Saturday, January 23, 2010

Some parameters of possible voter turnout in the 2010 statewide Democratic primary Delaware

The numbers below give a rough idea of what the number of voters will be at various percentages of the number of registered Democrats as of 1-1-2010. Since no race appears (at this stage in the campaign season) to be drawing anywhere near the voter attention of the 2008 Governor primary or the 2008 presidential primary, I have not done the numbers beyond 25%.

I assume the actual turnout is likely to be between 7-10%, unless the current statewide campaigns with potential Democratic primaries generate a higher public profile.

Turnout is not stable across legislative district lines. 13,734 (8.39% turnout) voted across New Castle County in 2006, the year I think makes the best comparison of the least four election cycles. 2004 & 2008 had more offices up, particularly in New Castle County which saw countywide primaries in each of those years for County Executive and County Council President. 2002 was the first year after reapportionment which created the possibility of more local primaries.

Of the 13, 734 voters who turned out in New Castle , only 12,405 voted in the Congressional primary which confirms that many voters are brought out by the local races. New Castle County represented 12,405 of the 15,768 Democrats who voted in the Congressional race or 78.7% of the turnout.

There are 27 state representative districts in New Castle County. None of those without a local state rep district had voter turnout higher than 8.2% in 2006. None of the 8 representative districts that had a state rep primary had turnout lower than 10% .Two districts , the 1st & 4th rep districts which each had a primary and also shared the overlapping primary of the 1st state senate district, each had turnout over 20% and were the only districts in New Castle County to have turnout above 15%. These districts combined for a total turnout of 3406 (1,890 in the 1st Rep Dist and 1,516 in the 4th Rep Dist or 24.8% of total turnout of Democrats countywide.

These numbers don't tell exactly what total turnout will be or exactly where it will come from,but I am guessing at the 7-10% turnout range with a disproportionate percentage coming from the rep districts where there is a local primary.

Democratic registration as of 1-1-2010:
8% turnout of 287,821=23,056 voters
10% turnout of 287,821=28,782 voters
15% turnout of 287,821=43,173 voters
20% turnout of 287,821=57,564 voters
25% turnout of 287,821=71955 voters


US Rep------64,997


Ins Comm---66,062



Presidential primary--94,673



US Rep----15,000



Ins Comm-31,799



Presidential primary----33,291



US Rep---17,223


Election tunrout reults are the State Election Commisioner's website:

and the New Castle County Board of Elections website:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Delaware supports Obama-Biden which makes Ted Kaufman a good fit as Senator

In yesterday's News-Journal several paragraphs into a story about US Representative Mike Castle's voting record, I noticed a number that made me curious. I think Kaufman's near 100% support of President Obama's proposals confirms that Ted Kaufman, whose appointment in 2009 to fill the US Senate seat vacated by newly elected Vice-President Joseph Biden generated some publicity over a process he had no control over, has turned out to represent the views of Delawareans well. I could not find polls on line that specifically state Obama's current approval in Delaware,but I think some realistic assumptions can be made from looking at national polls and recent election results.

From yesterday's News-Journal:
Castle opposed the majority of his party (Republican) more often than his Delaware counterparts in the Senate.
Democratic Sen. Tom Carper voted with the majority of his party 93 percent of the time and with the president's position 97 percent of the time, according to the CQ study. Kaufman voted with most other Democrats 98 percent of the time and with the president's position 98.7 percent of the time.
Kaufman's single vote against Obama's position came in favor of a measure barring the use of federal funds to move detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States.

In 2008 Delaware supported the Obama-Biden national ticket with 61.9% of the vote and Joe Biden's re-election bid for U S Senate with 64.7% of the vote.

Nationally , Obama's approval rating has decreased from 69% in Feb 2009 to about 50% in Dec2009, according to Gallop Polls:

Here is a link to RealClear Politics with information from other polling organizations that find Obama's current approval within a few points of a 50% as well:

NPR reports that nationally Obama got 52.7% of the vote to McCain's 45.9% of the vote in the 2008 presidential election.

This would seem to indicate that nationally Obama went from 52.7% of the actual votes cast to 50% approval rating, a decrease of between 2-3% in public support.
Even if Delaware's dip in support was double the national average (which is unlikely in a state with 97,000 more Democrats than Republicans in which the Democrats control of both houses of the state legislature and hold 7 of 9 statewide elected offices), Obama would still retain 55.9% support of Delawareans (61.9-6=55.9).

It is highly possible Obama's support in Delaware may be even higher than the national average.I think many Delawareans of all political persuasions do not want to see failure in an administration which includes the first vice-president from Delaware.

