Tuesday, August 31, 2010

GPI update, another weird Humphrey poll

With the release today of a new MPR/Humphrey poll I can once again update the GPI. Below is a list of the current polls included in the index followed by the current numbers.

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Joe posted an excellent analysis of the Humphrey poll earlier today pointing out some of the issues with it. These are not the kinds of issues that disqualify a poll from being included in the index and is in fact the main reason for wanting to get a composite number from a combination of polls rather then relying on a single poll.

Having said all of that, partisan sampling problems do seem to be something of a trend for MPR/Humphrey institute polls. I posted this about their governor's race poll from May:

...the MPR/Humphrey Institute poll's sampling was 42% DFL, 42% GOP and 15% Independent. I honestly don't know where they got these numbers from, perhaps their rectum, but they certainly are not representative of Minnesota's partisan breakdown. First of all 15% is an incredibly low number for Independent's in Minnesota.

This polls breakdown is similar to the Humphrey poll from May in that the partisan breakdowns in both polls look nothing like the partisan breakdowns being used by anybody else who's polled this state. Now, maybe Humphrey knows something that all of the other pollsters don't, but judging by their 3.15 pollster rating, the sixth worst score of any pollster in Nate's database, my guess is that their polling suffers from a flaw in the methodology somewhere.

From MPR's article on the poll:

The survey data has also been weighted to accomodate for factors such as the number of telephone lines, cell phone usage, gender, age, race and ethnicity to approximate the demographic characteristics of the state's population according to the Census.

There is no mention of weighting the partisan numbers, so they probably don't, which would explain why they ended up with the split they did and probably also explains why they have such a poor track record.

Putting that aside, and as Joe pointed out, no matter how you slice it this is bad news for Tom Emmer. In a poll that consists of 46% republicans he could only manage to get the support of 34% of them. In what has to be considered a best case scenario for Tom Emmer he's only at parity with Mark Dayton. Don't let the media reports over the next few days fool you, this race is not "deadlocked" right now, Mark Dayton is clearly in the drivers seat.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tom Emmer's missed votes

Alliance for a Better Minnesota is currently running an ad highlighting Tom Emmer's habit of missing votes in the legislature. It just so happens that I am currently in the process of compiling all of the legislative votes of all of the current legislators for the formulation of a state level DW-Nominate style scoring system, meaning I just so happen to have a database of all of the roll call votes for the 2010 session and can evaluate these claims.

Anytime you hear "so and so has done a thing X number of times," it's helpful to know what X is relative to Y and Z. In this case Alliance for a Better Minnesota claims that Tom Emmer missed 142 votes of 621 taken, so at the very least it would be nice to know what the average number of votes missed is.

My database includes a total of 650 votes for the 2010 regular session and special session combined (there were two votes that took place in a one day special session) and Tom Emmer missed 147 of those votes. I'm not sure which votes I'm including that Alliance for a Better Minnesota isn't, the link they provide for their source is the same source I used to compile my database.

So while Alliance for a Better Minnesota claims Tom Emmer missed one out of every five votes (it's actually more, over 22% if you figure 142/621) according to my database Tom Emmer "only" missed over 18% of votes. The word only in that sentence is in quotes because Tom Emmer only missed more votes than any other legislator and it's not even close.

Again according to the database I compiled of roll call votes Tom Emmer missed 147, second in missed votes was Doug Magnus with 111 and they're the only two who missed more than 100. The mean number of votes missed was 19, but in a skewed data set like this one mean is not the measure that you want to use for average, median is and the median number of votes missed was 9.

That's rather staggering when put into context, Tom Emmer missed 147 votes and the average legislator missed 9. The z-score, standard deviations from the mean, of Tom Emmer's missed votes is an out of this world 4.61. You could say that Tom Emmer is the Babe Ruth of missing votes.

To be fair to Tom let's just compare him with other Representatives who were running for Governor.

Even among those house members who were also running for Governor, Tom Emmer was the gold standard of missed votes. The guy he beat for the Republican nomination, Marty Seifert missed only 1 vote.

