Patterico's Pontifications

5/14/2008

Corrected 5/14: Over-Interpreting the Results of Mississippi Dist. 1 Special Election

Filed under: 2008 Election — WLS @ 1:44 pm



Posted by WLS:

There is no question but that the GOP loss of Miss Dist. 1 in a Special Election was a huge embarrassment to the party.  The fact that it was the third such loss in a row makes it even more so.

But, Special Elections such as this are strange creatures, mostly because they have low vote totals and are driven by the most partisan voters in each party.

Yesterday the Dems won the special election in Miss. Dist. 1:

(D) Childers 57,800

(R) Davis 49,439

In 2004 when Bush carried this district by a margin of 62-40 over Kerry, the 6 term incumbent GOP Congressmen Roger Wicker ran unopposed.  He received 219,328 votes — which was 32,000 more votes than Bush received.   At the same time, with no Dem. opponent, “Other” still received 58,256 votes against the incumbent Wicker.

So, you had 106,000 votes cast yesterday in a special election, whereas in 2004 you had 277,500 votes cast.

There is no question that there is an enthusiasm gap between the parties AT THIS TIME. 

There is also no question that Obama was not on the ticket yesterday with Childers — who happens to be pro-gun and pro-life, 180 degrees from Obama on both issues.

But now Childers is going to have to go to Washington and vote with Nancy Pelosi and liberal dems — and then answer for those votes back in Mississippi in Nov.

He’ll need at least 140,000 votes to hold this seat in November.   That means he’ll have to outperform John Kerry by about 30,000 votes, with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket this time.

There were 20 House districts won by Bush in 2004 that flipped to Dems in 2006 and now have freshman Dem representatives.

Hillary Clinton won all 20 of those seats in the primaries against Obama.  16 of the 20 freshman have now jointly written an open letter to uncommitted superdelegates asking them to not pledge their support to Obama until the election season is concluded

Last week the Clinton campaign released a PowerPoint  showing that Clinton has won over Obama in 16 of the 20 districts that switched from Rep. to Dem in 2006 and were carried by Bush in 2004, with the other 4 going to Obama.

Childers can now be added to that list.  A freshman democrat from a swing district that knows his whose chances of re-election may be are greatly diminished by having Obama at the top of the ticket in November.

 Updated 5/15:  Stuart Rotherburg has a story today in the National Journal that echos parts of my comment here.  The outcome was not a referenda on Bush or the GOP, and it really portends nothing for November.  The Dims ran the right candidate in the right race, in a district that has a large conservative Dem. population, especially in the eastern half of the district.  Bush’s approval rating in this district is well over 50%, and 30% of registered dems have voted for Republican candidates in federal races over several election cycles, while voting for conservative democrats in state elections at the same time.

Childers won because he’s a conservative democrat — pro-gun and pro-life — and he kept the “Bubba” vote from going to the yuppie mayor from a Memphis suburb on the Tenn. border. 

But those conservative Dems are going to vote for McCain, not Obama come November. 

25 Responses to “Corrected 5/14: Over-Interpreting the Results of Mississippi Dist. 1 Special Election”

  1. 16 of the 20 freshman have now jointly written an open letter to uncommitted superdelegates asking them to not pledge their support to Obama until the election season is concluded.

    Where might someone find this letter?

    steve (9ae949)

  2. Bloomberg.com:

    “Obama is endorsed by 16 U.S. House freshmen to Clinton’s 6, and 40 percent of his congressional allies are from “red states,” or those that voted for President George W. Bush in 2004, compared with one-quarter for Clinton.”

    steve (9ae949)

  3. Steve — I’m going to look for a link. The info on the letter came in an article about Heath Shuler endorsing Clinton after she carried his district in North Carolina last week. He signed the letter. I didn’t save the link to the article, so I’ll have to go looking for it again.

    WLS (68fd1f)

  4. “There is no question that there is an enthusiasm gap between the parties AT THIS TIME. ”

    In both parties?

    stef (861715)

  5. Here is the link to the letter in question — its not quite what I paraphrased it to be working from memory, in that some of the signers are freshmen from swing districts that won their seats in 2006, but others are not. The letter also specifies that Clinton has won 16 of the 20 districts that were swung to the Dems in 2006 after Bush carried them in 2004.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2008/05/clinton-obama-aint-got-that-sw.html

    I want to straighten out the facts on this, and I’ll correct the post above when I’ve run them all down.

    WLS (68fd1f)

  6. I’m not a seasoned political observer so I don’t know of the loss of 3 special elections in a row is significant or not. What I do know is that I’m disgusted with the congressional Republicans for proving that they are no better than the Democrats. And I can muster absolutely no enthusiasm for McCain at all. Right now I think election day will be a fine day to go fishing.

    Tom the Barbarian (d23282)

  7. I would take it the reverse of your interpretation, WLS.
    Assuming “Other” in 2004 was in essence Democrats voting against Wicker, the Democratic vote this week was almost the same as it was in 2004–there should have been a bigger drop off than 456 votes for a special election with nothing else to draw voters. Apparently, everyone who voted against the Republicans in 2004 did so this time around as well. So Childers has a base on which to build.

    The Republicans, on the other hand, saw a loss of approximately 170,000 votes. That’s a pretty big dip, even when factoring in the difference in timing in the election cycles–more than 75% percent. The Republicans will need a lot of enthusiasm to get those numbers this year.

    Do you have the appropriate figures for this district in 2006?

    kishnevi (59ee9c)

  8. Breaking news at CNN says John Edwards will endorse Obama.

    voodoo66 (34232e)

  9. With the excitement of the Democratic primary and the fact that the GOP primary is meaningless, the difference in turnout is having its meaning greatly exaggerated.

