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I have been closely watching  the razor-thin margins in the tossup AZ-02 race.. Hoping that my district will send Ron Barber to Congress.

The Tuesday 11/12 end-of-day totals at the AZ SOS website report Barber is up 512 votes, with 269,707 votes counted after Cochise and Pima counties both reported for the day..

Background: Pima County is the largest reliably Democratic county in Arizona and 60-65% of CD-2 votes are in Pima. 100% of Cochise is in CD-2 - This county is quite Republican-leaning and though it is much smaller than Pima (less than 50k votes expected this year to Pima County's expected 370k+) It is heavily Republican, (Romney holds a 24 point lead here).

Tonight, The Tucson Weekly, who has been issuing frequent web updates on the AZ-02 race reports:

there are still about 2,000 early ballots left to count in Cochise County, which was McSally's stronghold. There are also somewhere around 2,000 provisional ballots, but it's unclear how many of those will end up being counted.

Meanwhile, Pima County still has roughly 4,000 early ballots (which have trended toward Barber) and about 27,000 provisional ballots. Those provisionals are the real X-factor in this race, since there's no good model as to how provisional voters behave (especially in a case where some of those provisional ballots were the result of a computer glitch that left names off their regular spots on the voter rolls at polling places). If they behave like early voters, it will be good for Barber; if they behave like day-of-election voters, it will be good for McSally.

Good math predicts Barber will  consolidate his lead as provisionals are counted, finishing with a lead of  1200+ votes.

You heard it here first!  Venture past the orange scroll of mysterious mathematical symbolism for some arcane 5th-grade level (non-Rovian) mathematical analysis of the type that eludes Republicans...

Ok, Time for math and logic.   ( As inhabitants of a reality-based world we must refuse to stoop to "math which we do to make us feel better" .. right )

But how to estimate provisional vote margins?... In something more meaningful than "X-factor":
Provisionals will break towards Dems in the same (or greater) percentages as Early votes.
1) Provisionals are most often "Early Votes gone Bad"
-- The main cause of provisionals  is that people lose, or otherwise don't mail in their Early vote by mail ballot and must vote provisionally.
-- Dems pushed early vote much more than R's by hard-selling Dems on signing up for "PEVL" (permanent early voting list)

2)Voter roll screw-up in Pima affected last minute registrants only; Dems are more last minute than Repubs
Pima County Recorder Ann Rodriguez announced that the massive number of provisionals in Pima was due to a "glitch" at the registrar's office. - This messed up people who turned their voter registrations in on the last day possible.  Their names were printed in the wrong place on voter rolls, or in their old precinct (in the case of address changes)  So they had to vote provisionally...
Who turns things in at the last minute.. Um, probably dems, right?

3) Provisionals usually lean Dem
If you change address, don't have ID, (as a first time voter) you have to vote provisionally.
People who are poorer or younger, or minorities change address more often or lack ID these groups are more likely Dems.

Now for some reality-based arithmetic...
Let's assume TW's numbers are right And...:
Assume: 20% of provisionals are disallowed, and there is a 4% "no vote" on the remaining ballots.. (undervote on CD race, or ballot unreadable)

Number of votes left to count:
To Count: 2000 Early ballots, 2000 provisional (though the initial estimate I heard from Cochise was 1800)
(2000 + (2000 - 400) )  = 3600
3600 - (3600 * .04) = 3600-144 = 3454 votes will be counted in Cochise

100% of Cochise county is in CD-02

McSally was much stronger in Election day vs Early Ballots (26% lead  vs 12%) She currently has a  11.8% margin over Barber in Early votes cast in Cochise.

McSally gains (.12 * 3454) = 414   in Cochise

To Count: 4000 Early, 27,000 provisionals

4,000 + 27000 - 5200 = 25,800
25,800 - (25,800 *.04) = 25800 - 1032 = 24768 votes will be counted in Pima
64 % of Pima county votes are  in CD-02
24768 * .64 =

15851 votes to count in Pima / CD-02

Barber has a 7.37 % margin over McSally in Early votes cast in Pima.

Barber gains    ( .074 * 15851) =   1172 votes in Pima

512 + 1172 - 414 = Barber finishes with a ~1250 vote lead

Even if we estimate McSally with a much higher margin in Cochise for provisionals - same as her election-day lead  Barber still wins by about 1145 votes

(EG McSally 25%  margin)
(.25 % 1550 =  387 ) + ( .12 * 1920 = 230 ) =  387+ 230 = 617 McSally gain in Cochise

There are just not enough ballots left in Cochise County for her to win!

Please...  cross your fingers, and hope for no November surprise....

I will dance in the street if Arizona sends a majority Dem (5 - 4) House contingent to DC in January!!

6:27 AM PT: Update: Check your ballot status in Pima County:

Early Ballot Status:

Provisional Ballot:

Originally posted to biscobosco on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 12:13 AM PST.

Also republished by Baja Arizona Kossacks.

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