Saturday, November 8, 2014

Hoboken Board of Education Results of November 2014 - A Deeper Look at the Numbers

Election Day 2014
Hoboken, NJ 
For a summary of the 2014 Hoboken Board of Education results, please refer to either the Jersey Journal or the Hoboken Reporter. Each newspaper had fairly good coverage of the issues at stake and the results. There are also a number of Hoboken based blogs that have provided coverage on the election.

You may also wish to look up the final vote results for yourself by pointing your browser to the Office of the County Clerk for Hudson County.

Sharon L. Angley and Monica Stromwall, members of the "Parents for Progress" slate, won two of the three available seats and incumbent Peter Biancamano, a member of the "Education of All Children" candidate and the highest vote getter, won a third seat. In all, eight candidates competed for three, three-year spots on the Hoboken Board of Education. The candidates ran under three slates: Parents for Change, Parents for Progress, and Education for All Children. 

Here are the results of the election using a color coding scheme to represent the various tickets that ran for the Board*: 

Table 1
Brian Murray, Patricia Waiters and Lynn Danzker ran as "Parents for Change"
Antonio Gray, Sharyn Angley, and Monica Stromwell ran as "Parents for Progress
Peter Biancamano and Frances Rhodes Kearns ran as "Education for All Children

Table 1 indicates that "Parents for Change" candidates received an average of 1907 votes per candidate; "Parents for Progress" candidates received an average of 2167 votes per candidate; and "Education for All Children" received an average of 2279 votes per candidate.

Table 1 also shows how each candidate's individual vote total compared to the average for the members of THEIR particular ticket. For instance, "Parents for Change" candidate Brian Murray (1H) received a total of 2097 votes while the average vote for a "Parents for Change" candidate was 1907, leaving a +190 vote count from the average for Candidate Murray. 

Table 2 
Table 2 shows the general percentage of total votes that each ticket received. Approximately 16,802 individual candidate votes were cast in the Hoboken Board of Education election indicating roughly 5600 voters (assumption: each voter who voted in the BOE election voted for 3 candidates). 

"Education for All"'s two candidates received about 27% of the votes 
"Parents for Change"'s three candidates received about 34% of the votes 
"Parents for Progress"'s three candidates received about 39% of the votes

Table 3 
In statistics and probability theory, the standard deviation (SD) measures the amount of variation or dispersion from the average. A low standard deviation indicates the data points tend to be very close to the mean (or "expected value"); a high high standard deviation indicates that the data points are spread out over a large range of values. 

Table 3 shows that the "Parents for Progress" candidates experienced fairly low variability- meaning if a voter voted for one member of "Parents for Progress", they voted for all three. When voters deviated from voting for the entire ticket, evidence seems to indicate they voted for someone other than Antonio Gray (-87 votes from average, see Table 1). 

Table 3 also shows that the "Parents for Change" candidates experienced low to moderate variability- meaning if a voter voted for one member of "Parents for Change", they probably voted for all three. When voters deviated from voting for the entire ticket, evidence seems to indicate they voted for someone other than Lynn Danzker (-289 votes from average, see Table 1).

Finally, Table 3 indicates that the "Education for All Children" candidates experienced moderate variability. However the story seems to be a little more complicated with "Education for All Children." The fairly high variability likely came from Peter Biancamano (+243 votes from average, see Table 1 and Table 4) picking up votes from both "Parents for Change" and "Parents for Progress" voters. If a voter voted for one member of "Education for All Children", they likely voted for both but when an "Education for All" candidate received a vote from a non-"Education for All" voter, it likely came from a "Parents for Change" voter with some additional voters being "Parents for Progress" voters.

Table 4- Click to enlarge
Table 4 groups the candidates by ticket via a color coded bar graph. The standard deviation for the votes received by all 8 candidates was 253.5 and the average vote count for each candidate was 2097 (see Table 5).  

Table 5
Further analysis indicates just how decisive Biancamano's victory was on Election Day. Table 6  is a table of candidates ranked by standard deviation units (calculated by subtracting the average vote total for the group from the individual candidate's vote total and then dividing by the standard deviation of votes for all candidates). In this election, a standard deviation unit was approximately 253 votes. Table 7 is a graphical representation of candidates color coded by slate on standard deviation units to help inform and model a normal distribution curve (Table 8).

Table 6

Table 7- Click to Enlarge

Table 8 (below) shows the fairly close grouping of Murray (1H), Waiters (6H),  Rhodes-Kearns (8H), Gray (2H), Angley (3H), and Stromwell (5H). The two obvious outliers from the candidate pool were Biancamano (4H) and Danzker (7H)- especially easy to see when plotted on a normal distribution curve (see Table 1 for triangulation of this conjecture with supporting data from Table 6, Table 7, and Table 8).

Table 8- Click to Enlarge 

Speculation and questions remain about this election. Would results have been different if there was a two slate race instead of three? Would results have been different if "Education for All Children" had a third candidate? Is "Parents for Change" a superficial re-branding of the toxic and failed Kids First group (who still hold a board majority) or will "Parents for Change" emerge as a legitimate force for unity, reform, and quality? Will this election solidify divisions or force compromise among different political factions in town? For the time being, we will leave the speculation and punditry for others to explore.

A Board of Education member is an unpaid elected official with no health or retirement benefits. Each candidate is to be  acknowledged for their willingness to volunteer their time in order to serve the community. The November 2014 Board of Education election will be remembered for being a generally positive campaign where "Parents for Change", "Parents for Progress", and "Education for All Children" articulated primarily pro-active visions and "positive" messaging for moving forward in the school district and in healing certain fractures in the community. Congratulations to all. 

"Parents for Change"
"Parents for Progress"
"Education for All Children"

* I would like to thank a number of regular readers for suggesting some helpful ideas for reframing some of the tables and data analysis to my original post. 

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