Election News

A Look Back at How Trump Outperformed the Polls

June 3, 2017

The state polls - and thus the conventional wisdom - gave Donald Trump seemingly little chance to aggregate 270 electoral votes and win the 2016 presidential election. Yet he did win, remaking the electoral map by winning several states that had not been won by a Republican in a generation.

Why were the polls off in 2016? This excellent review, from The Upshot (New York Times) found several reasons that the polls were off. "At least three key types of error have emerged as likely contributors to the pro-Clinton bias in pre-election surveys. Undecided voters broke for Mr. Trump in the final days of the race, or in the voting booth. Turnout among Mr. Trump’s supporters was somewhat higher than expected. And state polls, in particular, understated Mr. Trump’s support in the decisive Rust Belt region, in part because those surveys did not adjust for the educational composition of the electorate — a key to the 2016 race." It is final reason that may have been the largest source of error.

The article provides more detail on each of these issues. It also delves into what is perhaps the more important question. Are the errors fixable so that polling can be trusted going forward? Here the answer is a bit murkier. If the above items accounted for most of the error, pollsters can make adjustments. However, if the root cause is nonresponse from certain segments of the electorate predisposed to one candidate, that is a much more difficult issue to address. In either case, the problem is compounded by the decline in well-designed, high-quality state polling, which has occurred in response to budget pressures on newspapers and other more traditional media outlets.



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Georgia Congressional Race Remains a Toss-up, New Poll Finds

June 2, 2017

Georgia's 6th congressional district special election remains a nail-biter, a new poll from Landmark Communications for WSB-TV finds. Democrat Jon Ossoff leads Republican Karen Handel by one point, 49% to 48%. Just 3% say they are undecided 2 1/2 weeks out from the June 20 runoff. 

Despite the fact that more than $36 million has been spent on this race, the most expensive House election in U.S. history, the findings of this poll are consistent with just about every survey taken since late March. All but one of these polls has found the candidates separated by two points or less, well within the margin of error.

 

While the overall race is extremely tight, it is notable that Ossoff leads Handel by over 21 points with voters 18-39. Handel has almost as large a lead with voters 65 and over. Although not quite as pronounced as with age, the poll also found a sizable gender gap. Ossoff leads by 10 points among women, Handel by 9 points among men. 


Gianforte Shakes Off Assault Charge, Wins Montana Race by 6 Points

May 26, 2017

Republican Greg Gianforte will become Montana's at-large congressional representative after winning Thursday's special election by about 6 points over Democrat Rob Quist. The race, already more competitive than expected, was thrown into last-minute turmoil Wednesday night as Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault after an altercation with a reporter. It appears that incident didn't have a huge impact on the outcome, with nearly 2/3 of the total votes cast in the election submitted by mail prior to Election Day.

Gianforte apologized for the incident, and to the reporter by name, while speaking to supporters Thursday night. He is scheduled to appear in court on June 7th. 

Donald Trump won the state by 21 points in November, while Ryan Zinke was reelected to this House seat by about 16 points. Zinke resigned to become Secretary of the Interior on March 1st.

Upcoming Special Elections

Once Gianforte is sworn in, Republicans will have 239 seats in the House; Democrats 193, with three vacancies. Those seats will be filled over the next month:

  • California 34th District, June 6th: Two Democrats advanced to the runoff for this seat, vacated by Xavier Becerra when he became the state's Attorney General. Safe Democrat
  • Georgia's 6th District, June 20th: The most expensive House race in U.S. history will finally be decided as Democrat Jon Ossoff faces Republican Karen Handel. Polling for the race has been close, although the most recent one had Ossoff up by 7. The seat became open when Tom Price resigned to become Secretary of Health & Human Services.Toss-Up
  • South Carolina's 5th District, June 20th: This seat became vacant when Mick Mulvaney resigned to become Director of the Office of Management and Budget. In the only poll we've seen for this race, Republican Ralph Norman had a 17 point lead on Democrat Archie Parnell in this heavily Republican district.  Likely/Safe Republican

Montana Congressional Special Election Today

May 25, 2017

Montanans will go to the polls today to fill their at-large Congressional seat.  The seat has been vacant since Ryan Zinke resigned on March 1st to become President Trump's Secretary of the Interior. The polls are open until 8:00PM Mountain Time (10:00PM Eastern). 

The race, already more competitive than originally expected, was thrown into last-minute turmoil Wednesday night when the Republican, Greg Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault after an altercation with a reporter from The Guardian. While Democrats called on Gianforte to withdraw, it is unclear how much of an impact this event will have on today's vote. Over 250,000 ballots have already been returned by mail in a state with just 699,000 registered voters, according to The New York Times. In the 2016 general election, about 517,000 votes were cast in the state. That 74% turnout is unlikely to be replicated for a special election on the Thursday before a holiday weekend. This means the majority of votes in this election have already been cast.

