Best not to talk to any campaign consultants about the recent election. They’re not in a talking mood.
From about six hours after the polls closed Tuesday until early Friday evening, Stanislaus County had not updated its vote totals. All Clerk-Recorder Lee Lundrigan has said is that she has roughly another 42,000 votes to count.
Undoubtedly, counting was continuing day after day. But with no new numbers being released, several candidates, and their campaign workers, were growing ever more frustrated. Their work is, at its essence, crunching numbers. Without numbers to crunch, there’s nothing to do.
But isn’t the 47,650 votes reported late Tuesday night a pretty big sample? Shouldn’t that give everyone a good idea of how it’s going?
Not exactly. One professional pointed us to one of the hottest races on the ballot – between sheriff candidates Juan Alanis and Jeff Dirkse. When the earliest votes – those sent in several days prior to the election – were counted and released immediately after the polls closed, Dirkse had 56 percent. But six hours later, after votes from polling centers had been added, he had only 53 percent.
So what? That’s still a big lead.
Not so, say the consultants. They split voters into the tiniest fractions, each with different characteristics. Dirkse got most of early voters, but Alanis got 52 percent of the votes cast at the polls Tuesday. Campaign consultants know that those who vote early tend to be more conservative. Those who send in ballots late or drop them off at polling stations tend to vote more like those who come to the polls in person.
Most of the ballots left to count are late-arriving absentees. If Alanis wins the late-absentee votes by the same margin he won the in-person votes, he’ll end up with roughly 41,200 votes to Dirkse’s 40,700. That number is not bankable because it doesn’t un-count the crucial undervotes (people who don’t vote in the race at all). That’s the real wild card. Still, an update of 10,000 votes might illuminate a trend.
Stanislaus isn’t alone in not updating. San Joaquin, Merced and Contra Costa counties haven’t updated since early Wednesday morning. Santa Clara and Alameda each updated Wednesday afternoon.
It’s something for outgoing Clerk-Recorder Lee Lundrigan to consider for November and for her replacement, Donna Linder, to ponder for 2020. Maybe those most anxious for results could chip in for a few more vote counters.
THANK YOU to the 370 readers who sent letters to the editor from April 1 to June 4. We’ve never tracked such things, but this could be a record. Of those 370 letters, 90 were non-political. But the other 280 all had opinions about a candidate, race or specific issue.
The candidate with the most letters was Democrat for Congress Josh Harder. We accepted 45 letters from his supporters. Next came 22 letters from Dirkse fans, 18 for Virginia Madueño and 17 from Alanis supporters. In all, we got letters supporting 22 candidates and two propositions. We verified the author of each.
Several writers preferred to criticize specific candidates rather than endorse. Jeff Denham was most frequent target with 15 such letters, compared to six praising him. Denham drew 37 percent of the vote, perhaps saying more about sheer numbers than the persuasive power of the writers.
More than a few suggested The Bee’s opinions were, well, misplaced. We appreciate the input.
Mike Dunbar is the Opinions Pages editor. 209 578-2325.