Something on the 2010 mid-term election

I want to get something up about the election back in America on Tuesday.

Every Congressional election, geek that I am, I like to run an Excel spreadsheet of the margins that the House (of Representatives) candidates won by. In the 1990’s, this was tough. You usually got the information out of the New York Times or other national-focus newspaper. Then, you had to input all 435 races. If they gave you percentages, by the way, that helped. Otherwise you had to run a formula.

(“You” means me, by the way.)

It was quite a project, but in the end, you could do a data sort on either the Republicans or Democrats, and see who got into office by the narrowest of margins. A 3% shift in certain districts might have sent 20 or 30 congressmen packing, something like that.

The people who run these elections, and participate in a heavily partisan way, always make much of their great victories and big landslides. But the really big blowouts are a lot rarer than one imagines.

Thank goodness we live in the future now, because in 2010 you just have to hunt around for a website that will offer you a CSV file. I found one at Electoral Vote dot com, which is the elections site run by that software wizard who invented Linux, I believe.

I ran the numbers in a fraction of the time it took me in 1996, and sure enough, there is a band of about 25 or 30 Congress members who got in by something less than 53%-47%. Yes, I know it takes a wave election to do that. But the point is simply that some people will now start going around like it was a 70%-30% election, when in fact it wasn’t even that six people at the party want pizza and four would rather hamburgers.

if I get the energy later today, I will screenshot the result in the band I am talking about. Sad to see some of the names of those kicked out; but in some ways people gotta find out what its like to be underemployed maybe.

My ballot (7th District New Jersey) went for the Democrat, who got ritually trounced as always. It’s not that the candidate isn’t good–they usually are very dedicated and capable people. But the district has been solid Republican since the Civil War. When the old generation of what used to be called Progressive Republicans died off, a bunch of white-flight Republicans, as well as middle-manager corporate types, showed up from other parts of the New York metro area and replenished the stock.

So being the Democratic nominee in the New Jersey 7th is like Sisyphus and the rock, you know?

With the House now becoming firmly in the hands of the Republicans, and the Senate modestly held by the Democrats, or rather, the Democratic Caucus (53-47), I think the next two years are going to be Barack and the rock.

[Update: (Click to Enlarge)