Showing posts with label runoff. Show all posts
Showing posts with label runoff. Show all posts

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Confusion reigns over Texas' 2012 election calendar

Aman Batheja of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has the story.

--
This situation was a mess for Texas from the time the MOVE act passed Congress in 2009. The thing that came out in the committee hearings for the relevant bills that made their way through the Texas state legislature was that there were so many competing interests that someone was going to get hurt in the process. Local elections officials and voters may be those people. The presidential primary and relevance in that process seem to have been on the other side of the spectrum. So far as FHQ can tell -- and we followed the process closely -- eliminating the runoff system was never a serious option, though it would have cut in half the problems for the state legislature, elections officials and voters.


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:
The Georgia Senate Runoff: A Polling Projection

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Final Day)

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 7)

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)
PollChamblissMartinMargin
Insider Advantage
50
46
+4
Public Policy Polling
53
46
+7
Research 2000/Daily Kos
52
46
+6
Insider Advantage
50
47
+3

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:
Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Final Day)

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 7)

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 6)

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:
Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 7)

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 6)

Georgia Senate Runoff: The Polls

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 7)

Well, Atlanta was late getting the Tuesday numbers out today.


Once again, the female proportion of early voters rose, now to just over 53% of early runoff voters. Most of that upward shift was due to a 55-45 female to male split in Tuesday's voting. That split is more in line with where the gender breakdown ended up during general election early voting.

But let's put the runoff into perspective. After including Tuesday's numbers, the total number of early runoff voters just surpassed the number of mail-in absentee voters from the general election. With just one day left to include (And remember, Atlanta won't likely have Wednesday's numbers up until Monday.), the total early voting thus far approximates 17% of general election early voting. If Wednesday's total grew as we've seen the daily numbers grow during the runoff early voting period, then the runoff early voting will end up at about 25% of the general election total (in the Senate race).

That's a significant drop off for a runoff election. But keep in mind that we are just talking about early voting here. Some of that discrepancy can and likely will be made up by election day voting. The impetus may be there to wait until election day this time around. Urban Atlanta voters wanting to avoid the hours long early voting lines they waiting in before November 4 may opt to vote on election day (December 2) this time around. And if we consider voters at least somewhat sophisticated, we can also factor in the knowledge that turnout -- and thus waiting in line -- is going to be lower for the runoff. In other words, why vote early when you can just go on election day? [Well, convenience obviously.]

We have all heard a lot about Obama's field operation being transferred to Georgia for this runoff and that may be true, but I haven't seen a lot of it. This isn't the same as a field operation, but I've seen a lot more Huckabee emails for Chambliss than I've seen Obama emails for Martin. No one's come knocking on my door in Athens as of yet. Nor have they rung me up on th phone. I will say this: Chambliss has been on the air a lot more than Martin has. Granted my TV exposure is limited to a football game on Saturday and the Sunday morning shows, but Chambliss has outdone Martin on TV in those time slots. And yes, that includes ads from the senate campaign committees on both sides of the aisle.


Recent Posts:
Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 6)

Georgia Senate Runoff: The Polls

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 5 & The Weekend)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 6)

Here are the numbers for Monday.



The one thing that we can say for sure is that turnout has increased each day that early voting has been going, topping 85,000 on Monday. Despite the growth the patterns remain virtually unchanged along racial lines. African Americans continue to comprise 22% of early voters. The one thing that has consistently changed since last Monday when early voting began on a wider scale (There were two counties that began on the Friday before.) is that the share of early voters that are women has increased. Again, the 52% level women are at as of Monday is about four points lower than in the general election early voting, but still much higher than the 48% on that first day.

Tomorrow morning I'll have the usual update but will follow it up with an examination of county-level early voting.


Recent Posts:
Georgia Senate Runoff: The Polls

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 5 & The Weekend)

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 4)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Georgia Senate Runoff: The Polls

Those of you who have followed FHQ throughout the presidential campaign have probably been wondering when we would get back to our roots and look at the polls in the race for Georgia's Senate seat held by Saxby Chambliss. [Well, truth be told our roots are in the primaries -- specifically the frontloading of them -- but most people found their way here because of our coverage of the electoral college throughout 2008.] There's a limited amount of information out there on this race when it comes to polling, but it appears as if Chambliss has added to the lead he held on election day. Recall that the incumbent Republican narrowly missed out on winning the election in the first round, 49.8%-46.8%. But that three point edge has increased by almost 70% in the nearly three weeks since the general election.

