Saturday, September 27, 2008

All of the fighting in Democratic Primaries might be over 11% of 10-20something% of 45.6% of Delaware voters

Huey P. Long (“the Kingfish”) , U. S. Senator & Governor from Louisiana in late 1920s-early 1930s was a relentless campaigner and a no holds barred competitor. I will summarize a quote from him which I have not been able to locate ,but which has stuck with me over the years. Long assumed the local political leader in an area had the backing of about 40% of the electorate and the opposition of about 40% of the electorate, so if he was unable to secure the endorsement of the local leader (in Louisiana at the time it was usually the local sheriff in the parish- what we call counties,in Delaware) he would verbally attack the local sheriff. He figured that would get him the 40% in opposition and then he just needed to get 11% of the remaining 20% to win.

Delaware in the 2000’s is a kinder & gentler political scene than Louisiana during Long’s years, so the personal attacks are much fewer. However, Long’s numbers still seem to make some sense.

There was a fair amount of media coverage over the Democratic Party endorsements in the recent Democratic Primary and the question is how much do they impact the outcome. For a challenger should the possibility of an endorsement affect their decision to file as a candidate?

In the past five 2 year election cycles there have been six statewide Democratic primaries: 3 for U. S Representative (2002, 2006 & 2008), 2 for Insurance Commissioner (2004 & 2008) and one for Governor(2008).There were no statewide primaries in 2000.
This is a small sample size to make any kind of estimates about future races,but it is the only sample size we have right now.

In 2008 in the U.S. Representative’s contest there was no endorsement. In the other five statewide races between 2002 and 2008 there was an endorsement and the endorsed candidate won three of those contests, with the challenger winning in both endorsed races in 2008.

In each of these contests the nonendorsed candidate got at least within 1% of the 40% Huey Long would have said opposed the organization before the campaign starts, so maybe Huey was right and the fight is over whether the challenger can get a fair share of the 20 % that is up for grabs.

So the fight just might be over the 11% undecided of the 10-20 something % (Democrats who vote in primaries) of 46.5% of the voters(the percentage of voters registered Democrat).


Jack Markell defeats John Carney, who had the Party endorsement, in the Governor’s race

GOVERNOR 338 of 338 Districts Reported
JOHN CARNEY 36112---48 . 8 %
JACK MARKELL 37849---51 . 2 %


Karen Weldin Stewart defeats Gene Reed , who had the Party endorsement and outspent her , in Insurance Commissioner’s race.

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER 338 of 338 Districts Reported
GENE REED 25980-- 39 . 3 %
TOM SAVAGE 12002-- 18 . 2 %
KAREN WELDIN STEWART 28080-- 42 . 5 %

There was no endorsement in the primary for US Representative, but the winner, Karen Hartley-Nagle, ran in 2006 without the party endorsement and angered some Democratic Party officials by running as a Fusion Candidate by appearing on the November ballot as the Independent Party candidate while attempting to get on the November ballot as a Democrat as well in the 2006 primary. In 2008 she received a majority of the vote in which she spent less than her two primary opponents, Mike Miller and Jerry Northington.

REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS 339 of 339 Districts Reported
KAREN HARTLEY-NAGLE 35995-- 55 . 4 %
MICHEAL MILLER 22393-- 34 . 5 %
JERRY W. NORTHINGTON 6609-- 10 . 1 %

Karen Hartley Nagle gets almost 40 % of the vote against Dennis Spivack ,who had the Party endorsement and out spent her over 25 to 1, in the US Representative race.

REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS 330 of 330 Districts Reported
KAREN M. HARTLEY-NAGLE 6253--- 39 . 7 %
DENNIS SPIVACK 9515--- 60 . 3 %


Matt Denn gets the Party endorsement and beats Karen Stewart ,but she gets 42% despite not getting the endorsement and being out spent.

MATTHEW P. DENN 18436 58 . 0 %


Mike Miller had the Party endorsement.
Steve Biener, who advocated public financing initially balked at paying the filing fee and took his lawsuit against the State Democratic Party and the Delaware Elections Commissioner to the 3rd US District Court where he claimed filing fees were unconstitutional. Beiner lost that case and filed as a candidate, coming within 4.2% of the endorsed candidate despite attempting to do much of his campaigning through e-mail networks rather than traditional media.

