Friday, November 07, 2008

Was It Worth It?

That's what Helen Jones-Kelley must be asking herself.

The director of the Department of Jobs and Family Services and Obama campaign contributor came into the news when she admitted she approved the background checks on Joe the Plumber.

She has now been suspended for possibly using a state computer and e-mail account for political fund raising.

UPDATE: The Dispatch has now obtained the emails in question.

The state e-mails show that Jones-Kelley provided the Obama campaign with the names of 17 potential Dayton-area contributors ahead of the candidate's July 11 appearance there.

On July 8, the director offered to write a $2,500 check to the campaign to join Obama at his appearance, volunteered to contact would-be contributors and offered to help arrange an event for Obama's wife, Michelle.

At least one of the potential donors identified by Jones-Kelley contributed $9,600 to the Obama Victory Fund and Obama for America on July 31, according to Federal Election Commission records. Jones-Kelley also gave $2,500.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Ohio Election Post Mortem

Twenty four hours after the Ohio polls closed, with 98.76% of the precincts reporting, a clear picture of the 2008 election is beginning to emerge. And reality is going to go against the conventional wisdom on a number of fronts.



Ohio had record turnout in 2008. FALSE.
Ohio had a turnout of 71.59% in 2004. In 2008, turnout was a little over 65%. To put this in perspective, Bush/Gore in 2000 had a turnout of 63.6% and Clinton/Dole in 1996 had 67.8%.

Ohio had a record number of votes cast in 2008. FALSE.
There were almost 400,000 fewer votes cast in 2008 compared to 2004. Ohio had 5.6M votes cast in 2004 compared to 5.2M this year.

Residents in Democratic counties were motivated and had a turnout similar to the Republican counties. FALSE.
Turnout in Democratic counties was 62.9% vs. 67% in Republican counties for a gap of 4.1%. This was even worse than the 3.4% gap in 2004.

Obama won Ohio thanks to his large margins in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincy, and the other big cities. FALSE.
Obama expanded his victory margin in the Democratic counties from 38.5% - 61% in 2004 to 36% - 62.6% this year. This was offset, however, by the larger turnout gap described above, especially in Cleveland where turnout was only 58%. These two factors essentially canceled each other out. In the end, Obama's performance in the Democratic counties ran within 10,000 votes of my projections he needed to tie Ohio, not to win it.

McCain's GOTV effort was outperforming Bush's in 2004 in the last week of the campaign. FALSE.
Despite an additional 165,000 registered voters in Republican counties, 100,000 less votes were cast in these counties. Turnout dropped from 72.2% to 67% in these counties. McCain's margin of victory in these counties dropped from Bush's 21% to 14%. In the end, this lower turnout combined with the smaller margin of victory in Republican counties cost McCain 200,000 votes. This essentially was the margin of Obama's victory.

Obama won Ohio in the Republican counties. TRUE.
This was absolutely the case and was one of the keys to the election I noted on Sunday.
Rural Counties – This is where the election will be won. More than have of the new registered voters came from Republican counties. If we start to see Obama really closing the gap on Bush's margin of victory in 2004 in the rural counties, this election is over. This basically means Obama went into the heart of Republican counties and got new voters. If you don't see Obama making inroads here, the election is going to be very tight.
In the end, lower turnout and a smaller margin of victory in these counties combined to cost McCain the election. McCain had a very small margin of error in these counties and in the end, he couldn't duplicate the results of 2004 and it cost him the election.

A summary spreadsheet of all of this analysis is here.

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt points out a similar observation that Obama basically ran even in the traditionally Democratic counties.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Real Time Ohio Election Results & Projections

This post will contain real-time election results for the 2008 Ohio presidential election as well as my projections for the final result.

7:35 - awaiting results from Ohio Sec of State...
7:56 - still waiting...
9:00 - still nothing from Cleveland, Columbus, or Cincy... McCain holding in rural areas.
9:19 - Fox just called Ohio for Obama. Interesting..
9:46 - Yep, Obama vote really developing now. Sandusky county went for Bush now went to Obama, other counties w/ similar trends
10:30 - McCain underperforming in all completed Republican counties. Minimal reporting from Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincy.
11:25 - Calling it a night. Will update final info in the next day or and take a larger look.

Wed 9:20 - Final analysis published.



Full County Projection Method: Projected Obama Victory / (Defeat) Margin


Partial County Projection Method: Projected Results


Got questions, read the FAQ.

Here is a link to the detailed Ohio Election Projection Spreadsheet which will be updated in real-time as the Ohio Secretary of State releases results. It provides the projected results as well as detailed comparisons to the 2004 election.

Ohio Early Voting Results

The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that 25% of registered voters in northeastern Ohio have already voted early.

The Columbus Dispatch is estimating that the early votes have gone to Obama by a 56% - 42% margin.

With a little over 8 million registered voters, that would mean around 2 million Ohioans have already voted and have give Obama a lead of around 280,000 votes before the polls opened today.

If turnout runs around 75%, there will be about 4 million votes cast today. That would mean McCain has to win today by a 53% - 46% margin across the entire state.

I'll be updating the Ohio Voting Results projecting the final vote totals this evening as they come in.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Ohio Voter FAQ

What is the basis of your projections?

My projections are based on past turnout and margin of victory trends for each of Ohio's 88 counties. The Cleveland Plan dealer has an excellent overview at http://blog.cleveland.com/pdgraphics/2008/10/03WGWATCH01.pdf which illustrates quite well how the individual counties in Ohio trend. The accompanying article at http://blog.cleveland.com/openers/2008/11/tracking_ohio_vote_on_election.html is also a very good rundown of the Ohio counties and their trends. I don't buy into their bellwether counties however.

I use similar data from the Ohio Secretary of State website to build customized targets for each county. Then, if McCain or Obama outperform their targets, they start to gain an advantage.

What's the difference between Full and Partial county projections?

The Full County projection doesn't give McCain or Obama an advantage for a county until 100% of the precincts for that county are reported. This provides a much better basis for determining whether or not McCain or Obama is outperforming their target for a county. Full County projections are slower to develop but should be more stable. The Full County projections predicts the net number of votes Obama will win or lost Ohio by.

The Partial County projection doesn't wait until 100% of the precincts for a county are reported to give McCain or Obama an advantage. It uses a combination of past performance and the actual results of reporting precincts to project a vote total for each candidate. This projection assumes all precincts in a county behave the same and this is not correct. For this reason, it will develop quickly but can have a lot more variance. Obviously as more precincts report, the stability increases. It starts out assuming Ohio is a tie until either McCain or Obama begin to outperform their targets and then adjusts their totals accordingly. Absentee ballots may also cause these results to swing.

How the heck can McCain be leading in the raw vote totals and Obama be projected as having a winning margin, or vice-versa?

Go back and look at the Cleveland Plain Dealer link in question #1. There are counties where McCain must win big to have a chance at winning Ohio. It's possible for him to win these counties, but still not win them by enough, and then when the Obama county results come in, Obama will probably take the lead. The same is possible for Obama, although in 2004, the rural county results (which favor McCain) came in quicker than the urban counties (which favor Obama).

What assumptions did you build into your projection model?

I developed my projection model so that it at the start, it projects Ohio to end up in a tie. Then, as results come in and McCain or Obama outperform the model, it projects them to win Ohio. I started the projection using the individual turnout and margin victory ratios for each of Ohio's 88 counties.

Turnout in Democratic counties has traditionally lagged Republican counties but I adjusted it up in my model to the same level as seen in Republican counties. My model assumes a turnout ratio of 72.3% in all counties, which is higher than 2004's turnout of 70.5% but lower than Ohio Secretary of States estimate of "up to 80%." If actual turnout is lower in Democratic counties compared to Republican counties, my model will over forecast Democratic strength until more results come in. This only amounted to 25,000 votes so it won't make much of difference and will self correct as actuals come in anyway.

