Thursday, July 9, 2009

Deval's win: primary voters + 20% of the rest

In the wake of an apparent three-way election, I just wanted to run the numbers based on the results of the 2006 gubernatorial election in Massachusetts, reproduced further below. What I found is bad news for anyone not named Deval Patrick.

For giggles' sake, I took every single Democrat who did not vote for Deval Patrick in the primary, and awarded their votes to a mythical Independent candidate, named Tim C. in the general. Unenrolled voters, and Democrats who did not vote in the primary, went untouched. The results would have been:

Healey/ Hillman784,342
Patrick/ Murray775,652
Tim C./ Guy G.*459,332
Mihos/ Sullivan154,628

*for example

This proves nothing (for many, many reasons) about what will happen in 2010. What it does indicate is that even if we reduce Deval Patrick's vote total to Democrats who liked him during the primary, he's in great shape. Even subtracting every Democrat who did not vote for Deval Patrick in the 2006 primary -- discounting any idea of party loyalty -- you have to figure that Deval Patrick starts with about 700,000 votes in hand, almost a third of the total cast. That even allows for a large percentage of Deval Patrick supporters who have since moved away. In any case, if you start a three-way race with 1/3 of the votes on your side before the debate even begins, you have a really great chance of winning the whole enchilada.

Hypothetical: Tim Cahill runs a meandering campaign that nonetheless does a bit better than Mihos and captures 10% of the vote, or about 220,000 votes. That means that in order to win, Deval Patrick needs to keep his loyal soldiers from the 2006 primary season, and merely add on about one-fifth of the remaining electorate.

I'll repeat that -- Deval's winning coalition is:
2006 primary voters + one-fifth of the entire remaining electorate.

That 20% is a small majority of Democrats who voted for Reilly or Gabrieli in the primary. Or a healthy dollop of first-time or second-time voters, or a fair amount of unenrolleds. What it means is that unless Cahill can somehow poach on people who sided with Deval Patrick way back when, Cahill isn't moving up in the world, and Deval isn't moving out of his office.

Democratic gubernatorial primary[33]
Candidate Votes % ±%
Deval Patrick 452,229 49.57%
Chris Gabrieli 248,301 27.22%
Tom Reilly 211,031 23.13%
Write-in 787 0.08%
Blanks 14,054

Majority 203,928 22.35%
Turnout 926,402
2006 gubernatorial election, Massachusetts[34]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%

Democratic Deval Patrick
(Tim Murray)
1,234,984 55.64% +10.70

Republican Kerry Healey
(Reed Hillman)
784,342 35.33% -14.44

Independent Christy Mihos
(John J. Sullivan)
154,628 6.97% +6.27

Green-Rainbow Grace Ross
(Martina Robinson)
43,193 1.95% -1.54

Write-in All others 2,632 0.12 +.06
Total votes 2,219,779 55.63%% + 0.40

Blank 24,056

Turnout 2,243,835

Majority 450,642 20.30%

Democratic gain from Republican Swing + 25.13


Ryan said...

One thing to consider: There's no reason to predict voter turnout will be as high in Patrick's reelection campaign. Without the same buzz and excitement, there's no guarantee he gets that ~primary turnout.

Plus, Charley Baker should do better than Kerry Healey. If Mihos wins the Republican Primary, he'll probably at least match what Healey did last time around, too.

I think you're generally right; it's going to be very hard for Patrick to lose. But I'm still at least a little worried.

Quriltai said...

Well, yes. The first draft of this post had six reasons why this had very limited predictive value. One was that Baker or Mihos should run a smarter campaign than Healey.

I maintain that there is a clear opening for somebody to gain many, many votes running alongside (not necessarily between) Baker/Mihos and Patrick. I also maintain that Cahill isn't positioning himself in that direction.