STEVEN L BIENER 8244 47 . 9 %
MICHEAL C MILLER 8979 52 . 1 %

Below is a link to Biener’s website

Below is a link to Biener’s filing fee lawsuit case:
For a great biography of Huey P Long check out:
"Huey P Long" by T. Harry Williams

Saturday, September 20, 2008

BlogPrediction Results-2008 Delaware Democratic Primary

Turnout was predicted at 20% statewide-actual turnout was 28 %, but turnout was not consistent throughout the ballot as people chose not to vote in all races.
Governor’s race 73,961 (27.8% turnout)
Insurance Commissioner’s race 66,062 ( 24.8% turnout)
US Representative 64,996 ( 24.4% turnout)
Total Democratic registration-266,381

County Offices
County Executive-predicted Coons would win at least 60%, he won with 64.8% of the vote.
County Council President -predicted Clark would win with at least 55% , he won with 57.3% of the vote.
8th County Council District-predicted Cartier would win with at least 55%, he won 64.6% of the vote.
12th County Council District-predicted Bell would win, he won 65.3% of the vote.

Wilmington City Council At-Large- predicted voters would cast between 1.9 and 2.2 votes per person of their 3 possible votes.
On 9-9-2008 10,199 Wilmington residents voted in the mayor’s race . 23,927 voted in the at-large city council, meaning the average voter cast 2.3 of a possible 3 votes in the at-large race.

Friday, September 12, 2008

6th Senate Recap, response to comment question

I would assume the home election district for each of the candidates in the 6th state senate primary would see some spike in turnout,since both have been active in their local communities for years. I also felt what happened in the 23rd Rep Dist in Newark west of Rte 896 (College Ave) was central to victory since 5,425 of the 8,164 registered Democrats in the 6th Senate District live in the 23rd.
Within the 23rd there were four polling places which I felt would be pivotal due to higher turnout relative to other election districts.All of the districts mentioned in the 23rd Rep District are in the 6th senate district and they account for 3488 of the 8,164 registered Democrats in that senate district . (as of 7-1-2008).
Downes Elementary and First Presbyterian alone account for 2345 Democrats or 29% of the potential primary voters in that state senate district.

Home Election District 6th State Senate race
Terranova 3rd ED of the 22nd RD (North Star Elementary School)

McKenzie 4th of the 23rd(Downes Elementary School)

In the 23rd I would post people in the following order:
Downes (3rd-23rd & 4th-23rd-1141 registered Dems)(253 Dems voted in 2004 Primary)
First Presbyterian (2nd-23rd & 5th-23rd-1204 Dems)(186 Dems voted in 2004 primary)
WestPark Elementary(7th-23rd-645 registered Dems)(102 Dems voted in 2004 primary)
George Wilson Community Center (9th-23rd-498 registered Dems)(101 voted in 2004)

Here is how these election districts voted on 9-9-08:
North Star School3rd of the 22nd Terranova 161 McKenzie 66
First Presbyterian 2nd & 5th Eds of the 23rd Terranova 199 McKenzie 204
Downes 3rd & 4th Eds of the 23rd Terranova 195 McKenzie 329
West Park School 7th ED of the 23rd Terranova 65 McKenzie 134
George Wilson 9th ED of the 23rd Terranova 111 McKenzie 117

McKenzie won the district overall by 65,but won the EDs in the 23rd by 204 (969-765), meaning he lost the area outside the 23rd by 139 votes.

1734 of the 2629 votes cast on Sept 9, 2008 came out of the 23rd , but McKenzie will need more even distribution of votes to win in the general election against Republican incumbent, Liane Sorenson. In 2002, Representative Rick DiLiberto attempted to unseat Sorenson . He lost the Election Districts in the 23rd Rep District by only 72 votes, but lost 5611-4600, meaning he lost the rest of the district by over 900 votes.
Unless McKenzie runs extremely well in the 23rd District and loses by a closer margin than DiLiberto in the remainder of the senate district, I don’t think he has cause for optimism for victory.
Since he got a later start and was outspent significantly (Terranova raised over $50,000. McKenzie raised about $4000 and loaned his campaign another $7000), I think he must have made up some lost ground through local name recognition from his involvement on the Christina School Board and other local activities.
In Newark Terranova may had more signs,but I have heard McKenzie did more direct voter contact walking door-to-door in neighborhoods. To have a decent shot in November I think McKenzie will need to expand that voter contact into the Hockessin-North Star portion of the district and persuade a lot of Independent voters to back him in this district where Democrats hold a small registration edge over Republicans (8,267 to 7,580) ,but where Independents could easily be the deciding factor since there are over 5000 of them.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Turnout Estimate for Democrats Statewide on Tuesday

Four years ago the turnout was 14% statewide for the Democratic primary when the only statewide race was Insurance Commissioner.In 2002 and 2006 the U.S Representative seat was the only statewide primary and the turnout was 8% and 7%, respectively. 2000 offered no statewide races, but included a contested mayor’s race in Wilmington and a county council president’s race in New Castle County. The turnout in 2000 was 11% statewide.
With US Representative, Governor, Insurance Commissioner, New Castle County Executive, New Castle County Council President all having primary contests along with multiple local contests, I think the turnout will be higher than any of the last four primaries.
The presidential primary contested by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton featured the first person of color and the first woman to have a serious chance to obtain the nomination of a major party. In Delaware it also featured the state’s six term senator, Joe Biden. These factors contributed to boost the voting in the presidential primary to 38%.