I would say that the missed votes critique is a perfectly fair one and if anything Alliance for a Better Minnesota went easy on Tom Emmer by just focusing on how many votes he missed without putting it in the context of how many votes other legislator's missed.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Back in June I introduced SILVER as a metric to measure how partisan a member of congress is compared to the voting tendencies of their district or state. I did this by combining PVI and DW-Nominate and I scaled it (or attempted to) to the same -1 to 1 scale that DW-Nominate uses. Since that time I’ve been forced to give the issue some more thought because of a baseball stat called NERD.

Believe it or not when I first developed the SILVER stat I was not aware that Crisitunity from the excellent Swing State Project blog had already developed a similar thing. Crisitunity computed his version in a different way, ranking the PVI and DW-Nominate scores of all members of the house on a 1 to 435 scale and then using the difference between the two rankings as his score. This might be a better method than the one I employed in my first version, but in the end we’re trying to measure two different things.

The system that Crisitunity developed measures house members against each other without regard to party affiliation, the point is to measure the overall liberalness of a legislator in the context of their district against the house as a whole. SILVER is meant to measure a legislator against his or her own party, not the entire legislative body.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A victory for public defenders, maybe

From the Pioneer Press:

A Steele County judge has ruled that public defenders in the 3rd Judicial District may not drop 46 criminal defense cases they say they're too short-staffed to handle.

Instead, the district's office of public defense must contract attorneys to represent the defendants, who would otherwise not be able to afford to hire their own private attorneys.

The ruling sets the wheels in motion for a possible showdown with state officials over staffing and funding for those attorneys constitutionally required to represent defendants facing possible incarceration.

This is a big deal for a criminal justice system, public defenders in particular, that have been on the receiving end of a number of budget cuts. The judge has given them the green light to hire the needed attorneys on a contract basis, although at this point no one is quite sure how it will get paid for.

That these services need to be funded was central to the judge’s ruling, from Chief Public Defender Karen Duncan’s interview with MPR:

"I think it's dangerous for our citizens if we're deciding that we no longer need to fund core government services," she said. "Public defense and the criminal court system is a constitutional mandate. It's not an option. It's not frosting for the citizenry."

The actual series of events that lead to Duncan asking for relief from the 46 cases is unusual, a combination of six attorneys taking a leave of absence and a case coming in with 17 co-defendants, all needing a public defender. But the underlying problem is real.

Again from Duncan’s interview with MPR:

"All of these things were happening at once," Duncan said. "And then I'm seeing more staff people still at work after midnight, working at 4 o'clock in the morning. And it was just so obvious that we cannot continue to do this."

Duncan said that, as a result, attorneys missed several court hearings that week.

"I'm not sure how much worse it can feel to go to court and have your lawyer not be there," she said.

The big question now becomes, will there be more of this? The 3rd Judicial District is not the only one with an overworked public defender’s office and it will be interesting to see if similar requests are made in other districts.

The entire interview is worth a listen:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Primary Post Mortem

The body has been lying in the streets for a week and the decomposing has begun, undaunted I am going to rip apart the stinking carcass of the DFL primary and try to determine exactly what happened and why. Sorry for the imagery, that’s where the title took me.

87 Counties

I posted this last week, but I still think it’s the most illustrative reason of exactly why Mark Dayton won the DFL primary.

Joe pointed something out in the comments of that post, which is that you don’t get a sense of population density from this map and that’s true, but in a way it sort of misses the point. The reason Margaret Anderson Kelliher made it close was because she racked up big vote totals in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis in particular, but the reason Mark Dayton won is that he racked up small vote totals all across the state and that’s what this map helps to illustrate.

Kelliher won Hennepin County by 16,255 votes. She won Ramsey County by 5,527 votes. Dayton won Anoka County by 2,670 votes, Itasca County by 1,129 votes and 65 counties by vote margins of less than 1,000. Kelliher won a handful of counties with less than a thousand votes as well, but most of these were won with less than one hundred votes.

Dayton’s campaign was a take on Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy, you could call it the 87 county strategy.

The Decider

Here are the final numbers:

Mark Dayton won the election by 6,972 votes. One county I didn’t mention above, St. Louis County, he won by 7,332 votes. That’s the election right there.

