Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A One State Presidential Election in 2012?

Over in the comments to the post with an updated projection of the 2012 electoral college map, we've been discussing the likelihood of a close election four years from now. More specifically, we've talked about, given the current trends, the structural advantages the Democrats appear to have heading into future elections. Despite potentially losing ground via the post-census reapportionment, Democrats still look to hold advantages in enough states to clear the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the White House.

But let's take a step back for a moment here and assume that we will see a close presidential election in 2012. And let's use a version of the election results Electoral College Spectrum adjusted for the seat shifts projected after the census.

The Electoral College Spectrum*
*Follow the link for a detailed explanation on how to read the Electoral College Spectrum.
**The numbers in the parentheses refer to the number of electoral votes a candidate would have if he won all the states ranked prior to that state. If, for example, McCain won all the states up to and including Colorado (all Obama's toss up states plus Colorado), he would have 269 electoral votes. McCain's numbers are only totaled through the states he would have needed in order to get to 270. In those cases, Obama's number is on the left and McCain's is on the right in italics.

Colorado is the state where Obama crossed the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election. That line is referred to as the victory line.
****Nebraska allocates electoral votes based on statewide results and the results within each of its congressional districts. Nebraska's 2nd district voted for Barack Obama on November 4.

If, in 2012, the momentum swings against the Democrats and Barack Obama, the GOP is likely to pull Nebraska's 2nd, North Carolina, Indiana, Florida and Ohio back into their column. And even with those 74 electoral votes, generic Republican (Let's call her Sarah Palin for the heck of it.) still comes up 16 electoral votes short of victory. Virginia is next in line, gets the "close but not quite" distinction with 13 electoral votes, and, as Jack points out, is trending away from the GOP.

Depending on the candidates and conditions, though, I think that Virginia and Colorado are the most likely candidates for the Florida (2000)/Ohio (2004) distinction in 2012 should the election be that close. And whoever the GOP candidate is will need both states if they all fall in line in the same order four years from now. [I'll have to look into how long or short the odds of this are. But that's another research idea to look at later.] Virginia would be closer to the GOP compared to Colorado based on the 2008 results and that would make the Centennial state the victory line state. But given what happened last month, it is somewhat difficult to see Colorado swinging back. However, ask me in a couple of years and see if I've changed my mind.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

A Projected 2012 Electoral College Map (version 2.0)

For a look at the 2012-2020 electoral college map based on the 2010 Census click here. And for look at how those changes would have affected the 2008 presidential election click here.

On Monday, Election Data Services released the US population estimates for 2008 and a series of projections for 2010. So let's have a look at how the electoral college map would change given the new information we have.

The first set of numbers we have is the estimate of the population changes during 2008. This is more of an "if the Census was done today" scenario. It was this set (from 2007) that we used to project the the map for 2010 before. In other words, this gives us an idea of what the changes might be for 2010, but not the full picture. EDS even said in its report that they expected quite a bit of volatility over the next two years despite the economic downturn's impact on mobility.

[You'll notice that the map has taken on the red and black color scheme that denotes gains and losses in the financial world. Red states are states losing seats while black states are those likely to gain seats following the 2010 Census.]

[Click Map to Enlarge]

Despite that, we can set a baseline of potential changes based on the changes from 2008 (Well, from 2000-2008). The picture here isn't that much different from what we witnessed a little more than a month ago. Basically, Texas would gain an additional seat, Missouri wouldn't lose the seat it was projected to have lost and Michigan and New Jersey would lose a seat apiece. That would have fueled an additional two electoral vote swing toward John McCain in November's electoral college. Taken with the information we had before, though, that still would have put the Arizona senator at a 360-178 electoral vote disadvantage. Still, we're talking about a population shift toward redder states. Of course the traditional question is, "Who are those people?" Are they more Democratic or Republican? Are these states becoming redder, like, say, Georgia, or purple like Virginia (though the latter is not a state projected to gain or lose any congressional seats)?