After I adjusted for increased turnout in Democratic counties, I then reduced Bush's 2004 margin of victory (or increased Kerry's) by 0.85% in each county. At that point, Ohio became a tie. What this means if McCain has to be within 0.85% of Bush's margin of victory in each county to win Ohio. If Obama eats into it more than that, he will win.

How will early and absentee voting impact the projections?

This is the big question mark and why the partial county projections could have large swings. The Columbus Dispatch has early and absentee voting going to Obama 56% - 42%. Estimates are that 20% - 30% of the votes were cast early, so these votes will have an impact on the results.

The county election boards will not be counting the early and absentee ballots in a consistent manner. Some of them will count them first, and then begin reporting other precinct results. Other counties will report the precincts first, and then include the early and absentee ballots at the end. This could cause Obama to take large leads in early results, or it could give McCain a large early lead that he will have to defend as the absentee votes are counted. The problem is, it will be tough to tell whether the absentee votes will be counted first or last for each of the counties. This is why the full county projections may be more stable and telling.

Can't you just project at a precinct level instead.

I could, but there are over 11,000 precincts in Ohio and it would be a nightmare. Besides the same problem with absentee ballots still exist. Also, I can't remember if the Ohio Secretary of State publishes results at a precinct level in real-time.

What impact will provisional ballots have?

Provisional ballots have tracked traditional ballots to within 0.1% of a percent. They should not come into play and my methodology does not do anything special for them.

Why do you have the Full County projections based on Obama's margin of victory/defeat instead of McCain's?

The graph came up with a blue bar and I couldn't figure out how to change it's color. Blame Google Docs.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Keys to the Ohio Election

I'll be focusing on setting up things to project the results for the Ohio election over the next day but wanted to post a couple of quick thoughts on the Ohio election and results.

If the polls prove out, it could be a very quick night. If not, watch for these items.

  1. Turnout – Turnout will be higher in Democratic counties from a percentage perspective. This won't be that big of a deal. Turnout was lower in Democratic counties than Republican counties in 2004 but this was driven by a lot of invalid voter registrations that have since been purged. That means the same number of voters could turn out and it would still result in a higher percentage turnout. Even bringing the turnout up the the level's seen in Republican counties only nets Obama 25,000 votes. This isn't where the election will be won.

  1. Rural Counties – This is where the election will be won. More than have of the new registered voters came from Republican counties. If we start to see Obama really closing the gap on Bush's margin of victory in 2004 in the rural counties, this election is over. This basically means Obama went into the heart of Republican counties and got new voters. If you don't see Obama making inroads here, the election is going to be very tight.

  2. Provisional Ballots – If Obama's team is talking about provisional ballots, that's a good sign for McCain. Provisional ballots mimicked traditional ballots within 0.1% in 2004. If either side wants to win the election by counting on provisional ballots, it's over.

  3. Absentee ballots and early voting – In the past, absentee ballots also mimicked the general election results. This was the first year where early voting was encouraged and the Democrats focused on it extremely hard. This is the big unknown this year and we will have to watch.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

McCain's Army Unleashed

The ground war has begun. And in full force it appears. The robocalls have been going for quite a while but now but this weekend has brought calls from local McCain supporters combined with a visit to the house as well.

Unseasonably warm 80 degree weather in November will only help the foot soldiers.

Biden In Town? Yawn!

Joe Biden wasn't exactly packing them in during his tour of midwest Ohio yesterday.

The Lima News reports on the "crowd of hundreds"...
A crowd of several hundred people slow to warm in a chilly Lima Senior High School roared into gear this evening for Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The Dayton Daily News notes a half-filled high school gym...
Biden drew a crowd of about 1,600 to the arena, which seats 3,600 and can hold 4,500 if people are standing on the floor. The crowd was much smaller than a Monday event at the arena with McCain, which drew an estimated 3,600.
Biden would have had bigger crowds if he'd have crashed the football fields hosting the first round of Ohio's high school playoffs.

The Polls Must Be Tightening: R Word Is Coming Up Again

The polls must be tightening, after a several week absence, the "R" word is starting to show up again:

The only way all these polls could be that far off is if people are lying in numbers never before seen in American politics.

Why would they do that?

You tell me it has nothing to do with race. I'll laugh. What else could it possibly be?

Oh brother!

Friday, October 31, 2008

State Employee Contradicts Helen Jones-Kelley

The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that a state employee is contradicting Helen Jones-Kelley's account of the background check on Joe the Plumber.
Vanessa Niekamp said that when was asked to run a child-support check on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher on Oct. 16, she thought it routine. A supervisor told her the man had contacted the state agency about his case.

Niekamp didn't know she just had checked on "Joe the Plumber," who was elevated the night before to presidential politics prominence as Republican John McCain's example in a debate of an average American.

The senior manager would not learn about "Joe" for another week, when she said her boss informed her and directed her to write an e-mail stating her computer check was a legitimate inquiry.

The reason Niekamp said she was given for checking if there was a child-support case on Wurzelbacher does not match the reason given by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Jones-Kelley stated it is common practice to do background checks on people who have money and appear in the news.

Niekamp told The Dispatch she is unfamiliar with the practice of checking on the newly famous. "I've never done that before, I don't know of anybody in my office who does that and I don't remember anyone ever doing that," she said today.

And if that's not bad enough...

On Oct. 23, Niekamp said Doug Thompson, deputy director for child support, told her she had checked on "Joe the Plumber." Thompson "literally demanded" that she write an e-mail to the agency's chief privacy officer stating she checked the case for child-support purposes, she said.

Ohio Democratic Governor Ted Strickland who previously denied political motivations had no comment.


I Made A Difference, So Can You

Stickers reading "I Made a Difference, So Can You, Vote" are taking on a completely new meaning as investigations continue to find out-of-state-voters, underage voters, and duplicate registrations in Ohio.

Sounds like Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner knew exactly what she meant when she spent $28,000 on 4.6 million "I Voted" stickers.

Maybe some of that money could have been used to check those 200,000 mismatched voter registrations.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Patrick Wang Californian Who Voted in Ohio?

The Columbus Dispatch has reported that a "native Californian" voted in Ohio.
• A 33-year-old native Californian voted in Ohio on Oct. 4 using the address of a German Village house. The current resident of that house and the Californian were roommates at UCLA in the mid-1990s. The California native is registered as a permanent vote-by-mail voter in San Francisco County, meaning that he can vote there as well. He had utilities connected at his new business address in San Francisco on Sept. 1. His MySpace account, last updated in August, lists his address in San Francisco.
A review of the Franklin county Ohio voter registration records reveals that a Patrick Wang, 33, registered to vote on Oct. 4, 2008 at an address in German Village.

There is also a MySpace page set up for a Patrick Wang that indicates that he attended UCLA from 1993 - 1997. The last login to the account was on 8/17/2008.

It isn't clear how the Dispatch was able to match the two Patrick Wang's definitively but this certainly appears to be the vote they are referring too. It is also not clear if Wang cast the vote or if someone using his identity did. Either is obviously a problem. The Dispatch stated that he could not be contacted.

Meanwhile, Brunner asked the state attorney general to investigate get-out-the-vote phone calls made by the GOP. Sounds like she's got her priorities straight.

UPDATE: Wang also has a LinkedIn account and is a member of the group "Obama for America."

Election Officials: Alzheimer's patient's vote "odd" , non-resident votes "system that works"

As the Columbus Dispatch continues to identify suspect votes that have been cast in Ohio, no longer can Jennifer Brunner claim that problems with registered voters don't lead to votes being cast. She is now left to calling the votes "odd" and the problem "miniscule."

The Dispatch identified a Alzheimer's patient who has voted.

In Highland County, 95-year-old Mildred Meddock registered and voted for the first time in her life despite her advanced Alzheimer's disease.

Her granddaughters learned of her newfound patriotism when they visited the nursing home where Meddock lives and saw an "I voted today" sticker on her clothing.

