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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Running To The Right Won’t Work

Jay Cost at Real Clear Politics might just have the most absurd headline I’ve seen all month: “It's Time for Moderate House Democrats to Stand Up to Obama.”

I’m more conservative than most in the progressive blogosphere, and yet even I think this story is ridiculous. Cost writes:

If their constituents ultimately disapprove, moderate House Democrats shouldn't expect Barack Obama to give a damn. That's not his style. He likes to give lip service to consensus - but when you read the fine print, he inevitably defines any divergent viewpoints as out-of-bounds. He did it on the stimulus. He's doing it on health care. If moderate House Democrats don't stand up to him now, he'll do it on cap-and-trade, immigration reform, and who knows what else. Sooner or later, their constituents will elect representatives who will stand up to the President.

And those new representatives will probably be Republicans.

There are at least two things wrong with this argument. First, moderate House Democrats are ALREADY standing up to Obama: 24 House Democrats voted against both health insurance reform and cap-and-trade. Another 15 more voted against just health insurance reform, and Bart Stupak is threatening to stop the whole thing again because even Ben Nelson isn’t pro-life enough for him. In the Senate, Max Baucus almost destroyed health insurance reform’s chances by spending too much time pointlessly negotiating with Grassley and Enzi. Nelson joined with Mary Landrieu to even further slow the bill, this after working with Arlen Specter to drastically pare down the stimulus. How is this NOT standing up to Obama?

Second, despite Cost’s claim that this behavior is key to their re-election, none of this obstructionism has helped or will help the Blue Dogs politically. In fact, they’re in more danger than are liberals who supported every bill. Of the six Democratic Senators with disapproval ratings above 50%, two are scandal-plagued and four are moderate-to-conservative (Lieberman, Lincoln, Begich, and the rudderless, pro-life Reid). We saw this in 1994, too - of the 34 incumbent House Democrats beaten by Republicans, only 1 was in a district where Bill Clinton won at least 50% of the vote in 1992, and only 7 were from districts where he ran ahead of his 43% national average.  

The fact is, neither moderate nor conservative voters will say, “Hurrah, my Democratic Congressman opposed Obama!” They will say either a) “My Congressman is a Democrat, so’s Obama, how dare he!” or b) “I like my Congressman, but I just can’t support another Pelosi majority.

If Obama’s agenda goes down in flames, Democrats go down in flames. Let’s think about this: House Republicans are united, and they’re doing a great job spinning in the media and surging in the polls. They are in their best generic ballot position during a Democratic administration since 1946. Democrats, on the other hand, are splintered, and can’t gain much traction in the polls or correct the media’s record on either science or health care details.

Voters don’t hate progressivism; they hate the political process that encapsulates both parties. This election isn’t over, but if Democrats follow Mr. Cost’s advice, it will be.

Conversations with a Disinterested Obama Supporter

It can be easy to become immersed in Beltway politics, in which names like Tim Pawlenty, John Ensign, and Harry Reid are instantly recognizable – or debates over the Stupak Amendment can rage on for hours.

One wonders how much of this filters down to the average voter. Does he or she really know what the public option constitutes?  How important, really, are the 2010 congressional elections to the normal citizen?

Several days ago, some political comments made by a non-politically-obsessed friend provided me some insight into how “normal” people think. This person, quite coincidentally, typified one component of the Obama coalition: she was a black college student, very intelligent, but no addict of Beltway politics.

On President Barack Obama’s main endeavor – health care – my friend was supportive enough. Health care obviously needed to be reformed, and it annoyed her that Republicans were opposing it to mostly to weaken Mr. Obama. But as for the 2010 congressional elections, my friend really didn’t give a damn. Last year we had gone to elect Obama, which was obviously important. Congressional elections, on the other hand – that didn’t exactly arouse intense passion. “What’s the worst that can happen; we lose control of Congress? So what?”

To me, this indifference provided a stark – and refreshing – contrast to the politics I read every day. This average voter considered next year’s ultimate political event relatively uninteresting, even insignificant. For pundits on MSNBC and liberal bloggers, losing control of Congress sometimes seems like the end of the world. It really isn’t – whether health care reform succeeds will influence Obama’s legacy far more than congressional elections nobody ever recalls. Sometimes the political world forgets that.

Which still doesn’t stop me from worrying over 2010.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

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