I have been in an ongoing dialogue with local radio talk show h0st and commentator , Colin Flaherty , about what created the situation where Republican Tom Kovach won the Jan 2011 Special Election for County Council President despite ceding a serious voter registration disadvantage to Democrat Tim Sheldon. Flaherty's contention is that the traditional Democratic coalition of African-Americans, labor union members and social liberals "let Sheldon down and did not turn out to vote."
Although I don't always agree with his political perspective, I have to concede Colin Flaherty is a bright fellow and in this case has a significant piece of the puzzle.
The numbers below verify that Republicans had a 4.7% higher turnout rate than the Democrats.
Turnout was a problem for Sheldon,but 1929 more Democrats voted than Republicans voted. If he and Kovach had each gotten the same percentage of their own party's voters and split the Others evenly, Sheldon would have won.
Republicans not only brought a higher percentage of their party members out for the Jan special election for New Castle County President,but also got some help from registered Democrats. The Board of Elections does not do the AGP (age,group & party)Report for Special Elections,but by contacting the New Castle County Board of Elections an individual can get a disc of voters who particpated in the special election and create it on your own.
The numbers below were taken from the disc and verify that Kovach had to have gotten at least 1487 Democrats to vote for him.The combined total vote cast by voters other than Democrats equals 15,234 (Republicans----11,935 & Others-----------3,299) . Since Kovach got 16,721, he got at least 1,487 Democratic votes (the difference between 16,721 and 15,234).
The 1,487 minimum means at a verifable minimum 10.7% of the Democrats voted for Kovach.
Of course, this example assumes Kovach received ALL of the Republicans and Others which is doubtful. Whatever number of Republicans and Others voted for Sheldon or the two third party candidate creates the need to assume that the same number of Democrats voted for Kovach. For example , if Kovach got 90% of the Republicans and Others (13,710 out of 15234) it means he had to have gotten 1523 additional Democrats to reach his total. This drives the number of Democrats Kovach would have gotten to 3010 or 21.7% of the Democrats.The more Others and Republicans you assume Sheldon got to vote for him , the more Democrats Kovach had to have gotten.
While Flaherty is right that lackluster Democratic turnout hurt Sheldon, it appears Democrats defecting to Kovach had a deterimental effect as well. We can not know exactly how many Democrats voted for Kovach, but the numbers indicate it was likely better than 1500.
Election Date: 01/13/11
PRESIDENT OF COUNTY COUNCIL
DEMOCRATIC PARTY TIMOTHY P. SHELDON ---------12139------- 41 . 7 %
REPUBLICAN PARTY THOMAS H. KOVACH ------ -----16721------- 57 . 5 %
LIBERTARIAN PARTY JAMES EDWARD CHRISTINA--- 151--------- 0 . 5 %
BLUE ENIGMA PARTY JEFFREY BROWN---------- -------- 87---------- 0 . 3 %
From the disc from the Board of Elections:
Votes cast by Democrats-- ---13,864
Votes cast by Republicans----11,935
Votes cast by Others-----------3,299
COUNTY Registration TOTALS as of1-1-11:
Turnout by affiliation:
Democrats --------13,864 of 197,198 for 7.0%
Republicans ------11,935 of 102,005 for 11.7%
Others------------ 3299 of 93,398 for 3.5%
Overall turnout --29,098 of 392,601 for 7.4%