Records show that Meddock registered Sept. 26 when two Highland County Board of Elections employees visited the home, Heartland of Hillsboro, about 65 miles south of Columbus. Four other residents also were registered and voted that day.

"I'm hot. I'm livid," said granddaughter Chrystal Brown. "A month ago, she couldn't tell you her name she was so bad, and, depending on what time of day it is, her name is the only thing she can tell you."

Brunner characterized the vote as "odd".

The Dispatch also found votes cast by apparent out-of-staters living in New York, Kentucky, and California.

A man who most recently lived at Rescue Mission in Syracuse, N.Y. He listed his address as 154 E. Long St. Downtown. There's no such address. The 49-year-old man never has registered to vote in New York.

A 27-year-old man who has lived in Kentucky since 1998 listed his address as 2462 Parsons Ave. That address, if it existed, would fall somewhere below the Rt. 104 overpass near the railroad tracks in a heavily industrialized area of the South Side.

A 33-year-old native Californian voted in Ohio on Oct. 4 using the address of a German Village house.

Brunner said the problem with of non-Ohioans voting in Ohio was "miniscule."

Matthew Damschroder, deputy county elections director, went even farther:
Damschroder agrees. In a county with nearly 850,000 registered voters, "One (double voter) is not indicative of systematic problems. It's indicative of a system that works," he said, referring to the California man with ballots here and there.
I'm not quite sure what system is supposed to be working, but I think ACORN and the Obama campaign know what he's talking about.

Helen Jones-Kelly: Joe the Plumber Checks "well meaning"

The Columbus Dispatch continues to dig into multiple stories it is breaking.

Helen Jones-Kelley, the registered Democrat and Obama contributor, OK'd the background checks on Joe the Plumber in her role as the Ohio Director of Job and Family Services. The checks were even more extensive than originally revealed.

Helen Jones-Kelley, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, disclosed yesterday that computer inquiries on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher were not restricted to a child-support system.

The agency also checked Wurzelbacher in its computer systems to determine whether he was receiving welfare assistance or owed unemployment compensation taxes, she wrote.

She is sticking by her story that it's her duty to do background checks on anyone in the news who says they have money.

"Given our understanding that Mr. Wurzelbacher had publicly indicated that he had the means to purchase a substantial business enterprise, ODJFS, consistent with past departmental practice, checked confidential databases ," she wrote...

Jones-Kelley wrote the checks were "well-meaning," but misinterpreted amid the heated final weeks of a presidential election.

Jones-Kelley stated that the results remained confidential. Anyone want to take a bet on how confidential they would have remained if they had turned up something?

And people wonder why the source of the L.A. Times tape won't come forward and provide it to someone else.

UPDATE 10/31: A state employee contradicts Jones-Kelley's account: "I've never done that before, I don't know of anybody in my office who does that and I don't remember anyone ever doing that,"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Obama Supporters Behind Joe The Plumber Info Searches

The Toledo Blade reports that Toledo police have identified a clerk as accessing Joe the Plumber's information illegally.

Julie McConnell, has been charged with Gross Misconduct for allegedly making an improper inquiry into a state database in search of information pertaining to Samuel Wurzelbacher on Oct. 16.

Wurzelbacher came under the spotlight after being spoken about during the final presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain.

The inquiry into Wurzelbacher's record is a violation of department and state policy governing the use of the Law Enforcement Automated Data System. The clerk is under fire for making the inquiry for a non-law enforcement purpose.

Julie McConnell is a registered Democrat in Lucas county.

Meanwhile Helen Jones-Kelley confirmed that she authorized the check on Joe the Plumber. Jones-Kelley, who donated $2,300 to Obama's campaign, said it wasn't politically motivated.

Amid questions from the media and others about "Joe the Plumber," Jones-Kelley said she approved a check through the Support Enforcement Tracking System to determine whether he was current on any ordered child-support payments. She said the check was not politically motivated.

It is unclear whether Wurzelbacher is involved in a child-support case, and Jones-Kelley said such information cannot be publicly shared. Reports state that he lives with a 13-year-old son in suburban Toledo.

"Our practice is when someone is thrust quickly into the public spotlight, we often take a look" at them, Jones-Kelley said, citing a case where a lottery winner was found to owe past-due child support.

Just doing their duty as public servants.

McConnell a Registered Democrat

Michelle Malkin points out that a quick search of campaign donor records doesn't turn up Julie McConnell's name. A quick search of Ohio's registered voters in Lucas county shows McConnell is a registered Democrat though.

McConnell is the Toledo police records clerk who improperly looked up Joe the Plumber's information. Just doing her duty as a public servant.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

2008 Ohio Vote Projections By Precinct

In a previous post, I ran a 2008 vote projection assuming the 2004 turnout percentages and 2004 margin of victories for each county. Using the 2008 registered voter list as a base, all things being equal to 2004, McCain would actually win Ohio by 125,000 votes, which was slightly more than the 119,000 Bush actually won Ohio by in 2004. This is because counties that went for Bush in 2004 actually had a larger increase in registered voters in 2008 than counties that went for Kerry.

At the time I said I would run another projection at the precinct level instead of at the county level. My assumption was that Obama was registering new voters in Democratic friendly precincts in the Bush counties. By running the projections at a precinct level, I expected my projections to narrow considerably.

I have completed my analysis and the results and the exact opposite of what I expected. Running the projections at a precinct level (there are over 11,000 precincts in Ohio) and summing them up increases McCain's margin of victory to over 147,000 votes.

I used the same method as I did at the county level in my previous post. I took the current number of registered voters for each precinct, multiplied it by the turnout factor for that precinct in 2004 and then applied then gave McCain and Obama the same percentage of the vote that went Democratic and Republican in 2004. This netted McCain an additional 22,000 votes over doing the same thing at a county level.

It should be noted that approximately 1% of all precincts in Ohio appear to have been redefined since 2004. In cases where the precinct did not exist in 2004, I applied countywide factors to make the projections.

What this means is that the new voters did not just come in primarily Republican counties. They came from the most Republican precincts in those counties.

Even in Democratic leaning counties, precincts with some of the largest increases in registered voters went Republican. For example, Monclova Township Precinct 11 is in Lucas county, increased by over 1,000 registered voters in 2008. In 2004, Lucas county went for Kerry 61% - 39% but this particular precinct when for Bush 54% - 44%.

The opposite is also true, some of the largest decreases in registered voters came in precincts that lean heavily Democratic.

All of this would appear to be good news for McCain, but obviously the polls don't show this.

This means one of three things are happening:
  • Obama went into the heart of the Republican strongholds and found Democratic voters and registered them.
  • Voters who voted for Bush in 2004 are crossing over and voting for Obama this year or not voting at all.
  • The polls are wrong and are assuming a larger turnout of Democratic voters than has occured in the past and will occur this year.

If it's 1, that's bad news for Republicans and Ohio could be blue for a long time.

If it's 2, it will be interesting to see if the voters who switch will stick or not in future elections.

If it's 3, hang on to your hats, it could be an interesting election night.

UPDATE: Geraghty at The Campaign Spot notices the same thing in Virginia.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Government Computers used to Find Dirt on Joe the Plumber

The Columbus Dispatch is investigating why, after the last debate, his information was accessed by someone in the Ohio Attorney General's Office, Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency, and the Toledo Police Department.

Paul Lindsay, Ohio spokesman for the McCain campaign, attempted to portray the inquiries as politically motivated. "It's outrageous to see how quickly Barack Obama's allies would abuse government power in an attempt to smear a private citizen who dared to ask a legitimate question," he said.

Isaac Baker, Obama's Ohio spokesman, denounced Lindsay's statement as charges of desperation from a campaign running out of time. "Invasions of privacy should not be tolerated. If these records were accessed inappropriately, it had nothing to do with our campaign and should be investigated fully," he said.

Of course the Obama campaign doesn't have anything to do with this. Just like they don't with the invalid voter registrations from ACORN, the illegal votes cast from the out-of-state Vote From Home volunteers, or the invalid campaign contributions made to the Obama website itself.

