Over the last six weeks, I have developed and refined my methodology for analyzing special election campaigns based on the address of each candidate’s contributors, per their filed campaign finance reports. I have applied this to several campaigns across two states (Georgia and South Carolina). As a result, I am starting to understand its strengths and shortcomings, as well as devising ways to make the analysis process more efficient. I have also quickly come to the conclusion that I am unable to apply this to every local, special, or runoff campaign. So, over the coming weeks and months, I’ll need to focus on planning so as to most effectively devote time and energy towards particular races using various analysis techniques. As those decisions get made, I intend to note that somehow on this web site, so that regular readers can know which races I’ll be focusing on.
In addition, anytime one does analysis, it is necessary to compare what was expected against what actually happened – that’s how one refines and improves ideas. If you follow me on Twitter (@SpecialElex), you’ll notice that I do that while providing updates on vote counts and the like. However, since this geographic analysis is so detailed, some assessments are impossible until precinct-level election returns are certified and published. Look for more of this in the future as well.
Finally, here is an initial summary and review of yesterday’s voting in South Carolina HD #106 (Myrtle Beach), which we analyzed here. Russell Fry was the leading vote-getter, but he fell short of the 50% he needed to avoid a runoff:
- Russell Fry 1,152 44.9%
- Tyler Servant 851 33.2%
- Roy Sprinkle 374 14.6%
- Sanford Cox Graves 190 7.4%
- Mr. Fry had the most campaign receipts, both in total and from within the district, so his victory is no surprise. And although I noted how hard it is to obtain a majority of the vote in a four-person campaign, it did seem that his advantage in the number of local contributors compared to the other candidates was so large that I am somewhat surprised he was held to 45%. Once I analyze more races where the winner receives an outright majority, I’ll be able to see if there are any common characteristics.
- Mr. Servant performed very strongly relative to his number of in-district contributors. Before the race, I wondered whether his support was too concentrated as compared to Mr. Sprinkle. I knew that Mr. Servant was a newly-elected County Council member – I was somewhat surprised that he had so few local contributions. It will be very interesting to review the detailed data to understand whether he did especially well in certain precincts.
- My forecast of overall voter turnout was a bit too low, as I probably assigned too much significance to the fact that only 700 votes were cast in the Republican Primary in adjoining HD #68 in Horry County just three summers ago. The final turnout rate will probably end up at about 9%, which is not unusual for a stand-alone, state legislative special election.