But let's move from an estimate of the map based on the population changes we have seen during 2008 and focus on the projected changes we could see in 2010 based on likely changes over the next two years. Now, EDS set up several different models: one that projected population shifts based on what has happened since 2000, and four additional models that took a midterm approach; focusing on population shifts from 2004 onward, 2005 onward, 2006 onward and 2007-2008. For our purposes, we'll take the model with the most information: the full model based on the changes since the last Census.

That version shows Arizona (2 seats total), Florida (2) and Texas (4) gaining additional seats on top of the gains shown in the map above. It also has South Carolina picking up a seat.

[Click Map to Enlarge]

On the opposite side of the ledger, Ohio is likely to lose a second seat, while Missouri once again loses the seat it lost on the initial version of this map. Illinois and Minnesota round out the remaining list of states either losing population or not growing at rates fast enough to stay apace of the states gaining seats. If this projected map had been used in the November election that would have netted McCain an additional two electoral votes from the first map above. In other words, playing on the map immediately above, the 2008 election would have come to a count of 358-180 in favor of Obama. Again, this isn't a big shift in an election like we just witnessed. In a more competitive election, however, such a shift could prove consequential. Recall that the generic ballot question favored the Democrats throughout the 2008 cycle. If that divide had been more even, a seven electoral vote swing could have been decisive.

So what does all this mean? Well, not much. Projections are nice, but they aren't the real thing. I really ought to look back at how well these EDS projections were prior to the last Census. That might be a factor to throw into a more inclusive model -- similar to the house effect that FiveThirtyEight factored into their electoral college projections late in the game in 2008. With EDS cautioning that there could be volatility in the forecasting over the next two years, you have to take these numbers with a grain of salt. However, it is interesting to note what the map might look like in four years' time.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Race for RNC Chair

Allow me to take a brief respite from putting the finishing touches on grades for the semester to weigh in on something that I came across today.

Over at Red State, Erick Erickson and company have come up with and posed a list of ten issues important to the readers and contributors at the right-leaning blogging community to the candidates for chair of the Republican Party. [You can see that list here.] The first of the six candidates in the running, Saul Anuzis, responded today. Anuzis is the Michigan Republican Party chairman and was a proponent of the state's 2008 primary move to January 15 -- a date that defied both national parties' rules governing delegate selection.

Now why would I push this on the readers of FHQ, a group I think is fair to assess as left of center ideologically? Well, as I've mentioned, theoretically, it will be the Republican Party that will be the most apt to tinker with its rules between now and the 2012 presidential election. Thus, who they choose could have an impact on the direction of the party and who they ultimately settle on for their nominee. Anuzis doesn't reveal anything too exciting in that regard, but in the comments section he is asked about the possibility of closing the Republican primaries in 2012. I have no idea if Anuzis will respond, but that line of questioning will be something to track in the subsequent iterations of these chair candidate discussions, should they come to pass.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Backloading in 2012? Arkansas is Moving Closer

Back in May, just before Arkansas was to hold its primaries for state and local offices, State Rep. Nathan George (D-Dardanelle) went public with a call for legislation to move the state's 2012 presidential primary back to May from February to again coincide with the other primaries. On Thursday that call got a bit closer to reality as George and State Rep. Jon Woods (R-Springdale) prefiled a bill (HB 1021) that would come up for consideration once the 87th General Assembly convenes in January. The proposed legislation very simply strikes the changes made to Arkansas election law in 2005 when the separate February Arkansas presidential primary was signed into law by Governor Mike Huckabee.

Arkansas, then, was one of the first states to move in anticipation of 2008 and may again be quick to react with 2012 on the distant horizon. Well, why would Arkansas want to do this; to go against the frontloading trend? Here are a couple of points I made back in May about the reasoning behind such a move when this story came up the first time:
1) Financial concerns: If the return on investment is viewed as sub-par, then the decision may be made to move back and save the money. Having an influence over who the nominee is before the decision is made, though, may outweigh that. Which brings up...