While John Carney and Jack Markell both bring experience and personal qualities to the ballot in the Governor’s race, electing either of them will not be the kind of milestone that was created in the Obama-Clinton struggle. None of the other races on the ballot Tuesday resembles a historic achievement and most of them have not drawn a significant amount of media attention in the way of drama that might push turnout in a dramatic way.

I think the statewide turnout will be in the 18-22% range, so I will split the difference and say turnout will be 20% .

Bold Prediction-Better Funded Incumbents will defeat less well funded challengers in County races 9-9-08

The following post is a series of predictions, not endorsements. I am not saying who I think SHOULD OR SHOULD NOT win or how I personally will vote, only who I think will win . I base the predictions on several factors which include an advantage due to incumbency, a disproportionate amount of political resources and possible perceived negatives of the opponents.

County Executive-coons beats Gordon

Chris Coons has run in two previous countywide primaries over the last 8 years. Coons received 17,584 in 2004 in a 3 way primary in which 26,614 votes were cast. In 2000 received 7,520 votes of 15, 534 cast . Several thousand Democrats have twice voted for Chris Coons in an interparty contest .

No one has ever voted for Tom Gordon in such a contest. Tom Gordon has never run in a countywide primary. In 2000, in one of the two elections when he was on the general election ballot, Tom Gordon’s only opposition was a Green Party candidate. Voters have less of a history casting ballots for him than for Coons even though they have held elective office for 8 years each.

For Gordon to win he needs to not only convince several thousand Democrats to vote for him,but also to convince many who had voted for Coons in his two prior primaries to vote against Coons since Coons won 66% of the vote in 2004 and 48% in 2000. To get those people to vote against Coons at this point, they would have to perceive one of three things: (1) Coons turned out to be less than they expected which calls into question their own judging skills, (2) they made a mistake picking Coons twice which also calls into question their own judging skills or (3) Coons changed since becoming County Executive. I am thinking (1) and (2) are tough sells because people have to make a negative evaluation of their own decision making skills. On number (3) other than taxes being raised and some changes in service delivery to meet new financial circumstances, I think it might be a hard sell to convince voters that Coons has changed.

I assume Gordon may get the 18% Sherry Freebery got against Coons in 2004, since Gordon & Freeberry were the County management team for 8 years and are linked in the public mind for many New Castle County residents. Gordon would need to get the bulk of the votes Richard Korn received (16%) while running as a total county outsider, who had sued the county over accumulated surpluses which he viewed as a slush fund . Gordon also needs to cut into the 66% vote that Coons received.
Unless it is a different pool of voters this election than 2004 Gordon would have to get all of the votes Korn & Freeberry received (34%) and an additional 17% from former Coons voters which would be the equivalent of getting 1 out of 4 Coons voters to switch.
The other problem Gordon has is that he last ran in 1996 and 2000. As mobile as society is, many of the people casting votes that long ago have moved. And percentage-wise more of the people who voted in 1996 are dead today than people who voted in 2004 (Coons first campaign) which additionally diminishes Gordon’s prospective pool.

The political resources alluded to above are things like campaign finances and people committed to a particular candidate. While Gordon may have the endorsement of some public employee labor union locals, Coons has the endorsement from the New Castle County Democratic Party as well as some other unions.

The 8-17-2008 News-Journal article by Angie Basiouny described the distance between the two campaign treasuries as “Coons’ triple digit war chest dwarf’s Gordon’s”. Coons outraised Gordon over than 10-1 during the current 4 year election cycle and outspent him more than 5-1 during the first 8 months of 2008. On 8-10-2008 Coons had $127,907 on hand and Gordon had $3,617. Money can’t buy individual votes,but it can buy leaflets, postage, radio spots and billboards. Coons has the resources to make many more of those purchases than Gordon. In local politics more so than national elections that get wide media coverage, name recognition (especially presented in a way the candidate can control) can be crucial.
I think Coons has the edge in this contest and I don’t think it will be close despite Ron Williams’ News-Journal column today calling it a tossup. I predict Coons will win with at least 60% of the vote.

