Reanalyzing 5th district election results

The Nov. 15 story in the Daily about Chris Fields, “Fields stays active in 5th District despite loss to Ellison,” the losing candidate for Congress, did not accurately convey the facts. You took the “slant” handed to you by the candidate and uncritically repeated it to the readers.

Technically, it is true that Fields received more votes than previous Republican challengers to Ellison. But Ellison actually got a larger vote against Fields than he had in any of his previous contests. In 2006, the results were 55.56 percent for Ellison; in 2008, 70.88 percent; in 2010, 67.69 percent and in 2012, a personal best of 74.47 percent.

The accompanying graph accentuated the misleading nature of the story. It shows only the Democratic-Farmer-Labor and Republican candidates, disregarding the fact that in previous elections, several other candidates usually were on the ballot with the two big parties. In 2006, the Independent Party candidate received more than 20 percent of the vote; in 2008, the Independent got almost 7 percent and in 2010, there were three other ballot-listed candidates besides the DFL and Republican

Clearly, this year with only two candidates on the ballot, it was a case of Fields carrying the GOP “base,” 22 to 24 percent, and then collecting a scattering of the votes which otherwise would have gone to third-party candidates. Not such an impressive achievement after all.

It must be noted that there was also a Congressional District redistricting this year, so the boundaries of the district are not identical to those of the previous five elections. It would take a deeper analysis of returns — and a few repetitions of the congressional race in future election years — to truly assess whether Fields really made any distinct gains for either himself or his party. But from the information at hand, we can’t conclude that he did.

Don’t believe what politicians tell you.