Hypothetical Scenarios for a #NeverMorrissey Richmond

Recently, the outcry of #NeverMorrissey has grown stronger but so have the murmurs questioning if any candidate can beat him this late in the game. Simultaneously, the other candidates have doubled down following the late August poll from CNU. Levar has been door knocking with Governor McAuliffe. Jack had old emails supporting Shockoe Bottom stadium proposal leaked. Jon’s campaign has expanded rapidly including endorsements from former mayoral candidates Alan Schintzius and Chad Ingold. Michelle has asserted herself and been more vocal in recent forums. But is any of it enough? Does someone need to drop out and support another candidate to beat Morrissey? I attempted to answer this question by analyzing different scenarios for Baliles, Stoney, Mosby, and Berry. I do not think there is one clear lever to pull and guarantee a non-Morrissey outcome; however, there are possible benefits to be had for some candidates if someone were to drop out. Berry is the most likely to win the election outright without a run-off if candidates start to drop out. Stoney, Mosby and Baliles could find varying degrees of success as a result from others dropping out; however, the key to making a play at Morrissey is whoever can capture the most undecided voters. The more candidates that stay in the field, the more challenging it will be for a candidate to solidly lock in their place in the run off. Without further ado…

 

Disclaimer

The numbers I used were from the August CNU poll of the candidate support across districts. Please keep in mind, the CNU poll had a small sample size with large margins of error (ESPECIALLY in the district-level). I chose to use the poll results for this exercise to be able to focus on numbers instead of my personal assumptions about districts/candidates which can be biased; however, the analysis of what the numbers mean is my own opinion. The analysis is not intended to be an endorsement, opposition, or judgment of any candidate. Instead, the intent is to generate discussion about the possibilities of the election outcomes.

 

Methodology

This analysis only discusses the impact of a drop out on candidates identified by the poll as middle-runners (Baliles, Stoney, Mosby). I added the entire number of supporters from the candidate dropping out to the candidate they move their support to in the process. This creates an exaggerated portrayal illustrating where the potential shift in voters could go. In practice, the entire swing is unrealistic and unpredictable. The hypothetical scenarios are intended to be guidelines for analysis. 


How can Jack Berry Win?

Scenario 1: Berry capitalizes on undecided vote. This would cause Berry to lead in six districts (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 7th) and avoid a runoff against Morrissey. However, Berry’s former role as CEO for Venture Richmond who advocated for the Shockoe Bottom Stadium may mean attracting the undecided vote is unlikely. Recently, emails surfaced showing the strength of Berry’s support for the Shockoe Bottom Stadium which was to be built over slave burial grounds and other places along the slave trail. This may negatively impact his ability to garner the support of any city resident who believes the history of the Bottom should be recognized.

·         Berry to lead in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 9th districts with 34% of the overall vote and a majority in 2nd and 7th districts.

Scenarios 2-4: Either Mosby, Baliles, or Stoney drops out and supports Berry. This causes Berry to lead in 3 or 4 districts so he would not avoid the runoff against Morrissey unless he also gained the undecided vote. With questions around his ability to pull a majority of the undecided voters, the more likely outcome is a run-off against Morrissey. In a run-off Berry and Morrissey would polarize voters into a Trump-Clinton-lesser-of-two-evils-esque stand-off.

·         Berry to lead in 3 or 4 districts outright with 23-26% of the overall vote. Mosby’s support push Berry to lead in 4 districts. Mosby or Stoney supporting Berry would get the majority in six and seven districts respectively. Baliles support would only bring the majority in one district.

·         If Berry also gained the undecided vote, he would lead in six districts for 41-44% of the overall vote.

 

Scenarios 5-7: Any combination of two out of three of Mosby, Baliles and Stoney drop out and support Berry. Any combination would cause Berry to lead in five districts and win the election outright against Morrissey. Of course, the recent negative press around Berry could make it difficult to pull the other supporters under the Berry campaign umbrella and create another underdog.

·         Berry leads in five districts outright with 32-25% of the overall vote.

·         If Berry also gained the undecided vote, he would lead in six districts outright with 50-53% of the overall vote.


How can Jon Baliles Win?

In looking at five different scenarios, a candidate dropping out would not help Baliles unless he is able to capture the undecided vote. The highest number of undecided voters are in the 7th (40%), 9th (22%), and 2nd (21%). Baliles polled at 6% in the 7th, 0% in the 9th, and 15% in the 2nd. The 7th and 9th district residents are 15% and 14.80% African American respectively. Baliles also polls low in other districts with higher African American districts. The question for Baliles capturing the undecided vote will be if he can make inroads in the African American communities by demonstrating he not only understands racial issue in Richmond, but is willing and able to work to make a difference. Currently, Baliles support is surging through Richmond’s artistic/creative residents; however, there are some social justice-minded Baliles supporters. Will his supporters be able to help him bridge the gap by showing he can address the issues of the historically disenfranchised?

