Somehow political reporters have lost the simplest technique of deciphering early election results. Instead of maundering on about whether the precincts in so far lean one way or the other, all you need to do is take precinct-level results from a recent similar race and compare them with the results from whatever precincts have come in. In Wisconsin, we’ve got the results of the recent Supreme Court election to work from. Which candidate carried each Senate district then, and by how much? How do the results so far tonight compare with the results then? Given five precincts in any district, you ought to be able to get pretty close to the right answer.
I was doing this stuff on blackboards forty years ago. But with all their fancy graphics and computer support, reporters don’t seem to know how to do it now. Puzzling. Are they actually doing it, and think it’s too hard to explain?
Update I’m reluctant to jinx things, but being superstitious is bad luck, so I’m actually getting hopeful.
Democrats needed to take three of six races. So far, they’ve taken one (Shilling over Kapanke in the 32nd). Three are lost.
The Democrats in the remaining two races (King-Hopper in the 18th and Pasch-Darling in the 8th) have leads of 1100 and 1700 votes, or about 2%. But in the 18th, only 3% of the precincts are still out. Unless those are humongous precincts with big Republican edges, it’s hard to make up a 2% gap with 3% out. So it may well come down to Pasch-Darling, where 33% of the precincts have yet to report.
Second update The AP has called the 8th for King. Keep your fingers (un-superstitiously) crossed. It would be fitting if control of the chamber flipped because the chair of the budget committee lost her seat, given that the budget bill was the vehicle for the union-busting law.
Third update Darling is now back in the lead by 2600, but what’s left (21% of the precincts) seems to be mostly Milwaukee, which is mostly Democratic. Josh Marshall says the people doing the sort of figuring I asked for say it’s a toss-up.
Fourth update It’s now an eight-point gap, with only 16% of the precincts out. That’s a high hill to climb.