Additionally, while there's no across-the-board data, early voting in many elections is often disproportionately Democratic vis-a-vis Election Day itself, when more Republicans tend to vote. Some of that can be seen in the most recent poll on the race. While finding a 14 point lead for Gianforte, his Democratic opponent Rob Quist held a one point lead among those in the poll who had already voted. The point is: Given the current war on the media from the right, some of today's voters in this conservative state will look favorably on Gianforte's standing up to a reporter. 

Libertarian Mark Wicks is the third candidate on the ballot. 

 


Ossoff Leads by 7 in New Poll for Georgia Special Election

May 22, 2017

Democrat Jon Ossoff has a 7 point lead over Republican Karen Handel in a new SurveyUSA poll of 549 likely voters in Georgia's 6th Congressional District. Ossoff is at 51%, Handel 44%. The runoff election is four weeks from Tuesday (June 20th).

 

While the 7 point spread is the largest we have seen for this election, The pollster cautions that the result is “close enough in a low-turnout, stand-alone runoff to be anyone’s call, though clearly Ossoff is in a better position than Handel.” 


Contact Information Added to Elected Officials Look

May 18, 2017

For those that want to communicate with one or more of their elected representatives, we've updated our elected officials look-up with a variety of contact information.  You can see (where available): Mailing address, phone number, e-mail and website. For Congress, Facebook and Twitter links are also included. 

Input your address (or any U.S. address, Zip Code, state etc.) into the input form on the page. Alternately, you can click/tap this link to get the results for your current location. Where a full address or Zip Code is provided, information on state legislators will also be provided. Contact information for state governors will be added within the next few days.


Poll: Ossoff Leads Handel by 2 in Competitive Georgia Runoff Election

May 14, 2017

Five weeks out from the June 20th runoff, a new Gravis Marketing poll mirrors what other polling has found: A highly competitive race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel. This new poll of 870 likely voters gave Ossoff a two point lead, 47% to 45%. This is within the poll's 3.3% margin of error. 

Ossoff's 47% is little changed from the 48% he received in the April 18th non-partisan primary. Handel received 20% on that date, although her vote was split among a number of viable Republican alternatives. Since nobody received a majority of the vote, these two will meet in the June runoff.

This race has attracted national attention and, as we noted earlier this month, will be the most expensive House race in U.S. history. 


Ratings Update: More Republican-Held House Races Seen Competitive in 2018

May 11, 2017

Passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and President Trump's unpopularity are combining to make many more Republican House seats look competitive in the 2018 midterm elections, according to a new analysis from Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball. They have moved the ratings of 18 seats in the direction of Democrats, including 13 that have moved into the lean/toss-up category. 

 

All but two of these Republicans voted for the AHCA. See how your/any Representative voted for AHCA alongside the competitiveness of their race here.

With six seats being moved to the toss-up category, Republicans remain favored in 230 House seats, 12 more than the 218 needed to hold control. The party currently holds 238 seats, with three previously Republican-held seats now vacant, to be filled in special elections by mid-year.

For more, see the 2018 House Interactive Map.


Labrador to Run for Idaho Governor; 12th House Retirement in 2018 Cycle

May 10, 2017

Raul Labrador, in his 4th term representing Idaho's first congressional district, has announced he will run for governor of the state in 2018. He will be the 8th person to join the race to replace retiring incumbent Butch Otter. Idaho is one of 36 gubernatorial seats to be contested next year. In addition, Virginia and New Jersey will elect a new state chief executive in 2017. Check our 2017-18 interactive gubernatorial map for more details.

Labrador becomes the 12th House retirement this cycle. This includes eight Republicans and four Democrats. Four of these (all Republicans) are retiring (or have not announced other plans), while six are running for governor and two for the U.S. Senate. All eight of those elections will take place in 2018. Only two of the 12 House seats are seen as highly competitive in 2018, one from each party.

 

Not included in the list above is Oklahoma Republican Jim Bridenstine. He announced in late 2015 that a third term would be his last. He won that third term in 2016. However, as best as we can tell, no official announcement has been made.

All 435 House seats will be contested in the 2018 midterms. Follow along with our 2018 House interactive map.


Two Polls Show Single Digit Lead for Republican in Montana Special Election

May 9, 2017

Two recent polls of Montana's upcoming U.S. House special election show a single digit lead for the Republican. The seat became vacant after Ryan Zinke resigned March 1 to become Secretary of the Interior.  

The most recent poll, from Gravis Marketing, gives Republican Greg Gianforte an 8 point lead over his Democratic challenger Rob Quist. A late April poll from Democratic pollster Garin-Hart-Yang showed a similar 6 point Gianforte lead. 

This is a statewide race, as Montana has a single congressional district. The seat has been in Republican hands since 1997. Zinke won re-election by 16% last November, while Trump did even better, outpacing Hillary Clinton by 20%. 

The two major party candidates will be joined on the ballot by Libertarian Mark Wicks. Absentee ballots went out on May 1st. The election will take place on Thursday, May 25th.



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