Tag Archives: North Carolina

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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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

More on Redistricting

By Jim Ellis

Winners & losers in the redistricting tug of wars

Nov. 19, 2020 — In yesterday’s Update, we ended with the paragraph, “Considering the states that are losing and gaining seats, party control, and changing political trends, the Republicans are still likely to lose a small net number of seats in the transfer process despite holding the most redistricting power.”

This statement generated some questions about why the Republicans could lose seats in the apportionment transfer when they hold the balance of power in more states. Today, we delve deeper.

At this point, and remembering these are only estimates that could change when the actual apportionment formula produces the official number of seats that each state will possess, it appears ten seats will move from one state to others. Therefore, it is projected that Texas (3), Florida (2), Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon will gain districts, while Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia will lose a seat apiece. We will now explore each individually:


States That Lose

• Alabama – Even though Republicans have full control and a 6R-1D delegation, the Republicans will take the loss here. The Democratic district is a Voting Rights seat, so the loss will come from the GOP column even though they hold the redistricting pen.

• California – The lopsided California delegation, even with Republicans gaining one to three seats here when the votes are all finally counted, will likely yield the Democrats losing the district. California is a commission state that operates under strict guidelines. Therefore, the mathematics suggest, in what will potentially end as a 43D-10R delegation that the transfer seat loss will come from the Democratic column.

• Illinois – Though the state delegation features only five Republicans from a group of 18 members, the Democrats control the redistricting process here and 10 years ago produced the most lopsided of partisan gerrymanders. Expect them to figure a way for the Republicans to take the one seat loss.

• Michigan – The voters adopted a new redistricting commission, but the composition parameters look to favor the Democrats. Therefore, expect the 7D-7R delegation to recede by one Republican seat.

• Minnesota – This state features the only state legislature where each party controls one legislative chamber. Though this gives the Republicans a seat at the redistricting table, the population loss in the northern part of the state, where they have two seats, will likely result in the 4D-4R delegation lessening by one Republican seat.

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The Redistricting Prelude

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 18, 2020 — The Census Bureau continues to make progress in completing the decennial population count and it appears the national apportionment report, which details how many congressional seats each state’s population earns, will be delivered to Congress in early January. Because of COVID, the apportionment process has been slightly delayed since the report typically has a year-end deadline.

Once apportionment is known, states then begin receiving their updated data necessary for drawing new congressional and state legislative districts. The states with the earliest primaries are the first to receive their data so they have adequate time to prepare their new congressional and state legislative boundaries.

In terms of apportionment, it is expected that Texas may gain approximately three seats and Florida two. The other gaining states are likely to be Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon. Those losing seats appear to be Alabama, California (for the first time in history), Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. These estimates are not always completely correct, so this list could change when the actual apportionment is applied and publicly released.

A total of 34 states will draw their new districts solely through the legislative process. The remaining multi-member states operate through a type of commission, either an independent body or one under political control. Seven states are at-large meaning their congressional race is statewide. Rhode Island joins this group in 2021 as it will lose its second seat, while Montana will likely regain the district that was lost in the 1991 reapportionment.

In the Nov. 3 election, Republicans saw a net gain in state legislative seats around the country. Only one state saw its legislative chambers flip, however, the New Hampshire House and Senate moving from Democrat to Republican. This means Republicans will control 61 legislative chambers as compared to the Democrats’ 37. The Nebraska unicameral legislature is elected on a non-partisan basis, but Republicans control that chamber as well.

Republicans will again have the advantage in the states where the legislatures and governors determine the new map boundaries. Democrats, largely under the National Democratic Redistricting Committee that former Attorney General Eric Holder leads, targeted 13 states to protect or gain legislative chambers. They failed in all, as Republicans kept their majorities in each state they previously controlled and flipped New Hampshire to their column.

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More Races Called in House & Senate

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis (R)

Nov. 11, 2020 — Though the North Carolina ballot reception period continues through tomorrow, Democratic US Senate nominee Cal Cunningham, after leading in polling throughout most of the race, conceded late yesterday to Sen. Thom Tillis (R).

The remaining votes are from people who requested absentee ballots that have yet to be returned. Estimates suggested approximately 116,500 could be returned but it became clear that not all of them would be sent. Each had to be postmarked on Nov. 3 and placed in the mail stream. With Sen. Tillis leading by exactly 95,000 votes and an estimated 30 percent of the absentee ballot requests going to Republican voters, it became obvious that there would not be enough available votes to turn the election Cunningham’s way.

The Tillis victory means that Republicans now control 49 Senate seats with only Alaska remaining until the two Georgia runoffs are held on Jan. 5. In Alaska, now with 69 percent of the vote reporting, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) leads Dr. Al Gross (I/D) by 52,995 votes or by a 58.5 – 36.4 percent margin. The Alaska ballot reception period lasts through Friday, so we should see this race being called shortly, and almost assuredly for GOP Sen. Sullivan.

In the House, we see several calls being made, some of which had been obvious for some time. Democratic Reps. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-1), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA-34), and Kim Schrier (D-WA-8), along with Republican Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA-42) and open seat contender Jay Obernolte (R-CA-8) were all declared official winners. All had been leading throughout the post-election period and it was just a matter of time before a declaration was made for each.

