The Worst Republican Senate Candidates of 2010, Part 2

This is the second part of two posts analyzing patterns in the 2010 Senate midterm elections. The previous part can be found here.

The previous post presented a table ranking the worst Republican candidates in the 2010 midterm elections. The model used to create the table is also explained in the previous post.

Let’s take a look at this table once again:

State                Margin (R) Cook PVI Overperformance

South Dakota    100.00%      8.9%        91.10%

North Dakota     53.91%       10.4%      43.51%

Kansas              43.72%       11.5%      32.22%

Iowa                 31.05%        -1.0%     32.05%

Idaho                46.25%       17.4%      28.85%

Oklahoma         44.50%        16.9%      27.60%

Florida              28.69%        1.8%       26.89%

South Carolina  33.83%        7.8%        26.03%

New Hampshire 23.22%        -1.6%       24.82%

Arizona             24.14%        6.1%       18.04%

Alabama            30.47%        13.2%     17.27%

Ohio                  17.44%        0.7%      16.74%

Georgia             19.31%        6.8%       12.51%

Arkansas           20.96%        8.8%       12.16%

Missouri            13.60%        3.1%       10.50%

Illinois              1.60%          -7.7%      9.30%

Louisiana          18.88%        9.7%       9.18%

Utah                 28.79%        20.2%     8.59%

Indiana             14.58%        6.2%       8.38%

North Carolina   11.77%        4.3%       7.47%

Wisconsin          4.84%        -2.4%      7.24%

Pennsylvania     2.02%        -2.0%       4.02%

Kentucky          11.47%       10.4%      1.07%

Washington       -4.73%       -5.0%      0.27%

Alaska              11.94%        13.4%    -1.46%

Colorado          -1.63%        0.2%       -1.83%

California         -10.01%      -7.4%     -2.61%

Nevada            -5.74%        -1.3%     -4.44%

Connecticut      -11.94%     -7.1%      -4.84%

Delaware         -16.58%      -7.0%      -9.58%

Oregon            -17.98%      -4.0%     -13.98%

New York (S)    -27.84%     -10.2%    -17.64%

Maryland         -26.44%      -8.5%      -17.94%

West Virginia   -10.07%      7.9%       -17.97%

Vermont          -33.41%     -13.4%    -20.01%

New York        -34.10%      -10.2%    -23.90%

Hawaii            -53.24%      -12.5%    -40.74%

Total/Average  5.54%          2.3%         8.08%

(Note: The data in Alaska and Florida refer to the official candidates nominated by the parties, not the independent candidates – Senator Lisa Murkowski and Governor Charlie Crist – who ran in the respective states).

There are six possible outcomes which are possible here. This post will look at each outcome.

Outcome #1: A Republican candidate, running in a red state, wins while overperforming.

This outcome was by far the most common in the November elections: indeed, 18 Senate races fit this category. In a way this is not too surprising: the definition of overperforming here is doing better than the state’s Cook PVI (how a state would be expected to vote in a presidential election in the event of an exact tie nationwide). The average Republican should have “overperformed” in this sense, given how Republican a year it was.

Another factor is incumbency. Red states generally had Republican incumbents. Facing little serious competition in a Republican year and benefiting from their incumbency status, these people were probably expected to overperform – and they did.

Outcome #2: A Republican candidate, running in a red state, wins while underperforming.

Technically this did not happen once in this election. The race that comes closest is Alaska , where Republican candidate Joe Miller did better than the Democratic candidate while doing worse than Alaska ’s political lean (on the other hand, he still lost to Independent Lisa Murkowski).

This is actually quite surprising. There were twenty-one Senate contests in red states – and in just one (or zero, depending on how you count) did the Republican underperform while still winning.

In fact, this outcome is quite rare, for whatever reason, throughout American politics. If a Republican underperforms in a red state, he or she usually loses. Rarely does a Republican candidate underperform in a red state but still win (another variant along the same theme: out of the counties Senator John McCain won, he almost always improved on Republican performances in 1992 and 1996). Why this happens is something of a continuing mystery to this blogger.

Outcome #3: A Republican candidate, running in a red state, loses while underperforming.

This was another rare occurrence in the 2010 Senate elections. Only two states fit this category: West Virginia and Colorado . The performance of Democratic candidate Joe Manchin is especially remarkable. Mr. Manchin was the only Senate Democrat to win in a deep red state this year, and his name stands out as an outlier everywhere in the table.

