Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Rising Tide

With the release of yet another poll showing Ed Rendell with a double-digit lead over Lynn Swann, it may be time to play one of my favorite math games: "What If?"
The latest poll, by the way, is the Allentown Call/Muhlenberg College poll, which shows Rendell with a 21-point lead. That spread is 5 points higher than an August poll by the same group. In that poll, there were 14% undecided. In the latest, there are 9% undecided. To put it another way, Rendell picked up all the undecideds from August.
So, what if Rendell beats Swann on Nov. 7th by 21 points? What would his margin be and what impact would it have on the rest of the Democratic ticket? Does a rising tide lift all boats? Or do modern, savvy voters pick through the ballot, gleefully splitting their tickets?

Let's look back before we look forward. In 2002, Rendell beat his Republican opponent, Mike Fisher, by 9 percentage points or 324,000 votes. The Democrat got 53% to Fisher's 44%. Green Party and Libertarian candidates got a total of 3%.
Go here for a breakdown of the 2002 vote totals by media market.

Now, the question recurs: What if Rendell wins by 20 points. The way I see it, each point will be worth 36,000 or so votes -- I'm assuming here that voter turnout is roughly the same as in 2002. So, the math is :
36,000 x 20 = 720,000 votes.
A win of that dimension would have to have a coattail effect.
Of course, folks will say: It's not possible for Rendell to win by 20 points. The race will tighten. Republicans will come home. Swann will exceed 40 percent of the vote. But ask yourself these two questions:
Do you think Swann will do better or worse than Mike Fisher did in 2002?
Do you think Rendell will do better or worse than he did in 2002?
It is likely that Swann will do worse and likely that Rendell will do better. A 60-40 race is not out of the question, especially since so most public polls are showing the percentage of undecideds in single digits. And, since the electorate seems to be trending anti-Republican, it's likely that a lot of those undecideds will break Democratic.
By the way, most political professionals I talk to can't believe that Rendell could win by 20 points. They predict a victory for the incumbent, but not of that proportion. They put it at the 12- to 16-point range.
But, you've got the numbers. Go and play with them and come up with your own "What If?" scenario.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

People who are sure Rendell will win may opt not to vote at the last minute -- why bother?

I'll be splitting my ticket, BTW. Always have, so far.

12:20 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home