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Consultants say Proposition 2 vote tough to call

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 by Austin Monitor

Consultants Peck Young and David Butts have both spent many years analyzing the habits of Austin voters. But this year’s contest over Proposition 2, the Stop Domain Subsidies city charter amendment, is a puzzler for both of them.

 

Although he spent many years as a campaign consultant, Young is now director of the non-partisan Center for Public Policy and Political Studies at Austin Community College. “Proposition 2 is kind of an Act of God,” Young said. “When you put that at the end of the presidential election ballot, it’s pretty much a legalized crap shoot.”

 

However, Young notes that polls show the majority of voters didn’t like the economic bailout approved by Congress and the economy still not good. So, to the extent that the pro-Prop 2 side can get their message out, they have a visceral argument, but they are at a distinct disadvantage in getting their message out. “No question that the antis have a better campaign,” Young says.

 

Butts is working for local candidates but is not working for either the Stop Domain Subsidies group or Keep Austin’s Word, the group opposing the amendment.

 

He predicted that perhaps a quarter of those participating in the election would fail to vote on Prop. 2 because they were unprepared to consider the matter. He and others have noted that today’s turnout will be the largest that Travis County has ever seen. Half the county’s registered votes turned out in early voting.

 

“A lot of those younger voters have not tuned into this at all. They’re

being told to vote a straight party and they may just vote for Obama and a few names they recognize because they don’t want to vote the straight party line,” Butts said. “The more sophisticated voters and the older voters are going to vote all the way down the ballot, probably the majority are going to vote for it. Obviously, the more conservative and business-oriented precincts are going to vote against it.”

 

The vote may come down to the voters under the city’s jurisdiction in the outlying areas of Travis County, like Oak Hill, Butts said. He describes such areas as having a sort of conservative populist streak.

 

“They’re not rabidly conservative, but they’re conservative compared to the rest of Austin. How are they going to vote on it?” Butts said. “I’m assuming the people in Northwest Austin going to vote against it.” But, as Young notes, there are plenty of signs in central city neighborhoods like Hyde Park supporting Proposition 2.

 

As always, turnout is key. It’s just that this time there will be a massive turnout that has nothing to do with city issues.

 

The Stop Domain Subsidies folks will gather at Opal Devine’s at Penn Fields, 3601 South Congress. The Keep Austin’s Word supporters will gather tonight at Perry’s Steak House, 114 W. Seventh St. for a watch party. Both parties kick off at 7pm.

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