Absentee Count Shows Owens’ Lead Is Growing; Count Is Nearly Done

Doug Hoffman may make a statement today on whether he will challenge or accept the nearly-complete results of the 23rd Congressional District special election.

Hoffman conceded defeat on election night to Democrat Bill Owens, believing he trailed by nearly 5,000 votes. Because of some problems, principally in Oswego County, Hoffman was actually within about 3,000 votes of Owens. He and his spokesman have said that had they known a more realistic vote total, they might not have conceded.

Because Hoffman conceded, Owens could be sworn in as Congressman without waiting for official vote results. His presence helped the narrow passage of the House’s health care reform package.

Watertown Daily Times reporter Jude Seymour reports that the absentee count is more than 90% finished in the eleven counties of the Congressional district, and Owens has been padding his lead.

According to his data, Owens now leads by 3,397 votes.

Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate, barely won the fight for absentee votes in Oswego County. He beat Owens among absentees, 544 to 534. Dede Scozzafava, the Republican who dropped out of the race on the weekend before the election and, a day later, endorsed Owens, pulled 204 absentees.

Now that most of the votes are in, some patterns are clear:

Owens won by maximizing his strongholds. Owens won only two of the five counties with the most votes. But in winning Clinton County, his home county, and St. Lawrence County, which is a county that’s trending Democratic these days, he really ran up the score. He won by 4,316 votes in St. Lawrence County and by 3,266 in Clinton County, more than double his current margin of victory.

Owens also minimized his losses in big counties. Oswego County was seen as a battleground, and the key to Hoffman’s candidacy. Hoffman only managed a 1,758 vote margin in Oswego County. And that was his largest margin of victory in any county. Though he won three of the five counties with the most votes, the margins were small. In Jefferson County, the county with the third highest number of votes, he only beat Owens by 412 votes.

Hoffman won more counties than Owens, 7 to 4, but Hoffman’s wins came primarily in the smallest counties.

Scozzafava has pulled about 5.73% of the votes so far. However, she got 13.52% and 14.63% of the votes in Fulton and Hamilton counties. Those counties are on the edges of the media markets for the district, so it’s possible many voters did not know she had left the race.

Scozzafava pulled 23% of the absentee ballots, exactly four times her overall vote percentage of 5.73%. So far, Owens is winning the battle for absentee ballots, 42% to 34% for Hoffman. Owens has added more than 500 votes to his lead from absentee votes.

If the vote was won or lost in the big three counties of the district, Oswego, St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties, then give the win to Owens and shift the balance of power to St. Lawrence county. A hair more than 49% of all votes were cast in those three counties, and St. Lawrence, with its large margin for Owens, was the deciding factor — just as it was in the two elections fought by Democratic State Senator Darrel Aubertine last year.