Thursday, March 01, 2012

Post election Michigan analysis - Romney v Santorum

There's a lot of spin going on about this election. Santorum's claiming he won on election day. I think he's right. Pundits are claiming that Santorum collapsed from a 15 point lead on the last day. I think those are largely wrong. He never had a 15 pt lead here. There's also a lot of pissing and moaning about crossover Democrats (around 10% or so) and exit polls having Romney "Winning" republican voters.


As for crossovers, they may have mattered in the 13th district, but that's about it. ALL of the other major democrat districts went for Romney. 5th (narrowly - and Santorum won the Republican county), 9th (Levin), 12th (Dingell), 14th (Clarke/Peters). Romney won the 8th, 10th, and 11th held by Republicans, but the rest went for Santorum. Romney won the vote in Bay and Saginaw Counties. It's Tuscola that nearly cost him in the 5th.

Apparently, the at large was supposed to be split, but state party wants to change the rules for Romney so there isn't a tie here. (eyeroll). If Jason Gillman's right, This is the type of bullshit that pisses people off. It's the same reason I have absolutely no sympathy whatsoever about Santorum courting Reagan Democrats, or getting crossover votes. Romney's supporters chose this system. They wanted the open or closed in name only primary. They wanted it because they were worried about a Pawlenty or someone else upsetting their favorite candidate and thought that Romney would ironically appeal to independents and democrats. I pushed for caucus when this was decided, and I support that now. I don't think democrats should vote in Republican primaries. However, I'm not going to get pissed off when it happens when it is preventable and the powers that be choose not to prevent it. T.S. Don't change things after the fact because your boy didn't get the win. This is why people get mad at party leadership. Santorum did best in the most republican counties, with the exception of Livingston, Atrim, and Emmet. Santorum won Ottawa, Allegan, Missaukee, Hillsdale, Barry, Branch, St Joe, Sanilac, Lapeer, Osceola, Wexford, and Kent. That ain't due to democrats.

The biggest lesson from last Tuesday was this. The election wasn't Tuesday. It was from 30 days before Tuesday that ended Tuesday. I also made one major miscalculation in my predictions. I knew seniors would go for Romney as did the absentees. The absentee vote was key. I don't know the exact percentages, and won't because some counties combine absentee votes with normal precinct votes in their reporting. Others don't. Here are some samples.

Macomb County:
Romney Election Day 23,188
Romney AV 14,650
Total: 37,838

Santorum Election Day 22,999
Santorum AV 7,219
Total: 30,218

Total AV's - 21,869 (32.13% of the vote between the two of them not counting others)

That was enough to flip the 10th District to Romney. Absentees probably flipped the 5th as well although I can't get good AV reports there.

Romney won Kalamazoo County 9671-9008. It was absentees that once again made the difference there. Even in areas Santorum won, he lost absentees. Some areas in K-zoo combined absentees. Some didn't. The REPORTED AS ABSENTEE vote went 2479-1052 for Romney. That alone was 19% of the vote and does not include about 1/2 of the municipalities so the closer AV number between the two of them was probably 25-30% Take away just the reported as absentee votes, and Santorum won K-zoo County 7956-7192.

Unfortunately, I can find good AV precinct data in interior Northern MI counties that voted for Romney narrowly, but from what I have seen so far, the AV's are at least 25% of the vote, and might be closer to 30% statewide. If that is the case, then the polling samples were way off earlier. The polls had 17% absentee estimates. Why the discrepancies?

Exit polls had Santorum winning those ages 30-64, Romney winning Seniors, and Ron Paul winning the 20-somethings. There isn't a lot of surprises. Santorum did best with those "most conservative" and those who strongly emphasized the life issue. It was the pro-life vote. That's in-line with most polling up through the elections. The senior sample thought should be higher. This is speculation, but the pollsters probably missed the snowbirds. A lot of the voters were probably in Florida. Florida already had their primary and Romney won. A lot of the snowbirds probably made an early decision and sent it in. Pollsters didn't reach them because they wern't home or at least the home where they are likely registered. Why would they be registered in Michigan? Property tax homestead exemptions. The millage rates are much lower with homesteads than a vacation home here.

Absentees are often 30%+ in a general election. Anyone running campaigns in Michigan need to remember that and start early. Romney did and won because of that. Santorum became a 'legitimate candidate' in Michigan on February 7th (hat trick win), after the voting already started in Michigan. His whole Michigan campaign was in three weeks. It's amazing he even competed here with two strikes against him (money and early voting).

Long story short. Don't forget the absentees.

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