The breadth of the inquiries is really scary when you consider all he did was ask a presidential candidate a question.

"We're trying to pinpoint where it came from," she said. The investigation could become "criminal in nature," she said. Brindisi would not identify the account that pulled the information on Oct. 16...

On Oct. 17, BMV information on Wurzelbacher was obtained through an account used by the Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency in Cleveland, records show...

The State Highway Patrol, which administers the Law Enforcement Automated Data System in Ohio, asked Toledo police to explain why it pulled BMV information on Wurzelbacher within 48 hours of the debate, Hunter said.

This will just show again how far Obama supporters are willing to go to get thier man elected. In their case, the ends always justify the means.

Country first. What's that?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ohio Early Voting

The Akron Beacon Journal reports that early voting is leaning heavily Democratic.

Democrats are dominating early voting so far, using a broad strategy to get as many ballots as possible cast ahead of Nov. 4's elections. Republicans have been using a more narrow approach, going after specific targets, such as young voters with hunting licenses.
In Franklin county, Democrats have cast 9,000 more votes than Republicans, for example. These votes will give Obama a lead going into the election but at this point it doesn't appear to be insurmountable.

I'm trying to find early voting numbers for each county now.

Ich Bin Ein Ohioan

Everyone's an Ohioan these days...

O'Brien has spoken to attorneys for both campaigns and asked election officials to review the residency status of John McCain's and Barack Obama's staff members, as well as those of other get-out-the-vote groups, who have few Ohio ties but registered and requested absentee ballots.

"One thing that is crystal-clear is the law -- if you are a temporary resident or a visitor, you are not entitled to register to vote and you're not entitled to vote," O'Brien, a Republican, told The Dispatch yesterday.

He recommended that anyone with a questionable registration from those groups destroy their absentee ballots and steer clear of the polls. "There is no debate. Ohio law says it in black and white."

The warning went out to both campaigns and the campaign spokesmen from both campaigns are registered in Ohio.

This all started when 12 students from a liberal group registered to vote from the same address.

O'Brien already was investigating 12 people involved with the group Vote From Home who registered and have cast or requested absentee ballots. All list their address as the same Brownlee Avenue house on the East Side.

The Vote from Home members, who came to Columbus to register new voters, are from out of state and have no apparent intention of remaining here after the election -- raising questions about whether they meet legal residency requirements to vote.

I'm glad to see officials taking this seriously. Maybe if people see the consequences of this, they'd think twice before trying.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ohio Registered Voters: 8.23 Million as of 10/12/2008

Voter registration in Ohio closed 10/6/2008 and Jennifer Brunner, Ohio's Secretary of State, released a new registered voter file compiled on 10/12/2008.

A quick review shows that there are now 8,231,970 voters registered in Ohio, up 100,000 from two weeks ago. This is up 252,340 voters compared to the 2004 Bush/Kerry election, with the majority of the increase coming from counties that went for Bush in 2004. In comparison, the registered voter count increased by almost 450,000 from 2000 to 2004, with the vast majority coming in the Kerry counties.

Cincy Enquirer Verifies Ohio Voter Findings

The Cincinnati Enquirer examines the Ohio Voter rolls...

In Hamilton County, 17 people are registered to vote from riverfront addresses south of Mehring Way - places with street numbers that would put their homes somewhere in the Ohio River.

Another 46 voters are registered at addresses that would put their homes in the middle of the Paul Brown Stadium parking lot, or at the riverfront project known as The Banks - which hasn't been built.

An Enquirer analysis of more than 8 million Ohio voter registration records found a litany of quirks, inconsistencies, errors, duplicate registrations and other problems with little more than two weeks until Election Day.

Thousands of voters appear on registration lists twice - some as many as six times. At least 589 registered voters - mostly in Franklin and Cuyahoga counties - were born in 1991 or later, which puts them under the legal voting age.

Voters are registered at post office boxes, office buildings with no residences, police stations and even park benches.

Underaged voters? Duplicate registrations?

Yep, Ohio Voter brought them to you first!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

2008 Ohio Vote Projections: McCain's Margin of Error Less Than 1%

UPDATE: Tonight I'll be comparing this projection against the actual votes to determine how each candidate it doing to predict Ohio early.

I've completed my initial projections of Ohio's vote for the 2008 presidential election based on the current registered voter list and past behavior. The bottom line is McCain has some room for deterioration from Bush's 2004 performance. But not much.

I did my preliminary projections at the county level. Hopefully I will be able perform the same analysis at a precinct level to see if there is much of a difference.

To do my preliminary projections, I took the 2008 voter registration counts for each county, applied a turnout factor equal to the turnout for the county in 2004, and then applied the a factor representing the percent of votes Bush got to determine a McCain baseline and a factor representing the percent of votes Kerry got to determine a Obama baseline. I did this for each county and totaled them up for a statewide total.

Using this method, McCain wins Ohio by 125,928 votes. This was a slight improvement over Bush's performance (118,000 votes) because Bush counties actually showed a slightly larger increase in registered voters in 2008 than Kerry counties.

That means, if everything mirrors 2004 (turnout, margin of victory in each county), McCain wins Ohio by a little over 125,000 votes.

But everything remaining the same is highly unlikely, and the things that will change favor Obama. The question is, how much will they change and how much will they eat into the 125,000 votes?

The first factor to consider is turnout. Turnout in Bush counties was 72.29% while turnout in Kerry counties was 68.86%. After the 2004 election, Ohio's voter lists were purged of invalid voters with a significant number coming from the urban counties that favored Kerry. These invalid voters artificially lowered the turnout in Kerry counties to some extent and you would expect higher turnout in 2008. What's unclear is how many of the new voters registered are invalid. It's clear that ACORN has been registering some invalid voters but it's not clear how many really made the actual registration list, etc.

For the purposes of this analysis, I'm going to assume the turnout in the Kerry counties increases to the same level as the Bush counties in 2004. This would require an 5% increase in the number of voters turning out in Kerry counties.

This increase in turnout would net Obama an additional 24,572 votes.

This means that even if Obama raises the turnout in Kerry counties 5%, matching the turnout percentages in the Bush counties, he will still lose Ohio by over 100,000 votes.

Obama will not win Ohio by just increasing turnout in his base counties. He must also eat into Bush's margin of victory.

There are a couple ways he could do this. Bush won his counties in 2004 by an average margin of victory of 20.90%. Kerry won his counties by an average of 16.62%.

If Obama can win the same Kerry counties by 20.90% like Bush won his, he brings the election to within 2,500 votes. Factor in the increased turnout in the Kerry counties and he wins by a little over 20,000.

Likewise, if Obama can reduce McCain's margin of victory in the Bush counties to 16.62%, he brings the election to within 5oo votes. Again, factor in the increased turnout in Kerry counties and he wins by 24,000.

Another option. Increase the turnout in the Kerry counties as stated above and increase his margin of victory by 0.9% in Kerry counties while reducing McCain's by 0.9% in Bush counties.

The result: a 5,849 vote victory for Obama. Is that close enough for you?

In a future post, I would like to perform a similar analysis at the precinct level. Using a county rollup could hide trends in voter registration that I am missing.

I would also like to look at trends in 2000 to 2004 results and see what happens if I project them out into 2008.

The bottom line is something everyone knew. McCain has very little margin for error and can't allow even a 1% deterioration from Bush's margins of victory if he is to win Ohio.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One Third of Ohio's 2008 Registered Voters Mismatched

Ohio's Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner released info today stating that 200,000 of the 660,000 voters registered in 2008 do not match Ohio MVR or SSN records.
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner estimated that an initial review found that about 200,000 newly registered voters reported information that did not match motor-vehicle or Social Security records, Brunner spokesman Kevin Kidder said.

