County Judge Election Analysis
Now that Election Day is over with there is going to be much discussion about what the causes were of the election outcomes for the various races. Likewise, next election cycle the same “experts” will again pontificate for the local paper about what the outcome will be or what the polls mean when in reality they are nothing more than spectators opining on something they have no basis from which to draw conclusions from. Oh, they will make self-serving statements of statistical outcomes ignoring the fact that statistics is ill-equipped to predict an election outcome because the electorate is just plain fickle. Of course there will be the self-proclaimed magician consultants who charge candidates for their winning formulas in electorate engagement. These consultants are nothing more than charlatans plying on naïve candidates looking for the illusive winning formula. In the end, the election outcome is determined by the electorate who casts a vote on election night.
The problem is that the electorate is constantly in flux. Its face changes in response to external factors beyond the control of anyone. There are trends that have developed over the years. For example, in El Paso an election outcome is normally determined in the early voting cycle. By 7:00pm most everyone has a clear indication of how the electorate has responded to each candidate. Absent any “October” surprises the early voters mimic the Election Day voters.
This year there was a pseudo “October” surprise with Lyda Ness-Garcia filing a police report alleging an assault tied to politics. With an incomplete law-enforcement investigation going into Election Day and the undercurrent intrigue of the possible involvement of her opponent it will be interesting to compare the early voting results with the Election Day ones to see if a trend is evident indicating that the allegation had any impact on the electorate. I suspect that there will be no change between early voting and Election Day votes cast.
One of the highest profile races in this primary is the county judge race between the incumbent Veronica Escobar and her two challengers; Aliana Apodaca and Eddie Holguin. As I am writing this prior to the final tally last night (I live two hours ahead) I am assuming that Veronica Escobar will keep her lead from the early voting votes cast. Because of its profile and the public policy agenda ramifications I thought it would be important to attach some analysis to that race.
I analyzed the last four county judge races looking for possible patterns. Looking at the 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 election cycles should give us an opportunity to plug in the numbers of 2014 and see if any trends continued. The following infographic should give you an overview comparison of what it took to become county judge.
Immediately it should become evident that electoral turn out increased dramatically from 1998 to 2002. In 2002 there were four candidates vying for the office while in 2006 there were six. Also, in 2006 there was a runoff between Anthony Cobos and Barbara Perez. As you can see, in 1998 it took Dolores Briones only 5,272 to take the office. However in 2010, Veronica Escobar received 18,375 votes but in reality only needed 13,409 votes to win.
However I found an interesting trend that surprised me. I was only able to analyze the campaign contributions reports for the last two elections; 2006 and 2010. I took the total amounts spent by the candidates and divided that amount by the number of votes cast. The result was that in 2006 each vote cost $7.37 while in 2010 each vote cost $2.09 in expenditures by the candidates. It is important to note that the 2006 election required a run-off. However, Anthony Cobos was the only candidate that reported spending money in the run-off portion. If we were to tally the votes cast through Election Day excluding those cast in the runoff the amount per vote goes down to $3.50 per vote. I still believe the $7.37 is more accurate because it is highly likely that the vast majority of voters who cast a vote in the runoff also cast one in the primary therefore including the two votes cast tallies is counting them twice. However you decide what number makes more sense to you. What was most interesting thing to me were the amounts spent by each candidate for the votes they received.
Most of the candidates averaged between a low of $2 to a high of $5 per vote except for two candidates. I tallied the totals for each candidate in the 2006 and 2010 cycles. There were two candidates that paid double-digits for votes.
Eli Muñoz in the 2006 cycle spent $11 per vote. He actually received the lowest amount of votes between all of the candidates in both elections. Anthony Cobos, who pleaded guilty to public corruption, paid $14 per vote, the highest of any candidate so far.
Veronica Escobar paid the lowest per vote, along with Jimmy Suerken. They each paid $2 per vote. It will be interesting to compare Veronica Escobar’s political expenditures this cycle in relation to her previous run for office as well as looking to see of the trend per votes in the county judge race remains steady, has gone up or has gone down.
Obviously there is going to be much discussion about the election results in the coming days. I hope to add relevant information to the discussion by updating my infographic and information with last night’s results in the next few days.