Countywide Election Analysis

Analysis by Nathaniel Smith

For data election fans, the results at http://webapps.chesco.org/election/lib/election/results/cumf.htm are now official.

We have often lamented low voter turnout but we know it was great on Nov. 6. As mentioned previously, the overall turnout figure per Voter Services is 66%.  I actually think it should be considered higher, if we look at the % of all voters who have maintained updated voter records, as explained at the end below.

Beyond the sheer fact of the Blue Wave, a look at the Chesco results by district turns up very interesting results,

On average, Chesco Dems have a 6% registration deficit; they have an edge over R’s only in PA House 157 (1%) and 74 (17%; remember: that’s the district gerrymandered in 2011 to pack Dems and take Dems out of surrounding districts). Because of the number of I’s (17% overall), neither party has more than ½ the voters in any district except 51% R’s in House 26 and 50.5% Ds in the 74th.

In countywide races, the Dem candidates won by a substantial margin (Wolf & Fetterman by 24% of all votes in their race; Casey by 20%; and Houlahan by 17%) and their votes received were around 120% of the number of Dems registered. In PA Senate 26 and 44, the figures were 123% and 111%, and in the PA House they averaged 106% (below 100% only in PA House 13 and 74).

In every single district, Dem candidates’ votes as a % of registered Dems were higher than R candidates’ votes as a % of registered Rs, with an average 26% D advantage in that comparison. But where that D advantage was smaller (7% in the 13th, 21% in the House 26th), the Dem couldn’t catch up because of low turnout (PA House 74, where Dem reg predominates, is an exception, with only a 4% difference in this ratio).

The total vote for Chesco’s PA House seats gave a 7% edge to D candidates. From a 6% reg deficit to a 7% votes edge: that’s impressive! R’s won in only 2 districts in Chester County: PA House 13 and 26, where turnout was less than the county average of 76% (the only other below-average turnout district, the 74th, was won resoundingly by the Dem). Those 3 below-average turnout districts lie at the western edge of the County; turnout tended to be somewhat higher in the East of the County. (Overall the D did not win the 160th, despite the 2nd highest Chesco winning % of any House seat, because the vote in Delco was so unfavorable.)

Districts won by Dems had these factors in common:

• a Dem registration advantage, or a disadvantage under 10%

• total (D+R+I) voter turnout over 77% (except PA House 74)

• Dem candidates received votes over 110% of the number of registered Dems (except PA House 74)

It is clear that, as in the past, Dem candidates picked up sizable numbers of votes from registered R’s and I’s. We can hope to say more when the latest data enters VoteBuilder, so that we can get a precise idea of turnout by party in each district. But the conclusion remains no surprise: Dems here need more R’s and I’s to become, or at least vote for, Dems.

Progress is incremental: as we all recall, Hillary Clinton won Chester County by 25,000 votes, But where she did not win, basically the northern and western tiers of the County, forming the bulk of the 13th and 26th House districts (and similarly the adjoining area of Delco that forms most of the 160th), historical redness proved too great an obstacle for Dem candidates to overcome this year.

We get the luxury of a few more days to indulge in retrospectives, and then after Thanksgiving we start looking forward to the 2019 campaigns and many important races!

[N.b. The registration figures I use above are lower than those given by Voter Services, because I excluded voters marked in VoteBuilder as having bad voting or mailing addresses or as being deceased. One could analyze it differently, but I think it’s most realistic to expect that those voters are not really voters here any more (indeed, relatively few of them voted in the previous 3 elections either, which one can check as of now). Therefore, I get higher turnout figures than the official Voter Services figure (countywide: about 76% compared to 66%). At any rate, this decision should not much affect the comparison of districts’ turnouts, just the exact numbers and %’s of difference.]

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