Showing posts with label general election campaign. Show all posts
Showing posts with label general election campaign. Show all posts

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Potential Impact of Divisiveness in the 2016 Presidential Campaign

The following is a guest post from Paul-Henri Gurian, professor emeritus in the Department of Political Science at the University of Georgia.

Earlier this year my colleagues and I published a research article on the impact of divisiveness in presidential campaigns. (“National Party Division and Divisive State Primaries in U.S. Presidential Elections, 1948-2012”, Gurian, Burroughs, Atkeson, Cann and Haynes, Political Behavior). Our research measured the impact of national party division on the national popular vote in the general election. We also measured the impact of a divisive state primary on the general election results in that state. We found that, relative to what would otherwise be expected, the impact of a divisive state primary was limited but the impact of the national party division was potentially much larger.

Our research indicated that the impact of a divisive state primary is rarely more than 1% in the general election in that state. Applying the results of this research to the 2016 primaries we found that the primaries in only a few states indicated an advantage to either party of more than 1%. For example, we found that in South Carolina and Texas, where Clinton did quite well in the primaries and Trump did poorly, the expected general election advantage to Clinton was just a shade over 1%. Similarly in West Virginia and Washington state, where Clinton did poorly but Trump did well, the expected advantage to Trump was about 1.2%.

Looking at the potential swing states we found that none of them exceeded a 1% advantage to either candidate. (We were not able to estimate the impact in Colorado.) Our analysis indicates that Clinton would receive an advantage of between .50 and .88% in Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Iowa and Georgia, but less than that in the other swing states. The analysis indicates an advantage for Trump in none of the swing states. This may be partially because Clinton had only one opponent throughout the campaign, while Trump had multiple opponents throughout most of the campaign; thus in most states Clinton's share of the Democratic primary vote was greater than Trump's share of the Republican primary vote. 

Because national party division is difficult to measure, we estimated its impact in two different ways. We used aggregate popular vote (1972-2012) as one measure. Similar to our measure of divided state primaries, we compared the proportion of the national aggregate popular vote for Clinton in the Democratic primaries to the aggregate popular vote for Trump in the Republican primaries.

Clinton received the majority (55.2%) of the aggregate Democratic primary vote, while Trump received only a plurality (45.0%) of the Republican primary vote. In other words, among primary voters there was a larger pool of Republican voters who supported candidates other than Trump than the pool of Democratic voters who supported a candidate other than Clinton. Using this measure of national party division, we estimate that Clinton will receive 2.4% more of the national popular vote than would otherwise be expected in the general election.

We also estimated the impact of national party division using an alternative measure, comparing the percent of delegates supporting the two nominees at their conventions (1948-2012). Contrary to the popular vote measure, the convention vote measure indicates that in 2016 the Republican party is more united. Trump received a larger majority (69.8%) of delegate votes at his convention than Clinton did in hers (59.7%). This suggests that Trump will receive 1.2% more of the general election vote than would otherwise be expected.

Part of the explanation for the difference may be the fact that Democratic rules allocate delegates proportionately, while Republican rules usually allocate disproportionally more delegates to the winner of the primary. Clinton received 55.2% of the aggregate popular vote and 59.7% of the convention vote. (The additional votes for Clinton were largely because of super-delegates.) Trump, on the other hand, received only 45.0% of the aggregate popular vote but received 69.8% of the delegate vote at the convention. Again, this is likely because of the “winner-take-more” rules in the Republican party.

The convention vote measure is more “conservative” in the sense that it almost always indicates a smaller advantage to the more unified party than the aggregate popular vote measure does. From 1972 to 2012, the aggregate popular vote has indicated an advantage greater than 6% for one party or the other in 5 of the 11 elections; the convention vote measure has not indicated an advantage of that magnitude in any election during that time period.

Comparing the two measures to subjective observations, the convention vote measure seems to be a better fit. For example, in 2004 President Bush ran unopposed while Senator Kerry won all but three primaries; the convention measure indicates a small advantage for Bush while the popular vote measure indicates a large advantage. Both estimates for 2016 are relatively small compared to other elections since 1972. This is not surprising since both parties are somewhat divided. (Compare, for example, the 1972 and 1984 elections, when the Republicans were very united while the Democrats were severely divided.) To summarize, our research suggests that the impact of national party division will be modest (though it is unclear which party would benefit more), and a small advantage to Clinton in several swing states.


