Monthly Archives: December 2020

Texas Data

By Jim Ellis

Texas US House Districts

Dec. 17, 2020 — Yesterday, we analyzed the California official 2020 Statement of the Vote and today we turn out attention to voting statistics from the Lone Star State of Texas, a particularly interesting domain for the coming redistricting process. Estimates project that Texas will gain three congressional districts from reapportionment, which should become official at some point in January.

Despite predictions of a “blue wave” hitting Texas and putting the state in play for Joe Biden, Republicans once again swept the competitive races. Though President Trump’s margin did decline from 2016, his 52-46 percent margin was still more than comfortable, especially when considering he was simultaneously losing the nationwide vote.

As was the case in California, down-ballot GOP candidates, as a rule, performed better than President Trump. Sen. John Cornyn (R) was re-elected, and the GOP won 23 congressional races in the state, accounting for almost 11 percent of their party’s national total.

Sen. Cornyn topped 53 percent of the vote in recording a nine-point win over his Democratic opponent, retired Army helicopter pilot M.J. Hegar. In the 23 victorious Republican House races, the winning GOP candidate outpaced President Trump in 19 districts most of which were competitive at least to a degree.

Compared with the Democratic improvement in elections two years ago, the GOP rebounded in 2020. A total of 16 Republican incumbents sought re-election, and 11 of those improved their vote percentages from 2018. Additionally, all five of those falling below their previous benchmark did so by less than one percentage point.

For the Democrats, all 13 of their House incumbents saw a downgrade in their voter support from 2018. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), who fought off a tough Democratic primary challenge in early March, saw the biggest drop for any Texas House incumbent, falling from 84.4 percent in 2018 to a 58.3 percent win in November. The more serious drop, however, was for Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) who won re-election to a third term from his South Texas district with just 50.5 percent of the vote against an opponent who spent only $404,000. Gonzalez’s victory percentage slipped from 59.7 percent in 2018.

The TX-15 district is largely a Mexican border seat that starts just east San Antonio in the Seguin area and travels south all the way through the city of McAllen in Hidalgo County. The latter entity hosts three-quarters of the 15th District’s population. Republicans, including President Trump, improved their standing throughout the Mexican border area in the 2020 election, which was a principal reason that Democratic gains in the Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio metropolitan areas were somewhat offset.

Statewide turnout was up a strong 23.7 percent when compared to 2016, enabling the state to exceed 11 million voters (11,315,056) for the first time. The Texas population grew 3.9 percent during that same time interval.

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Biden Elected; Calif. Data Published

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 16, 2020 — The Electoral College met in the various state capitols Monday, as scheduled, and the electors cast their ballots in the exact correlation with the state election data. Since the Electoral College increased to 538 members in time for the 1964 presidential election, we’ve seen faithless electors — those who vote for a candidate other than whom the state voters supported — in seven presidential elections.

No faithless elector appeared in Monday’s vote, however, meaning the final official count is Joe Biden, 306; President Trump, 232; the exact numbers produced on election night. The Supreme Court issued a ruling earlier in the year codifying that the states have the right to bind their electors. A total of 29 states and the District of Columbia had previously taken such action, so the court’s July 6, 2020 ruling in the Chiafalo v. Washington State case meant that these 30 entities’ votes would be forced to directly follow their respective electorates.

The remaining 21 states do not bind their electors, so those electors were still free to vote for someone outside of the Nov. 3 election totals. Monday, however, none did.

The action now means that Joe Biden is officially the President-Elect. The Electoral College will now report their results to the Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, where the votes will be counted and recorded. At that point, Biden will be officially elected and ready to take the oath of office as the 46th president of the United States on Jan. 20, 2021.

The California delegation is the group that put Biden over the top, allowing him to first clinch a majority vote in the Electoral College. Also coming from the Golden State is the official Statement of the Vote from the 2020 election, and it contains some interesting numbers to analyze.

Biden received more than 11.1 million votes in California, or 63.5 percent of the total ballots cast. President Trump obtained just over 6 million votes, good for 34.3 percent. Though the latter percentage is small, it is almost three full points beyond than his 2016 showing within the state.

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NC Court Race Brings National Implications

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (D) conceded defeat to Associate Justice Paul Newby (R) on Saturday.

Dec. 15, 2020 — On Saturday, North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (D) conceded defeat to Associate Justice Paul Newby (R) in a political overtime electoral contest that dragged on for more a month. Though a state election, the result will undoubtedly affect some future congressional elections.

After a full machine recount and a partial sample hand recount, Justice Newby had a 413-vote lead from greater than 5.4 million votes cast, representing another photo finish election victory decided in the 2020 election cycle.

The result almost assuredly affects future national elections because the North Carolina chief justice, even when in a minority as are the Republicans on this particular high court, will set the special judicial panels like the ones that would decide future disputed congressional redistricting cases.

