RECALL 2011: Basic Arithmetic Multiplied by the Ghost of Ephialtes

When RECALL apologists’ pie charts begin to resemble mille feuille pastry,  requiring Sherlock Holmes to link them through unrelated numbers in tables that actually don’t easily correspond to each other, it’s time to check the original ingredients used for the recipes, in this case: The raw numbers of the 2010 GENERAL ELECTION as compared to the 2011 RECALL.

2011 November RECALL                                  2010 November GENERAL ELECTION

Lewis:            10,816 = 53.4%                              Democrat            10,663 = 34%
Pearce:            9,188 = 45.4 %                             Pearce:                 17,552 = 57%
Cortez:                252 =    1.2%                              L:                          2,808 =    9%
TOTAL:         20,256 votes cast                           TOTAL:               31,023 votes cast

Difference between 2010 and 2011:
Total RECALL votes cast show an overall decline in voter participation of 10,767, which took more than a 1/3 chunk out of the general election turnout numbers of 2010. That’s a 35% no-show out of the same total voters in that district. Thus, the 2011 RECALL had only 65% of the 2010 general election voter participation.

Of that, 77.7% of that 35% decrease in total votes was suffered by Pearce; he received 17,552 votes in 2010 and only 9,188 in 2011, which is an 8,364 vote difference. (8,364 of 10,767 is 77.68%)

Pearce’s voters didn’t show up a second time: 17,552 – 9,188 = 8,364 who didn’t  come back to vote again,  which is a 48% loss of pro-Pearce voting, which critically impacted Pearce. Pearce’s 2010 general election base turnout was essentially cut in half in the RECALL. They didn’t shift their votes to Lewis, they just didn’t show up.

Interestingly, the total votes cast for the 2010 Democrat who opposed Pearce, is nearly the same as total votes cast for 2011 Lewis that is:  10,816 vs. 10,663, only a net positive 153 votes increase. It is essentially the same number, with only a miniscule positive difference; almost as if there was a neat 100% shift in votes opposing Pearce which moved from the 2010 Democrat to Lewis.

Referring back to the official tallies in the table above, only in 2010 did (L) differentiate: 2,808 votes for a third candidate. In 2011, those numbers did not translate to increasing the Pearce column, or anything significant above what the Democrat got in 2010. So, the (L)s stayed home and those who did vote were consistent in only their opposition to Pearce, they threw their votes to Lewis make up for any missing Democrats, not to Pearce.

Polling charts provided by recall supporters indicate that a number of those (L) voters who voted against Pearce in 2010 came back and voted against Pearce by voting for Lewis, yet the combined Democrat and (L) votes of the 2011 RECALL as votes opposing Pearce were still less than the Democrat votes alone in 2010 opposing Pearce.  In the RECALL, Democrat plus (L) turnout combined opposing Pearce were thousands of  votes less than  in 2010, but not as devastatingly poor for the RECALLers as the no-shows on Pearce’s side in 2011.

So, looking back at the charts above, the combined opposition against Pearce in November 2011 was 10,663 (D) + 2,808 (L) = 13,471 to Pearce’s 17,552.

In the RECALL 2011, the total opposition votes of three groups united against Pearce was less than the numbers of two opposition groups in the 2010 results. The recall supporters are claiming a wide surge of voter discontent with Pearce, but the raw numbers don’t support that claim.  The RECALL absolutely required a composite of fewer votes from three separate political groups to cobble together that number of 10,816, essentially the same as the 100% Democrat vote against Pearce in 2011.

So in the 2011 RECALL,  an even smaller number of district voters who opposed Pearce in 2010, three minorities of the minority vote, took away the results from a resounding majority vote in the general election.  The minority upset the majority not because the majority was out-numbered in any measure, but complacent.   The RECALL absolutely could not afford a third party candidate,  they needed as many of those  (L) votes which had been cast against Pearce in 2010  to contribute to the aggregate total against Pearce in 2011.

It seems that the  Pearce defeat was a result of a typical recall dynamic: voter no-show depressing overall turnout, combined with a shift in the opposition Democrat and (L) votes to Lewis  in order to oppose Pearce in the absence of a Democrat or (L) on the ballot. The RECALL was not a primary of any sort, so Democrats and Independents were free to vote for either candidate.

The votes do not support any contention that there was widespread Republican disenchantment with Pearce, but the RECALLers with great glee highlight the existence of a small minority of self-identified disgruntled Republicans, perhaps henceforth, the Ephialtes contingent from Mesa, who were willing to act on allying with two other politically hostile minorities,  to deliver defeat at the great expense and detriment of the large Republican majority in that particular district.   So, it wasn’t mille feuille, but old baclava on a new plate being served up.

