Friday, November 7, 2008

Ted Stevens

The Ted Stevens story is extremely puzzling; polls had him down by a lot, but he seems to have won. It looks like turnout in Alaska was severely depressed; the consensus view is that this is because McCain conceded early so people had no reason to vote. This is weird for two reasons: 1. As the pollster in the WaPo story says, there was enough celebrity/infamy on the ballot that it seems like people should have voted anyway. Besides, there were close Congressional races, which there usually aren't. And voting in a non-swing state like Alaska is largely symbolic anyway. 2. The NY Times maps show that 40,000 fewer people voted this year than in 1996, in a spectacularly boring and non-competitive election with low turnout nationwide (did you even have to wait for Bob Dole to concede?), despite a fair bit of population growth. No one else seems to have pointed this out, but I think it rather discredits the boring election theory. (Oh, btw, the weather was fair by Alaska standards: cold and sunny.)

This leaves us with Nate Silver's other two possibilities: secret strength in the absentee ballots, and fraud. I'm inclined, somewhat against my will, toward the latter possibility.

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