Losing St. Louis County by that much, coupled with losing the vast majority of counties by smaller margins, made Kelliher’s task in the metro all but impossible. I said this prior to the election:

If MAK is going to win though, she has to do better in the Twin Cities than the polls have shown. If she can’t get to parity in her base areas she doesn’t really have a chance. In order for her to win her grassroots focused campaign has to turn out the Twin Cities and St. Louis County, otherwise it’s Dayton in the general.

Kelliher did what she needed to do in the Twin Cities; it was a failure to gain any traction in St. Louis County that cost her the primary.

The X-Factor

It’s hard to say how much of this was due to Yvonne Prettner Solon’s presence as Mark Dayton’s running mate, but clearly she had an impact on the results, much more so than Kelliher’s running mate, John Gunyu did.

It’s impossible to know now what would have been, but if Kelliher had picked Tom Rukavina as her running mate would he have been able to bring home some iron range votes for her? Would it have been enough matter? These are fun questions, but in the end, the choice was made and the election is now in the books and we’ll never know what could have been.

This may have been the critical decision of the campaign when all is said and done though, Margaret Anderson Kelliher picked someone who could help her govern, Mark Dayton picked someone who could help him win the primary. Who made the right choice?

Below is a breakdown of Hennepin County into Minneapolis and not Minneapolis.

What you can see looking at this is that Kelliher dominated in the city of Minneapolis, but in the rest of Hennepin County Dayton kept it close.

Now the same breakdown of St. Louis County.

In contrast Dayton won Duluth handily and won greater St. Louis County by even more. This is where a Rukavina selection could have helped Kelliher the most since his Virginia base is in the heart of St. Louis County. I don’t mean to keep harping on this point and I honestly don’t know if a Rukavina selection gets her over the hump, but many DFLers, including myself, were a little skeptical of the Gunyu selection and the outcome of this election just amplifies that skepticism, right or wrong.

The Third Wheel

The conventional wisdom prior to the election was that Matt Entenza would hurt Kelliher more than Dayton, but there really isn’t any evidence that happened. There isn’t a lot of correlation between the candidates when you compare their number of votes per county, meaning there isn’t any evidence that Entenza affected Kelleher’s numbers more than Dayton’s. In fact the highest correlation was between Dayton and Kelliher, which is what you would expect.

As I said the correlations are not strong, but it would appear that Matt Entenza actually took votes from Mark Dayton just a little bit more than from Margaret Anderson Kelliher, it’s not to a high enough degree to be significant though. Of course, that’s just looking at the final numbers, if Entenza hadn’t been in the race the entire texture would have been different so who knows what would have happened.


To evaluate turnout I compared this year to the average turnout in 2002 and 2006. As we all know by now DFL turnout for the primary election was much more robust than most had expected, approaching almost 15% of eligible voters when most, including SOS Mark Ritchie, thought 10% would be more likely. This was more than a 50% increase over the average turnout in 2002 and 2006.

The below table of the counties with the highest turnout increase contains two numbers, “% change” is the percentage that voter turnout increased in that county versus the average of the previous two gubernatorial primaries, “vs state” is that change minus the increase of the state as a whole. So the “vs state” column is the percentage of increase above and beyond the increase of the state as a whole.

Kelliher won Carver County, Entenza won Lyon County and Dayton won the rest. These counties do not have a lot of voters though, so let’s look at some counties that do.

Above are the six counties that had the most voters on primary day, seventh place, Olmsted County had almost 10,000 less voters than Washington County, so these are the six big counties. What you see here is that Kelliher did very well in the most populous places and the counties she won had a higher turnout than the rest of the state. But this trend was confined to the most populous counties; her campaign didn’t display any particular ability to turnout the less populous counties.

Looking at the turnout from all the counties there was little correlation between turnout and the performance of any of the candidates, so while in the most populous counties Kelliher won, she seems to have done so by turning out her base, this didn’t happen in greater Minnesota and it especially didn’t happen in St. Louis County.


Unlike my colleague, Two Putt Tommy, I don’t view this election as a systematic failure on the part of the DFL party. Mark Dayton is known statewide and liked by longtime DFLers, no matter who got the endorsement and what the DFL did, this was going to be a tough race to win. Add to that the fact that Dayton didn’t make any forced errors and had the money to run lots of ads made their task even more daunting and yet, they almost pulled it off.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Post Primary GPI update

With the release of the first post-primary poll of the Minnesota governor’s race I can update the now slimed down GPI, which is still using two pre-primary polls in its average.