2) Will 2012 more closely resemble 2004 or 2008? If it is the former, Arkansas may value that influence even if it means scant attention from the candidates among a crowded field of contests. If 2012 looks like 2008, Arkansas could move back and get more attention.
Well, if the state is making their decision on 2012 now -- in this economic climate -- then that first point will likely play a major role in the legislature's thinking on this particular piece of legislation. "Return on investment? Who needs that? Let's just save some money!" And the second point could be rendered moot by the first. "We didn't have an impact in February and we never really had an impact when the presidential primary was in May. So what does it matter when we do this? Let's just save some money!"

Now, it could be viewed as rash for the Arkansas General Assembly to act now, but the Natural state isn't likely to prove decisive anyway. [Sorry Arkansans.] The thinking in the past has been "if you can't be decisive at least be a part of the decision." In other words, make sure to hold your primary before the nomination has been decided. That rationale has spurred an awful lot of frontloading in the past. However, that could change if states continue to pinch pennies.

The implication here isn't really the backloading but the potential for coincidental primaries as a budgetary measure. Could we see, for instance, some of the northeastern states (ie: Connecticut, New York, Vermont) with late summer/early fall primaries for state and local offices move those up to coincide with their presidential primaries as a cost-saving mechanism? Instead of backloading the presidential primary, then, we witness the frontloading of state and local primaries.

I don't suspect we'll have an answer to this in any substantial way until after the 2010 midterms, the point after which most state begin mulling their plans for the next presidential election year. Regardless, it will be worth keeping an eye on.

UPDATE: Kate Bodenhamer over at CapSearch adds that the separate presidential primary cost the state $1.7 million in 2008. Adjusted for inflation, that could be a pretty good chunk of change in 2012.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The 2012 Presidential Primary Calendar

For the most up-to-date version of this calendar see the left sidebar under the 2012 electoral college projection or click here.

This verges on the ludicrous, but last week I thought I would glance back at the state laws in place regarding the timing of presidential primaries for 2012. My intent was to see if the changes made for the 2008 cycle were permanent shifts or merely one and done changes for this past cycle.

This is certainly a fluid process and will change over the course of the next few years, but I thought it might be instructive to start with a baseline from which we can compare changes. As I have stated, there will likely be less frontloading in 2012 for a couple of reasons:
1) Most of the 2008 moves were permanent. What that means is that fewer states will have the ability to move to earlier dates if the rules regarding the timing of primaries and caucuses remain the same for 2012. Most are already at the earliest allowable date -- the first Tuesday in February.

2) Barring a failed Obama presidency, the president-elect will not be challenged in the Democratic primaries. Only one party, then, will have an active contest for its nomination. And as the Maryland case demonstrated only yesterday, partisanship is a powerful potential factor in the frontloading equation. When both parties have a contested nomination, both parties within a state (or state legislature) can take an "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" approach to frontloading. In other words, if both parties are motivated to move forward, then where's the harm? This is why I've said that GOP-controlled states will be the most likely movers for 2012 holding all other factors equal. They face only token Democratic opposition to a move that could potentially help a Republican nominee. In Democratic-controlled states or competitive (evenly divided) states, that opposition is greater.

Take the Maryland example: The Maryland GOP is discussing a split to the their delegate allocation structure. Some delegates would be at stake in the party's February 2012 primary, but they want to establish a caucus that would jump Iowa and New Hampshire. So the first salvo has already kinda sorta been fired. And the thing is, Maryland's GOP is considering this because there's no way the Democratic-controlled legislature is going to go along with a plan to move the state's primary to an earlier date [especially when that could help a potential nominee build grassroots in the state and challenge Obama in the state. Yes, yes, I'm fully aware that Obama's efforts in South Carolina during the primary campaign didn't prove fruitful in November. But my point is that there is no way the Maryland legislature is going to pass off on such a move, much less the Democratic governor, if there is even a slightly chance that it would slightly help the Republican candidate.].
Regardless, here is how things look for 2012 more than three years away from the opening contests of the nomination campaign (All of the following are primaries unless otherwise noted.).
Monday, January 16, 2012: Iowa caucuses*

