Princeton Election Consortium

Innovations in democracy since 2004

Sep 19: Biden 352 EV (D+5.3% from toss-up), Senate 52 D, 48 R (D+3.2%), House control D+2.0%
Moneyball states: President NV AZ PA, Senate MT KS AK, Legislatures KS TX NC

Two Days With R.B.G.

September 18th, 2020, 10:36pm by Sam Wang


In 2008 I spent two days hosting Ruth Bader Ginsburg here on campus. The experience was unforgettable. She was kind to all comers, she took questions seriously, even from some neuroscience professor, and she acted like a friend. [Read more →]

→ 3 CommentsTags: Princeton · Supreme Court

The Senate polling desert

September 16th, 2020, 8:49am by Sam Wang


Plenty of polls for the Presidency – but there’s a polling desert in all-important Senate races. How does this affect your activism? There are two places where you can hedge your efforts, either by preventing gerrymandering for a decade or by influencing the Presidential race.

[Read more →]

→ 2 CommentsTags: 2020 Election · Redistricting · Senate

On Korean radio, TBS eFM

September 15th, 2020, 7:36pm by Sam Wang


I was just interviewed on morning news radio in Korea, 101.3 FM. We talked about whether to trust opinion polls, how long the count may take on Election Night, and hallmarks of authoritarianism in the current Administration. A lot for a short interview.

Listen on iTunes or their podcast platform!

→ Post a commentTags: 2020 Election · President

The cognitive science of getting out the vote

September 15th, 2020, 10:00am by Sam Wang


There’s been a fair bit of research on how to optimize appeals to get people to go vote. But what about optimizing the effort of the people who do the volunteer work of turning them out?

I received the following mail:

I’m finding that there are so many campaigns to help that I feel as though I’m spreading myself thin–texting for Jaime Harrison one day, Sara Gideon another day, Bollier, Texas state candidates, some for Biden in swing states, etc. Do you have a theory of whether it’s more effective to focus on a small number of races and hit them every day vs. helping more campaigns in smaller volume?
Oh yes, I do. It applies to working for whatever candidate or party your support. Let me put on the cognitive science/neuroscience hat. [Read more →]

→ 8 CommentsTags: 2020 Election · Uncategorized

Mailing it in?

September 14th, 2020, 1:32pm by Sam Wang


This year, how long might we have to wait to find out the results to the Presidential election? The National Conference of State Legislatures has compiled laws and policies for 2020 for processing and counting absentee and mail-in ballots. By combining them with current polls, we can get an idea of what we will know on the evening of November 3, Election Night.

This is important because Trump is riling up his base with talk of not accepting the election results. He has made false claims of security risks associated with voting by mail. If close states report early counts of in-person votes with him in the lead, and that lead takes days to disappear as all the votes are counted, that could cause unrest. Could it be like Florida 2000, except more like Wisconsin/Michigan/Pennsylvania 2020? [Read more →]

→ 7 CommentsTags: 2020 Election · President

Florida Moneyball, 11th Circuit edition

September 13th, 2020, 11:07am by Sam Wang


This week the 11th Circuit issued a shocking opinion curtailing voting rights in Florida. Over half of ex-felons in Florida are now excluded from registering to vote, because first they have to pay fines, fees, and restitution – effectively, a tax on voting. In response to this, we suggest that a solution. Our Redistricting Moneyball approach shows how reformers can make the most of the next three weeks of voter registration – and maximize the leverage of those new Floridian voters for future years.

[Read more →]

→ 21 CommentsTags: 2020 Election · Moneyball · Redistricting

Boosting Princeton turnout: introducing Vote100

September 12th, 2020, 2:14pm by Zachariah Sippy


In 2014, according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, only 11% of Princeton Undergraduate students voted. This dismal turnout inspired Princeton’s Vote100 initiative, with a stated goal of encouraging a 100% turnout rate among eligible Princeton students. In 2018, the population of students voting more than quadrupled, to 50%, but it is still well short of Vote100’s participation goal.

Both Professor Sam Wang and Julian Zelizer (the co-hosts of SPIA’s Politics and Polls Podcast) serve as faculty advisors for the initiative. And this summer, more than two dozen Princeton students served as undergraduate fellows of project, working to register their peers, provide key election information (especially as so many will be voting absentee), and gin up excitement for the election this fall.

On September 15th, at 5 p.m. Eastern, Professors Wang and Zelizer will speak with two undergraduate fellows about their work. You can join the live Politics & Polls podcast event using this link. See you then!

→ 2 CommentsTags: 2020 Election · Politics · Princeton

The Authoritarian Checklist, September 2020

September 6th, 2020, 7:24am by Sam Wang


In his public abuse of Laurene Powell Jobs, Donald Trump reminds us again of the PEC Authoritarian Checklist. At this point, the Trump Administration meets all 10 criteria for authoritarianism that I laid out in 2017, before the start of the term. It was a way of laying out possibilities in advance, preventing the concepts from being redefined along the way. Each item has been reinforced over time, for example the use of federal forces to detain BLM protesters, and Trump’s defense of Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse and other white nationalists.

Whether this becomes a long-term part of our system of government is on the ballot in November.

Read more about the checklist.

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→ 8 CommentsTags: 2020 Election · President · U.S. Institutions

The mailbag

September 5th, 2020, 7:59am by Sam Wang


Some recent correspondence of interest… [Read more →]

→ 4 CommentsTags: 2020 Election

New PEC feature: 50-State Guide to 2020 Elections

September 1st, 2020, 8:00am by Zachariah Sippy


While the Presidential election is hogging most of the attention, there are literally thousands of other races on the ballot. All 435 US House of Representatives seats, and a large Senate class (35 elections) are up for grabs. These races will have a massive impact on legislation and the composition of federal courts.


Our 50-state guide to the election is designed to ensure that these downballot races are not overlooked. [Read more →]

→ 11 CommentsTags: 2020 Election · Politics · Redistricting