Analysis: Low-Turnout, Low-Energy Runoff Election Brings Major Victories



The runoff election for mayor, metro council and a few council districts, turned out to be a low turnout affair. Mayor-elect John Cooper was the big winner with a clear mandate to lead Nashville with his 40 point victory over incumbent David Briley. The defeat was so bad that Briley had his concession speech ready, and conceded the election as soon as the early voting data was available, and all of the council races were decided by 9 pm.

Nashvillians obviously have election fatigue, after having had four different elections for mayor in the last two years alone, when you include the runoff elections. As a result, turn out this time around was very low, with just over 90,000 votes cast or 22.5% of Nashville’s active voters showing up at the polls.

The other big winner was Councilman At-Large Steve Glover. He worked hard to get his message out, and he was able to rally enough conservative/republican votes to be the first declared Republican, to be elected to a county-wide office, since the Civil War. This is a milestone because of the demographics in the metro-area—with only 27% of the active Nashville’s voters can be identified as reliable Republican. Steve won 37% of the vote, and 22.5% of the 161 precincts. In my opinion, this is good for Nashville, because Mr. Glover has been a reliable voice against the radical policies of Mayors Karl Dean, Megan Berry and David Briley. And even though he will be outnumbered in the council chambers, his booming voice will be heard.

Figure 1. Green: Independent. Blue: Democrat, Red: Republican, Purple: Independent.

The above chart is a breakdown of votes by the district for early voting, which made up the majority of votes for the runoff election. As you can see, democrats won a majority of the districts with a few notable exceptions. District 23 where Tom Druffle defeated Mina Johnson. And district 26 where Courtney Johnson, narrowly edged out Jeremy Elrond in the early vote totals. There is also district 4 where Robert Swope easily won by 40 points in the general election.

This breakdown shows there is some hope for republicans moving forward, and gives the Davidson County Republican Party, (DCRP), currently being lead by Melissa Smithson, some areas to target in future district and countywide races.

Overall, this election does not show any big shifts in demographics, but it does show the Republican Party is making headway in liberal Davidson County. I can only hope they can use what they have learned during this election cycle to focus on gains in the future.

Runoff Election Turnout.xlsx - Briley V. Cooper
Runoff Election Turnout.xlsx - At-Large


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Lonnie Spivak is a former Davidson County Republican Party Vice-Chair and a local Activist. Follow Lonnie on Twitter @LonnieSpivak
Photo “David Briley” by David Briley. Photo “John Cooper” by John Cooper. Background Photo “Nashville City Hall” by Nicolas Henderson. CC BY 2.0.





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