Tuesday, January 24
: New Hampshire*

Saturday, January 28: Nevada caucuses*, South Carolina*

A note on the placement of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina

Tuesday, January 31
: Florida

Tuesday, February 7 (Super Tuesday): Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah

Saturday, February 11: Louisiana primary

Tuesday, February 14: Maryland, Virginia

Tuesday, February 21: Wisconsin

Tuesday, February 28: Arizona**, Michigan***

Tuesday, March 6: Massachusetts***, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont

Tuesday, March 13: Mississippi

Tuesday, March 20: Colorado caucuses****

Tuesday, April 24: Pennsylvania

Tuesday, May 8: Indiana, North Carolina and West Virginia

Tuesday, May 15: Nebraska, Oregon

Tuesday, May 22: Idaho, Kentucky

Tuesday, June 5: Montana, New Mexico***** and South Dakota

*New Hampshire law calls for the Granite state to hold a primary on the second Tuesday of March or seven days prior to any other similar election, whichever is earlier. Florida is first now, so New Hampshire would be a week earlier at the latest. Traditionally, Iowa has gone on the Monday a week prior to New Hampshire. For the time being we'll wedge Nevada and South Carolina in on the Saturday between New Hampshire and Florida, but these are just guesses at the moment. Any rogue states could cause a shift.

**In Arizona the governor can use his or her proclamation powers to move the state's primary to a date on which the event would have an impact on the nomination. In 2004 and 2008 the primary was moved to the first Tuesday in February.

***Massachusetts and Michigan are the only states that passed a frontloading bill prior to 2008 that was not permanent. The Bay state reverts to its first Tuesday in March date in 2012 while Michigan will fall back to the fourth Tuesday in February.

****The Colorado Democratic and Republican parties have the option to move their caucuses from the third Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in February.

*****The law in New Mexico allows the parties to decide when to hold their nominating contests. The Democrats have gone in early February in the last two cycles, but the GOP has held steady in June. They have the option of moving however.

I've obviously added some caveats already, but there is one big one that I should note as well. On the surface this looks like a far less frontloaded calendar. However, it only accounts for a handful of caucuses -- the most predictable early ones and those that are controlled by state law. Montana and West Virginia Republicans in 2008, for instance, opted for caucuses as opposed to primaries and shifted them to Super Tuesday. That could certainly happen again. The other caucus states will be determined at a later date, as the states' delegate selection plans emerge in probably 2011.

Now that we have a baseline for comparison let the frontloading begin. You're on the clock Maryland.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Maryland GOP to Jump Iowa/New Hampshire in 2012?

Let me save the Maryland Republican Party's newly minted pre-primary caucus study committee the trouble: save your money and lobby the state legislature to move the Old Line state's 2012 primary to an earlier date. Well, I suppose the party realizes it will be futile to attempt to sway a Democratic-controlled legislature to move the state's primary to help nominate a Republican that might do well in Maryland in November 2012.

[Wait! What are you talking about?]

As PolitickerMD reported this afternoon, the Republican Party in Maryland has formed a study committee to look into the wisdom in establishing a pre-primary caucus in the state for 2012. The plan would align the state with the system in Washington more so than the one in, say, Iowa. In other words, the Maryland Republicans are trying to circumvent the system on this one to some extent by holding more than just a beauty contest straw poll as Iowa does in the August before an election year. Their potential plan would establish a delegate-binding caucus that would be held prior to Iowa and New Hampshire. This is similar to what happened in Washington state this past cycle.

The Evergreen state's primary was held on February 19 and allocated just under half of the Republican Party delegates from the state. The caucus portion was held ten days prior -- just after Super Tuesday and well after Iowa and New Hampshire -- allocating a little more than half the state's GOP delegates.

Maryland Republicans are going a step beyond that though; splitting their delegate selection contest in two and pushing one portion of it forward far enough to challenge Iowa and New Hampshire's first in the nation status among the states.

