On Calling Elections

It’s always fun on Election Night to see the networks balancing the urge to be first in calling a winner with the need to be sufficiently cautious and not miscall. In 2000, the former prevailed with the infamous premature Florida calls. In 2002, the networks overcorrected, taking nearly an hour to call a Virginia Senate race with no Democratic candidate. Since then, we’ve been moving back to faster calls.

This year the most notable gaffe was in a southern New Mexico House race, which networks called for Yvette Herrell (R) before realizing that there were about six thousand outstanding ballots in Doña Ana County. When counted, these (unsurprisingly) put Xochita Torres Small (D) over the top. Another error occurred in the Arizona Secretary of State race, which appears to be a case of underestimating just how Democratic the late-counted vote in Arizona was. Both California and Arizona take a while to count all of their votes, and the votes that get counted on Election Night tend to be more Republican by quite a few percentage points than the remainder.

I get frustrated when I hear people refer to calls—either by the networks or the usually-more-cautious AP—as “official”. From a legal perspective, election results are only official when certified, which can take anywhere from a week to a month, depending on the state. Projected winners are just that, a projection that when all of the votes are counted, X will win. (And on Election Night, we sometimes saw TV commentators committing the even greater sin of deeming an early Republican lead in the Montana Senate race meaningful without noting that the biggest counties yet to report were consistently Democratic.)

Of course, waiting for states to finish counting prevents us from having instant hot takes about what the election means. Hell, why wait for the West to even start reporting when you can extrapolate based on early returns from the rest of the country? (Democrats, of course, ended up gaining 10-12 House seats and 2 Senate seats just in Western states.)

Election projections are fun. But as a news consumer, be smart about how you interpret them.

Election Day 2017

I don’t have a ballot today, but these are the biggest races I’m watching.

Race Projection
Maine Question 2
Medicaid expansion
Passes.
New Jersey Governor DEM Gain. Murphy elected.
New York, NY Mayor DEM Hold. DeBlasio re-elected.
Utah Congressional District 3
Provo
GOP Hold. Curtis elected.
Virginia Governor DEM Hold. Northam elected.
Washington Senate, District 45
Kirkland, Redmond, & Sammamish
DEM Gain. Dhingra elected.

The Washington legislative seat is principally important because gaining it also gives Democrats control of the Washington Senate (and full control of the Washington state government).

I’m also going to try to keep an eye on Virginia’s lieutenant governor and attorney general races, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court elections, and the aggregate change in the Virginia House of Delegates, as well as any other interesting state or local results that come in.

Early Returns

Courtesy of Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location…

New Hampshire (4 EV)
Still
Voting
President
Barack Obama (DEM)
65.1%
28
Mitt Romney (GOP) 32.6%
14
1% reporting
[NH-1] Manchester
Still
Voting
Carol Shea-Porter (DEM) 69.7%
23
Representative
Frank Guinta (GOP)
27.3%
9
1% reporting
[NH-2] Nashua and Concord
Still
Voting
Representative
Charles Bass (GOP)
60.0%
6
Ann McLane Kuster (DEM) 30.0%
3
1% reporting
Governor of New Hampshire
Still
Voting
Maggie Hassan (DEM) 58.1%
25
Ovide Lamontagne (GOP) 37.2%
16
1% reporting

Restating the Projection Policy

It’s time for the biennial restatement of the site’s official Election Projection policy, which is printed in full over the fold.

This year, the runoff clause makes things a little weird. Usually, I wouldn’t project a single House race before 6 PM Eastern Time on Election Day. However, the new California top-two voting system means that there are seven House seats for which partisan control is already decided. Both remaining eligible candidates in those House seats belong to the same party, and votes for any other candidates—write-ins included—will simply be ignored.

Therefore, victory is guaranteed for a certain party in the following races:

  • CA-08 (High Desert): GOP Hold
  • CA-15 (Heyward and Livermore): DEM Hold
  • CA-30 (West San Fernando Valley): DEM Hold
  • CA-31 (San Bernardino): GOP Hold
  • CA-35 (Ontario): DEM Hold
  • CA-40 (Los Angeles, East, and Downey): DEM Hold
  • CA-43 (Los Angeles, South): DEM Hold

Or in graphical form:

113th House Projection :: DEM 5, GOP 2

Of course, I won’t have an actual winner in any of these races until Election Night, so check back then!

UPDATE [13-Oct-2017]: The “over the fold” part of this post seems to have been lost to the sands of time. Sorry.

Roll Call of the States: DNC 2012

The name of President Barack Obama, of Illinois, was placed in nomination by Bill Clinton of New York and seconded viva voce.

The roll call of the states for the Democratic nomination for President proceeded as follows:

Delegation Obama
Alabama 69
Alaska 24
American Samoa 10
Arizona 77
Arkansas 55
California 609
Colorado 82
Connecticut 88
Delaware 33
Democrats Abroad 18½
District of Columbia 45
Florida 296
Georgia 121
Guam 12
Hawaii 35
Idaho 31
Illinois 196
Indiana 101
Iowa 62
Kansas 51
Kentucky 72
Louisiana 65
Maine 35
Maryland 124
Massachusetts 128
Michigan 203
Minnesota 107
Mississippi yields
Ohio 188
Mississippi 45
Missouri 99
Montana 30
Nebraska 43
New Hampshire 35
Nevada 43
New Jersey 172
New Mexico 48
New York 384
North Carolina 152
North Dakota 25
Oklahoma 49
Oregon 84
Pennsylvania 242
Puerto Rico 66
Rhode Island 35
South Carolina 62
South Dakota 29
Tennessee 90
Texas 282
Utah 32
Vermont 27
Virgin Islands 12
Virginia 118
Washington 114
West Virginia 44
Wisconsin 103
Wyoming 22
Totals 5415½
Obama
2776 delegate votes needed to nominate

Ohio put Obama over the top.

By voice vote, the nomination of Barack Obama was then made unanimous.