Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Parallel Campaign Outcomes In Northern New Castle County-The Last Posting on Special Elections---------- For 2008

The 6th Representative District and the 7th Representative District are adjacent districts in Brandywine Hundred . Recent political events have made the two seem like reverse mirrors, reflecting similar outcomes in opposite directions. In 2007 a Republican incumbent in the 7th district , Wayne Smith,resigned and a Democrat, Bryon Short, won the Special Election for the seat. In 2008 a Democrat incumbent ,State Representative Diana McWilliams, resigned in the 6th Representative District and a Republican , Tom Kovach, won the Special Election for that seat.

There are several similarities in these victories. Each winner had a registration disadvantage, although Short’s opponent’s 100 plus Republican edge seems more surmountable than the 2700plus registration deficit Kovach faced. Each victor won a majority of votes cast, but won less than a majority of the election districts (voting units which are not all the same size) involved. Kovach won in 5 of 12 election districts . Short won in 5 of 14 election districts. Kovach won with 51.2% of votes cast districtwide . Short won with 52.6% of votes cast districtwide. The five districts Kovach won represented 38.7% of total registered voters in the 6th. The five districts Short won represented 38.4 % of total registered voters in the 7th.

The 8 day campaign finance reports indicate that in the weeks leading up to the Special Election each winner was outdistanced by his opponent in campaign fund-raising. Republican Jim Bowers reported raising $68,159.85 in contributions and $10,000 in loans from the candidate for a total of $78, 159.85 received. Short reported $ 43,811.00 in cash contributions,$403.05 in loans from candidate and in $749.58 in-kind donations.

Democrat Mike Migliore’s finance report states between 11-20-2008 and 12-12-2008 he received $34,140.00 and lent his campaign $718.75. Tom Kovach got started a few days later and his report is from 12-1-2008 to 12-12-2008 ,a period during which he collected $10,375.00 .

Each won the five districts they won by enough to offset losses in a majority of the other election districts, but turnout was an important difference in the impact of these election districts towards overall victory . In the 6th District on Dec 20, 2008 Kovach won the 1st,2nd ,6th, 7th and 9th Election Districts of the 6th Representative District 893-654. He won this group of 1547 voters with a 57.8% victory margin . This 1547 represented 51.47% of the 3007 votes cast districtwide. In the 7th District race which was held on April 14, 2007 Short won his five winning Election Districts (the 1st, 4th,5th, 6th & 7th Election Districts of the 7th Representative District) with 67.3%, 1006 to 494, but the 1494 votes cast in his winning Election Districts only represented 34.6% of total turnout of 4323. Due to higher overall turnout Short, despite winning in his strong support districts by better than two to one, only won overall by 1.4% more than Kovach won in his lower turnout race. Basically, Short’s winning margin here was diluted by the higher overall turnout, including areas where he was not as strong.

Bryon Short won the 2007 Special Election by a 2275 to 2048 margin. Jim Bowers had a rematch in the 2008 general election and Short won more decisively, by 6281 to 4443.
Kovach won by only 73 votes, beating Mike Migliore by 1540 to 1467. It will be interesting in 2010 to see how heated the contest is for each of these seats.

All numbers quoted are from either the New Castle County Board of Elections website

or the State of Delaware Election Commissioner’s website

Monday, December 29, 2008

Predicting Outcomes in Special Elections is complicated by several factors.

Each Special Election is a stand alone, occasional event (not random, but not regularly scheduled) and is not part of a pattern of ongoing events like the primary and general elections held every two years.

(1)They happen so infrequently and irregularly that the sample size may be too small and unpredictable to make accurate predictions on a regular basis.

Every ten years following the census & reapportionment, the entire 21 member state senate is on the ballot. The other election cycles stagger state senate elections with 11 on the ballot in one cycle and 10 on the ballot the next cycle.

This means that from 1994 to 2008 there were potentially 94 Delaware state senate elections. Here is how it worked:
1994 & 1996 21 seats up
1998 & 2000 21 seats up
2002 21 seats up
2004& 2006 21 seats up
2008 10 seats up
Total 94 seats

All 42 state representative seats are up every 2 years which means between 1994 and 2008 there was the potential of having 336 contests, if none of these had been unopposed.

Over that same period there were 3 state senate Special Elections and 6 State Representative Special Elections. There have been four Special Elections since April 2007, but there were none between Jan 2001 and April 2007.
It’s a much smaller sample and scheduling (which is usually based on the death of a legislator or a change in a legislator’s ability to serve) is not regular.

