Princeton Election Consortium

A first draft of electoral history. Since 2004

Meta-Margins for control: House D+1.0% Senate R+4.2% Find key elections near you!

What you’re voting for today

November 6th, 2018, 8:22am by Sam Wang



You’re voting, right? Check your poll location and closing time. And you donated [PEC’s high-leverage picks] [NRSC]. And now, on Election Day, three cheers to those of you who are getting out the vote. Good luck – your country needs you!

In addition to the House (final snapshot here) and Senate (final snapshot here, post-Kavanaugh bounce), you’re voting for a ton of other races and questions, including:

Taniel has a full rundown – also click above for Lucas’s interactive map.

To quote a letter-writer to the NYT:

What sets democracy apart from every other form of government is the input of ordinary citizens into their country’s future. While the period in between elections remains owned, perhaps, by the rich or otherwise powerful, it is on Election Day that the largely powerless have their say.

Now go say something!

→ 1 CommentTags: 2018 Election · House · Senate · U.S. Institutions

In late Senate polls, a small signal – or noise?

November 5th, 2018, 8:56pm by Sam Wang


I assume you’ve all been getting out the vote. And donating to one of the organizations in the left sidebar. Maybe you’ve even voted already! OK, now let us take stock of late-breaking developments, which are a little unexpected.

All season I’ve thought that Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) wouldn’t come close to unseating Senator Ted Cruz (R). But the last week of surveys (end dates 10/29 or later, median of n=4 pollsters) show Cruz ahead by only 3.5 +/- 3.1%. That gives me pause.

The 3.1% uncertainty includes 3 points of systematic error by pollsters, based on past midterm elections. That’s a 3.5/3.1 = 1.1 sigma lead, which converts to odds of about 4-1 for Cruz. This is not a slam dunk. I think reports of Beto’s electoral demise are premature. I don’t know who will win, but it could be close.

And the other races? Here’s the last week of surveys (end dates 10/29 or later). Except for Tester, there’s a small but noticeable movement toward Team Blue. It looks like the Kavanaugh bounce has mostly ended.

There are five races within 1 sigma: Indiana, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, and Missouri. All except for Missouri show a slight lead for the Democratic candidate…but with individual win probabilities in the 0.2-0.8 range for either party.

The Meta-Margin is R+4.2%, i.e. overperformance by that much make control a perfect toss-up. Lucas Manning (PEC webmaster) and I will use this data to make a final update to the history tracker.

The systematic (i.e. correlated) error will be known after the election. In the Senate, it usually falls in the direction of Presidential (un)popularity. Democrats could well win all five races, including Missouri (or they could lose all five). If the former happens, that gets Democrats+Independents to 50 seats. In the other direction, an error favoring the President’s party is less likely but would lead to 45 D+I seats.

Of course, Democrats could also fall short. Easy to see that happening, especially in Montana, Missouri, and maybe Indiana. Now we know what Senate races to watch most closely!

And, to state the obvious: if all the close races were to fall the Democrats’ way, the Texas race would become very important indeed.

→ 6 CommentsTags: 2018 Election · Senate

House Outlook: Streams Converge

November 5th, 2018, 2:00pm by Sam Wang


As has been the case for months, Democrats are still favored to win the House. But measured in terms of national popular vote, they are only 2 or 3 percentage points above threshold to do so. That’s pretty close…and all of them touch the threshold for control by either side.

What makes everyone think the House will go Democratic? Let me list three streams of evidence. They all point the same way, but none are definitive. The streams are based on (1) polls, (2) real results from special elections, and (3) district-by-district analysis. [Read more →]

→ 6 CommentsTags: 2018 Election · House

Final fundraising

November 4th, 2018, 6:28pm by Sam Wang


A few key races are now outside the critical knife-edge range: Wisconsin governor and a Florida House race. For Democrats, those have been dropped from the ActBlue at left. That list focuses on close Senate and House races where the impact of donations is largest. For Republicans, the NRSC will have a clear idea of where resources ought to go – probably many of the same Senate races.

