Category Archives: Presidential campaign

Presidential Polling Report – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Note: All the best for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Political Updates will return on Monday, Nov. 30.

Former VP Joe Biden

Nov. 25, 2020 — Now that the states are certifying their election results and the numbers are becoming clearer, we can look at the key battleground regions and assess the cumulative polling community’s accuracy.

Today we look at the key Great Lakes region and the states that turned away from President Trump and landed in former vice president Joe Biden’s camp. Polling had predicted Biden to win all four of the key states, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which he did, but they largely missed the mark when it came to margin. In three of the five instances the pollsters predicted substantial wins for Biden, not the close result he ultimately recorded.

In each place, we take the five publicly released polls conducted closest to the election and analyze whether the cumulative and individual survey research firms came close to the final result or missed beyond the polling margin of error.


Michigan

In Michigan, where Biden scored a 50.6 to 47.8 percent victory, the final five pollsters were the Trafalgar Group, Insider Advantage, CNBC/Change Research, Emerson College, and Mitchell Research. Insider Advantage came the closest, predicting a Biden two-point victory. Three pollsters missed beyond the polling margin of error. The Trafalgar Group actually predicted a Trump win.

Michigan – Biden 2.8 percent

Trafalgar Group 10/30 – 31 1033 LV 46 48 Trump +2
Insider Advantage 10/30 – 31 500 LV 49 47 Biden +2
CNBC/Change Research 10/29 – 11/1 383 LV 51 44 Biden +7
Emerson 10/29 – 30 700 LV 52 45 Biden +7
Mitchell Research 10/29 817 LV 52 45 Biden +7

Minnesota

Though Minnesota is the most loyal state to the Democrats in the presidential race, it appeared for a time that the state could become close, just like in 2016 when President Trump came within 1.5 percentage points of capturing the domain. In 2020, however, Minnesota returned to form and awarded Biden a 52.5 to 45.4 percent win. Here, the final five pollsters were Survey USA, the Trafalgar Group, KSTP/Survey USA (two separate polls), and Minnesota Post. All fell within an acceptable accuracy range.

Minnesota – Biden 7.1 percent

SurveyUSA 10/23 – 27 649 LV 47 42 Biden +5
Trafalgar Group 10/24 – 25 165 LV 48 45 Biden +3
KSTP/SurveyUSA 10/16 – 20 625 LV 48 42 Biden +6
MinnPost 10/12 – 15 1021 LV 49 44 Biden +5
KSTP/SurveyUSA 10/1 – 6 929 LV 47 40 Biden +7

Pennsylvania

The Keystone State has been the site of the most strenuous voter fraud lawsuits, which included a Trump legal victory. In the end, however, the victorious lawsuit(s) would not be enough to overturn the projected result, which was a close 50.0 – 48.8% finish. Polling was inconsistent with Rasmussen Reports coming closest to the final result. Three of the five firms actually predicted a Trump victory. The pollsters were: Susquehanna Polling & Research, Rasmussen Reports, the Trafalgar Group, NBC News/Marist College, and Insider Advantage.

Penn – Biden 1.2 percent

Susquehanna 11/1 – 2 499 LV 48 49 Trump +1
Rasmussen Reports 10/31 – 1 800 LV 50 47 Biden +3
Trafalgar Group 10/30 – 31 1062 LV 46 48 Trump +2
NBC News/Marist 10/29 – 11/1 772 LV 51 46 Biden +5
Insider Advantage 10/30 – 31 500 LV 47 49 Trump +2

Wisconsin

The Badger State was the closest of the four regional entities that touch a Great Lake. The final result saw the two candidates coming within just 20,608 votes, or a percentage breakdown of 49.4 – 48.8 percent in favor of the Democratic nominee. Polling from four of the five entities missed badly, all predicting a substantial win for Biden.

Susquehanna was the closest of the group, missing by just over two percentage points. CNBC/ Change Research, Susquehanna Polling & Research, Emerson College, Ipsos/Reuters, and Siena College/New York Times comprised the final group of survey research entities.

