Monthly Archives: December 2020

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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Analyzing the Patterns

By Jim Ellis

President Trump | via Flickr

Dec. 2, 2020 — Now that election results are being certified around the country, we can begin to analyze the numbers in an attempt to detect what voting patterns developed throughout the electorate.

In looking at the presidential state-by-state totals from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, we can begin to see that President Trump fell below his previous vote marks not only in places like Arizona, Georgia, and the Great Lakes region, but in several other places, as well. This, despite seeing over 10.5 million more people voting for him in 2020 when comparing his totals from those recorded four years ago.

In a total of 18 states, Trump dropped below his 2016 performance rate, including eight places that he carried in both 2016 and 2020. In all eight, however, his drop-off rate was less than one-half percentage point.

Conversely, in 32 states, he exceeded his 2016 performance mark and surprisingly so in such left of center states as California (+2.7 percent), Hawaii (+4.9 percent), Nevada (+2.2 percent), New Mexico (+3.5 percent), New York (+5.6 percent), and Washington (+2.2 percent). Mind you, he came nowhere near carrying any of these states, with the exception of Nevada, but the president did record slight improvement when compared with his 2016 vote performance.

The state where Trump outperformed his 2016 total by the most is Utah (12.6 percent), but that is largely because there was no strong Independent or significant minor party candidate on the ballot in the 2020 election. Four years ago, Independent Evan McMullen did well in Utah, attracting 21.5 percent of the Beehive State vote thus allowing Trump to carry the state with only a plurality of 45.5 percent. In 2020, his victory percentage improved to 58.1 percent.

One of the key reasons former vice president Joe Biden won the election is because he increased Democratic performance over Hillary Clinton’s 2016 vote totals in every state but New York. This allowed him to tip the balance away from President Trump in the critical states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, those states the latter man carried in 2016 but were lost to Biden in this current election.

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Final House Tally: 223-212?

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 1, 2020 — The latest outstanding congressional race numbers suggest that the House may break 223 Democrats to 212 Republicans when some very close elections are finally decided. If this is indeed the final party division among the 435 seats, the GOP will only be six congressional districts away from re-claiming the House majority in the 2022 elections.

Currently, we see Real Clear Politics projecting California Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita) as the winner over state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall) in the state’s 25th CD, which lies in parts of both Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

With still a small undetermined number of votes to be verified and counted, Garcia’s tight 405-vote margin appears to be holding. Our own rudimentary projections suggest that the freshman Republican congressman will hold by just under 400 votes. It is probable we will see a recount and potential ballot challenges, so the result may be challenged before and after certification. Under California election law, certification for all races must occur by Dec. 11.

We have seen several projections made suggesting former California Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) has defeated freshman Rep. T.J. Cox (D-Fresno) in the state’s Central Valley 21st CD. Valadao has a 1,820-vote lead according to the California Target Book organization’s in-depth analysis.

Our more rudimentary estimates suggest that Valadao will win the final count by approximately 1,400 votes based upon the potential number of outstanding ballots in the three counties, Kern, Kings, and Tulare, that are still verifying and counting mail votes. Fresno County has completed its count.

Later today, we expect to see the second certification of Iowa candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) in the state’s 2nd Congressional District. Under Iowa law, a certification had to be issued one week after the election, in this case Nov. 10, and Miller-Meeks, a state senator from Ottumwa who is in her fourth run for the US House, was originally certified as the winner with a 47-vote margin. The full recount finds former state senator and 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Rita Hart (D) gaining votes but still losing by a total of just six votes districtwide from more than 394,400 ballots cast, a Miller-Meeks winning percentage of 50.0008 percent.

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