I don’t want to read too much into a poll taken right after an election victory when Mark Dayton’s name has been in the news quite a bit, but the Rasmussen poll pretty much confirms what other pollsters have found, Mark Dayton has about a ten point lead on Tom Emmer.

Here are the toplines from the last two Rasmussen polls:

Dayton 45 (40)
Emmer 36 (36)

This falls in line with what the most recent polls have shown, Dayton at or above 40%, Emmer at or below 36% and Tom Horner right around 10%. This poll also has the lowest number of undecided voters of any poll done on the race so far, 10%.

It’s still early and there haven’t been any attack ads against Dayton yet, but they’re coming. If he can manage to ride it out and keep his numbers above 40% though, he’ll be tough to beat.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A map of Mark Dayton's victory

This is based on still unofficial now official numbers from the Secretary of State.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Primary Election Polling and Turnout

This post is about pre-election polling and turnout expectations; I’ll wait until all the numbers from the Secretary of State are official before I go into any more detail.

Primary Election Polling

Here’s the final GPI update I posted before the primary election:

And here are the final results (unofficial):

The polling for Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza was pretty accurate; the polling for Margaret Anderson Kelliher was way off. Why was this? For one thing primary elections are notoriously difficult to poll, not only because of questions about who’s going to actually show up on Election Day, but also because in an intra party election, voter preference is likely to be more fluid than in a general election, in a three way race that tendency is even more pronounced. This election also featured the added uncertainty of a new primary election date in the summer to further compound the pollster’s difficulties.

But how do you get two candidates so close and miss one so badly? What the GPI doesn’t show is the 9.33% undecided number that, if added to MAK’s total, puts her much closer to where she finished. Of course you can’t assume that 100% of undecided voters broke for MAK, in fact, my assumption before the primary was that undecided voters would break her way at about a 70-30 split with Dayton, weather that actually happened, who knows.

Clearly MAK had the superior ground game, but that appears to have been largely confined to the metro area where she was able to turn out her base. Outside of the metro area was a different story and just as he did in the 2000 primary Mark Dayton cleaned up in the non-metro counties. The difference, as many suspected, turned out to be St. Louis County, where thanks to the help of Yvonne Prettner Solon, Mark Dayton did better than probably anyone expected.

Again, these numbers are unofficial (and incomplete as St. Louis County isn’t fully reported as of this writing) but Dayton beat MAK 56-29, if she could have kept that margin respectable she could have won, but to do that badly in such a key county is the main reason she lost. Joe predicted before the election that Prettner Solon would be the x-factor and it appears he was right.

In the end I suspect the discrepancy in the polls and the results is due to two factors, undecided voters breaking for MAK (something which will be difficult to prove) and a fantastic turnout operation (something that can be looked at when we have final SOS numbers).

The other option is that she was always in contention and the polls somehow completely missed a good portion of her support. Seeing how much space I’ve given to the two theories you can probably guess which one I favor.


Here is the expected turnout table I posted before the primary:

Unofficial turnout stands at 441,982 as of this writing, with 99.93% of precincts reporting, so we can guess that the final number will be about 442,500. This falls comfortably into the “no penalty” category of adjustments for the summer date, meaning that when using 1998 as a turnout template there was no perceivable drop off in primary participation due to the summer primary date.

The reason for this is likely twofold; a record number of absentee ballots cast in a primary election combined with the Kelliher campaign’s (and maybe to a lesser extent the other two DFL campaigns) effective turnout effort. Once we get final numbers from the SOS, which will certify results on the 17th, all of these theories can be tested to a certain degree, but until than let the speculation begin.

The party for the party is at Jax

I was liveblogging primary night from Jax Cafe, site of the DFL unity party, here is the transcript, from Minnesota Progressive Project:

[Update 12:40pm]: And I was wrong about the concession speech too, Dayton's lead just ended up being too large, in relative terms.

That's it from Jax where the drinks are too damn expensive for a DFL event. Seriously people, this needs to change next time. If I can't get a beer for a decent price why do I even want to go?

