Is the Force with Tkaczyk?
The campaign of Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk is viewing Friday’s date with the Ulster County Board of Elections as the Battle of Endor.
At least that is what they should hope, if they’re viewing the counting of paper ballots in the 46th Senate District like the original Star Wars trilogy. And why shouldn’t they? The 35-year-old trilogy is back in the news again, so let’s use it to dissect the news.
(SPOILER ALERT: The Tkaczyk campaign is the rebels and the campaign of Assemblyman George Amedore is the Empire. That is not a partisan judgment, just a convenient way to make this analogy work and even then it is a stretch.)
The counting on Monday at the Albany County Board of Elections was STAR WARS Episode IV: A New Hope. Tkaczyk emerged with a minor victory, but the whole Empire was still out there and ready to rebuild.
And rebuild they did, starting on Tuesday and continuing today, with the counting of paper ballots in Greene and Schenectady Counties. This period is obviously STAR WARS Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.
Just like the best film in the original trilogy, this period will be very dark for anyone rooting for the rebels. It began with the Battle of Hoth, or the first half of Greene County, where the rebels escaped with their lives, most likely because the more Democratic-friendly Catskill was counted on Tuesday. But today, Luke Skywalker is likely going to lose his hand in Greene County, Han Solo is going to be frozen in carbonite in Schenectady County and ultimately Tkaczyk will be down anywhere from 200 to 600 votes (in a case of horribly mixed metaphors).
So it turns to STAR WARS Episode VI: Return of the JEDI.
The rebels believe there is a happy ending in sight because they’ve found Han’s body, Lando, is secretly embedded with Jabba the Hutt and Luke is on the way (Read as: enrollment and Election Day advantage for Tkaczyk in Ulster County)
But wait, as the opening crawl of the movie warns us, “Little does Luke know that the GALACTIC EMPIRE has secretly begun construction on a new armored space station even more powerful than the first dreaded Death Star.” (That sure sounds like Montgomery County, where Amedore did extremely well on Election Day and will likely do equally as well when they start counting paper ballots there on Friday.)
How bad is Montgomery County for Tkaczyk? Let’s put it this way, the Emperor knew the rebels were coming and the second Death Star was fully operational.
There is still hope, though, if they can deactivate Death Star II’s shield generator on the moon of Endor. Let’s gauge those chances by breaking from the world of George Lucas for a few paragraphs and dealing with reality.
If you extrapolate Tkaczyk’s paper ballots in Ulster County, based on her Election Day performance, then she will emerge victorious. The past few days have reinforced the fact that you can’t just accept that broad sort of prediction, so let’s get more specific.
About 3,350 absentee ballots have been returned in Ulster County, with the largest concentrations in the city of Kingston, Woodstock, Ulster and Saugerties. In the first two municipalities, where about 1,175 absentees were returned, Tkaczyk performed better than her 61 percent countywide performance. In the final two counties, where about 1,000 absentees were retuned, she did about 8 percentage points and 5 percentage points, respectively, worse than the countywide percentage.
If we extrapolate the absentee ballots based on this more specific information, Tkaczyk would gain 2,085 votes and Amedore would likely gain 1,262 ballots. This is a bit of a rosy picture, as it doesn’t factor in the late tightening of the race or the number of ballots that will be ineligible, but the Ulster County BOE hasn’t given me a better picture than this.
The absentee ballots are also encouraging for Tkaczyk because a plurality, about 41 percent, was from Democrats. About 26 percent come from Republican voters and another 26 percent come from independent voters.
Additionally, the percentage of absentees from Democrats was about 7 percentage points higher than the number of enrolled Democrats in the district. There was also an increase in Republicans absentees, but they only beat their enrollment by about 2.5 percentage points. These figures suggest that the Tkaczyk campaign did a good job getting Democrats to vote via absentee ballot.
There is also the comparison that can be drawn to Albany County, where the percentage of absentee ballots from Democrats was almost identical to the percentage of registered Democrats and the percentage of absentee ballots from Republicans was four percentage points higher than the number of registered Republicans in the County.
Considering this comparison to Albany County, the focus of where Ulster County’s absentee ballots are coming from and the possibility of about 600 to 700 valid affidavit ballots, it seems like a route to overcoming a deficit is still possible.
How possible? Well Tkaczyk probably needs the help of Ewoks, the Force and a one-armed Darth Vader who has left the Dark Side. All of that put together will be needed to overcome the lead that Amedore will probably amass with Greene, Montgomery and Schenectady Counties, which could range from about 500 to 850 votes.
The only thing I know for sure is that Tkaczyk can’t try to win. She will either win or win not.