Monday, November 2, 2009

Steve Kozachik, Black Swan?

Posted By on Mon, Nov 2, 2009 at 1:38 PM

Is Republican Steve Kozachik Tucson’s black swan?

A black swan, for those of you who haven’t heard of the theory, is a transformational event that could not be foreseen and dramatically changes the playing field. (The term comes from a book from Nassim Nicholas Taleb.)

You can argue about how much a Kozachik victory would change the playing field at City Hall, but the idea of him winning, on paper, seems on the verge of impossible.

An incumbent Democrat has not lost an election in Tucson in my memory. (A prize of some kind for the first political junkie who can name the last Republican to win a seat against a sitting Democrat.)

But. Republicans are saying that they hear a lot of chatter about crossover voting in Ward 6—and we’ve heard a little bit of the same from Democrats. (Heck, we endorsed Jasper the marbled polecat, so what does that tell you?) We’ve even heard rumblings of a GOP poll that puts Kozachik out ahead by a point or two.

There is a very serious anti-incumbent mood out among the electorate and Republicans have demonstrated, when they’ve won in the past in low-turnout city elections, that they can motivate Republican eastside voters while Democrats on the south and west sides stay home. I expect that’s a pattern we’ll see repeated this year because the GOP base is motivated to flex its muscle, while Democrats aren’t very enthusiastic about their candidates. (That’s the local effect of the national mood.)

But. So far, the ballot returns favor Democrats. At last count, more than 16,000 Democrats had cast ballots, compared to less than 12,000 Republicans. If that’s a representative sample of how the election is going to go, the Democrats should win unless the crossover is off the charts.

But. If there’s a big turnout of eastside voters on Election Day, that’s probably good news for Republicans, who are feeling unusually confident.

(And yes, watching Curb Your Enthusiasm last night put the Black Swan Theory in my head. Was that a great episode, or what?)

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