Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Romanelli Factor

In retrospect, Monday, Sept. 25th may be seen as the day Bob Casey Jr. won the race for the U.S. Senate.
That was day a state judge all-but knocked Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli off the ballot. See Jim O'Toole's piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for particulars.
The way I add it up, that will throw close to 200,000 votes in Casey's direction.
That's how many votes I estimate Romanelli would get statewide on Nov. 7th if he remained as a candidate.
My estimate is based on the total vote for U.S. Senate cast six years ago -- the last Rick Santorum ran -- and on share of the vote Romanelli was getting in the latest public polls. The Quinnipiac poll of Tuesday is the latest. It showed him with a 4% share.
There were 4.7 million votes cast in the Santorum-Ron Klink race in 2000.
I assume a slight bump up in turnout this year -- let's make it 5 million votes cast.
5,000,000 x 4% = 200,000 votes.
Of course, it is possible that some of those Romanelli votes will go to Santorum on Nov. 7th, but it would only be a handful. At most.
Everyone knew that a Romanelli candidacy would hurt Casey. That's why Santorum allies gave the Green's cash to help their effort at collecting voter signatures. That's why the state Democratic party spent thousands on its legal effort to get him removed from the ballot.
The Romanelli factor would have hurt Casey the most where he could afford it the least -- in Philadelphia and its suburbs, among liberals who could not bring themselves to vote for either major party candidate. Last week's Keystone poll showed Romanelli getting 8% of the vote in Philly, and totals ranging from 4% to 6% in the burbs.

Romanelli has one card left in his hand, an appeal to the state Supreme Court asking it to consider making the judicial retention race of 2005 the one it counts when it comes to determining the number of voter signatures required to get on the ballot. My bet is the Supremes will reject that appeal. (See my earlier post on this below)

Speaking of Quinnipiac, the poll showed Casey up by 12 points over Santorum, even with Romanelli in the race. It was Casey 51% to Santorum's 39% with 4% for Romanelli & 5% undecided.

The Quinnipiac release on the poll also contained this pithy quote but depressing quote (if you are a Santorum fan) from Clay F. Richards, the poll's assistant director:
“Sen. Rick Santorum’s comeback momentum has been stopped dead in the water. Santorum’s attack ads against Casey have failed to spark voters’ support, and 50 percent of voters say the Senator does not deserve re-election. Casey, just like his father, is attracting a significant number of Republican votes – perhaps enough to make it hard for Santorum to make it back to Washington."

PostScript: As several commenters have noted, 200 was a Presidential year with super-heated turnout. They rightly state that it is likely that turnout will match a gubernatorial year, with closer to 4 million votes being cast. That would put Romanelli closer to 140,000-150,000 if he got 4% statewide. The point remains: most of that 4% would have come off Casey. If Romanelli stays off, it makes Santorum's climb steeper. TF


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You assume the same voter turnout in 2006 (an off-year election) as 2000 (during a presidential election)??? No offense Tom, but that is not going to happen.

In 2002 (another off-year) there were about 3.5 million votes cast in the Governor's race. Perhaps that would be a better number to use?

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last Santorum race was a presidential year. I would think you'd bump down the turnout.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous phillydem said...

I don't think in the end Romanelli would've gotten more than 2% of the vote. I believe that however much some Dems might dislike Casey, when they stepped into the voting booth they would not be able to bring themselves to even risk a vote for Romanelli.

The Q-poll was interesting in the 2 and 3 way comparisons with the "someone else" voters. Usually I;ve noted when there's a 3rd party player, the "someone else" and 3rd party numbers are fairly close to each other. But in the 2-way there were almost no voters who said "someone else" despite the number who said "Romanelli" in the 3-way.

6:35 PM  
Blogger A Big Fat Slob said...

Precisely, the turnout will be much lower.

Also, while 4% may be willing to tell a pollster that they will vote for Romanelli, most of those will end up pulling the Casey lever. If Romanelli gets 2% that would be a shock. I would expect him to be in the .8 to 1.4% range, at most.

As far as who he is drawing from, I believe it is the most recent Quinnipiac Poll which says that he is drawing twice as much Republican support (2%) as Dem (1%).

If he is at 4% (a very generous number), he is drawing, at best, 1.5 to 1.8 from Casey. The rest go to Santorum or elsewhere. About a quarter to half of Romanelli's support comes from really pissed off Dems who will not be voting for Casey -- they will stay home or write in Pennacchio, Sandals or Romanelli if Romanelli is tossed.

Casey is unaffected by Romanelli on the ballot and having him tossed does not give the election to Casey. Santorum will lose by double digits, a month ago I was saying ten, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were more like 12 or 14.

Finally, it says nothing positive about the state of our democracy when someone who, by all accounts, secured about 50,000 elector signatures, is denied a place on the ballot,

7:00 PM  
Anonymous phillydem said...

I seriously doubt Casey will win by
12-14 pts. I'm guessing the final will be something like 54-45-1, in the 6-8pt range, which is still a pretty comfortable margin.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous phillydem said...

Since not all the signatures were reviewed, as I understand only 43k went through a physical review, I don't think we can or should assume Romanelli had 50k valid signatures.
Projecting the 60% rejection rate on the 43k that were reviewed, leaves less than 40k valid. (40% of 95k).

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evan with all that true blue Republican money thrown at the problem, they still couldn't (or wouldn't) conduct an honest signature collection effort. Shame on the Romanelli campaign. Why is every Republican strategy this year so dirty?

2:41 PM  

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