There were four primary runoff elections that dominated the election cycle this time around. Two were somewhat low key in that little controversy, if any, emanated from their respective political camps. Those were the Lyda Ness Garcia versus Lucila Flores race for the 383rd District Court and Yvonne Rosales versus James Montoya to replace long-time district attorney Jaime Esparza. And then there was the back-and-forth and political gamesmanship bordering on outright public altercations races. First it was the Marlene Gonzalez versus incumbent Laura Strathmann and the second was the Iliana Holguin versus incumbent Vince Perez race.
Interestingly, the winners of the four races were women, but probably not that interesting when one notes that two of the races – 50% – had male counterparts. Nonetheless, when the pictures of the winners are lined up together, it is striking to note that the winners are women, and all are women of color.
Officially the official results will not be made public until the canvassing is complete. Analyzing what went right and what went wrong by looking at the voter turnout won’t be possible until the elections department releases the final information about who voted in the runoff election. Likely, political junkies will pounce on the data to prepare for the next race.
But we don’t have to wait until the official data is released because the data of the outcome is anecdotally already there. The spread of votes between the winners and the losers were in the thousands, with a low of 1,208 difference in votes between Rosales and Montoya and a high of 2,937 in the Garcia versus Flores race.
But there was a race where the margin was less than 500 votes, or about 5% of the total votes cast. That was the incumbent Vince Perez versus Iliana Holguin race. Holguin won by 431 votes.
It is generally accepted that incumbents do not fare well in runoff elections. Once forced into a runoff election, the incumbent is likely to lose.
The Strathmann and Perez races involving incumbents. And they were the most active campaigns leading to election day. Both incumbents lost.
The other generally accepted notion is that the candidate that leads in early voting is normally the winner. This is certainly true for the Vince Perez and Laura Starthmann races. Both Perez and Strathmann were losing in early voting. Furthermore, significantly more votes were cast in early voting than on election day.
As El Paso Politics noted earlier, Vince Perez had all but relinquished his race before early voting had been completed. Not only was Perez facing difficulties paying poll sitters but polling that we were shown had Iliana Holguin consistently winning with 53% to 58% of the votes. She won with 52.54% of the votes.
However, if one were to look at the results for votes cast on election day, it clearly shows that Iliana Holguin won the day with 58.62% of the race. Holguin won by 397 votes, on votes cast on election day.
This is where it becomes clear how she won the race to unseat Vince Perez.
Perez lost by 431 votes. These are the total votes cast, the early votes and the votes on election day. There were more votes cast in early voting. The early votes represent 73% of the votes cast. Perez was losing by 34 votes in early voting votes cast.
This is where things get interesting.
There were 2,303 votes cast on election day for the county commissioner’s race, or 27% of the total votes cast. Although Vince Perez was losing in early voting, it was by a 34-vote margin, meaning that on votes cast on election day he could have won the race.
But two things became clear a few days before election day.
One, the Vince Perez camp had all but conceded the race to Iliana Holguin. Perez was having difficulty paying poll workers. Additionally, Perez was telling friends that he was losing. Perez had given up before election day votes were cast.
The polling showed that Holguin was ahead, so it is likely that the Perez camp saw similar results in their own polling.
But the election day votes prove to be interesting. Iliana Holguin won the election day votes by 397 votes, or 58.62%. With a difference of only 431 votes in the final tally, the election day 397 vote difference could had made a significant difference in the outcome – had Vince Perez not relinquished the race before the final votes were cast.
Readers may note that the El Paso Politics noted on July 9, that polling showed Holguin winning the race with 53% to 58% of the votes. In early voting, Holguin led by 50.28%. On election day, she received 58.62% of the votes cast. And, in total votes, Iliana Holguin won with 52.54% of the votes cast.
Clearly, the polling was dead on.
The Vince Perez loss is his to own. He, and his political advisors, conceded the race to Iliana Holguin before the final vote was cast.