A to Z

Hobbs only loses if something statistically anomalous happens

By: - November 15, 2018 12:24 pm

Katie Hobbs speaking with supporters at the Women Together Arizona Summit in September 2016. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

The race is officially too close to call, and there are roughly 124,000 ballots left to count. But a little bit of math shows me that there is almost no chance for Katie Hobbs to lose her slim, but growing, lead over Steve Gaynor in the race to be secretary of state.

There are slightly more than 124,000 ballots left to be counted statewide. Of those, 104,000 (about 84 percent) are in Maricopa County. Another 19,400 (more than 15 percent) are in Pima County, and the remainder are in a half-dozen or so rural counties.

Basically, 99 percent of the ballots that still need to be counted are in the state’s two most populous counties.

Hobbs leads by 5,923 votes, as of mid-day Thursday.

Both Maricopa and Pima have favored Hobbs, but not to the same degree. Overall, Hobbs has won almost 59 percent of the vote in Pima County, which has long been a stronghold for Democrats. In Maricopa, where Republicans usually hold serve, Hobbs has managed to eke out a 1-percentage-point lead, with 50.5 percent of the votes cast.

Among the remaining ballots, Hobbs is certain to bolster her statewide lead when Pima updates its tabulation: She captured nearly 65 percent of the votes counted there yesterday, and has consistently won roughly two-thirds of the ballots each day of reporting since Election Day.

That means Gaynor’s only hope is Maricopa County. Not only is he losing overall among voters there, but the early ballots that have been counted in recent days have broken for Hobbs. (This is why she was able to come from about 44,000 votes down to Gaynor on Nov. 7 to leading now.) Yesterday, Hobbs got 52.4 percent of the Maricopa votes that were reported.

In order to win, Gaynor likely will need to win close to 55 percent – if not more – of the votes left in Maricopa County. That would mean not only reversing the overall trend in the county, but dramatically turning around the post-Election-Day trend that has seen Hobbs win every day’s tabulation in the county so far.

That’s not statistically impossible, but it’s definitely implausible. The counting will continue, victory will eventually be declared and a concession will be made.

But I’d take it to the bank now that Katie Hobbs will be the next secretary of state.

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.