PA-12 05/18/2010 Turn-Out Percentages: D (62) - R (34) - I(4) ... or why Tim Burns lost.

Maybe I missed it but in all the analyses of PA-12 that appeared on RedState afterwards, I don’t think I saw anyone mention the fact that PA-12’s Independents constituted only a tiny 4% of the electorate last week. I think that, more than anything else explains the Critz victory and its magnitude. Jay Cost highlights this rather emphatically …

This is a hugely important point to bear in mind. My back-of-the-envelope calculation of the party turnout in last night’s election indicates that a whopping 62% of the voters were Democratic, just 34% Republican, and a measly 4% were Independent or had a third party affiliation.

PA runs a closed primary system so it is certainly possible that many Independents – by far the most politically disengaged segment of the voting population – were unaware that there was a special election on in addition to the primary elections that they know that they don’t get to participate in.

If I remember correctly, Independents were polling heavily in favor of Tim Burns in the last week. So Burns had almost all Republicans, a small but measurable share of Democrats and a solid majority of Independents.

And he still lost, because with a 2:1 D-R partisan registration disadvantage, he needed to turn out all of his voters to compete. If Independents constituted only 4% of the electorate last Tuesday, then he obviously failed to do so and he needs to add a superlative GOTV operation  ready to turn out Independents into his November gameplan.

So there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that Critz is now the incumbent and the Democrats got a much-needed morale boost.

The good news is that Bill Russell is no longer on the ballot splitting the R vote and it’s highly unlikely that Independents would only be 4% of the voters in November. Better yet, the Burns’ campaign just got a confidence shaking test-run, they’ve got six months to make some corrections.