Pete and Daniel

Submitted by Karen J. Sanchez-Eppler on Monday, 2/27/2012, at 8:32 AM

This is your space, use it in whatever ways  feel useful to you and your project.

Aron's notes

Submitted by Daniel Alter on Sunday, 5/6/2012, at 9:29 PM

Pluta lives in Ward 2

Wards do not have same demographics from precinct to precinct

Who is on the ballot from year to year (ex. 2007 mayor uncontested)

Younger, more affluent, more liberal, pretty white voters going for Morse (perhaps partly because of a narrative about unity)

Ther eis no such constituency in Springfield

Casino polarization

Neither campaign particularly effective at mobilizing underrepresented groups or reducing disparities

The race was decided based on effectiveness of conventional campaigns

Final Notes and Charts

Submitted by Peter L. Skurman on Sunday, 5/6/2012, at 9:28 PM

Here are my thoughts/notes/findings from our interviews, along with some analysis.

From Rebecca Lisi meeting:
Ward 5 is west holyoke, more repub/rural/conservative... 5b is more dense, 5a is more rural and detached from holyoke's urban core.
Ward 7 is professors priced out from Noho
Lisi: "Alex generated hype around who he was and what he was doing... didn't literally go to every door... people whose door he didn't go to weren't engaged, and these same people lack the ability or venue to say that to anyone"
"The machismo latino demographic would prefer hetero woman over gay male" ...  but any antigay sentiment did not occur in elite areas so it was never broadcast into the political arena.
Wards 3/4/7 had incumbent councilors stepping down.  these races were hotly contested and could've increased turnout in these wards
Pluta looked bad after the “Snowtober” storm, "poor presence" no emergency meeting and the quick recovery was not attributed to her, Morse was out giving donuts to workers

Betty meeting:
Morse speaking Spanish is big - he can listen and hear, connect.  Grew up in Holyoke and the majority of his friends are Latino.  Betty remembers him campaigning and using a line like "the majority of my friends didn't have the same privileges I had"
Pluta is French-Canadian and lacked a church community
The Puerto Ricans in Holyoke are typically lower class, undereducated, but betty believes that they'd vote in PR and are less interested in voting here (Remember, Puerto Ricans have full voting rights as American citizens)
"Ward 7 is running Alex's agenda"


2a is her ward - they love her. 
They imagined wards 1/2/3 saying to Morse "you can speak our language but you don't understand our issues"
Nelson: "our make or breaks were 4/5/7" 
Elaine said: Other people advised them "don't touch Latinos until August because they move a lot,"  Nelson disagrees with this portrayal of Latinos
Like Lisi said, mayoral race was impacted by city councilor races
500 people who had never voted before came out, Nelson claims they registered 100-150 of them
In wards 6 and 7 people were still turning out after 6pm, they knew that was a bad sign
Pluta has gone door to door, too, but she couldn't as mayor, she was too busy

Pluta's first campaign chair was brother of indicted fire chief
Ward 7 took a while to get on board with him
He attributes a lot of his success to his door knocking and his ability to speak Spanish
Gladys's bilingual campaign mailings were helpful
Morse knew he could win the election without wards 1+2
No one showed up at Latinos por Pluta


Notes from Holyoke Interviews

Submitted by Daniel Alter on Sunday, 5/6/2012, at 9:28 PM

Below are my notes after interviews in Holyoke with Councilmember Rebecca Lisi, community organizer Betty Medina-Lichetenstein, former Mayor Elaine Pluta and her campaign manager Nelson Roman, MassLive reporter Greg Saulmon, and Mayor Alex Morse and his staff.

I organized my notes thematically, synthesizing the key ideas that surfaced across several days/weeks' worth of interviews.  I believe they tell a nuanced and accurate narrative of the 2011 Holyoke mayoral election.  Integrating them with Pete's and Aron's notes, which were created independently, only makes the story richer.


  • Morse won because of people up the Hill (Ward 7)
    • Highest turnout
    • Greatest margin of victory
    • Largest contributors to campaign funds
  • People on the Hill voted for Morse for several reasons
    • Casino issue - they were strongly against it
    • Economic development
    • "Paper City" --> "Digital City"
    • Felt that Pluta represented interests of the lower wards
    • Narrative of Morse as a transcendent leader, someone who could connect with all of Holyoke
  • Did Morse believe the narrative?
    • Campaigned hard in lower wards (higher minority pop)
    • Provided in campaign materials in English and Spanish (...but did that get him votes more among Latino voters or among white progressive voters who were impressed by his campaign?  Who were the Spanish videos really for?)
    • But acknowledged that actual voters in lower wards are often white and elderly
    • Homeowners are the majority of Holyoke voters
    • Door Knocking: Used ID list of people who have voted, who are actually going to vote
    • Lisi: "Winning campaigns mobilize active voters."
  • Morse seemed to connect with voters in lower wards, but it did not translate into votes
    • Proof: campaign signs where you don't normally see them
    • Get-out-the-vote-campaign on High St, Flats
    • 600 signatures from wards 1 + 2
    • Maybe he did bring new energy -- signs, etc. -- but there still wasn't enough of a voting culture for it to amount to much
  • High minority wards still turned out in low numbers
    • Pluta had never lost Ward 1 before this year
    • High mobility (Gladys: "Don't touch the Latinos til August -- they move a lot.")
    • Nelson: "They just don't see the results."
  • Pluta did well with elderly and conservative white voters
    • 5B
    • Much of her success in 2 came from the fact she is from there (2A) and that she connected with elderly voters
    • Two polling places in towers of elderly homes
  • Hotly contested council-member races in wards where incumbent was stepping down
    • Wards 3, 4, 7
    • Other council-members ran on a ticket for the first time
  • 500-600 newly registered voters
    • ~200 voted for Pluta
    • ~300 voted for Morse
    • An additional 300 lefty/progressives left Pluta for Morse (Nelson)
  • Longitudinal view
    • Last contested election was in '05
    • '07-'11: Increased turnout for all wards
    • '07-'11: Turnout doubled in minority wards
    • Increased turnout may be partly attributed to the campaigns themselves
    • Mostly, though, it appears they were due to the fact that the election was hotly contested