But let's take a closer look:

Georgia Senate Runoff Polls (as of Nov. 24)
PollChamblissMartinMargin
Public Policy Polling
52
46
+6
Research 2000/Daily Kos
51
45
+6
Rasmussen
50
46
+4
Research 2000/Daily Kos
49
46
+3

First of all, the four polls that we have access to move chronologically from bottom to top, wi the most recent poll at the top. Importantly, Chambliss is over 50% in three of the four polls. [Better late than never, I suppose. Though, I'd be willing to bet the Senator would have preferred to have gone ahead an cleared that bar three weeks ago.] That's important in a two person race because one of the candidates is beyond that point before the undecideds are factored in, that candidate is in a great position. Recall that we discussed the importance of Obama's position above that 50% threshold with more than a month left in the presidential race. With time so compressed in runoff race, though, being above that point matters.

But let's give these polls the old graduated weighted average treatment. The idea is that the more recent a poll is, the more weight it carries. The most recent poll gets a full weighting while the past polls are discounted based on the midpoint that the poll was in the field. In other words, a poll a week ago means less than a poll that was released a day ago. There is one slight alteration that I've made to the average because of the small number of post-election polls and in recognition of the limited amount of time in which they can be conducted: The weighting on the past polls is left as is instead of being halved as it was in the context of the electoral college (where polls from February were still being included).

The basic result is that Chambliss has gained a point at the expense of Jim Martin. Chambliss averages 50.8% of the support across these four polls to Martin's 45.7%. The average margin between the two is at 5.11 points in Chambliss' direction. And that is an awful lot of ground for Jim Martin to cover in a week.

...in a low turnout runoff election.

...when early voting doesn't appear favorable.


Recent Posts:
Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 5 & The Weekend)

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 4)

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 3)

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 5 & The Weekend)

FHQ obviously didn't update the Georgia Senate runoff early voting numbers over the weekend, but there wasn't anything to update anyway. The Elections Division over at SOS didn't add in the Friday and weekend numbers until this morning. I should note that most of the changes below are from Friday. The only early voting conducted over the weekend was in Sumter County on Saturday while the rest of the state shut down their early voting operations after Friday. Things will pick back up today and be augmented by the start of advance voting* before everything comes to a close -- because of Thanksgiving -- at the end of the day on Wednesday. And if the reporting by the Secretary of State at the end of early voting ahead of the general election and the halt over this past weekend are any indication, we likely won't get the Wednesday statistics until next Monday. But we'll have updates tomorrow morning and on Wednesday to account for the changes from today and Tuesday.



And what is the newly added data telling us? Not much more than we already knew actually. With the exception of last Tuesday, the African American proportion of early voters has consistently hovered around 22%; well below the mark that demographic group acheived during the early voting period before the general election. The most likely, though probably not the only, reason that the black proportion of early voters broke 24% on last Tuesday was that that was day that early voting began in Fulton County. We also have continued to see the gender balance of early voters shift toward women. Women now make up nearly 51% of all early voters. That too is down from the 56% of early voters that women made up during the general eleciton. And as we've been saying, the fact that both groups are below the points they were at before November 4 does not bode well for Jim Martin.

That, however, is not the whole story. We have already examined the potential impact the staggered start to early voting might have, but one additional factor we can look at is how the early vote breaks down on the county level. We can combine the latter with the former to get a much clearer picture of the influence early voting may have on the tally on December 2. I'm working with some of that data now. Hopefully I'll be able to put something informative together.

*Advance voting is conducted during the business week before election day. It basically continues the early voting process but opens up more polling locations to increase the ease of voting during that final week.


Recent Posts:
Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 4)

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 3)

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 2)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 4) -- UPDATED

The data are in for Thursday's early voting across Georgia, and the trends are largely similar to what they have been across the first few days. African American participation has settled into a position just under a quarter of the early voters, but women now make up a small majority of them; gaining a slightly since the opening day was more male than female.



That provides both candidates with mixed results. Obviously, lower African American participation is detrimental to Jim Martin's chances, but women eclipsing men in early voting is an important marker for the former state rep. While the female proportion of early voters overall is lower than it was for the general election -- down from 56% -- that is a group of voters that broke for Martin over Chambliss by a 54 - 42 margin in the election day exit polls (problematic, though they are).