It appears as though Brunner has made this available online, thus meeting my Open Records Request.
Brunner previously cross-checked new-voter registrations with databases run by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle and the Social Security Administration and made the results available online, but the 6th Circuit said the information was not accessible in a way that would help county election boards ferret out mismatches.

I'm out of town right now and haven't downloaded the latest voter registration file but will when I get home over the weekend. This will allow me to break down the mismatches by county and other demographics.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Brunner Gets it Right

Reversing an earlier decision, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner will now give county election officials information on registered voters whose registration information did not match MVR or SSN records.
Brunner also said counties will have access within a week to a list of new
voters whose registration information does not match records with the state
Bureau of Motor Vehicles or Social Security Administration. But what
elections officials are supposed to do with that list remains a mystery.

This is the information I submitted an open records request for and stated should be easy to provide.

Brunner said in her directive: "To reinforce our preparations for a
successful election that ensures voter confidence, I hereby direct boards of
elections to swiftly and fully investigate all specific allegations or evidence
of voter registration fraud, illegal voting or voter suppression in their
respective jurisdictions."

But during a press conference today, she said reports of widespread voter
fraud are overblown.

"I don't believe there is an effort underway to steal the election," Brunner
said. "Ohio's bipartisan election officials have a duty to investigate
specific allegations of wrongdoing, protecting the rights of eligible voters in
the process. Republicans and Democrats both want fair elections, and our
preparation in Ohio is already showing results with successful absentee
voting."

I generally agree with her. It is a very good idea to provide this information to the county election boards and there was no reason not to. From an overall percentage perspective, the number of irregularities in the Ohio registered voters list is pretty small and the bipartisan county election officials are working together to investigate. For example in Cleveland, a very highly Democratic area of the state, the county election officials took it upon themselves to investigate ACORN instead of trying to hide or defend the group.

Ohio's election officials have not been as partisan as the Florida officials appears in the Bush/Gore election.

While I agree with Brunner that I don't believe there is a widespread coordinated effort to steal the election in Ohio, I do think it's important to open up the information so everyone can see that is the case.

It appears Brunner has taken a step in that direction.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ohio Newspaper Poll: McCain Still Leads by 2

The latest Ohio Newspaper Poll has John McCain leading Barack Obama 48 - 46. This is down from 48 - 42 in the poll conducted Sept 12 - 16. The latest survey was from Oct. 4 - 8.

Obama got a smaller bounce in this poll than I expected, and his advantage on the economy is less than I expected as well.
Also by a small margin, Obama was favored as the candidate who "would do
the best job in improving economic conditions," 47 percent to 44 percent.
Rademacher said the election was "still up for grabs" because 13 percent said
they might change their minds and 3 percent were undecided. Several said they
made up their minds only recently.

I'll be looking at the details of this poll in the next day or two, but the bottom line is McCain is still alive in Ohio.

The challenge is that Obama is spending a lot of time here while McCain is being spread across a lot of states he needs to win.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Who the Voters Are

In my last post I listed the most popular addresses in the list of voters registered in 2008 in Ohio. Now I look at the most popular name/birth year combination of voters registered in 2008.

Joshua Miller (born 1989) - 12 registrations
Ashley Johnson (born 1990) - 12 registrations
Ashley Smith (born 1990) - 12 registrations
Matthew Smith (born 1989) - 13 registrations
Michael Smith (born 1989) - 13 registrations
Brittany Smith (born 1990 - 14 registrations
Jessica Smith (born 1990) - 14 registrations
Matthew Smith (born 1990) 14 registrations
Ashley Davis (born 1990) - 14 registrations
Ashley Smith (born 1990) - 17 registrations
Brittany Smith (born 1989) 17 registrations

To put this in perspective, the top five baby names for girls in 1990 were:
Jessica
Brittany
Ashley
Amanda
Sarah

The top five baby names for boys in 1990 were:
Michael
Christopher
Matthew
Joshua
Daniel

Is it possible that there were 17 separate Brittany and Ashley Smiths born in 1990 and 1989 that are registered in Ohio? Sure.

Do we know for sure? No.

That's why it's so important to understand which voter registrations did not match MVR or SSN records. That's why it so important to allow observers to monitor the early voting.

If the Ohio results are close, the state will come under fire again. It's important to let the sunlight in now, before the votes are cast.

Where the Voters Are

There's been a lot of focus on voters who appear on Ohio's voter list multiple times. I spent some time today looking at the addresses where multiple voters are registered. Here are the top ten addresses with voters registered in Ohio.

940 Second St, Portsmouth (Shawnee State University): 135 voters
217 W 12th St, Cincinnati (Homeless Shelter): 143 voters
1701 Payne Ave, Cleveland (Mental Health Clinic): 160 voters
1400 Brush Row Rd, Wilberforce (Central State University): 172 voters
2219 Payne Ave, Cleveland (Women's Homeless Shelter): 174 voters
2020 East Maple St, North Canton (Walsh University): 174 voters
1055 N Bickett Rd, Wilberforce (Wilberforce University): 184 voters
300 College Park Ave, Dayton (Univ of Dayton): 405 voters
2100 Lakeside Ave, Cleveland (Men's Homeless Shelter): 597 voters
0 Kenyon College, Gambier (Kenyon College): 698 voters

Federal Appeals Court: Nothing Here, Move Along

A federal appeals court has reversed a lower court's ruling and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner will no longer be required to provide county boards of elections lists of voters who registered but who's personal information doesn't match known values:
The three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Brunner is not required to provide county elections boards with the names of voters whose personal information does not match state motor-vehicle or federal Social Security records, as ordered Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge George C. Smith of Columbus.
What's amazing is how trivial this request would be to perform. The information is stored in the state's database.
Q. How are new voter registrations checked in Ohio?
A. Counties enter the information from new voters into their computer systems, and it is uploaded to a state database to check for duplicates
from other counties.
The personal information also is matched against state motor-vehicle and federal Social Security records.
Q. What if the motor-vehicle and Social Security records don't match the voter registration?
A. A notation is made on the voter's record in the state database, but counties are not sent a list of mismatches and can only access them by reviewing voter records one by one in the database. An appeals court is reviewing a judge's order that the counties must be given a list of the mismatches.
Brunner's office already makes a subset of this database available on it's website in a common format that can be easily loaded into databases for analysis. In fact, it is this subset that I have been analyzing for the last week. To perform the additional mismatch analysis requested, it would be necessary to add a single Yes/No indicator to the format of the file already being provided. This should be trivial.

Brunner appears to be purposely hiding information.

I am currently preparing to file a Freedom of Information Act request with Brunner's office to get access to this information.

Maybe the court is right, there is nothing to see here. But it would be nice to be able to look and confirm.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Where In Ohio is Freddie Johnson?

Freddie Johnson has become the poster child for the problems ACORN is causing registering voters multiple times.
"Sometimes, they come up and bribe me with a cigarette, or they'll give me a dollar to sign up," said Freddie Johnson, 19, who filled out 72 separate voter-registration cards over an 18-month period at the behest of the left-leaning Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now...

Johnson used the same information on all of his registration cards, and officials say they usually catch and toss out duplicate registrations. But the practice sparks fear that some multiple registrants could provide different information and vote more than once by absentee ballot.
Armed with this information, I searched the 8 million registered voters in Ohio to see what I would find.

There are 22 Freddie Johnson's registered to vote across Ohio. Hometowns include Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Pepper Pike, Euclid, Waverly, Akron, North Canton, and Mason.

Remarkably, six of them reside at the same address in Cleveland and were born in 1989 registering this year on 4/16, 7/8, 7/24, 7/25, 8/4, and 8/18.

I guess when official say they "usually catch and toss out duplicate registrations" they mean except for the 6 that they don't catch.

McCain's Hope

In my previous post listing a number of advantages that appear to favor Obama, I said I would also spend to time outlining reasons that could give McCain hope. Here are a couple.