Aron's outline for each interview

Submitted by Peter L. Skurman on Sunday, 5/6/2012, at 9:27 PM

This was an outline Aron created, it offers a rough picture of how each conversation was structured:

We are interested in voter participation and voter participation disparities. We want to understand where and why voter participation disparities exist, and how to reduce those disparities.
It seems like a lot of people think Alex Morse made history in Holyoke by mobilizing minority communities where turnout is usually low, and that's how he won. True or not, do you think that narrative is out there? Do you think it is true?
If you don't think it is true, what do you think the crucial factors were?
Methodology: We matched up 2010 census block-level data (% minority = 100 - % White and not Hispanic) with Wards.
Clarify charts: voting age residents, registered voters, all residents
Trends: 2A, 5A/5B, 7
Breakdown/distribution of non-white population?
Despite persistent voter participation disparities since 2007, participation rates have increased overall. Why do you think this happened, while Springfield rates have remained very low?
The denominator: Are the numbers of registered voters accurate?
Have you ever noticed any voter access problems in Holyoke?
Anything else you notice, or anything else you'd like to share about voter participation or voter participation disparities in Holyoke?

Charts and Graphs

Submitted by Peter L. Skurman on Sunday, 5/6/2012, at 9:25 PM

I created the first three charts, Aron created the last two (named "trends")

During our interviews, the "trends" charts were very useful because they succintly demonstrate how voter participation varies with minority population (and it's easy to see the exceptions)

Attachment Size
Holyoke Voter Turnout - Nov 2011.png 32.56 KB
How Many Voting Age Residents Voted - All Wards.png 35.05 KB
How Many Voting Age Residents Voted - Select Wards.png 28.39 KB
trends 031512 - Sorted by Minority Percentage 127.74 KB
trends 032112 - Sorted by Turnout Percentage 144.11 KB

Final GIS Work

Submitted by Daniel Alter on Sunday, 5/6/2012, at 9:14 PM

This was the final data I produced on Holyoke using GIS.  The map and accompanying table displays demographic information derrived by matching block-level census data with Holyoke wards. 

The third attachment, an Excel sheet entitled "Census Ward Match-Up," displays the block-by-block data.  In other words, it shows how we got to the totals displayed in the first two documents.  Importantly, it also lists which blocks fall into which wards -- a resource now available for future researchers who do not know GIS but wish to use census data to analyze any sort of question in Holyoke.

Attachment Size
Holyoke Mar-12.png 23.99 KB
Holyoke Ward Data.xls 18.5 KB
Census Ward Match-Up.xls 554 KB

Holyoke Demographics Map

Submitted by Daniel Alter on Tuesday, 3/6/2012, at 5:03 PM

The attached image is an original creation, the product of 2010 US Census Block level data, a Holyoke Ward map provided by Jeffrey Burkott of the Holyoke Planning Department, and about 15hrs spent in Smudd. 

Our Holyoke voter data is organized by ward (as Pete's analysis shows).  However, Holyoke does not have recent demographic information available by ward.  We had to create that information ourselves using data from the US Census Bureau.  Using a mapping program I learned last year called ArcGIS, I matched US Census Blocks with the wards they fell into and derrived demographic data for each of the seven Holyoke wards.  This data is depicted in the attached map.*  I also was able to derrive data for the 18+ (voting age) population of each ward, which is not depicted in the map but will be important for our final report.


* This depiction considers minorities to be all people not single-race white, as counted by the 2010 US Census.  In actuality, though, the minority populations should be significantly larger; currently, the data does not include white Hispanics as a part of the minority population.  A future draft of this map, to be created later this week, will consider minorities to be all people not single-race, non-Hispanic whites, as counted by the 2010 US Census.

Attachment Size
Holyoke Mar-2.png 23.12 KB


Submitted by Peter L. Skurman on Tuesday, 3/6/2012, at 4:13 PM
This is some preliminary polling data in graph form. Some of the numbers are not final, some are not entered, and some are final. However, the 2 graphs show the basic idea of what our graphs will look like, they correspond with the graphs in the Springfield Institute's report on Springfield.