The bottom line here seems to be that there is a general fatigue with elections among Georgia voters. Though we've witnessed an increase in the numbers of early votes cast every successive day thus far, turnout is, simply put, way down as compared to the early voting in the Peach state from September 22 - October 31. Visits by Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee and John McCain may yet have some effect, but it doesn't appear as if there is much of one on the early voting in the state. [Fulton County votes did go up following Clinton's visit on Wednesday, surpassing Gwinnett County as the county with the second most early votes through Thursday. Now, whether Clinton's appearance drove that is a completely different question.]

There are a couple of things I should make note of today. First, five more counties begin early voting today, leaving only four two that either haven't started or haven't reported their plans to the secretary of state's office. Secondly, I don't know SOS's plans for updating their data over the weekend. It could be that they won't update to reflect today's numbers until Monday. Then again, a few counties are open for early voting on Saturday. We may, then, get additional updates over the weekend, but I'm not sure. If there are updates, though, I'll make the proper changes here.
----------------------------------------------------------
Let me add in a revised map of the staggered early voting starts to reflect the fact that I tracked down when early voting for the runoff began in Towns and Treutlen Counties. The Elections Division had that information online but not on the pdf file I had been using. Towns County began on Wednesday while Treutlen started on Tuesday.

[Click Map to Enlarge]


Recent Posts:
Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 3)

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 2)

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 1)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 3)

Three days does not an election make, but the pattern emerging in the Georgia Senate runoff is looking more and more ominous for Jim Martin and better and better for Saxby Chambliss. Why? Well, as the data below clearly suggests, women and African Americans -- two groups that typically favor Democratic candidates -- are just not turning out at levels that will reverse the preference ordering from the first round on November 4. If anything, the fact that women and blacks are turning out at lower levels suggests that Chambliss will do even better on December 2 than he did earlier.



But let's parse this out a bit. The one thing that cannot be stressed enough is that early voting trends don't necessarily portend how the ultimate election outcome will look. Back before the election, I made the case that the 2008 presidential election could play out in a way similar to the 2004 election, just over an extended period of time. If you'll recall, early exit polling on election day in 2004 showed that John Kerry was ahead and likely to be the next president. But it didn't turn out that way. As the actual returns came in, the outcome was the opposite of what the early exit polls had suggested. Earlier, I argued that early voting could cause a similar effect to play out, but instead of across just election day, across the last month or so of the campaign. In other words, the early voters could be Democratic (which they were throughout much of the nation) while election day voters were more Republican. Again, it didn't turn out that way...exactly.

The argument has been made that the reports on early voting and the direction is appeared to be heading may have pushed election day turnout down. The perceived direction of the count, then, caused voters to question whether their vote was necessary in achieving their desired outcome. In the presidential election, this was more likely to affect Democrats. The most extreme example of this phenomenon was what happened in Alaska on November 4. Early voting that favored Obama and other down-ballot Democrats in the state when coupled with the 9:30pm (EST) reality in the presidential race, made it much more difficult for some Alaskans (who were getting off work around that time -- four hour time difference) to justify turning out to vote. This is part of the reason it looked -- at least on election night -- as if Ted Stevens had been reelected to his Senate seat. Those election day voters were more Republican. It wasn't until all the early votes and provisional ballots were counted that that changed.

So why am I taking this discussion to the Last Frontier and to the national level? Again, early voting may not necessarily help us to determine the ultimate outcome of the race. But here is why early voting is likely to be a fairly strong cue as to what will happen on December 2: enthusiasm. The enthusiasm that caused so many to turn out to vote early for the November 4 election doesn't seem to be there in this runoff. Now, we would expect turnout to be lower in the runoff, but it isn't proportionally lower across the various demographic groups listed in the data from the Karen Handel's office here in Georgia. It is lower among the groups that would be expected to help Jim Martin.

But couldn't we see an opposite effect from what we saw in Alaska? In other words, Republicans see that the early voting is going well for Chambliss and don't come to the polls on election day. Meanwhile Democrats, knowing they are behind, are motivated to come out to their polling places on December 2 to vote for Jim Martin.

