At last, the preliminary results of the presidential runoff in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been reported. Incumbent President Joseph Kabila has just over 58%. Jean-Pierre Bemba, who had only around 20% in the first round to Kabila’s 45%, made a strong showing in the runoff, more than doubling his vote share. Bemba is disputing the results; whatever the merits of any specific charges he has with the result, his effort to come back against a first-round leader with that wide a margin was always extremely uphill. Jonathan Edelstein has details.
Yes, of course, I am very happy. Just too busy celebrating to post. Madison can rest in peace again. Still, the House gains were at the very low end of what I thought possible. The Senate, on the other hand, was the best outcome I could imagine.
No further analysis till the aggregate vote totals are in. The USA is the only (allegedly) advanced democracy in which aggregate national party vote totals are not immediately available. Given that I am one of those few (the only?) psephologists who actually use aggregate national party vote totals to understand US elections, I can’t do any analysis yet. I won’t be able to say for a while whether the House result was closer to my projection based on low responsiveness (225) than to a projection based on the longer-range relationship of votes and seats (245) because of a vote swing lower than could have been expected for such an unpopular president, or if the seat swing was low for the aggregate vote swing that resulted. Fortunately, majority control is a (mostly) binary outcome.
Updated results, including congressional votes, below.
With the one-round victory of Daniel Ortega in the Nicaraguan presidential election now confirmed, I though it was interesting to consider just how stable his support has been across the last four elections:
Of course, 1990 was the year in which Ortega was the incumbent president, and was defeated. He was defeated again in 1996 and 2001. But in 2006, a share of the vote lower than in 2001 and barely more than in 1996 was good enough. Of course, the difference was that the right-wing forces were almost completely unified in 1990, and quite well unified again in 1996 and 2001, but deeply divided in 2006.
Some years ago, recognizing their internal problems, the right insisted, as part of its series of pacts with Ortega and his Sandinista movement, on abandoning the pure plurality method of electing presidents that was in the Sandinistas’ 1987 constitution. The first change was to require 45% of the vote, or else a runoff. Then in a later pact, Ortega insisted on changing it to 40%, or 35% with a five-point margin. Shrewd move. He failed in this election to reach 40%, but with the divisions on the right, he had much more than a five-point margin.
The full results, according to the Nicaraguan electoral council:
Jarquin was the candidate of the so-called Movement for Sandinista Renovation, which had attracted various dissidents from Ortega’s increasingly personalistic and authoritarian Sandinista movement, but hardly any of its organizational prowess. Pastora is the famous Comandante Zero, the one-time popular Sandinista guerrilla. The Rizo campaign, according to various rumors, was actually cooperating with and assisted by Ortega. The rumors are plausible, given that Ortega obviously needed the right to be divided, and the right–like the Sandinista movement itself–has degenerated more into personalistic divisions than programmatic principle. Given Nicaragua’s closed list system for electing congress, both the PLC and the PCN caudillos will control substantial congressional delegations, able to check Ortega. I have not yet seen congressional results. It will be interesting to see if Rizo’s congressional lists outpolled Rizo himself. Given the usual tendency of Nicaraguan voters to vote straight tickets, any significant divergence would add more evidence to the rumors of Ortega-Rizo cooperation.
There was very little ticket-splitting, apparently. According to resuults at the Elecciones 2006 website of the Consejo Supremo Electoral, the votes percentages for the parties are barely different for congress from what they were for the presidential candidates. The +/- figure indicates the change from the presidential percentage, as reported above:
Apparently, some voters favored the MRS for congress but voted strategically in the presidential race. However, their votes do not appear to have gone overwhelmingly for one candidate. It does appear that around half of the MRS congressional votes that did not go to Jarquin for president might have gone for presidential runner-up Montealegre, as we might predict, but it was not close to enough to force a runoff. Even if all the difference between the MRS congressional and presidential vote had gone to Montealagre, Ortega would have won by a margin of 7.7 percentage points.
[Note: The above has been revised. Thanks to Tim for catching a significant error!]
An additional note has been appended to this post since it first appeared.
Sometimes, my desire to use my vote as an act of protest conflicts with my desire to use the act of voting as a means to conduct research.
