Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Brady still looks like a winner

In a post late last night, Nate Silver projected that Republican nominee for governor Kirk Dillard would close the margin between Bill Brady and himself to about 1 vote from the 546 at the time. He based his projection on the fact that most of the remaining precincts yet to be counted were from Cook County where Dillard is outperforming Brady. Unfortunately, this analysis had two fatal flaws in it that made and makes the chances of a Dillard comeback slim.

First, the most obvious mistake was that there were still some votes to be counted from downstate where Brady was performing stronger than Dillard. Now with most of those votes in, Brady's lead has gone up to 751 votes. Now that 96 out of the 97 precincts remaining are from Cook County, will Dillard really close the gap by some 500 votes? I doubt it.

Silver's projection is based on the Associated Press' count that does not differentiate between Chicago (within Cook County) and suburban Cook County. Out of the 96 precincts left to be counted in Cook, 72 are from Chicago. Why does this make a difference? The vote from Chicago is not only significantly less Republican (as in less votes out there cast in the Republican primary), but Brady is actually performing slightly better relative to Dillard in the city than in the suburbs.

Out of the 2501 precincts counted in Chicago, Dillard has 5,269 and Brady has 1,778 votes. If we project the remaining 72 precincts based of out of this count, Dillard would pick up 152 votes and Brady would pick 51 votes.

Out of the 1913 precincts counted in suburban Cook, Dillard has 23,315 votes and Brady has 6,272. If we project the remaining 24 precincts based on this count, Dillard would pick up 293 votes and Brady would pick up 79 votes.

Combine Chicago and suburban Cook, Dillard picks up about 445 votes and Brady picks up 130 votes. That would cut Brady's lead by 315 votes, but he would still lead by 436 votes.

Will this lead hold up? Absentee ballots can still come in (up to 2 weeks after the election), and provisional ballots must still be counted. After this occurs and a random check of some of the results, the vote will be certified. As long as Brady's lead remains above say 150 votes with additional absentee, provisional, and recheck of the vote (he could lose 66% of his lead based off my projection), he is almost assured victory even if Dillard asks for a recount.

Consider the recent the recount in Minnesota (which like Illinois (save a few machines)) uses optical scan ballots. In that recount, Al Franken gained 527 votes. Of course in that election, the two candidates had a little more than 2.4 million votes between the two of them. In this primary, the two leading candidates have only about 310,000 votes combined. That's a ratio of about 7.75 to 1 between Minnesota and Illinois. If you extrapolate the results of the Illinois vote based off this ratio, Dillard may gain about 68 votes in a recount. Even if we double that gain, he would still come up short. Of course, Dillard may also lose votes in a recount. We really do not know where the votes would go in a recount. Finally, the people most likely to record over or undervotes missed by the machines are minorities and young first time voters. Unlike in the 2008 Minnesota Senate election (where plenty of these voters existed), Republican primaries are not exactly a breeding ground for young or minority voters.

In other words, it is a VERY uphill climb for Dillard. Let the votes be counted, but at the end of the day I think Bill Brady is going to the Republican nominee for governor.

EDIT (3:40 EST): The vote from suburban Cook has come in... Dillard picked up 359 votes (66 more than projected based off other precincts), while Brady picked up 117 votes (38 more than projected). That cuts Brady's lead to 508 votes. Of the remaining 73 precincts to be counted, 72 are from Chicago. Dillard would have to get 5 times the margin projected based off of the already counted precincts to pull even.

EDIT (4:40 EST): The complete vote from Chicago is apparently now in . Dillard picked up an additional 115 votes (36 less than predicted), while Brady picked up 39 votes (12 less than predicted).

All together that gives a final margin of 433 votes to Bill Brady... which is 3 votes off my estimate.

EDIT (7:55 EST): Apparently one precinct had yet to report (should have paid closer attention to that post . I linked to)... With the complete count in, Dillard actually picked up 156 votes in Chicago (4 more than predicted), while Brady picked up 53 votes (2 more than predicted).

In total that gives Dillard 516 more and Brady 170 more votes than they had before Cook County completed its count. That means Dillard made up 346 votes... leaving him 405 votes behind. Thus, Dillard performed better (relative to Brady) than I calculated thanks to a stronger performance in suburban Cook. Total error was 31 votes.

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