That is possible, but it is not as likely as it would be if Georgia were not as conservatively tilted as it. If the Peach state was more competitive between the parties, then I'd be more inclined to listen to that argument. [Yes, Alaska is just as conservative as Georgia, if not more so, but it is a different kind of conservative, shaped by a completely different set of circumstances.] And this certainly works with the enthusiasm angle posited above. Georgia Republicans are on the defensive while Democrats in the state already have something they wanted out of this election: an Obama victory. Sure the talk after November 4 was that Republicans would be depressed because of what had happened cumulatively on election day, but it may be that Democrats are too elated to care instead.

An Obama appearance is still the wildcard here. But what would that signal? That he cares about the 60 seats potential in the Senate (Why, when he's going to be working across party lines anyway?) or that Martin is in danger of falling short in his effort to unseat Chambliss (Is that a good way to expend this political capital everyone is talking about?). If Obama came to Georgia to stump for Martin and Martin still lost, it likely wouldn't look good for the president-elect. And you don't want to look bad before you are even president.

---------------------------------------------------------
As promised, below is a map that shows the different dates on which the counties throughout Georgia started (or will start) the early voting process. Today another five counties kick off early voting with five more to follow tomorrow. The counties in light purple will have advance voting starting next Monday and those in white have yet to inform the Secretary of State's office of their plans (Of course, it is also possible that the counties have shared that information with SOS but SOS hasn't updated their online information yet.)

[Click Map to Enlarge]

That sounds like a hit on the good folks at the Secretary of State's office. It isn't one. The folks in Atlanta have been very helpful to me in putting the data I've been using the last few days together. And they have also been good about updating the early voting totals. So a heart-felt thank you is extended to them.


Recent Posts:
Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 2)

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 1)

Hillary Clinton vs. John McCain

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 2)

Yesterday, we got our first glimpse at the early voting statistics for the Georgia Senate runoff. We also raised the question over the potential impact the staggered starts to early voting in the 159 counties across Georgia might have for the fortunes of the two candidates involved. First, let's incorporate the new data from yesterday and then I'll make some further comments on the staggered early voting starts.

[Note: I should add that early voting began in Fulton County on Tuesday and not on Wednesday as I said yesterday. In other words, there was only a one day lag for one of the most Martin-friendly counties in the Peach state. There were conflicting reports on the Fulton situation, and I opted for the AJC report, thinking it would be the most reliable. I was wrong. The Secretary of State still has a list of when early voting will take place and in which counties. But I'll have more on that in a moment.]


So, what's new?
  • With Fulton added to the mix on Tuesday, the African American proportion of early voters increased, but only by a couple of percentage points. But at just under a quarter of the early votes, the African American proportion still lags almost ten points behind where it did over the course of the entire general election early voting period.
  • Once the second day numbers are added, we also see that the female percentage of early voters increases by a modest amount. Like the African American vote, though, the percentage of women voters lags behind the overall proportion during the general election early voting.
  • Also be sure to note that the spreadsheet now has tabs at the bottom for additional statistics on each of the individual days of early voting thus far.
The overarching message? Well, for starters, we may not want to read too much into the early voting numbers in a runoff election. [But you know I'll read into them, don't you?] Both of the demographic breakdowns above don't particularly favor Jim Martin's in his quest to reverse the general electorate's candidate preference ordering in the runoff. But let's look at the when each of Georgia's 159 counties actually started (or will start) early voting and see if the late starting counties favor one candidate over the other. First, how did the general election look on the county level? The typical red for Republicans, blue for Democrats color scheme applies.

[Click Map to Enlarge]

Now, let's remove the counties that started early voting on Monday. [I would say on or before Monday, but the two counties -- Gordon and Richmond -- that began early voting last Friday are shaded in dark gray below. However, neither is included in the analysis that follows. The same is true of the two counties -- Towns and Treutlen -- on which the the secretary of state's office still has no early voting information. They are shaded in pink on the map below. Finally, the two counties in light bluish gray -- Madison and McIntosh -- are counties where there is no early voting. Advance voting will start on Monday in both areas. Both Madison and McIntosh are included in our analysis.]

[Click Map to Enlarge]

What can be gleaned from that map? At first glance, not much. Just eyeballing the red and blue counties -- those counties that started early voting after Monday -- doesn't really turn up any noticeable trends. Once we combine the information from both maps, though, we start to get a clearer picture of whether one of the candidates benefits from the staggered starts to early voting. On November 4, Saxby Chambliss won 121 of Georgia's 159 counties. Of those 121, 45 counties started their early voting operations after November 17. Jim Martin, on the other hand, won 38 counties on election day and 18 of those had late starts to early voting.

