May 18 2010
The one election I hoped would be the exclamation point on this year’s election fell short. This is not going to be a sure thing for November, but the tsunami rising against the Dems is not as high as one would hope. With 74% of the precincts reporting Critz is over Burns by 54% to 43%. Â Can the GOP win in Â November? Yes. Â But they need to field solid candidates.
OK, so the one prediction I wanted failed. But as usual, I failed by overestimating the power of the GOP or Tea Party, not by underestimating its draw. A lesson that must be learned for November.
Addendum: MarkN and other readers note in the comments that PA has closed primaries. Burns did win the primary, if not the special election. So this fall it will be Critz & Burns again – this time with the independents in the mix.
A few quick calculations can be quite enlightening here. From the election results we find:
- 1,045,520 people voted in the democrat senate primary (56%)
- 818,604 people voted in the less contested republican senate primary (44%)
- 82,695 people voted in the PA-12 democrat congressional primary (64%)
- 45,777 people voted in the PA-12 republican congressional district (36%)
- 71,684 people voted for Critz (D) in the PA-12 special election (53.4%)
- 59,476 people voted for Burns (R) in the PA-12 special election (44.3)
So what is the effect of the lack of independent or non-affiliated voters on PA-12? Well we know John McCain actually won this district in 2008 instead of Barack Obama – so that indicates those voters are not likely to be hard core democrat voters.
But more importantly there were two simultaneous races in PA-12, one for the special and one for the primary. Total voters between the two races was within 2%, so basically the same turnout with the special election having a few thousand voters higher in number. Burns and Critz won in their respective primaries, but there were far fewer voters in the GOP primary than in the Dem (36-64% of primary voters). What is interesting is how these primary voters filled out their vote for the special election because a huge number of democrat primary voters switched sides and voted for Burns in the special (44-53%).
Now isn’t that interesting. More people voted GOP in the special than in the primary, which means a lot of Democrats split their ticket and voted GOP. The GOP saw a 30% increase in vote totals between the primary and the special. A very interesting a rare opportunity to see voter preferences change based on the context of their vote.
If we assume the independents in PA-12 are trending the same way independents are nationally (anti-democrat) then I would say Critz is in trouble for November. While the 2010 wave did not appear clearly in PA-12, the view of it was hidden because the closed primary did not include the independents. Even so, there was significant Democrat loss in support between the primary and the special – by the same voters on the same day!