Thursday, November 09, 2006

Kansas: Depressed Republican turnout may have defeated Jim Ryun

By Diane Silver

Did Democrat Nancy Boyda beat Republican Jim Ryun because Kansas voters were turning away from the GOP, or was something else at work?

Siege Mentality raises that question with an interesting county-by-county analysis of Boyda's victory in the 2nd Congressional District. Good old Siege looked at the votes in 2004 as compared to 2006 and finds that low GOP turnout doomed Ryun. Siege notes:

From these numbers, it's clear that talk of a realignment in Kansas politics is premature. If enough Republican voters had turned out on Tuesday--if Ryun had been able to get within a few hundred votes of his 2004 totals--Boyda would have lost big. 2006 was an extraordinary election year, and it's unlikely that she will face the same combination of energized Democrats and dispirited Republicans in the near future.
I agree that Boyda is only going to be a one-term member of Congress if she doesn't find a way to bring more voters to her side. Her margin of victory was simply too small for her to take that seat for granted.

I'm not certain, yet, what to make of the race, except that old ideas of who's who and what's what in Kansas need to be tossed. Unfortunately, our analysis is hampered by the fact that no one did any exit polls in Kansas (or at least, not as far as I know). I would have loved to have seen the results of such a survey.

Many thanks to Siege for doing the analysis.


Tom - Daai Tou Laam said...

Wonder then how the Kansas 2nd was held by a Democrat, Jim Slattery, up to the Gingrich revolution?

If Boyda proves herself a competent legislator, who brings home some bacon for the universities and schools of NE Kansas, Fort Riley, and finds a way to ensure US beef processing plants don't shut Kansas beef out of foreign markets through piss poor health practices, then she'll be a many term legislator in the Kansas 2nd.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link! I hope we'll get some more data after the results are certified. It would be great to have info on the registered party affiliations of the voters who turned out. If Boyda picked up a larger proportion of independents this time around this story may be bigger than despondent Republicans.

Diane Silver said...

Hi Tom!

It's great to hear from you again. Two things, I think, were key for Slattery. First, he was a great campaigner and had a very personal touch. Second, the district he won in 94 was much different than today's gerrymandered 2nd District. In '94, the 2nd included all of Lawrence, not just the western, most conservative part of the town.

I think Boyda has a real chance to keep the district, but I think she has to be careful not to get too thrilled by her victory. Keeping this district is going to take real work, particularly since Republicans will be coming after her with their biggest guns. Although I have seen speculation that Phill Kline might run in the 2nd. That might be a great gift to Boyda.

Diane Silver said...


Thanks for your hard work on looking at the data. I look forward to seeing what more we can learn when we have more information.