Political Overtime – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 29 2016 — One campaign remains officially uncalled, the California congressional race between Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and challenger Doug Applegate (D), a retired Marine Corps Colonel. Three more, the Louisiana run-offs for Senate and a pair of US House districts, will be settled this Saturday in the state’s secondary election.

In California’s 49th CD, the latest count finds Rep. Issa continuing to lead Applegate at this writing, but the margin is tightening as expected. With approximately 30,000 votes remaining to be counted in this marathon process, Issa has 154,057 votes as compared to 151,633 for Applegate. Issa racked up 60.5 percent of the vote in Orange County but, unfortunately for the congressman, that entity comprises only 23 percent of the entire district vote. In the dominant San Diego County portion, Applegate has a 53-47 percent advantage that has held up virtually throughout the counting process.

With approximately 27,000 of the 30,000 unprocessed ballots coming from San Diego, the 2,424 Issa edge will likely dwindle even further. Assuming the split breaks in the same proportion as the counted vote, Issa should win the final tabulation with a spread of between 1,500-1,900 votes.

Though no other Senate or House races went into political overtime, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has raised enough post-election money to finance re-counts in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. This weekend, the Hillary Clinton campaign joined the challenges, though attorney Mark Elias told the New York Times that the Democratic effort won’t financially support the procedure, but will send monitoring attorneys. Elias further said they would use the re-count process to search for any evidence of computer hacking or tampering, though admitting no such information has yet been discovered.

Stein and others claim that because the polling was inaccurate in the three states in question, therefore some irregularities must have occurred.

Since the counts are still unofficial, different entities are quoting different results. For example, the New York Times claims Trump’s lead in Wisconsin is 22,177 votes. CNN quotes a 27,257 vote figure. The Green Pages political statistics website reports the Wisconsin spread as being 27,506 votes. The state itself has still not released an official statewide count.

Changing these margins with just a re-count is not even a possibility. Re-counts typically alter statewide vote totals in the hundreds of votes not the thousands, let alone the tens of thousands. Therefore, the rather outlandish argument about these particular states being hacked, since the claims are backed with no support or specific examples, mean that this fishing expedition will be forced to uncover extraordinary discoveries.

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