[Update 12:17pm]: As Dayton pulls past the 2,000 vote mark there is still no sign of Margaret. I doubt we'll get a concession tonight as I'm sure she'll want to wait for the re-canvassing, just in case.

[Update 12:03pm]: 92% in and Dayton now has a 1300 vote lead. I might have been premature in concluding this is heading for a recount. Dayton might win it outright.

[Update 11:52pm]: 91% in and Dayton is now winning, by only 335 votes.

[Update 11:48pm]: It's down to a 60 vote margin with 90% in. This one's going to a recount folks.

As soon as I write that Amy comes to the podium to give us an update.

[Update 11:30pm]: It's down to 425 votes with 87% in.

[Update 11:22pm]: WCCO appears to be ahead of the SOS website, they are reporting that with 86% in the margin is less than 1,300 votes.

[Update 11:10pm]: A number of the counties yet to report are counties that Dayton did well in during his 2000 primary race. These include Aitkin, Cass, Lincoln, Roseau and Swift.

Of course what I said earlier still holds, if MAK can keep it close in St. Louis County she can win. With just over 7% in though, Dayton is leading 60% to 25%.

[Update 11:01pm]: With over 65% in it's now a two point race. St. Louis County looks like it will decide the election.

[Update 10:50pm]: Turnout right now is at almost 350,000 and it looks like it could approach 400,000.

[Update 10:42pm]: 60% in and it's now MAK 41.89, Dayton 39.25 and the SOS site only shows 7% in from St. Louis County.

[Update 10:35pm]: Chris Coleman is now speaking.

[Update 10:30pm]: The race just keeps getting closer. With 52% in it's 42.33 to 38.87, only 5 points of difference now with Ramsey and Hennepin almost all reporting. It's going to be a tight one.

The Big E has left the building but below is a picture of him and me hard at work. The only thing missing is a beer.

[Update 10:20pm]: A few elections that can be called; Barb Goodwin will be the nominee in SD50. Paul "not the gay one" Gazelka will likely win in SD12, which could open up that seat for a DFL takeover. In SD67 John Harrington will be the nominee. In 15B Zachary Dorholt will get the opportunity to take on King Banaian and in 65A Rena Moran is the winner.

[Update 10:03pm]: John Gunyu is speaking right now after a blackout/internet issue caused a slight delay and bit of nervousness.

[Update 9:38pm]: With almost 30% in reporting in SD50 Barb Goodwin is winning 70-30 over Satveer Chaudhary.

[Update 9:33pm]: Al is speaking. He sure knows how to whip up a crowd.

[Update 9:32pm]: Another update; Entenza concedes.

[Update 9:21pm]: Amy is revving up the crowd right now. You can feel the excitement building with every minute that goes by.

"It's happening." Someone shoouts.

[Update 9:10pm]: With over 92% of precincts reporting it looks like John Harrington is going to win in SD67.

[Update 8:50pm]: Tony Sertich is speaking right now. He gave us the update we were all waiting for, Twins 8, White Sox 3.

[Update 8:35pm]: The latest update from the SOS website shows Hennipen county 81% in and Kelliher with 48% and Dayton with under 35%. These are good numbers for her.

[Update 8:30pm]: The place is buzzing now with red shirts everywhere. People are excited about seeing Margaret in the lead, they have the Secretary of State's website up on a projection screen for everyone to see the results coming in.

The early lead for Kelliher we're seeing is coming in from Ramsey and Wright counties primarily. She needs to keep that up to pull this one out.

[Update 8:00pm Polls are Closed!]: The room is filling up and you can feel the anxiety in the room, people with the campaign are nervous but optimistic.

[7:15pm]: I just got to Jax and plugged into the intertubes. Some of the networks are here, MPR and some other bloggers, but no one else yet.

Amy, Al and Keith are all supposed to show up, along with Margaret of course. I'll be updating this thread with all the latest news from here as things develop.

Robin (she's taking all the pictures)

Tony (I'm typing all the words)

Monday, August 9, 2010

What to watch for on Primary day

This is your 2010 primary returns watching guide.


Looking through the crosstabs of the SurveyUSA poll from last week, there aren’t really any major areas of weakness for Mark Dayton. The few areas where his support might be considered soft are young people and college grads. Looking at the regional breakdown his toplines are strong everywhere, but in the northeast he’s "only" leading Margaret Anderson Kelliher by 10 points 41-31.

