Princeton Election Consortium

A first draft of electoral history. Since 2004

Aug 03: Biden 366 EV (D+6.4% from toss-up), Senate 52 D, 48 R (D+3.9%), House control D+4.9%
Moneyball states: Senate MT KS ME, Legislatures KS TX NC

New PEC feature: Redistricting Moneyball 2020

July 30th, 2020, 7:31pm by Sam Wang

The main campaign stories in 2020 are the Presidential election and the fight for control of Congress (mostly, the U.S. Senate). But lurking beneath those high-profile questions are state legislative elections, which will set the political playing field, including Congressional districting, for the next 10 years.

State legislatures determine policies that will affect millions of Americans. In addition, this year they decide who will draw the maps of U.S. Congressional and state legislative districts after the 2020 Census. Their reach will last a decade, unlike the presidency (4 years) and Senate seats (6 years).

The Princeton Election Consortium has designed a model to identify races where voters have the most leverage to prevent partisan gerrymandering in 2021. A few hundred voters mobilized in the right districts can bring about bipartisan control of redistricting, and get fairer districts for a decade. Our findings are in the PEC Moneyball map. (Later we will add other important state races, including U.S. Senate and state ballot questions.)

Our calculations will help you direct your efforts as you decide where to get out the vote and where to donate. At a state and county level, you can take advantage of our calculations using our PEC 2020 ActBlue (for Democrats) and PEC 2020 WinRed (for Republicans).

In this post we describe the methodology used to determine redistricting voter power for state legislative elections. You can also find a more detailed version for election-math geeks here.

We followed a four-step process: [

→ 2 CommentsTags: 2020 Election · Moneyball · Politics · Redistricting

Sam on The New Abnormal with Molly Jong-Fast and Rick Wilson

August 1st, 2020, 9:19am by Sam Wang

I had a great conversation with Molly Jong-Fast and Rick Wilson on their podcast, The New Abnormal! We talked polls, elections, and Moneyball 2020. Oh, and Senator Tammy Duckworth was the other two-thirds of their show. I guess data analytics are the vegetable course? As a Southern friend of mine says, if there’s nothing green on the table it’s not a meal.

Take a listen! Stitcher, Apple, and I Heart Radio, a few of many places.

→ 1 CommentTags: 2020 Election · Moneyball · Politics · President · Redistricting · Senate

Moneyball politics: Florida (Part III)

July 27th, 2020, 8:19pm by Zachariah Sippy

On Friday, former Miami Heat superstar LeBron James and his newly formed voting rights organization, More Than A Vote, announced a partnership with the Florida Rights Restoration Commission (FRRC). This $100,000 campaign is part of FRRC’s larger effort to ensure that formerly incarcerated individuals will be able to vote this November.

But it’s a drop in the bucket. Over 1 million people are potentially re-enfranchised. Given the legislature-imposed requirement to make them pay their fines and fees before they can register, re-enfranchising all of them a costly business. LeBron and friends have a big job.

Where to start? One way is to do it in a way that makes legislators sit up and take notice – and maybe even get a legislature that will repeal the modern-day poll tax. Focusing voter registration in closely-fought districts reaches the same number of voters – and opens a path to making it easier for all of them in the future. Indeed, if the Florida House goes Democratic, both parties get a seat at the table, districts become fairer when they’re redrawn in 2021 – and the fines-and-fees provision has a faint chance of being repealed. (See our previous posts here and here.)

We can figure out exactly where to make donations to FRRC (giving link here) 10 times as effective – using the Princeton Election Consortium’s Moneyball approach. [Read more →]

→ 2 CommentsTags: 2020 Election · Moneyball · Redistricting · Supreme Court

Representable: Helping Voters Talk To Redistricters

July 22nd, 2020, 11:41am by Sam Wang

Redistricting starts next year, once the (delayed) Census results are finalized. 26 states require that the new districts accurately reflect “communities of interest” – groups of people have similar civic interests. But currently no universal mechanism exists to discern who the communities of interest are, or where they are located. Until now! [Read more →]

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Will N.J. legislators leave Latino and Asian growth uncounted until 2023?

July 20th, 2020, 12:07am by Sam Wang

Hispanic and Asian growth 2010-2018 - click for larger image
(Maps show percentage-of-total-population increase; click to enlarge)

A proposed amendment to the New Jersey constitution, Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 188, is under consideration by the state legislature. At the Princeton Gerrymandering Project we find that its likely effects are opposite to those intended by its supporters. It has the potential to delay representation for Latinos and Asians in 2021. In decades after that, it will give away New Jersey’s power to future Presidents, whether Democratic or Republican.

Since the 2010 census, Latino and Asian populations in New Jersey have increased by 410,000 (see map and our statement). Based on how they are distributed, we estimate that three new districts could be drawn to give either of those two groups, or coalitions that combine them and Black voters, the opportunity to elect legislators of their choice*.

Normally, this would happen in 2021. But if ACR188 becomes law, those changes might not be realized until three years after the Census, in 2023.

According to the American Community Survey (a Census Bureau product), Asian and Latino growth is almost twice as large as the total statewide population growth of 223,000. Most of the Asian/Latino growth, around 300,000 people, has occurred in a cluster of 7 northern counties (Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Passaic, Somerset, and Union). Asian and Latino growth is part of a broader story of a population shift from southern to northern New Jersey.