Outcome #4: A Republican candidate, running in a blue state, wins while overperforming.

There are five states that fit this category: Illinois , Iowa , New Hampshire , Pennsylvania , and Wisconsin . These account for three of the Republican pick-ups this cycle. Interestingly, four of these states are in the Midwest , where Democrats were pummeled this year.

Among these states, Illinois stands out the most. It is the only deep blue state that a Republican candidate overperformed in. Although much of this is due to other factors – the continuing Blagojevich scandal, the weakness of the Democratic candidate – credit goes to Republican Mark Kirk for an outstanding overperformance.

Outcome #5: A Republican candidate, running in a blue state, loses while overperforming.

This is another outcome that, for whatever reason, rarely seems to happen in American politics; if Republicans overperform in blue states, they generally tend to win.

In 2010 this happened in exactly one state: Washington , where Republican candidate Dino Rossi did 0.27% better than the Cook PVI, but still lost.

Outcome #6: A Republican candidate, running in a blue state, loses while underperforming.

This was the second-most common outcome in 2010; ten states fit this category. These states tended to be the bluest states in America . The fact that Republicans tended to underperform a state’s political lean in the deepest-blue states is another strange pattern in American politics. This is something that the previous post analyzes extensively.

All in all, the table reveals a lot of surprising patterns – things which were not expected when this blogger initially made it. And as for the worst Republican candidate in 2010? That was Campbell Cavasso of Hawaii, who won a mere fifth of the vote against the Democratic institution Daniel Inouye.

--Inoljt

 

The Worst Republican Senate Candidates of 2010, Part 1

This is the first part of two posts analyzing patterns in the 2010 Senate midterm elections. The second part can be found here.

The 2010 congressional midterm elections constituted, by and large, a victory for the Republican Party. In the Senate Republicans gained six seats. While this was somewhat below expectations, it was much better than Republican hopes just after 2008 – when many expected the party to actually lose seats. The Senate results provide some interesting fodder for analysis. The table below indicates which Republicans Senate candidates did the worst in 2008. It does so by taking the Republican margin of victory or defeat in a given state and subtracting this by the Cook PVI of the state (the Cook PVI is how a state would be expected to vote in a presidential election in the event of an exact tie nationwide). Given that Republicans won the nationwide vote this year, the average Republican candidate would be expected to do better than the state’s PVI. A bad Republican candidate would actually do worse than the state’s PVI. Let’s take a look at this table:

State                Margin (R) Cook PVI Overperformance

South Dakota    100.00%      8.9%        91.10%

North Dakota     53.91%       10.4%      43.51%

Kansas              43.72%       11.5%      32.22%

Iowa                 31.05%        -1.0%     32.05%

Idaho                46.25%       17.4%      28.85%

Oklahoma         44.50%        16.9%      27.60%

Florida              28.69%        1.8%       26.89%

South Carolina  33.83%        7.8%       26.03%

New Hampshire 23.22%        -1.6%     24.82%

Arizona             24.14%        6.1%       18.04%

Alabama            30.47%        13.2%     17.27%

Ohio                  17.44%        0.7%       16.74%

Georgia             19.31%        6.8%       12.51%

Arkansas           20.96%        8.8%       12.16%

Missouri            13.60%        3.1%       10.50%

Illinois              1.60%          -7.7%      9.30%

Louisiana          18.88%        9.7%        9.18%

Utah                 28.79%        20.2%      8.59%

Indiana             14.58%        6.2%        8.38%

North Carolina   11.77%        4.3%        7.47%

Wisconsin          4.84%        -2.4%       7.24%

Pennsylvania     2.02%        -2.0%       4.02%

Kentucky          11.47%       10.4%       1.07%

Washington       -4.73%       -5.0%      0.27%

Alaska              11.94%        13.4%     -1.46%

Colorado          -1.63%        0.2%       -1.83%

California         -10.01%      -7.4%     -2.61%

Nevada            -5.74%        -1.3%     -4.44%

Connecticut      -11.94%     -7.1%     -4.84%

Delaware         -16.58%      -7.0%     -9.58%

Oregon            -17.98%      -4.0%     -13.98%

New York (S)    -27.84%     -10.2%   -17.64%

Maryland         -26.44%      -8.5%     -17.94%

West Virginia   -10.07%      7.9%       -17.97%

Vermont          -33.41%     -13.4%    -20.01%

New York        -34.10%      -10.2%    -23.90%

Hawaii            -53.24%      -12.5%    -40.74%

Total/Average  5.54%          2.3%           8.08%

(Note: The data in Alaska and Florida refer to the official candidates nominated by the parties, not the independent candidates – Senator Lisa Murkowski and Governor Charlie Crist – who ran in the respective states).