Yeah, but Georgia isn't under the county unit system anymore, is it? So the county counting is irrelevant. That's true, so let's look at the proportion of the November 4 vote total from each of those collections of counties. I've removed Allen Buckley's vote total, and as a result, I'm just looking at the share of the two-party vote each candidate's late-start early voting counties comprises. [Yeah, I agree. "Late-start early voting counties" is confusing.] Basically, the result is a wash. The 45 Chambliss counties that began (or will begin) early voting after Monday made up 12.3% of the two-party vote on November 4, while the 18 Martin counties (including Fulton) that got off to a late start in early voting accounted for 11.77% of the total two-party vote during the general election. If anything, then, Chambliss is at an ever so slight disadvantage due to the staggered start to early voting in counties across the Peach state. Again though, it isn't by much. And with the proportion of early African American and female voters down from where they were during the general election's early voting period, it may not matter anyway. That drop likely outweighs any disadvantage Chambliss may be getting because counties he won on November 4 are off to a late start in early voting.

Let me note again today that I'll be updating this data daily and that I'm still trying to track down the day-by-day data for the general election's early voting period. That information will help to a more informed projection of the runoff vote. Also, tomorrow I'll add in a map to reflect the different start dates for each county's early voting windows.


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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Georgia Senate Runoff: Early Voting (Day 1)

Below are the numbers from the first day of early voting in the Georgia Senate runoff:


Now, you can also get this data from the Georgia Secretary of State's web site, but I've augmented the numbers to include the percentages and the totals by gender and race.

So, what do we know after one day of voting in the Peach state?
  • Turnout is down, but that's not a surprise. Barely 13,000 votes cast is a fraction of what we were seeing early on in the general election early voting. [I'm still trying to get a hold of the day-by-day data on this in order to draw a proper comparison.]
  • The percentage of African American participation is down. This isn't a fair comparison, but over the entire early voting period for the general election, blacks made up nearly 35% of early voters (via Michael McDonald). For that proportion to sink to 22% is not good news for Jim Martin.
  • The female percentage of the early vote is also down; another possible omen for Martin. Again, according to McDonald, women made up over 56% of early voters prior to the November 4 election. That proportion is now down to just under 48%.
Alright, now that we've got the numbers out of the way let's add in the caveats.
  • Monday, the only day reflected in these numbers, was only the first day of early voting in some counties throughout Georgia.
  • African American-heavy counties, like Fulton, don't start until Wednesday. You'll notice that the spreadsheet doesn't have Fulton among the top five counties for early voting. Fulton was the number two county overall for early voting ahead of the general election. So pack up those doomsday scenarios for Martin for the time being.
  • I spoke with someone at the Elections Division at the Secretary of State's office today and was told that some counties would not be offering early voting at all. What!?! They instead are offering only advance voting. The difference is that there are more locations for advance voting but over a shorter period of time.
All this staggered starting to the early voting brings up an interesting question: What impact will it have? I took a lot of flak in the comments section last week for giving the general election's county results in the Senate race an electoral college treatment. In light of these differing windows of early voting, though, it really could have an impact on turnout. In other words, if the counties that have early voting the longest are Chambliss counties, the the Republican incumbent could potentially bank some votes in a way similar to what Obama did nationwide in the presidential race.

The complicating factor is that a county like Fulton will only have the final three business days of this week and the first three business days of next week -- truncated due to the Thanksgiving holiday -- for early voting. And those advance voting-only counties will only have the three days next week. Again, if those are predominantly Martin counties, then the challenger may be getting the short end of the stick. And to think, there was all this fuss over the Republicans having lengthened the time between the general election and the runoff when they reinstituted the 50% rule for the runoff. The talk over the last week or so here in Georgia was that the extra week would give enthusiastic Democrats even more time to vote. Well, not if they can't. So, the 50% rule hurt Chambliss, but the time between the general and the runoff may not.

I'm going to be augmenting this daily (Well, week-daily as there won't be any new data on the weekends.) as we approach election day on December 2. I'll add in the new data each day and share that with everyone, but I also hope to, as I said, get a hold of some other data in order to potentially make some projections. Stay tuned.


