Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Turning Sterling Blue

One of the things I'll be watching for tonight is how Sterling votes in relation to the rest of the state on the three contested races.

Looking back at the last eight years, Sterling has had a very strong Republican tilt when compared to the rest of the state/district. That's not to say that Sterling has always voted for a Republican--in the eight races since 2000 the town has gone four times for the Democrat and four times for the Republican--but even in those years when Sterling has voted for a Democrat, the winner's margin has been much smaller than the rest of the state/district as a whole

Here is a chart I put together showing those eight races. The table shows the final vote and margin in Sterling, the final statewide margin, and the difference:

As an example, in last year's Senate race between Ted Kennedy and Ken Chase, Kennedy won Sterling by 8 points, but his statewide margin was 38 points. That gives Sterling a 30-point Republican lean. (Note that in two races, the 2006 House and 2000 Senate contests, I have included an independent and a Libertarian candidate in the totals, as they were running to the right of the Democrat.)

Other than John Olver's first race as Sterling's representative in 2002 which produced a 46-point Republican advantage, Sterling's vote in the other seven races were remarkably consistent, reflecting a Republican lean of between 20 and 33 points (if the Deval Patrick-Kerry Healey race is also considered an outlier, then the spread is only 26 to 33 points).

So I will be looking to see how the town fares in relation to recent history. If Barack Obama, John Kerry, or John Olver are within 25 points of the statewide margin, that would be success. If any of the three can poll within 20 points of the statewide margin, it would suggest an unusual Democratic surge in town. (I don't think there is anyway that a Democrat would outperform the rest of the state.)

Based on an average Republican lean of 27.5 points and the statewide projections at fivethirtyeight.com, Sterling should look like this when the votes are counted:
Obama 59.0-39.1 (D +19.9) McCain 52.8-45.2 (R +7.6)
Kerry 64.4-32.0 (D +32.4) Kerry 52.3-47.4 (D +4.9)
Olver 71.0-29.0 (D +42.0)* Olver 57.2-42.7 (D +14.5)

*-Based on average margin of last two contested races.
No media polls have been conducted on this race.
My gut tells me that Obama will do better statewide than the projection (on the order of 61-38) and may barely sneak out a win--but not a majority thanks to Libertarian Bob Barr--in Sterling (49-48-3). I think Kerry will just about be on the R +27.5 number and Olver will do a little worse.

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