This table reveals some fascinating trends. There is a very clear pattern: the worst Republican candidates ran in the bluest states – and the bluer the state, the more the Republican underperformed. This does not just mean that these Republicans lost, but that they lost by more than the average Republican was supposed to in the state. Republican candidates did worse than the state’s PVI in thirteen states; nine of these states had a Democratic PVI.

There seems to be a PVI tipping point at which Republicans start underperforming: when a state is more than 5% Democratic than the nation (PVI D+5). Only one Republican in the nine states that fit this category overperformed the state PVI (Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois ).

Something is puzzling about this pattern. It is true that states like Connecticut or Maryland will probably vote Democratic even in Republican victories. The Cook PVI predicts that Democrats will win by X% in the event of a national tie in the popular vote. One would thus have expected Republican candidates to do better than this in 2010, given that 2010 was the strongest Republican performance in a generation.

Yet this did not happen. In a lot of blue states Democrats actually did better than the Cook PVI would project them to do - that is, said blue states behaved like the Democrats had actually won the popular vote, which they certainly did not in 2010. The bluer the state, the stronger this pattern.

There are a couple of reasons why this might be. The first thing that comes to mind is the money and recruiting game. The Republican Party, reasonably enough, does not expect its candidates to win in places like New York and Maryland . So it puts less effort into Republican candidates in those states. They get less money – and therefore less advertising, less ground game, and so on. Nobody had any idea who the Republican candidate in Vermont was, for instance. That probably contributes to Republican underperformance in deep-blue states.

The second factor might be a flaw in the model the table uses. Democratic and Republican strongholds, for whatever reason, behave differently from “uniform swing” models. In almost all the counties President Barack Obama won, for instance, he improved upon President Bill Clinton 1992 and 1996 performance – despite the fact that Mr. Clinton won by similar margins in the popular vote. This holds true from San Francisco to rural Mississippi . In the 2010 Massachusetts special Senate election, the most Democratic areas of Massachusetts swung least towards Republican Senator Scott Brown. The fact that the worst Republican candidates ran in the bluest states fits the pattern.

The table presents another startling pattern, which will be discussed in the next post: there are surprisingly few Republicans who did worse than they were supposed to in red states.

--Inoljt

 

 

 

Democrats Grab Lead in Generic

 In two of the lastest polls out - Gallup, and Reuters / Ipsos Democrats have overtaken the Republican and lead 46 to 45 in generic congressional polling.

Will this change the media obcession with calling the landslide complete before the votes are even cast?   Probably not.  

But it is good news none the less.

 

http://www.pollingreport.com/2010.htm

 

 

 

Previewing Senate Elections: Illinois

This is the first part of a series of posts analyzing competitive Senate elections in blue states. The second part can be found here.

Illinois

In November 2010, Democratic State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias will face off against Republican Congressman Mark Kirk, in what looks to be a competitive Senate race. A heavily blue state, Democrats have been hurt by a bad national environment coupled with continuing fall-out from the Rod Blagojevich scandals.

Out of the three states being analyzed (the other two being California and New York), Illinois is the state in which Republicans are strongest. Out of the three, it is also the state with the most competitive forthcoming election. This post will analyze the political contours of the state, and the long and difficult path Mr. Kirk must tread for victory.

Illinois, 2008

With respect to demographics, Illinois is structured very simply. It has three parts: Chicago, its suburban metropolis, and the mostly rural downstate.

To win, Congressman Mark Kirk will need to run a gauntlet of challenges in each of section of the state. He must capitalize on Republican strength downstate, revive it in the suburbs, and hope that Chicago turn-out is depressed. If done properly, this will result in a close-run, Scott-Brown type victory.

Downstate Illinois

Mr. Kirk’s easiest task should be here.  Much of downstate Illinois has more in common with Kentucky and Missouri than far-north Chicago. Like these two states, the region has been trending Republican: Bill Clinton did far better than Barack Obama here.