1. Onsight early voting appears to be being done mostly by Obama partisans who would have voted for Obama anyway. At this point, it doesn't appear as though the fence sitters are voting early and McCain still has a chance to win their vote. There have been no indications of what is happening with the mail-in absentee ballots.

2. Kerry saw a much larger increase in the total number of registered voters in Democratic leaning counties from 2000 to 2004 (0ver 350,000) than Obama is seeing from 2004 to 2008 (around 60,000). That huge advantage only translated into a decrease of 50,000 votes in Bush's winning margin from 2000 to 2004.

3. Voter turnout in Democratic leaning counties has traditionally run 4% lower than in Republican leaning counties. Additionally, the Democrat's margin of victory in Democratic counties has run about 2 points lower than Republican's margin of victory in Republican leaning counties. This means it takes less registered voters in Republican countiers to get the same margin of victory the Democratic candidate gets in the Democratic counties.

4. It is extremely difficult for a Democrat to win a majority of votes in Ohio. Jimmy Carter was the last candidate to do so in 1976 when he beat Gerald Ford by a little over 11,000 votes. But wait you say, what about Bill Clinton? Bill Clinton did not win a majority of votes in 1992 or 1996. In fact, he got a lower percentage of the vote in Republican counties than Gore or Kerry in the last two elections. What happened was that Ross Perot pulled in over 1,000,000 votes in 1992 and almost 500,000 across Ohio, mostly from the Republican counties.

The bottom line, Ohioans in the rural counties will vote against Republicans, but even when they do, they'd prefer not to vote for Democrats. In the end, this may be McCain's best chance. McCain can still win these voters.

They are looking for a reason to vote for him. The question is, will he give it to them?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Party Affiliation of Ohio's New Registered Voters

In my previous post, I explained how the number of total number of registered voters increased by a little over 180,000 from the levels of the 2004 Bush/Kerry election. I also stated that two thirds of this increase came from counties Bush won in 2004. I also stated that while on the surface, this would appear to be good news for McCain, there were indications that this might not be the case. Today I will begin to explain some of those indications which come from an analysis Ohio voters who registered in 2008.

An analysis of the registered voter list in Ohio shows that 859,724 people registered to vote in 2008. The reason the total registered voters did not increase by this amount from 2004 is because many counties purged their registered voter rolls between 2004 and 2008, eliminating hundreds of thousands of voters on the rolls who were not longer valid.

Examining the characteristics of the voters who registered in 2008 clearly indicate an advantage for Obama.

The first indicator is an analysis by party affiliation. It is not required to declare a party affiliation in Ohio when you register to vote. In fact, that vast majority of 2008 registrants did not declare an affiliation. Of those that did though, they favored the Democrats over the Republicans by a 3:1 margin (93,700 to 33,841).




This breakout is significantly different from the voters who registered prior to 2008 in two respects. First, there are significantly more independents in 2008, and secondly, the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is higher than normal.



Because the vast majority of new voters registered as independent, it's important to look at other characteristics of the new registrants as well to get more insight. Analyzing the new registrations by county can provide some of this insight.

This analysis also provides bad news for McCain, although not quite as bad.

Over 500,000 (59%) of the new registrations came from counties that supported Kerry in 2004 while a little over 350,000 (41%) came from counties that supported Bush in 2004. Looking at only the independent registrants reveal the exact same percentages.

Remember, Bush won Ohio by 120,000 votes.

If Obama wants to look for even more good news, it's that it appears that he is making inroads in counties that voted for Bush in 2004. In 83 of Ohio's 88 counties, even those that voted for Bush in 2004, there were more new Democrats registered than new Republicans.

Obama has set up a ton of campaign offices in Ohio and it appears that they are registering voters throughout Ohio, not just in the big cities.

With all of this said, this does not mean Ohio is a slam dunk for Obama. There are things that should give McCain hope, and I will be posting some of these soon.

UPDATE: The Akron Beacon Journal is reporting that 666,000 new voters registered in Ohio in 2008, about 200,000 less than I reported above. That would seem to indicate that the voter file I used included name and address changes made in 2008 in addition to new voter registrations. The file supplied by the Ohio Secretary of State's office listed all 859,000 voters with a registration date of 2008.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Ohio Registered Voters: 8.16 Million as of 10/6/2008

Voter registration in Ohio closed yesterday and Jennifer Brunner, Ohio's Secretary of State, released a new registered voter file compiled at 8:19pm last night.

A quick review shows that there are now 8,162,815 voters registered in Ohio, up 100,000 from two weeks ago. This is up 183,185 voters compared to the 2004 Bush/Kerry election, with the majority of the increase coming from counties that went for Bush in 2004. In comparison, the registered voter count increased by almost 450,000 from 2000 to 2004, with the vast majority coming in the Kerry counties.

This is not a typo.

Kerry won 16 counties in 2004: Ashtabula, Athens, Belmont, Cuyahoga, Erie, Franklin, Jefferson, Lorain, Lucas, Mahoning, Monroe, Montgomery, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull. Bush won the remaining 72.

In 2004, the Kerry counties had 4,093,761 registered voters. In 2008 they have 4,152,087, up almost 60,000.

In 2004, the Bush counties had 3,885,869 registered voters. In 2008 they have 4,010,728, up over 120,000.

On the surface, this would appear to be good news for McCain. However there are indications that this may not be the case.

First, several Kerry counties cleaned up their registered voter lists, purging what appears to be almost 400,000 voters from the lists. The good news is that this eliminated 400,000 potential cases of voter fraud. The bad news for McCain is that this masks 400,000 new registered voters in Gore counties.

Second, Obama has made an all out effort to register voters in all counties in Ohio, opening 72 campaign offices throughout the state. It is likely that many of the new registrations in Bush counties are Obama supporters. It is unclear at this time, however, how many are.

As I have time, I will do a lot more analysis on the new voters who registered in 2008.

UPDATE: Originally, I inadvertently referred to the 2004 election as Bush/Gore instead of Bush/Kerry in my original post and I have corrected it. I have previous posts comparing the results of the 2000 Bush/Gore election to the 2004 Bush/Kerry election and typed up this summary quickly w/ two kids crawling all over me. Sorry for the confusion. I have corrected this post to correctly refer to the 2004 Bush/Kerry counts.

UPDATE 2: A new file with 8.23M registered voters is now available.

Last Call

Ohio voter registration ended tonight.

As expected, Brunner posted an updated voter registration file today. Hopefully I'll be able to download it in time to post some preliminary analysis tonight. I'll be spending a lot more time analyzing the list of over 8 million voters over the next several weeks, comparing them to the 2004 list as well as looking at the characteristics of the voters who have registered in 2008.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

He's One of Us: Obama's Great Great Great Great Great Grandmother an Ohioan

Wow, he's more of an Ohioan than I am. My family loses track after just one "great".


Dispatch Poll: Obama Up by 7

The latest Columbus Dispatch poll has Obama leading McCain 49% - 42%. The poll was conducted Sept 22 - Oct 3.


The Dispatch poll is different from others in that it is conducted by mail instead of phone. The theory is that this is more accurate because if someone isn't active enough to mail in the poll response, they aren't likely to vote. For this reason it has been very accurate in static races but because of the length of time to conduct, it can miss sudden changes in a dynamic race.

In the first Columbus Dispatch poll before the conventions, McCain held a 1 point lead. In the the Ohio Newspaper poll conducted Sept 12 - 16, he had a 6 point lead.

The difference in the earlier polls and this one is obvious. As I mentioned earlier, McCain held an advantage over Obama in all age categories over 30 despite the fact that "worse off" respondents outnumbered "better off" respondents by over 2:1. I pointed out that this was a tremdous area of vulnerability of McCain.

A breakdown of this latest poll basically shows the collapse of that support. Obama now has an advantage in every age group except those aged 65 - 74.

