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Chargers Stadium Election Analysis (April 2015)

Monday, April 20, 2015

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Study: New Chargers Stadium Ballot Measure "Winnable" in 2016

SAN DIEGO - A proposal for a new Chargers stadium in San Diego faces a challenging but winnable path to victory on the 2016 ballot, according to a new analysis published today by the National University System Institute for Policy Research (NUSIPR).

San Diego city officials have pledged to put a new Chargers stadium proposal to a public vote in the future. With limited polling data and few details available on an emerging stadium proposal, it is unclear how a stadium ballot measure would fare before the electorate. To bring greater insight into this topic, NUSIPR identified key dynamics to look for in a future referendum. Using GIS software and data from the Registrar of Voters, Statewide Database and Political Data Inc., NUSIPR developed baseline projections for the 2016 election cycle.

Overall, NUSIPR found that:

Public votes for new sports stadium are becoming less common. The majority of new NFL stadiums that have opened or been approved in the last ten years did so without a direct public vote.

Passing a new Chargers stadium ballot measure in 2016 is feasible. Both historical data from the 1998 Proposition C election as well as current registration and turnout trends suggests a 2016 vote on the stadium will be challenging but winnable.

New voter coalitions will be required for a stadium to succeed on the ballot. The unique Republican-Latino voter coalition that emerged to help propel the new Padres ballpark to victory in 1998 may emerge in 2016, but will need to be expanded in order to succeed against current voter registration trends.

Mayoral support isn't likely to have electoral consequences. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is unlikely to be rewarded or punished by voters based on the outcome of current negotiations with the Chargers, or the result of a future Chargers ballot measure in 2016.

"There are still many important details to be negotiated with the team and finalized, so our analysis only focuses on what we know about San Diego voters and election dynamics," remarked Vince Vasquez, NUSIPR Senior Policy Analyst and author of the report. "That said, we know more today about effective voter targeting and techniques than we did when the Padres ballpark measure passed in 1998."