Friday, June 18, 2010

EDITORIAL>>How Snyder won

Far from winning only Pulaski County, Rep. Vic Snyder won an average of seven of the eight counties during his career in the House of Representatives.

There is an urban legend that Snyder, elected seven times to represent Arkansas’ Second Congressional District, won by carrying the heavily populated Pulaski County, but lost all the other counties in his district.
In reality, that has never happened.

Not once.

Since his first race in 1996 for the seat vacated by Cong. Ray Thornton, Snyder’s never won fewer than half the eight counties in his district, he said this week, and a check of election records at the secretary of state’s website proved him correct.

“It’s such a common error, it’s got its own mythology,” Snyder said earlier this week when he called to correct just such a story in an article I wrote.

Snyder has been elected to the office seven times, never winning less than 52 percent of the vote, never winning fewer than four of the eight counties in the district—and three times winning all eight counties.

In addition to Pulaski County, the district includes Conway, Faulkner, Perry, Saline, Van Buren, White and Yell counties.

In the primary runoff earlier this month, Joyce Elliott defeated Robbie Wills to run as the Democrat for the Second Congressional District seat in November again Tim Griffin, the Republican nominee.

Elliott defeated Wills by winning big in Pulaski County, while losing big in the other seven, and I repeated without attribution the widely accepted myth—that Snyder usually won big in Pulaski County and lost the others.

Here’s what I found when I checked:

In the five years that Snyder had Republican opposition in the general election, he won an average of six of the eight counties.

His closest race was the first year, when he defeated Republican Bud Cummins with 52 percent of the vote and won four counties.

Add in 2008, when he was opposed only by a Green Party candidate, and in 2002, when he was opposed only by a write-in candidate, Snyder won an average of seven counties in seven November general elections—a far cry from winning only Pulaski County.

Here’s a recap, starting with the most recent general election and working back:

In 2008, Snyder won with 77 percent of the vote against Deb McFarland of the Green Party. The Republicans did not field a candidate.

Snyder won all eight counties.

In 2006, Snyder beat Republican Andy Mayberry 60.5 percent to 39 percent, with Mayberry winning only his home county—Saline—and that by less than 500 votes.

In 2004, Snyder won 58 percent of the vote, beating Republican Marvin Parks in five counties: Conway, Perry, Pulaski, Van Buren and Yell.

In 2002, Snyder ran without Republican opposition in November, winning all eight counties with 93 percent of the vote against write-in candidate Ed Garner.

In 2000, Snyder won seven of eight counties against Republican Bob Thomas, who won White County by 20 votes out of 17,718. Snyder won the congressional seat with 58 percent of the vote.

In 1998, Snyder garnered 58 percent of the vote, defeating Republican candidate Phil Wyrick in all eight counties.

In 1996, running for his first term, Snyder beat Republican Bud Cummins with 52 percent of the vote, winning four of the eight counties.

Just so you know.

—John Hofheimer