There are several complicating factors. Downstate Illinois has several population centers – but these cities tend to vote less Republican (they all voted for Obama, for instance). Moreover, Mr. Kirk hails from the Chicago metropolis and has a reputation as a moderate congressman; he may not play too well with rural conservatives.

Nevertheless, the region constitutes the Republican base, and Mr. Kirk will need every vote he can get. He should be able to win downstate Illinois quite comfortably. He will have to. After all, President George W. Bush won practically every single county here – and he lost Illinois by double-digits.

Chicago’s Suburbs

The true test of Mark Kirk’s candidacy will come in the Chicago suburbs. His task is doable, but not exactly easy.

There is good news and bad news for Republicans. First the good news: unlike other solidly blue states, the Chicago suburbs still vote Republican. Like Orange County, for years their strength kept Republicans competitive in Illinois. Take a look at suburban DuPage County:

(Note: A negative margin indicates that Democrats lost Cook County, or that Republicans lost DuPage County.)

Even after Democrats started winning suburbs, during President Bill Clinton’s time, Chicago’s suburbs continued voting Republican. In 2004, for instance, George Bush won DuPage county by a little less than 10%.

The bad news for Republicans is that each election, they win the suburbs by a little less. In 2008 President Barack Obama swept DuPage County and the rest of Chicago’s suburbs by double-digits. This victory constituted the culmulation of decades of leftward movement.

The test for Mr. Kirk is the extent to which he can reverse this trend. He will not just have to win the suburbs, but turn the clock back two decades – back to the glory years in which Republicans won around 70% of the vote in DuPage County. (Mr. Kirk will probably not have to do that well, given rising Republican strength downstate.)

Is this doable? Given that Republicans seem to be winning suburbs everywhere this year, it is certainly possible. Mr. Kirk, moreover, has spent a decade representing a Chicago suburb congressional district; this is why Republicans have nominated him.

Chicago

43.3% of Illinois residents live in Cook County, home to America’s third-largest city. Of these, half call Chicago home; the other half live in an inner ring of suburbs.

If God decided to create the ideal Democratic stronghold, he would get something like Chicago. The city is heavily populated by black and Latino minorities, mixed together with a dollop of white liberals. As a cherry on top, it is also home to President Barack Obama – and Chicagoans are highly aware of this fact.

Whether he loses or wins by a landslide, Mark Kirk will not win Cook County. He will just have to take the blow, cross his fingers, and pray that minority turn-out is low (as it has been, this year). That is not a good strategy, but it is the best Republicans can do when 89% of them are white, and they are competing in a minority-majority city.

Conclusions

So what does Mr. Kirk have to do? Say that he gets 35% of the vote in Cook County – propelled by inner-ring suburban strength and minority apathy – and wins a landslide everywhere else in the state (for instance, a 3:2 margin). This gives him 50.3% of the vote in the 2008 Illinois electorate. If white Republicans downstate turn out, and minorities in Chicago do not, Mr. Kirk may get bumped up to a 2-3% victory.

One hypothetical:

As we will see, this task is easier compared to the challenges Republicans face in California and New York. In Illinois they can (barely) get away with a white-only coalition. In California Republicans absolutely must win minorities – a novel challenge. As for New York – it is similar to Illinois, except that New York City is double the size of Chicago. And upstate New York is trending Democratic.

--Inoljt

 

Previewing Senate Elections

Over the next few posts I will be previewing a select few competitive Senate elections. These posts will focus less on individual personalities and more on overarching state dynamics – what parts of the state vote Democratic, swing, and vote Republican.

These states will be mainly Democratic strongholds, rather than swing states, because this election cycle is the first in many in which they have been competitive. Another opportunity for analyzing these places will probably not occur for a while.

I am specifically talking about Illinois, New York, and California. Each state has different qualities: some are moving Democratic, parts of others are moving Republican. Versus Massachusetts, Democrats have several advantages. Big cities are a major factor in all three states, and high percentages of minorities live there. These compose the core of Mr. Obama’s strength.

On the other hand, Republicans have one distinct advantage over Massachusetts. In Massachusetts there were only two types of voters: Democrats and Independents. Illinois, New York, and California all have another type of voter. These are commonly called “Republicans.”

In comparison to my series analyzing swing states, I hope to keep these posts relatively short and simple. First off will be Illinois, where Congressman Mark Kirk looks set to run an extremely close race with Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.

Diaries

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