County Council President-Clark beats Dunn
Paul Clark has his share of detractors,but Bill Dunn’s campaign is “too little, too late”. Clark has billboards and has run countywide before. Clark has endorsements from the Democratic Party and some labor unions. Dunn has some endorsements,but it does not appear they are endorsements with much financial backing . Dunn had $1,749 on hand 8-10-2008 and Clark had over $36,000.
During the filing period prior to the 30 days before the primary, Dunn’s largest expenditure was not on self-promotion like fliers,but $1,675 to the County Democratic Party (which I assume was his filing fee). He also spent $120 on t-shirts,but had not other expenditures above $100 reported. By September 1st Dunn had pulled in another $1,380, but does not report any expenditures on things like postage or printing or media buys which I would assume a challenger would need to unseat an incumbent.
From 8-11-2008 to 9-1-2008 Paul Clark raised $16,925 and spent $14,268.35. In that 3 week period he spent $4,875 for Clear Channel Outdoor ( I assume billboards) and over $4,000 to two graphics companies which I assume is for fliers.
In a contest where name recognition is pretty central, Clark’s ability to get his name out more can offset negative publicity.
One of County Council’s major functions is land use zoning and Clark presides over County Council. His wife, Pam Clark, is an attorney who is active in rezoning issues.Some have said this creates a conflict.While Clark’s wife’s real estate zoning related legal practice has gotten a fair amount of press and the e-mail he sent with her firm’s e-mail address in it created some controversy, I think the average voter would need several months of relentless attention drawn to this issue for it to impact the outcome of this race. There may be an appearance of impropriety, but if it can not be presented in a way that casual voters will see it, Clark’s detractors will have a tough time unseating him.
I predict Clark will win with at least 55% of the vote.

County Council 8th District
It’s hard to unseat an incumbent. It’s even harder when you are outspent more than 16-1.
In his 30 day report and 8 day report John Cartier, the incumbent in the 8th, reports spending several thousand dollars on printing and graphics work to get his message out. His opponent reporting spending about $700 in the 30 day report which was field 8-1-2008 and zero expenditures made from 8-11-2008 to 9-1-2008. To spend nothing in the the first 3 weeks of the last month prior to the primary does not seem like a way to get a challenger’s message out.
I predict Cartier wins with at least 55% of the vote.

County Council 12th District
Current incumbent Bill Bell won his Democratic primary for the 12th Disrtict in 2004 over two opponents in which he received 1,660 votes and the other two received a combined total of 708.
He and Tom Scherer have each spent several thousand dollars on things like signs and printing.
Bell has more money on hand , four years incumbency and won his last primary better than 2-1.
I am less certain about this race than the others ,but I predict Bill Bell will win this primary.

Campaign finance balances
Chris Coons* $127,907
Thomas Gordon $3,617
Paul Clark* $36,108
William Dunn $1,749
John Cartier* $5,828
Carl Colantuono $350
Bill Bell* $4,178
Tom Scherer $206
Balances on hand 8-11-2008

News-Journal article about county campaign finance filings

Also used was the State of Delaware Election Commissioner's website which can be accessed through the state's website at:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Some Relevant Numbers for the 9-9-2008 Democratic Primary

Here are the most recent Democratic registration numbers from the Election Commissioner’s website:

County Democrats

Kent 40,704
New Castle 178,148
Sussex 47,529
Statewide 266,381

Here is the recent turnout history for Delaware Democratic Primaries

2008 presidential primary 2-5-2008-Democratic Voter Turnout = 38 %
2004 presidential primary ELECTION DATE: 02/03/04-STATEWIDE VOTER TURNOUT = 15 %
2004 statewide Democratic Primary-(Insurance Commissioner was the only statewide
2000 presidential primary (nonbinding, delegate allocation determined by convention)- DATE: 02/05/00-STATEWIDE VOTER TURNOUT= 5 %
2000 statewide Democratic primary (no statewide races,only countywide & local races)- ELECTION DATE: 09/09/00-DEMOCRATIC PARTY TURNOUT = 11 %
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
2006 statewide primary Election Date: 09/12/06 For Statewide Offices:
US Representative race, several state legislative races and one countywide race in New Castle County. No local or countywide races outside New Castle County
Democratic Voter Turnout = 7 %
2002 statewide primary ELECTION DATE: 09/07/02
US Representative race ,several state legislative races throughout the state and one county council race in New Castle County