A Second Look at the Numbers
I have taken a step back and looked at my statistical analysis of the impact of registered voters for the upcoming election. With the help of some e-mails and comments, I thought that it was prudent to point out a few variables that could sway the vote. Let me also point out that my goal was simply to offer a theory as to the impact of the newly registered. It was presented as an opportunity to start a discussion, and I welcome all suggestions to improve upon my thoughts.
Left-over new voters- One commenter accurately pointed out (albeit rudely) that I did not take into account the 40% of likely voters who won’t vote for Barack Obama. If we gave Obama 60% of those voters we do need to account for the other 40%. It would be wise to assume that the lion’s share of that leftover group of voters will cast a ballot for John McCain. Of the total pool of 352,209 voters, I am predicting that Obama will capture 211,685 of the votes. That leaves roughly 141,000 votes. There will be some that vote, but not for anyone and a small group of third party voters. But based on historical trends it will be only about 1% of the vote. (It was actually less than 1% in 2004.) If we give McCain 39% of the leftover voters that provides him with 137,361 votes that weren’t available to George Bush in 2004.
That actually leaves Barack Obama with the task of convincing more than 190,000 Bush voters to change their minds in 2008.
Here is where we get into muddy water, which I guess I chose to wade into. These numbers are based on the principle that everyone that showed up in 2004 shows up again in 2008. Voter fatigue could keep people on both sides home.
Energy and Enthusiasm– The biggest difference between 2004 and 2008 is that Democrats are actually competing for this state. In 2004, John Kerry spent hardly any time or money here in Virginia. Barack Obama has dozens of offices, has spent millions of dollars and will make his 7th trip here today.
That can also be said on the Republican side. Even though Bush won comfortably, the state was not contested, so McCain is spending more time and money here and that could lead to a higher level of participation. Voter turnout in 2004 was just over 70%. That is the turnout number I based my assessment on. The intense focus of the battleground, could incline more voters to turnout. That would change everything.
Independents- Once again it could all come back to independents. Based on exit polls, both parties did a good job of getting those who identify themselves as Republicans or Democrats to vote for their candidates. You can track almost to the percentage point, how independents have swayed hotly contested state-wide races in Virginia. Dr. Palazzolo pointed this fact out to me this morning: In 2004, Bush defeated Kerry with Independents 54%-44% and won the state. However in 2006, Jim Webb defeated George Allen with Independents 56%-44% and went on to win the race. In both elections, Independents constituted 26% of the vote. Which way will they go this time? If 75% of Virginia’s 5 million voters come out to vote, and independents hold at their traditional percentage, they could mean as many as 975,000 votes.
The point I was trying to make is that the raw polls tell us very little about the race for Virginia. The goal was not to make one side or the other seem more encouraged or discouraged about their prospects. The purpose was to show how and where these voters come from and what both campaigns have to do to solidify their support in order to be successful come November 4th.