Monday, April 06, 2009

Mayoral Odds

We come down to our predictions (and odds) for the Omaha Mayor's race in tomorrow's Primary Elections.

While this race had a relatively fiery start, it's been a bit of a fizzle towards Tuesday's vote.

The police pension spiking started as a big issue, with the Omaha Police union throwing their weight around, claiming their opposition to Vokal was all about "saving the children".

Each of the candidates tossed out an economic development plan, about which there hasn't been much further discussion or debate.

Then the police pension plan came up again, with everyone throwing out their ideas (or lack there of).

But ask many Omahans and they'll tell you there's not much fire about this race.

An interesting nugget came the other day when Jim Vokal decided not to go on Tom Becka's afternoon radio show on KFAB. Becka was all wound up, and openly mocked Vokal and his campaigning style. One could say that you couldn't blame Vokal for avoiding what one caller called Becka's "woodpecker on crack" style. (Then again, Becka would likely have been polite to Vokal, so we can't really see where going on the show would have hurt him.)

But the real telling point was when Becka asked only pro-Vokal callers to chime in. And about three called in.

Now we KNOW there are more pro-Vokal peeps out there. And we don't doubt that Becka would have put them on. But we think it displays more of a complete disconnect right now in an election where there are no real driving issues -- or at least any that have really been driven by the candidates. One can only get so excited about cops retiring early.

So aside from the predicted low expected turn-out in a contested primary (unlike, at least, 2001 and 2005), where do we see things headed?

Well let's look at the pluses and minuses of the three major candidates:


Hal Daub

Omahans have shown that they either love Hal Daub or hate Hal Daub. (Well, love and hate are probably both too strong, but you get the picture.) It's notable that Daub has not had an easy election since his last House victory in 1986.

But by all accounts, looking back, he had a very successful tenure as Mayor. So why wouldn't Daub be cruising to a third term as Mayor?

Well, Daub has passionate supporters. He can raise lots of money in Omaha. And he will likely get his supporters out to vote. Daub's advantage is his West Omaha base, which traditionally has had a very high voter turnout -- even without a primary. One would think that this primary could work for him.

But Daub can have a ceiling in the Omaha electorate. While his supporters can turn out, his non-supporters can as well. Some will simply fill in an oval that doesn't have "Hal Daub" next to it. If turnout is strong in the eastern part of the city, that could pose a problem for Daub (especially if turnout is high in the Democrat District 3, with its competitive primary).

Note too the amount of cash that Daub has spent in the primary.  He doesn't think he has it in the bag.  And note the onus of his (or his subordinates) attacks.  All on Jim Vokal.  There has to be a reason for that.

There are Hal Daub yard signs all over town. But there are lots of houses where there isn't a Hal Daub sign. Do they vote too?


Jim Vokal

Let's face it, Jim Vokal is not an electric personality. Stand him next to the the frenetic Daub and you might grab his wrist to check for a pulse. But do Omahans see that as a bad thing? People liked Mike Fahey because he seemed even keeled. Daub lost back in 2001 mainly based on what some considered his disagreements with the City Council.

So does Vokal seem more...agreeable?

Well for one thing, in the now Democrat city of Omaha, Vokal is perceived by many as non-partisan. He beat Democrat stalwart Anne Boyle in a Democrat district. He has had a good relationship with Mayor Mike Fahey. But he still pals around with the Chuck Sigersons of the town, so he hasn't lost his GOP bona fides. This appeals to people.

But others feel that Vokal, still in his thirties, is lacking in experience. While Vokal has an eight-year record on the city council, in his professional life he doesn't have an extensive resume. The OWH pointed out that Vokal's managerial experience in pretty much nil in a position that is essentially the City manager.

But, do voters care? In many respects, people are looking to see what a candidate's vision is for the city, as opposed to how he manages, say, a snow storm. Then again, while someone like Daub certainly has that experience, how many non-Mayors do, yet are still elected? It is certainly a plus for Daub, but for many doesn't necessarily cancel out Vokal.

Like it or not, Vokal's biggest asset is probably that he is not Hal Daub. There's a reason that Vokal has been pushing his "same old Hal Daub" theme. While Vokal took a lot of shots from the police union, voters looked through the union attacks to see who they were coming from, and many have pointed at Daub. That may or may not be fair, but it it likely the case.

The question is, can Vokal parlay that anti-Daub sentiment into a #1 or #2 spot?


Jim Suttle

When Suttle got into the race, we thought he looked like the kind of guy who could potentially waltz into the third floor office at the City/County building based simply on his resume.

Let people know that he has worked with HDR. Push a few City Council votes. Be the Democrat successor to Mike Fahey and let it happen.

