How often does a
voter wake up on the morning after an election to learn that his or her
ballot actually made the difference?
often does a person who had better things to do than vote wake up to learn
that he or she could have deadlocked the election?
deadlocked it, just by showing up and casting a ballot for the other guy.
It never happens,
ever, until it does, as it did in Chesterton on Tuesday, when in the single
contested race--for the open 4th District seat on the Town
Council--Republican Nate Cobbs beat Democrat Scot McCord by jut one vote,
399 to 398.
Just for the
record, Cobbs had 50.0627353 percent of the vote, to McCord’s 49.9372647
At around 8 p.m.
Tuesday, McCord had rough-and-tumbled his way to a slim 14-vote lead over
Cobbs, with only one precinct of 12 still out: Westchester 3, which as it
happens was one of only two of the 82 precincts in play in Porter County
still uncounted by that time.
the results in the Porter County Commissioners’ chamber at the
Administration Building in Valparaiso, could do the math as well as anyone.
He needed 15. And he had some reason for hope: Westchester 3 is comprised
chiefly of the Westchester South and Chestnut Hills subdivisions, in the
former of which he’d grown up as a boy and in both of which reside a lot of
young families not unlike his.
In the end,
Westchester 3 came through for Cobbs, who won it by 15 votes and the whole
shebang by just the one.
In its coverage of
the race, the Chesterton Tribune had made much about the demographic
differences separating McCord and Cobbs: McCord the blue-collar union
Democrat and a grandfather almost twice his opponent’s age, versus Cobbs the
white-collar wealth manager and a father of a pre-schooler and a
None of that,
however, appears to have mattered much. What did is geography.
McCord, who grew up
on 15th Street, captured every precinct west of 11th Street--that’s four
precincts--with 59 percent of the vote.
Cobbs, on the other
hand, captured every precinct but one east of 11th Street--that’s seven
precincts--with 57 percent of the vote.
The one exception,
moreover, is telling. The only precinct east of 11th Street which McCord
took and Cobbs lost was Westchester 1: anchored by Morgan Park and a lot of
In no precinct,
though, was either candidate truly trounced. Cobbs’ biggest margin was 66
percent in Westchester 14; McCord’s, 66 percent in Westchester 18.
And even in
Westchester 3, which Cobbs absolutely had to win by 15 votes, McCord still
took 43 percent of the vote.
Of the 10,696
registered voters in Chesterton, only 816--a paltry 8.3 percent--bothered to
show up and be citizens, compared to a county-wide turnout rate of 20.9
percent. The 8.3 percent rate is a slightly better turnout rate than
2011’s--6.9 percent--but miserly compared to the 22.4 percent in 2007 and
the 14.7 percent in 2003.
Cobbs took a moment
Tuesday night, minutes after Westchester 3 came in for him, to thank his
supporters. “It was quite an experience,” he said. “I put a lot of time and
work into this, out shaking hands, and I had a lot of people helping me, so
many I can’t even thank them for what they’ve done for me. I’m truly
grateful for all the help and support I’ve gotten.”
Only the razor
thinness of his victory margin surprised him, Cobbs noted, not the closeness
of the race itself. “It was a very close race the whole way along, as people
looked at us and thought we had many similar opinions of the town and things
we’d like to see happen in the town,” he said. “I think that (McCord) also
had a good group of supporters behind him, who believe in Scot and what he’s
done for nearly 30 years in this town. But at the same time there were many
supporters behind me who’ve seen what I’ve been able to do. If you asked me
this morning, I would’ve said it would be close tonight. Not one-vote close.
But maybe 20 votes.”
“I’m grateful to
have this opportunity and I’m looking forward to serving the Town of
Chesterton,” Cobbs concluded.
McCord, for his
part, told the Tribune this morning he has no intention of seeking a
recount. “That would cost the taxpayers a lot of money,” he said. “What are
they going to find? We’re tied? And then what?”
As he did in his
candidate interview, McCord wished Cobbs well and said that he hasn’t a
doubt in the world that Cobbs will prove a valuable addition to the Town
Council. “I’m happy for Nate. He’s a young guy who wants to be involved and
I’m really happy he’s getting his chance. I wish him all the luck in the
world. I’ve got another year on (the Utility Service Board). I’m not going
McCord did have a
few choice words for the 92.7 percent of eligible voters who stayed home. “I
can understand that,” he joked without much humor in his voice. “It was
miserable fighting the 75-degree inclement weather. This town is in a sad
state of affairs when you’ve got 797 people deciding who’s going to run
Chesterton. And when the council does something the folks who didn’t vote
don’t like, they’re the first ones to stand in line and bitch.”