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Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Ads: Georgia Senate Runoff--UPDATED

Since yesterday, when I saw it five or six times during regional football coverage, I've been trying to track down the latest ad from Saxby Chambliss. Essentially the ad is a remix of the ad "Martin Economics" that ran during the last week or so of the general election campaign (see below). The basic point? Obama's (...and by extension Martin's) tax plan(s) is (are) bad for Georgians. The new version ends with Chambliss promising to lower taxes.



But Chambliss is not alone here. In fact, the DSCC has been quite involved in this campaign over the final weeks of the general election campaign. But Martin, too, has an addition to the discussion as well.



The ad, "Recession," may as well be called, "In His Own Words." It opens, as you can see above, with Chambliss saying, "We may not be in a recession. I don't know what that term means." Yeah, that one is in the same vein as "Read My Lips" and "The Fundamentals of the Economy are Strong." And the intent is exactly the same: Paint your opponent as out of touch on the most salient issue of the 2008 campaign. 61% of voters polled (...in the exit polls) called the economy the "most important issue" and 49% of those went for Martin compared to 47% for Chambliss. That's a pretty even division, and tells us why both are continuing to revisit the issue in ads. If anyone can claim any advantage on the issue before December 2, it could make the difference.

And for the record, the footage of Chambliss in that new Martin ad is from this cycle. Yeah, the topic is timely enough, but still. Those are current Chambliss signs in the background, though.

--------------------------------------
UPDATE
Oh, and here is the latest ad from the NRSC on behalf of Chambliss. There's some good imagery in this one. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer make appearances at the end with Martin's "crazy" picture being blocked out by the words "Liberal Jim Martin" with Pelosi prominently displayed to the right. The "Out of Touch" charge on the economy is the issue of this runoff. Both candidates are saying the other is more out of touch on the economic situation.




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Friday, November 14, 2008

Georgia Senate Election Certified

There will be a runoff between Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin. [Now, there's a shock!]

Early voting for the December 2 runoff will start as early as Monday (November 17) in some counties and no later than Wednesday (November 19) according to Secretary of State Karen Handel's press release yesterday.

One other interesting fact about the rules behind the runoff system in Georgia is that when the 50% plus one vote threshold was reapplied to statewide races in 2005, the interim period between the general election and the runoff election was expanded from three weeks to four weeks. I suspect that is due in large part to the potential for overlap with the Thanksgiving holiday, but I can't verify that. One thing is for sure, the advance voting week will fall during Thanksgiving week and has been condensed from five days to just three as a result.

What's the difference between early and advance voting, you ask? Well, in Georgia it seems to boil down to a matter of the number of voting locations. Early voting is confined to one location per county but over an extended period of time (September 22-October 31 for the November 4 election), whereas advance voting has a greater number of polling places in the larger counties during just the business week (Monday -Friday) prior to the election.

Some of Jim Martin's success in the general election was dependent upon early and advance voting and that was driven in large part by the efforts of the Obama campaign to get out the (early) vote in Georgia. We have talked about Obama as a wildcard in this runoff race, but whether he appears in Georgia between now and December 2 -- John McCain and Mike Huckabee have already lined up stops to campaign for Chambliss -- may not matter as much as the remnants of the Obama campaign's infrastructure in Georgia (and from workers pouring into the state from other locales) banking those early votes for Martin as they did for Obama prior to November 4.

Question for the comments section: What impact might that extra week between elections have on the outcome? I can see it going both ways: the enthusiasm behind Martin dies down or another unintended consequence of the GOP-driven law change -- more time for Martin to mobilize -- coming back to haunt them. Thoughts?


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Monday, November 10, 2008

More on the Georgia Senate Runoff

Late last week, we examined the Georgia counties where both Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin did well in Tuesday's Senate race election. That investigation provided an idea as to where each of the candidates may be focusing between now and the December 2 runoff and where either may be vulnerable. But let's look at some of the other numbers from last Tuesday's vote and see if there are any other clues to whether Martin actually has a chance or if Chambliss is something of a foregone conclusion.

2008 Presidential Vote: Georgia
McCain
(R)
2,046,419
Obama
(D)
1,840,397
Barr
(Lib)
28,771
Totals

3,915,587
52.3% 47.0% 0.7% 100.0%
*Source: Georgia Secretary of State

One thing that I was interested in seeing was the amount of ballot roll-off* from the presidential race to the Senate race. In other words, who voted for president and then just skipped voting for the Senate race and/or all the other down-ballot races? The idea here is that if there were a significant number of Obama voters that didn't vote for Martin, then he 1) is already starting with a smaller base or 2) has some other potential voters to mobilize for the runoff election.