Now, this is certainly a new twist, but I suspect that this will be greeted by the national party in much the same way that Wyoming's move did prior to the 2008 cycle. [What you don't remember Wyoming Republicans moving the first step of their caucus to January 5. And mind you this was before Iowa and New Hampshire settled in on January 3 and 5 as the dates for their respective caucus and primary.] Wyoming opted to, unlike Iowa, make the first step in its caucus delegate-binding. [Iowa doesn't officially allocate any delegates until the state convention toward the end of the nomination process.] That translated into the Equality state, like all the other states that violated the NRC's delegate selection rules by holding delegate-binding contests prior to February 5 -- a list that included Florida, Michigan and New Hampshire -- losing half its delegates to the convention. I suspect that any move similar to the one being discussed in Maryland would meet the same fate in 2012.

...unless the commission the NRC formed at their convention to deal with these frontloading issues comes up with anything fruitful to reform the nomination system first. There's a long way to go until 2012, but my money is on a system similar to what we witnessed in 2008 coming back and Maryland getting burned and not having much of an effect. It won't be Wyoming-ignored, but the Old Line state Republicans won't get the desired effect. Iowa and New Hampshire won't let them.

Maryland now joins Florida and Louisiana as the first potential rogue states of 2012. I'll have more on that shortly, though. It's too bad Kansas couldn't join the fun.

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FHQ Hasn't Disappeared...It Just Seems That Way

Alright, FHQ has been on a bit of an end-of-the-semester, conference-paper writing hiatus since the Georgia Senate runoff finished up last week. And no, this isn't necessarily a sign of things to come. Though, with elections talk rapidly reaching its nadir as the focus shifts toward actual governance, updates won't be as regular as they once were. No more of those three [plus] post days.

Anyway, loyal readers deserve to know what's going on with the uncharacteristic silence. Regardless, I have one more Georgia early voting post that is more updating the data than anything [There were some after-the-fact revisions on Wednesday.], and I've got a neat little 2012 post I put together over the weekend. Look for those later today.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Live Blog and Open Thread: Georgia Senate Runoff

9:30pm: Alright, I'm off for the night. If there are any unofficial reports in from the counties in the morning I'll give a glance toward the changes in early voting between November 4 and today. But SOS may not have those figures up until next week some time or when the election is certified.

9:20pm: Wow! Half of Fulton is in and Martin only holds an exactly 2000 vote lead. That pretty much sums this one up.

9:10pm: Now come the questions:
Was Obama wise to stay away?
Seems that way.

Did the Palin, et al. visit(s) have an impact?
Maybe, maybe not.

And the big one: Should this race have even been this close to begin with?
It didn't look close at all during the summer when Chambliss was up over 10 points. But it took a perfect storm for Martin to get this thing into a runoff. He got it then, but the storm dissipated without Obama and the attendant enthusiasm along for the ride.

9:05pm: Or not.

Associated Press has called the race for Chambliss.

9:00pm: My hunch is that there won't be a call until Fulton gets closer to the half way point of counting.

...and perhaps not then.

But with over 70% in, Chambliss is still over a 60% share of the vote. He started out high on November 4 as well before the count drew closer and closer. The start tonight was much higher though. The incumbent Republican crested at like 57% or so at one point on election night and it only got closer. We may see the same thing tonight (In fact we are.), but the crest point for Chambliss was about 10 points higher tonight.

8:47pm: DeKalb County is a little less than half in and is running about nine points lower for Martin tonight than it did on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Meanwhile Fulton is still stuck on about one-seventh reporting and and Martin is up by a shade more than 400 votes. I don't think it is overstating the matter to say Martin is underperforming the numbers he enjoyed last month.

8:43pm: Here's a question: Have those early votes been counted yet? My guess is that there is a rolling tally that the Secretary of State's folks do each night when those numbers came in, but that they'll come in rolled into the counties' totals tonight.

