Progress Responsible for Single-Shotting?

On Tuesday, May 7th, the day of the Charlottesville City Council elections, Jake Mooney had a story in the Daily Progress regarding the Republicans’ planned strategy of encouraging voters to cast only one of their two available votes, strengthening the single Republican candidate’s position over the two Democrats. After Republican Rob Schilling won, a review of the votes showed that 31% of voters cast their ballot for just a single candidate. It didn’t take long for people to start pointing fingers at the Progress and accusing them of behaving unethically, including defeated candidate Alexandria Searls. To that end, last week’s Hook featured an article by Lisa Provence (newly available on their website) effectively demonstrating that the Progress’ article was not unethical by most standards. What do cvillenewsers think?

28 Responses to “Progress Responsible for Single-Shotting?”


  • Thank you Lisa Provence.

    As the article points out we cannot know who the single shot votes were for.

    I can explain one of them. A member of my household who only votes Democratic, single shot voted for Caravati because Searls was such an unappealing candidate. I imagine that person was not the only Democrat to vote that way. If you look at the numbers, that scenario makes a lot of sense.

  • So, as I understand it, a bunch of people who wanted a candidate to win used a strategy towards that purpose. They were an informed electorate, and those who undervoted did so, according to conventional wisdom, with the full knowledge of what they were doing and why they were doing it. If the majority party had put forth two (hell, even one) compelling candidate, perhaps the outcome would have been different. And maybe, just maybe, this election will serve to focus the party on coming a little bit more toward the mainstream next time

  • Exactly right. I think this should be a wake-up call to the party that mainstream is what the majority of voters want.

    I see nothing unethical about this. There is a history to the process. It has been used repeatedly. The public has a right to know about it. People have a right to cast a vote in such a manner that it will get the person they want to have elected, elected. If they know that not using one vote will achieve that end then they should do just that.

    I am guessing that a lot more people voted against Searls than single shot voted for Schilling.

  • Hear Hear!

    My initial and only reaction to that article was to think: It is explicitly allowed by the rules. So therefore it is not an ethical issue. One can only question how the campaigns were run. It could as easily have been some other entity that suggested the single-shotting (such as a phone-bank)…

    So what if it was the Progress? The Progress may have revealed their own political bias in the process but that does not make it a question of ethics.

    I get so tired of people whining in letters to the editor (mostly of C-ville to date) about lack of “journalistic integrity.” Who cares? That paper in particular, and I assume The Hook by association, are in business to print whatever the hell they want to. The readers mostly seem to like it. The advertizers like it. Winning formula! How is the Progress actually any different?

    Journalistic integrity is a fine idea and I’m sure it is given lots of coverage in journalism school. But in the real world, if you really want to know what is going on, you have to use multiple sources and think for yourself. Just because a particular publication is big and established (or even small and cherished) does not imply that everything it prints is Truth and Integrity.

    -M

  • I am a bit bemused by this furor. I have consistently NOT voted for someone and only cast one vote in many elections. Quite frankly, if my choices are Meredith Richards and Virgil Goode, I’ve decided not to vote for either.

    The article by Provence pointed out that the Dems profited from this strategy. And, as an earlier poster to cvillenews pointed out, the article by Jake Mooney was more of a “no way can Schilling pull this off” kind of article. And in fact, he won by, what, 85 votes?

    A variation of single shotting are those who put in a write in ballot. Come to think of it, I might do that for the congressional race.

    LG

  • (1) The article was a bad article. Unbalanced as all hell, no doubting that. Even Mr. Mooney has to agree in hindsight that he wrote a really lazy, one-sided article that very well may have tipped the scales on election day. Which may or may not have been his intention, but it doesn’t really matter.

    (2) Schilling won because the electorate, with a big assist from Mr. Mooney, figured out that casting a second vote might cancel out their vote for Schilling. A narrow plurality of the electorate wanted Schilling to win, and he won. I see nothing unethical at all about using single-shotting to get your man in office.

    (3) Searls needs to stop whining and pointing fingers. Searls lost because Searls was not a compelling candidate. Period. End of story.

    (4) Schilling did not win based on ideology, or because the Democratic Party wasn’t “mainstream” enough. Schilling won because he was perceived as the candidate of change, and the voters wanted a breath of fresh air (just like they did 2 years ago when Maurice Cox and Kevin Lynch were swept into office). Had a genuine, independent-minded reformer like Waldo won the Democratic nomination, he would have won the open seat handily (despite the fact that his views are hardly “mainstream”). Who comes out of this campaign best positioned for 2004? The Republicans, obviously, along with Waldo and his Democrats for Change. Who comes out looking pretty pathetic? The stale, status quo Democratic Party and its ineffectual leadership, plus that crazy Stratton Salidis, who has already declared his intentions to run again in 2004, 2006 and 2008. Will he ever stop???? :-)

  • 1. “Even Mr. Mooney has to agree in hindsight that he wrote a really lazy, one-sided article that very well may have tipped the scales on election day” And where did this mea culpa occur, pray tell!

