Number of the Day: Delaware Primary Edition

Let's go to the numbers in Delaware.

From NBC’s First Read:

If O’Donnell loses and if Republicans end up gaining nine Senate seats in November and not the magic 10, a switch of just 1,850 votes in the DE GOP primary would have been the difference between being in the minority and being in the majority.

(Emphasis mine).

That’s a stunning number (and indeed, one that has shrunk to 1771—see below) .

Indeed, looking beyond the win itself and to the specific election results we get:

O’Donnell: 30,561

Castle:       27,021

Source: the State of Delaware.

We are not talking about a massive number of votes or voters here.  For that matter, 398,134 voters voted in the 2008 Delaware Senate race, making the relative strength of O’Donnell’s primary support small even as compared to the Delaware electorate.  As such, claims that yesterday’s events equate to some massive signifier of the uprising of the American people (see, for example, comments at this post), or that represent need to be taken with appropriate caution.

At a minimum, let’s no get carried away in terms of the significance of the preferences of a relatively small slice of the electorate in one small state.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Peacewood says:

    Small margin, indeed.
     
    But couldn’t one reasonably claim that in a state that’s as blue as Delaware (with 60%+ Obama vote totals) that the fact that an obviously extreme candidate like O’Donnell broke 40%, let alone won the primary, is a bellwether of sorts?

  2. Steve Plunk says:

    Coming from someone who blogged incessantly about this race it seems strange we should now be told to not get carried away.
     
    Let’s look at this a just one piece of the growing pile of evidence that electoral moods are changing and both parties should take heed.  I won’t get carries away but I won’t marginalize it either.

  3. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Let’s look at this a just one piece of the growing pile of evidence that electoral moods are changing and both parties should take heed”

    The total size of the poll was around 51,000. Do you know what the size of the electorate will be in the general?  

  4. Coming from someone who blogged incessantly about this race it seems strange we should now be told to not get carried away.

    ??

    I think my first post on the Delaware race was the one about RINOs and that was rally more about party labels than the Delaware race.  I have blogged quite a bit about today and in the last several days because, well, it’s in the news.

  5. Rick Almeida says:

    But couldn’t one reasonably claim that in a state that’s as blue as Delaware (with 60%+ Obama vote totals) that the fact that an obviously extreme candidate like O’Donnell broke 40%, let alone won the primary, is a bellwether of sorts?

     
    No.  Please keep in mind that DE has a closed primary system, so only registered Republicans could vote in yesterday’s primary.  CNN says that there are just under 183,000 registered Republicans in DE (which makes Republicans about 29% of Delaware voters).  So 31% of DE Republicans voted yesterday (per Dr. Taylor’s numbers), and O’Donnell got 53.1% of the 31%.
    A little arithmetic shows that O’Donnell got about 16% of Delaware’s votes yesterday, which seems to fit pretty well with the idea that about 18% of the public considers themselves to be tea party supporters.
     
    Numbers for DE voter registration from http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/09/14/delaware.senate.primary/index.html

  6. mpw280 says:

    So we would rather have a democrat in republican guise than a conservative? Who the hell makes this shit up. The ass voted with the dems more than republicans, Just what the party needs another flipping Snowe. What god damn good is another switch party weak kneed prick? If you want republicans vote for real republicans otherwise you end up with another flipping McCain for president and it has been shown that the rank and file won’t hold their noses and vote for a turd, but hey every libtard is going to try and make hay from straw so pile on. Like big gov’t republican/democrats are going to solve problems instead of spending us to death. I wish her the best of luck and hope she forces everyone to eat a big steaming turd sandwich on election day.  mpw

  7. Rawly says:

    As shown below, he voted with the majority of the GOP 87% of the time (see below). O’Donnell will vote with them 0% of the time if she loses.
    I’ll also note that mpw280s post is pure rant, all spleen no brain. Is that who supports O’Donnell?
    http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/c000243/