→ 2 CommentsTags: 2018 Election

Two Futures: 45 or 50 Democratic Senate seats…but not in between?

November 4th, 2018, 4:00pm by Sam Wang


Four years ago, I pointed out that close Senate races all tend to fall in the direction of one party or the other. Since then, the idea has stood up pretty well. It implies two very different possible futures. There are a few races I will be watching on Tuesday to figure out which is ours.

The overall pattern above is consistent with two ideas: (1) Polling misses a bit of enthusiasm for the winning side in Presidential election years. (2) Polls also don’t catch energy that goes against the President’s party in midterm years.

The chart shows the range of possibilities in races where the polls showed the race within 3 percentage points. 2014 fits the pattern, 2016 less so. [Read more →]

→ 6 CommentsTags: 2004 Election · 2006 Elections · 2008 Election · 2012 Election · 2014 Election · 2016 Election · 2018 Election · Senate

Why You Should Vote: Red States, Blue Priorities

November 4th, 2018, 9:42am by Sam Wang



(Written in collaboration with Owen Engel ’21.)

Progressive policies are more popular than progressive candidates. Red-state candidates who advocate for increases in the minimum wage and Medicaid expansion lose to opponents, who tar them as liberals. Yet surveys show large bipartisan majorities in favor of these same policies. This is a testament to how well it works for Republicans to make politics about candidates rather than issues.

In six states across the country, voters get to focus just on the policies. This is part of the federalist playbook that progressives and moderates are now using to move their issues forward. [Read more →]

→ Post a commentTags: 2018 Election · Health · House · Senate

Why Your Vote Matters: Michigan

November 3rd, 2018, 5:00pm by Sam Wang



Whether you are progressive, conservative, or independent, there are many reasons to vote in the Wolverine State. I’ve written about the redistricting reform there, Proposal 2, which may level the playing field there for citizens and both parties permanently.

But wait, there are many more reasons! The net effect will alter the face of democracy in Michigan in a far deeper way than most people appreciate. [Read more →]

→ Post a commentTags: 2018 Election · House · Politics · Redistricting

Making the last push in 2018

November 3rd, 2018, 1:09pm by Sam Wang


For neuroscientists, Election Day is a middling priority when planning conferences. Today starts the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego. It’s an incredible outpouring of science and creative effort from close to 30,000 people – most of whom will be far from home. I hope at least they voted! That is the minimal duty of a citizen in an election, especially one that is so pivotal for the health of our democracy.

If you’re helping with the final push for your preferred side, you can find places to help with our competitive district finder. And wondering what state candidates and ballot questions deserve your attention? Here’s the PEC Guide To Key Elections.

If by chance you are in far southern California and not a neuroscientist, there are some closely contested districts: [Read more →]

→ Post a commentTags: 2018 Election · House

When The (Gerrymandered) Levee Breaks: North Carolina and Michigan

November 3rd, 2018, 1:01am by Sam Wang


Back in 2013, I wrote about the hidden vulnerability when a party engineers winning districts for itself. This idea is in full force for 2018.

Gerrymandered wins may swing back hard, because they often have a mix of Democratic, Republican, and most important, independent (and maybe swingable) voters. This would explain some surprisingly close races in North Carolina and Michigan.

To quantify this, let’s look at GOP-held districts in 3 gerrymandered states: [Read more →]

→ 1 CommentTags: 2018 Election · House

Senate outlook: 45-50 Democratic/Independent seats (median=47)

November 2nd, 2018, 10:47am by Sam Wang


If systematic polling error is no larger than past midterm elections (median of 3 percentage points, as high as 5 points), control of the Senate appears to be a difficult lift for the Democrats. The polling error would have to be at least 5.0 points (that’s how the Meta-Margin is defined).

They have a much better shot at achieving a 50-50 tie: in that case, the error only has to be 2 percentage points. More on that below – but first, the aggregated data in all its glory.
[Read more →]

→ 9 CommentsTags: 2018 Election · Senate