    I find it more interesting that Democrats are so excited about winning an election with a candidate that does not share the platform/ideology of the Presidential candidates.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  10. Didn’t follow this race much , but some blogs on the left are pointing out that a lot of big guns were brought in to talk up the Rep candidate including the VP.

    A lot of the left side usual suspects today are trying to cast it as a deal breaker portending a tsunami for the Dems.

    But I lean towards special elections being not so special.

    SlimGuy (ea6549)

  11. SPQR — the Mississippi primary was not yesterday. It was back in April, when Childers and Davis squared off in an open special election to replace Wicker. They were the top 2 vote getters, but neither got 50%, making yesterday’s special election necessary.

    One local analysis seemed to hit the nail on the head with respect to the race — a key was the fact that Childers was a well know, long-time socially conservative elected county official from a more rural area of the District in Prentiss County, whereas Davis was a yuppyish mayor of a Southhaven, a growing urban area on the Tennessee border, and which is really a suburb of Memphis.

    And, its not like this distirct hasn’t had a long-time history of voting for conservative democrats. While Wicker held it for 6 terms, for 50 years before that it was held by a democrat.

    WLS (68fd1f)

  12. My error, WLS. Nonetheless, I find it amusing to celebrate a winning candidate who does not share the values of the Presidential candidates.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  13. An essential part of learning is forgetting what you know that isn’t so. Elephants, of course, never forget, and so they have this huge handicap ….

    htom (412a17)

  14. Breaking news at CNN says John Edwards will endorse Obama

    At the event, Edwards uttered these words: “Barack Obama is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life”

    Women swooned
    Men cried
    Traffic stopped
    Lake Michigan parted
    Richard Daley arose from the dead declaring his support as well

    As the Obamessiah walked out of the water, his primary acolyte, Michelle “I am not a bitter woman” Obama declared – “Vote for Barack or you’re a racist.”

    Horatio (a549f7)

  15. This contest seems just about over. Next up Obama v McCain. To all of those who think that it doesn’t matter, think about two more Justice Ginsbergs, handguns illegal, taxes doubled, and an entitlement agenda that will make us all yearn for the Libertarian days of the Great Society. The era of Big Government is just getting started. Hell, Tom, they’ll probably outlaw fishing.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  16. “…they’ll probably outlaw fishing.”

    Been there, done that.
    You should check the status of salmon fishing along the CA/OR/WA coasts, and other designated species. Not just commercial, but sport-fishing also.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  17. The special election also does not list the party to the person you are voting for.

    Also, just before the election, the Dem’s ran a rumor that Davis supported a statue for a KKK man in the city…

    He lost, but that doesn’t mean he won’t take it back in November.

    Lord Nazh (899dce)

  18. The Republican brand has been badly hurt. Why Hastert, whose seat was lost to a Democrat a few months ago, thought that pork barrel spending would elect Republicans as far as the eye can see is a mystery to me. Republican voters care about spending and deficits. I would like to hear why Dick Armey quit Congress when he did. I suspect he saw this coming and bailed. They have got to convince themselves that voters care about spending and honesty. Until they do, we are in trouble. Plus, as Hugh Hewitt said today, the Congressional campaign committee is doing a terrible job of recruiting. The candidates are weak.

    Mike K (86bddb)

  19. #17 – that is spot on analysis. unfortunately our presidential candidate is trying to pull us further left which will spell more disaster.

    chas (a235bf)

  20. “Why Hastert, whose seat was lost to a Democrat a few months ago, thought that pork barrel spending would elect Republicans as far as the eye can see is a mystery to me.”

    Because it worked for Gingrich.

    stef (9abde3)

  21. There is no question that there is an enthusiasm gap between the parties AT THIS TIME.

    At this time is another way of saying, “The next 40 years …”

    Come November, we’ll lose between 25 and 40 House seats and we’ll be out of power for another generation. These special election results are not a fluke. Look at any other index (e.g., 2006 results, right track/wrong track number, history, presidential approval, rate of economic growth, etc), and you can see what’s coming.

    Paul S. (8cbb16)

  22. Dafydd ap Hugh, over at the Big Lizards site, has unique information about how Davis campaigned with supreme stupidity.
    blog
    In short, the GOP guy, Davis, had no platform or message other than that the Dem Childers was linked to Obama. Davis lacked any program or proposals to do anything specific. This tracks with comments recently by Rush L and Sean Hannity, on the failure of the congressional GOP to put forth any coherent platform to campaign on. We need another Gingrich-type 94 Contract with America.

    John Cunningham (1cb7c8)

  23. Stef, I don’t expect you to understand the history of Republican politics but, if that is what you learned, you might do some reading. They were outmaneuvered by Clinton. That is true. Still, the purpose for which they were elected had nothing to do with pork barrel spending. Of course, you will lie about that.

    Mike K (f194b6)

  24. > Childers won because he’s a conservative democrat — pro-gun and pro-life — and he kept the “Bubba” vote from going to the yuppie mayor from a Memphis suburb on the Tenn. border.

    The problem is that Childers (and dozens like him who might be elected in November) is that when it comes to party line votes, they’ll be voting Democrat.

    Arthur (4e8686)

  25. What an unabashed hustler you are! The democrats win – good for republicans!
    I suppose it’s the old war is good syndrome; everything is twisted to fit your pathetic worldview.
    Obama/Kucinich in ’08

    waldo (2c444d)


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