Monthly Archives: October 2020

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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Senate: Early Voting Numbers

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 28, 2020 — The Target Smart statistical website has tracked the national early voting process throughout the country and reports segmentation by state.

Nationally, through yesterday’s report, they logged over 55.58 million people already voting, an increase of 108 percent from the same period when compared to the last presidential election in 2016. If national voter turnout projections of more than 150 million people prove correct, then approximately 37 percent of 2020 voters have already cast their ballots.

Though the first couple of days in early voting greatly favored Democrats, the last few have yielded a Republican increase.

In the 15 most competitive Senate states (Georgia has two races) — 12 of which have an early voting process in both 2020 and 2016, while one is added for this year (Kentucky) — we see a greater turnout from Democrats in seven states: Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina. More Republicans are voting in six states: Alaska, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Texas.

Interestingly, in gauging which political entities are gaining the most in early voting percentage today when compared with 2016, the Democrats, Republicans, and Unaffiliateds all break even with an advantage in four states apiece: Democrats (Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan); Republicans (Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, Texas); Unaffiliateds (Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota).

It is difficult to say how these numbers will affect the final results. The states possibly producing the most significant early turnout results could be Arizona and Texas. In Arizona, Democrats lead for the first time in early voting aggregate ballots returned, while despite supposition to the contrary, Texas Republicans not only lead in 2020 as they have in the past, but also have gained more in percentage returned when compared to 2016.

Other stats of note: Though behind in 2020 aggregate voting, Democrats have seen an increase in their standing from 2016 in Alaska and Kansas. Republicans, on the other hand, also while trailing on the aggregate count have improved their position more than Democrats when compared to 2016 in Colorado and North Carolina.

For more details, click on the chart below, or go here: Target Early / Target Smart

 


ALASKA

2020 Total Early Votes: 77,128
2016 Total Early Votes: 19,296

2020 – Democratic: 36.0%
2020 – Republican: 46.1%
2020 – Unaffiliated: 17.9%

2016 – Democratic: 26.3%
2016 – Republican: 57.4%
2016 – Unaffiliated: 16.3%

Current Advantage: Republican
Gaining Most from 2016: Democratic


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Can Repubs Win 49 of 52 Competitive House Races to Win Majority?

Texas could be the key state in determining whether the Democrats will gain seats. If Republicans are to make a run at the majority, they will have to maintain their historically strong showing in the Lone Star State, and also win just about everywhere else.

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 27, 2020 — Virtually all election analysts are predicting that the Democrats will maintain their majority in next week’s national election with the principal unanswered question prompting speculation about whether they will add members to their party conference.

Irrespective of predictions, it appears that 113 congressional races still feature legitimate competition, meaning the two major party nominees in each situation have adequate resources with which to communicate their respective messages. Though the incumbent, or incumbent party in the open seats, is the favorite in most of the races, enough districts are in play for Republicans to end the election cycle by making a dent into the relatively small 17-seat Democratic majority.

One can divide the competitive races into three tiers, with those in the first segment being the most likely to see an incumbent or incumbent party fall to a challenger candidate, and are the subject of this Update. Unfortunately for Republicans, the Democrats are on offense in 56 percent of the contested seats. Obviously, this gives the Dems more opportunities for gains, thus increasing their chances of adding to their majority margin.

Within our 52 rated first-tier competitive category, Democrats are on offense in 30 of them, thus making retaining the chamber majority probable and allowing multiple opportunities to increase their aggregate total.

Texas could be the key state in determining whether the Democrats will gain seats. We see 11 of the Lone Star seats falling into the competitive category, five of them in the top tier. Of the 11, only one is a Democratic seat, that held by freshman Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Houston), meaning the Texas campaigns will likely prove to be ground zero in previewing the overall House result.

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Political Overtime in Georgia & Maine

Note: Last week in the polling recount Update, a typographical error was made in one of the quoted Iowa polls. The Siena College/New York Times survey should have read: Sen. Joni Ernst (R) 45%, Theresa Greenfield (D) 44% (not 55-44%). We apologize for the mistake.


By Jim Ellis

Oct. 26, 2020 — There has been discussion about seeing a great number of political campaigns not being called on Election Night, thus creating what could become a rather long “political overtime” period. Laws in two states, however, could send key Senate races into political overtime, but for a different reason than not having all of the ballots either received or counted.

Georgia and Maine have unique laws that create a secondary election period should no candidate receive majority support in the general election. Many states employ runoff contests in nomination battles, but Georgia and Maine are two entities with special laws governing the general election should no majority be achieved. In this particular year, three US Senate races, in a cycle where the battle for chamber control is close and intense, could be forced into political overtime in just those two places.

In Georgia, all contenders failing to reach the 50 percent mark sends the contest into a general election runoff. Considering the 2020 calendar, that secondary election date is scheduled for Jan. 5, meaning that the current election cycle would then be expanded for an additional two months. If the majority hinges on the two Georgia seats, it won’t be until the new year until we would have the opportunity of knowing which party would lead the Senate in the next Congress.

In the Georgia-A seat, polling hasn’t yet put one of the candidates, Sen. David Perdue (R) or Democratic nominee Jon Ossoff, at or over the 50 percent mark. In the last 10 polls of the Perdue-Ossoff race, neither man has reached 50 percent when any of the three minor party or independent candidates were listed, or referred to, in the survey questionnaire.

The Georgia-B campaign, which is the special election to fill the balance of resigned Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R) final term, is certainly headed for political overtime. Here, the candidates are placed on the same ballot regardless of political party affiliation.

Polling throughout this election year suggests that none of the four major candidates, appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville), Rev. Raphael Warnock (D), and businessman Matt Lieberman (D), are anywhere close to majority support. Therefore, the top two finishers on Nov. 3 would advance to the secondary election on Jan. 5.

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