Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Update: Douglas County

The official voter registration numbers are in for Douglas County, which is part of the 2nd Congressional District that I've been talking about for both the Presidential Election, as well as the House of Representatives. Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 4,000 voters. There are about 61,000 registered independents as well. This would appear to be a good thing for both Barak Obama and Jim Esch.

However, I think reality is a little bit more complicated than just the sheer numbers would indicate. First of all, Sarpy County is also part of the 2nd Congressional District. Here are the Bush/Cheney results from 2004 for both counties from City Data:

You can see that Bush/Cheney pulled about 10% more of the popular vote in Sarpy than in Douglas County in 2004, suggesting that Sarpy is more conservative. Douglas County has roughly 3 times more people than Sarpy. Math sucks, but if we do a little math we might be able to make a rough prediction about where things stand.

I created a model that would probably give most statisticians diarrhea. In a week, however, we can look to see how close I really was. I took data from Rasmussen Reports on the percentage of each party who is supporting their party's candidate. Interestingly, both McCain and Obama are around 87% support within their parties. Obama holds an advantage among independents by 9% nationally. Using these figures combined with the voter registration data and an average of the historical voter turnout by party from Douglas County to get a rough estimate of voter totals. This includes more spurious assumptions than I can even tell you about, but it's a starting point. Based on these numbers, Obama would hold a 101,200 to 100,795 margin over McCain in Douglas County. The margin of victory for Republicans in Sarpy county has always been more than 15,000 votes in the last 6 Presidential Elections. Based on this alone, Obama's chances of taking the 2nd Congressional District's electoral vote seem slim.

Where could this model fall apart? If the turnout for Democrats is higher than 65% and the turnout for independent is higher than 60% (the coefficients I used in the model based on previous Presidential elections), that would seem to help Obama. If the Independent vote is more solidly for Obama than the 53% that is being estimated nationally based on Rasmussen, his numbers would increase. To overcome Sarpy county's likely margin of at least 10,000 votes for McCain, Democratic turnout in Douglas county would need to be > 78%. A more likely scenario would be Democratic and Independent turnout of 70% in Douglas County, which would give Obama more than 10,000 vote cushion to absorb the impact of conservative Sarpy County.

I'll examine the numbers to see how close this rough estimation comes next week.

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