(2)By definition they occur at a time other than when people are not used to voting. The recent 6th Representative District Special Election was held 6 weeks after the longest election cycle in recent history. Some voters may have tired of politics before Dec 20th. It was held
the last shopping day before Christmas, the day before Hannukah and the last Saturday before Kwanzaa. These combined to distract some percentage of voters away from the polls is my guess, although I don’t have polling data to support that assumption.

(3) It’s the only race on the ballot, so there are no coattails. In November 2008 voters had the marquee races for President, US Senator and Governor. In December there was only the 6th State Representative seat on the ballot.
One of the statistics I found interesting on the County Election Department website was voter drop-off which represents voters taking part in the voting process,but not voting in a specific race. In 2006 when the 6th State Representative District was contested in a three-way race, voter dropoff was 2.06% .152 voters entered the voting booth and did not cast a ballot in the 6th State Rep race.

I am betting these 152 voters did not come out on 12-20 which is possibly meaningful in a race decided by 73 votes. If 2% would not make it to the bottom of the ballot when they are already in the booth why would they come out for an election when one race at the bottom of the ballot is the only race on the ballot?

We don’t know the party affiliation of these dropoff voters,but in a district with 2700 more Democrats than Republicans where the Democratic ticket ran well in November there is a good chance a majority of these dropoff voters are Democrats.

On Nov 16th the Philadelphia Eagles played to a 13-13 tie with the Bengals,a team that ended the season 4-11-1 .Yesterday the Eagles beat the Cowboys 44-6 to clinch a NFL playoff berth. The Eagles are 9-6-1 and the Cowboys ended with 9-7 season. Earlier in the season the Cowboys beat the Eagles 41-37. The Eagles lost a close game against a good team, tied an awful team and then later routed the good team that had beaten them. It’s a “any given Sunday” situation.
I think that is what is at work in some of these Special Elections. The team that looks to have the advantage on paper wins more often, but every once in awhile the underdog wins (or ties in football). It’s all about who shows up on game day (election day).

Here is the link detailing voter dropoff in 2006

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Low Turnout in Democratic Strongholds& Higher Turnout in GOP Leaning Districts Gives 6th Rep Seat to Republican

I correctly predicted the total turnout would be about 18%, but I was dead wrong about the outcome in the 6th Representative District Special Election on Saturday , Dec 20th.Relative turnout appears to be the key to Republican Tom Kovach’s victory over Democrat, Mike Migliore. Turnout in districts where Kovach won was measurably higher than districts where Migliore won.

There are twelve election districts in the 6th Representative District. Migliore won in 7 of 12 election districts . Kovach won in 5 of 12 election districts. District wide turnout was 18.1%.Turnout in the districts won by Kovach was 25.5%. Turnout in the districts Migliore won was 13.5%.

The following districts underperformed on turnout significantly :
3rd of the 6th (Edgemoor)-Migliore won 91-56,but with only 147 of 1,532 voters casting ballots turnout was 9.6%. Democrats outnumber Republicans 873-315 in this district.

5th of the 6th (Gov. Printz Blvd North of Edgemoor)-Migliore won 84-38, but with only 122 of 1,547 voters casting ballots turnout was 7.9%. Democrats outnumber Republicans 805-372 in this district.

10th of the 6th-(Claymont area)-Migliore won 140-113, but with only 253 of 1,885 voters casting ballots turnout was 13.4%. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district 929-492.

11th of the 6th ( Claymont area)- Migliore won 50-39, but with only 89 of 1,319 voters casting ballots turnout was 6.7%. Democrats outnumber Republicans 731-302.

12th of the 6th- (Lea Blvd/N Market St)- Migliore won 34-14 ,but with only 48 of 452 voters casting ballots turnout was only 10.6%. Democrats outnumber Republicans in this election district 217-116.

Migliore won these five election districts 455-260 or 63.6%,but turnout was too low to offset Kovach’s numbers in the five districts he won because turnout in these five districts was 9.64% The Democratic registration edge in these five election districts is 3555 to1597, better than 2-1. A not much higher turnout here would have supplied the 74 additional votes Migliore would have needed to win.

Kovach’s winning districts had an average turnout of 25.5% with the lowest turnout among these five districts being 16.7% . In the only 2 election districts in the 6th Representative District where Republicans outnumber Democrats , the 6th ED (Lombardy Elementary School area) and the 9th ED (Mt Pleasant High School area), turnout was 20.5% and 34.7 %, respectively. Kovach won the 6th ED by 186-145 and won the 9th ED by 73-30. He won these two election districts by 84 votes, more than the 73 vote margin of victory. Republicans outnumber Democrats 639-612 in the 6th and 129-102 in the 9th .