8:38pm: Over half the results are in (so sayeth SOS in Atlanta) and Chambliss is still over the 60% mark in terms of his share of the vote. I can see some of those Democrats' eyes shifting northward to Minnesota.

8:30pm: Quitman County, where political corruption and vote fraud nearly kept Jimmy Carter out of his first elective office, is 100% in. Turnout there is down about 50% today versus four weeks ago. There were 990 total votes cast there on November 4 and 482 today. If that figure were to apply to the entire state, turnout would be down more than it was for the Senate runoff in 1992. But Quitman County does not an election make. And plus, Martin's margin was reduced to just 14 votes this time in a county he won by more than ten times that on election day.

8:26pm: 30% are in and Martin has pulled it under 30 points fueled in large part by a 20,000 vote lead in DeKalb County (only about an eighth of the county's precincts are in). All that's really doing is canceling out those Gwinnett numbers for Chambliss.

8:19pm: About a quarter of the precincts are in and Chambliss' advantage has dipped under the 2:1 mark for the first time this evening. I've talked about several Martin strongholds being silent thus far, but Cobb County has yet to report anything either. Remember that was the county with the most early votes cast and one that Chambliss won by about 12 points on November 4.

8:14pm: Henry County, one of the tight counties from the general election, is not shaping up to be as close for Martin this time around. We pegged it as one of the counties where Martin would have to do well to pull this out. Still nothing out of Fulton or DeKalb. The way things are looking, though, Martin is really going to have to sweep his November 4 hotspots to have a chance.

8:03pm: Chambliss is still comfortably ahead with 12% reporting. It should be noted, however, that most of the counties with any returns in are Chambliss counties. And Gwinnett County seems to be driving the early lead. 68 of the 163 precincts are in and Chambliss has a commanding 32,000 to 18,000 vote advantage. None of the big ones for Martin have reported anything. On that list: Fulton, DeKalb and Clarke. [Well, I had to throw Clarke in there. That's where I am.]

7:52pm: Chambliss currently holds a two-one lead over Martin with 5% of the precincts reporting. Sean over at FiceThirtyEight said about an hour ago that they had heard about lines in Athens. That may be true but I saw no indication of that this afternoon. However, this afternoon, my polling station looked as busy as it did on general election day four weeks ago (...minus four or six voting machines).

7:47pm: And it's show time, folks. I'm late getting started but we can all follow the results here at the Georgia Secretary of State's web site. I'm keeping a close eye on the county-by-county results.

Recent Posts:
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Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Final Day)

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The Georgia Senate Runoff: A Polling Projection

Before we get to the projection let's add in the four polls that have been released since FHQ examined the Georgia Senate runoff polls last week.

Georgia Senate Runoff Polls (as of Dec. 2)
Insider Advantage
Public Policy Polling
Research 2000/Daily Kos
Insider Advantage

There just isn't that much breaking news here. Sure the two Insider Advantage polls have Chambliss right on the line of where the incumbent Republican needs to be to win tonight, but the firm has had a tendency to show tight margins dating back to a couple of president polls during the summer. It was the one and two point McCain leads in June and July that put Georgia on the board as a possible battleground state. Am I discounting Insider Advantage? No, but the two Research 2000 polls checked in with six point margins and the two PPP polls out during this runoff campaign gave an extra point to Chambliss from the first to second one.

Altogether, the eight polls released in the four weeks since the general election provide us with a graduated weighted average of just north of 5 points for Chambliss. The current Senator would have 51% of the vote to Martin's 46% if these polls (weighted for when they were released) reflect the outcome later tonight. So, even if Martin was able to sway all the undecideds, the former state rep would come up short in his bid to unseat Chambliss.

And that makes sense when we take into account the early voting trends we've witnessed here over the last couple of weeks. Martin leaned on the Obama-fueled early voting during the general election as well as the presence of Allen Buckley -- the Libertarian candidate -- to pull Chambliss' share of the vote just under where the incumbent needed to be to avoid a runoff. Without the third party presence and without the advantage in early voting, Martin was indeed up against, to borrow a phrase overused during the general election campaign, a headwind. This time, however, it was something of a Republican headwind.