I looked at the results of the 2000 Senate primary, Mark Dayton’s last statewide primary race, for any regional weaknesses but his support was surprisingly widespread. The few areas in which he did poorly were somewhat correlated with areas of strength for DFL endorsed candidate Jerry Janezich. Those areas were primarily in the northeast, the same regional area that MAK polls closest in.

If MAK is going to win though, she has to do better in the Twin Cities than the polls have shown. If she can’t get to parity in her base areas she doesn’t really have a chance. In order for her to win her grassroots focused campaign has to turn out the Twin Cities and St. Louis County, otherwise it’s Dayton in the general.

Minnesota Senate

If you have questions about how to read the hPVI listing for the individual districts here is an explanation.


This is the undercard to the Governors primary, pitting current DFL Sen. Satveer Chaudhary against former DFL Rep. Barb Goodwin in a race that will answer the question, can a DFL state senator keep his job even after pissing off virtually everyone in the party.

Living in the district I see about an equal split in yard signs, for whatever that’s worth. This one is hard to forecast but may be a better indicator than the governor’s race of the DFL party’s influence in primary elections.


GOP Sen. Paul Koering is gay. His challenger, Paul Gazelka, is not gay. Sen. Koering had dinner with a gay porn star, Mr. Gazelka did not. For these reasons the state GOP has kicked their incumbent candidate to the curb for a generic republican, who they want you to know is not gay (or at least has not come out yet).

This will be an interesting race to watch for the above reason and the possibility of a DFL pickup in November by nominee Taylor Stevenson. While SD12 is an R+14 district, its two house seats are held by DFLers, making a pickup of the senate seat possible, especially if the two GOP factions have trouble coalescing around a candidate after the primary.


Long time Senator Steve Murphy is retiring in this R+8 district, and there are two DFLers, endorsed candidate Joe Fricke and Bruce Montplaisir, running for the chance to hold the seat from GOP candidate and Red Wing Mayor John Howe.

This race is sort of the opposite of SD12’s, a hold here will be difficult without an incumbent in the race and with both house districts held by GOPers. On the other hand in this political environment maybe not having an incumbent will work in the DFLs advantage against a candidate who is an office holder.


There are nine DFLers on the ballot in this race and the winner gets a senate seat. Here’s a good primer on who some of the candidates are.

Minnesota House


Two DFL candidates are vying for Larry Haws St. Cloud house seat, DFL endorsed candidate Zachary Dorholt and Carol Lewis, with the winner getting the privilege of taking on none other than King Banaian in the general election.

The two candidates are about as different as you can find, Dorholt is 29 and running in his first election while Lewis is 53, a former school board member and has been involved with St. Cloud politics for 20 years. 15B is in Tarryl Clark’s vacated senate district, so there won’t be a single DFL incumbent running for reelection to the legislature in the district, something which may or may not matter in the general.


Jeremiah Ellis and Rena Moran are facing off for Cy Thao’s open seat, the general election being a mere formality in this D+56 district.

This race is worth watching primarily because Ellis is the DFL endorsed candidate and Moran is the TakeAction endorsed candidate, making this a proxy battle of sorts.


Jeremy Kalin is leaving the house after only two terms and Cindy Erickson is running unopposed in the DFL primary to replace him. The action here is on the republican side as two candidates will face off, insurgent Sheldon Anderson and the GOP endorsed candidate Bob Barrett.

At R+15, this is a vulnerable seat and could be in play, but fortunately the two GOP candidates appear to be trying their best to out teabag one another. Bob Barrett won the endorsement against Sheldon Anderson on the fourth ballot, but Anderson claimed the process was unethical and decided to run in the primary even though he promised to abide by the endorsement. Good times.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Estimating Primary Turnout

Even though I’ve already submitted an answer to the Primary Prediction Contest I’m going to take a crack at actually running some numbers to come up with a more accurate turnout prediction.

As you can see from the graph below, turnout in Minnesota primaries as a percentage of eligible voters has fallen over the years.

But turnout in absolute numbers has remained basically the same. This is due to the year by year steady growth in eligible voters.

