Princeton Election Consortium

Innovations in democracy since 2004

Outcome: Biden 306 EV (D+1.2% from toss-up), Senate 50 D (D+1.0%)
Nov 3 polls: Biden 342 EV (D+5.3%), Senate 50-55 D (D+3.9%), House control D+4.6%
Moneyball states: President AZ NE-2 NV, Senate MT ME AK, Legislatures KS TX NC

Utah House Bill 197

February 23rd, 2021, 8:39am by Jason Fierman

This year will see a number of state-level legislative actions, as governments across the country look to change rules that affect the ability of voters to participate in elections.

One example may be found in the Utah House, which is considering Utah House Bill 197. HB 197 would significantly alter the election code of the state. Briefly, the law would mandate a change in how the state government processes voter registration forms. Any registration form submitted after March 31 would not be in effect for that year’s primary election.

Our analysis of Utah voter registration data indicates that support for the bill is motivated by a mistaken belief: that Republican registration in 2020 grew due to Democratic voters crossing over to manipulate the outcome of the 2020 Republican primary. Our research suggests that the growth of 2020 Republican registration comes from new registration and unaffiliated voters choosing to re-register. For an in-depth overview of this interesting and evolving topic, check out our Utah HB 197 memo, which is linked here.

Comments Off on Utah House Bill 197Tags: Redistricting

Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14th, 2021, 3:38pm by Sam Wang

Lots of things happening around here in both democracy and neuroscience. However, much less posting. In the meantime, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Roses are red
Brains are so practical
They evolved to survive
By methods synaptical

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The Biden Administration’s busy first day

January 20th, 2021, 9:26pm by Sam Wang

Busy day so far:

  • Rejoining the Paris Climate Accord.
  • VP Harris swearing in three new Senators.
  • Staying in the World Health Organization.
  • Undoing immigration restrictions and restoring DACA.
  • Firing the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel.
  • Freezing student loan repayments and interest.
  • No more border wall.
  • Revoking a variety of other Trump Administration policies, and…
  • Directing the Census to ensure a full and fair count. That’s great for fair districting! Still some threat at the state level for noncitizen data, though.

Follow the Biden Administration’s actions at the White House Briefing Room.

Photo: Tom Roussey, ABC.

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Building democracy back better

January 20th, 2021, 8:46am by Sam Wang

Today at noon, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be inaugurated as President and Vice-President. In addition to all the new policies and priorities they will implement and develop, it’s a relief. Over the last four years, democracy hit a modern low point. Now we face a long challenge: how to repair our system and make it better. [Read more →]

→ 2 CommentsTags: 2020 Election · U.S. Institutions

In Wisconsin, hidden flaws in new proposal for electoral votes

January 12th, 2021, 1:56pm by Zachariah Sippy

State Representative Gary Tauchen (R) has introduced a bill in the Wisconsin General Assembly to change the way electoral votes are allocated. Instead of a winner-take-all system, his proposal would dole them out by congressional districts. At first, this plan looks like it would help Republicans. But the real long-term beneficiaries might be Democrats— and take Wisconsin off the national stage for Presidential elections. [Read more →]

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Is Georgia 2020 the new Virginia 2008?

January 5th, 2021, 2:08pm by Sam Wang

Final results: Warnock (D) and Ossoff (D) win, giving Democrats 50 seats in the Senate and control of the chamber. (NYT)

In Georgia, first Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump. Now we have two competitive Senate races. Polls show the Democratic candidates, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, leading their opponents by a few points. If they pull off wins (and even if they only come close) they can thank early voting – and trends that may make 2020 for Georgia what 2008 was for Virginia.

First, let’s look at the data. Unlike the rest of the country, general-election polls in Georgia did pretty well. [Read more →]

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Last-minute donations

December 31st, 2020, 7:17pm by Sam Wang

I want to thank everyone who’s been a loyal reader of PEC. This year we went beyond poll aggregation to focus on optimizing your efforts, up and down the ticket. Our particular emphasis is the long game: actions that enhance the responsiveness of U.S. democracy to voters, whether for a decade (redistricting) or longer (voting reforms). You gave $1.4 million in key races and to nonpartisan organizations. Thank you!

One last appeal. This one’s tax-deductible. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project has a lot of work ahead for 2021. We’ll be working overtime across the nation to give people the tools they need to get fair districts. Our many projects, including and, as well as our own legal and policy work. will make a difference in Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, and a dozen other states.

You can give at this link. If you do it by credit card, it will count as a 2020 donation.

Happy New Year!

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Postdoctoral positions at our new Electoral Innovation Lab!

December 3rd, 2020, 8:33am by Sam Wang

Want to apply your intellectual skills to real-life reform? The Electoral Innovation Lab (an expansion of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project) is searching for postdocs! Our mission is to apply law, science, and math to strengthening U.S. democracy. Example topics include redistricting, ranked-choice voting, and open primaries.

We see our work as relating to political science in the same way that technology and engineering relate to the basic sciences. Our goal is to serve as a pipeline from fundamental research to practical application. To read about some of our priorities, see this Research Agenda. And here’s a slideshow of our story. (Side note for friends and supporters: invite me to talk about the Lab – it’s more fun to talk about it!)

Many disciplines are welcome! We welcome applicants from all the natural sciences, as well as social and behavioral sciences. We expect that these positions will be of particular interest to people in the fields of political science and law.

Your work will seed important research with significant implications for the years ahead. Please apply!

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North Carolina’s legislative gerrymander held in 2020

November 22nd, 2020, 9:33pm by Sam Wang

Last year’s redraw of the legislative maps left in a fair bit of the partisanship, especially the state House map. Despite Democrats winning 53% of the statewide vote, Republicans retained control. Facing South reports.

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Georgia: send money and letters – but not postcards

November 21st, 2020, 1:31pm by Sam Wang

From the mailbag:

Noted the thread from Lara Putnam about the Georgia runoffs. I think​ I understand her point that sending 50 or so postcards to random voters in a state with 5 million voters is pointless and serves only to make the postcarder feel useful. That if you want to do something to actually help, donate to Fair Fight or a similar group instead. Do you think postcards are ever effective? Or is it like choosing a Christmas gift for college-aged cousins–just send money?

This is basically correct. To mobilize one additional voter, it would take anywhere from 80 to 500 postcards*. To achieve even that, it assumes that the voters aren’t already being bombarded. That might be the case in a sleepy state house race. The situation is far worse in Georgia, where all eyes are on the two special Senate elections on January 5, 2021. These races will determine control of the U.S. Senate and the fate of President-elect Biden’s agenda.

It used to be that you had to vote in November first, but the law has changed. Anyone who is registered to vote by December 7th can vote in the runoff. If you will be 18 by then, register to vote!

Everyone outside Georgia: if you want to make a difference, give money to register voters by December 7 and to turn out voters. For Democrats, you can give to Stacey Abrams’s Fair Fight or other organizations listed in the ActBlue link in the left sidebar. Republicans can give at the WinRed link.

*Update: I’m told that letters are said to be 2 to 3 times more effective than postcards at mobilizing votes. It’s not known why that is, though note that opening a letter requires active engagement by the recipient. Anyway, that improvement might get the amount of necessary effort down to a few dozen letters per vote, which is an improvement.

Here’s a recent report on per-voter effects for other interventions: in-person canvassing (7 percentage points increase) is best, followed by text messages (4 points). There’s one final unknown: does it cost more to send a letter, or to make an in-person contact? If sending letters is a lot faster, then letters may still be a cost-effective approach. So if you really want to do something yourself (which is part of the social and emotional benefit), then write letters.

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