San Diego County is using electronic touch-screen voting again (for the first time since its use in the 2003 recall election)–this time with a printed verification of how the machine (supposedly) has registered your vote.
I count myself among those who are at least skeptical about these electronic voting devices. Not in a conspiratorial way, but I just feel more confident about voting on paper. (I also like hand-counted ballots, by the way.) The County allows a voter to request a paper ballot. Presumably, if massive numbers did so, they would not have enough–their running out would only increase the protest value, I suppose, but in any event, it is our right to request a paper ballot at the polling place.* I considered doing so, as a protest against those electronic beasts in the polling room.
On the other hand, I really wanted to see how this newfangled contraption–with the paper record printed beneath a clear plastic window–would work. After all, I actually get paid to think, write, and teach about voting, and it is useful to know how different systems work.
In the end, my “research” curiosity won out. And it was easy and fun. Did my vote count? Who knows. Then again, I am in fully safe districts for everything I voted on (unless one or more of the measures proves to be close), so it hardly matters–except in the sense of performing the most important duty any citizen of a democracy can perform; and in the research value. (And luckily, I could still protest, as well, in my selection of mostly third-party candidates, just like always.)
* There was a little controversy here overnight, with a judge rejecting a lawsuit aimed at forcing the election authorities both to provide more paper ballots and to count them tonight (when they count the machines), rather than on Thursday (as the official intend). Is there any fairness issue here? I must admit that I do not see it. While I would prefer that my vote be counted the same, regardless of how I cast it (with the obvious exception of late-arriving absentee or provisional ballots), I can’t see what difference it actually makes. They all get added together, and if the race is close enough, we’ll just have to wait till the paper ballots (and others left outstanding tonight) are counted.
Going into today’s presidential and congressional elections in Nicaragua, it looked as though Sandinista leader and ex-president Daniel Ortega would have the plurality and be close to the 35% threshold he needs to win if his margin is five percentage points or better. (If the margin is closer than five points, then he needs 40%, which he is unlikely to get.) The margin looked likely to be met, unless, of course, a lot of anti-Sandinista voters jump ship from trailing candidates in order to make the race closer and more likely to go to a runoff.
Another thing to watch for is the congressional vote. Whoever wins will not have a majority. Presidential vetoes (which are amendatory; that is, the president can re-write a bill sent to him by congress*) can be overridden by an absolute majority. Moreover, if Ortega wins, his party is unlikely to have the 40% of seats needed to block constitutional amendments that could be aimed at curbing the powers of his office. (The constitution, originally passed in 1987 when Ortega was in office, has been amended several times, often with changes to presidential powers.) In other words, even if Ortega wins, the Sandinista party will be much weaker than it was under Ortega’s previous presidency.
Note: I posted some additional data breakdowns in a comment (7 Nov.)
With the US congressional midterm elections almost upon us, I wanted to put the playing field of 2006 into the context of 1994, the last time the party in control of the House of Representatives swung.
In 1994, fifty six seats held by Democrats swung to the Republican party (four seats swung the other direction). Here is how those seats broke down by Democratic vote in the previous election, 1992. In the following paired lines the first line is a range of votes percentages (of the 2-party vote) for the Democratic candidate in 1992, while the second line is the number of such districts, followed by the number of those districts that swung (and the percentage that these swingers represented out of that group).
21 11 (52.4)
26 11 (42.3)
44 18 (40.9)
40 10 (25.0)
45 4 (8.9)
46 2 (4.4)
Interpreting these numbers, we can say that more than half the districts that the Democratic party had won with less than 52% of the two-party vote in 1992 were seats that swung. (That is somewhat surprisingly low; nearly half of the seats that were won so narrowly in 1992 did not swing, even in a year with a huge national votes swing against their party.) Not surprisingly, as the 1992 margin grows, the share of seats that swung declines. Nonetheless, the Republicans even picked up six seats in which the Democratic incumbent won more than 65% of the vote in 1992 (five of these six were open seats; the incumbent was retiring).
