Chesterton Tribune

Yes and No: Referendum by the numbers

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When, a couple of months ago, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were still battling for the Republican presidential nomination, there was talk that a still-disputed nomination race here on May 8 could spell trouble for the Duneland School property-tax referendum, by giving more conservative voters another reason to go to the polls in force.

Few people perhaps reckoned on the impact of the Luger/Mourdock race, however, which appears to have come very close to doing what some thought a Romney/Santorum contest would: consolidating conservatives suspicious of new taxes.

The Duneland School referendum did win but by a wafer-thin margin: 4,093 Yes votes or 50.95 percent of the 8,033 ballots cast, to 3,940 No votes or 49.05 percent. That difference of 153 votes represents only 1.90 percent of all ballots cast.

In fact, only 13 of Duneland’s 30 precincts voted a majority Yes on the referendum; the other 17 voted a majority No.

Begin with the precincts which voted No:

•All precincts in Porter.

•The single precinct in Burns Harbor.

•The single precinct in Dune Acres.

•Westchester 4 in Chesterton, representing the blue-collar neighborhoods north of West Porter Ave. between 12th and 23rd streets and south of West Porter Ave. between South Jackson Blvd. and 23rd Street and north of Washington Ave.

•Westchester 8 in Chesterton, representing the whole of the town north of the Norfolk-Southern line.

•All unincorporated Westchester Township precincts.

•Both Pine Township precincts.

•All but one of the five Jackson Township precincts: J2, J3, J4, and J5.

•And one of seven Liberty Township precincts: L1.

In many of the No precincts, the referendum was defeated just narrowly: by 10 votes in W6, by six in P2, by four in J2, and by a single vote in W8. In others, the margin was more substantial, given the closeness of the balloting: by 25 votes in P1, by 29 in W9, by 32 in J4, by 33 in W4, and by 47 in W11.

And a trend emerges when the vote totals in the Lugar/Mourdock race are broken out: although Lugar lost every single precinct in Duneland—with the exception of P2, which he tied—those precincts in which he was not only trounced but crushed were those which tended to vote No on the referendum.

Brass tacks: in the 17 precincts which voted majority No on the referendum, Lugar garnered an average 38 percent of the vote in his race with Mourdock; in the 13 precincts which voted majority Yes, Lugar took 43 percent of the vote.

On balance, in other words, the No precincts also skewed more conservative in the Lugar/Mourdock race.

The Yes Precincts

Of the 13 precincts which voted majority Yes, this generalization can be made: four precincts did the yeoman’s work, three of them representing newer subdivisions and one precinct representing two older, more established subdivisions.

•L5, with a margin of fully 81 votes, representing the newer subdivisions of Tamarack and Tanglewood.

•W14, with a margin of 68 votes, also representing two newer subdivisions, the Estates of Sand Creek and the Villages of Sand Creek.

•W3, with a margin of 66 votes, representing the older subdivisions of Westchester South and a portion of Chestnut Hills.

•W18, with a margin of 48 votes, representing the newer subdivisions of Golfview Estates and Dogwood Estates.

L7—with the not-quite-so-new Woods of the Winding Creek—contributed a 45-vote margin; J1—with some older neighborhoods but also the newer Whitethorne Woods—contributed a 44-vote margin.

Other Yes precincts posted much closer results: L3 with a margin of 23 votes; L6 and W12 each with a margin of 17; W1, a margin of 14; and L4, a margin of 10.


Turnout in all 30 Duneland precincts was considerably higher than would be expected in a primary election—33 percent—with a high of 45 percent in W14 (a Yes precinct) and 44 percent in J4 (a No precinct).

That turnout rate of 33 percent compares to a countywide turnout—including Duneland’s 30 precincts, bringing the average up—of 21 percent.

There was no significant difference between the turnout rates of Yes precincts versus No precincts: Yes posted a total turnout of 35 percent, No a total turnout of 33 percent.

Of the 8,033 votes cast in the referendum, 608 or around 8 percent were “non-partisan” ballots: that is, voters cast a ballot only in the referendum. There’s no way of knowing how non-partisan voters voted, whether the majority cast Yes or No ballots.

Precinct Totals for Duneland School Tax Refrendum

The Yes and No vote totals by precinct, in Westchester (W), Liberty (L), Jackson (J), and Pine (P) townships.

•W1: 114-Y, 100-N.

•W3: 242-Y, 176-N.

•W4: 165-Y, 198-N.

•W5: 122-Y, 143-N.

•W6: 30-Y, 40-N.

•W7: 149-Y, 176-N.

•W8: 158-Y, 159-N.

•W9: 242-Y, 271-N.

•W10: 145-Y, 113-N.

•W11: 78-Y, N-125-N.

•W12: 253-Y, 236-N.

•W13: 84-Y, 125-N.

•W14: 262-Y, N-194.

•W16: 121-Y, 132-N.

•W17: 22-Y, 28-N.

•W18: 134-Y, 86-N.

•L1: 177-Y, 142-N.

•L2: 40-Y, 56-N.

•L3: 231-Y, 208-N.

•L4: 107-Y, 97-N.

•L5: 204-Y, 123-N.

•L6: 99-Y, 82-N.

•L7: 122-Y, 77-N.

•J1: 209-Y, 165-N.

•J2: 138-Y, 142-N.

•J3: 134-Y, 154-N.

•J4: 120-Y, 152-N.

•J5: 131-Y, 149-N.

•P1: 34-Y, 59-N.

•P2: 26-Y, 32-N.

Posted 5/9/2012