Sunday, September 14, 2008

Zip Codes Rule-Huntsville's Mayoral Race Shows Why

What a coincidence that my own Huntsville Times (Sunday, Sept. 14) should provide fodder to support our poll results by publishing a map of the results of our mayoral election, which will eventually result in a runoff election this October. The map shows how each of the city's zip codes voted in the August elections. The analysis by writer Challen Stephens zeroed in on, of all place, my zip code (35803) as the key battleground in the runoff between incumbent Loretta Spencer and challenger Tommy Battle. The maps shows which zip codes were won by each candidate and a pie chart showing the margin of victory. In 35803, the race was a dead heat and could decide the election as each of the other zips seem to have chosen their candidate by fairly wide margins. Even more interesting, Stephens describes the race by precinct.

Now, in a mayoral elections, perhaps zip codes are the essential geographic level by which each candidate must understand their situation. At the presidential election, maybe not has much. However, as the Huntsville election has showed, it is possible to narrow the race by precinct and swaying the vote by targeting a specific neighborhoods. Would a presidential election have as much success at this geographic level? I submit that a good, grass roots campaign would be able to grasp the opportunities and selectively target precincts and neighborhoods and that wide margin of victory in key demographics could potentially sway an entire zip code.

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