Category Archives: Election Analysis

NYC Ranked Voting – Any Difference?

NYC Democracy produced a voter palm card to help guide voters in a ranked-choice voting scenario.

By Jim Ellis

July 9, 2021 — The Ranked Choice Voting system was on major display in the New York City primary races that began with early voting on June 12 and ended yesterday with declaration of winners. Adding early voting and Ranked Choice Voting in lieu of traditional ballot casting created a 26-day election period, but did the expanded voting cycle change any results?

Ranked Choice Voting is a variation of an instant runoff, a concept that dates back to a similar system first used in Australia in 1918. The idea is to prevent a person from winning a plurality election with a just a small percentage, i.e., Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams would have won the New York City mayoral Democratic primary with 30.8 percent of the vote on the single election day of June 22 had the traditional system been in place. This means that 69.2 percent of voters chose another candidate.

Instead, after the 26-day election period, Adams still won the party nomination under Ranked Choice Voting but with a convoluted 50.5 percent majority vote at the conclusion of a marathon counting process.

For years, mostly southern states have used a runoff system to correct the problem of a candidate winning an election with a small percentage, such as NYC’s Adams’ 30.8 percent recorded on June 22. In those places, a secondary election is held between the top two finishers at a later date. Ranked Choice Voting allegedly produces a majority result, but without the expense of running a second election.

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Pew’s Post-Election Findings

By Jim Ellis

The candidates in action at the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio: President Donald Trump (left) and former vice president Joe Biden.

July 8, 2021 — The Pew Research Center conducted a post-election poll and spent seven months developing their conclusions. On the last day of June, they publicized their report.

The study, conducted just after the November election (Nov. 7-12; 11,818 individuals through groups of screened panelists, online) was exhaustive.

Quoting the methodology description, “noncitizens and those who refused the citizenship question (N=450), voters who refused to answer the vote choice question (N=84) and panelists who declined to provide their names and thus could not be matched to a voter record (N=139) were removed, leaving 11,145 panelists for analysis.” Of this latter number, 9,668 respondents were validated as voters, meaning the research team verified with a local election office that the particular individual had in fact voted.

The basic voter segmentation conclusions were speculated upon in most media sectors during the early post-election period, but this research validates and expands upon the discovered patterns. Largely, President Biden received a significant boost from suburban voters, which proved the major difference in his increasing Democratic popular vote performance.

Despite losing the popular vote by a substantial margin, former President Trump surprisingly improved his standing with several groups such as Hispanics, Asians, black men, young voters, and women, but not to the degree necessary to counter Biden’s strength with suburban voters.

For example, among suburban voters, according to the Pew research, Biden recorded 54 percent support as compared to Hillary Clinton’s 45 percent in the 2016 election. Conversely, Trump only carried white voters 51-47 percent in the most current election, a major reduction from the 54-38 percent spread he posted four years earlier.

While Trump declined in the suburbs, his performance among rural voters was even stronger than his 2016 benchmark. In 2020, Trump’s percentage among rural voters rose to 65 percent from his 59 percent previous showing. Additionally, rural female voters largely account for his overall increase among women as he moved from 39 percent in ’16 to 44 percent in 2020.

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SCOTUS Rules; Calif. Recall Scheduled

Current US Supreme Court

By Jim Ellis

July 6, 2021 — On their last day of the year’s early session last week, a Thursday, the Supreme Court of the United States issued rulings on the Arizona voting rights case and the California non-profit organization disclosure lawsuit.

In the Democratic National Committee v. Brnovich, the Supreme Court with Justice Samuel Alito writing for the 6-3 majority, ruled that the state of Arizona did not infringe upon minority voting rights or violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act in both prohibiting ballot harvesting with certain exceptions, and not counting provisional ballots cast from voters who do not reside in the particular precinct that the polling place covers.

The high court agreed with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s (R) arguments that the laws are not racially motivated, nor do they intentionally discriminate against certain segments of the voting population, thus overturning the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

Originally in 2016, Brnovich won at the district court level and on the first appeal to a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit. The DNC requested an en banc review of the original appellate ruling that agreed with Brnovich, and the entire 9th Circuit membership overturned the decision, siding with the plaintiff. At that point, AG Brnovich petitioned the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. (Hearing cases en banc allows the full circuit court to overturn a decision reached by a three–judge panel. Due to the decreasing probability of U.S. Supreme Court intervention, the circuit court is often the court of last resort in the ordinary life of a case, thereby amplifying the importance of en banc review.)