Wisconsin – Biden 0.7 percent

CNBC/Change Research 10/29 – 11/1 553 LV 53 45 Biden +8
Susquehanna 10/29 – 31 450 LV 49 46 Biden +3
Emerson 10/29 – 30 751 LV 53 45 Biden +8
Reuters/Ipsos 10/27 – 11/1 696 LV 53 43 Biden +10
NY Times/Siena 10/26 – 30 1253 LV 52 41 Biden +11

NE-2

For the second time in the past four presidential elections, the 2nd Congressional District of Nebraska went against the statewide trend and awarded an electoral vote to the candidate losing the statewide count. In addition to this year, the same pattern occurred in 2008 when then-Sen. Barack Obama carried the district but not the state.

This time the Biden victory was substantial with FM3 Research projecting the correct margin of 11 percentage points. The other pollsters, while forecasting a Biden win, significantly missed the actual winning spread. The five pollsters were: UNLV Business School, Change Research, Emerson College, FM3 Research, and Siena College/New York Times.

NE-2 – Biden 11.4 percent

UNLV Business School 10/30 -11/2 191 LV 50 44 Biden +6
Change Research 10/29 – 11/2 547 LV 50 47 Biden +3
Emerson College 10/29 – 30 806 LV 50 48 Biden +2
FM3 Research 10/1 – 10/4 450 LV 53 42 Biden +11
Siena College/NYT 9/25 – 9/27 420 LV 48 41 Biden +7

Election Day Results & Analysis

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 4, 2020 — Last night’s national election, as predicted, is now it in political overtime.

The presidential race won’t be decided for more than a day, and possibly not until all ballots are received and counted in Pennsylvania, which as of this writing could drift into Friday. The state’s post-election ballot reception deadline, is Nov. 6, at 5:00 pm.

It appears that former vice president Joe Biden (D) has the inside track to unseat the president, but Trump still has a narrow path to victory.

It is likely that the Republicans have held the Senate majority despite what appears to be a close loss at the top of the ticket. Defending 13 of the most vulnerable 16 Senate seats, the GOP may break even. Converting Alabama and leading in Michigan offsets the loss of seats in Arizona and Colorado. Four races remain undecided.

Republicans had a much better night in the House than expected. With 43 races still uncalled, a reasonable projection suggests the Democrats will return to the House with a majority margin approximately seven seats less than in the current Congress. This would make the new majority 226D-209R, and certainly put House control front and center for the 2022 election cycle.

In the 11 governor’s races, we saw one state flip from Democrat to Republican, the open Montana race that completed a Republican sweep of the top four statewide offices. At-Large Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) was elected the state’s new governor, replacing term-limited Gov. Steve Bullock (D) who lost the Senate race to incumbent Steve Daines (R).

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Voter Registration & Turnout
Numbers In Key Battleground States

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 2, 2020 — Examining the burgeoning early voting numbers and looking at which party has gained an advantage in voter registration in key battleground states, we see that patterns are beginning to form.

Determining partisan preference in a pre-election context tends to be state specific. In 19 of the 50 states voters do not even register by party. Today, we winnow the number of states to a specific group in order to study battleground party registration and early voting performance as compared to the previous presidential election (2016).

The states that meet the aforementioned parameters are Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Maine, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

First, voter registration. Each of the two major parties has the voter registration momentum in three of the chosen six states. This could mean an increase in the partisan vote at the polls. Democrats outpaced Republican registration in both Arizona and Iowa, posting a net edge of just under 18,000 more new party members in the Grand Canyon State, which is yet another clue that Arizona is changing politically, and Iowa, where Democrats notched a 20,000 person advantage on new voter registration.

Additionally, the Democrats further increased their advantage in Maine, to post a 37,000-plus registrant advantage in the Pine Tree State. This clearly could make a difference in the tight Senate race between veteran incumbent Sen. Susan Collins (R) and state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Freeport).

Republicans, on the other hand, didn’t overtake the Democrats in North Carolina or Pennsylvania, but they have lessened their registration deficit, which could be equally important in terms of winning major elections such as the North Carolina Senate race, and helping President Trump prevail in all-important Pennsylvania.