The 2nd of the 6th (also voting at Mt Pleasant High School) and the 7th of the 6th (voting at the Mary Campbell Center) were also pivotal to Kovach’s victory since he won the 2nd 245-205 despite a 753-523 Democratic registration edge and won the 7th 270-184 despite a slight 600-578 Democratic registration edge. Turnout was 25.9 % in the 2nd and 29.7% in the 7th.

Data is not currently available of turnout by party on the election commissioner’s website,but it appears likely in these two districts Republicans had a higher percentage turnout than the Democrats. It is possible that as more information becomes available, we may also find that people registered something other than Democrat or Republican may have been the deciding factor since this group makes up 24.7 % of the registered voters in the 6th Representative District.
We don’t know right now exactly who voted by party, but we can tell that where Democrats should have been stronger turnout was light and where Republicans had to win, turnout was heavier.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Some clarification on the last post

In the math example, I stated what would happen if Kovach got all of the Republican votes and Migliore got all of the Democratic votes, Kovach would need to win 3-1 among Others.
I do not expect either candidate to win all of the votes of their own party and should have used the term numbers "equivalent to all" because after each of them get whatever numbers they get from their other party I think it will be the numerical equivalent of each getting roughly all of his own party vote and none of the other party vote which still leaves Kovach with a 200-300 vote deficit before Others are counted in with the turnout estimates I used.

If turnout is mugh higher or much lower, the number would require adjustment, but the principle would remain the same.

The numbers I used put estimated total turnout at 20%. I assume it will actually be closer to the 18% that voted in the Nov 2007 & Dec 2007 special elections for vacated legislative seats in late 2007.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Numbers Seem To Indicate Migliore will win in the 6th Rep District in 12-20-08 Special Election

The ten day campaign finance reports are now available on the Election Commissioner’s website and they indicate it pays to get an early start in amassing a campaign war chest.

Mike Migliore’s finance report states between 11-20-2008 and 12-12-2008 he received $34,140.00 (or an average of $1551.82 raised per day) and lent his campaign $718.75. Tom Kovach got started a few days later and his report is from 12-1-2008 to 12-12-2008 ,a period during which he collected $10,375.00 (or an average of $864.58 raised per day). As of 12-12-2008 Kovach had $2,608.70 on hand and Migliore had $25,257.75 on hand. In other words, Migliore spent $10,398.21, more than Kovach had raised , and still had over $22,000 more on hand than Kovach with only 8 days remaining.

This combined with the Democratic registration edge makes this pretty tough for Kovach. As of 11-1-2008 the Democrats held a 2672 voter registration lead over Republicans. As of 12-1-2008 here are the numbers for the 6th Rep District: 7,615 Democrats, 4,896 Republicans and 4,108 Others for a total of 16,619. To offset this disadvantage Kovach would either need to convince sizable numbers of Democrats and Others (in a Democratic leaning district) to vote Republican in the only race on the ballot or have a significantly higher Republican turnout than Democrats have.

Turnout by party is not yet available on the Election Commissioner’s website for 2008,but here is the breakdown by party for 2002, 2004 and 2008:
2006: Democrats 50%, Republicans 51% and Others 43% with total turnout at 48%
2004: Democrats 69%,Republicans 67% and Others 63% with total turnout at 67%
2002: Democrats 45% ,Republicans 50% and Others 39% with total turnout at 45 %

Past performance is no guarantee of voter behavior on a future specific date, but in the last three general elections where data is available the two major parties had turnout within 5 percentage points of each other with Others 4-7 % points below the party with lower turnout. If this holds true on 12-20-2008, Migliore should win as long as he holds the Democratic base.
If Republicans have 25% turnout that translates to 1224 votes, If the Democrats have a 20% turnout that translates to 1523 votes. If Others has a 15% turnout that translates to 616 votes. In this example, if Kovach gets all GOP votes and Migliore gets all Democrat votes, Kovach has to offset a 299 deficit among Other voters. To do so , he would need to beat Migliore about 3-1 among Others or 458-158. It seems unlikely that Others in a Democratic leaning district with two nonincumbents would vote 3-1 for the Republican unless there was a hot button local issue where the Republican was more line with local sentiment. This race has not generated any media around such an issue,so I assume a lot of voting will be done along party lines.

