Quirks of the County Blog

Wednesday, May 29 2013 04:40 PM

Final trickle of votes pushes Vidak further from win

By The Bakersfield Californian

Republican Andy Vidak is even further from a win in the 16th Senate District Wednesday after a few final votes trickled in from Fresno County.

Fresno County Elections has now published its Official Final Report. That report adds an additional 64 votes in final tally in the 16th Senate District contest.

Only four of those votes went to Vidak. Democrat Leticia Perez got 54. The other six went to Francisco Ramirez and Paulina Miranda, two of the three other candidates in the race.

Vidak is now 115 votes away from a win, a shift of 28 votes away from him.

That illustrates just how amazing a turnaround this has been, from a mathematical perspective.

Because the 50 percent-plus-one-vote margin needed to win outright is a moving number -- it grows every time a new vote is counted -- Vidak had to collect two new votes for every vote his four opponents got.

(..or three votes for every two his opponents got ....or 100 votes for every 99 his opponents got -- the higher the ratio the faster the move)

In the 64 Fresno votes, Vidak's opponents got 15 votes for every vote he got.

The net result is that the number of votes he needs to climb above 50-plus-one only dropped by 28.

Now. Reverse that thought.

At the end of election night Vidak was over the 50-plus-one margin by around 1,100 votes.

Dropping below that margin required Vidak to win, in rough terms, only one of every three of the 6,761 votes that were counted in the past week.

In other words his support needed to drop from 51.94 percent -- where it was at the end of election night -- to under 33 percent.

That seems a pretty major change. The conventional wisdom in analyzing voting returns in most elections is that voting in various sections of a given district -- i.e. in each of the four counties in the district -- will stay generally the same.

If Fresno County votes 43 percent for a candidate in vote-by-mail ballots, then votes will be about the same in election day polling, late vote-by-mail ballots and provisional ballots.

In this district, what has happened in the past, is that a Republican comes out on top on Election Day and then the Democratic gains ground and sweeps in for the win.

Typically that has happened because there were only a few extra votes to cast in the Republican-heavy areas of the district in Kings and Tulare and a lot of extra votes to count in the Democratic-heavy areas of the district in Kern and Fresno.

That trend happened this time too.

But, when the number of uncounted votes in the 16th SD were reported by the counties on May 22, there appeared to be too few votes to reverse Vidak's outright win.

That is likely why Perez conceded on May 22 and why every news outlet from here to New York reported that Vidak had won.

But this was a special election and very few people in Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties knew Perez before the race started two months ago.

Ballots went out to mail voters just weeks after the race started.

With around $2 million at her disposal -- or at the disposal of her supporters -- Perez was able to make herself known to the voters who cast late vote-by-mail ballots or voted at the polls.

So late voting in all four counties shifted toward Perez.

And in Kern and Fresno county the late voting went against Vidak extremely.

The result?

A runoff.

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