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Kristin Gaspar’s Razor-thin Win, Blow-by-Blow

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Kristin Gaspar’s Razor-thin Win, Blow-by-Blow

Just after election night, San Diego County District 3 watchers asked me how much of a chance Kristin Gaspar had of overcoming her then 1.7% deficit. I called it “unlikely, but not a longshot.” I knew the Registrar of Voter’s most recent update of the results showed her garnering as many votes as incumbent Dave Roberts, and crucially, about 57% of the vote had not been counted. We knew that if Gaspar won 51% of the remaining ballots she’d take the seat.

As results trickled in over the next few days, the outlook for Gaspar only slightly improved. Her deficit was 1.3% on November 14th. Yet, one-third of the vote hadn’t been counted so there was still a long way to go. Then the clouds began to part. The next day the gap narrowed to 1.1%. True, that’s not a big change, but the salient number was 51.6% because that was Gaspar’s share of the vote in the 11/15 update. If that continued through the remaining roughly 66,000 ballots, she’d win.

The results were better on the 16th. Gaspar still trailed Roberts by 0.8%, but she was making up ground. More importantly, two batches – think of them as large samples – had her taking more than half the vote. We knew the trend was getting stronger.

The Registrar’s update on the 17th was the strongest one yet for Gaspar, as she got 54% of the batch. Although the deficit shrank again, she still trailed. But the evidence was mounting that it was only a matter of time before Gaspar took the lead for good. If the Registrar’s batches were truly random samples we could now predict that Gaspar would win, which is what our friend and Rostra blogger Barry Jantz did the next day.

The rest is history. But, for election geeks, it’s important to note that the Registrar’s batches behaved like random samples in this case. In other words, they seemed to have predictive value. Also, the provisional ballots – those cast by registrants not at their home precincts or cast under unusual circumstances — were GOOD for Gaspar, something that doesn’t typically happen for Republicans. While that suggests Gaspar had a superior late ground game, a word of caution: results may vary next time around.

Congratulations to Kristin, especially, and to Mike Foster and Jason Roe on team Revolvis!

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