The peaks in the above graph roughly correspond to when there were competitive primaries, which there hasn’t been the last two cycles. For that reason it’s not really fair to use the turnout percentages of the two previous cycles to estimate this one, with a three person DFL race and an IP primary that will drive turnout higher.

This is from the Winona Daily News supports that conclution:

Nearly 22,000 voters have cast absentee ballots ahead of Tuesday's primary, a level of absentee turnout that already tops the last two gubernatorial elections.

If we were to look to Minnesota’s recent past to find a similar primary 1998 is the first one that sticks out, that year there was an open seat election with multiple DFL challengers. Overall turnout that year was just north of 20%, with the DFL turnout at around 12%. I’m going to use that 12% figure, actually 11.8%, as a baseline for estimating turnout going forward.

Now the question becomes how to factor in the change from a September date to an August one. What I did was to figure out the Democratic turnout, as a percentage of eligible voters, for states with non-summer primaries and for states with summer primaries. I limited this to states that have similar PVI’s to Minnesota’s (within half a standard deviation away), since I’m attempting to measure turnout in a partisan election I figured I should try and control for a states partisan tilt, and I used information from the last two gubernatorial election cycles in those states.

The three non-summer states I used are Ohio (5/4), Pennsylvania (5/18) and Oregon (5/18). The summer election states are New Mexico (6/1), Nevada (6/8) and Michigan (8/3). Why are New Mexico and Nevada considered summer primaries? Because I needed data points, that’s why. If I really wanted to be meticulous about this I could have gathered information from every state and attempted to figure out a turnout curve based on time of year the primary is held, but I didn’t want to devote nearly that much time to this problem. Instead I’m just going to use a small sample of states with similar partisan makeups.

What this analysis shows is that states with summer primaries experience an approximately %15 percent decrease in primary turnout compared with states that have non summer primaries. The three non-summer states average about 11% turnout and the three summer states average a little over 9%.

If we use 15% as our “summer penalty” the turnout estimate comes in at 381,850. There are a few things that need to be considered though, first off Oregon votes by mail which leads to higher turnout in that state than there would otherwise be. Additionally, in Pennsylvania this year the gubernatorial primary was overshadowed by the Sestak-Spector senate primary, which likely drove turnout higher.

Because of those factors and the uncertainty inherent in such a small sample (twelve elections) I’m going to use 10% as a summer penalty, instead of 15%. With a 10% penalty the turnout estimate is 404,312. I would say than that turnout is likely to be between 375,000 and 425,000. That is my actual estimate of turnout.

What if we apply no penalty though, what if the change in the election date is offset by the GOTV efforts of the three DFL campaigns, if this is the case than the turnout estimate is 449,235. We’ll see after the primary which, if any, method arrives at the right conclusion, but here are the guesstimates all together.

Friday, August 6, 2010

New SurveyUSA poll, Dayton widens lead

A new KSTP/SurveyUSA poll was released last night and it shows Mark Dayton solidifying his lead in the DFL primary to be held on Tuesday.

Unlike the previously released StarTribune poll that many people criticized for its small sample size, this poll doesn’t suffer from that issue and it confirms what pretty much every other poll of this race has shown, including that StarTribune poll; Mark Dayton has a commanding lead that will be difficult for the other candidates to overcome.

Here are the toplines with the numbers from the previous SurveyUSA poll in parenthesis.

Dayton is the only candidate who has shown any significant movement from the last poll and he continues to poll at or around 40%. There is almost no way either of the other two candidates can win with Dayton pulling over 40% unless there is a mass exodus of support from Matt Entenza to Margaret Anderson Kelliher which seems very unlikely at this point.

Here’s the updated primary GPI:

This is the biggest lead that Dayton has held in the GPI up till now.

There is also a change in the general election numbers, with Dayton pulling in front of the other DFLers against Emmer and Horner.

Kelliher is +6 against Tom Emmer, Entenza is +5, but Mark Dayton is +14, an increase of 11 points since the last SurveyUSA poll. Now most of that is probably due to Tom Emmer himself and his imploding campaign, but it appears that Dayton is also doing better than the other DFLers among Horner voters and undecided voters.

