Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Democratic State House Candidates More Likely to be Unopposed than GOP Candidates in PA



       
Party of Winner
total
D
R
  Unopposed
    
N
36
77
113
Y
45 (56%)
45 (37%)
90
Total
81
122
203

With all the news about the Green Party calling for a recount in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.  I thought I would take a look at the state house races in PA.  I compiled a raw data set of the 203 house seats in PA from the state election website and the website Ballotpedia (all of which were up for reelection this year).  You can see the full data set here.  

I looked at the number of house races where there was only one candidate in the race.  There were a total of 90.  If a candidate had a third party challenger but only one major party candidate, they were counted as opposed.  There were 7 such races of which 4 were won by the Republican.   The counts on the Ballotpedia website or unopposed candidates are different because third party candidates were not included in their count.  The 141st district was mislabeled by Ballotpedia as unopposed when there was a challenger.

The table at the top of this post shows the relationship between the candidate being unopposed or not and the party that the winner of the race belongs.  45 of the 81 Democrats or 56% who won were unopposed while 45 of the 122 (37%) Republicans who won were.  Computing an odds ratio for being a Democrat who is unopposed relative to a Republican with the formula (45*77)/(36*45)=2.14.  This means that a Democrat is more than twice as likely to be unopposed than a Republican is in state house races.  This difference is statistically significant with a p-value of 0.001.

Vote Totals in in PA in 2016
Total
Office
GOP
  Dem
Green
Libertarian
Other
Total State House
2,664,611
2,445,871
5,729
8,333
28,060
5,152,604
President
2,970,764
2,926,457
49,947
146,709
21,569
6,115,446
US Senate
2,951,771
2,865,009
235,161
6,051,941
State Atty G
2,891,320
3,057,002
5,948,322
Auditor General
2,667,315
2,958,811
158,943
131,851
5,916,920
Treasurer
2,610,807
2,991,395
170,275
135,132
5,907,609
 

I also looked at the vote totals for the state house races when added across all 203 districts and compared them to statewide office vote totals and summarized them in the table above.  968,842 fewer people voted in state house races in 2016 as voted in the Presidential race in Pennsylvania this year.  The Democratic House Candidates received 480,586 fewer votes than Hillary Clinton did statewide while the Republican candidates statewide received 306,153 fewer than Donald Trump.  The GOP house candidates did receive more votes than the GOP candidate for Treasurer.

There are many possible explanations for people not voting in down ballot races: they don't know the candidates, the candidate was unopposed, they wrote someone else's name in (the state does not post these votes on their site), they didn't like any of the candidates on the ballot, or possibly voting machine irregularities.  The effect of gerrymandering cannot be overlooked as voters who might support opposition candidates might get discouraged.  Next week I will look at the US House races in PA and how they compare to the state house races.

  **Related Posts**

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Divergent Movements in PA Primary in Cambria County for Bernie and Trump

 

Clinton 7 Times More Likely to Win in States Where Trump Wins