This is not a swing district. Obama beat McCain here 7538 to 3425 in 2008. Every member of Democratic statewide ticket except Congressional candidate Karen Hartley-Nagle carried the district by at least 2500 votes in 2008. In 2006 US Senate race incumbent Democrat Tom Carper won the district handily and Democrat Beau Biden beat Republican Ferris Wharton in the Attorney General’s race,but by only 262 votes.
In 2004 John Kerry beat George W Bush in the 6th 6403 to 4281. Incumbent Democrat Governor Ruth Ann Minner beat Bill Lee by 1140 votes here in 2004.
In US Senate contests Joe Biden won in 2002- 4245 to 2559 and in 2008 7501 to 3244 .
Mike Castle won this district each of the last four elections for Congress and Tom Wagner , Republican, won for Auditor in 2002, but these were the exception not the rule. Wagner lost the district by 3725 to 3514 in 2006.

Campaign finances, registration advantage, recent voter behavior and likely turnout breakdown combine to give Migliore the edge in this race.

For campaign finance reports:

Registration totals as of 12-1-2008:

Election results:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Campaign Finance Reports for 2007 Special Elections May Give A Hint At The Money Involved in the 6th Rep District Special Election 12-20-2008

As we approach the deadline for filing the campaign finance report that is required 8days before the December 20, 2008 special election in the 6th Representative District, let’s look at the 8 day filings from the four special elections for legislative seats in Delaware in 2007. It does not tell what is raised and spent to actually win a campaign because a lot of financial activity happens within the last few days before & after election day, but it gives a hint of what the first 3 weeks of a 30 day campaign consume in money.

7th State Representative District-election held April 14, 2007
James Bowers (R)--8 day filing from 3-6-2007 to 4-6-2007
Beginning balance-zero
Total receipts-$68,159.85
Loans from candidate-$10,000
Bryon Short (D)-8 day filing from 3-12-2007 to 4-9-2007
Beginning balance -zero
Total receipts-$43,811.00
In-kind receipts $749.58, In-kind expenditure $749.58
Loans from candidate $400.98
41st State Representative District -election held May 5, 2007
Greg Hastings (R) 8 day filing report 4-2-2007 to 4-27-2007
beginning balance-zero
Total receipts-$33,401.00
Loans from the candidate-$7500
Total expenditures -$35,585.58
Lynn Bullock (D) 8 day filing report 4-4-2007 to 4-27-2007
beginning balance-zero
Total receipts $37,725.00
Total expenditures- $24,309.63
John Burton (I) 8 day report 4-3-2007 to 4-30-2007
beginning balance-zero
Expenditures $1131.73
John Atkins (write-in)
no finance report was on the election commissioner's website filed by a committee,but an independent expenditure filing was posted by a supporter who bought a campaign ad

14th State Senate-election held on November 3, 2007
Joanne Christian (R ) 8 day filing from 9-30-2007 to 10-26-2007
Beginning balance -zero
Total Receipts-$22,350
In-Kind Receipts $49.20 ,In -kind expenditure of $49.20
Loans from candidate $5000
Spent $21, 323.04
Bruce Ennis (D) 8 day filing from 9-27-2007 to 10-26-2007
Beginning balance -zero
Total receipts-$42,915.00
In-kind receipts $600, In-kind expenditure of $600
Loans from candidate -zero
Expenditures $22,876.35
Expense reimbursements $3,515.60

28th Representative District-election held December 8, 2007
Christine Malec (R) 8 day report from 11-1-2007 to 11-30-2007
Beginning balance-zero
Total receipts-$10,200.00
Loan from candidate- $1,927.60
William Carson (D) 8 day report from 10-23-2007 to 11-30-2007
Beginning balance-zero
Total receipts-$28,240.00
Loans from candidate $4,000

NOTE # 1-The beginning filing dates may be different for competing candidates because candidates can not begin raising or spending money until they have filed with the elections department and in a special election a major party election candidate is selected by his or her party. The difference in begin dates may reflect the varied amounts of time it takes for a party committee to organize a meeting and build consensus around a nominee.
Note # 2- In-kind contribution is some thing or service that has a dollar value that was donated. Where the in-kind donation is received and expended it may be a good received and it's value utilized by the campaign. An example is State Senator Bruce Ennis had a pig donated 10-25-2007 for a pig roast as an in-kind-donation, but when the pig was roasted it became an in-kind expenditure.

After clicking on the link above, click on "View Reports Online" to view any campaign finance reports available