Sunday, August 29, 2010

When the Math is Too Cute By Half

One of the most fun faces to watch statewide is going to be the contest for State Senate in the 6th Legislative District (suburban Spokane); by the time November is done, I expect this to be one of the most expensive and negative races we've ever seen.

Michael Baumgartner, the challenger, put out this email yesterday taking shots at Chris Marr:
My opponent has tried to blame his poor primary results on low Democratic turnout. But the numbers on the ground don’t bear this out. There were 9,658 Republican presidential primary voters and 9,288 Democrat presidential primary voters who turned out last week. This breaks down to a 1.95% advantage for a Republican candidate in the 6th District. My lead in the primary is 6.6% so among independents, I earned 55.4% of the vote compared to my opponent’s 44.6%.
What this particular bit of prestidigitation asks you to accept is that the presidential primaries in 2008 meant anything. For a quick review, Horse's Ass fisks a Joni Balter column from that week. Remember, the Republicans used the caucuses--not the primaries--to allocate their delegates; there was a bit of a kerfuffle about the state being called for McCain when Huckabee was still in the running. This was also the pick-a-party primary, one of the dumber ideas to come down the pipe.

In short--I don't know why Baumgartner would want to fall back on that particular bit of data. It's meaningless. This feels like a factoid an intern came up with to justify their time.

That knife cuts both ways, though. From Chris Marr's website:

Outspent, and viciously attacked… and STILL the top Democratic performer in the 6th!

Absolutely true, but not at all meaningful. In the two House races in the 6th, one was unopposed (Rep. Kevin Parker), and the other featured a hotly-contested Republican contest between Shelly O'Quinn and John Ahern with a rather blah Democrat (John Driscoll) taking what was left of the vote. Were I Marr I'd be making sure everyone knows that there were 26,000+ votes cast in the House race for Republicans, but only 21,200 for the Republican senate candidate, Baumgartner. If the partisans were really turning out, why wouldn't they have turned out in the Senate race as well?

It's going to be a slobberknocker.

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Anonymous Sue Lani Madsen said...

Absolutely agree this race is gong to be a slobberknocker (lovely descriptive term on its own but I googled it anyway to look at the etymology). Marr's voting record on business issues (aligned with NFIB on small business concerns only 47% of the time over 4 years)is his weakness, especially since he first ran as a friend of business. It leaves him vulnerable to any Republican challenger, who is almost guaranteed to meet business expectations better.

One correction - it was the Democrats who ignored the Presidential primary balloting in favor of the caucus process. Republicans allocated half of the delegates based on the caucus results and half based on the primary vote. This still supports your conclusion - the primary voting was not a good indicator of partisan numbers in the 6th District.

4:05 PM  

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