Monday, October 14, 2013

Final report: New Jersey special election for Senate

The special election to fill the seat of the late Frank Lautenberg will be held this Wednesday, October 16. Why it isn't being held on the same date as the governor's race this November or even being held on a Tuesday as most American election are, only Chris Christie knows.

In any case, I have said almost nothing about this race because no poll has shown it being very close. Cory Booker has a commanding lead over Steve Lonegan in every poll so far. The only dispute is how big the lead is.

Oct 13: Rutgers: sample size 513 Booker ahead 58%-36%(22 points)
Oct 12: Monmouth: sample size 1393 Booker ahead 52%-42% (10 points)
Oct 8: Richard Stockton College: sample size 729 Booker ahead 50%-39%(11 points)
Oct 7: Quinnipiac: sample size 899 Booker ahead 53%-41% (12 points)
Oct 5: Farliegh Dickinson: sample size 702 Booker ahead 45%-29% (16 points)

The story for polling nerds here is the huge discrepancy between the last two polls. My Confidence of Victory system does not try to pick the margin of victory, just the victor. Because the width of the margin is so high in all cases, the polls all agree Lonegan has next to no chance. Here are the odds using Confidence of Victory, stating them as x to 1 favorite, rounded to three significant digits.

Oct 13: Rutgers: Booker is a 16,000,000 to 1 favorite
Oct 12: Monmouth: Booker is a 18,500 to 1 favorite
Oct 8: Richard Stockton College: Booker is a 1,320 to 1 favorite
Oct 7: Quinnipiac: Booker is a 10,900 to 1 favorite
Oct 5: Farliegh Dickinson: Booker is a 4,170,000 to 1 favorite

Can I explain these differences? This may seem strange, but my explanation is these differences really don't matter. Once you get past being more than a 1,000 to 1 favorite, it's over. I have not yet had 1,000 samples, but so far the biggest favorite to lose since 2008 was about 11 to 5, or 2.2 to 1. This was Spitzer vs. Springer in New York City comptroller, a race only one Quinnipiac called for Springer.

There were some very big upsets in the Republican presidential primaries after Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich both failed to be the Not Romney and Rick Santorum went from also-ran to contender, but two person races are pretty easy to call, especially when the numbers are this big.

I'm sure there will be bigger upsets in two candidate races eventually and there may be some I didn't log because it was in a race I skipped over, like the House races or state ballot propositions. But unless voter turnout is crazy low and skewed as hell, Cory Booker will be a Senator very soon.

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