While the election is over for most people, except in a few very tight congressional races, the campaign rages on in New York's 24th congressional district. Democratic former congressman Dan Maffei sought to regain his old seat (the former NY 25th district) that he lost to Republican Ann Marie Beurkle in 2010. According to the results, he has succeeded.
The current tally shows Maffei with a 14,388 vote lead over Beurkle. This is up from earlier, thanks to an error that gave Beurkle 2,000 more votes that has since been corrected. The only votes left to count are absentee and provisional ballots. There were 21,752 absentee ballots requested this year, and an unknown number of provisional ballots. In the last presidential election, about 3,500 provisional ballots were submitted, with around 2,500 certified as valid. [You can put at least one of those absentee votes in Maffei's column, by the way, since I had to vote absentee]
Despite this commanding lead, Beurkle has so far refused to concede.
Also updated: Fixed, I said former NY-23, should have been former NY-25.
Let us assume for a moment that all 21,752 absentee ballots arrive by the deadline. Let us also assume the same number of provisional ballots as last cycle, 3,500, and that they are all certified. Neither of those assumptions will hold, but just for the sake of argument. That is a total of 25,252 votes that have not yet been counted. In order to make up for her current 14,388 vote deficit, Beurkle will have to win about 57% of the remaining votes to surpass Maffei.
Among the votes cast on election day, 49% voted for Maffei, 43% voted for Beurkle, and 8% voted for Ursula Rozum (the Green party candidate). According to election officials, paper ballot distributions typically mirror quite closely the in-person ballot distributions. Beurkle would have to improve her performance among absentee and provisional voters by a huge amount. There is almost no chance she can win 57% of these voters with a 43% tally thus far.
In reality, however, not everyone who requested an absentee ballot will return it, or return it on time to be counted. 17,721 absentee ballots have been received so far, and there are only a few days left. For an absentee ballot to be valid in New York, it must be post-marked no later than the 7th day before the election or delivered in person no later than the day before the election. Even for internationally mailed ballots, its unrealistic to think a full 4,000 absentee ballots have yet to arrive. Also, not all provisional ballots will be certified, and provisional ballots are unlikely to favor the Republican candidate anyway.
Other congressional races around New York State are even closer margins than this election, and Republican and Democratic losers alike have already conceded those races, yet Beurkle ungraciously continues to think she has a chance to win. She might be well advised to look a little closer at the numbers in this race so far.
As noted before, the results so far are: Maffei(D) 49%, Beurkle(R) 43%, Rozum(G) 8%. Even with a third party liberal candidate taking 8% of the vote, Maffei is leading Beurkle by 6 points. If Rozum was not in the race and all those votes went for Maffei, he'd be winning by a stunning 14 points! Given how closely this race had polled before the election, that is pretty unlikely, so one has to wonder: how many moderate conservative leaning voters went Green?
The reason I suspect Rozum's candidacy hurt Beurkle just as much as it may have hurt Maffei is Beurkle's Tea Party branding. It is not just her voting record, although that played a strong part in the race's gender gap. It can be found also in the constituency that put her over the top in 2010: a strong Tea Party activist campaign in the highly conservative Wayne County suburbs of Rochester, NY. Granted, upstate New York is nowhere near is liberal as New York City, but even upstate's conservatives are quite moderate. The Tea Party earned itself a bad reputation over the past few years on social issues, so I can see in this scenario at least a portion of moderate republicans and conservative-leaning independents simply casting a protest vote for the third party candidate. There was no conservative or libertarian candidate in the race, as the Conservative Party endorsed Beurkle.
In the end, the results may simply mirror the actual population of this district that decided to turn out for a presidential election, unlike two years ago. It is for a diary of another day, but the fundamentals of economics and demographics of the region, as well as the moderate brand of conservatism favored in New York, make this a liberal-leaning district from the get-go. Beurkle's election was a fluke, and since redistricting here was not decided by Republicans, that fluke has now been corrected.
[For those who don't know what happened in NY redistricting, the NYS Supreme court chose to impose a districting proposal from an outside group because the legislature could not pass their own proposal without delaying the primaries. The proposal was based on geography rather than partisan makeup.]