Thursday, May 10, 2007

Come-from-behind victories are rare in Denver's runoff elections

Jason Bane of Colorado Confidential has come to the same historical, statistically-derived conclusion about the runoff elections as outlined in Denver Politics last week: "History Says Denver Runoff Could be Without Surprise."

Below are the 2003 percentages received in the municipal elections and the runoff. Note again that only Garcia and Rodriguez overcame deficits (of 1% and 5% respectively) to win. Bane also indicates that "no candidate who was down by more than five points ended up getting within even 10 points in the runoff election, so things don’t look promising for Phillips [who is down 30%], Watters [down 20%] or Madison [down 8%]."
John Hickenlooper: 43% --> 65%
Don Mares: 22% --> 35%

Dennis Gallagher: 31% --> 52%
Ed Thomas: 26% --> 48%

City Council District 1
Timber Dick: 36% --> 43%
Rick Garcia: 35% --> 57%

City Council District 3
Don Sandoval: 37% --> 47%
Rosemary Rodriguez: 32% --> 53%

City Council District 5
Marcia Johnson: 31% --> 50.2%
Marcus Pachner: 27% --> 49.8%

City Council District 9
Judy Montero: 31% --> 57%
Veronica Barela: 24% --> 43%

City Council District 10
Jeanne Robb: 48% --> 57%
Caroline Schomp: 36% --> 43%

City Council District 11
Michael Hancock: 44% --> 64%
Jon Bowman: 20% --> 37%
Immediately after the election, George Merrit of the Denver Post indicated that "History has shown that runoff elections can favor candidates with lower vote totals in the first contest," but that misrepresented the facts. Shelly Watters took the opportunity to proclaim the runoff election as "a whole new ball game," but that was just spin.

The truth is, runoff elections are just more compressed ends to a game previously set in motion. And for challengers with significant deficits, the chances just aren't good.

For more details, see our May 2nd reflection on results, especially the final section entitled "All Over But The Shouting."

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