Post-Election Analysis - What Did We Learn in Falmouth?

No Question the Voters Were Paying Attention

Lest there be any doubt that Falmouth voters take their responsibility seriously (at least the 34% of them who took the time to vote), an analysis of the May 20 town election shows that democracy and debate are alive - and doing very well thank you - on this corner of the penninsula.

What is being dismissed by some as a mere "desire for change" or impatience with incumbents, is not that simple.  The numbers, when analyzed more closely, clearly show a deliberate voice from the electorate. Here are some reasons why:

More than Bumped Off - #1 vote-getter and newcomer Brent Putnam topped the tally for a seat on the Board of Selectmen, followed closely by two-termer Ahmed Mustafa. Incumbent Catherine Bumpus was a distant third, trailing her nearest rival by more than 1,300 votes.  If this were a simple dismissal of the status0-quo, Mustafa's and Bumpus' numbers would have been far more similar. This points to a few notables: Putnam ran an effective, energetic campaign, feeding off some level of discontent with his "We can do better" slogan; Mustafa was able to maintain and mobilize his strong core constituency of seniors and veterans; and Bumpus' last-minute appeal to convince voters she was a candidate for all villages and not just Woods Hole was a dismal failure.  Moreover, Bumpus saw a significant erosion of her own base, falling to 3,851 votes from a total of 5,042 during her first bid for office in 2005 when 800 fewer people went to the polls.  Clearly, some soul-searching and geographic fence mending is needed if her fledgling campaign for the State House is to have any hope.

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