August 12, 2006

Mapmaker, Mapmaker, Make Me a Map

by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math

Ken Strasma of Strategic Telemetry posted a town-by-town map of the Lieberman-Lamont race, but it's not fine-grained enough for my tastes. Plus, it sets the midpoint of the color coding at 50% to show Lamont's overall support, rather than 51.7% to show support relative to his final total, the way I like to look at races. Update: go here for a full-sized picture.


In both cases, we can spot some regional trends. Lamont fared best in the small towns of Torrand and Middlesex counties in the Eastern half of the state, and the far Northwest corner of the state in Litchfield county. Both areas represent small towns that are outside the orbit of the major urban areas like Hartford, New Haven, the Greater New York City region, and Groton-New London. He managed a draw (or slight win) in the populous area of Fairfield county, as well as around Hartford. But his biggest loss was in the New Haven area, particularly in its working class suburbs.

That's not to say that Lamont's support depended wholly on pissed-off yuppies; the townships in the Northwest that rejected Lieberman most forcefully are solidly middle class. But urban and suburban voters are more likely to be "low-information" voters who pay only a tangential attention to politics, while small town voters tend to watch the news more often. Plus, Sikorsky Aircraft and the US Navy don't provide many jobs in Lamont's towns.

August 12, 2006 in Elections | Permalink | Comments (5)

June 10, 2006

Busby-Bilbray AAR [Abridged Edition]

by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math

We don't yet have a complete precinct canvass for the June 6th special election in California, but here are the top line numbers.

  • In 2004, George W. Bush earned 55.7% of the two-party vote in CA-50. John Kerry earned 44.3%.
  • In 2006, Brian Bilbray earned 52.4% of the two-party vote against Francine Busby (who earned 47.6%).

This represents progress on two fronts. Busby was able to convert the 6-7% of the public that voted for a President Kerry but a Republican Congressman (Duke Cunningham won his district with almost 60% of the vote) into Democratic votes further down the ticket. In addition, she was able to swing another 1-3% of swing voters. If that happens across the country, the 18 Republicans who hold districts that John Kerry won at the Presidential level are in all in serious trouble. Still, that's small a consolation award for the evening.Herman Edwards is right; the prize for coming in second isn't a set of steak knives, let alone a company car. The odds were tough, but it's a shame Democrats couldn't come through for once.

Wishcasting that turnout should have been higher is really asking for too much. You might as well ask for that pony while you're at it. In a contested Democratic primary, no Democratic candidate for Governor is going to expend resources trying to turn out voters in suburban San Diego, for crying out loud. Especially in California, where it costs obscene amounts of money to compete, and you're better off putting your GOTV resources into Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Alameda counties. Perhaps the negative tone turned off some casual voters, but in CA-50 turnout was high by historical norms. At the top of the ticket, Angelides and Westley combined to defeat Ahhnold by a 4:3 margin.

It was good to see Tester win in Big Sky country. Democratic ballots outnumbered Republican ones by over 10,000, so if JT can hold onto most of the Morrison voters and pick up some of the Keenan supporters, he'll be in good shape in November.

June 10, 2006 in Elections | Permalink | Comments (7)

May 29, 2006

There are Other Crazy Folks Out There

by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math

Via Political Wire, we see that I'm not the only one who is girding for the possibility of a Jeb Bush '12 or '16 campaign. As with Matt Yglesias and his trenchant case for Cheney '08, Jeb Bush practically wins the 2012 Presidential nomination by default. He's perceived as more moderate that his brother, he's a popular governor of a large swing state, he's got access to fundraising dollars. In 2012, the Republican governor's bench will likely be quite thin, leaving former Bush officials (who, unlike Jeb, will be tagged with the specific failures of the Bush years in the White House), leaving only a small number of senators who have pretty clear Presidential ambitions and the appropriate age.

It may seem funny today, but I imagine in six or eight years the possibility will look much more serious.

May 29, 2006 in Elections | Permalink | Comments (12)

May 28, 2006

The Midterms: Where are We Now?

by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math

Since the Paul Hackett's run at the OH-2 seat last August, we haven't had any elections that can usefully gauge whether or not dissatisfaction with Bush runs deep enough to cause dissatisfaction with Washington Republicans as a whole. We also don't have much information on the shape of public dissatisfaction with Republicans. Is Bush losing support in Orange County & Waco Texas, bringing the Republican margin from 80% down to 60%, while keeping enough support in Connecticut and upstate New York to let Reps like Chris Shays (R-CT) and Peter King (R-NY) skate by? Or are there enough districts that have swing from Red to Blue to take back the House?

The best we can do is look at who's bothering to turn out in primary elections, and the few pieces of district-level polling that are publicly available. In the primaries, the news has been encouraging. For instance, in IN-2, IN-8, and IN-9, Democratic challengers all scored victories over Republican incumbents, based on the number of ballots drawn. Likewise, Bob Casey , Jr. seems to be dragging his party to victory in Pennsylvania, scoring "wins" over two incumbents and making over a half-dozen races more competitive. In most elections, Republican turnout does seem to be down from historical norms, and Democratic turnout is up. But not all the news is good news. Democracy Corps' polling, which focuses on the far end of what one might consider a "competitive" race, shows only the tiniest bit of movement towards Democrats.