Interestingly, Obama is also showing tremendous growth in Northwest Ohio. The Ohio Newspaper poll had McCain leading in this area of Ohio 55% - 34%. The current Dispatch poll has Obama leading 45% - 41%. I'm not sure what would be driving that much of a change in a relatively rural area that has traditionally been pretty conservative. We may be seeing some erosion of support from conservatives.

Overall, I do agree that Obama has the lead in Ohio. The last several weeks have been bad for McCain and have hit him in his most vulnerable spot: the economy.

I do disagree with the Dispatch comment that "The Illinois senator's lead of 49 percent to 42 percent over Republican Sen. John McCain comes at an especially opportune time for Obama because thousands of Ohioans already are casting ballots in the state's first presidential election"

To date, the walk in votes appear to be coming in from Ohio's most partisan voters. I will need to see some data on the mail in absentee ballots before I declare a hole too big for McCain to dig himself out of.

With that said, he had better start digging now, or it will get to be too big very quickly.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Game's Still On in Ohio

The Columbus Dispatch summarized the 4,134 absentee ballots that were cast this week in Franklin County.



The early voters clearly favor Obama but there are two things of note. The first is the 668 voters who registered the same day they voted. It looks like we can expect these voters to total a couple thousand across the state by the time this period closes on Monday but probably less than 10,000.

The second was an almost throwaway line which initially may seem as bad news for McCain.
More than 80 percent of those who cast ballots and also voted in the March 4 primary were registered Democrats.
What makes this interesting however is that fact that you do not have to declare a party affiliation in Ohio when you register. In fact, half of Ohioans do not declare a party affiliation and only 31% are registered Democrats. In Ohio, only the strongest Democrats and Republicans register as such, the rest are undeclared.

Its clear it's these strongest Democrats who are voting early. These aren't Bush voters Obama is winning over or even fence sitters who McCain had a chance to win over. These are Obama's strongest supporters who he could always count on. He was always going to get these votes, be it on October 4th or November 4th.

There may still be a great groundswell toward Obama, but these results indicate that it hasn't happened yet. Not at the only place that counts at least: the ballot box.

Yard Signs and the Hillary Vote

Original Musings did a tongue-in-cheek poll by counting yard signs in her subdivision and determined John McCain was going to win the election.
There are about 300 homes in our subdivision — Summerfield — and, as of Thursday night, precisely 25 have put up yard signs for the upcoming election. Presumably the other 275-ish are voting, they’re just not comfortable openly stating their allegiance.

Of the 25 yards with signs …

* 19 have McCain signs (all of which are McCain/Palin)
* 6 have Obama signs (two of which are Obama/Biden, the rest Obama alone)
This got me to thinking a little bit more about yard signs and what they may or may not indicate.

Let's take the example above. The Summerfield subdivision is in Beavercreek, OH, just outside of Dayton, which is in Greene County. Green county leans Republican (Bush beat Kerry by over 17,000 votes and a margin of 61% TO 39%) and this particular area of Green county leans slightly more (65% to 34%) so it's no surprise that there are more McCain signs than Obama signs. What is interesting is the ratio of McCain signs to Obama signs, which is higher than you would expect.

The results of the Ohio primary may provide some insight. Clinton won this precinct over Obama by 51% to 47%. By comparison McCain got 51% of this precinct and 35% went for Huckabee.

Is it a coincidence that the Democratic signs are for "Obama" and the Republican signs are for "McCain/Palin"? I don't think so.

It looks to me like Palin is attracting some Hillary votes while solidifying those Huckabee voters as well. If this is the case, Obama could have a bigger hurdle to get over in Ohio than he expects.

With that said, this precinct shows the same trend as I am seeing throughout Ohio. Small increases in voter registrations which are leaning slightly more Democratic than you would expect based on their precinct/county makeup. There were 72 new voters registered in 2008 in this precinct, 10 Democrats, 11 Republicans, and 51 undeclared.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Ohio's Early Voting Looks Light

Ohio's early voting on day one looks light, especially those who are registering and voting on the same day.

Franklin County (includes Columbus): 808, 72 also newly registered

Hamilton County (includes Cincinnati): 656, 54 also newly registered

Cuyahoga County (includes Cleveland): 558, 110 also newly registered

Lucas County (includes Toledo): 493 voted, 78 also newly registered

Montgomery County (includes Dayton): 363, 25 also registered

That means across Ohio's largest counties, around 3,000 votes were cast with about 339 registering on the same day. This should also be the high point as it included students busing in from the University of Toledo, camping from Ohio State, and union members in Cincinnati.

In the overall scheme of things, these are very small numbers. Now the number mailing in their absentee ballots could be another story.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Brunner on Ohio's 1,000 Underage Voters: No response

It's been over a week since I sent a note to Ohio's Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner asking how it was possible for there to be over 1,000 children under the age of 18 registered for vote in the State of Ohio.

My note gave her two weeks to clean Ohio's registered voter list before it is finalized next week. Will she do it?

I wouldn't know, she hasn't even bothered to reply.

I hope it's because she spending time looking through the 95,000 voters with a birth year before 1900 as well. I'm not holding my breath though.

Michelle Malkin points out that the Ohio Supreme Court has overruled Brunner and said that the county election boards need to fulfill absentee ballot requests supplied by the McCain campaign - even if a box indicating they were a qualified elector was not checked. Brunner had stated the requests should not be fulfilled.

At first I thought Brunner was specifically targeting the McCain ballot requests. Now I realize she was just expecting all those 16-year olds registered to vote to leave the box unchecked so she wouldn't send them a ballot.

How many will remain on the list in November? We should know soon. I'm expecting a new voter file early next week where I will look at these issues as well as many others.

If you have recommendations, feel free to leave a comment on what you would like to see me look into as I continue my analysis.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Little T-Shirt Humor

That's the problem with an economic collapse of a lifetime. Real news falls by the wayside.

Too funny...
The Denver police union is selling T-shirts that poke fun at protesters at last month's Democratic National Convention, but the main target isn't laughing. The back of the shirts reads, "We get up early to beat the crowds" and "2008 DNC," and has a caricature of a police officer holding a baton.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Reviewing Ohio's 2004 Election Results

In preparing to analyze the impact of Ohio's newly registered voters, it is helpful to understand where Kerry made gains in Ohio in 2004 over Gore's 2000 results.

I found an old post of mine that summarized where Kerry made his inroads.
The Kerry team was very successful at this. They actually netted more votes than Gore in 22 of Ohio's 88 counties. This included urban counties such as Cuyahoga (Cleveland), Franklin (Columbus), Hamilton (Cincinnatti), Summit (Akron), Lucas (Toledo), and Stark (Canton). Another commonality among the list of counties where Kerry improved over Gore's 2000 performance was the existence of a large or medium-sized university. In addition to all of the counties above which have colleges, he also improved over Gore's 2000 performance in Wood (Bowling Green State University) and Athens (Ohio University) counties.
In analyzing the new registered voters in Ohio, it will be important to look at where the voters are coming from. This will be just one more area I focus on in the last month before the election.

Ohio's Early Voters: The drunk, evicted and underaged!

As I stated below below, early voting has begun in Ohio and you can conveniently register at the same time. The Democrats are making sure everyone can exercise their right to vote.

This included the drunk...
Democrat Barack Obama's presidential campaign blitzed bars, and advocates for the homeless have lined up vans to ferry potential voters from shelters.
The evicted...

People uprooted by foreclosure may have more on their minds than democracy. But activists are encouraging them to register at their new addresses and vote.

The growing ranks of foreclosed homeowners may care mostly about rebuilding their lives.

"They're basically shell-shocked," said Brian Davis, head of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.

But Beau Hill, who runs the Salvation Army's Harbor Light shelter in Cleveland, said people, despite the trauma of losing a home, should vote.

"Voting is a life skill," he said.

And the underaged...
The Franklin County Board of Elections has been searching for Alyce Donahue. They said she forgot to sign her voter-registration card.

But Donahue, contacted by The Dispatch, didn't forget. She never applied. She's 15.

Of course there are 1,000 more underaged registered voters out there.