So, what if we compare the 2006 playing field; that is, let’s look at how many seats fit into each of these categories based on their 2004 Republican vote. Again, we have two lines, with the grouping by percentages of the Republican candidate’s vote in the first line and the number of districts in that group on the second line. In addition, I have replicated, in parentheses, the number of districts in this category going into 1994 (for the party then in control, the D’s).
Notice how many fewer close races there were in 2004 compared to 1992. If the Democrats were to have exactly the same “harvest rate” in each group of seats (i.e. 52.4% of the seats the Republican won with under 52%, 42.3% of those won with 52% to 55%, etc.), they would gain about 32 seats. And that is right within the range of current projections–actually, a bit below.
Finally, let’s look at the seats Rothenberg rated late last week as most likely to swing. I have simply taken his categories of seats that are toss-ups or “tilt” or “lean” one way or the other and indicated the vote from 2004. (In this case, the votes indicated are the Democratic sharae of the two-party vote; in some cases, my data are missing.)
* IA 1 (Open; Nussle, R) 44
* IA 3 (Boswell, D) –
* IN 2 (Chocola, R) 45.1
* OH 15 (Pryce, R) 40
* OH 18 (Open; Ney, R) 33.8
* PA 7 (Weldon, R) 40.7
* PA 10 (Sherwood, R) –
That’s a lot of seats in play that were not all that close in 2004, which is good news for Democrats, given how few really close races there were in 2004. By my count, there are eight seats in Rothenberg’s toss-ups in which the Democratic party won under 40% of the vote in 2004. There are five such seats among the tilt-D, and one among the lean-D seats. That’s nineteen of the 147 seats the incumbent of the party currently controlling the House won with from 60% to 80% of the two-party vote in 2004. Seats in that category heading into 1994 swung at a rate of only about 12%. If 12% of the current 147 such seats swung this time, that would be seventeen (of the nineteen such seats Rothenberg identifies as toss-up or lean). In other words, while it may seem unlikely that so many seats that looked “safe” after 2004 could really be in jeopardy, the lesson of 1994 is that when there is a strong tide of change, lots of seemingly “safe” seats do indeed fall. It is not only the obvous “marginals” that fall. (Remember, barely half of the seats won by the Democrat in 1992 with under 52% of the vote swung in 1994.)
We will know soon how many of these seats really do swing.
the most likely outcome in the House of Representatives is a Democratic gain of 34 to 40 seats, with slightly larger gains not impossible.
Back when I first started looking at methods of estimating the connection between generic polling, the actual aggregate votes for real candidates of the major parties, and the translation of those votes into seats, I suggested Democrats could wind up with as many as 245 seats (at what I considered the high end), which would be a net gain of 42.* At the time, no one else was projecting even close to that much. If Rothenberg’s district-by-district analysis turns out to be correct, was my aggregate method of estimation prescient or lucky? I don’t know. We’ll try it again in 2008. And 2010…
As for the Senate, Rothernberg says control is in doubt, but:
we do not think the two sides have an equal chance of winning a majority in the Senate. Instead, we believe that state and national dynamics favor Democrats netting six seats and winning control of the United States Senate.
* That was when the generic lead was 15 points; the latest estimate from Charles Franklin’s compilation of polls is 17 points.
Democrats need a net gain of six seats to win the majority in the US Senate. According to Stuart Rothenberg’s latest projections, there are now six seats that are either “likely takeover” or “lean takeover.” In addition, there is one “toss-up” that leans their way, though there is also one current Democratic seat that is rated toss-up.
Ed Fitzgerald has a very useful compilation of various midterm-election projections. The mean and median estimates (of over thirty different projects) are 223-204 Democratic majority in the House and 49-49 in the Senate (with eight House and two Senate seats, on average, deemed by the forecasters as too close to call).
Ed also has a graph of generic partisan-preference polling for the House that includes the undecideds. It is striking how flat the Republican preference has been since September, 2005, while the decline in undecided has been almost entirely to the benefit of the Democratic party.
If by my laws you walk, and my commands you keep, and observe them,
then I will give-forth your rains in their set-time,
so that the earth gives-forth its yield
and the trees of the field give-forth their fruit.
--Vayikra 26: 3-4