Princeton Election Consortium

A first draft of electoral history. Since 2004

A wave election…or a ripple?

August 19th, 2014, 2:00pm by Sam Wang

The chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee is confident that this November he expects a wave election. Is this true…or political trash talk? I weigh in at The New Yorker. It’s my first piece for them. Check it out!

→ 11 CommentsTags: 2014 Election · House · Politics · Senate

Why you’re wrong to get excited about “60%”

August 4th, 2014, 2:35pm by Sam Wang

Some people are excited (positively or negatively) about Nate Silver’s column today giving a probability of a GOP takeover at 60%. To cut to the chase: I do not think that number means what you think it does. [Read more →]

→ 32 CommentsTags: 2014 Election · Senate

And then there were…four?

July 30th, 2014, 4:33pm by Sam Wang

Of the 36 Senate seats up for election, up to nine of them have been worth watching closely. These races will determine who controls the Senate. Over the last month a few seem to have dropped out of consideration. Now, with a new burst of polling, the playing field – at least for now – includes as few as four races. These races, plus a few others, will be crushed by attention.

The new polls, from YouGov/NYT and other organizations, confirm what I’ve said and hinted at: Georgia might be moving out of the competitive range (toward the GOP), and maybe Alaska too (toward the Democrats). That would leave four competitive Senate races. In an election held today, there is an 85% probability that each side would have between 49 and 51 votes; much of that probability is concentrated in a perfect 50-50 split.

Only four races - Kentucky, Iowa, Louisiana, and Colorado – have no clear leader at the moment. If we assign all the other races, that gives 48 Democrats/Independents and 48 Republicans.

Here is where key races stand today. Note the return of Jerseyvotes, which I’ll explain in a moment.

State Median margin Jerseyvotes
Kentucky McConnell +2.0±1.3% 100
Iowa Tie 69
Louisiana Tie 55
Alaska Begich +5.0±6.0% 52
Arkansas Cotton +4.0±1.3% 41
Colorado Udall +1.0±1.8% 28
Montana Daines +7.0±0.7% 1.2
Georgia Perdue +6.0±2.0% 0.8
Michigan Peters +5.5±0.9% 0.4
North Carolina Hagan +7.0±2.7% <0.1

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→ 22 CommentsTags: 2014 Election · Senate

With Perdue in, Nunn now an underdog (GA-Sen)

July 23rd, 2014, 11:08am by Sam Wang

Nate Cohn chose today to drop his story on how demographic trends bring Georgia surprisingly within reach for Democrats. I guess that is true, but the timing is funny. The race was close to begin with, and then yesterday’s primary was a boost for the GOP. In my view, that is the real story.

Like many, I expected Rep. Jack Kingston to be the Republican nominee in the Georgia Senate race. But businessman David Perdue bested him by about 1 percentage point. This was a substantial miss for polls, which showed a median 5.5-point lead for Kingston. However, that is par for the course for primary-season polls (dissected here). It is hard to predict which partisans will turn out.

However, general-election polls are more reliable in the aggregate. What they tell us is that the Democratic candidate, Michelle Nunn, probably got the toughest opponent possible for November. Out of six survey organizations who polled Georgia in 2014, only one gave Kingston a lead over Nunn (median margin, Nunn +2.0±2.9%). In contrast, three out of six gave a lead to Perdue over Nunn (median margin, Perdue +1.5±2.9%). That means Perdue is a stronger candidate, by 3.5% in the general election. (Note that there is a small chance, 1 in 10, that actually Kingston is stronger.)

To back up a bit, Nunn’s chances in November are still not that bad. Perdue, despite being cousin to a two-term governor, is himself new to running for office. He could make another misstep, like denigrating people who “just” went to high school. But all the same, voters coalesce around their nominee after the primary season. In the coming weeks, we should expect movement toward Perdue. At this point I would call Nunn the underdog, by a small margin.

