LETTER: Breaking down the data from the Hoboken school referendum voters


In a letter to the editor, Hoboken resident Kevin Davis breaks down the data from last month’s $241 million school referendum voters.

Dear Editor,

Almost a month has passed since the January 25th, 2022, Hoboken School Bond election. This week, the Hudson County Board of Elections closed the election which means that I was able to obtain a list of registered voters who had voted in the election.

Who voters vote for is private, but if they vote and what elections they vote in is public information. With this list, I was able to determine the political party, turnout, age, and past voting history of the January 25th electorate.

Hoboken is a heavily Democratic city as 46.5% of registered voters are Democrats, 37.3% are Unaffiliated (independent), and only 15.4% are registered Republicans.

Of those that came out to vote on January 25th, 59.5% were Democrats, and 25.5% were Unaffiliated, and only 14.6% were Republicans.

The bond didn’t fail because of a surge of Republican voters in a heavily Democratic city, it failed with Democrats making up a larger share of the electorate than they should based on the registration numbers.

Another thing that the list of voters confirms is that turnout for the referendum would have been higher if it were on a November ballot. Having it as a separate election decreases the number of votes that are cast by regular voters.

Almost half of voters who came out last November 2021 (49.6%) didn’t vote this past January.

This is not because having the election on a separate date means that only informed voters would vote as many informed regular voters missed the election this January.

This includes City Councilman Michael DeFusco whose name does not show up on the list of voters from the school bond election.

Last November, 36% of registered voters came out. In the January election, only 20% of registered voters came out to vote. Turnout was high for a school bond election, but low for a November Hoboken Election.

Based on the large margin that the no vote won by, I doubt that having a higher turnout would have changed the election results.

Lastly, the bond didn’t fail because of a surge of senior citizens showing up to vote no. In November 2021, the median voter was 43 years old. For the January School Bond election, the median voter was 45, an increase of only two years.

There are many conclusions that can be made about the January 2022 school bond electorate by looking at the raw data.

For me the biggest conclusions are that the electorate that voted no with 65% of the vote was more Democratic leaning than usual, about the same age, and that many voters who normally vote in November missed the election because of the timing.

Kevin Davis
Hoboken resident

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  1. Another conclusion might be, and I do hope that the BOE looks in the mirror on this, is that the plan as presented was seriously flawed and poorly communicated. Any post mortem that does not consider those points risks sending us down the same path the next time around. In the immediate aftermath of the 1/25 vote, several residents indicated (hoped?) that the electorate had “moved on” from this issue — geez, I hope not.

  2. Follow the lead of other progressive cities and lets toss every one of these reckless BOE members
    The fact that they are now trying to put the same plan back up with no changes, and now trying to prey on affordable housing voters by telling them it won’t increase their rents is disgusting.

    One thing is true, it won’t raise School Facilities Director Tim Calligy’s rent at Clock towers. So Dr Johnson who is his boss won’t have to give him a raise.

  3. “This includes City Councilman Michael DeFusco whose name does not show up on the list of voters from the school bond election.”

    When is the First Ward going to rid themselves of this guy? He apparently can’t be bothered to do anything that doesn’t involve benefiting him personally. Let me guess, he was at his place on the other side of the world and unable to get his mail-in ballot in time? Or maybe he just doesn’t care about the biggest issue his city has faced in ages.

    Kick the bum out.

    • If true, he probably wants Zoom meetings to continue in perpetuity. Notice, you never see him attend council meetings with a live background. Check his Airbnb calendar! lol

  4. This ought to pop the balloon BOE trustee Ailene McGuirk and her crew were trying to float
    Their leaked text thread really showed how out of touch they are with the people of OUR city

  5. The granular analysis is interesting and it certainly refutes the obviously fantastical idea that the bond issue was defeated because of an unrepresentative voter turnout skewing Republican.

    But no analysis deeper than looking at the 2-1 margin is needed to understand the message voters made resoundingly clear.

    In my opinion the BOE made a pretty convincing case that facility upgrades are sorely needed, and I don’t think voters are necessarily unwilling to fund some or even much of the cost through bonding.

    But voters resoundingly rejected the High School project as proposed and funded, and were left in the dark as to any plan to modernize the aging existing buildings other than Demerest. The appropriate response to the message sent is to commence a true public process regarding all facilities needs, with an eye to significantly restructuring the high school portion of the proposal so as to address the issues that led to the voters’ landslide rejection.

    What’s needed is not a marketing campaign to explain it to voters who, because of supposed misinformation, just didn’t understand the proposal.

    Even worse, it sounds like a strategy is being considered to target voters who are not taxpayers (HHA and PILOTed buildings) by “explaining” to them that taxpayers, not they, will be paying the bill. Basically trying to get folks not paying the bill to outvote the people who are.

    That strategy is not only offensive and likely to justifiably anger taxpayers, it’s likely to be counterproductive, especially if the next referendum is not held on election day in November. Elections are not won by appealing to people without skin in the game. People without skin in the game are not going to vote.

    There is a path forward in the best interests of the District and the City as a whole. I hope the BOE will follow it in good faith.

    Perhaps a recitation of the serenity prayer is needed by those whose so trongly believe in the existing proposal. They need to accept to be things they cannot change, the strength to change the things they can, and must importantly, they need to show they have the wisdom to know the difference.

  6. Dr. Johnson has done the best job as Hoboken District Superintendent in memory. Punks like you have no interest or understanding of what is happening within the district, how much academic progess the district has made and how attractive the schools are becoming to the rising generation of all school age kids. Go back to your miserable hole and slide the rock back over it.

  7. Red Wings are red, Hoboken voters are blue.

    Vote out the BOE and Team Bhalla too.

    Hoboken Mommies were on the attack.

    School bond failed because it was wack.

    Hoboken voters were kept in the dark.

    Vote yes acts righteous, but they have Chris Clark.

    They also have McGuirk who says Vote No crowd is sexist.

    But they voted 2-1, she has to respect it.

  8. 35 years three activists helped win referendums by working for free, working smart and working hard. They beat millionaires, construction unions and big money

        • Cheryl, Dan and Mary were not on the ballot and neither were Ravi, Emily, Phil and Joe.

          Cheryl was on the ballot in November. She lost pretty decisively despite being supported by council people Fisher, Giattino, DeFusco and Ramos, so the idea that her advocacy was particularly meaningful in the referendum seems somewhat whimsical.

          It remains to be seen whether Ravi and his team will face more spirited and effective opposition than the lame efforts seen to date as a result of this referendum. But if they do, it seems pretty unlikely that Cheryl, Dan and Mary will be effective advocates for the opposition, given their long established records as unserious gadflies.

          • The resounding defeat of the obscenely extravagant $300 million dollar referendum was a victory for the democratic process.
            The Hoboken BOE that has long worked in the shadows was dragged out into the sunlight. The voters now know that they can not trust them and any of their future actions and plans will suspect.

  9. Mr. Davis seems defensive about a point no one ever made.

    The FACT is that the Hoboken Republican Party is the only known underwriter of the “Vote No” campaign. Thousands were spent, none reported in a “grassroots campaign” about transparency! Isn’t that ironic? Mr. Davis should address the lack of transparency of his
    associates, instead of arguing a point no one made.

    Report your expenditures, Kevin!

    • Christine Johnson spent how much taxpayer money to hire Vision Media to flack for her boondoggle ?
      Like most questions she refuses to answer.