The district is made up of 10 counties or parts of counties. The chart above shows how the vote in those counties have shifted from 2002 to 2009. The Republican seat shifted a bit Dem in 2004 and then was swept over to the Democratic column in 2006 with 53.1% of the vote. In 2008 that margin (aided by incumbency) expanded to 62.1%. Without an incumbent it is no surprise we saw a closer election tonight, but would it be more like the 53% of 2006 or fall short of that, perhaps even back to a Republican majority? As it happens, back to 50-50.
Tedisco was helped by a strong performance in Saratoga county, which largely overlaps his state Assembly district and is also the largest turnout county in the district, about 1/3 of the district. That was a county that supported Gillibrand in her win in 2006 and landslide in 2008, in both cases at about the same rate as the district-wide vote. Such was not the case tonight. Saratoga went for Tedisco over Murphy by 30,247 to 25,837. It was almost enough.
It is revealing to compare the 2009 and 2006 election results, since 2006 represents a close, 53.1%, Dem win. Murphy had just over 3% to give.
Murphy lost just over 6% from Gillibrand's 2006 total in Saratoga county, Tedisco's best gain.
Other counties shifted towards the Republican candidate by 3 points, more or less, with Renssalear moving the most, almost 5 points pro Rep. Dem gains were more limited and in smaller counties, Washington, Warren, Essex and Delaware. Net effect: Murphy lost all he had to give, save 65 votes.
How did the polls do? The last Siena poll had the race 47-43 for Murphy (inside the margin of error.) Our trend estimate put it at 47.0-42.4. Both over estimated Murphy's margin, and had nothing to say about the 10% undecided. The simple polling average, however, had Tedisco up 45.6 to 37.6, a larger overstatement of Tedisco's margin.
If the Minnesota Senate case is any indication, NY-20 may still be waiting for a winner on the 4th of July. Who got the absentee vote out, and who did the best job of filling out the ballot right? Stay tuned.
Turnout in Tuesday's special election was down but still pretty healthy.
With just over 150,000 votes case, that was down 100k from the close 2006 midterm, a 40% decline. But given typically low turnout in special elections held in the spring, not a bad effort by voters. Note that the results of the past four election don't vary in any important way with turnout. But the key question now is those 5-10 thousand absentee ballots, or 3.3-6.6% of ballots cast on election day.