Scenario 1: Baliles capitalizes on the undecided vote

·         Baliles would lead in 2nd and 4th districts

·         Potential hiccups:

o   Undecided voters split between all candidates instead of directly moving to one

Scenario 2: Berry drops out and supports Baliles. This causes Baliles to only lead in three districts (1st, 2nd, 4th). The majority of Berry’s voters are in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th districts where the majority of residents have a higher than average household income. If Berry were to drop out, would this group of voters change their support to Bruce Tyler? Tyler is the only Republican in the field and lost his city council seat to Baliles by 22 votes in 2012.

·         Baliles would lead in 1st, 2nd, and 4th with 25% of overall vote and a majority in the 1st

·         What if Baliles also capitalizes on the undecided vote?

o   Baliles leads in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 9th with 43% of overall vote and majorities in the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 7th

 

Scenario 3: Mosby drops out and supports Baliles. This causes Baliles to only lead in two districts (1st and 9th). If Mosby were to drop out, this would help Baliles go from 0% to 26% in the 9th district where 14.80% of residents are African American. The core of Baliles support comes from the 1st, 3nd, and 4th districts which have the lowest percentage of African American residents in the city. This mirrors his potential challenge with capturing the undecided vote.

·         Baliles would lead in 1st and 9th, ties with Berry in 4th with 19% of overall vote and no majorities.

·         What if Baliles also capitalizes on the undecided vote?

o   Baliles would lead in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 9th with 46% of vote and majorities in 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 7th

 

Scenario 4: Stoney drops out and supports Baliles. This causes Baliles to only lead in 1 district (4th). Stoney dropping out and supporting Baliles would bolster votes in some districts (1st, 3nd, 4th) where Baliles is already polling to make him more competitive with the front-runners making him a strong 3rd place candidate.

·         Baliles would lead in 4th with 16% of overall vote and no majority

·         What if Baliles also capitalizes on the undecided vote?

o   Baliles leads in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, 9th with 34% of overall vote and a majority in the 7th 

Scenario 5: Mosby and Stoney drop out and support Baliles. This causes Baliles to only lead in 3 districts (1st, 4th, 9th). Mosby and Stoney’s supporters moving to Baliles would bolster his existing numbers in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th so the biggest gain is the 9th district support. But with two middle-of-the-pack candidates dropping out, it is hard to predict if those supporters would convert to a candidate who is a front-runner (Morrisey/Berry) or the severe underdogs (Tyler/Williams/Junes) so it may be hard to shepherd them toward Baliles.

·         Baliles would lead in 1st, 4th, and 9th with 26% of vote and no majority

·         What if Baliles also capitalizes on the undecided vote?

o   Baliles leads in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 9th with 44% of overall vote and majorities in the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 9th


How can Levar Stoney Win?

In looking at five different scenarios, Stoney could benefit from Mosby and Baliles both dropping out to capture the undecided vote. Since Baliles has similar spread across districts to Stoney and Mosby has different spread, they are pulling together all supporters to a candidate who appeals to both halves. For this strategy to work, Baliles and Mosby and their supporters would need to actively campaign for Stoney to promote the common ground they have with Stoney. Is it realistic to get not one, but two candidates to jump onto Stoney’s ship?  

Scenario 1: Stoney capitalizes on the undecided vote. This causes Stoney to only take the lead in 3 districts (4th, 7th, and 9th). One of the takeaways from the poll was that Stoney’s name is unrecognized by voters. Is it realistic for Stoney to become a household name AND gain support in these districts? Even if he did, Stoney was the lowest polling of the three middle-of-the-road candidates. Would the undecided voter support be enough to carry him to the run off? The districts Stoney would lead in are opposite from Berry’s core supporters but similar to Morrissey’s support base. It is possible that if Stoney can’t make in-roads with Berry-dense districts, he could set himself up to fight Morrissey up for second place.

·         Stoney leads in 4th, 7th and 9th districts

Scenario 2: Berry drops out and supports Stoney. This causes Stoney to only lead in 3 districts (1st, 2nd, and 4th). Both candidates receive similar criticism for being outsiders. Berry is scrutinized for his role as CEO for Venture Richmond and in the Shockoe Bottom Stadium. Stoney’s criticism stems from his ties outside of Richmond that are seen in campaign finance reports and allegations that he is using the mayoral spot as a stepping stone to run for bigger political positions. Would these two teaming up be seen as a negative for the large contingent of undecided voters and drive them to the campaign headquarters front door of Morrissey?

·         Stoney leads in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th districts with 23% of the overall vote and no majorities.

·         What if Stoney also capitalizes on the undecided vote?

o   Stoney leads in the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 7th, and 9th with 41% of the overall vote and majorities in the 2nd, 3rd and 7th.

Scenario 3: Mosby drops out and supports Stoney. This causes Stoney to only lead in 1 district (9th). Mosby and Stoney have their primary supporters in opposite districts; however, they are both polling to some degree in each other’s areas of strengths. This means they are both still mid-range candidates with not enough votes to do enough damage to Morrissey or Berry supporters to overtake one and get in the run off.