2008 Senate Vote: Georgia
Chambliss
(R)
1,864,909
Martin
(D)
1,754,108
Buckley
(Lib)
127,785
Totals

3,746,802
49.8% 46.8% 3.4% 100.0%
*Source: Georgia Secretary of State

What we see is that overall there were approximately 169,000 fewer votes cast in the Senate race than in the presidential race. But how we get to that 169,000 figure is an interesting sidenote. There were about 182,000 fewer Chambliss voters than McCain voters and 86,000 fewer Martin voters than Obama supporters. In the best case scenario for Martin, if he was able to mobilize all those Obama voters behind him, the former state Senator representative would gain almost 100,000 votes on Chambliss. That would bring the margin between the two candidates down to less than 25,000 votes. That's certainly closer, but not close enough to make Chambliss really sweat it out.

There are three wildcards here, though. First, we know that turnout is likely to be far lower on December 2 than it was on November 4. The above is a better (not best) case scenario for Jim Martin. But we know that all those voters aren't going to come back to the polls for the runoff. That means that attempting to handicap that turnout will help us to better understand how competitive the runoff will actually be. The other two wildcards will help us there.

What about those Libertarians? Native son and Libertarian presidential candidate, Bob Barr, wasn't able to sway all that many voters over into his corner. Barr was seen as a major potential factor in bringing Georgia into play for Obama, but after polling well over the summer, Barr's support wavered in the polls down the stretch. In fact, the Libertarian's senate candidate, Allen Buckley, polled much better on November 4, totalling about 100,000 more votes than Barr did in the presidential race. That can be chalked up to strategic voting. Buckley, slim though his chances were, had a better chance of winning that Senate seat than Barr did of winning the presidency.

For comparison's sake, I looked at North Carolina as well. Here's a state that had a competitive Senate race as well and has a pretty good base of Libertarian support. The outcome was very similar in the Tar Heel state. McCain and Obama crowded Bob Barr out in the presidential race, but Libertarian, Chris Cole did comparatively better in the Dole-Hagan Senate race. The roll-off in North Carolina was about a third of what it was in Georgia, but the Libertarians did around 100,000 votes better on the Senate level in both states' Senate races.

Well, what does all that mean? For starters, there are likely a sizable number of people who voted for McCain and Buckley who Chambliss could target in some way. I would imagine some reprise of the McCain campaign's socialism, big government, big spending liberal arguments could persuade some of those voters to participate in the runoff and vote for Chambliss.

The other wildcard will affect the turnout Jim Martin is likely to expect. And we talked about this one at the close of the previous post on this race. Very simply, how involved will President-elect Barack Obama be. Are 58-59 seats in the Senate better than 57, or does it even matter since 60 seats are basically off the table for the Democrats. If the 44th president feels like getting involved, Georgia is a place where there's the most potential for impact. Counting and recounting in Alaska and Minnesota, respectively, aren't arenas where Obama can make all that much difference. In a campaign, a newly elected president could make a difference.

And as we saw, there were a fair number of Obama voters who dropped off after that vote and didn't cast a vote in the Senate race. If the primary/general election campaign infrastructure that Obama had in place can be recharged to some degree, Jim Martin figures to be the beneficiary in the December 2 runoff.

And what about those McCain voters? Chambliss could activate some of those, right? Sure, I just think it is less likely than Obama voters who rolled off turning out for the runoff given the enthusiasm gap that was present before the election and the actual cumulative results from November 4. In any event, we aren't talking about a ton of voters here, but in a close race, those voters at the margins could prove consequential.

In the end, we can add a few more parts to the equation. We already knew about the likely turnout drop between the general election and the runoff, but now we can factor in -- at least in our thinking if not statistically in some way -- the possible influence those Libertarian and Obama voters from the original vote.


*One other cause for this ballot roll-off might have been the negative tone of the Senate campaign over the final weeks. There is some research to suggest that this has happened before. It could also be argued that the presidential race was also negative, but it isn't a stretch to say that it was outpaced in negativity by the Chambliss-Martin Senate race. Also, though Georgia got some last minute attention from the presidential candidates, neither campaign was focused too heavily on the Peach state despite the shrinking polling gap during the final week. That wasn't the case in the Senate race.