This season, the Republican party has mostly picked their strongest Senate candidates during the primary season: Mississippi (Senator Thad Cochran over Tea Partyite Chris McDaniel) and Alaska (Dan Sullivan over Mead Treadwell). Georgia adds to that list. The one misstep has been Iowa, where Mark Jacobs probably would have been a better choice than Joni Ernst, who subscribes to fringe ideas like the threat of United Nations Agenda 21. Tea Party-like Republicans aren’t a major factor in the 2014 Senate campaign. However, they are keeping the GOP in line, both in agenda and tone. This is more apparent in the House, where they continue to go after – and win – nominations in heavily Republican districts. Whatever happens in November, we will have pretty much the same Republican party next year.

→ 20 CommentsTags: 2014 Election · Senate

Just how close is the 2014 Senate race?

July 18th, 2014, 4:06pm by Sam Wang

In my last update, some of you commented that the 2014 Senate race had swung by a lot since May. That is not true! I think perceptions were colored by my emphasis on the snapshot probability. Today, let me take a different tack.

This year, control of the Senate will be closely fought. At the moment, the 2014 Senate race is as close as the 2004 Presidential race (Kerry v. Bush). In an election held today, Democrats/Independents would probably win 48, 49, or 50 seats. There are large distinctions between these outcomes!

We’re building the data pipeline. We’ve now hard-coded our rule for collecting polls (I’ll describe the rule in comments). This allows us to plot how the daily Senate snapshot has evolved. Changes have been quite subtle:

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→ 19 CommentsTags: 2004 Election · 2014 Election · President · Senate

Senate control: Three factors to watch in 2014

July 14th, 2014, 4:22pm by Sam Wang

Here (in beta-test version) is the Senate polling snapshot for this year so far.

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→ 21 CommentsTags: 2014 Election · Senate

Beta test: Senate snapshot 12 July 2014

July 12th, 2014, 10:06am by Sam Wang

Greetings, everyone. This is for hardcore readers. I’m going to dispense with bells and whistles. We’re building things, so I’m not very chatty! I just thought I’d show you where things are at. Bottom line, Democrats have a 55% chance of control in an election held today. That is as close to a toss-up as it gets. The median result is 50 D/I seats, 50 R seats. [Read more →]

→ 9 CommentsTags: 2014 Election · Senate

The Dog That Didn’t Bark (AR-Sen)

July 10th, 2014, 11:39pm by Sam Wang

Today, the NYT’s Nate Cohn speculates about the problem of low-quality polls in Senate races. It’s an interesting piece with lots for poll junkies. However, I am compelled to offer several gentle corrections. My bottom line: polls are better than he implies, especially when they are aggregated properly. And Senator Pryor (D-AR) is probably a little underwater at the moment. Oh, and Democrats aren’t as hosed as you might think.

First, how have Senate polls done in the last two cycles? [Read more →]

→ 7 CommentsTags: 2012 Election · 2014 Election

Race and mental traits: Nicholas Wade’s third error

July 8th, 2014, 11:41pm by Sam Wang

An octogenarian once invited me to his old, exclusive East Coast club to give a talk about neuroscience, my area of specialty. Afterwards, as we walked past oil portraits of old white men across the centuries, the octogenarian pulled me aside, lowered his voice and asked, “I was wondering if you could explain something. What is it about the brains of Chinese and Jews? They seem superior.” Evidently, as a member of one of those tribes (the former), he thought I might know the answer. [Read more →]

→ 27 CommentsTags: Health · Politics

High-leverage races for 2014

June 28th, 2014, 2:56pm by Sam Wang

This year, the big political question is who will control the Senate in 2015. I’ve analyzed this briefly and will continue to do so in the coming months. As of the end of June, it’s looking like Democrats/Independents (who vote together) and Republicans are likely to win 47 seats each. The remaining six races are currently on the knife’s edge, and will determine control. They are: Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, and Louisiana.

If you want to make the most of your donation, give to your side’s candidates in those six races. As I’ve written in past elections, donations are most effective at the margins. In close races, donations are most likely to move the win probability. In addition, as national politics has become oriented around parties rather than individuals, it is control of the chamber that matters, rather than specific individuals.

Note that this advice is the same whether you support Democrats or Republicans. For your convenience, I have provided links at the left to ActBlue (Democrats) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (Republicans). The first link will be updated if conditions shift between now and November.

→ 19 CommentsTags: 2014 Election