Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Colorado: Independent voters and the Morse Recall -- Polls and the Wisconsin example

As of yesterday, vote totals suggested that Republicans had come out in much greater force in the Morse recall -- they had cast nearly 1,000 ballots more (5,192-4,314). Early voting has historically benefited Democrats, so this is considered a bad sign (Giron has a big lead among Democrats).

There could all change today, but I did want to look at the one number that was overlooked in the coverage -- the Independent/third party vote. 3,479 votes have come from independents or third party voters. Morse actually won his race in 2010 due in part to a Libertarian candidate, so third party voters have had an impact in the district. But what can we expect from these independents?

The one poll of the state showed that independents were much more likely than Republicans to oppose the recalls. In the Morse case, it was 36-52% against a recall, and 37-49% against a Giron recall. 62% of Republicans were in favor of the Morse recall. Again, this was a poll of the state, and not of the specific district so the value is limited, but that opposition to the recall could be a good sign for Morse.

On the other hand, we have Wisconsin. It may not be a stretch to say that Scott Walker survived the recall primarily because of the independent vote. The Republicans were overwhelming in favor of Walker and the Democrats were overwhelmingly opposed. But independents broke to him 54-45% -- very close to his final victory margin. That could be a very good sign for Morse -- as there are a number of similarities between Wisconsin and Colorado. However, to muddy the waters, we should look at a different fact in Wisconsin. In 2010, Walker won the independents by an estimated 56-42%. So, he actually did worse in the recall than in the general election among independents.

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