Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Letting the Dust Settle, A Tea Party Rebuke?, Alaska Makes History (Probably), Meet Susana Martinez

Misses and Hits
One of the things that I hate is getting projections in elections wrong. I will do a complete rundown of my pre-election projections versus the actual outcomes, including benchmarking against other major political sites for accuracy. For now, let's simply summarize as follows:
(1) Senate
Assuming Lisa Murkowski ultimately wins in Alaska (which we won't know for weeks) and Patty Murray survives a very close race that will likely go to a recount in Washington, the scorecard will read as:
* 35 of 37 outcomes correctly projected (95%)
* 10 of 12 close races correctly projected (83%)

I missed in Colorado and Nevada, where I had a predicted GOP win, as did almost everyone, but the Democrats held on. My working hypothesis is the better organization of the established incumbents enabled them to outperform their polling data. I would've liked to get these right, but it would've been hard to do so. Lot's more analysis on this in the days to come.

(2) House
My call was for 237 GOP seats. The actual total is still being determined, but it will be north of that number somewhat. The best range I can put around it is the GOP will finish with somewhere between 240-245...CNN's website has the projected total listed as 242, but there are several close races that could swing that number.

Being within 5 seats on the House without analyzing a single race-by-race poll is actually an excellent result in my humble opinion and will benchmark extremely well against other sites.

(3) Governors
I missed somewhere around 3 races. There are still a lot of uncalled Governor's races, but I believe I missed in Oregon, Florida and 2 cases the Republican won where I had projected the Democrat (Florida and Oregon) and in 1 case the Democrat won where I projected the Republican (Illinois). Of these races, only Florida has been called and all 3 were razor-thin, but barring a switch on the recount, these outcomes should become final at some point.

That puts me at 34 out of 37 (92%) or 13 out of 16 (81%) in close races.

Alaska May Make History
It appears highly likely that Lisa Murkowski will ultimately prevail in Alaska, which would make her only the second write-in candidate in history to win a Senate seat. There is still a long haul from here to there, however. "Write-In" will be the number 1 vote-getter in the Alaska race by a decent margin, meaning that the process of going through the write-in votes, ballot-by-ballot to determine the name that is written in, or more specifically, the name of the person the voter INTENDED to write-in. Standards are basically non-existant, so this will be a process full of challenges and judgment. For instance:
Does a vote for Lisa Murkoski count? How about Lila Murkowski? How about Lisa M.? How about Linda McCartney? You be the judge. Prepare for a lot more pictures of online ballots.

Susana Martinez, Under the Radar GOP Star
The political class is about ready to anoint Marco Rubio the 2016 GOP Presidential candidate or the 2012 VP candidate. Rubio's appeal is obvious...he is an attractive, well-spoken, appealing conservative with a model family who ran a great campaign. He also happens to be of Cuban decent, a nice bonus for a party that is looking for a way to broaden its appeal to hispanic voters, who often swing elections and are becoming an increasing percentage of the electorate.

Lost in all the Rubio hubub is a rising Hispanic star in the GOP who could prove even more powerful over the long-run, New Mexico Governor-Elect Susana Martinez. If you don't know Martinez, who won last night, allow me to introduce her. The daughter of a golden-gloves champ and longtime Sheriff, Martinez has, since graduating law school, steadily been working her way from prosecutor to district attorney...and what's more patriotic than putting away the bad guys when you could be making more money getting them off?

Her husband is a police officer, her son is in the Navy. She's a political conservative (social and economic), is 51 years old (the perfect age for a 2012 or 2016 Presidential candidate) and yes, she was born in El Paso, Texas, not Mexico.

And if you look over the last 100 years, Governors tend to fare a lot better on the national stage than Senators do (the current President notwithstanding.) This is because Governors DO things whereas Senators VOTE On things, leaving Governors the capability to run on accomplishments, whereas Senators just have a paper trail of votes that potentially anger voters.

Martinez could fall flat on her face in her new job. But she is definitely one to watch in the increasingly diverse Republican Party.

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