2017 Special Election: Predictions & Polling in Real Terms

Click photo to view source from al.com

In the days leading up to the Alabama Special Election Primary,  We have seen predictions for everything from polling data, to voter turnout.  I wanted to take a moment to actually put those predictions into context in terms of actual votes and for whom.  Before I do, let me list a couple of predictions that I have come across over the past few days.

  1. Alabama Secretary of State, John Merrill, predicts that voter turnout will be low, a range of 20-25% of registered voters are expected to show up on August 15th.  His website stated back in November of 2016, Alabama has a total of about 3.3 million registered voters.
  2. The latest poll that I have seen has Moore at 30.7%, Strange at 22.6% and Brooks at 18.1% on the republican side.  For the democrats, data isn’t as complete.  Although that same source does have Democratic Candidate, Robert Kennedy Jr. polling at 49%  which puts him with almost enough votes to win the primary without a runoff!

These numbers, for the most part are not surprising if you have been following this race and monitoring the polling data that has been shared all along.  What hasn’t really been mentioned is what these numbers mean in terms of the expected number of votes that will be placed for each candidate.  That’s what I’ll try here.

It wasn’t until I saw Merrill’s prediction and the total number of registered voters in Alabama that I thought about putting this together.  Since I’m terrible at math, rather than using the 20-25% range, I will settle in the middle at 23%.

Based on the polling and estimated turnout:

If 23% of 3.3 million show up to vote tomorrow, that will mean a total of 759,000 people are expected to turnout statewide.

If Alabama is split (and I’m estimating this) 60/40 republicans to democrats, then that means 455,400 republicans and 303,600 democrats.  I debated with myself to put it at 65/35 but I’ll know for sure after tomorrow.

For the candidates, it’s a simple plan.

Plan A – Win the primary on August 15th.  That would mean one republican candidate would get at least 228,000 votes. For the democrats, that number is 151,800.  Not likely.

Plan B – Make it to the runoff.  This is the most likely scenario and the one that the big money is expecting as well.  Strange has millions to spend but has mostly been attacking Brooks in the ads.  Based on the polling data, here is what that looks like.  Due to availability, I am only able to estimate republicans from here on.

Roy Moore (30.7%) 139,808 estimated votes

Luther Strange (22.6%) 102,920 estimated votes

Mo Brooks (18.1%) 82,427 estimated votes

What is striking to me about this is that a mere 20,494 votes are the only things keeping Brooks from moving on to the runoff against Moore in this scenario.  That’s not a lot of votes when you consider a total 3.3 million statewide registered voters.  This also further explains why the Strange campaign and its allies have been running negative ads against Mo Brooks with far more frequency than they have against Roy Moore up until this point.  The one point that I can glean from this information is that your vote or non-vote matters tomorrow.  Even if you are voting for a candidate that I haven’t named here, and there are some really good ones, you are still affecting the outcome.  If you don’t vote at all tomorrow, which according to this should be about 77% of you, then your inaction also affects this election by keeping the turnout down.

In closing friends, I leave you with a line borrowed from the rock band Rush, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice”  For the rest of us, I pray we choose the path that is clear.

About Duncan Lindsey

Husband, father, IT professional, videographer, podcaster and blogger in Troy, Alabama.

One thought on “2017 Special Election: Predictions & Polling in Real Terms”

  1. Good analysis.

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