Did the GOP Steal the Wisconsin Recall Elections? A True Vote Analysis
Aug. 11, 2011
In a pre-election post, I indicated that only election fraud could keep the Democrats from winning three of the six GOP recall elections. They won two. This post-election analysis indicates that they did much better than that. They may very well have won all six.
The Democrats were highly motivated to win the Senate based on Walker policies, but the GOP had the advantage of massive funding – especially in District 8. The problem is to determine the voter turnout rates and voter preferences required to match the recorded vote shares.
The analysis is based on the Wisconsin Recall True Vote Model.
In any election, there are two key factors: voter turnout and voter preference. We know how many voters returned from the previous election (as a percentage). But we must estimate the percentage mix of returning Democrats and Republicans. The number of new voters is just the difference between total votes cast in the current election and returning voters. In the recall analysis, we will assume that new voters were split equally between the Democrats and the Republicans.
Voter mix is the percentage of returning and new voters to the total vote. For example, assume that in a precinct there are 1000 voters (480 returning Obama, 460 returning McCain voters, and 60 new voters). Then the voter turnout mix is 48% Obama, 46% McCain and 6% new). Let’s calculate the Democratic vote share assuming that he/she wins 95% of Obama voters, 5% of McCain voters and 50% of new voters.
Democratic share = Dem mix * Dem % of returning Obama voters + GOP mix * Dem % of returning McCain voters + New voter mix * Dem % of New voters
Democratic share = 50.9% = .48*.95 + .46*.05+ .06*.50 = .456 + .023 + .030
In mathematical terms, vote share is a function of voter turnout mix and voter preference:
Vote share = f (turnout mix, preference)
Obama won each of the six districts by a total 53.0-45.7% margin. Therefore assuming a) an equal percentage turnout of Obama and McCain voters in the recalls,and b) no changes in voter preference, the Democrats would win all six elections (see below). But since the GOP won four, there had to be a higher turnout rate of McCain voters than Obama voters and/or a net defection of Obama voters to the GOP. It’s simple math.
In the first set of calculations, we reasonably assume that a) 60% of McCain voters turned out in the recalls and b) there were zero net defections (Democrats won 95% of returning Obama voters and the GOP won 95% of returning McCain voters). In order to match the average recorded vote, Obama turnout had to be 45% compared to 60% for McCain.
In the second set, we assume that a) 60% of McCain voters and 60% of Obama voters turned out in the recalls and the GOP won 95% of returning McCain voters, but b) there were net defections of Obama voters to the GOP. In order to match the average recorded vote, the average Democratic share of Obama voters was a low 83%.
The two sets of scenarios are implausible.
In District 2, if 60% of McCain voters turned out, then just a minsicule 33% of Obama voters turned out (assuming zero net defection of Obama and McCain voters).
Assuming equal 60% turnout of Obama and McCain voters, there had to be a massive net 25% defection of Democrats from Obama to McCain.
In District 8, if 60% of McCain voters turned out, then just 47% of Obama voters turned out (assuming zero net defection). Assuming equal 60% Obama and McCain turnout, there was a 10% net defection of Democrats from Obama to McCain.
Therefore, Pasch won assuming equal turnout and zero net defection.
District 18 was won by King, the Democrat. The required Obama 58% turnout nearly matched the McCain 60%, again assuming zero net defection. Assuming equal 60% turnout, there was a tiny 1% net defection to McCain.
Both results are very plausible. It is not surprising that the Democrats won the seat.
District 32 was won by the Democrats. Obama had 61% so it would have raised eyebrows if the Democrats lost. A low 47% Obama turnout was required to match the Democratic 55.4% vote share. Assuming equal 60% turnout, the required 8% net defection to McCain is higher than one would expect.
Therefore, the Democrat Shilling probably did better than her recorded margin.
This is an example of the minimum Obama voter turnout and maximum voter defection that the Democrats needed to win all six elections:
a) Obama voter turnout (60%) had to at least match McCain turnout.
b) Democrats captured 93% of Obama and 5% of McCain voters (net 2% defection)
The Democrats needed an average 52.3% vote share to win all six districts.
By comparison, Obama had a 53.7% two party-share in the six districts.
It is instructive to determine the impact (i.e. sensitivity) of changes in percentage voter turnout, voter preference and election fraud (vote switching).
The tables below display the number of Democratic recall victories over a range of assumptions for each of the three parameters.
Link to the full numerical analysis: