Tag Archives: Target Smart

Georgia: A Deeper Dive

By Jim Ellis

Georgia Senator-elect Jon Ossoff (D) at left, and Senator-elect Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) – winners of Tuesday’s 2021 runoff in the Peach State.

Jan. 7, 2021 — With original vote totals being finalized for the Georgia runoffs we see Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) defeating appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) by 73,404 votes (50.8 percent) while Jon Ossoff (D) unseated Sen. David Perdue (R) with a margin of 35,615 tallies (50.4 percent).

Looking at the individual county returns along with adhering to the premise that despite what was a record overall runoff turnout (89.7 percent of the general election participation factor), the Democrats obviously did a better job of getting their voters to return for the secondary election than Republicans.

The result was surprising to us in that we predicted a close Republican victory in both contests. We were correct in forecasting that one party would win both seats, and a closer look at the county data indicates that the voters, as well as the contenders themselves running as teams, perceived the two individual runoffs as a candidate slate.

In our final analysis, missing the actual result can largely be attributed to a mistake in interpreting the early voting data.

The Target Smart statistical organization was reporting the early vote numbers and, throughout the pre-election vote-casting period, it was apparent that two points were running in the Democrats’ favor and three for the Republicans. It was clear at the end that the black turnout ran three points higher when compared to the regular election early voting numbers. Second, Democrats had closed the early voting partisan participation percentage gap by a net five percentage points.

These factors were countered in that the Republicans led in overall early voting and the numbers of those 50 years old and over were also up substantially over their regular 2020 election rate. Additionally, the categorization of over 211,000 unaffiliated voters being among the early voters was looked at as largely benefiting the GOP when remembering that 115,039 individuals had voted for the Libertarian candidate in the regular Perdue-Ossoff campaign, thus forcing the runoff. Since they are primarily right-of-center voters, it was presumed that they would break toward Perdue and Loeffler in the secondary elections.

This analysis proved incorrect. We can now see that the increased black participation rate and the significant closing of the overall early voting gap between Republicans and Democrats were clearly the more important clues as the precursor to the final runoff vote totals rather than the 50-plus increased turnout, overall rate, and perceived unaffiliated leaning.

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The Early Vote Predictor

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 3, 2020 — While it became clear that the plethora of polling data published during the 2020 election cycle again proved to be a poor predictor of eventual campaign outcome in most states, another resource was discovered that might be the more reliable prognosticator.

The states releasing early voting numbers before the election – not the actual election results, of course, but the numbers of Democrats, Republicans, and Unaffiliated voters who had returned their ballots – provided the opportunity of charting possible race outcomes. As a predictor, the early voting numbers, largely because they are actual votes and not extrapolations and estimates as found in polling, look to be a more reliable gauge.

Let’s examine the results in the key battleground states and compare them to both the 2020 and 2016 early voting numbers as compiled by the Target Smart organization. Target Smart monitored, categorized, and published the early ballot return numbers throughout the acceptance period in every state that publicly released such data. Unfortunately, for purposes of our exercise, the Georgia 2020 numbers are among the states not currently available.

In Arizona, we see a difference in the 2016 and 2020 early vote numbers that indicated a small shift in the voting patterns. Detecting that Democratic early vote participation had increased several points from four years ago while Republicans were down slightly did prove indicative in relation to the final Arizona result that yielded an official 10,457 vote Biden victory.

In Florida, we see the Democratic early vote numbers dropping slightly. This is a bit surprising in that 2020 featured a record voter turnout. The fact that Republicans gained a bit in the swing was a predictor of President Trump’s stronger performance in the Sunshine State as compared to the result from four years previous.

As we can see from the Michigan numbers, Democrats increased their early voting participation while Republicans saw a decrease. Unaffiliated voters substantially increased. Considering the final result, it is apparent that most of the Unaffiliateds voted Democratic in the presidential contest.

The North Carolina early vote numbers gave us our first clear indication that the pollsters were mis-casting the state’s electorate. The clear indication that Democrats were missing their marks in early voting while Republicans were exceeding their expectations was the first indication that the final vote would produce a different result than the plethora of polls were suggesting.

Pennsylvania featured drastic changes in not only the partisan early vote pattern, but also in volume as early voting increased by more than twelve-fold in comparison to 2016. The stark difference in Democratic versus Republican participation levels did forecast a swing to the former party, though the final totals were not as drastically different as the early voting yields.

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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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