Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Upon the requested complete recount of the early vote, Congressman Allen West had a net loss of a few votes to challenger Patrick Murphy, and has now condeded the race.
While he lost, West, a Tea Party favorite, did well. The district leaned a bit Democrat. It fell to the Democrats in 2006, and stayed in their hands in 2008, when West made his first run. During the Republican victories of 2010, West was elected, overcoming the district's inclinations.
During re-districting, the district came out slightly more Democratic than before. The Republican-controlled state legislature tried, simultaneously, to retain all seats then held by Republicans and pick-up the two new seats the state was apportioned, while abiding by the Voting Rights Act. To try to make this happen, the state legislature shaved some Republicans precincts here and some there from Republican districts, and used gerrymandering techniques to, in effect, re-assemble these precincts into the two new seats. The Congressional Districts of the state became even more contorted. And, West's district, already slightly Democratic in terms of its vote in Presidential races, became a bit more tilted that way.
This might have all worked out if 2012 had been a Republican year. West is a dynamic campaigner and can, and did, run ahead of the GOP ticket. But, this wasn't a Republican year. It was a slightly Democratic year. And, West was not able to overcome the Democratic tilt in the district in a slightly Democratic year.
Clearly, the tabulation of the vote on election night left something to be desired. On that evening, when local election officials realized they had not counted the early vote from 54 precincts and double-counted the early vote in 40 others, and then re-counted those precincts and flipped the lead to the Democrat, their work needed to be re-examined. Then, when the results in a mayoral race within the district required a recount of those votes, the Democrat's lead in the Congressional race was shaved because 3 percent of the Congressional vote in that part of the district was discovered to be bad. This is well beyond the tolerance range for the tabulating machines (which is one-quarter of 1 percent).
Eventually, the local election board decided to completely recount the early vote. Why this was ever controversial can only be understood as excessive partisanship. Then, with that recount, it became clear that the election night goof was an isolated one. Shortly after that, West conceded. There are probably lessons to be learned in this experience. But, we'll not go there. Instead, we'll simply express our gratitude to Allen West for his service, protecting the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, and wish him and his family the best.