Tag Archives: Election Day

The Trafalgar Effect

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 15, 2020 — The Trafalgar Group is the polling firm that came to national political notoriety four years ago when they correctly predicted a Donald Trump victory in both Michigan and Pennsylvania and were the only survey research firm to do so. Since that time, they have forecast at least four other wins when the active polling community was arriving at opposite conclusions.

Yesterday, Trafalgar released its latest Pennsylvania data (Oct. 10-12; 1,034 likely Pennsylvania voters) and finds former vice president Joe Biden leading President Trump 47.4 – 45.1 percent — just over a two-point spread. In October, not counting the Trafalgar number, we see 12 other pollsters returning Pennsylvania data and they average a pro-Biden forecast of just under seven points.

Routinely, Trafalgar’s data shows President Trump in better position than most pollsters because they attempt to quantify what is termed the “shy Trump voter,” i.e., those who are actually voting for the incumbent but won’t admit it to a pollster. In most cases, the Trafalgar calculations, derived from a proprietary algorithmic formula, have been reliably accurate.

From 2016, we remember that, generally, the polling community missed badly in the Trump-Clinton presidential race. While their national count was accurate – predicting a tight plurality for Hillary Clinton (final result: 48.2 – 46.1 percent) – many state projections were off, particularly those in the Great Lakes region.

In the previous presidential election cycle, a total of 62 surveys were conducted in the state of Pennsylvania, and only three found a lead for President Trump, including the Trafalgar pre-election survey. In Michigan, 45 polls were publicly released, and Trump led in just two, one of which was Trafalgar’s final 2016 study. In Wisconsin, 33 polls were taken, and none found President Trump running ahead. Yet, in all three cases, he won the state.

The Great Lakes/Mid-Atlantic region was not the only area where 2016 polling missed the mark. In North Carolina, the margin average looked to be dead even heading into the election, but President Trump won with a 3.6 percent spread. The cumulative polling missed Arizona by two points, and Florida by 1.2 percent. In all of these instances, the Republican voted was under-estimated.

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Pennsylvania Voting Rules

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 21, 2020 — Pennsylvania’s Democratic controlled Supreme Court changed their state election procedures late last week in a series of rulings on a lawsuit that the Pennsylvania Secretary of State and PA Democratic Party previously filed.

Under the new process, receiving votes after the election is allowed if “no evidence exists” that the ballot was mailed after Election Day, Nov. 3. The deadline for ballot acceptance now moves from 8 pm on Election Day to 5 pm, Friday, Nov. 6. Pennsylvania becomes the 17th state to allow post-election reception for this 2020 election. The ruling increases the chances that we will not have a winner declared on election night.

Additionally, three other rulings will allow drop boxes to be used as ballot receptacles in the various counties, affirmed that poll watchers can only serve in their own county of residence, and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins’ name was removed from the ballot. The court did not grant the lawsuit motion to allow ballot harvesting, which would permit third parties to deliver ballots to the authorities or ballot drop boxes.

The drop boxes will be placed in various locations around a county and voters can deposit their ballots without using the postal service to transfer their vote to the county election authorities. Hawkins’ name was removed from the ballot because the court said he “failed to comply with the Election Code’s strict mandate” and the attempts to fix the problem “did not suffice to cure that error,” but the specifics were not addressed.

With the large number of absentee ballots expected here and in other states, the trend toward allowing post-election reception, and the laws that some states, like Pennsylvania, have to control when the mail ballots can be counted, makes it less likely that we will see a definitive presidential campaign result on Nov. 3. The same will be true for certain US Senate and House races.

Of the 17 states, now including Pennsylvania, that are allowing post-election ballot reception, seven appear competitive. The others, Alaska, California, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia will likely declare a clear winner relatively early in the counting period.

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Reading North Carolina

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 17, 2020 — CNN released new North Carolina poll results earlier this week, and we again see a familiar pattern unfolding. There has been a Republican under-poll in the southern states detected in the past few elections, and the North Carolina pattern appears to form relatively consistently upon studying its most competitive statewide races in 2014, ’16, and what may be happening in 2020. There were no statewide Tar Heel State contests in 2018.

The CNN poll (conducted through the SSRS statistical firm; Sept. 9-13; 787 likely North Carolina voters; live interview through landline and mobile phones) found former vice president Joe Biden leading President Trump, 49-46 percent; Democratic US Senate nominee Cal Cunningham edging incumbent Republican Thom Tillis, 47-46 percent; and Gov. Roy Cooper (D) easily outdistancing Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, 53-44 percent.

How do these mid-September races compare with other campaigns at this same interval, and what does that tell us for autumn?

First, the CNN poll is one of seven polls conducted in North Carolina during the month of September, and its three-point margin for Biden is the Democrat’s second-best showing within this group. The only better Biden performance came from the Fox News poll at the beginning of September (Aug. 29-Sept. 1; 722 likely North Carolina voters, live interview), which posted him to a four-point, 50-46 percent, advantage.

Among the five other surveys, Biden is ahead in two, President Trump in two, and one has the pair tied at 47 percent apiece (Survey USA for WRAL-TV; Sept. 10-13; 596 likely North Carolina voters). From the eight polls conducted from Aug. 29-Sept. 13, Biden’s edge is just 0.7 percent, meaning the two candidates average to a statistical tie.

Recent political history suggests that this type of an average spread sets up well for President Trump, and possibly Sen. Tillis. It appears that Gov. Cooper’s margin is beyond the statistically relevant late-term Republican swing.

In September of 2016, a total of 14 publicly released polls were conducted during that month. Within this group, Hillary Clinton led in 10 of the surveys with an average spread of 2.4 percentage points. Trump was ahead in just three polls with an average margin of 2.0 percent. Two polls found the candidates tied. Therefore, Clinton’s overall September edge was an average 1.1 percent.

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Delaware & Rhode Island Vote Today

By Jim Ellis

Former Delaware Sen. Joe Biden’s old seat is up for selection today.

Sept. 15, 2020 — The regular election state primaries conclude today as voters in Delaware and Rhode Island, two of America’s smallest states, vote to close out nomination season.

Louisiana holds its primary concurrent with the general election, so voters there will either elect officials outright with majority support or send the top two finishers into Dec. 5 runoff elections. We will also see a special jungle US Senate primary in Georgia concurrent with Election Day, and voters in the Atlanta area will go to the polls on Sept. 29 to choose a short-term successor to the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Atlanta). Otherwise, nominations throughout the 50 states are complete.

As Joe Biden runs for president, the Delaware US Senate seat he held for 36 years also appears on the ballot in this election. Biden resigned the position when he became vice president, just after being elected to his seventh term in the body. Then-Gov. Ruth Ann Minner (D) appointed Broadcasting Board of Governors member and Biden confidant Ted Kaufman (D) to replace the outgoing senator, and he served the first two years of the term but chose not to enter the 2010 special election. In that vote, voters selected a new senator to serve the final four years of that existing term.

The special election winner was then-New Castle County Executive Chris Coons (D), who was nominated in party convention and then defeated consultant Christine O’Donnell (R), 57-40 percent. This proved to be a wacky race where rumors abounded, and even a campaign commercial aired suggesting that O’Donnell believed herself to be a witch.

Sen. Coons was then re-elected to a full term in 2014, a 56-42 percent victory over Republican Kevin Wade. He now stands for a second six-year term this year and appears as a lock for re-election. Today, Sen. Coons faces a relatively minor Democratic primary challenge from business consultant Jess Scarane who had raised over $323,000 through the Aug. 26 pre-primary filing deadline. There is no indication that this election will be close either tonight or in the general election.

A pair of Republicans are on the ballot, attorney and Marine Corps veteran James Martino and Trump campaign activist Lauren Witzke. Whoever wins tonight will only be a small threat to Sen. Coons in the general election.

Gov. John Carney (D) runs for a second term, and he, too, should see little in the way of serious competition. He has one opponent today, Army veteran David Lamar Williams, Jr. (D), a minor candidate. Seven Republicans are in this gubernatorial primary race, including two state senators, Colin Bonini (R-Magnolia) and Bryant Richardson (R-Sussex County). Whoever wins the primary tonight begins as a heavy underdog to Gov. Carney in a very short general election cycle.

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Super June & Oregon Primary Results

By Jim Ellis

May 21, 2020 — With so many early primary states moving their elections to June due to the coronavirus shut down, no less than 24 states will hold their nominating event in the upcoming month, making this the most active primary month during the election cycle.

A dozen of the states are still observing their regular political calendar, but 12 more moved into June from earlier dates. Therefore, the following adjusted calendar has been locked into place:


JUNE 2

Connecticut (presidential only)
Idaho (from May 19; though mail voting began on the original primary day)
Indiana (from May 5)
Iowa
Maryland (from April 28)
Montana
New Mexico
Pennsylvania (from April 28)
Rhode Island (presidential only)
South Dakota
West Virginia (from May 12)


JUNE 9

Georgia (from May 19)
Nevada
North Dakota
South Carolina


JUNE 20

Louisiana (presidential only)


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