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February 15th, 2020, 12:47am by Sam Wang

A reader asked the following question in comments:

Let’s get right to it (aka the $64K question): Who has the BEST chance to beat Trump? Your personal opinion and/or statistically.

The answer is that as far as I can tell, basically it doesn’t matter. [Read more →]

→ 10 CommentsTags: 2020 Election · President

As bills switch chambers, a close vote for redistricting reform in Virginia

February 12th, 2020, 11:06am by Aaron Barden

On Tuesday, both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly were hectically busy as they raced to pass legislation before the “crossover” deadline, by which bills must switch from one chamber to the other. Only a few redistricting form bills are left standing after crossover, but two paths remain: the constitutional amendment (HJ71/SJ18) and its enabling legislation (HB758/SB203), and the alternate statutory commission bill (HB1256) with an accompanying fairness-criteria bill (HB1255/SB717). Both of these paths contain fairness criteria, including doing away with prison gerrymandering. These paths remain open as the bills move from one chamber to the next.

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Comments Off on As bills switch chambers, a close vote for redistricting reform in VirginiaTags: Redistricting

Sanders v. Buttigieg?

February 11th, 2020, 8:55pm by Sam Wang

The New Hampshire primary is coming in as expected from last week’s polls. Like I said Saturday, past patterns suggest that the most likely nominee will be Sanders or Buttigieg.

Based on the fact that the past pattern has only been observed across 9 nomination races, the probability of an exception might be around 1 in 10. (It reminds me of what Laplace said about the probability of the sun rising tomorrow – depends on how many times we’ve seen it before. Though in the case of sunrise, there are major logical problems.)

Regarding Bloomberg and Klobuchar: Those are probably transient surges. Recall the life cycle of minor candidates. They rise, they get scrutiny, stories come out, and then they fall again. The whole cycle takes two months.

Bloomberg is due to peak about now. If he can keep up his rise, we’ll find out in the next 1-2 weeks. If New Hampshire is good for Klobuchar, we’ll find that out too.

→ 3 CommentsTags: 2020 Election · President

Moneyball politics: Florida (Part II)

February 9th, 2020, 8:36am by Sam Wang

A few days ago, I wrote about how focused effort in a handful of Florida state legislative districts could lead to outsized consequences lasting for the next decade. Here are those districts – and ways to focus on them. [Read more →]

→ 1 CommentTags: 2020 Election · House

Did Iowa turn Biden and Warren into longshots?

February 8th, 2020, 3:09pm by Sam Wang

Last week I pointed out three past criteria that have described the eventual nominee of either party. With the New Hampshire primary just three days away, current polls make it look like two people meet all the criteria: Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg.

After the fuss over difficult tabulation in the Iowa caucus, there was some question of whether it would affect the dynamics of this year’s Democratic nomination. If not, all that fried-butter-eating, or whatever it is that candidates do, would go to waste.

Now we can see the net effect, which is to make Joe Biden’s odds substantially longer. [Read more →]

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Virginia is for reform lovers: the committees (mostly) wrap up

February 7th, 2020, 7:45pm by Aaron Barden

This morning, the full House Privileges & Elections Committee voted to send three redistricting bills to the House floor, leaving open the two paths to reform we mentioned yesterday. These bills, as well as their Senate counterparts, will be voted on in their respective chambers next week. That means the committee process for reform is done, aside from the House’s consideration of the constitutional amendment. What a week for reform! [Read more →]

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Two paths, one bipartisan, emerge for redistricting reform in Virginia

February 7th, 2020, 12:05am by Aaron Barden

Redistricting reform proposals in Virginia are starting to get sorted out. A number of bills have died. What’s left is a choice between two paths: (A) a constitutional amendment with an accompanying bill, which together create an independent commission with constraints to ensure fairness; or (B) pass a regular law to create an advisory commission, leaving final approval of redistricting plans with the General Assembly.

In our Citizens’ Guide to Redistricting Reform in Virginia, we explain how path A can be an effective reform. In our evaluation, path B lacks a central feature of strong reform: shifting final authority away from the General Assembly.

Anyway, here’s what happened today. [

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Moneyball politics: Florida

February 6th, 2020, 4:51am by Sam Wang

I’m in Florida at an event with Katie Fahey, founder of Voters Not Politicians! Naturally we got to talking about redistricting reform.

Here at PEC, we’ve always been looking for ways to maximize the effectiveness of people’s donations and time. That means finding interventions that move probabilities the most, while costing the least. Usually, these are races and questions that are on a knife edge.

This year is a little different because the stakes are higher: Redistricting happens in 2021, which sets the maps for the next ten years. [Read more →]

→ 4 CommentsTags: 2020 Election · House · Politics · Redistricting

Newly in charge, Virginia Democrats still support redistricting reform

February 4th, 2020, 8:25pm by Aaron Barden

Hi! I’m Aaron Barden, legal analyst for the Princeton Gerrymandering Project. I’m in Richmond following the redistricting legislation. Democrats are newly in charge of the General Assembly – and they’re still in favor of reform. Today I witnessed bipartisan action to strengthen and improve the redistricting amendment – real progress!

First, a basic review. [

Comments Off on Newly in charge, Virginia Democrats still support redistricting reformTags: 2020 Election · Redistricting

How predictive is the Iowa caucus? 2020 edition

February 3rd, 2020, 11:10am by Sam Wang

(Update, Tuesday February 4th 7:45pm: With Iowa returns finally becoming available, it looks like the top four are the same as what I wrote about below. So this post can be read exactly the same – no modification necessary!)

(Pardon the mess – we’re under construction. 2020 content coming soon!)

National surveys and the Iowa caucus aren’t that predictive of a close Presidential nomination race. But the Iowa caucus does drive coverage in the days before the New Hampshire primary, where either the #1 or #2 finisher has gotten the nomination every time over the last 20 years.

Based on analysis of past data – national, Iowa, and New Hampshire – it appears that the nominee will be Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren (and maybe Pete Buttigieg.) That’s the case almost no matter what happens in Iowa tonight, though of course Warren has the most to gain or lose. 

And unless past patterns from 2000-2016 get upended, other candidates seem to be out of the money. They may, however, have substantial influence which of those three people the nominee is. [Read more →]

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