Posted by: sweeneyblog | November 17, 2011

Election Analysis: Dropoff, Lynden Suburbs and the “Buys Bounce”

Last post, I alluded to the “Lynden Suburb”. It is the precincts surrounding the City of Lynden that tend to vote and act like the precincts inside Lynden. Look at the effect of the recent Executive race.  The whole area behaved as if it were actually the City of Lynden.

Lynden Suburbs

In 2010, these areas voted in HUGE numbers. The Republican voters in this area voted at 2008 levels (as if it were a Presidential year) while most of Bellingham voted as if it were 2006 (just another congressional election). This was instrumental in Tony Larson’s success last year, where conservative voters finished their ballots, while liberal voters did not. This issue, called “dropoff”, can be a major problem for both parties. Voters will show up for the big ticket races but leave the local boxes unmarked.

So I’ve been examining dropoff in various areas to see if communities truly showed up and kept the enthusiasm. First let’s take a look at Bellingham and dropoff in local races.

Bellingham Dropoff

Each line represents a different precinct in the area. Along the bottom is the year, and the height of the line is the percentage of dropoff. So, in 2009, about 8% to 10% of voters voted for the race at the top of the ballot, and did not make it to the last of the County Council candidates (in this case, Caskey-Schrieber versus Bill Knutzen).

In 2010, because of the Congressional elections, more people are voting. When large amounts of people show up to vote, they usually are not informed on local races, so as you can see, dropoff rises to a nice round 12% to 18%.

In 2011, everything calms down as people get focused on local races and dropoff returns to its usual 4% to 8%. Now you might be asking what the really dramatic lines are on the graph. They are outliers. Precincts that have only a handful of voters in them, which makes for outrageous percentages and swings.

Bringing it back to the Lynden Suburbs, let’s see how the dropoff looks there.

Dropoff Percentage for Lynden Suburbs

Would you look at that? Lynden looked normal in 2009, but when it came for 2010, they really finished their ballots. Most of the voters there voted for Dino Rossi all the way down the ballot to Tony Larson. Impressive and definitely a key factor in Larson’s success.

But look at them now, a huge uptick in unfinished ballots. What do you think that means? I’ve got two theories. When hometown hero Vincent Buys was running for State Legislature, voters eagerly slogged through the entire ballot to get down to their candidate. This gave all the other conservative local candidates running  the “Buys Bounce” (patent pending) in Lynden. Move forward to 2011. With their favored candidate Jack Louws at the top of the ballot, many voters might have marked the box for Jack and called it good, neglecting to follow through and vote for other candidates that they agreed with. As a result, Tony Larson did not get as many votes out of Lynden as he would have liked, and Sam Crawford is probably counting his lucky stars that he hung on to a few votes in Ferndale.

So there you are, another nugget from this year’s election numbers. Plus, new terms. I want a nickel every time someone uses “Buys Bounce”. You can have “Lynden Suburbs” for free.





  1. I propose naming it the Buys Ballot Barrage.

    • That’s awesome. So named.

  2. […] up? Sick of maps and charts yet? We are coming down the final stretch. Last posts, I examined the Lynden Suburbs, and before that the Louws/Ericksen race. Today, I am examining Christina Maginnis‘ race where […]

  3. […] my letter to the editor urging Jason Overstreet, Vincent Buys, and Doug Ericksen to support marriage equality was printed in the Cascadia Weekly and the […]

  4. […] readers will attest to, I love graphical displays of data; whether it is maps of voter blocks, line graphs of ballot dropoff or the ever-useful Venn […]

  5. […] Matt Krogh went toe-to-toe with Republican state representative Vincent Buys, famous for the “Buys Bounce”. The races from the 40th were only attended by Republican business owner John Swapp and Green Party […]

  6. […] places where Democrats or Republicans are losing or gaining ground. I looked at whether or not the Buys Bounce was still in effect, I looked at a number of factors, but in the end I kept coming back to […]

  7. […] Finally, I am figuring out where I’m going to be on election day. Probably live-blogging from somewhere with lots of drunk Democrats (myself included) but I’m open to ideas. I hope everyone is turning in their ballots and remember to remind your friends to vote. After the election, I intend to roll out a whole series of blog posts breaking down who voted where and why. You can find some of my work from the 2011 election right here. […]

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