So at the moment, we can't forecast a tremendous takeover in November. The odds look good for significant Democratic gains, but perhaps only enough to take back the House by the slimmest of margins, if at all. Francine Busby's (D) June 6th special election in CA-50 will give everyone a bit more hard data.

May 28, 2006 in Elections | Permalink | Comments (5)

May 21, 2006

Score One for the Good Guys (and Gals)

by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math

Last week I mentioned some election shenanigans taking place in the NOLA City Council races. They didn't work. Despite being outspent by a 5-to-1 margin, Shelley Stephenson Midura (D) ousted Jay Batt (R), the sole Republican on the council. Local pundits are calling it one of the biggest political upsets in the city's history, and certainly one of the nastiest races as well.

Congratulations to the Midura campaign. I hope they all enjoy getting some sleep.

May 21, 2006 in Elections | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 13, 2006

Here Kitty Kitty

By Neil the Ethical Werewolf

With the Republicans unable to muster another serious candidate, Katherine Harris is going to be their Senate nominee in Florida, and I'm feeling so giddy about it.  It's not just that she's down by 30 points against an otherwise-vulnerable incumbent, or that she's doing her part to keep the culture-of-corruption meme alive with her apparent bribes from Mitchell Wade, or that she's opened up a winnable House race for Democrats, or that her presence on the ticket will energize the Democratic base across the state. 

I also have months of delicious naughty Katherine Harris follies to look forward to.  Remember her tipsy, boobalicious appearance on Girls Gone Wild: Florida Hannity and Colmes?  And the time that she was getting snuggly with Rick Renzi on C-SPAN in the background of Rob Simmons' speech?  And best of all, the time she started coming on to that college reporter?  (Take a look at the pictures!)  However I felt in 2000, I can't hate a silly drunk girl who hits on random guys.  My anger has melted away into a sort of amused, patronizing contempt, which is much more fun. 

May 13, 2006 in Elections | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

May 07, 2006

Odds for a Horse Racing Weekend

By Neil the Ethical Werewolf

On this Kentucky Derby weekend, I thought I'd post the odds that the TradeSports online futures market has set on the 2008 presidential candidates and other interesting political events.  The numbers below are the percentage chances that the market has assigned to each candidate winning.  If Feingold is at 3.7, that means that if you buy $3.70 worth of contracts on Feingold, your money will turn into $100 if he wins, and $0 if he loses.  If you want to end up with $100 after a Hillary victory, by contrast, you have to cough up $45.20, which vanishes if she loses. 

Democratic nomination:
Clinton - 45.2
Warner - 23.8
Gore - 9.6  (you don't have to be running for people to bet on you)
Edwards - 6.5 (I own me some Johnny; I think he's worth 15 or so)
Feingold - 3.7 (I also own some Feingold, since I think he'll go up before he goes down)
Kerry - 3.6

Republican nomination: 
McCain - 40
Allen - 18.1
Romney - 13.6
Guiliani - 11.7
Rice - 5.4

On the GOP side, I've bought AR Governor Huckabee at 2.1, where he stands now, and SC Governor Mark Sanford at 0.1.  (Hey, thousand-to-one odds are fun.) 

Markets are giving us a 20% chance of winning the six seats we need to take back the Senate, and a 47% chance of winning the House.  On specific Senate races, we've got a 70% chance of beating Santorum in PA and a 52% chance of beating DeWine in Ohio.  Montana is even money.  We're at a 45% chance of winning Rhode Island (which I've got a little money on, since Laffey threatens to win the primary and lose the general), a 44% chance in Missouri, and a 32% chance in Tennessee.  For those of you who are market junkies as well as political junkies, there may be some kind of arbitrage play available here that involves selling futures on Dem Senate control, and buying the Dems in all the targeted Senate races.  But these markets are somewhat illiquid, so it'd be a bit of a hassle to pull off.

On more freaky topics, the market says there's a 13.2% chance of our killing or capturing Osama by the end of the year, and a 22.2% chance of our getting Zarqawi.  (Yes, you can actually gamble on those things.)  There's a 17% chance that Hamas recognizes Israel by year-end (?!?) and a 5% chance of a Palestinian state by the end of the year. 27% chance of the US or Israel running an air strike on Iran.  19% on Rumsfeld resigning and 9% on Cheney resigning. 23% on DeLay being convicted of laundering money and 30% of Libby being convicted of lying. 

<spam>If you see a bargain above and you're interested in betting on this stuff, I can hook you up with a referral code that'll give you a bonus $25 to gamble with.  It'll also let you bet on sports and American Idol and other stuff.  My email address is at the top of my home blog.</spam>

May 7, 2006 in Elections | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 03, 2006


by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math

Charlie Wilson (D-OH) won his write-in campaign to replace Ted Strickland in the OH-6 race. Wilson's inability to qualify for the primary ballot cost his campaign and the DCCC hundreds of thousands of dollars. Thankfully, it's at least over.