Whatever the exact number is for Delaware, I am pretty sure it would be over 50 % which would mean Ted Kaufman's support for the Obama agenda places his actions well within the parameters of the wishes of the majority of the Delawareans he serves.

Voter registration figures are as of 1-1-2010

Friday, January 1, 2010

Some news items of note as 2009 ends

Four items from 2009 stuck out to me as underrepresented in the media end of year wrapups,so here they are.

(1)RIP-Dennis Brutus

The South African anti-apartheid activist and poet died in Dec 2009 at the age of 85. His activism landed him a prison sentence in Robben Island prison and into exile for for several years. While less known than Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu, he was an active participant in the struggles to end apartheid in South Africa.

He was also a teacher and poet for decades.

My favorite poem by him was a haiku:

"The mirror reflects, the viewer sets the angle"

Here is a link to the Washington Post obituary for Dennis Brutus:

(2) 20 year anniversary of Tiananmen Square

At the time I viewed this as a clear cut democracy movement attempting to move China towards a Western style democracy. The more I read the more nuanced it appears to have been. Whatever the motives of the demonstrators, the reality is the demonstrations resulted in the toppling of the General Secretary viewed as too liberal in his treatment of the demonstrators, Zhao Ziyang, and the ascendency of the more hard line Li Peng,who had succeeded Zhao Ziyang as premier.

While there were certainly many seeking a more democratic society in China, behind the scenes it appears some party members were angling to line up behind whoever they perceived would be the ultimate winners in an internal Communist Party power struggle.
Since many of the principal players in the demonstrations were in their early 20s in 1989 and are still young enough to have many more productive years, it will be interesting to see if they are able to impact China's future as leadership in China changes over coming decades.

Some books that shed light on China over the last 30 years:

***Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang

Zhao Ziyang served in multiple postions withing China over several decades ,but was unseated as Premier for what the inner circle of the Chinese Communist Party perceived too soft a stance in dealing with the protesters at Tiananmen Square. He spent the last several years of his life under house arrest.

***Tiananmen Moon:Inside the Chinese Student Uprising of 1989 by Philip J Cunningham

Cunningham , an American who lived & studied for years in China, served as translator for the BBC and other media outlets during the uprising and interacted with several of the student leaders extensively during the uprising. He raises serious questions about how the students were able to conduct themsleves as freely as they did at Tiananmen Square for as long as they did (several weeks) without some level of support within the upper reaches of party circles.

***The Man on Mao's Right: From Harvard Yard to Tiananmen Square,My Life inside China's Foreign Ministry by Ji Chaozhu

Ji Chaozhu , who grew up in the U.S. after his family left China in the 1930s, returned to China as an adult and worked his way from serving as Chou En Lai's interpreter to serving as an ambassador. He was retired by the time of the Tiananmen Square uprising ,but witnessed some of it and at the time pondered whether it might have been an omen of another Cultural Revolution to come--- which did not take place after Tiananmen.

(3) mininum wage decrease in Colorado first decrease since 1938

While it does not impact a majority of workers and may only come to a loss of less than $100 a year for the workers it does impact, the decrease in the minimum wage seems another step in the race to the bottom economically. It lowers the economic floor for entry level and unskilled jobs which could ultimately have an impact on the wages all workers can expect.

Effective Jan 1,2010 the minimum wage goes down from $7.28 an hour to $7.24 an hour.
$7.24 an hour times 40 hours a week equals $289.69 a week. If paid weekly we can multiply by 4.33 (which takes into account the occasional 5th pay) to get monthly gross $1,253.97 which translates to $15,047.62 annual gross income. This is about $500 above the 2009 poverty income guidelines for two people of $14,570. This is awful close to the economic edge if you are a single parent or a couple in which one person can not find work or is not able to work ,but can't get disability payments.
I understand the minimum wage in Colorado is linked to the inflation rate,but at $7.28 an hour a household was not exactly living with much of a cushion to absorb a medical catastrophe or a cold spell in the winter that drives up the need for heat or a hot spell in the summer that may create a situation in which air conditioning is not a convenience,but a life-saver.

This is a link to the Colorado State Labor Department:

Here is a link to the 2009 poverty guidelines from the US Health & Human Services administration:

(4) No Cost Of Living Adjustment for Social Security recipients for first time since1975.

The lack of a Soc Sec COLA is also linked to the economy as consumer prices have dropped, particularly energy expenses. The AARP notes that ,although overall consumer expenses have decreased, medical related expenses which may disproportionately impact Soc Sec recipients have continued to increase at a rate well above the inflation rate.

The AARP points out that the average Soc Sec monthly check is $1,094.

Here is the press release from Soc Sec about this:

Here is an article from AARP about how no COLA may impact seniors: