Clement-Dean in September

Byline: | Category: TN Politics | Posted at: Friday, 13 July 2007

Most of what I’ve concluded about the Nashville Mayoral race comes from watching yard signs. 

When you live in the same area for a while, and you pay attention to politics, you recognize that it’s always the same houses always sporting the same signs.  I can tell you today, which houses will host a yard sign for which party’s candidate next November–no matter who the candidate is.  I can also tell you which families will support a no-chance primary candidate, or a third-party candidate because the other offerings are too “moderate”.  

The latter group, at least in my part of Nashville, has taken a pass on a mayoral yard sign this year.  That, I think is a good omen for Karl Dean.  Here’s why:

Many of the more ”conservative” voters I’ve spoken to about this race agree on only one candidate:  Anybody-but-Briley.  They don’t have a yard sign for their candidate because they haven’t decided which one has the best chance of ensuring Briley doesn’t win. 

Among the more “liberal” voters the decision comes down to David Briley or Karl Dean.  Again, they don’t have a yard sign because they don’t know which one is more likely to win.(Two curious asides: There seems to be more liberal antipathy for Bob Clement than for either Howard Gentry or Buck Dozier.  And, I’m actually surprised that Karl Dean is portrayed as a “progressive” candidate given the disproportionate number of Republicans and “Doug Henry Democrats” who have Dean signs in their yards.) 

The single factor that weighs heaviest in the decisions of the more partisan voters on both sides is the perceived performance of David Briley.  Among those conservatives whose first priority in this race is to block Briley from becoming mayor, they are likely to vote for the one candidate whom they perceive is most likely to win.  To most observers, that’s former Congressman Bob Clement.  However, if Briley is perceived as being “out of the running,” as polls seem to indicate, Clement loses some of that consensus conservative vote, thus reducing his margin of victory in the August election.

On the other side, liberals who support either Briley or Dean will gravitate to the one whom they perceive is more likely to win. 

The beneficiary of both voter blocs is Karl Dean–directly, in the case of the liberal vote, and indirectly from conservatives, because every vote that otherwise would have gone to Bob Clement, but instead goes to Howard Gentry or Buck Dozier, reduces Clement’s margin of victory.

Don’t misconstrue this as an endorsement of any particular candidate.  I can honestly say that I haven’t yet decided whom I’m supporting for Mayor.

However, unless Howard Gentry or Buck Dozier can excite their base in the next few weeks–something very possible in what will likely be a very low turnout August election–I predict a Clement-Dean runoff in September.

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10 Responses to “Clement-Dean in September”

  1. john h Says:

    Doesn’t Dean live over in your neck of the woods? I suspect that accounts for at least some of those yard signs.

  2. bob Says:

    I actually don’t know where Karl Dean lives. I do know that his sign is in the yard of a lot of lawyers’ houses, as well as a surprisingly large number of prominent (non-lawyer) businessmen. “Surprising” because if he really is the tax-and-spend “progressive” he is portrayed as being, a lot of the people supporting him probably wouldn’t be.

  3. Music City Bloggers » Blog Archive » The Krumm also rises, predicts Clement & Dean in a run-off Says:

    [...] Krumm, who has been MIA for a while, returns to the blog-a-teria with a post predicting a Clement-Dean run-off. Krumm’s been studying yard signs as intently [...]

  4. Rex Hammock Says:

    While this comment should not be construed as me coming off my long-standing practice of avoiding online discussions related to politics, I will observe this: Whenever I’ve made predictions based on yard signs, I am always remarkably incorrect. I’ve determined I must drive in very partisan patterns.

  5. bob Says:

    Rex, Wise advice as always. Just to clarify: I’m not basing my prediction on the number of yard signs, but on where they aren’t. Certain houses always have yard signs. But not this time. Strange.

  6. Rob Robinson Says:

    Bob, regardless, I sure hope your augury is correct. Thanks for the thoughts.

  7. charles Says:

    Bob, in terms of signs, I am surprised at how little credit you are giving to Buck Dozier’s campaign. Granted, where you live there aren’t many of the flag-festooned red, white and blue Dozier signs. But if you travel outside of the Belle Meade/Green Hills area, you see them everywhere. Have you been to Goodlettsville, Madison, Inglewood, Bellevue, Hermitage, Donnelson or Old Hickory lately? I agree with Rex about the signs as a predictor, but my observation is that Dozier is winning the sign war throughout greater Nashville.

  8. bob Says:

    Again, I’m not counting signs to see who is winning the sign war. That’s a meaningless predictor. What I am observing is who has signs–or more accurately who doesn’t have a mayoral sign in their yard for this election, but almost always has in the past.

    What I observe is that a significant number of the most conservative conservatives (last year’s Ed Bryant and Jim Bryson supporters) don’t have a mayoral sign in their yard. Nor do a a lot of Howard Dean’s past supporters and the “wage peace” people. That tells me that neither group has settled on a candidate. Add to that the apparent trend that David Briley’s campaign is “on the ropes,” and I think that it’s a good omen for Karl Dean.

    We’ll see in just a few weeks.

  9. Chris Wage Says:

    My sampleset is not exactly uniform (whose is?) but I have seen Briley signs everywhere.. At least 1:1 with karl dean signs (which is a bad sign, actually, and I think lends credence to John H’s prediction that we’re going to see a clement/dozier runoff, because gentry/dean/briley will split the vote)

  10. Tommy Alsup Says:


    I agree with Charles! Dozier is winning the sign war…but not the money war. Dozier has massed one of the largest grass roots orginazations I have ever seen. Clement is loosing ground fast to Dean and Gentry. Republicans and conservatives need to wake up and understand Clement is not the answer. If Dozier doesn’t make the “playoffs” I am for anybody but clement.