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Just Lines – a podcast about redistricting!

November 10th, 2018, 1:32am by Sam Wang


Nancy Palus, a freelance journalist with an impressive record covering democracy in developing countries, has decided to focus on elections in the United States. The result is Just Lines, a podcast with some pretty good guests so far – Katie Fahey of Voters Not Politicians, and redistricting guru Justin Levitt.

I joined her before Proposal 2 passed in her home state, Michigan. We got into many topics, including my thoughts about our second Gilded Age. It was a good episode – take a listen.

Transcript is here. A good excerpt after the jump: [Read more →]

→ 2 CommentsTags: Redistricting

Politics & Polls #114 – Valerie Jarrett

November 8th, 2018, 11:42pm by Sam Wang


Julian Zelizer and I talked with Valerie Jarrett the day after the election. Jarrett was President Barack Obama’s longest-serving policy adviser. She gave her take on political races in Texas, Georgia, and Florida. She also talked about what it was like to do a cameo on The Good Wife, and what it takes to succeed as a woman in a male-dominated office environment. It was a good interview! Listen to the new Politics & Polls.

Comments Off on Politics & Polls #114 – Valerie JarrettTags: 2018 Election

Electoral maps based on 2018 results

November 7th, 2018, 12:28pm by Sam Wang


(revised Friday November 9th to correct an error in Maine Senate)

The election turned out approximately as expected from advance information, a narrowly-Democratic House and a Republican Senate. I thought it might be good to look at the results from the perspective of 2020. [Read more →]

→ 11 CommentsTags: 2018 Election · House · Senate

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project is hiring!

November 7th, 2018, 8:25am by Sam Wang


I think there are lots of data/politics people who might have a little more free time as of today. So…

Do you love democracy? Are you a data person? Hate gerrymandering? Want to help level the playing field for all citizens? The Princeton Gerrymandering Project needs you!

We are planning OpenPrecincts, a project to provide open precinct geography, voting data, and redistricting software to all citizens. We aim to provide the first-ever free, comprehensive resource for state and local redistricting. Our project, in conjunction with quantitative efforts by several groups around the country, will level the playing field for the post-2020 redistricting cycle.

We’re looking for two people: a Product Developer for OpenPrecincts, and a National Coordinator to take the effort to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. [Read more →]

Comments Off on The Princeton Gerrymandering Project is hiring!Tags: Princeton · Redistricting

Following the returns, 2018

November 6th, 2018, 7:53pm by Sam Wang


Tonight’s liveblogging:

1:52am: The gubernatorial races in Wisconsin and Georgia are unresolved. However, I am done for the evening. Good night, all! [Read more →]

→ 12 CommentsTags: 2018 Election · House

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