Following up on my earlier posts from this week on Public Question #1 (Open Space), I think it is important to take a moment and assess the probability of the measure’s passage next Tuesday. To do this, I have developed a forecasting model that includes variables that account for current state and national political trends, as well as on past Open Space and Green Acres referenda from 2005, 1995, 1989, and 1983. To estimate “Yes” votes by county, the following independent variables are used: overall voter turnout, previous gubernatorial voting patterns by county, the governor’s approval rating, as well as the previous vote for the democratic presidential candidate by county. Further, I adjusted the forecasts to account for county population.
So far, it is a “toss-up” on whether Public Question#1 will receive a simple majority of the vote (greater than 50% of the total estimated vote). The overall forecast for the provision is likely to get 47% of the vote (plus or minus a 4% forecast error). Reaching the 50% threshold will be a challenge, particularly because this requires that actual voting will have to be at the high range of the forecast estimates. To accomplish this will be difficult, in part this is due to an overall anti-incumbent sentiment among the electorate that is driving not only the current New Jersey governor’s race but also the upcoming election more broadly.
The chart above illustrates expected 2009 voting patterns by county of “Yes” votes for the measure. As the chart illustrates, critical counties (those counties within 1 forecast error of the 50% threshold) for passage of the referendum are not only more populated counties, but also those counties that are more likely to support the governor in the upcoming election. Yet, the governor’s low approval ratings and the governor’s under performance on environmental issues tend to decrease the likelihood that voters will pass the referendum. At any rate, the major conclusion from these estimates is the importance of getting out and voting “Yes” on this measure. Don’t forget, election day is this coming Tuesday November 3, 2009.