ACR188 states that if Census data is delivered after February 15, legislative redistricting will be delayed. The risk of a delay is real: at this point, it is known that Census counts will be delayed by months. Proponents of ACR188 have expressed concern about a possible undercount. However, a delay effectively leaves any growing community uncounted (i.e. because they are not reflected in new district lines, they may as well not have been counted). In general, underrepresentation from bad districting has larger effects than even the worst undercount. Even if a correction did occur, there is no way to restore those three opportunity-to-elect districts for 2021.

It is certainly true that an undercount can be damaging to the citizens of New Jersey, but that damage comes outside the domain of redistricting. For example, federal housing support is given on a per-capita basis. ACR188 doesn’t address that problem.

The amendment’s problems continue past 2021. A February 15th deadline is quite early; the federal government missed this date as recently as 2001. A future President could exert control over when New Jersey redistricts by simply holding back Census data until February 16th. Such a delay is well within a President’s authority, since the statutory deadline for sending data is April 1. ACR188 assigns some control over the timing of future redistricting to whomever is President at that time.

Unfortunately, we’re at a late stage of the process, there is no time left to modify ACR188. A simple approach would be to let it fail. Without it, the redistricting commission could receive data as late as July 1, 2021 and still draw districts in time to hold a primary and general election that same year (see hypothetical timetables here). And data release by April 1, 2021 allows the possibility of a mostly normal timeline.

The amendment was also a missed opportunity to enact true redistricting reforms that New Jersey redistricting and legal experts have advocated, such as more independent commissioners and true independence from the legislature. There is a little good news, though: if ACR188 passes, there would be more time for these reforms to be considered.

*Specifically, District 36 has a Latino share that rose from 37 to 40%, and District 18 has an Asian share that rose from 28 to 31%. District 18 has an Asian and Latino combined population that rose from 37 to 40%. All of these increases could indicate new opportunity-to-elect districts, either in these locations or nearby.


→ 2 CommentsTags: 2020 Election · Redistricting

U.S. House 2020 – November forecast

July 19th, 2020, 11:34am by Sam Wang

We’ve combined the generic-Congressional ballot with special-election data to generate a November forecast.

The black trace shows the day-to-day snapshot using generic-Congressional surveys. Data come from FiveThirtyEight filtered using our own median rule. We generated a prior by using special elections since 2018. We combined the two by assuming (a) random drift from the snapshot, and (b) convolving it with the prior. The result is a “hurricane strike zone” with a red zone (one-sigma, about two-thirds of outcomes) and a yellow zone (two sigma, about 95% of outcomes).

Because this calculation doesn’t use specific district ratings, those ratings (for example, see The Center for Politics) provide a quasi-independent approach (though of course prognosticators do use national opinion as an input). In the case of the House Meta-Margin, the conversion factor is typically about 6 seats/%, i.e. D+7% would map approximately to a 42-seat margin, or 239-197.

For a deeper dive, see this explainer page. If you can read Matlab, see this script. Thanks to Mike Hallee for assistance!

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Will New Jersey Hispanics and Asians have to wait until 2023 for fair representation?

July 9th, 2020, 6:42pm by Sam Wang

Since the 2010 census, Hispanic and Asian populations in New Jersey have increased by 410,000, almost as many people as live in 2 legislative districts (see map at left and our statement). But if Jersey legislators get their way, those communities may have to wait two years until 2023 to see their numbers reflected in redistricting.

Today in Trenton, an Assembly committee reviewed ACR188, an amendment to the state constitution which would allow redistricting to be postponed until after the 2021 election. The reason has to do with likely Census delays, which in turn delays the work of the redistricting commission. But as written, the amendment takes steps that give away power for decades to come. Furthermore, proponents claim that it address a possible undercount – but its actual effect will be to cause immediate underrepresentation to key ethnic groups, to an extent much larger than any possible Census error. [Read more →]

→ 1 CommentTags: 2020 Election · Redistricting

Our Polling Trauma

July 8th, 2020, 1:42pm by Sam Wang

Did the 2016 election make us too gun-shy to trust polls? New in the Columbia Journalism Review, I tell what went wrong, polling successes in 2018 and 2019, and what it all means for 2020. I offer an opinion on how journalists could incorporate data into their coverage of this year’s race.

I also point out downticket races, such as U.S. Senate, state legislatures, and other local races as deserving attention. Polling and other information can draw attention and help mobilize citizen action. For example, we’re using that data to optimize donations (see the ActBlue and WinRed links at right).

Read on! (and here is a hyperlinked draft for factchecking purposes)

P.S. A few of you wrote in, confused on a particular point. [Read more →]

→ 19 CommentsTags: 2020 Election

College Reopening, Coronavirus, and the Adolescent Brain

July 3rd, 2020, 12:58pm by Sam Wang

Politics and Polls logoCan colleges reopen safely? Should they try? On Politics and Polls (the podcast for the Princeton Policy School, co-hosted by Julian Zelizer and me), I interview Laurence Steinberg, major expert on adolescence. Our conversation is a mash-up of neuroscience, public health, coronavirus, and the adolescent mind. Spoiler: it’s going to be really, really, rilly difficult. Take a listen.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Health · Politics · Princeton

The new generation gives me hope

June 29th, 2020, 7:38pm by Sam Wang

This remarkable bit of TikTok storytelling, after the jump (it’s causing problems on some browsers)… [Read more →]

→ 2 CommentsTags: 2020 Election · Uncategorized