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Some surprises from New Orleans mayoral results

Let’s see how this blog’s favorite political scientist, me, did in terms of predicting yesterday’s New Orleans mayor’s race, both in terms of how many and who turned out, and who finished where.

Predicted finish: Landrieu (34.2 percent) and Nagin (34.1 percent), fairly close to each other
Actual finish: Nagin (38.36 percent) and Landrieu (29.12 percent)

In aggregate I was almost dead on, but Nagin did a bit better than the polls were predicting and Landrieu a little worse. Let’s see if we can figure out why.

Total absentee/early votes predicted: 27,834
Actual absentee/early votes cast: 21,330

Looks like it didn’t come from satellite or absentee voting – in fact, Nagin outpolled Landrieu by about the same margin as the aggregate. Looking at the next set of figures, it tells us I seriously underpredicted the number of votes cast in Orleans yesterday:

Predicted votes cast: 84,929
Total votes cast: 108,153

That’s a turnout, given the latest known figures, of 36.27 percent. (It also means that Times-Picayune reporter Brian Thenevot wins the best prediction award between us, as I had it around 29 percent and he figured it would be around 34 percent – still low, however). I had projected around 56,000 would come from the ground, but it turned out to be almost 87,000.

This tells us three possible dynamics were at work: I underprojected (1) the number of people returned to the city to be ready to vote, or (2) the get-out-the-vote effort to haul people into the city on election day, or (3) the actual participation rate of those who had returned to the city. Unfortunately, it will be a few days before I can tell for sure until the post-election statistics are released from the state. This also may tell us why Nagin did better and Landrieu worse than their polling. One hypothesis is that there were more black voters in the city than the 53.7 percent I projected.

Total percentage of votes for Democrats predicted: 75 percent
Total percentage of votes for Democrats actual: 89.47 percent

In large part, you could say that was due to shadow Republican Ron Forman’s running as a Democrat. A good chuck of his vote probably would have gone to Republican Rob Couhig if he had not run, or a good portion of his 17 percent would have stuck with him running as a Republican. Still, a couple of months ago it transpires if anything I was too cautious in explaining that Democrats would easily get a majority of votes and that at least half of the electorate would be black, even as most other analysts kept musing whether a Republican could win because they thought a majority of the electorate would be white.

Let’s wait a few days for the post-election report to see where this is going on May 20. But, to draw two interesting points from this contest, for one, Couhig probably was not a spoiler for Forman. Add their totals and Forman is still a bit short from Landrieu. Even throwing in Republican Peggy Wilson’s totals won’t get him there. And, speaking of Wilson, it’s a sign your political future is nonexistent when you can’t even outpoll Kimberly Williamson Butler.

1 comment:

jbduhe said...

Good observations, however, of teh 3 possible dynamics at work, I think you will find that you underprojected due to the number of people who returned by buses, paid for by Ranibow Push, et al, to vote on election day.

It will be interesting to see if they all come back again for the runoff. I'd bet many of them are going to loose interest, because they know they can live with a Landrieu as Mayor until they decide whether or not to ever return to the Chocolate City.

Too, I agree that Foreman diluted the Republican vote, but the Republicans did a good job of dilutuing their strength as well, with some many running at one time. Louisiana Republicans can't unite behind one cohesive message. This is a good cae in point on why we need to get rid of the open primary system. A party primary may have yielded a different result, certainly then a Republican would have made the runoff, LOL. Also, no truer words could have been said on Wilson's future.