Here’s the update general election GPI:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How to read the Minnesota Legislative hPVI Chart

I've had a couple requests to further explain the Minnesota Legislative hPVI Chart I posted on Monday, so here goes.

Here is one district in isolation:

Going left to right, the first cell is blue with an 8 in it. The 8 means that this cell represents Senate district 8, the blue represents the fact that this seat is held by a DFLer. The next two cells, A and B, represent house districts 8A and 8B and the blue, again, represents that these two seats are held by DFLers. In the first three columns the color coding will either be solid blue or solid red, a district cannot be partially held by a DFLer or GOPer so there is not any shading of these cells.

Moving on to the fourth cell from the left, this is where we get into the hPVI information. The heading "SD" means that this cell represents the Senate district of the row, which is 8. The 8 in the first cell means that this entire row is referring to Senate district 8. So we can see that SD8 has an hPVI of D+6, that's because the way I've formatted the hPVI information a positive number means a Democratic lean and a negative number means a Republican lean. So a positive 6 means that SD8 is 6 points more Democratic than the State as a whole. I did it that way to make doing the math easier, not to imply that somehow a republican district is a negative thing. When you see a -10, it should be read as R+10.

This cell is also shaded slightly blue, for the hPVI information the cells are not solid blue or red, they are shaded depending on how the hPVI number relates to the others. So the cell representing the hPVI of SD8 is shaded slightly blue, because it's slightly more Democratic than average. You can see that the cell representing house district 8A is a deeper blue, this is because it has a higher hPVI and is more Democratic.

The column at the very end is the hPVI difference between the two house districts, how much of a partisan divide there is within the Senate district. SD8 has the largest divide of any Minnesota Senate district which is why it's solid green if the divide was smaller the cell would be less green and more white.

Here's another district in isolation:

So here we can see that all of the seats in district 56 are held by DFLers even though the hPVI of all the districts has a Republican tilt. And you can see in the last column that the two house districts have basically the same hPVI.

Here's another example:

Here you can see that SD57 and 57A are held by DFLers and 57B is held by a GOPer. SD57 has no partisan tilt, A is slightly Democratic and B is slightly Republican.

I hope that helps anyone who was confused.

Monday, August 2, 2010

GPI update

On Sunday the StarTribune released the numbers of their "Minnesota Poll." Here's what the Gubernatorial Polling Index looks like with the addition of that poll:

All of the DFLers now lead Tom Emmer whose campaign is crashing and burning before our very eyes. But that's not what is of primary interest right now (did you catch that sweet pun!). The DFL primary is next Tuesday and this is the first poll on that race in over a month.

Here's what the DFL primary looks like with the addition of the StarTribune poll:

Because the only other poll currently in the primary GPI, besides the StarTribune poll, is an almost 50 day old SurveyUSA poll, the numbers will look very similar to those of the Strib poll.

So what does the Strib poll tell us? It tells us that the race is in virtually the same place it was back in May. If you don't include the Mellman poll, Mark Dayton and Margaret Anderson Kelliher's numbers have been virtually identical in the three polls of the race so far and while Matt Entenza showed movement in the SurveyUSA poll that movement needed to continue for him to be competitive and it hasn't.

Again, not including the Mellman poll there hasn't been any poll released to date that's shown MAK within single digits of Dayton. This is a very important point. A good ground campaign can certainly be worth a few points, but 10 points seems like a stretch.

There has been some criticism of the primary part of this poll, mainly from the MAK and Entenza campaigns. The high margin of error is certainly something to be aware of, but it doesn't render the poll useless. Primary election polling is a more challenging endeavor than general election polling because it's anyone's guess what the primary electorate will look like. It's made more difficult this year because DFLers are not used to voting in early August. So no one really knows who will show up on Election Day.

But the idea that turnout this year will be greatly depressed because of the change of date is a bit of a reach, especially when comparing it to DFL turnout the last few cycles in which there wasn't really a contested primary. I don't want to go into too much detail because I have a post on exactly this subject I'm working on for later in the week, but if any of the campaigns are counting on depressed turnout to carry the day they will be in trouble.

The fact that Mark Dayton hasn't had less than a 10 point lead in any poll combined with his popularity among seniors, the most dependable group in mid-term elections, makes it a very difficult road for either of the other two candidates to pull out a victory.