Category Archives: Presidential campaign

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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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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Presidential Polling Report – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 30, 2020 — Last week, we covered the cumulative polling community’s 2020 accuracy in the Great Lakes region (scroll down below), and today we look at how their predictions fared in President Trump’s five core states of Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas. If the President had been able to carry all five states, and he has now officially failed in Arizona and Georgia, he would have only needed to win one of the battleground state bordering a Great Lake to secure re-election.

In each place, we take the five publicly released polls conducted closest to the election and analyze whether the cumulative and individual survey research firms came close to the final result or missed beyond the polling margin of error.


Arizona

Canvassing is not yet complete in Arizona, but it appears Mr. Biden scored a 49.4 to 49.1% victory, a margin of just 10,457 votes. Carrying Arizona was the first conversion step for Mr. Biden to win the national election.

The final five pollsters were the NBC News/Marist College; CNBC/Change Research; Reuters/Ipsos, Emerson College, and Rasmussen Reports. Here, NBC/Marist came the closest, predicting the two candidates landing in virtually a dead heat. All five, however, were within the polling margin of error, though Rasmussen Reports did call the winner wrong, predicting President Trump would carry the state by four percentage points.

Arizona – Biden 0.3 percent

NBC News/Marist 10/29 – 11/1 717 LV 48 48 Tie
CNBC/Change Research 10/29 – 11/1 409 LV 50 47 Biden +3
Reuters/Ipsos 10/27 – 11/1 610 LV 49 47 Biden +2
Emerson 10/29 – 31 732 LV 48 46 Biden +2
Rasmussen Reports 10/27 – 29 800 LV 45 49 Trump +4

Florida

Cumulative polling predictions again projected a close Democratic win during most of the late election cycle only to see, for the fourth consecutive time in a major Florida statewide race, the Republican candidate reversing the trend and clinching a close win. The latest Florida data was much closer to the mark as three of the final five pollsters correctly forecast a win for President Trump.

The Trafalgar Group proved the closest with their Trump +2 final projection. CNBC/Change Research missed by the most, a six-plus point swing from their Biden +3 prediction to a Trump +3.3 final result.

The final five Sunshine State pollsters were: Fox 35/Insider Advantage; the Trafalgar Group; CNBC/Change Research; Susquehanna Polling & Research; and Rasmussen Reports.

Florida – Trump 3.3 percent

FOX 35/Insider Adv 11/2 400 LV 47 48 Tie Trump +1
Trafalgar Group 10/31 – 11/2 1003 LV 47 49 Tie Trump +2
CNBC/Change Research 10/29 – 11/1 806 LV 51 49 Tie Biden +3
Susquehanna 10/29 – 11/1 400 LV 46 47 Tie Trump +1
Rasmussen Reports 10/29 – 31 800 LV 48 47 Tie Biden +1

Georgia

Just about everyone missed the final count in Georgia, though pollsters throughout the election cycle were clearly forecasting a close Peach State race that certainly ended in such a manner. With the race now certified, Biden won the state, 49.5 to 49.3 percent, a margin of just 12,670 votes.

The only pollster to correctly predict a Biden victory was Public Policy Polling, while the Trafalgar Group, despite being closest in Arizona, was furthest away in Georgia. The five pollsters were: WSB-TV/Landmark Communications; the Trafalgar Group; Insider Advantage; Emerson College; and Public Policy Polling.

Georgia – Biden 0.2 percent

WSB-TV/Landmark 11/1 500 LV 50 46 Trump +4
Trafalgar Group 10/31 – 11/2 1013 LV 50 45 Trump +5
Insider Advantage 11/1 500 LV 48 46 Trump +2
Emerson 10/29 – 31 749 LV 49 48 Trump +1
PPP 10/27 – 28 661 LV 46 48 Biden +2

North Carolina

North Carolina, being one of the quintessential swing states in the country, again produced a close race in 2020 as President Trump claimed the Tar Heel State with just a 1.3 percentage margin, 49.9 – 48.6 percent. Rasmussen Reports was again closest to the mark, as they were in Pennsylvania. Most of the polling throughout the entire election cycle, however, 57 of 85 published polls with eight ties, forecast Biden as holding a North Carolina lead.

The five final pollsters were: Insider Advantage; CNBC/Change Research; Emerson College; Reuters/Ipsos; and Rasmussen Reports. While RR was the closest, CNBC/Change Research was furthest away.

North Carolina – Trump 1.3 percent

Insider Advantage 10/30 – 31 450 LV 48 44 Trump +4
CNBC/Change Research 10/29 – 11/1 473 LV 47 49 Biden +2
Emerson 10/29 – 30 855 LV 47 47 Tie
Reuters/Ipsos 10/27 – 11/1 707 LV 48 49 Biden +1
Rasmussen Reports 10/28 – 29 800 LV 48 47 Trump +1

Texas

Media report after media report continued along the theme that the Lone Star State of Texas was in play for Biden but, in the end, Texas remained red and voted for President Trump in a 5.5 percentage spread, 52.0 – 46.5 percent, which was the closest major statewide race in nearly two decades.

At the end of the race, the pollsters were detecting a clear move toward President Trump largely because the oil and gas industry issues, so important to the Texas economy, became the focal point of attack throughout most of the campaign.

The University of Houston poll called the race almost exactly correct, while two academic institution pollsters, Emerson College and Quinnipiac University, were furthest away. The five pollsters were: Emerson College; University of Massachusetts at Lowell; Siena College/New York Times; Quinnipiac University; and the University of Houston.

Texas – Trump 5.5 percent

Emerson 10/29 – 31 763 LV 49 49 Tie
UMass Lowell 10/20 – 26 873 LV 48 47 Trump +1
Siena College/NYT 10/20 – 25 802 LV 47 43 Trump +4
Quinnipiac 10/16 – 19 1145 LV 47 47 Tie
University of Houston 10/13 – 20 1000 LV 50 45 Trump +5

ME-2

For the second time in two presidential elections, the 2nd Congressional District of Maine bucked the statewide trend and supported President Trump. Biden’s larger margin in the ME-1 CD allowed him to carry the statewide count, which earned him three of Maine’s four electoral votes.

As in the US Senate election in which the polling community missed the final result by the largest margin in the country, so too did they underestimate President Trump’s strength in northern Maine.

All five final pollsters forecast a Joe Biden victory in ME-2, but the end result was a substantial win for President Trump. Each missed well beyond the polling margin of error. The five polling firms were: Change Research; Emerson College; Survey USA; Colby College; and Pan Atlantic Research.

ME-2 – Trump 7.9 percent

Change Research 10/29 – 11/2 475 LV 47 46 Biden +1
Emerson College 10/29 – 31 301 LV 50 47 Biden +3
Survey USA 10/23 – 27 509 LV 48 45 Biden +3
Colby College 10/21 – 25 453 LV 46 42 Biden +4
Pan Atlantic Research 10/2 – 6 300 LV 47 43 Biden +4