But then Suttle opened his mouth.

Toboggan runs. Papal visits. Iowa business parks. Platitudes to cut waste with no specifics. We got a chuckle out a line from the "Weird Harold", an online parody site:
Candidate Jim Suttle says he’ll solve the pension shortfall by “negotiating with the unions,” an ingenious gambit, which left the other candidates speechless. “That guy walks on water,” said Mayor Mike Fahey. “Did you hear him out there? Negotiating! I’ve been doing this job how long? I never thought of that!” Fahey was also “blown away” by Suttle’s secret plan to serve donuts at the negotiating table. “Forget subtle,” said the Mayor, “Jim is just plain wicked clever.”
After the Obama victory in Omaha and the prospect of an electorate splitting Daub on the ballot, Suttle could have been measuring curtains. Instead, there won't be the massive Obama turnout and voters who are looking for an alternative to Daub, particularly Democrats, may instead look to Jim Vokal. Or just stay home.

All that being said, Suttle has spent a wad of cash, and that'll get you someplace.


So where do we come down on Tuesday? Well, like we said on the District 3 race, we think it's going to be close.

We think Daub will take the the Primary, but won't get over 50%. We think that Vokal and Suttle will battle it out for second place.

And we think Vokal will pull it out.

So, because you can't win if you don't play, we provide these Leavenworth Street odds:

Daub into the General: 1:4
Daub over/under: 38%

Vokal into the General: 2:1
Vokal over/under: 33%

Suttle into the General: 3:1
Suttle over/under: 29%

(Actual betting, para-mutual wagering, or keno playing, not allowed or endorsed by this web-log.)


3rd floor watcher said...

Your numbers are off. Vokal will never get that close. Daub will be the low 40's.

Anonymous said...

Nice try, but Vokal doesn't make it. While he has a loud base of supporters, they don't number very much. Suttle may have waited a little too long to start generating buzz, but he has done a good job of targeting Democrats; who will end up voting for him. Vokal needs a lot of Dems and Reps to vote for him in order to get in 2nd place, and he just isn't going to split that many votes.

Toboggan Race said...

If there is still snow on the ground tomorrow...Suttle and his toboggan will slide past Vokal by 1% If it is all melted, Vokal takes Suttle by 1% in a foot race.

Either way - Daub by double digits over 2nd place (dream on Sweeper).

Daub - 41%
Suttle - 30%
Vokal - 29%

Anonymous said...

Squidward will finish third.

electioninsider said...

Daub 44
Suttle 34
Vokal 22

electioninsider said...

Stothert 65
Blumenthal 35

Insider said...

I would like Suttle to make it to the General. Who knows what sort of things will come out after that?

Also, I am assuming some attorneys view this blog. Is it illegal for one person to offer favors/bribes to the opposing person's attorney in exchange for the outcome they want? Just curious. Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

You talk about Daub's negatives but what about Vokal's? You ever talk to any field club members? Not to mention the police union, or others that feel Vokal has been less than honest with them. Vokal has more than his share of negatives too.

Anonymous said...

It appears this blog site is getting infected with partyline Democrats. I hear Obama is giving away Wii Systems on the Home Shopping Network...

Anonymous said...

You don't have to go to the home shopping network.

You just have to wait for the mail carrier to bring your new government Wii you.

Obama knows you can't afford cable, and the second round of converter boxes still don't get the HSN.

Anonymous said...

1) Hal Daub does not get 50%, but wins the primary.
2) Hal Daub does not get 50% and loses the general.

Anonymous said...

Vokal's decision to avoid KFAB's offer of free air time tells me that atleast one of three things is true:

1. He is stupid enough to turn down free airtime on a highly rated talk show.
2. He (like the pres.) has Teleprompter Dependence Syndrome and is afraid of extemporaneous conversation.
3. He is afraid of Tom Becka.

Anyway I slice it, this was the deal breaker for me. Don't want to talk to the public, are afraid of an AM radio talkshow host, you are not made of the right stuff to be mayor.

KETV Poll said...

From the Website @ 3:20pm

Which Omaha mayoral candidate are you voting for in Tuesday's city primary election?
Choice Votes Percentage of 365 Votes

Jim Suttle 132 36%
Hal Daub 131 36%
Jim Vokal 80 22%
Randy Brown 13 4%
Mort Sullivan 9 2%

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Street Sweeper said...

Your comment has been deleted for 1) making an accusation that I can't confirm or deny, so it comes off and 2) for being idiotic. To answer your question, NO. On Primary day NO ONE ELSE is running.

Anonymous said...

It comes down to will more people go vote for or against Daub. Who is running against him seems to mean little.