In 2008, around 14,000 more voters voted in the towns and cities of the new 25th than voted in 2004. 55% of the bigger turnout came from the city. The city voted for Obama by an 81-17 margin, versus a 71-26 margin for Kerry vs Bush. The key question for Slaughter is whether these voters will turn out again in 2012. I’ll have some analysis at the House race level soon, but for now I’m using the Presidential election as a proxy for a tough contest between a Democrat and a Republican.
Curt Smith, who’s a retired Bush I speechwriter, has been all over the media with folksy quotes about the NY-25 race. Here’s what he told Rachel Barnhart:
“Anyone who bet a nickel at this point should be basically assigned to an asylum.”
A lot of political coverage relies on home truths delivered by supposedly savvy observers, but the fact is that there’s a lot of data about the performance of Maggie and Louise in prior elections, as well as data that can be used to project performance by either candidate in the 2012 race. One tool used by forecasters is the Partisan Voting Index (PVI), which uses the performance of the Presidential candidates in the last two elections to project whether a given district leans towards Republicans or Democrats.
At some point I’ll calculate the real PVI of this district, but for now I’ve put together a spreadsheet of the performance of President Obama in the new NY-25. Obama won the 25th by 18% (D+18 in PVI notation). Since Obama is running again, and since inner-city Rochester’s African-American population is in the district, it’s likely that we’ll see similar enthusiasm and turnout in 2012. In other words, even though the real PVI for this district might not be as high as D+18, there are reasons to think that 2008 will be like 2012 in terms of Democratic turnout and enthusiasm
Democrat Eric Massa beat incumbent Randy Kuhl in the current NY-29 in 2008 when that district was R+7, and that was considered a major upset. Republican Ann-Marie Buerkle beat Democrat Dan Maffei in the current NY-25 which is a D+3 district. I’m sure upsets in D+18 or R+18 districts have happened, but I’d like Curt to point to one that resembles Rochester.
Analysts have also mentioned that Brooks can win Monroe County. That’s true, but let’s keep in mind what election Maggie won. In 2008, about 350,000 people voted in the towns of the new NY-25. In the 2011 County Executive race, Maggie took the majority of 138,000 votes in Monroe County. All the aw-shucks, gee-whiz down-home wisdom in the world won’t change the fact that the 2012 race will be completely unlike the races Maggie is used to winning.
So, I’ll take that bet, Curt, and if you want to call me insane, try throwing down some facts, rather than pithy aphorisms, to explain why.