In his ruling, Justice Alito stated that “every voting rule imposes a burden of some sort,” and that “mere inconvenience cannot be enough to demonstrate a violation of Section 2.” He also cautioned that, “what are at bottom very small differences should not be artificially magnified.”

While agreeing that holding free and open elections is a “valid and important state interest,” he also addressed the voter fraud argument, clearly stating that attempting to prevent such abuses is also a “strong and entirely legitimate state interest.”

In her article discussing these rulings, Supreme Court expert Amy Howe, in her Howe on the Court article that was published on the SCOTUS blog, offered that the Brnovich ruling “will make it more difficult to contest election regulations under the Voting Rights Act,” and thus likely means fewer voting rights cases coming through the courts. She further categorized this decision as a “major ruling.”

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Oregon’s New Seat

Current Oregon US Congressional Districts Map


By Jim Ellis

July 2, 2021 — Oregon earned a sixth congressional seat in the 2021 apportionment, but exactly where that district will be placed on the Beaver State’s new map is not particularly obvious.

Like most states, Oregon handles redistricting through the legislative process and Democrats have firm control of all three legs of the legislative stool. In addition to Gov. Kate Brown (D), the party has a 18-11 margin in the state Senate with one Independent. Their majority in the state House of Representatives is similarly large, 37-22, with one vacancy. Yet, the partisan breakdown of the state might make drawing a solid 5D-1R map surprisingly somewhat difficult.

Currently, the five congressional districts are not obviously gerrymandered, as the seats are drawn in block form. Naturally, all but two cluster around the Portland metropolitan area, the state’s dominant population region.

The five incumbents are all senior, with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Washington County) being the most junior with her original election coming in a special 2012 contest. The delegation dean is House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) who was first elected in 1986.

As you can see from the following chart, using 2019 population numbers since the Census Bureau will not be delivering census tract data to the states until after Aug. 15, the five districts are remarkably equivalent in relation to population size.

DISTRICT INCUMBENT 2020% POPULATION REG. VOTERS
1 BONAMICI 64.6% 858,875 570,186
2 BENTZ 59.9% 841,022 598,375
3 BLUMENAUER 73.0% 853,116 588,614
4 DeFAZIO 51.5% 820,504 588,508
5 SCHRADER 51.9% 844,220 578,609

The population figures suggest that each district will have to shed between 115,000 to 155,000 people in order to create six CDs with equal population, likely a number around 710,000 individuals for this state.

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Carey Claims Big Lead in OH-15

Graphic from Ohio Coal Association chairman and congressional candidate Mike Carey’s Facebook page.

By Jim Ellis

June 30, 2021 — Ohio Coal Association chairman Mike Carey (R) released his internal Fabrizio, Lee & Associates survey on Tuesday, which posts him to a big lead for the Aug. 3 special congressional primary in his state’s vacant 15th District. Carey’s advantage widely expands when the Republican primary electorate is aware that he is being endorsed by former president, Donald Trump.

According to the Fabrizio Lee poll (June 23-24; 400 likely OH-15 special Republican primary voters, live interviews), Carey would maintain a 44-10-9-8-5 percent advantage over state Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Lancaster), former state Rep. Ron Hood, state Sen. Bob Peterson (R-Fayette County), and state Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard), respectively, among those claiming to be familiar with the campaign and candidates.

The original ballot test gave Carey a 20-9 percent lead over Rep. LaRe, who has the backing of resigned Rep. Steve Stivers (R) and is the beneficiary of the former congressman spending some of his substantial leftover campaign war chest as a support independent expenditure. Hood and Sen. Peterson trial with seven percent apiece, followed by Sen. Kunze’s six percent preference. The remaining six candidates individually garner three percent or less.

When all respondents are then informed that the former president has endorsed Carey, however, the candidate’s lead grows to a whopping 60-8-7-7-6 percent margin over Hood, LaRe, Peterson, and Kunze, respectively.

The initial ballot test also identified 44 percent of the respondents who said they are undecided about who to support in the special election. When informed of the Trump endorsement, the undecided segment then broke 46-3 percent for Carey over LaRe. Peterson and Kunze each gained one percent support, with the remainder divided among the minor candidates. This largely accounts for the big swing toward Carey when comparing the initial ballot test to the aided responses.

The poll was conducted during the buildup to Trump’s first public rally since he left the White House, an event held in rural Wellington, OH on Saturday about 40 miles due west of Akron that drew close to 20,000 people according to news estimates.

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