Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Support for Wiggins in the late ballots keeps growing

In light of the 4,477 margin of victory that Wiggins now maintains, it might appear -- at first blush -- that the late increase in support for Wiggins is softening.  One might even conclude that Sanders is mounting a late comeback.  But a quick look at today's numbers tells a different story:

First off, don't be too fooled by the the fact that Wiggins is leading by about 2,000 more ballots than predicted (and yes, I did update the prediction from earlier after King County tallied so few ballots today).  The big reason why is that Spokane also tallied very few new ballots today (3,530 instead of the projected 9,017).  That prevented Wiggins from losing 1,322 votes from his margin.

Another reason - and definitely one of the stories of today - is the evaporation of the slim margin of support that Sanders was still receiving in Snohomish county.  Sanders only picked up a net +2 votes from Snohomish (or about 50.02% of the support).  To be sure, if Sanders was going to mount a come-from-behind win, he needed Snohomish to start providing him with a bigger margin of victory.

I added several new calculations to the results tonight, and I think it's actually very informative.  In the second-to-last column, you can see what the "Progressive SMOV%" is for each county.  If you're not familiar with my previous posts on the subject, this is essentialy my own rolling prediction for Sanders' margin of victory in each particular county.  For many of the smaller counties, this number is a holdover from the first few days of results:  in the last few days, those counties simply haven't tallied enough votes for me to feel comfortable relying on newer margins of victory.  For some of the larger counties (like King), the number does change daily because enough votes are being counted -- although in light of King's reduced tallies today, that will probably stop.

I've applied a "Progressive SMOV%" prediction to each county, and that forms the basis for the "final results" prediction that you see at the bottom of the chart.  Assuming that every county has exactly the number of EBOH that it's claiming, and assuming that the final tally of the ballots are distributed exactly according to the progressive SMOV% for each county, you would see Wiggins win by some-12,700 votes.

The last column is where things get interesting.  It shows how today's net new ballots in each county comported with the expected SMOV.  (Negative) numbers in blue reflect that the ballots came in with a reduced SMOV - that the ballots were trending more towards Wiggins than we should reasonably expect.  Conversely, positive numbers in red reflect an increase in support for Sanders not predicted by the model.

Here's a real-world example.  If County X tallied 100 ballots today (and assuming a VCR of 100%), and I projected a progressive SMOV% of 52%, we would expect to see 52 votes cast for Sanders and 48 counted for Wiggins.  But if in fact Sanders only received 51 votes, and Wiggins received 49, that would be a -(1.00%) change in SMOV% in favor of Wiggins.

Turning to the actual results, several things catch my eye:

1.  Support is still continuing to trend for Wiggins by larger than expected margins.  Obviously, this isn't true in every county; however, Pierce and Walla Walla together tallied less than 10% of the total vote today.  Together, they also only project only 750 EBOH total.  So any real change in the trend is coming too late to make a difference.

2.  The Kitsap trend is a little more of a significant departure towards Sanders.  Overall, it raised the SMOV% margin from a projected 44.62% to an actual 46.99%, which still reflects a pretty strong favoring of Wiggins.  Obviously, with 6500 EBOH, Kitsap still has some potential to tilt the results slightly -- at least, as much as any county outside King can still tilt the results.

I dug into the Kitsap SMOV% a little more though to see if I could nail it down.  Here's the data and SMOV% trends from Kitsap:

Thu 11/04:     SMOV 47.14%   75,961 ballots  (total to date)
Fri 11/05:       SMOV 44.62%   12,159 ballots
Sat 11/06:      SMOV 47.22%   3,036 ballots
Mon 11/08:   SMOV 41.42%   2,720 ballots
Tue  11/09:    SMOV 47.82%   2,493 ballots
Wed 11/10:   SMOV 46.99%   2,842 ballots

Other than the dip on Monday -- which seems to be one of those statistical anomalies that Just Happens from time to time, the county has been pretty consistently in the 46-47% neighborhood - at least for 3 out of the last 4 days and in the overall total from Thursday.  The overall SMOV% for Kitsap so far, on 98,941 ballots, is 46.70%.   So what I think this means is that Kitsap really should stay at a projected 46-47% SMOV.  The model is keying in on one of the two unusual dips that does not seem to be warranted.  I'll give some thought tonight to how to update the model to automatically reflect more stable trends rather than large, more recent anomalies.

3.  Surprising extra padding from Whatcom County tonight as well.  Through last Thursday, the SMOV slightly favored Sanders at 51.54%.  However, on subsequent days, the county posted results of (47.00%, 51.50%, 47.81%, and 42.22%).  At 43.25% today, Whatcom is shifting support to Wiggins at a fairly significant margin.

Speaking of the late-shifting support for Wiggins, one final note before I sign off for the night.  The Seattle Times endorsement switch and its coverage of Sanders' race-related comments may have gained the most attention as the "October surprise".   But I would be -- and I have been -- remiss in not acknowledging other possible sources.  Rather than tell you about it, I'll let Eli do it.  It's absolutely worth the read.


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