Friday, October 16, 2009

MoCo Most Influential: 2008 vs. 2009

Here’s a question: who has gained or lost influence in MoCo over the last year? Maybe the only way to answer that is to see what our informants think. Most of the results from our 2008 and 2009 MoCo Most Influential surveys are the same but a few people moved their position dramatically. Let’s find out who they were.

First, let’s remember that the voting populations were different. Fifty-five informants voted in 2008, including just 16 women. Seventy-one informants voted in 2009, including 29 women. The voters also became more geographically diverse in 2009. For example, in 2008, 20 of the 55 came from Silver Spring or Takoma Park. In 2009, 22 of the 71 came from those areas.

This means that small shifts in position are meaningless and are probably due to changes in voter composition or statistical noise. Further, comparative vote totals don’t mean much because the voting population increased from 55 to 71. Big changes in rank and also in the percentage of voters who voted for an individual are the only changes that may mean something.

Here is a comparison of the elected officials in 2008 and 2009. Note the percentage of the vote each received.

There are only three electeds who achieved any real gains. They are:

Council President Phil Andrews
2008: 6 votes, 11% of the vote, unranked
2009: 24 votes, 34% of the vote, ranked 8th
+25 points

Delegate Brian Feldman (D-15)
2008: 11 votes, 20% of the vote, ranked 15th
2009: 29 votes, 41% of the vote, ranked 7th
+21 points

Council Member Valerie Ervin
2008: 18 votes, 33% of the vote, ranked 10th (tie)
2009: 33 votes, 46% of the vote, ranked 4th (tie)
+14 points (rounded)

At least part of Andrews’ rise is that he became Council President in December 2008, a one-year post that he will soon be giving up. Donna Edwards was ineligible in 2008 because at that time, we restricted eligibility to MoCo residents. We relaxed that rule this year to include people who worked here. Since Edwards’ district includes about a third of the county, she now qualifies.

Four electeds suffered significant drops. They are:

Council Member Marc Elrich
2008: 22 votes, 40% of the vote, ranked 6th (tie)
2009: 13 votes, 18% of the vote, ranked 15th (tie)
-22 points

Council Member Mike Knapp
2008: 21 votes, 38% of the vote, ranked 8th (tie)
2009: 14 votes, 20% of the vote, ranked 13th (tie)
-18 points

Comptroller Peter Franchot
2008: 22 votes, 40% of the vote, ranked 6th (tie)
2009: 16 votes, 23% of the vote, ranked 11th
-17 points

County Executive Ike Leggett
2008: 48 votes, 87% of the vote, ranked 1st
2009: 50 votes, 70% of the vote, ranked 2nd
-17 points

Knapp was the 2008 Council President. Elrich was seen by many as the intellectual leader of the former Council majority that was ended by the 2009 special election. Franchot has had a lower profile since his slots-fueled war with the Lords of Annapolis ended. And the spies’ comments about Leggett have been the talk of Rockville.

Here is a comparison of the non-electeds.

The only big changes here are the entries of Steve Silverman and David Moon, the decline of Tim Firestine by 21 points (which is probably more a reflection on his boss than on him) and the replacement of former MCEA President Bonnie Cullison with current President Doug Prouty.

We are not going to perform this exercise again until after the 2010 primary election. It will be interesting to see who benefits and loses then!