Meanwhile, who the heck is Zack Space, and does he have any chance to beat Bob Ney?

May 3, 2006 in Elections | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 15, 2006

Strategic Voting 2006

By Neil the Ethical Werewolf

Mischievous consequentialist that I am, nothing gets me excited like a chance to advance the liberal agenda through devious acts of strategic voting. (Okay, other things do get me more excited, but you can't do them in a voting booth.) The coolest strategic voting opportunities in this country arise in states with open primaries, where independents and sometimes Democrats can vote in the Republican primary and cast their votes for unelectable Republicans.  When the Republicans lose in the general election, you get to cackle with glee at being the superintelligent architect of liberal victory.   This strategy is sensible if the Republican primary is more competitive or more ideologically significant than the Democratic primary.

The biggest strategic voting opportunity of the 2006 primary season might be in Rhode Island. It’ll be a tough race if Lincoln Chafee wins his primary – while he’s one of the top five endangered Republican Senators this year, he tends to lead Democrats by a little in polls. But if right-wing goofball Steven Laffey wins, it’ll be an easy victory for Democrats. This is why Bush is supporting Chafee. The only problem with strategic voting here is that you can only vote in one party’s primary, so you won’t get to vote in the Brown-Whitehouse race for the Democratic nomination. But it looks to me like the Republican side is more important – a Laffey victory would basically guarantee us a Senate seat. If I were a liberal with Independent registration in Rhode Island, I’d cast my vote for Laffey. If I were a registered Democrat there, I’d consider changing my party affiliation to put Laffey over the top, especially if Brown-Whitehouse was decided already.  Looking at this questionnaire, both Democrats support abortion rights, the freedom to marry, and universal health care.  So we'll be happy whoever wins. 

While it'd be awful if Laffey actually won the general election, I wouldn't worry too much about that.  He's down by over 20 points in liberal Rhode Island.  I'll take a 5% chance of losing a lot over a 50% chance of losing half as much, and given how important party affiliation is in determining committee control and other strategically important issues, that looks like the stakes.

Tennessee has Harold Ford running against one of three Republicans. Maybe some strategic voting situation will develop, since only the Republican primary is seriously contested, though I’m not really seeing it now. I don’t see big differences between the Republican candidates as far as electability goes, but perhaps some Tennessee readers will have something to say about this. Tennessee, as far as I can tell, has a completely open primary, so Democrats can pick the Republican candidate of their dreams.

The Texas general election will be an interesting one for strategic voters. I may end up telling my friends to vote for Strayhorn, the Independent, who lags Republican Rick Perry by a 40-31 margin, but I'll have to figure out how separate Strayhorn and Perry are on the issues first.  The field also includes Democrat Chris Bell at 13 and musician Kinky Friedman at 9.  (Update: Other polls have Bell a little ahead of Strayhorn, so it's likely that voting for Bell will in fact be the thing to do.)

If your state allows independents but not Democrats to vote in either primary, it might be worthwhile to become an independent for that purpose. It’s not like party registration means that much, anyway. And if you’re moving to a new state with an open primary, initially registering as an independent makes a lot of sense.

April 15, 2006 in Elections | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

March 11, 2006

Beware Krempasky, Servant of Corruption

By Neil the Ethical Werewolf

A couple days ago, Mike Krempasky at RedState mocked a group promoting public financing of elections, which had (for whatever reason) bought an ad on his site.

For the record - this policy idea is one of the dumbest ever. It will never pass. It should never pass. It's potentially the worst thing I can imagine happening to our election system - the complete removal of any market or jury forces from the selection of appropriate and viable political ideas.

According to Krempasky, the worst thing that could happen to our election system is that wealthy interests would lose their ability to control political debates. I didn't think that anybody actually held this view, but there it is. Only ideas that satisfy well-funded special interests should be considered. On this view, corruption isn't a danger -- it's an ideal.

That's why Krempasky's alliance with Kos to pass the Online Freedom of Speech Act gives me the shivers.

In their letter to Congress, Kos and Krempasky argue that the legislation won't create any new loopholes by which wealthy interests can, say, buy a bunch of banner ads for a candidate:

H.R. 1606 does not create any "loopholes". As FEC Chairman Michael Toner (R) has stated, the charge that H.R. 1606 would somehow allow federal candidates to coordinate with corporations and unions to spend soft money funds to purchase Internet banner and video ads on behalf of candidates "has no legal foundation."

I'm a werewolf, not a lawyer, so I really can't speak to the merits of the legislation. Maybe they're right, and the Act doesn't create new loopholes by which big money can influence politics. But I'd like to know more about how this legislation works. Whenever you see your opponent argue for a complicated piece of legislation by saying that it won't do the thing that they actually want, it's time to be nervous.

I have no problem with empowering online activists on both sides. But I really don't want to strengthen the dark powers that Krempasky serves. So somebody else has got to tell me what to think of this Online Freedom of Speech Act. Any takers?

March 11, 2006 in Elections | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack