Tag Archives: Electoral College

Election 2016:
How the Electoral College Won

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 25, 2016 — Over the past few decades we have witnessed a great debate in American politics involving the Founding Fathers’ implementation of the Electoral College to govern the presidential election. The just-completed 2016 contest provided many definitive answers to questions surrounding whether the system has outlived its usefulness, or is even needed.

Understanding that the Electoral College was created largely to protect the lesser populated states, rural issues and concerns, and prevent the large population areas from dominating the outcome at all others’ expense, 2016 proved all of those tenets are still salient in the modern political era.

Looking at the presidential election results divided into congressional districts and counties, we can begin to pinpoint the ebbs and flows of the Trump and Clinton vote characterizations and begin to understand how this election truly unfolded. We knew from Election Night that the 2016 electorate was badly polarized in terms of the metropolitan areas versus outer suburb and rural regions, but now we have the tools to see just how deep a divide actually exists. Such appears to be cavernous.

Breaking down the top 10 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) relating to population, we generally see an overwhelming support trend in Hillary Clinton’s favor, which makes the increased turnout and overpowering Trump advantage in the outer suburban and rural areas all the more stunning.

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Closing the Book

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 23, 2016 — Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season. This will be the final update of the 2016 election cycle. We will return at the beginning of 2017. Thank you for being a loyal Ellis Insight follower.

With the final election numbers having been reported in every state, we can now begin to delve below the numerical surface in order to highlight certain key electoral facts.

Despite the news media reporting on Election Night that the 2016 presidential turnout was low, the post-election data reveals a completely different story. With over 14 million votes received, counted, and recorded after Election Day, turnout swelled to 136,645,381 voters, the highest raw number count in American history. This shatters the previous record set in 2008 of 131,426,292 participating individuals.

Election Day, turnout swelled to 136,645,381 voters, the highest raw number count in American history.

The 2016 total doesn’t include participating individuals who failed to vote for president. Adding those voters mean that 138,884,863 people came to the polls or mailed a 2016 general election ballot.

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Hamilton Electors Crushed

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 20, 2016 — According to state Electoral College counts from yesterday’s announced votes, it appears Donald Trump has officially won the presidency. The secret ballot results will be read before the Congress on Jan. 6, and at that time the presidential outcome, at long last, will become final.

The group calling itself “The Hamilton Electors”, whose goal was to convince at least 37 GOP electors to eschew Trump in favor of another Republican candidate, failed miserably as predicted. In fact, two of the key organizers, Colorado electors Polly Baca, a state senator, and teacher Bob Nemanich were replaced by the state officials because they were openly planning to violate Colorado’s law that requires electors to support the candidate who earned at least a plurality of the state’s election votes.

The state officials went to federal court to block Baca and Nemanich from voting for someone other than Hillary Clinton, the candidate who received 48.2 percent of the vote in the Nov. 8 Election Day vote. Yesterday, all nine Colorado electors, sans Baca and Nemanich’s participation, voted for Clinton.

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Electoral College Vote: Not Yet Over

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 19, 2016 — Today is the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December after a national election, which therefore means the Electoral College convenes and will cast their official votes for the offices of president and vice president of the United States.

While Donald Trump earned 306 electoral votes from citizenry participation on Nov. 8, there is no specific guarantee that he will secure that many official votes. Nor are all of Hillary Clinton’s 232 electoral votes necessarily locked down.

As we have covered in previous updates, a group of Democratic electors, calling themselves “The Hamilton Electors”, will culminate their activities today. The group is named after Federalist Papers’ Essay #68, largely credited to Alexander Hamilton, that advises electors to exercise strong judgment in casting their official presidential vote because they speak for the entire nation.

The group is also referencing Hamilton’s section that encourages the electors to protect against “foreign powers [to] gain[ing] an improper ascendant in our councils.” Obviously, this passage is being quoted to help support the claims about Russian election “hacking” that is attracting so much post-election political media coverage.

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The Electoral College

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 7, 2016 — Is the Electoral College doomed, or coming into a new sphere of relevance? As we know, Hillary Clinton out-polled Donald Trump in the popular vote, now by some 2.3 million people as the totals are becoming finalized, but she failed to secure an Electoral College victory. Therefore, numerous efforts have begun to either change Electors’ votes or eliminate the system entirely.

The Gallup organization just completed a poll, as they did after the 2000 election when Al Gore suffered a similar fate at the hands of George W. Bush. Their recent results are surprising, especially when considering the tenor of the media arguments.

According to Gallup (Nov. 28-29; 1,021 US adults), 49 percent of the respondents would like to see the US Constitution amended to elect the president through an aggregate vote of the citizenry. Those in favor of keeping the current system totaled 47 percent.

In actuality, this result is a huge improvement for the pro-Electoral College segment. Just a week after the 2000 election, during the Nov. 11-12 period, Gallup conducted a similar survey and found 61 percent wanting to scrap the Electoral College versus only 35 percent status quo supporters.

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The Ultimate Upset

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 9, 2016 — Donald Trump once again defied the odds and scored possibly the biggest upset in presidential history. The final count is likely to bring him near 300 electoral votes, almost the opposite position that most predicted.

Trump won 29 states and the 2nd District of Maine. Hillary Clinton took 21 states and the District of Columbia. It is possible that Clinton will still place first in the national popular vote, which will be the second time that has happened in this century. As you might remember, George W. Bush also won the Electoral College in 2000, but not the popular vote.

It will take awhile for the numbers to finalize and clear analysis to begin. Below is a quick re-cap of the Senate and House data.

Senate Results

Republicans held their Senate majority, which could go as high as a total of 53 seats. That would mean they would lose only one seat as long as they win the Louisiana run-off on Dec. 10 (they will be favored to do so) and as long as Sen. Kelly Ayotte hangs on to her small lead in New Hampshire (which now looks unlikely).
• Illinois
Sen. Mark Kirk (R) fell to Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Hoffman Estates), 40-54%.
• New Hampshire
Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) leads Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) by a scant 700 votes with counting now at the 100% mark. Nothing yet has been officially declared, however, as of our publishing time. We will have further information later today.

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Today’s the Day

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 8, 2016 — At long last, the 2016 election cycle draws to a close this evening, as we have finally reached Election Day.

The final polls show ending momentum for Hillary Clinton. Ten surveys reported results, all with sampling periods ending Nov. 6. Nine of the 10 find Clinton leading the presidential race by an average of 3.6 percentage points. Her margin stretches from two to six points.

The Electoral College projections appear to put Clinton in the low 300 electoral vote range, well beyond the 270 needed to clinch the presidency. Donald Trump appears to be on the upswing in North Carolina, Iowa, and Ohio, but he would also need victories in Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and the 2nd Congressional District of Maine to secure a minimum electoral vote victory. Though both parties have invested major time commitments during the last few days in Pennsylvania, the state seems destined to support Ms. Clinton by a discernible margin.

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Reuters: Trump Up In
Electoral College

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 20, 2016 — The Reuters/Ipsos “States of the Nation” project finds Donald Trump taking a surprising 243-242 electoral vote lead over Hillary Clinton, but are the individual state projections reliable? Many news sources covered the weekend story, yet it appears that the R/I numbers leave much to be desired. In fact, they show several states going for a candidate either for the first time in this election cycle, or in a manner that other data fails to substantiate.

Reuters/Ipsos is using a huge pool of almost 16,000 respondents, which allows them to segment results for most states. They are also casting several turnout models, and then calculating various Electoral College scenarios based upon the percentage of individual voter groups expected to participate in the November election.

The model forecasting the one-vote Trump advantage features an overall 60 percent turnout ratio among eligible voters, 43 percent for all minority groups, 59 percent African-American participation, and 69 percent from Anglo males. Even with his Electoral College edge, the Reuters/Ipsos results still find Trump trailing Clinton in the national popular vote by a 40-45 percent margin, however.

Questionable conclusions occur in several states. First, addressing the entities where Reuters/Ipsos did not have a large enough respondent sample to determine a trend, several have a clear and decided voting history. Adding Democratic Rhode Island and the District of Columbia’s electoral votes to Clinton’s total would increase her share to 249. For Trump, all other polling data supported by a long vote history would yield both Alaska and Wyoming to him. This would add another six votes to the Republican’s national total, thus leading the adjusted national split to a 249-249 tie.

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The States Tighten

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 12, 2016 — As the national popular vote pulls into a virtual dead heat, polls released yesterday in the critical swing states suggest that a similar pattern is occurring in the individual voting entities, too.

To re-cap the Electoral College map, in order to win the national campaign Donald Trump must keep the 24 states Mitt Romney claimed in 2012, including key swing North Carolina, and then win Florida and Ohio. President Obama won both of these latter states in each of his national campaigns. For her victory configuration, Hillary Clinton need only preserve 80 percent of the states that Obama won twice.

Once Trump secures the Romney coalition plus Florida and Ohio, he then must take at least one more state totaling more than 16 Electoral Votes, to reach the minimum victory threshold of 270 Electoral Votes. Adding Pennsylvania, for example, would award Trump the presidency.

Quinnipiac University publicized four state polls yesterday, covering each key swing entity. In Florida and Ohio, the Q-Poll finds Trump returning to parity with Hillary Clinton. He trails in North Carolina, however. Though still behind in Pennsylvania, the research projects him pulling back to within five points of her and halving the deficit he faced in the August Pennsylvania Quinnipiac survey.

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The September Reset

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 6, 2016
— Labor Day is always viewed as the traditional general election initiation benchmark for presidential campaigns, so it is important to see where the candidates stand now that we have reached this point in time.

During the Aug. 24-30 period, five national polling entities surveyed the national electorate. The five: USA Today/Suffolk University, Rasmussen Reports, Fox News, Reuters/Ipsos, and The Economist/YouGov find a margin range of Hillary Clinton topping Donald Trump by seven percentage points (USA/Suffolk: Aug. 24-29, 1,000 US likely voters, 42-35-7-4 percent, including Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein) to the Republican going up by a single point (Rasmussen Reports; Aug. 29-30: 1,000 US likely voters, 40-39-7-3 percent).

Together, the five polls produce a net average Clinton edge of 3.0 percentage points with neither candidate exceeding 42 percent support nor dropping below 35 percent.

Turning to a historical comparison, where have other presidential campaigns stood on Sept. 1, and how can previous patterns help us project what may happen in this current election?

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The Historical Perspective

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 31, 2016 — Everyday we see new polls that measure Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s national standing and their status in some states, but how does the 2016 race compare to the others from the past 40 years during this same time point in the election cycle?

The Gallup organization is the only consistent national pollster from the mid-20th Century through the 2012 election. After missing the final result four years ago in which they predicted a Mitt Romney popular vote victory, Gallup now confines their research work to issues and not head-to-head ballot test questions. Therefore, they are not polling the Clinton-Trump race.

Since Aug. 20, seven polls from a combination of professional national pollsters, media outlets, and universities have been publicly released. Six of the seven find Clinton holding the lead. One, the Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California’s continual panel-back tracking program, says Trump is carrying a two-point advantage. Factoring in these recent seven results, Clinton’s average advantage is 3.4 percentage points, usually in the span of 42-38 percent.

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Nevada’s Critical Role in November

By Jim Ellis

June 17, 2016 — As we examine the 2016 political landscape, it appears that Nevada, the small four-congressional district western state of 2.8 million people, will play a defining role in electing a president, determining which party controls the United States Senate, and whether or half of its House seats swing.

The developing Senate contest between Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) and former two-term Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) became official in Tuesday’s statewide primary. Masto and Heck each recorded landslide victories in their respective nomination contests and have now begun the arduous general election campaign. The state also hosts two nationally significant House races.

In the 3rd Congressional District, businessman and frequent candidate Danny Tarkanian upset state Senate Majority Leader Mike Roberson to win the Republican nomination from the politically marginal district that encompasses south Las Vegas and the succeeding territory all the way to the Arizona and California borders. Tarkanian will now face software developer Jacky Rosen (D) in the general election. Until Rep. Heck made his district politically secure, the 3rd delivered victory percentages of only 47.4, 48.1, and 50.4 from 2008 through 2012.

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Trump Bangs Independent Drum

Feb. 17, 2016 — Donald Trump is publicly accusing the Republican National Committee leadership of being “in default of their pledge.” Earlier in the cycle, Trump and the committee hierarchy agreed via signed document that no Independent candidacy would be launched should he fail to capture the GOP presidential nomination and, in return, the party leaders would not erect any artificial impediments or enact rules designed to gut his Republican candidacy.

Trump, the early GOP delegate leader, is crying foul over the audience loudly booing him several times during the CBS Republican presidential debate from South Carolina last Saturday night. The candidate claims the RNC gave all the live viewing tickets to “special interest lobbyists”, thereby stacking the audience in an effort to make him look bad.

Yesterday, Trump held a news conference and called upon the media to remember his comments pertaining to his view that the RNC is breaking the pledge. Trump was clearly putting the option of running as an Independent back on the table under the justification that RNC personnel had violated the agreement terms.

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Bloomberg at 29 Percent

Feb. 1, 2016 — Hidden within the hubbub about whether or not Donald Trump would attend the Fox News debate last week, and perched on the cusp of the long-awaited Iowa Caucus voting scheduled for today, we find a Luntz Global poll (Jan. 26-27; 900 national registered voters) that projects former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) scoring as high as 29 percent in a hypothetical race against Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D). He posts 28 percent if the Republican nominee were Florida Sen. Marco Rubio or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Pollster Frank Luntz makes the argument that Bloomberg has an actual path to national victory and uses Ross Perot’s 1992 independent candidacy to support his analysis. He quotes period surveys that found Perot beginning his first presidential quest with low single-digit voter preference, rising as high as 39 percent in the polls, and ending with 19 percent of the popular vote.

Luntz believes Bloomberg has the potential to do much better, particularly when his data finds the Independent already approaching 30 percent, approximately 10 times better than Perot’s beginning point.

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The American Political State

July 7, 2015 — As we pass the 4th of July break and the celebration period of our country’s history, it’s always an appropriate time to review the current status of American politics. As we look forward to another important election in 2016, including the voters selecting a new president, we find both uncertainty and definition.

It’s anyone’s guess right now as to who wins the presidency. Additionally, US Senate control is up for grabs with majority Republicans defending 24 of the 34 in-cycle states.

Conversely, the House Republican majority is stable, particularly with the recent US Supreme Court decision approving congressional redistricting commissions. The rejection of the Arizona Republicans’ legal argument means that congressional boundaries in the Grand Canyon State, California, New Jersey and Washington – all multi-congressional district states that employ redistricting commissions – will remain intact throughout the remainder of the decade. Lines could change because of court decisions in Virginia, and other southern states could conceivably follow suit, but majority status is unlikely to be affected in the short-term.
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