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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Impact of Divided National Parties on Presidential Elections

The following is a guest post from Paul-Henri Gurian, associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Georgia.

University of Georgia Political Science Professors Paul-Henri Gurian and Audrey Haynes, together with Drs. Nathan Burroughs, Lonna Atkeson and Damon Cann, have published a study that measures the impact of national party division on presidential elections. Their results are relevant to the current party divisions, especially within the Republican party. 

History shows that when one party is divided and the other party is united, the divided party almost always loses the presidential election. Consider, for example, the elections from 1964 through 1984; in each case the divided party lost. The study measures party division during the primaries and indicates how much the more divided party loses in the general election. 

The study shows that both national party division and divisive state primaries have significant influence on general election outcomes. But national party division has a greater and more widespread impact on the national results. A divisive state primary can have a small negative impact on that one state, but national party division can have large negative impact on the national vote. A divisive state primary rarely leads to more than a 1-2% decrease in the general election in that state. For example, Hillary Clinton received 71% of the Democratic vote in the Georgia primary while Donald Trump received 39% of the Republican vote. If nominated, Trump would lose almost 1% in the state of Georgia in the general election.

In comparison, national party division often leads to decreases of more than 3% nation-wide. For example, as of March 12, Trump has received 36.1% of the total national Republican primary vote while Clinton has received 60.0% of the Democratic vote. If these proportions remain steady for the remainder of the nomination campaign (and if these two candidates win the nominations), then Trump would lose 5.7% of the vote in the general election (compared to what he would otherwise be expected to receive). In a close election (such as 2000, 2004, 2012), 5-6% could change the outcome in terms of which party wins the presidency. 

The results of this study provide analysts with a way to anticipate the impact of each primary and, more importantly, the impact of the total primary vote on the general election results. Subtracting the percent of the Republican nominee’s total popular vote from that of the Democratic nominee and multiplying that by 0.237 indicates how much the Republican nominee is likely to lose in the November election (compared to what would otherwise be expected). The 5.7% figure calculated through March 12 can be updated as additional states hold their primaries. (The same can be done for individual state primaries by multiplying by 0.026.)  

The full study, “National Party Division and Divisive State Primaries in U.S. Presidential Elections, 1948-2012,” published by Political Behavior, is available online now (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11109-016-9332-1). Contact Dr. Gurian at PHGurian@uga.edu for further information, questions or clarification.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Campaigns in Disarray

FHQ's Twitter feed was littered last night and this morning with reactions to the POLITICO story indicating infighting and disarray within the Romney campaign. Most seemed to either simply link to it or attack it for shortcomings like how inner circle those quoted in the story really were.

FHQ's reaction? I would place it somewhere between "meh" and "Sir, I'm not impressed."

This just isn't much of a story given the context of the race. If a general election presidential race is not exactly tied then there is a major party candidate who is ahead and a major party candidate who is behind. The 2012 presidential race is not exactly tied. Obama is slightly ahead nationally and ahead by varying degrees in enough states to total 332 electoral votes as of now. That means that Mitt Romney is slightly behind in this race.

And historically those candidates who are slightly behind can face an awful lot of scrutiny. When campaign strategic actions by underdog campaigns don't exactly move the needle, people (voters, the press, etc.) wonder why. When a series of those sorts of actions fall flat, those same people wonder what's wrong. That is where we are in this race. People are wondering what's wrong.

This is not something that is new. It hints at a structural mechanism in American presidential elections.

I humbly submit:
Kerry campaign shifts gear into attack mode 
Candidate seen setting agenda as debates near 
By Glen Johnson, Globe Staff  |  September 26, 2004 
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The perception of a Democratic presidential campaign in disarray remained so widespread Wednesday morning that Senator John F. Kerry got unsolicited advice from a woman attending a town hall meeting on Social Security: Beef up your rapid-response team, the retired lawyer suggested. 
The remark prompted laughter, including from the candidate himself. But the Kerry campaign was already undergoing a transformation. 
Between a speech Monday in New York that gave a point-by-point accounting of continued problems in Iraq, and a speech Friday in Philadelphia that accused President Bush of taking his eye off the real terrorist threat, Osama bin Laden, the Kerry campaign seized control of the political dialogue during a week that was supposed to have been dominated by the incumbent as he visited the United Nations and invited Iraq's prime minister to the White House.
... 
And it goes on.