Again, given the polls and an even distribution of the undecideds, Chambliss is projected to win 52.5 to 47.5. The polls and early voting give us two pieces to the puzzle but tonight's results will give us the final piece.

I'll be back with more after 7pm when polls close here in the Peach state.

Recent Posts:
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Monday, December 1, 2008

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Final Day)

The final numbers from last Wednesday -- the final day of the early voting period -- are in for the Georgia Senate runoff. With the general election early voting total as a baseline, the just under half a million early votes cast in the runoff are under a quarter of those votes cast prior to November 4. Is that a harbinger of what to expect tomorrow? I doubt it. My hunch is that the proportion of early to election day voters will be skewed toward the latter in this instance; the opposite of what we saw during the general election voting. [Early voters comprised over 51% of the general election electorate.] Our only (similar) guide here is the 1992 Senate runoff between incumbent Democrat, Wyche Fowler and Paul Coverdale Coverdell. Coverdale Coverdell managed to overcome an general election day deficit in a runoff that witnessed a 45% drop in turnout from the beginning of November to the end when the runoff was held. [There were just three weeks between the elections in 1992, whereas there were four in 2008; another change the Republican-controlled general assembly made here in Georgia when they changed the runoff threshold from 45% 5o 50%.]

Let's assume that the early votes make up half of the total runoff turnout. If that's the case, then turnout will have dropped by almost 75% from the November 4 total. My guess is that that is a bit too steep a drop off. But I don't think that something between that mark and the 45% figure from 16 years ago is a stretch. Much depends on the each of the candidates' ground games. My observation has been that Chambliss has been on the air more (at least in Clarke County via the Atlanta TV market). This was confirmed this morning by my less than representative American government class, which while not representative from a sampling standpoint was at least dispersed throughout Georgia during UGA's weeklong Thanksgiving break.

That, of course, is only part of the equation though. The GOTV efforts on the ground in the Peach state are where the real difference is going to be felt. There is at least some anecdotal evidence that Martin has marshaled a superior ground game to Chambliss based on the Obama infrastructure and an influx of Obama volunteers to the state. But as you can see below, those efforts have not made a dent in one of Martin's vital voting blocs (...at least not in early voting).

The proportion of African Americans coming out to vote early barely varied throughout the early voting period. From November 14 - 26, that proportion only broke 23% twice; the day that early voting began in Fulton County (Atlanta) on the 18th and on Friday the 21st. And even then, that day's total of African Americans only amounted to 24% of the day's early voters. Even that is far below the over 34% of the early voters African Americans comprised ahead of the November 4 general election. The extent to which Martin's (Obama's) supporters can reach that segment of the electorate prior to 7pm Tuesday night will to a large degree determine whether the former state rep can overcome the three point deficit from November 4 (...not to mention the 3-6 point lead the handful of polls conducted have shown Chambliss enjoying).

One thing Martin may be able to lean on is the steady rise of women early voters across the runoff's early voting period. Though that demographic, too, fell below the mark it reached in the general election early voting, it was, at the close of early voting, only two points below the general election level (54% for the runoff to 56% in the general). That may bolster Martin's numbers, but it could also be that those female voters are coming from Chambliss areas. It may not be a coincidence that the rise in women voters came at the same time as the Cobb County (a Republican stronghold) rose to the top of the pack in terms of raw numbers of early voters county-by-county.

If we break women early voters down by racial groups, we don't gain too terribly much more information. Both demographics increased subtly over the three days in which early voting was conducted prior to Thanksgiving last week. Though white women made up anywhere from 34% of daily early voters to 39%. Black women, on the other hand, varied from just shy of 12% to just north of 14% on any of the ten days early voting was held.

Much of that speaks volumes of the current state of the race. Chambliss looks to be in good position heading into Tuesday's vote, but whether that is a comfortable margin come Tuesday night will depend on the GOTV efforts being made throughout the state today and tomorrow.

Recent Posts:
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