With North Carolina Republicans gaining over 128,000-plus new registrants in the state and Democrats surprisingly losing more than 117,000 party members, many of the latter are presumed to be joining one of the left-of-center minor parties or, more likely, becoming an unaffiliated voter. The partisan registration ups and downs mean the Republicans gained a 246,000-person net advantage in the Tar Heel State.

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The Decisions Within the Election

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 30, 2020 — The 2020 election cycle has been unique in many ways, but a series of significant decisions, typically through judicial rulings, will likely have a long-lasting effect upon the way the various states administer their elections.

Expanded early voting is likely here to stay. With more than 66 million people already voting through Wednesday, we can expect the states to continue with this relatively new process. Currently, only four states do not have some form of early voting.

Whether we see a continuance of the post-election ballot reception period may be another matter. There is likely to be controversy over this practice that 21 states will feature beginning next week. If the presidential race is close and gets bogged down in the political overtime, the negative aspects of counting votes that come in after the election could come to the forefront.

We have also seen changes in some states, most of which came in previous years, over their primary voting procedures. With reapportionment and redistricting on the political horizon, we are seeing states place measures on Tuesday’s ballot that could bring even more change to electoral systems around the country.

According to research presented from the University of Virginia’s Dr. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball publication and the Ballotpedia organization, voters in nine states will be deciding measures that could alter even further the way future elections are conducted. As we have seen develop, states adopting changes lead to further states following suit. Therefore, if many of the measures receive voter approval Tuesday, other states may also begin adopting some of these practices.

We start with states potentially changing their primary systems to a variation of the jungle primary system. Currently, Louisiana, where the procedure began, California, and Washington use the top-two qualifying system. In those states, all candidates are placed on the same primary ballot and the top two vote-getters advance to the general election irrespective of political party affiliation. Louisiana can elect a candidate outright if he or she receives majority support in the primary election because the state schedules the primary concurrently with the national general election.

Voters in Florida have a ballot proposition to decide if they want their state to adopt the jungle primary system. The Sunshine State voters are also considering a proposition that would allow changes voted through initiative only to take effect if the measure passes in two general elections. Therefore, should this latter idea attain approval, it, and all of the other passed measures, would be delayed until they again pass in a subsequent election.

Alaska voters are looking at another variation of the jungle primary. They are considering a measure where the primary would produce four finishers, thus setting up multi-candidate general elections.

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On Election Night, Keep Your Eyes on Arizona, Florida and Wisconsin

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 29, 2020 — There has been prevalent speculation that we may not see a winner in the presidential election and certainly in some Senate and House races come the evening of Nov. 3, but research into the processing and counting systems of each state suggests such a conclusion may actually prove unlikely.

The election procedures in Arizona, Florida, and Wisconsin all point to having a victory projection coming from these states on election night, thus making them the “tells” for the national vote. If President Trump loses either Arizona or Florida, it will almost assuredly secure a Joe Biden victory. On the other hand, should the president sweep the three aforementioned states, he will be headed toward clinching re-election.

The huge number of precast, or early votes, around the country is another mitigating fact that may halt the need to advance into political overtime, at least for the presidential race. Through Monday, almost 60 million people have voted (59,095,114 according to the Target Smart statistical organization), meaning these ballots and many more will be stacked in vote centers awaiting processing and counting.

The overwhelming early voting response, up 100 percent from this time in 2016, will assuredly lessen the number of in-person voters on Election Day, especially since the early vote number will continue to grow throughout the balance of this week.

Generally, the state processing and tabulation procedures fall into one of three categories: counting the ballots as they arrive, but not releasing totals until after the polls close; keeping the received ballots until the morning of Election Day when counting can begin; or, having to wait until the polls close before beginning to count.

First, the pre-election counting states: 23 may begin tallying as ballots are received but are prohibited from releasing any vote totals. They are:

• Arizona
• Colorado
• Connecticut
• Delaware
• Florida
• Hawaii
• Indiana
• Iowa
• Kentucky
• Louisiana
• Maryland
• Montana
• Nebraska
• Nevada
• New Hampshire
• New Jersey
• New Mexico
• North Carolina
• Ohio
• Oklahoma
• Oregon
• Utah
• Wisconsin

Eleven states are authorized to begin counting the morning of Election Day:
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