Makes Hugh's mobilization of the homeless look pretty tame.

Once Ohio registration closes next week, I'll look at how many people registered during the overlap period and where they were from.

UPDATE:

How could I forget the incarcerated...
Recently, a local voter-registration group, Oberlin Votes!, attempted to register inmates at the Jail but were turned away by Stammitti. According to press accounts, Stammitti appears to be unwilling to assist the registration efforts in any way. Stammitti’s non-cooperation is in stark contrast to responses by staff and administrators at other Ohio jails who have accommodated voter registration groups without controversy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Vote Early, Vote Often

Absentee voting begins in Ohio tomorrow. Voter registration continues until next week so this open a one week window where you can do your one stop voting. You can register and vote all in the same day. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled today that this is legal. Several groups including the Ohio Republican Party filed lawsuits to prevent the overlap. The concern was voter fraud:

Ohio GOP Chairman Bob Bennett was disappointed. He called the ability to immediately register and vote part of Brunner's "partisan efforts to aide the Democrat turnout strategy."

The potential for fraud was one reason the Madison County Board of Elections wanted to make newly registered voters wait to get their absentee ballots, said Donald Brey, who represented the board.

The ruling isn't a surprise. Ohio has had this overlap for many years. The difference is that this year is the first year where you can vote absentee without giving a reason.

The potential for fraud is at least a possibility. You can register and vote in Ohio w/ a utility bill, a bank statement, a government document w/ your name and address or by signing a sworn statement stating your information is correct. I suspect the reality is a lot less.

In any event, this is one area I will be analyzing when the Ohio Secretary of State releases the next list of registered voters in Ohio. At that point, we will be able to determine how many people registered during this overlap period and where they registered.

Bush/Kerry 2004: Get Out The Vote

By the time Nov 2, 2004 came along, the Democratic party had registered almost 400,000 additional voters in the 16 Ohio counties that voted for Gore in 2000. The key now, was to get them to the polls. And to the polls they came. By the time the votes were counted, John Kerry had amassed over 550,000 more votes than Al Gore had in 2000. Team Kerry was confident. After all, Al Gore had lost Ohio by only 200,000 votes in 2000. They had 350,000 additional votes in hand.

Unknown or unappreciated by the Democrats however, was the GOTV effort by the GOP that was quietly going on in the rural areas throughout Ohio. While the Kerry supporters were diligently registering more voters in their strongholds, the Bush team was putting a GOTV infrastructure in place to drive turnout higher among their existing voters. In 2000, the turnout in the Bush counties came in at 64%. In 2004, this increased to 72%. This translated into over 500,000 more votes for George Bush than he got in 2000. In the end, this was enough.

When the dust settled, George Bush had won Ohio again, this time by a slim 118,601 votes. One pro-Gore county switched to Bush (Clark) and one pro-Bush county switched to Kerry (Stark). The other 86 counties remained the same, except they had longer lines at the voting booths.

Next up, I will start to begin my analysis of the most recent voter registration numbers for Ohio and analyze what they may mean for Ohio in 2008.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Campaign On

Got a call from the Ohio Republicans at 7:00 pm tonight telling me there McCain and Palin would be in Columbus tomorrow morning at 9:00 am. Evidently he was planning to be in town over the weekend until he put his campaign on hold.

I wasn't a big fan of that decision, and obviously didn't think it turned out well for him. Now, when I see they're giving people less than 14 hours advance notice of a visit, I've got to wonder how much longer it's going to take to get the campaign back in gear. It will be interesting to see what the turnout looks like. The crowds were huge for Palin on her last visit.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bush/Kerry 2004: Register Those Voters

In my previous post on the subject, I explained how in the 2000 election, Gore ran up a large vote advantage in 16 largely metropolitan counties and then Bush ran up an even larger vote advantage in the remaining 72 largely rural Ohio counties, giving the state of Ohio to Bush.

In 2004, team Kerry clearly understood the dynamics of the state of Ohio. They ran the numbers and felt they could easily pull an additional 100,000 - 200,000 votes from the metropolitan areas Gore won in 2000. If they could do this and eat into Bush's lead in the rural counties, Ohio would turn blue.

The first step in this plan was to register more voters, and register they did. By November 2004, Ohio's registered voters increased by 450,000. The remarkable thing about this was that almost 400,000 of this increase came from 16 counties. Yes, the 16 counties that Gore won in 2000.

In my next post, we'll look at how Gore used this increase in registered voters to his advantage and how Bush counteracted its impact.

Friday, September 26, 2008

"Now John..."

Did they talk about issues during the debate?

The comment I heard afterward was the following:

"McCain always called Obama 'Senator Obama' but Obama kept calling McCain 'John'. That's was disrespectful."

I didn't notice and I'm sure most younger voters never noticed either. But how many older voters thought the same thing?

Blink

At least that's what it looks like from here.

McCain may still be able to pull something out if a deal gets worked out that looks better than the original Paulson plan, but right now it looks like McCain wanted to cancel the debate and work out a deal and did neither.

The Ohio Newpaper Poll that gave McCain a 6 point advantage over Obama showed how vulnerable McCain could be on the economy in Ohio. A full 47% of all Ohioans polled said they were worse off than they were four years ago. Respondents over the age of 30 had higher "worse off" scores than those under 30. Despite this, McCain led with voters over the age of 30 while Obama led with voters under 30.

It's critical that McCain hold the 30+ demographics to win Ohio, and the economy is certainly the area of vulnerability for him. It will be interesting to see how the polls play out over then next couple of weeks.

If McCain can be seen as the one who stopped the "bailout" and replaced it with something else, that may play well. Right now, it's not looking that way, and with the media deciding on how they want to portray things, I think it's going to get tough.

UPDATE: The Columbus Dispatch is reporting John Boehner from the Cincinnati area is emerging as a prime voice against the bailout as it is currently structured, and is working w/ McCain on a deal. As I mentioned earlier, if the bailout is replaced by something else, this might be OK, and having Boehner involved won't hurt.

Ohio Poll Summary available via Pollster

Pollster.com has a very neat tool that allows anyone to take a detailed look at the results of the Ohio polls. Very slick.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Flyover County Loves Sarah Palin

Now maybe everyone flying over Ohio will get the message that Sarah Palin resonates well with Ohioans.

The Toledo Blade reports on a cornfield maze in Whitehouse, Ohio cut in the shape of Sarah Palin. Nicely visible from the air for all those flying over to more important locations.

UPDATE: Of course, as I warned earlier and Dave mentioned on A Conservative in Cincinatti, it's race. Check out the very first comment on the article by "jason bailey". Scroll to the bottom to see it.
Typical white farmers, why didnt they put Barack out there? Is it because he is black? That is the problem in rural america, no respect for African Americans. Why not Barack? Because his name isnt John? Typical elitist whites, well were gonna win this watch and see.
You can't even make a corn maze anymore w/o being accused.

Bush/Gore 2000: The Results

In my previous post, I explained how even though Ohio has traditionally been very close from total votes perspective, when you break down the vote results by region, Ohio is very similar to the US – the relatively few urban areas (I.e. Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus) trend Democratic while the many less populated areas trend Republican.

The results of the Bush/Gore 2000 election held true to form. Gore ran up a 315,145 vote advantage in 16 counties, with the Cleveland (165,000) and Toledo (35,000) metropolitan areas accounting for over half of the total. Bush then won the remaining 72 counties by a net of 480,164 votes with an average win of 6,600 votes in each county. This was enough for Bush to carry Ohio in 2000 by what was then considered a close 165,019 votes. Overall, Bush totaled 2,351,209 votes to Gore's 2,186,190.

With 7.5M registered voters, the turnout in the 2000 election sat at 62%. The registered voters were split fairly evenly, with 3.8M registered voters in “Bush” counties and 3.7M voters in “Gore” counties.

In my next post, we'll take a look at the leadup to the 2004 Bush/Kerry election.