Sunday, November 9, 2008

Who won the state House of Representatives voting?

Matt Singer notes that there were just under 230,000 votes for Democratic House members in Montana this year, compared to just under 220,000 for Republicans.

Where we would disagree with Singer is that he implies that Democrats just didn't get their votes in the right places -- i.e. that Democrats underperformed in terms of how many seats they won when compared to how many votes they won.

We'll trust him on the math, but it is important to point out that this figure includes unopposed races. There were, by the MH count, 7 unopposed Democrats and 4 unopposed Republicans.

Running quick sums on the competitive races using the Billings Gazette results page, our totals (which we didn't double-check, so they could be off a little) were 207,000 for Republicans and 189,000 for Democrats -- an 18,000 vote edge for Republicans in those districts where there was even token opposition. Third party and independents were included in the major party totals if they were the sole opponents (i.e. if a Constitution Party member ran against a Democrat, but no Republican, the Constitution Party votes were tabulated as Republican votes -- or if an independent ran against a Republican, his votes were tabulated as Democratic.)

There are a number of ways to crunch the numbers, but if one assumes that the 89 competitive seats were divided proportionately with that popular vote, Republicans would have won 46.6 of those seats. Adding in their 4 seats from unopposed races, that would give Republicans between 50 and 51 seats. As it is, Republicans won 50 seats, but several (four, as we recall) of those were nailbiters, some of which may be subject to recounts, while only one Democratic win in the House was close enough that recounting was remotely a possibility.

In addition, we can assume that those safe, unopposed seats were prime targets for the Obama campaign's massive GOTV effort, inflating the number of voters compared to those who would show up in an unopposed Republican district. That's just speculation, but not unreasonable speculation.

So, it was actually Republicans who underperformed in how many seats they won in proportion to how many votes Republican House members received statewide. This is exactly what one would expect, given the history of legislative elections since gerrymandered redistricting took over in 2004.

The wonder is that Republicans did as well as they did in spite of wading upstream in a torrential river of Obama and Baucus money this year.


Anonymous said...

Good Stuff. Amazingly enough, redistricting once again becomes an issue this next year with the appointment of the commission members. If the four members can't agree on the fifth, the Supreme Court is given the pick.

In the three times where the Supreme Court was allowed to pick the fifth member, they picked Democrats. Will the Supremes show their true colors by making it 4 out of 4 this time around?

Anonymous said...

Now that McGrath is the chief justice, I think it is a pretty safe assumption that he'll be aggressively partisan when it comes to appointing a chairman for the redistricting commission. I'm sure the commission won't agree on a chairman because the Democrats will want the issue kicked up to the court, knowing the court will appoint a Democrat.

McGrath knows that if the court appoints a Democrat the press won't squawk --it didn't object in the least when the last highly partisan chairwoman was appointed. He'd also be a hero to his friends on the left, and he'd only aggravate those people he doesn't care about.

It is interesting in how the court was "corrupt" years ago when it was in the clutches of ACM and MPC, and now its in the clutches of the left and the trial lawyers.