This tangential effect is particularly important because North Carolina is a lock to gain one new congressional seat in national apportionment and appears on the cusp of possibly gaining two considering the rate of growth in this southern state.

Ten years ago, North Carolina missed adding a new seat by approximately 15,000 people, the population figure that allowed Minnesota to retain its eighth district, which became the nation’s 435th CD.

Therefore, being so close to a seat gain in the 2010 census apportionment suggests that North Carolina could be in position to actually gain a pair in the current calculation. If so, the state judicial race decided Saturday would carry even greater importance because the courts will almost assuredly make the final decisions in the coming North Carolina redistricting battle. This is particularly evident when remembering that the state has endured three different congressional district delineations during the current decade.

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Key States: President By CD

Daily Kos Elections – presidential results by congressional district. Click on image to see full interactive map at Daily Kos.

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 14, 2020 — The Daily Kos Elections organization is rapidly going through the election returns to provide a presidential vote depiction for every congressional district. At this point, they are only about a quarter of the way through the country but have already recorded some critical battleground states such as Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Dividing the national presidential vote into individual congressional districts portends better analysis because patterns are easier to decipher and analyze in smaller geographic segments.

In the aforementioned five-state region, 46 congressional districts are housed. Turning to the November election, Republicans won 28 of the US House seats in these states while Democrats recorded 18 victories. Just two of the CDs, both in Iowa, switched parties, and went from Democrat to Republican.

In these decisive states, several interesting patterns became evident. What appears clear, in most instances, is President Trump improving upon his 2016 vote percentages and former vice president Joe Biden surpassing Hillary Clinton’s totals of four years ago in all but four of the 46 congressional districts.

Trump exceeded his 2016 percentage performance in 35 of the 46 districts and failed to do so in 11. This despite the fact that he would lose three of the five states studied in this exercise.

Perhaps the most indicative finding centers around President Trump’s standing when compared with the various Republican congressional candidates in all of the tested districts. The fact that he finished under the GOP congressional candidate’s percentage in 32 of the 46 CDs is significant and the key to understanding why he lost two of the states that he carried in 2016. The totals suggest that Republican elasticity in these 32 districts was greater than what the President achieved.

Such is particularly true in the state of Wisconsin, a place Trump lost this year by just over 20,000 votes of almost 3.3 million ballots cast, or only half a percentage point. When examining the eight Wisconsin federal districts, we see Trump running behind the Republican congressional candidate in all five of the GOP-held districts and in two of three Democratic seats.

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Coasting on Trump’s Coattails?

By Jim Ellis

President Trump

Dec. 11, 2020 — When examining 21st century electoral behavior, in an overwhelming number of states, we find that voters are choosing the US Senate contender of the party whose presidential candidate carries their particular electorate, and the 2020 vote is mostly no exception to such a premise. This pattern allows the various presidential nominees to develop political coattails and potentially bring in additional members of his party to both the Senate and House.

In November, the only state where voters swayed from that pattern was Maine, where Pine Tree State voters broke 52-43 percent in favor of Democrat Joe Biden at the top of the ticket but returned to the Republican column to re-elect Sen. Susan Collins by a 50-42 percent margin. And, as we will see when examining the data below, in the 2020 presidential race the coattail margin was not as determinative as it has been in other such campaigns during the past 20 years.

Though not legal victories in the sense that the first-place finisher did not obtain the office sought, the two Georgia Senate elections did yield Republican “wins,” if you will, since the GOP candidates finished ahead of their Democratic counterparts in a state that President Trump failed to carry.

Remember that all of the Georgia races finished with razor-thin margins, so the pattern is not particularly definable. While President Trump was losing to Biden by just 12,670 votes of 4.998-plus million ballots cast, Sen. David Perdue (R) outpaced Democrat Jon Ossoff with an 88,098-vote spread, and the aggregate special election Senate Republican vote total was 47,808 higher than the combined Democratic sum.

The patterns of how the Senate Republican candidates fared with President Trump leading the ticket are interesting in that they don’t yield a consistent flow. In the 35 Senate races from 34 states where such elections were conducted, President Trump carried 19 of the states hosting Senate races as compared to 15 for Mr. Biden. Simultaneously, Republican candidates placed first in 22 of the 35 Senate races.

In 10 of the states hosting a Senate race where President Trump won, the Republican Senate candidate, though winning in all 10 of those instances, ran behind the top of the ticket by an average of 2.2 percent. Conversely, however, in nine other states that President Trump won, he fell behind the GOP Senate candidate by an average of 2.8 percent.

Turning to the 16 states hosting Senate elections that Joe Biden carried (counting Georgia twice because of their two Senate campaigns), President Trump ran ahead of the losing Republican Senate candidate in nine states by an average percentage factor of 1.9, while he ran behind the losing Republican in four, and then behind the winning — or first-place — Republican in three more. In these latter situations, the deficit margin was 1.8 percent.

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