Georgia HD 24 – A special election recap

If you follow Local & Special Elections on Twitter, you know that Sheri Gilligan did indeed win the Georgia House District 24 special election on Tuesday.  In fact, unofficial results show that she was just 2 votes short of a majority of the votes cast, which would have enabled her to win the seat outright.  As the numbers stand now, she starts as the favorite in the July 14 runoff with David Van Sant, who received 25% of the vote.

[Final unofficial election results can be found here.]

Here is a quick recap of the items highlighted in Monday’s preview:

  • As some folks correctly noted, it was difficult to have too much confidence in the detailed conclusions at the precinct level, given the limited data.  However, the overriding theme that emerged from the analysis was that Ms. Gilligan appeared to have very strong and committed support within the district and throughout Forsyth County.  And in a special election in the middle of June, that kind of dedicated support translated into votes.  She had the most contributions from within the district by far, even though her fundraising total placed her third among the four candidates.
  • I came surprisingly close to predicting the total number of votes.  The unofficial tally stands at 3,572, and I predicted 3,500.  I based that prediction on the average of the four most recent special elections in the state as I detailed in my post, knowing that the HD 22 race from last year, and the HD 120 contest from January, seemed to be both outliers low and high.

There were some hits and misses on the precinct-level conclusions, which as noted previously was to be expected.

  • On the plus side, the turnout rate in precinct 16 (Otwell) was indeed lower than that for the district as a whole, and Ms. Gilligan did run well there.  As it turned out, she ran well everywhere, as she was the leading vote-getter in all six precincts.
  • In precinct 29 (Polo), Ms. Gilligan had more contributions by far than any other candidate in the race, which suggested strong support.  Not only did she boast her largest margin (56%), but turnout was very strong here as well.
  • On the other side, the tally in vote-rich precinct 10 (Midway) wasn’t exactly split, despite most of the campaigns reporting donations from there.  Ms. Gilligan took over half the votes, which was above her district-wide margin.  This is the precinct which earned Mr. Van Sant his spot in the runoff, as he generally ran even with Mr. Underwood everywhere else.
  • Although Mr. Underwood ran slightly better in precinct 15 (Heardsville) than he did district-wide, it wasn’t by much or by nearly enough of a margin to offset his performance elsewhere, especially in Midway.  As in Otwell, turnout in Heardsville was below the district average, and perhaps the lack of contributions signaled that somewhat here as well.

All in all, the methodologies I developed and employed showed some promise and had some predictive value, which to me means they were well worth doing.  Furthermore, their use raised plenty of other questions in my mind, questions which will energize my search for answers in future analyses.

And of course, I’m looking forward to doing more, both on this race and the four other state legislative special elections, in Georgia on July 14.

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