    2. “with a big assist from Mr. Mooney” you really think that Progress has this much power and that many people walk like zombie to due a reporter suggestion. Then why with that same paper reporting can’t they make people vote? If they are master of the mind then why wasn’t turnout higher.

    3. And lastly do we really think that voters had never thought of this by themselves. I can tell you of people who single shot and don’t even get the paper. And if the paper was so strong maybe the editorial made the difference.

  • Why are political parties even used in local elections? In a city the size of Charlottesville, the issues which separate Republicans and Democrats on a national scale are pretty meaningless. The only result that I’ve been able to discern is pigeon-holing of candidates–on both sides–into the stereotypes which may be somewhat true on the national scale (i.e. the “tree-hugging tax-and-spend democrat” and the “big business moneybags republican”) into places they really don’t belong on this scale, and even if those tags did apply, they wouldn’t really be relevant to local politics. Issues like what to do about development vs. preservation, where to build roads, etc. seem to me to have very little correlation to one’s party affiliation–I’ve met folks in both political parties with divergent views on local issues, much moreso than national ones.

    Why don’t we have a true primary in which everybody who wants to run throws their name in, and then have runoff elections based on the results of those primaries (somewhat akin to the systems of elections used in many European nations)? This would lead to more issues-based races, instead of the (sometimes) bitter partisan battles that seem to take place. And the better candidates would presumably win more often in that case, as well.

    Am I insane? Or am I completely sane, not having lived in Charlottesville long enough to be brainwashed into the particular brand of insanity that seems to be so common here?

  • can the dominant Party do its hand-wringing about why the election was lost out in the wide-open spaces of the media that everyone [who voted] reads.

  • Am I insane? Or am I completely sane, not having lived in Charlottesville long enough to be brainwashed into the particular brand of insanity that seems to be so common here?

    I suspect the latter. I’ll admit that it’s something that I’ve put very little thought into, but I’m not certain why party affiliations have anything to do with city-level elections, either.

  • 1) The article was a bad article. Unbalanced as all hell, no doubting

    that. Even Mr. Mooney has to agree in hindsight that he wrote a really

    lazy, one-sided article that very well may have tipped the scales on

    election day.

    Um, no, he doesn’t. And hasn’t. And will not. Because he didn’t. And you’re a bitch.

    Which may or may not have been his intention, but it

    doesn’t really matter.

    Please go fuck yourself. What exactly will it take for you goddamn sore losers to admit that the newspaper had very little to do with your loss? Your candidate sucked. Jesus H. Christ, there was a professor of goddamn journalism ethics quoted in that Hook story who said the Progress piece was fine, and you’re still going to keep beating your head against the wall and saying it wasn’t? Unless you’re some kind of expert (and I assume that if you were, you would have signed your name), I just have to assume that you’re an idiot, or just incredibly stubborn or incredibly partisan. Or all three.

    (2) Schilling won because the electorate, with a big assist from Mr.

    Mooney, …

    Please see above.

    (3) Searls needs to stop whining and pointing fingers. Searls lost

    because Searls was not a compelling candidate. Period. End of story.

    Well, now you’re getting somewhere.

  • You said it all. You are so right.

    MJ

  • (2) Schilling won because the electorate, with a big assist from Mr. Mooney, figured out that casting a second vote might cancel out their vote for Schilling. A narrow plurality of the electorate wanted Schilling to win, and he won. I see nothing unethical at all about using single-shotting to get your man in office.

    A “narrow plurality of the elctorate”? Is that your way of saying “The people of Charlottesville really wanted someone else to win?” That Schilling winning is simply a matter of a few rebel Republicans who managed to outvote the majority?

    I suppose you believe that if only the Democratic “favorites” had won then the results of the election would have been just and right?

    Do I have to point out how silly that is?

    You’re closer with point 4. The electorate wanted change. Schilling is a change. But you’re incorrect in thinking that it was some narrow majority who happened to outwit the system. More people voted for Schilling than Searls because more of the electorate wanted to see him in office. That’s how elections work. Those that didn’t vote, didn’t vote because either 1) they didn’t care, or 2) they didn’t like any of the options. You shouldn’t read any more into it than that.

  • I agree with her viewpoint. I’d like to clarify my opinion just a little more though.

    If instructions from Mr. Mooney, some guy standing in front of the polls, or any other source help the electorate achieve the result that they want, then how is it a bad thing? They made their vote have the effect that they wanted!

    I believe that some are trying to say that the results of this election are not what the electorate wanted, that the results were somehow “tricked” into happening based on the actions of a minority. This is based on a logical fallacy, and I hope that people are able to understand this.