Two major competitive races were called yesterday. In California, where the post-election counting is moving along at a brisker pace than in the past, Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel (R) has defeated freshman Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach) in the 48th CD. The district, which contains most of the Orange County coastline and was in Republican hands for 30 years in the person of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) before Rouda won the seat in 2018, returns to the GOP.

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Outstanding Races Update

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 9, 2020 — A few races were called over the weekend, while political overtime drags on for others.

Alaska senate race still undecided between physician and commercial fisherman, Democrat Al Gross (left), and first-term Republican incumbent Dan Sullivan.

The uncalled Senate races will likely remain in their current position throughout this week. Currently, Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) holds a big lead over physician Al Gross (I/D), 62.3 – 32.1 percent, with a vote margin of 57,616. Despite the large spread, the race is not called because only 58 percent of the vote is reporting. The Alaska cut-off date for receiving ballots postmarked Nov. 3 is this Friday, Nov. 13. Therefore, it is presumed that we will not have a final declaration until the weekend at the earliest.

The North Carolina situation remains frozen. Sen. Thom Tillis (R) holds a 95,739-vote lead with all counted but those ballots that could come in through Nov. 12. It appears the universe of requested ballots not yet returned could only be a maximum of approximately 116,500. The ballots must now be in the mail stream as they would have to have been postmarked on Nov. 3. Mathematics suggest a Tillis victory will occur, but such a declaration is not yet official.

As we know, both Georgia Senate races will advance to their respective runoff elections on Jan. 5. The political battles feature Republican Sen. David Perdue (49.7 of requested ballots not yet returned) and Democrat Jon Ossoff (47.9 percent). The special election features Democratic Rev. Raphael Warnock (32.9 percent) and appointed Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler (25.9 percent).

The House races are not fully complete, as 24 contests remain in abeyance. At this point, Republicans have gained a net five seats among the 411 campaigns that have been decided. Of the remaining 24, the GOP candidates lead in 18, but many will likely flip back toward the Democrat as counting concludes. In the end, it is likely that the Republicans will gain between seven and nine seats, meaning they will hold 208 to 210 House seats as compared with 227 to 225 for the Democrats.

In the past few days, the following races have been declared and the winners are listed below:

AZ-6: Rep. David Schweikert (R)
CA-50: Darrell Issa (R) – Open Seat – Republican hold
GA-7: Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) – Open Seat – Democratic gain
IN-5: Victoria Spartz (R) – Open Seat – Republican hold
MI-3: Peter Meijer (R) – Open Seat – Republican gain
MI-8: Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D)
MI-11: Rep. Haley Stevens (D)
MN-1: Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R)
MN-2: Rep. Angie Craig (D)
NV-3: Rep. Susie Lee (D)
NV-4: Rep. Steven Horsford (D)
NJ-2: Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R)
NY-4: Rep. Kathleen Rice (D)
PA-7: Rep. Susan Wild (D)
PA-8: Rep. Matt Cartwright (D)
PA-10: Rep. Scott Perry (R)
PA-17: Rep. Conor Lamb (D)
WA-3: Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R)

The remaining races are still undecided:
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The Importance of the Jan. 5
Georgia Runoff Elections

By Jim Ellis

Georgia Sen. David Perdue (R)

Nov. 6, 2020 — With results changing as votes are continually being counted for the close Georgia presidential and senatorial races, it appears that we will see two Jan. 5 US Senate runoff elections in the Peach State, which will ultimately decide the body’s next majority.

At this writing, with an approximate 98 percent of votes counted, Sen. David Perdue (R), who will finish first, is 6,810 votes short of the majority mark. Georgia is one of two states where a candidate must receive 50 percent of the general election vote to win. The presence of Independent Shane Hazel capturing 2.3 percent helps deny Sen. Perdue a majority victory; hence, a second election is necessitated under Georgia election law.

Assuming that Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) wins his Alaska race – he’s ahead 62-32 percent with 50% of the vote reported – and incumbent Thom Tillis is officially re-elected in North Carolina, the Republicans will have 50 guaranteed members.

At this point, according to North Carolina officials, a number between 116-117,000 is the total universe of potential uncounted votes. This is the number of absentee ballots that were sent to voters who requested them but have yet to be returned. The only way they will be counted is if they entered the mail stream by Nov. 3 and are received before close of business on Nov. 12. Additionally, within this universe, Republican voters requested approximately one-third of the ballots.

With Sen. Tillis ahead by 96,688 votes according to the Fox News count, the mathematics suggest the Democrats have almost no chance of overcoming the lead especially when further considering that a significant percentage of those voters won’t even return the ballots.

To underscore the Democrats’ North Carolina dilemma, party nominee Cal Cunningham would have to receive 96,689 votes of this universe of just over 116,500 individuals, or 83 percent of the aggregate if everyone returns their ballots. If only 83 percent of those requesting the ballots have already mailed them to their respective county election center, for example, Cunningham would literally need to receive every vote. Therefore, this Senate race is a virtual lock for Sen. Tillis and the GOP.

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