You know, I’ve got a little pride here, not to mention some basic math skills and a bit of experience tracking local election results, so I wasn’t just pulling a projection out of my ass when I confidently called WA-02 for Rick Larsen yesterday, after two days of late ballots trending in his favor.
See, in an all vote-by-mail system, there really are only two universes of ballots: those tallied on election day, and those tallied thereafter. The first universe of ballots consists of those received over a three week period stretching from a day or two after the ballots are mailed to voters, through the day of or before election day. The second universe of ballots consists almost entirely of those cast during the final two or three days of the campaign. This is a chronological, first-in-first-out process in which ballots are generally tallied in the order in which they arrive.
While it is impossible to discern a trend within the first universe of ballots, as they are all tallied together in a single election night report, one can reliably plot a trend between the two universes, and to a lesser extent between daily reports in the second… that is, if a late-ballot trend exists. And there’s little doubt that late voters strongly trended Democratic this year in Washington state.
That is why, as expected, Rep. Larsen substantially increased his lead to 3,872 votes today over Palin-endorsed challenger John Koster. And that is why there is little reason to expect the margins in subsequent tallies to vary much from that reported today.
There are about 62,000 ballots remaining to count in WA-02, of which Koster would need to win at least 53.2% to close the gap. Yet Koster has received only 49.2% of the total vote thus far, and only 45.2% of today’s tally. It’s simply not gonna happen. In fact, since the remaining ballots are contemporaneous to those reported over the past couple days, it would be surprising if Larsen didn’t continue to expand his margin.
So, the only question remaining is why HA is the only news organization calling this election?