Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Special elections with unusual rules, and shiny things

Here we go again.  Georgia had a special election for a House district to replace Tom Price.  The Democrat did better than expected.  Let's all read way too much into it!

I've already written something recently about why we shouldn't read too much into a special election, so I won't rehash that here, but of course, Ossoff didn't even lose, making this case different still.  This is a weird system.  Slightly less weird than you may think, though.  It is actually pretty much the system they use in Louisiana, which we call the "jungle primary."  In Louisiana, everyone runs on the same ticket in the primary.  If anyone gets over 50%, that person wins without a general election.  Otherwise, the top two candidates face each other in the general, even if they are the same party.  Why does Louisiana use a weird system?  Because they are Louisiana, and they were drunk when they designed the system.  Regardless, Georgia was using a weird rule.  Add that to the problem that special elections are intrinsically weird and difficult to use as a basis for generalizations and the Ossoff-Handel situation really doesn't tell us much about anything.

But holy shit!  An election!  Everyone pay attention!  Why?  It's a shiny thing.  We have 435 House districts.  This is one of them, and what happened yesterday was one stage in determining one seat, telling us very little about 2018.  It's just all we have right now, and elections junkies (like me) just need constant stimulation.  It's a sickness.

At least I admit I have a problem.  If you are reading this, you do too.

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