another way.

More than 55% of American Fork’s voters — a margin of about 600 votes — declined to be deceived, recognized that arts and recreation are important to a community and that 0.1% is not 10%, and voted in favor of raising sales taxes in the city from 6.75% to 6.85%.

This bodes well for next year’s city council election. It will be easier to attract excellent candidates, and the fact that the voters have seen through a certain small faction’s deceptions once (after last year’s debacle) should make it easier to elect excellent candidates, too.

Let’s look at that margin of victory another way. Based on the unofficial results, if 299 voters who voted for PARC had voted against it, it would have failed. Once again, don’t let anyone tell you that your vote or your campaigning doesn’t matter.

One more happy thought: If I’m reading the numbers right, voter turnout in American Fork was 40.6% — rather high for a midterm election with no competitive races for statewide or national office. Well done, American Fork!

Some Final Housekeeping

First, here are the places where I’ve been watching returns: Utah County and KSL for local and Utah races, and RealClearPolitics.

Second, this would be a good time for all of us, winners and losers — I am both, but feel mostly like a winner tonight — to read Peggy Noonan on winning and losing gracefully.

At the very least, could some of you please quit dancing maniacally on Senator Harry Reid’s political grave? I’m glad to see him removed as Senate Majority Leader too, but good grief. Besides, it’s possible that he’s not dead — only mostly dead. This is politics, remember?

Finally, let me tell you how things have gone at, a site I just launched a month ago. Since then — for those of you who enjoy metrics — we’ve had:

  • 986 unique visitors, mostly in Utah, about 20% in American Fork;
  • 1822 unique page views;
  • 46% mobile traffic (smart phones or tablets);
  • about 50% of traffic originating from social media, principally Facebook;
  • an average time on page of over six minutes for the four most popular pages, my voter’s guide, my two posts on the school board debates, and my lengthy piece on PARC — which means (and this is my favorite part) people stayed long enough to read.

This compares favorably with past election seasons at my old site,

We — I’m not sure why I keep saying “we” — also acquired our first three guest columnists today and published two of them, of which more later. So now we really are we, I guess.

Thanks for reading, sharing, commenting, discussing, disagreeing, etc.

We have only just begun.

One thought on “Notes on Election Results (and Some Housekeeping)”

  1. Daniel Zappala says:

    At the federal level, look for a lot of riders on spending bills that do things like remove authority from the EPA to regulate greenhouse gasses.

    On the local level, I would strongly support reform as a way to prevent another Graves from happening. Something like the California top-two system would do nicely for now.

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