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Dan Moran: Election ledgers balance out

Updated: December 9, 2012 7:33PM

Monday-morning quarterbacking is a dash of numbers mixed with a healthy dose of emotion. Wednesday-morning quarterbacking is basically no different, but it can be heavier on the numbers. A few items on the ledger following Election Day 2012:

Well, most of the poll aggregators discussed in this space on Tuesday are having their cake and presumably eating it too now that their presidential forecasts matched the actual results. Nate Silver’s vaunted called every state race correctly (if we assume that Barack Obama’s razor-thin margin in Florida holds up), as did Sam Wang’s Princeton Election Consortium (though it listed Florida as a toss-up).

There might have been just a bit of blowback to the critics in a post on the Princeton site late Tuesday: “BREAKING: Numbers continue to be best tool for determining which of two things is larger.”

In the 10th Congressional District, Democrat Brad Schneider’s narrow victory over incumbent Republican Bob Dold — 2,547 votes out of 258,805 cast — is not only the kind of race that demonstrates the importance of every vote, but also the kind that produces fascinating results like this: In precinct 120 in Fremont Township, 276 ballots were cast for Schneider, and 276 for Dold.

The 21st century phenomenon of early voting produced drama for your News-Sun election-night team, as we saw more than one candidate flipped from an apparent winner to an eventual loser when the early-vote totals were dumped into the system about five to 10 minutes after the precinct totals went final.

In the 31st Illinois Senate District, Democrat Melinda Bush went from 442 votes down in the Nov. 6 balloting to 2,142 votes up after her 11,472 early votes and 2,967 votes-by-mail were included. In the 2nd Judicial Subcircuit, Patricia Fix went from 679 votes down to 749 votes up. It was the electoral equivalent of a successful two-minute drill after an onside kick.

For whatever reason — apathy, death, suppression of voters, inability to read a calendar — the popular-vote numbers for both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney fell short of what was posted by their parties in 2008. Obama’s fall was the more dramatic, from 69.4 million in ‘08 to 60.3 million as of Wednesday afternoon, but Romney’s 2012 tally of 57.5 million was also under John McCain’s 59.9 million.

The final totals might tick up a bit on both sides, but we’re all left to wonder why a $6 billion effort to attract voters didn’t produce more bang for the buck.

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