Now, this is not meant to be yet another connect-the-dots-to-2004 post. That is a story/discussion for another time. [Truth be told, FHQ has drawn that parallel enough already.] No, the intent here is to point out just how difficult it can be to defeat an incumbent president in an environment that is not necessarily favorable but one in which silver linings can be found (...whether in terms of the economy growing (but not quickly enough) or razor-thin approval/disapproval margins that benefit the president). The fundamentals continue to point toward a close election on November 6, and the polling to some extent reflects that as well. The problem from the Romney perspective -- now -- is that when those two things are combined -- the fundamentals and the polling -- the major issue that surfaces is that the polling has been so very consistent throughout the summer and heading down the stretch in this race. That is a tough but not insurmountable obstacle to overcome.

Is the Romney campaign embroiled in discord? FHQ is dubious. The Romney campaign is in the same position plenty of underdog candidates/campaigns have been: behind and looking for the right combination of things to right the ship. There isn't an easy out and as FHQ mentioned earlier, time is running short.


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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Americans Elect and the Electoral College

This past week the Davidson College Department of Political Science was pleased to host Americans Elect Campus Director, Nick Troiano. Mr. Troiano gave a talk on the process behind the movement to add a third line on the general election ballot  -- a platform -- for an ideologically diverse presidential ticket. FHQ won't get into the particulars of that quest or even into a discussion of the general difficulty third parties have in finding even a modicum of success in presidential elections. Suffice it to say, FHQ is skeptical of just how well Americans Elect will do this fall, but we are intrigued by what we would call the experiment the cause represents. The notion of a version 2.0 for American democracy, but one rooted in major party responsiveness to and co-opting of ideas that spur any success Americans Elect might enjoy, is a pragmatic approach that bears watching. 2012 to Americans Elect is more about establishing something -- a future position on the ballot given a 5% vote share -- than it is about winning the presidential election.

I'll leave it at that.

One new fact about Americans Elect that Mr. Troiano raised -- and FHQ was unaware of -- was the role the group or its candidate would play in the context of the electoral college. Now, this assumes a lot, and I don't want to get into that, but if the Americans Elect candidate wins electoral votes, but not enough to win the presidency. Obviously, if a third party candidate is receiving electoral votes, there is an argument to be made that it reduces the likelihood that any candidate will receive a majority of the electoral votes and thus avoid the election being thrown to the House of Representatives.1

But Americans Elect has planned for such a contingency. Under a scenario where the Americans Elect candidate receives some electoral votes and no candidate has a majority, the election does not automatically default to the House. The election only goes to the House if, in December when the selected electors gather in state capitols across the country and transmit their votes, no candidate has a majority. The House is not a setting where an Americans Elect candidate is going to fare all that well, what with there being no Americans Elect infrastructure there. Now, the greater the share of electoral votes the group's candidate has, the more likely his or her electors are to play a large role. No, they won't make any difference in the House -- for obvious reasons -- but the provision in the group's rules triggered under this scenario calls for the online convention delegates who chose the nominee in the first place to reconvene. That convention would then decide which of the two major parties' candidates to throw their support behind.

...in the electoral college vote.

That would, first of all, prevent the outcome of the election from hinging on a delegation-by-delegation vote in the House of Representatives, but would, secondly, provide the group with some influence, some leverage, in the election itself and its aftermath.

Will the presidential election play out this way? No, it probably won't. But does this add a new wrinkle to everything to add into the electoral college tie scenario that will inevitably be discussed at some point this summer when people are bored with the state of the presidential race? Yes, yes it does. File this Americans Elect scenario away with that one.

--
1 This assumes that the third party candidate in question is drawing some support away from both major party candidates and not just primarily from one. If the support is mainly being drawn away from just one of the major party candidates, it is likely to the benefit of the other major party candidate in the electoral vote tally.

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These things are over sooner rather than later.


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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Links (3/9/11): Ohio

Is there something unique about Ohio and the race to 270 electoral votes in the presidential general election?

William Galston says yes at least in terms of Obama's reelection chances.

Others agree but disagree:

Dave Weigel maps it.

Jonathan Bernstein says the Buckeye state is just like any other close state: in an election that favors one candidate over the other, most of the swing states are likely to break for that favored candidate.