·         Stoney leads in the 9th with 17% of the overall vote and no majority.

·         What if Stoney also capitalizes on the undecided vote?

o   Stoney ties with Berry in the 2nd, leads in the 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 9th

Scenario 4: Baliles drops out and supports Stoney. This causes Stoney to only lead in 1 district (4th). Baliles supporters moving to Stoney only helps Stoney bolster in areas he is already polling to some degree. This means they have strength combined in an area that could go after Berry supporters but not so much that they could overtake Berry with relative ease. In addition, Stoney would still be weak in Morrissey’s strongholds where he may split the remaining vote with Mosby.

·         Stoney leads in the 4th with 16% of the overall vote and no majority.

·         What if Stoney also capitalizes on the undecided vote?

o   Stoney leads in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, an 9th with 34% of the overall vote and a majority in the 7th.

Scenario 5: Mosby and Baliles drop out and support Stoney. This causes Stoney to only lead in the 1st, 4th, and 9th districts; however, he has an even spread of support through the districts where he is not the leader. It is possible that with an evenly spread foundation in all districts, Baliles and Mosby actively backing Stoney that they could deepen existing inroads to quickly garner support instead of starting from scratch. They could still be negatively impacted from splitting undecided voters between the front runners/less supported candidates.

·         Stoney leads in 1st, 4th, and 9th district with 26% of the overall vote and no majority.

·         What if Stoney capitalizes on the undecided vote?

o   Stoney leads in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 9th with 44% of the vote and majorities in the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 9th. 


How can Michelle Mosby win?

The numbers show Mosby could gain the most ground if Berry dropped out and supported her; however, would that create too strong of a perceived umbilical cord between Mosby and Dwight Jones Administration? She would need to still go after the undecided voters; however, how successful would she be if Jack Berry was in her camp?

Scenario 1: Mosby capitalizes on the undecided vote. This causes Mosby to only lead in three districts (4th, 7th, and 9th). While there are high numbers of undecided voters in these districts, this scenario would still leave Mosby weak in Morrissey’s strong hold districts. In addition, it might not be enough to unseat Berry for the run off.

·         Mosby would lead in the 4th, 7th, and 9th with 28% of the overall vote and no majority.

Scenario 2: Berry drops out and supports Mosby. This causes Mosby to lead in four districts (1st, 2nd, 4th, 9th) which is the closest to winning outright without a runoff. Mosby’s platform is deeply rooted in her work as Council President which gives her strong ties to the Dwight Jones administration. This year, voters are anti-establishment and seeking a change. With criticisms of Berry’s role at Venture Richmond with Shockoe Stadium, Mosby’s Jones administration ties could prove too strong to attract voters to her camp.

·         Mosby would lead in the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 9th with 26% of the overall vote and a majority in the 1st.

·         If Mosby also gained the undecided vote, she would lead in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 9th with 44% of the overall vote and majorities in the 1st, 2nd, 7th, and 9th.

·         Possible Hiccups: Close to winning outright, perception of Berry/Jones, May not be able to capitalized on undecided votes in the 6, 7, 9

Scenario 3: Baliles drops out and supports Mosby. This causes Mosby to lead in only two districts (1st and 9th) with a tie in the 4th. The support Baliles adds to Mosby’s campaign is in Berry’s strongholds but not in high enough volume to overtake Berry. This means Mosby is not receiving a benefit in districts of Morrissey’s strongholds where there are high numbers of undecided voters. The positive support addition this agreement brings to the table goes directly after Berry’s supporters but may not be enough to push into the run off if Mosby can’t attract an even spread of the undecided voters.

·         Mosby would tie with Berry in the 4th, lead in the 1st and 9th for 19% of the overall vote and no majority.

·         If Mosby also gained the undecided vote, she would lead in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th and 9th for 37% of the overall vote with no majority.

Scenario 4: Stoney drops out and supports Mosby. This causes Mosby to lead in only two districts (8th and 9th). While Stoney’s support base is in opposite districts of Mosby’s base, the numbers are low so it may not be enough to get competitive just from the action of Stoney dropping out and supporting Mosby. However, since the support is evenly spread, Mosby may have a better chance to pull undecided voters in all districts.

·         Mosby would lead in the 8th and 9th districts with 17% overall and no majority.

·         If Mosby also gained the undecided vote, she would tie with Berry in the 2nd and lead in the 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 8th with 25% of the overall vote and majorities in the 7th and 9th.

Scenario 5: Stoney and Baliles drop out and support Mosby. This causes Mosby to lead in only three districts (1st, 4th and 9th). The strength of all three together is weighted in the districts where Berry finds his support which means they would be working to push Berry out of a run off. To win outright, they would need to capitalize on the undecided vote in the 6th and 8th districts where Morrissey is leading.

·         Mosby would lead in the 1st, 4th and 9th with 26% of the overall vote and no majority.

·         If Mosby also gained the undecided vote, she would lead in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 9th with 44% of the overall vote and majorities in the 4th, 7th and 9th.