Numbers don’t tell the entire story, but they do help us understand elections a bit better. Here’s some pretty rudimentary breakdown of last Tuesday’s senate recall elections:
Districts’ total votes (in vote total order):
SD 8 (Darling beats Pasch): 73,567 2011 Supreme Court Race: 57,780 total votes
SD 10 (Harsdorf beats Moore): 64,349 2011 Supreme Court Race: 38,161 total votes
SD 32 (Kapanke loses to Shilling): 55,124 2011 Supreme Court Race: 44,187 total votes
SD 18 (Hopper loses to King): 55,124 2011 Supreme Court Race: 40,945 total votes
SD 14 (Olsen beats Clark): 50,919 2011 Supreme Court Race: 42, 396 total votes
SD 2 (Cowles beats Nusbaum): 47,005 2011 Supreme Court Race: 43,998 total votes
Point spread, in rank order:
SD 10 (Harsdorf 37,099 58% v. Moore 27,250 42%): 9,849 votes Kloppenburg won-51.3%, 19,572 votes
SD 2 (Cowles 27, 035 57% v. Nusbaum 19,970 43%): 7,065 votes Prosser won – 57.6%, 25,362 votes
SD 32 (Kapanke 26,724 45% v. Shilling 33,192 55% ): 6,468 votes Kloppenburg won – 57.7%, 25,473 votes
SD 8 (Darling 39,471 54% v. Pasch 34,096 46%): 5,375 votes Prosser won-57.4%, 33,147 votes
SD 14 (Olsen 26,554 52% v. Clark 24,365 48%): 2,189 votes Prosser won -54.7%, 23,181 votes
SD 18 (Hopper 26,937 49% v. King 28,187 51%): 1,251 votes Prosser won – 53%, 21,686 votes
Political consultants and strategists really didn’t have a lot to go on to gauge how these elections would go. They were unprecedented in number and in time of the year, for starters. Most experts thought that the recent Supreme Court race would be a pretty decent recent election to use for targeting, comparisons, etc. since many of the factors affecting that race would presumably affect these recalls. The one “for sure” in these elections was that everyone agreed that it would be “base against base,” meaning whichever candidate/side did the best job of getting their core faithfuls to vote would win, which by the way was pretty much the strategy for the April Supreme Court race.
Interestingly, in every recall race, the voter turnout solidly beat the turnout for the Supreme Court race, which had record numbers. To me, that means both sides did a really good job of getting their people to the polls. These elections tracked the Supreme Court candidate that won in these same districts, with the notable exception of SD 10 and SD 18. Lots of room for post-election chatter on those. In SD 32, it’s pretty apparent that the Democrats’ efforts to mobilize their base worked, with the Republicans’ efforts working well in SD 10, which had the second highest voter turnout and the biggest spread between the candidates.
Much more can be done with the numbers here, and there are many more numbers that could be compared–and should be. We’ll start seeing some of the in-depth analysis before too long. But for now, what story/stories do the numbers tell for you?