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!

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 →]

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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 →]

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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 →]

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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 →]

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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 →]

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Why Your Vote Matters: In the Midwest, will Republicans lose their grip on power?

November 1st, 2018, 10:43am by Sam Wang


(Written in collaboration with Owen Engel ’21.)

Six of the most important gubernatorial elections next week take place in the Midwest: Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois. In October polling, Democrats lead in all six races. In four states (Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio), Republicans are at risk of losing sole legislative+gubernatorial control of state government, and in three cases they used their power to draw extreme partisan gerrymanders. Conversely, if Republicans in Minnesota win the governorship and a key state Senate race, they will gain total control. A lot is at stake!

A Republican trifecta opens the door for policy that might not be otherwise achievable, such as abortion restrictions, repeal of gun-control regulations, and anti-LGBT legislation. Conversely, a Democratic governor can veto such legislation.

In all states but Iowa and Ohio, the governor has to sign off on the redrawing of district lines after the 2020 Census. In 2010, trifectas led to extreme partisan gerrymanders in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan – three out of eight nationally. Lawsuits can partially address gerrymandering, but are lengthy, uncertain, and leave the offense in place for one or more elections. A faster and more effective way is to district fairly in the first place.

Democrats’ leads are narrow enough that on average a Republican may win one of them. Here are the October polls: [Read more →]

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Voter rights expansion is on the ballot next week!

October 31st, 2018, 11:50am by Sam Wang


Voter-ID and voter-suppression efforts are in the news. But there is also big positive news under the radar.

Ballot initiatives across the nation would register, re-enfranchise, and re-empower millions of voters. Numerically, these effects are 8-10% of voting-age adults – they are far larger than the effects of voter-ID laws. (Unfortunately, they’re in different states.) In Nevada, Florida, and Michigan, the implications are substantial.

I write about these voter initiatives in The Atlantic. Read on!

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Early voting data

October 30th, 2018, 10:54pm by Sam Wang


TargetSmart is tabulating early voting on a state-by-state basis. Move your mouse over the little bar graphs to see 2018 vs. 2014 early-voting-to-date. Basically every key state has fairly large surges in early voting. Maybe not surprising since they were usually not key states four years ago.

But here is something more interesting: combining 42 states, Tom Bonier of TargetSmart reports which demographics have surged the most: young voters and voters of color.

Postscript: commenter ArcticStones reminds me of the thorough tabulation done by Michael McDonald of the University of Florida. It is here!

→ 2 CommentsTags: 2018 Election

Redistricting Reform Initiatives For 2018

October 30th, 2018, 12:52am by Sam Wang


Redistricting reform is on the ballot next week! Citizens of Utah, Colorado, Michigan, and Missouri will vote on initiatives that will reform redistricting in their states.

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project has analyzed all four initiatives. All have a high potential to succeed at making redistricting fairer, and not targeting political parties or minority groups to take away representation.

Unlike a court case, this approach can put specific limits on what maps are permissible. It also does so in advance, so that biased maps are never drawn in the first place. Finally, all the measures mandate a certain amount of transparency to the process. [Read more →]

→ 4 CommentsTags: 2018 Election · Redistricting

Politics & Polls: Year Of The Woman, 2018 – and North Carolina

October 28th, 2018, 7:30pm by Sam Wang


This Politics & Polls is a pre-midterms double-header, on women and on North Carolina.

This year, a record number of women candidates are running for federal office. Where did this come from, and how many of them will win? Julian Zelizer and I drill in with Prof. Danielle Thomsen of U.C. Irvine, who’s visiting Princeton for the year. And here’s a look at what this year’s new wave of women activists looks like in a formerly solid Republican bastion, California’s Orange County.

We also spoke with Barry Yeoman, who recently wrote a deeply-reported piece on the craziness of North Carolina politics. Our focus was Anita Earls, a woman who is favored to win a state Supreme Court seat. She would strengthen that court as a check on what members of both major parties are starting to see as a runaway legislature.

It’s a great episode. Give us a listen!

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