posted on November 09, 2012 15:26
Back in the enlightened 1970’s when I was in college the powers-that-be at UNC gave me a hard choice: They told me I could take either a foreign language or math, but I had to learn one or the other. It was a choice between two poisons. I took foreign language and promptly failed French, Spanish and German.
Two years later I wandered into a required Physics class and learned something that had evaded me through fourteen years of public education: Mathematics was actually interesting. It measured all kinds of phenomenon – like gravity – that otherwise were mysteries. So here’s a look at the mysteries of this election through the lens of mathematics:
4.5 million North Carolinians cast votes.
1.4 million of them – 31% of all voters – voted a straight Democratic ticket.
Another 1.1 million – 24% – voted a straight Republican ticket.
That gave Democrats a 7 point advantage in ‘straight party’ or ‘base vote.’
The rest of the voters, 2 million (or 45%) of the people, ‘split’ their tickets.
Now, Mitt Romney received a total of 50.5% of the vote statewide – so do the math: Out of Romney’s 50.5%, 24 points came from those straight ticket Republican voters and the rest, 26.5 points, came from ticket splitters. So Romney won an overwhelming 59% (26.5 out of 45 points) of the ticket splitters – while Obama won 40.5%.
Pat McCrory defeated Walter Dalton by 55% to 43% – so doing the same math McCrory did even better, winning ticket splitters by 69% to 27%.
Now, when the Republicans in the State House and Senate redistricted they created three kinds of districts:
. Type A Districts crammed full of Democrats where the Democratic base vote, the Democratic ‘straight party’ voters, margin over Republicans wasn’t 7 points – it was 14 or 20 points.
· Type B Districts crammed full of Republicans where instead of the Republican margin being –7 it was +7 or +10.
· Type C Districts, swing district where Republicans and Democrats (as far as straight party voters went) were roughly even.
Now, this election, if you were a Republican candidate running in a swing district Mitt Romney winning 59% of the ticket splitters’ vote was real good news. Because it meant those same ticket splitters were likely to vote for you.
George Holding’s Congressional District is an example. There were about the same number of Republican and Democratic straight ticket voters but the ticket splitters were voting over 60% for Romney – so they were inclined to vote for George too.
That’s one reason Richard Hudson, Mark Meadows and George won their races for Congress. And it’s a big reason Republicans swept almost every swing district in the State House and Senate. More important, it’s an example of how mathematics clarifies mysteries