Massachusetts Special Election Update

January 21st, 2010 by 

The results are counted, and it's an upset in Massachusetts. Republican Scott Brown because the first Republican elected in a Massachusetts Senate seat since 1972. He defeated the state Attorney General, Democratic candidate Martha Coakley, 52% to 47% (the remaining 1% went to Independent candidate Joseph Kennedy).  A whopping 2,249,026 votes were cast out of a registered voter base of 4,220,488 for a very high (53.3%) special election  turnout in the light snow.

MA Senator-Elect Republican Scott Brown Addresses The Media

Scott Brown (R) Addresses the Media After Winning the Massachusetts Special Senate Election

A Highly Unlikely Result

In the last article I showed you my model of the odds of a Scott Brown victory.  Amazingly, not only did Brown win, but he came away with more than half of the votes cast and had a 5 percentage point margin of victory.  As I explained previously, the results were unheard of from a state as Democratic-leaning as Massachusetts.  Only two states have had all-Democratic delegations to the Senate longer, in fact: Hawaii (1977) and West Virginia (1959).

How does it fit into our model?  Like a square peg in a round hole.  Remember our averages for our comparable votes (Presidential and Senate elections going back to 1962 with 2002's outlier- no Republican candidate-removed) were 58.16% Democratic, 37.98% Republican and 3.86% Other (standard deviation 10.11%/10.69%/5.68% D/R/O).  This means to get a 47.07%/51.94%/0.99% D/R/O split with those numbers, our implied odds are 13.6%, 9.6% and 30.7%.  In other words, highly unlikely.  In fact, the state had a 61.36%/35.73% D/R split in the 2008 Presidential elections.  No matter how you spin it, Massachusetts has lurched back to the center.

For your viewing pleasure, here is our chart from the previous article updated to include this extreme outlier (Martha Coakley in Purple, Scott Brown in Green):

Massachusetts Voting Results since 1962

The results are skewed due to some years having both types of elections. The larger point remains: this was a major upset. What do you think? Leave me some comments.



PK started DQYDJ in 2009 to research and discuss finance and investing and help answer financial questions. He's expanded DQYDJ to build visualizations, calculators, and interactive tools.

PK lives in New Hampshire with his wife, kids, and dog.

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