Nate Silver parrots Bernstein and adds that "as the nation goes, so goes Ohio".

Ohio is like any other state in the middle column of the figure below (The figure reflects the 2008 results but with 2012 electoral vote numbers.):

The Electoral College Spectrum*
HI-4
(7)**
ME-4
(153)
NH-4
(257)
GA-16
(166)
NE-4
(58)
VT-3
(10)
WA-12
(165)
IA-6
(263)
SD-3
(150)
KY-8
(54)
RI-4
(14)
MI-16
(181)
CO-9***
(272/275)
ND-3
(147)
LA-8
(46)
MA-11
(25)
OR-7
(188)
VA-13
(285/266)
AZ-11
(144)
AR-6
(38)
NY-29
(54)
NJ-14
(202)
OH-18
(303/253)
SC-9
(133)
AL-9
(32)
DE-3
(57)
NM-5
(207)
FL-29
(332/235)
TX-38
(124)
AK-3
(23)
IL-20
(77)
WI-10
(217)
IN-11
(343/206)
WV-5
(86)
ID-4
(20)
MD-10
(87)
NV-6
(223)
NC-15+1****
(359/195)
MS-6
(81)
UT-6
(16)
CA-55
(142)
PA-20
(243)
MO-10
(179)
TN-11
(75)
OK-7
(10)
CT-7
(149)
MN-10
(253)
MT-3
(169)
KS-6
(64)
WY-3
(3)
*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 275 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 in 2008.

It will blow with the partisan winds like any other state, but Ohio isn't anymore unique than other competitive states like Colorado or Virginia or Florida or North Carolina. The Buckeye state ended up in Obama's column in 2008 but is not a necessary part of the president's electoral vote calculus in 2012; not anymore than any other competitive state anyway.


Friday, September 5, 2008

On to the Debates! -- And a Note on Compression

Let's not put the cart before the horse here, but this next two months is going to fly by. [And I thought after Labor Day, it was going to take forever to get to UGA's fall break the weekend before the election.] Think about it. Next week will be silly season in the polls as they readjust to the post-convention state of play. And then you have just two weeks until the first debate on September 26. A week ago that seemed far off, but all of a sudden, it's just three weeks away.

This really has been an unusual presidential election cycle from a timing standpoint. Primary season kicked off just three days into the new year and all the talk then was about how 2008 would be the longest general election campaign in history. It just didn't work out that way with the Democratic contest stretching into June. But now that we have been into general election mode since June, things don't look like they did in January. People are just now starting to really tune into the race and now it's not about how long the general election campaign will be, but how compressed it will be. From Tuesday at the Democratic convention to November 4 is just ten weeks.

How is that 10 weeks divided?
Democratic convention = 1 week
Republican convention/VP announcement = 1 week
Debates = 2.5 weeks (September 26-October 15)

That leaves just 5.5 weeks of actual campaigning. Now, I understand that the debates don't cause the campaign to shut down completely, but preparation time will factor in and the media's focus will shift just as quickly. [Hey, isn't this post titled, "On to the Debates!"? Who is shifting the focus here?] There are these next three weeks, the debates and then that leaves just under three weeks until election day. The span is not that different from four years ago, but with the VP announcements and conventions happening so close together it has only fed the perception of compression.*

So what will we be hearing these next three weeks? I'd imagine refined versions of what we have heard over the last two weeks. The Democrats will attempt to keep things focused on the economy and the GOP will make the case for their version of change with reminders of the importance of having the right person in charge in regard to the wars in Iraq and against terrorism. These next three weeks will be crucial to both campaigns as they hone their campaign themes heading into the conventions.

A few other things:
What was the general impression of McCain's speech last night? Sure the consensus seems to have formed around the idea that it was solid if unspectacular. Anyone differ with that assessment?

Did anyone catch Obama with Bill O'Reilly last night? I'm without FOX News Channel and haven't read too much about it today.

Also -- and this I'm sure is a shocker if not a teaser -- the Ivan Moore poll out of Alaska has shifted the Last Frontier into McCain lean territory. I think we'll continue to see it inch closer and closer to McCain/Palin as we approach election day. I'll have more Sunday when the updated Electoral College Map is up.


*Yes, this is very similar to the Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Elaine turn five more days in Florida with Jerry's parents into half a day once sleeping, trips to the airport, etc. are taken into account. Perhaps not as extreme, but similar.


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