Scott Murphy’s lead may have narrowed to 13 votes among those who cast ballots on Tuesday. Everyone has a theory about the NY-20 absentee ballots. But the Democrats’ theory as transmitted to Chris Cillizza seems mighty suspect. He reports that their “projection” shows “the Democrat gaining 115 votes in Warren County, 96 votes in Columbia County and 70 votes in Washington County as well as scoring smaller gains in several other counties.” Hmm…
According to absentee-ballot numbers I received last night: in Warren, Republicans returned 569 of 764 ballots while Democrats returned only 316 of 437, with 113 of 205 “other” ballots returned. I suppose the Democrat could pick up votes, but he’d have to overcome a tremendous differential in party identification of the returned absentee ballots — 569 vs. 316, or 57% vs. 31%. (That’s a big advantage over registration in the county as a whole, where Republicans have only 49% of the electorate.) How likely is that?
Likewise in Washington, where the Democrats’ projection is a pick up of 70 votes, Tedisco has an advantage of 315 vs. 187 in returned absentee ballots (62% vs. 37%). In the county as a whole Republicans only have 45% of registered voters. Again, it is possible Murphy could pick up votes, but not as likely when you look at the pool of absentee ballots.
Columbia is a more plausible source of votes for Murphy, who enjoys an advantage of 472 to 242 returned ballots over Republicans, and who won that county 56-44%. But aside from a tiny margin in Duchess County, Columbia is the only county where Democrats enjoy an advantage in the percentage of returned absentees or the total absentee ballots sent out.
But the real kicker is in Saratoga. The latest figures there were 1,731 ballots returned, 922 of which were Republican and 502 Democratic (53% vs. 29%), with the remainder “other .” That is a very big chunk of the absentees, about one third. Tedisco won that county by a 54-46% margin.
None of these figures include the approximately 1,000 military ballots sent out (less than 200 returned). Considering Murphy’s comments on ROTC recruitment on campus and the assumption that military voters are more conservative, these will likely go in Tedisco’s favor. No one knows how it will all shake out, and this is why they count the ballots — to find out who really won.