It’s all about turnout!

Those of you who know me know I like to play with numbers. And in a day that’s all about numbers, it’s important to know that working the numbers up one side or down the other makes a big difference.

Let’s use this recent Maryland Poll and election data for an example. It’s the poll which had Bob Ehrlich down 5 points based on a particular turnout model. But what if turnout projections are way off?

Over the last two state elections (2002 and 2006), this was the actual turnout statewide.

2006: Republican 62.75%, Democrats 59.3%, Green 47.65%, Libertarian 46.69%, Constitution 47.61%, Populist 29.91%, unaffiliated 41.83%

2002: Republican 67.44%, Democrats 62.94%, Green 55.19%, Libertarian 46.08%, Constitution 45.82%, Reform 41.15%, unaffiliated 45.25%

For the sake of this argument, though, I’m just going to lump the minor parties with the unaffiliated as these polls do.

Finally, here are the latest monthly voter registration figures from the state Board of Elections.

  • Republicans – 920,181
  • Democrats – 1,948,008
  • Green – 8.349
  • Libertarian – 8,828
  • Constitution – 571
  • unaffiliated/other – 562,670

Taking these numbers and using the 2006 turnout model (poor for the GOP) this would be the voting universe.

  • Republicans – 577,414
  • Democrats – 1,155,169
  • unaffiliated/other – 242,789

With the 2002 turnout model (a little better for everyone) this would be the voting universe.

  • Republicans – 620,570
  • Democrats – 1,226,076
  • unaffiliated/other – 262,639

The next set of numbers is based on the Maryland Poll. Assume for every 100 voters that the following proportions vote for Ehrlich or O’Malley – it’s a number based on the percentages given plus proportionally dividing the undecided and refused among the groups:

  • Republicans – 90 Ehrlich, 10 O’Malley
  • Democrats – 19 Ehrlich, 81 O’Malley
  • unaffiliated/other – 54 Ehrlich, 46 O’Malley

So, based on the two above turnout models this is what the numbers would be:

A 2006 turnout gives Ehrlich 870,261 votes and O’Malley 1,105,111 votes.

A 2002 turnout gives Ehrlich 933,692 votes and O’Malley 1,175,993 votes.

Based on either of the last two turnout models Ehrlich is a loser and won’t have much in the way of coattails for other local canddiates.

But let’s make up another turnout example. How about a turnout (using the BoE numbers) of 80 percent GOP, 60 percent Democrat, and 50 percent unaffiliated/other? If the TEA Party is really out there this is easily doable.

Here, then, is the new voting universe:

  • Republicans – 736,145
  • Democrats – 1,168,805
  • unaffiliated/other – 281,335

Since the other parties all have a gubernatorial candidate we’ll assume they vote straight party line and not factor them into the count.

Using this voting total model and the Maryland Poll results we get a much closer result; Ehrlich gets 1,036,524 votes and O’Malley 1,149,761. It’s then up to the Ehrlich camp to get to a better result of 25% of Democrats and 60% of independents because with those proportions and 80% GOP turnout he wins – and probably picks up the General Assembly seats he needs to have a vetoproof minority. (Bob could win with near 100% GOP turnout as well if all other numbers stayed the same.)

Now let’s take this more local, looking at the four Lower Shore counties. All of these counties have Republicans at a numeric disadvantage as far as voter registration, so let’s say the Democrats turn out 60 percent of their voters. This would be the GOP turnout needed to negate the advantage (if voters voted straight party line, of course):

  • Dorchester: 89.44%
  • Somerset: 99.22%
  • Wicomico: 76.84%
  • Worcester: 68.08%

The only counties where it’s statistically impossible to overcome 60% Democratic turnout are Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Charles, Montgomery, and Prince George’s. (Needless to say, it’s likely O’Malley will carry those counties but as you can deduce that can be overcome statewide with disciplined and heavy GOP turnout.)

So it is important for Republicans to be just as excited to vote (or get their friends who are GOP, conservative independents, or thoughtful Democrats to vote if they’ve voted early) as they were when this campaign started. Don’t let the bastards in the press get you down because we can win.

On a different note, I’ll probably not post here tomorrow since I’ll be working a poll for a great candidate in Marty Pusey, then kicking off the next election cycle as part of the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee – we’ll be sworn in tomorrow night at the GOP Victory Center. Look instead to Pajamas Media, where I’ll be part of the national coverage team and deliver updates as needed.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.