  • I agree with you on your last point but who is “her viewpoint”, you refer to. I am just trying to follow the string.

  • I agree with you on your last point but who is “her viewpoint”, you refer to.

    Lisa Provence, if may speak for Lafe. :)

  • Um, I think you totally missed my point. My point was that more people (albeit not that many more people) wanted Schilling to win than Searls, and they were able to figure out how to get their man in office, via single-shotting. Schilling’s people desperately needed to get the word out about single-shotting, else the voting system might very well likely have undermined their man’s chances. And the Progress helped them out, big time. Just to be clear: there is nothing wrong, whatsoever, with single-shotting. Schilling won. Schilling deserved to win. Searls did not win. Searls did not deserve to win. That’s all I’m sayin’.

  • Oh, Gosh! My bad. A college professor said the article was fine. That’s good enough for me! I take back everything I said. Thanks for enlightening me.

  • Then by all means find some who thinks it was wrong that uses fact and history, not feelings. Sabato, who is an expert on VA politics, says single shot voting was started by dems and is in no way unethical.

  • OK, finally we are reaching the crux of the problem. The Republicans hoped that all of Schilling’s voters would only cast one vote, for Schilling. The Democrats hoped that many Schilling voters would exercise their right to cast two votes, and make a second vote for Searls or Caravati. Perhaps more importantly, the Democrats hoped that their traditionally strong base of volunteers/precinct workers/etc. would work their asses off to boost turnout, thus swamping the polls with Democratic voters. Where was Jake Mooney’s article talking about how Democratic volunteers/precinct workers needed to rev up their get-out-the-vote machine in order to win the election? There wasn’t one, and there shouldn’t have been one. That was the job of the Democratic leadership. Look, let’s not be naive here. The Republicans desperately needed to get their message out about single-shotting. Mooney’s article was a transparent primer on how to use single-shotting to get Schilling into office. Yes, it achieved the result that a narrow plurality of voters desired. But is that really the role of journalists, to figure out what a narrow plurality of voters desire, then to help make it happen?

  • No one here is suggesting that single-shot voting is unethical!!! That’s not the point. The point is that journalism is (ideally) supposed to be balanced, and Mooney’s article was woefully unbalanced.

  • Umm, what do you mean by a “narrow plurality”. Maybe you mean something other than what I think you mean.

  • Schilling won by 85 votes out of thousands cast. He did not get a majority of votes cast. Thus, he won by a narrow plurality. I wasn’t really trying to use it as a loaded term, more a statement of fact. Relative to previous Republican performances in this heavily Democratic burg, Schilling’s victory could be described as a landslide. Relative to the actual votes received by Searls on election day, he got a narrow plurality.

  • So, then, your position is that Schilling (or the Republicans) shouldn’t have used the Progress to get the message out?

    I think it could probably be argued in both directions, though. Wouldn’t diseminating the Republican strategy tell the Democrats exactly what they were up against, and shouldn’t that have motivated them to be more active at the polls?

    For what it’s worth, the Progress had nothing to do with my own under-vote, and I don’t know anyone personally that read the article before voting. As a matter of fact, most of my friends voted for Caravati, and single-shotted him. The ones who voted, at least. Most people I know didn’t vote at all.

    I don’t think that the Progress did anything shady. I do think that they were probably biased towards Schilling, but I don’t think it was to the extent that some would make it to be. Truthfully, I doubt that the Progress had much of an impact on people’s voting at all. Or I should say, I think that what impact they had was from other articles, about the candidates themselves.

    In any case, knowing what a voting strategy does is and does is far different than agreeing with its effect. I believe that the voters that single-shotted Schilling (I love that alliteration) did so intentionally, and were, if anything, saved from having an unintended effect with their vote.

    Some people might not have realized that using that second vote might cancel their desire for Schilling to win. And so the electorate was more informed than they might have been otherwise. That’s a good thing, right?

  • Ok, the way I was reading your post, I was taking it to mean that saying “narrow plurality” was insinuating that the ones who voted for Schilling instead of Searls were actually in the minority of the electorate that showed up at the polls. It still sort of reads that way to me, but I’ll accept your explanation instead.

    Thanks for the clarification.

  • You may as long as you are correct.

    Which you are. :)

  • Only unbalanced to conspiracy theory Dem for Change types like you who have totally missed the beat here. Don’t try to tie Searls’ loss in with “status quo” Democrats. People did not like her and I expect they liked Schilling because the fact is a lot of people want the Meadowcreek Parkway more than a bunch of yellow bikes. He was not some progressive candidate for change – he was a candidate for fiscal responsiblity and responsible development.

  • a lot of people want the Meadowcreek Parkway more than a bunch of yellow bikes

    Do you really think that there’s an “either/or” choice here? I think the price tag to the public for the Meadowcreek Parkway is $20,000,000. It cost the public $500 for the bikes.

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