Princeton Election Consortium

A first draft of electoral history. Since 2004

Politics & Polls #17: All The Way

October 26th, 2016, 8:57pm by Sam Wang

We took a break from the current political season to talk with Robert Schenkkan, who wrote the play “All The Way.” It’s the story of President Lyndon Johnson and his monumental effort in his first year in office to get the Civil Rights Act passed. This event fascinates me because of its importance for equality in the United States, and because it triggered the single greatest political realignment in modern history. The 2016 campaign grew out of the tensions of 1964.

Schenkkan wrote a great play that got turned into a movie. He stayed pretty close to the historical events, and managed to make a discharge petition sound exciting. Honest, it’s true. This thing is as realistic than any political drama I know of, up there with All The President’s Men and Veep. Julian Zelizer and I had fun talking with him in this special episode of Politics & Polls.

→ 4 CommentsTags: 2016 Election · Politics

Florida Man Starts To Flag

October 25th, 2016, 10:33pm by Sam Wang

Last week I suggested that Senate polls might move toward Democrats, as part of their general pattern of following Presidential-race ups and downs. The Senate Meta-Margin has indeed ticked in that direction, driven by small movements toward Democratic candidates in Nevada, New Hampshire – and Florida?? [Read more →]

→ 58 CommentsTags: 2016 Election · House · President · Senate

Service notice (RESOLVED)

October 24th, 2016, 9:07pm by Sam Wang

I’ve been lying low. It’s a busy time here at Princeton: undergraduate advising, graduate teaching, and it’s midterms week! I figured since the Presidential race is basically over, the urgency of posting was reduced. Also, I’m working on a newspaper piece. Anyway, I will be back soon with more bloggy goodness.

For now, please ignore the Presidential calculations. The Huffington Post is using a new format for many-state poll drops from UPI/CVOTER and Ipsos/Reuters. This has gummed us up. No, Trump is not ahead in Colorado; that state is actually Clinton +5%. This artificially affects the EV count and Meta-Margin, though the win probability is still 99% since Clinton does not need Colorado. We’re working on fixing it.

10:04pm: A temporary fix is in place. The displayed calculations are correct.

1:14am: Walker Davis, PEC developer and troubleshooter, has fixed things now. All state polls from UPI and Ipsos are now going to the right place.

→ 54 CommentsTags: Site News

Politics & Polls #16: The Real Rigged Voting

October 20th, 2016, 11:20am by Sam Wang

Donald Trump has made it clear that if he loses on Nov. 8, it is because the election was “rigged.” He has warned that there might be widespread voter fraud that will favor Democrats. But does this threat have any basis in reality? Or is the real threat new voter identification laws that have the potential to disenfranchise significant portions of the population? Where did these restrictions come from? Julian Zelizer discusses these questions in episode 16 of Politics & Polls with special guest Ari Berman, a senior contributing writer for The Nation magazine. Listen!

P.S. I’m not on this one – scheduling conflict. Julian and I will be together for the next one, in which we talk about the religious right with our colleague Kevin Kruse.

→ 86 CommentsTags: Princeton

It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue: Debate #3

October 19th, 2016, 8:02pm by Sam Wang

If you don’t believe me…yesterday, PaddyPower paid out its Clinton-to-win bets.

→ 89 CommentsTags: 2016 Election · President

The Virtues of the L.A. Times Poll

October 19th, 2016, 9:07am by Sam Wang

Yesterday I visited a journalism class. The question arose of how to interpret the L.A. Times/Dornsife/USC poll, which has been unusually favorable to Donald Trump. I said that polls should be treated the way reporters treat other sources of information: get confirmation from a second source. In the case of polls, find two other sources and take the median. The reason is that a polling result is not a pure number descended from heaven; it reflect the professional judgment of one pollster…and such judgments can vary.

Because the Dornsife/USC poll is an outlier compared to other surveys, its other impressive qualities are often overlooked. Let me get into those a little bit. [Read more →]

→ 54 CommentsTags: 2016 Election · President

Synch And Swim: Quantifying The Coattail Effect

October 18th, 2016, 9:00am by Sam Wang

With three weeks to go to the election, Hillary Clinton is headed for an electoral victory comparable to President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 wins. In national polls, Donald Trump’s support is where it has been all year, around 40-42% of voters. If Clinton’s lead increases, the added support will probably come from “undecided” and minor-party voters. Meanwhile, Trump is focusing entirely on core supporters, who tolerate or endorse white nationalism and racially-driven sentiment. His supporters are committed Republicans – but they are considerably outnumbered by other voters.

At their July convention, Clinton, Obama, and other Democrats said that good Republicans can vote for Clinton and still remain good Republicans. This approach implicitly says that voters are free to split their tickets for Clinton and for downticket Republicans.

Despite this permission slip from Democrats, partisan loyalty appears to be as strong as ever. And the fortunes of a Clinton Presidency appear to be highly dependent on that loyalty. That loyalty allows us to estimate that a Clinton win by more than 3% would probably be associated with Democratic control of the Senate. And a Clinton win by more than 8% would favor a Democratic House. Currently, the optimal way to help/hurt Clinton is in Senate races. [Read more →]

→ 60 CommentsTags: 2016 Election · House · Senate

The Polarization Hypothesis Passes The “Access Hollywood” Test

October 17th, 2016, 2:03pm by Sam Wang

Polarization is so strong that other than Debate #1, which moved opinion by about four percentage points, it is looking like no existing story line can alter the trajectory of the Clinton-versus-Trump race. The primary exhibit is national polls, which have not yet shown any measurable aftermath from the Access Hollywood video or Debate #2: [Read more →]

→ 47 CommentsTags: 2008 Election · 2012 Election · 2016 Election · House · President · Senate

David Daley and Sam Wang on gerrymandering

October 15th, 2016, 10:00am by Sam Wang

A web app for implementing Sam Wang's statistical standards for gerrymanderingLast night, David Daley and I appeared at our local bookstore, Labyrinth, to talk about gerrymandering: its effects on democracy, how technology has made it worse, and what can be done to prevent it. It’s is the subject of his new book, Ratf**ked. Thanks to Labyrinth Books and to Princeton Public Lectures, the discussion is archived for your viewing pleasure! Watch on Vimeo.

In the discussion, we talked about the role of math in diagnosing partisan gerrymanders. I have developed simple statistical tools to help provide a legal standard. These standards are available for your use at

→ 16 CommentsTags: Princeton · Redistricting

Senate Polls Meandering Toward Presidential Race

October 14th, 2016, 9:27am by Sam Wang

The last significant movement in the Presidential race occurred after the first debate. Here are national polls, unraveled day-by-day:

I calculated this for each date by taking the median of all polls that were surveying voters on each particular day. Then I smoothed it with a 3-day rolling median. It’s not perfect, but it does reveal that after the first debate Hillary Clinton gained 4 percentage points on Donald Trump. The smaller bumps are probably noise.

Oddly, the Access Hollywood video and ensuing sexual-assault scandal for Trump have not had a consequential effect yet on the Presidential race. To my thinking, the more important question is whether it will enhance the Democrats’ ability to tie Trump to downticket races.

There’s a story going around that Senate races are flat or trending Republican, even as the Presidential race is moving toward Clinton. Although it is true that several races have recently become competitive, the overall picture shows a fair amount of similarity. See the PEC aggregated-polling snapshots: [Read more →]

→ 50 CommentsTags: 2016 Election · President · Senate