Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Why Did Republican Charlie Dent Win? He Can Thank the Greens
Greta Browne, "pyschotherapist" and queen of the Lehigh Valley Greens, pulled in 17.3% of the votes in the race for the 15th U.S. Congressional District, enough to insure a Dertinger loss. When she ran for Congress two years ago, she abandoned her quest on election eve, betraying those who had supported her. FEC records reveal her campaign was financed in part by big money Republicans, and her explanation was both late and unsatisfactory. She never answered questions about her supposed private psychotherapy practice, which is not listed in any phone book. But because she was treated with benign neglect by her opponents, most voters were simply unaware of these criticisms. Net result? Charlie Dent wins this race with only 46.3% of the vote.
If Instant Runoff Voting was used, as suggested by Morning Call columnist Bill White, Dertinger would probably have won this race. Under this system, voters list their candidates by order of preference. Most Browne voters would list Dertinger as second choice. Under this system, Browne would be eliminated as the candidate with the fewest votes, and results would be recalculated using voters' second choices. The Browne votes would go to Dertinger, and he would win with 53% of the vote.
Update and Correction: I have to thank an anonymous commenter who was kind enough to tell me I'm full of shit. The state election returns show Browne has only 3 percent of the total vote. That's consistent with what I saw on TV last night. This morning, the state returns did show her at 17.3% for some reason. I would be fully prepared to say I misread the numbers except for one thing. LVDem, who's younger and smarter than me, noted this morning that Browne did did "very well in Lehigh County... well enough that Dent didn't even clear 50%." But when you look at the returns now, they show Dent with 55.4% of the Lehigh County vote. According to the results as now reported, Dent has 52.8% of the total vote, and Instant Runoff Voting would not come into play under those circumstances.
So somehow 17.3% is only 3%. It's only an election.