The voters who showed up for RECALL voted as they had  voted in 2010: those who opposed Pearce in 2010, opposed him in 2011, those who voted for Pearce in 2010, voted for him again in 2011.

The Democrat vote against Pearce in 2010 represented 34% of the total turnout, but that same total number of votes in an aggregate against Pearce in 2011 had a far greater effect, resulting in 53.4% of the total turnout votes, even though that new aggregate had far fewer Democrat voters in it than who also supported the Democrat candidate in 2010.  It was part of a proportional increase in opposition to Pearce, not an actual increase, in fact with the lower turnout in every voter category,  actual decreases were across the board.

The RECALL task was to convert an extreme losing position into a winning position.  If the voters couldn’t be changed, then the playing field needed adjustment, and two shallow bench teams had to be re-combined against one deep bench team, which needed to be cut down to a more defeatable size, through massive attrition and some key defections.

If one expects the same essential political base at work, it is not unusual that the opposing votes in a recall just after a general election should be very similar as in the general election and yet that same number in 2010 making 34% suddenly reaches 53%, proportionally in 2011, due entirely to lower total voter participation.

How effective?  The Recall Organizers inserted Jerry Lewis (RM: Recall Man), a complete political neophyte, who without even breaking a sweat, showed up half way through the recall petition drive, and won with just over half of less than two-thirds of the turnout Russell Pearce faced for re-election in 2010. Lewis’s short campaign was arguably a much easier task as compared to Pearce’s go at it. What took Pearce long over a year to accomplish, at great time and effort and expense, Lewis, a political unknown, accomplished practically overnight.

Pearce had to slog through both the primary and the general election campaigns to win in 2010. What sort of charismatic political magic does newbie Lewis possess and how come it wasn’t evident before, because he should bottle it and sell it and make a bundle.

Lewis won RECALL with the same vote total as the losing Democrat only a few months before, in 2010.  If Lewis had won those identical numbers in 2010 against Pearce, had Lewis actually showed up as an actual candidate  in the general election, with those numbers, he would have lost, resoundingly.

Depending on a coalition of a minority of Democrats, a minority of (L) and a minority of Republicans as his voter base, Lewis would not have prevailed in any actual primary against Pearce, who represented a much larger and politically uniform block of voters.  The only way this small disparate coalition  could work was through a RECALL –  employed in this case as not a relief from tyranny or criminality, but as a basic end-run around the usual rules, usual dynamics and sifting of primaries and general elections, and critically, the higher turnout  …  something sobering to remember as the Liberal Left promotes their self-interested campaign for open primaries.

So, what to make of this?  Peeling away the cover of layers of pie charts, the RECALL re-organized the ground for unknown Lewis, while fully one half of Pearce voters naively assumed that the general election meant something and that their job was done until next general election.  The RECALL didn’t bring in anything new, its tactic just reshuffled fewer chairs on the same deck, for the first class passengers, while the majority of the passengers sat below decks, not included.

The votes don’t support any broad mandate of “anger” against Pearce, as claimed.  The RECALL numbers actually reconfirm the results of the 2010 general election, but the tactic of recall removed the usual rules and election schedule to fully exploit the off-cycle dynamics.  The 2010 general election was a more fair result of the consensus of a majority of voters in that district with much wider participation,  while the 2011 RECALL was representative of a minority of three minorities, a fundamentally unrepresentative election.  The voters of that district are now represented by someone the overwhelming majority didn’t vote for, and twice, at that.  The disenfranchisement of the majority of the 2010 general election voters has been accomplished, in twelve months flat.

Pearce didn’t get the message to his base that they absolutely needed to hustle themselves back to the polls or Lewis would have been trounced.

The mathematics of a political coup.

Governor Brewer’s very comfortable margin over her Democrat opponent in November 2010 is of the same magnitude as the very comfortable margin Pearce celebrated in November 2010. It’s only twelve months later and Pearce isn’t celebrating any more. The Recall organizers, giddily huddled around the microphones have already declared the next heads they think should roll: Governor Jan Brewer and Sheriff Arpaio. The Democrats seem to have calculated another way to win at the ballot box. It’s not a good bet that they will give it up. It’s too easy and much cheaper than those pesky primaries and general elections.

The Republican Party needs to be pro-active, forward-thinking and innovative to address this new political battle tactic – plugging leaking holes is not the solution to the problem of a ship under a broadside attack.

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2011 November recall: http://www.azcentral.com/elections/index.php?pgDate=20111108

2010 November RECALL : http://www.azcentral.com/elections/index.php

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