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    Nov 2005
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    Default Cochituate, a Village of Wayland

    There's something pleasant about the image of living in a village. I'm a resident of Cochituate Village, and as such, can walk to the Town Beach, to the Cochituate Ball Fields, to my bank, and to numerous shops. Moreover, I'm just a short drive from almost any store imaginable, one of my company's offices, and a major highway that can (sometimes) zip me in to Boston or start me on a journey to almost anywhere (my longest foray to date has been a drive to Cheyenne WY).

    Cochituate is an excellent village, but none of the above would disappear if the village boundaries disappeared (www.city-data.com). No, I'm defined much more by the borders of Wayland, in large part because it's the political entity that matters.

    A frequent contributor to the Town Crier letters to the editor section and the accompanying discussion board (including here) likes to point out that Cochituate makes up a majority of the town's voters, typically in combination with statements about Cochituate's relative lack of affluence compared with North Wayland (the latter ranking 3rd in the Commonwealth if it were its own town, the former ranking a still impressive 27th). The contributor also makes the curious point that Cochituate, despite its majority presence, somehow lacks a corresponding political impact. And most recently, the contributor makes the statement that Cochituate has not voted in favor of an override since 2003.

    The problem with this last statement is that it's not at all easy to know how Cochituate votes on any question at the polls, as the Town Clerk's office doesn't report vote counts for the Village. Rather, the office reports votes by each of the four Precincts: P1 in NW Wayland, P2 in SW Wayland, P3 in SE Wayland, and P4 in NE Wayland. As the attached precinct map with my approximation of Cochituate overlaid in red shows, there's a small but significant difference between Cochituate and Precincts 2 and 3.

    Geographically, part of Cochituate is in Precinct 4 (the part just south of Shaw Drive). And, part of Precinct 2 (the Stonebridge area) isn't in Cochituate. Precincts are artificial, just as the Cochituate designation is. There's no electoral college--every vote counts the same. If my understanding is correct, however, the four precincts are intended to have the same approximate population.

    Here's a summary of total votes cast and percent yes on the override questions going back to 2002.

    2002
    P1: 624 (60%)
    P2: 569 (58%)
    P3: 496 (58%)
    P4: 684 (56%)

    2003
    P1: 754 (65%)
    P2: 579 (51%)
    P3: 586 (58%)
    P4: 762 (66%)

    2005
    P1: 1154 (66%)
    P2: 1197 (47%)
    P3: 1081 (53%)
    P4: 1290 (58%)

    2006
    P1: 1385 (60%)
    P2: 1409 (48%)
    P3: 1196 (52%)
    P4: 1465 (60%)

    2008
    P1: 1117 (58%)
    P2: 1123 (47%)
    P3: 978 (58%)
    P4: 1228 (58%)

    A few observations:

    = Only P2 hasn't voted majority in favor of every override--they've rejected the last 3 after favoring the prior 2.

    = P2's "rejection" has only been by a few percentage points. It's not as if they are overwhelmingly voting against, only to have their voices swamped by other parts of town.

    = Even "rich" P1 and P4 never top 2/3 yes.

    = If the precincts have even voter counts, P4 always has the highest turnout. Remember, P4 includes part of Cochituate.

    = P3, a solid yes on overrides, almost always has the lowest turnout, even in 2008 when the ES reconfiguration was "front of mind."

    = P2, the "no" precinct, has had the second highest turnout the last 3 overrides.

    = The P1+P4 pairing routinely turns out about 200 more voters than the P2+P3 pairing (which is approximately Cochituate). If you look at the P4 voters in Cochituate, you'd have to guess that they are on the wealthier end of the Cochituate spectrum, and therefore perhaps more likely to vote yes on overrides (as the frequent contributor alleges). As a result, P3's yes vote is actually probably lower than if it included all of Cochituate. If you look at the P2 voters who are not in Cochituate, you'd probably say the same thing. As a result, P2's yes vote is probably higher than if it included only Cochituate. I have no reason to think that the "over/under" doesn't effectively cancel out, plus or minus.

    = So, I contend that Cochituate = P2+P3 for all intents and purposes. Given that both the Cochituate and precinct boundaries are arbitrary, and given that voting data is only available easily for P2+P3, I see no reason not to redefine Cochituate as P2+P3 for the purpose of gauging voting patterns.

    = If you look at P2+P3 (again, approximately Cochituate), their yes percentage has been:
    - 2002: 58%
    - 2003: 55%
    - 2005: 49.8%
    - 2006: 49.8%
    - 2008: 52%
    In other words, even if every Cochituate voter had turned out, even in 2005 and 2006, it wouldn't have changed any of the override votes.

    = Cochituate (P2+P3) votes in favor (or a hair less than in favor) of overrides. The frequent contributor's "not since 2003" contention is likely not true.
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