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Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Georgia Senate Runoff

There hasn't been a whole lot of talk around here during this cycle devoted to races other than the presidential race. [I don't think there are too many people that are complaining about this.] However, with the Senate race here in the Peach state heading for a December 2 runoff between incumbent Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin, I thought it appropriate to shift the focus to the one remaining high profile race anyone's campaigning for.

[It certainly isn't the only undetermined race at this point. There will be a recount in Minnesota's senate race and the Ted Stevens' situation in Alaska makes that one worth watching if only for more speculation about who would potentially fill his shoes if he were to win and be forced out of office. Sarah Palin, I'm looking in your direction. The former VP choice on the GOP side won't have direct appointment powers on a replacement because the two conflicting laws Alaska has on the books call for a special election within 90 days. However, what is not known is if the governor has the power to appoint someone on an interim basis for that period of time. We'll have to hold off on that speculation for now, but part one -- Stevens winning -- looks likely.]

But back to Georgia...

So what do we know about this race? I could tell you, but I better show you with a map first.

[Click Map to Enlarge]

Sure, that doesn't tell you anything more than you already knew. Chambliss spent the evening of November 4 watching his percentage in the vote returns creep closer and closer to the 50% plus one vote mark that the candidates had to avoid in order to prevent a runoff. And the incumbent Republican missed it by .2%. That aside, though, Georgia likely won't become the center of the political universe for the next month since the Democrats won't get to 60 seats in the Senate, and unless the Minnesota recount overturns the apparent result -- and I can't think if a case where a recount led to a anyone other than the original projected winner winning -- then the best the Democrats can hope for is 59. And Ted Stevens will have something to say about that.

Like Al Franken in that recount in Minnesota, Jim Martin will have a difficult time getting over the hump in Georgia. But let's talk a little about where the former state senator will have to do well between now and December 2. The first thing we can do is look at where the race was close but favored Chambliss on Tuesday. But let's filter that through where Lt. Governor Mark Taylor did well in 2002. Why Mark Taylor and not Max Cleland? To start, Taylor won in 2002 when Cleland did not. But Taylor was also the last Democrat to win a statewide office this high. Where the former lt. governor did well six years ago -- in a Republican-leaning election -- would add quite a few more counties to the map, but when you factor in how well Martin did on Tuesday in some of those south Georgia counties, you only end up with a handful of additional areas to potentially target. If you look at the map below, those are the counties in white. And all of them share a border with a county that went for Martin (except Turner County which borders another potential target county, Ben Hill County).

[Click Map to Enlarge]

Well, let's not leave that 2002 Cleland-Chambliss senate race out of the equation altogether. We can add one other layer to this by asking where Chambliss won on Tuesday that he did not six years ago. Again, we can add a few more counties to the list (the ones in gray above), but none of them, other than Seminole County in the far southwest corner of the state were within 13 points on Tuesday night. In other words, they just aren't viable targets for Martin.

The flip side of the coin on this is that there are also areas where Martin outperformed Cleland and could be vulnerable in the runoff. Oddly enough, there are six counties in this category (those in light blue) to counterbalance the six counties where Chambliss exceeded his own numbers from 2002. That is somewhat problematic for Martin and throws it back to those white counties. The problem there is that while there were seven close counties that favored Chambliss a couple of days ago, there were 18 close counties where Martin edged out the incumbent. And as we saw in the presidential race, if any momentum develops toward the end of the race, the potential that all the close areas break for the momentum-possessing candidate increases. By that measure, Martin clearly had some level of momentum on Tuesday; if only Obama's coattails.

But Martin won't have those coattails on December 2, but he will have to face the challenges described above as well as to overcome what is likely to be a rather significant drop in the turnout rate. The last time that there was a Senate runoff in Georgia under this 50% plus one vote law was the Wyche Fowler-Paul Coverdale race in 1992. Fowler, an incumbent Democrat, won the first round, but lost to Coverdale in the runoff when turnout decreased by 44.31%. Not only will Martin have to gain ground on an incumbent in some of the counties above (and likely more), but he'll have to get out the vote in a more efficient way than Saxby Chambliss. Paul Coverdale did come from behind, but for Martin, the state isn't trending toward the Democrats in 2008 the way it was moving toward the Republicans in 1992.

President-elect Obama could still be the wildcard here. But will the incentive be there to intervene without a 60th, filibuster-proof seat on the line?


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