So Close But Yet So Far Away

A pre-holiday flurry of vote counting by three counties brought Hannah-Beth Jackson to within one-quarter of one percent of Tony Strickland in the 19th state senate district water torture race - but time is running out and the odds are still stacked against her.

According to the newest ballot updates posted by registrars in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties, Strickland holds a 903-vote edge out of nearly 415,000 counted:

Strickland 207,745 (50.10)
Jackson 206,842 (49.89)

As a political matter, the problem for the Democrat is that both Santa Barbara and Ventura counties have nearly finished counting absentee and provisional ballots. A representative of the Ventura registrar told me that they have only about 100-200 ballots left; in Santa Barbara, Joe Holland's office plans to post one more update next week, but that also is expected to include a small number of ballots.

No one was answering the phone at the Los Angeles registrar Wednesday, and, in any case, it would be difficult to know how many of that county's uncounted votes will be in the 19th district. But Republican Strickland has creamed Jackson in that very conservative part of the district, so whatever comes out of there will favor his chances. You can read my Independent story of how L.A. was shoehorned into the district at the last minute, to accomodate Republican incumbent Tom McClintock during the 2001 gerrymander here.

The Los Angeles dollop of the district has accounted for less than 30,000 of the 414,587 votes counted to date - about 7 percent - but Strickland outpolled Jackson there by more than 4,500 ballots:

Strickland 16,911 (57.80)
Jackson 12,342 (42.19)
Advantage Strickland: 4,569

Among the other 93 percent of district voters, Jackson skunked Strickland in Santa Barbara by more than 15,028 votes, enough to erase the 11,362 advantage he won in Ventura County. But by the time all the votes are counted on Dec. 2, the big margin he rolled up in conservative precincts in and around Santa Clarita is likely to be the deciding factor.

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