Friday, June 11, 2010

Voter Responsibility in Vetting Our Democratic Candidates

South Carolina has now joined an ever-widening circle of political districts whose voters are helplessly incompetent, because like TX-22, my congressional precinct, South Carolina Democratic voters have nominated a political disaster as their candidate of choice to run against Jim DeMint this fall.

Alvin M. Greene, unemployed, former soldier in the US Army, filed to run for the nomination for US Senate, paid a $10,400 filing fee, and apparently did nothing since that (no campaign, no website, no state convention).

His opponent on the ballot was Vic Rawl, a former judge who had a campaign website, campaign fundraisers and spent real money to get his name out there.

By the numbers, this is how it went down.

Alvin Greene 100,362 votes (58.96%) Vic Rawl 69,853 (41.04%). Voter turnout for the South Carolina primary: 24.08%. Total Democratic ballots cast: 197,380. Total votes cast in the Senate race 170,215. That is, 27,165 voters (or 13% of those who voted) did not vote in the senate race.

South Carolina has 46 counties, 42 of the 46 went for Greene.

Everybody asks this one question: how did he do it? Keith Olbermann asked it in a live TV interview last night and the answer came back: “good old fashioned campaigning” and “word of mouth.”

I beg to differ.

In March TX-22 Democrats nominated a batguano crazy LaRouche Democrat to run against Pete Olson this fall. In my county by county analysis of the vote the only clear trend that I could see was that where Kesha Rogers won, she was 1st listed on the ballot. Where Doug Blatt (the only real Democrat in the race) won, he was listed 1st.

And where do you think Alvin Greene’s name appeared on the South Carolina ballot?

Three guesses.

This took me almost 3 hours to discover today. Trying to log on to the South Carolina elections commission website to get that information was a trial that brought my PC’s web browser crashing down 3 times as apparently everyone in the country also wanted information from that website.

But when I finally verified that Greene’s name was indeed 1st it confirmed my suspicion that voters in South Carolina, rather than pass when they don’t know the candidates (like that 13% did) pick the first name on the list.

And it’s not just me, this guy thinks that’s what happened, too.

And there are those among us who think that Kesha Rogers won because black voters wanted to vote for a black person. The same theory has been offered about Greene with the postulation that white people spell the name Green and black people, spell it Greene.

I find all of that just a little offensive.

And the guy that I cited above doesn’t think that happened in the case of the Greene/Rawl race and has a graphic to back it up (cut and pasted below). That line of best fit shows a slight positive trend but I would want to see the correlation coefficient of that line because when you ignore the line all you see is a shotgun pattern.
Race was not a factor.

So I have a modest proposal. These days ballots are more and more electronic and less and less paper. In times past randomizing a candidate’s ballot position to solve this really awful voting trend was prohibitively expensive in terms of printing costs. Now, however, what is stopping us from randomizing a name on what is effectively a computer screen?

Because if just any guy with the filing fee can get on a ballot and win an election, just based on their ballot position, that makes it not an election. It isn’t even a beauty pageant.

It’s just insanity.

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