Text

Voter Error in Top-Two Primaries

This may not be the best time blog about elections, but I can’t offer any commentary on the issues in Ferguson, MO that hasn’t already been said, so I’ll stick with commenting on elections.

Fair Vote has conducted a study comparing voter error in California’s top-two primary to voter error in California’s ranked choice voting elections. The results of the study show a higher rate of voter error in top-two primary races. Specifically, Fair Vote found that California voters chose more candidates than they could vote for in top-two primaries, also known as overvoting:

image

They also found a higher number of undervotes, i.e., when voters skip a race, in top-two primaries than in ranked choice elections - suggesting voters are more engaged in ranked choice elections.

Bottom line: of the two systems, ranked choice voting is better.

In other news, two consultants (one Democrat and one Republican) discussed their efforts to aid an independent candidate with the Sacramento Bee.

Text

Fundraising Number Fun in Texas

Living in Texas, I’ve followed - with obvious interest - the reporting regarding the recent fundraising totals in the gubernatorial race. The good news for Wendy Davis: she’s been raising money. The bad news for Davis: it appears she’s overstated how much she raised (Source).

The campaign originally claimed they had $13.1 million cash on hand, but it’s more like $12.8 million. The reason for the drop was Battleground Texas’ numbers (which Davis’ camp is apparently including in their total).

Aside from the discrepancy in claims versus the actual amount on hand, the real problem lies in the fact that she has $500,000 in in-kind contributions, including a $250,000 in-kind for a Willie Nelson concert.

Why is that a problem? Well, because she’s at a 3-1 cash on hand disadvantage, and the in-kind concert isn’t going to help you going to stay up on statewide tv and radio or help you do much of anything else (though I’m sure the concert was awesome - it was Willie after all).

The Texas press hasn’t really been that impressed with Davis’ campaign for things like what’s described above, and apparently neither is the Washington Post's Reid Wilson, who called Davis “the most overrated candidate this cycle.”

Speaking of fundraising, I wonder how much money the President raised while he was in Texas last week (that’s money that is flowing out of state rather than into Wendy Davis’ campaign coffers).

Text

Some Elections and Voting Reading

Since I’m going to be on vacation for a little over a week, I wanted to leave y’all with some thought provoking stories relating to voting and elections (as well as a promise to post pictures of the beautiful scenes from my vacation once I return).

The Top-Two Primary:

Could the top-two primary tame the tea party threat?

California’s jungle primary: Tried it. Dump it.

Top-Two System Again Excludes All Minor Parties

I’ve previously written about the jungle primary (see here, here and here). The argument in favor of the jungle, or top-two, primary is that it will decrease partisanship; however, that doesn’t seem to be the case. David McAdams argues it could help the GOP rid itself of TEA Party candidates like David Brat (not sure that’s a pay off that’s really worth it, and previous studies suggest that top-two primaries do not have a moderating effect).

Voting by Mail:

Does a postmark deadline really help vote by mail voters?

It appears that allowing an Election Day postmark deadline for voters is better than an earlier deadline. It’s an interesting issue to consider with more people taking advantage of mail ballots (see here and here).

No excuse needed to vote absentee in Minnesota

Minnesota is currently one the 20 states that does not have no-excuse absentee voting (Source); however, that is about to change. While I was looking up the states that have no-excuse absentee voting, I found an interesting interactive from the New York Times showing how many people voted by mail in each state in 2010 (Source).

Election Fraud (Really):

Vote-Farming In Texas

This short post by Joseph Kulhavy is a good introduction to an issue that has a long, sordid history in South Texas that has affected several elections, including Archer Parr’s re-election.

Photoset

The latest polling in the Texas races from the Texas Tribune.  Abbott leads Davis by 12, and Patrick leads Van de Putte by 15.  In October 2013, Abbott had a 6 point lead on Davis (Source); it was 11 in February 2014.  There doesn’t seem to be any signs that Abbott is in any danger from Davis, though the campaign is attempting to spin the poll as positively as possible (the poll comes as Davis fired and replaced her campaign manager).  And while Dan Patrick was supposed to be the weak link in the Republican chain, he’s actually outperforming all other GOP candidates.

Text

Texas Runoff Elections: Early Voting

Yesterday was the first day of early voting in the Texas runoff elections (Election Day is May 27th if you’re interested), so I decided to compare yesterday’s results to the first day of the 2012 run off, and it’s pretty interesting.

For example, more people voted in the Republican primary runoff in Collin, Dallas, Denton, El Paso and Tarrant yesterday than voted in those counties in 2012.  The totals were also close to the 2012 results in the other counties. 

Considering that Ted Cruz won big in the 2012 U.S. Senate runoff, this probably isn’t a trend you want to see continuing this week if you are viewed as an establishment, or moderate, candidate.

Early voting continues throughout the week, so if you have the opportunity, go vote, as there are several runoff elections.

Text

Why Voting Regularly Matters

When I opened the Wall Street Journal this morning, one of the stories below the fold was “GOP Poised to Control More State Legislatures” (subscription required).  In summary, the Republicans could pick up as many as five state senates, which reminded me of some articles I saw recently regarding who votes and who doesn’t.

The first was a poll conducted by New Republic, which looked at the differences between voters who vote every two years versus those who only vote every four:

image

As you can see, individuals who vote every 2 years tend to be Republican, conservative, white and older, which gives Republicans an advantage - hence why they can have an opportunity to gain control over more state legislatures.

The second was an article from Texas Tribune looking at voting difference between districts, wherein low turnout districts are typically Democrat districts and high turnout districts are typically Republican.  This is based on a number of factors, but demographics such as those in the New Republic poll are obviously a big reason.  And since 2003, Republicans have controlled the state legislature and the Congressional delegation.

Bottom line: if you show up and vote regularly, you’re probably going to win more battles.

Text

PPP: “Republicans lead in Texas”

According to the latest poll from Public Policy Polling.  In other news, water is wet.  

Still, the numbers put something of a damper on the hopes of TX Democrats.  Abbott has a 14 point lead over Davis (one point less than the polling in November).  The big swing has been in Davis’ favourability numbers, which are now 33/47, and may get worse as her law firm’s work gets further scrutiny.  

Both potential Republican LtGov nominees (there’s a run-off election in May) have a similar lead over the Democratic LtGov candidate Leticia Van de Putte (the numbers are actually similar to the 2010 general election results).  

Photo
Michael Li posted an interesting chart showing voter turnout in Texas since 1926:

In 1926, for example, 821,234 Texans voted in the Democratic primary -  at a time when the state had just barely over 5.4 million residents.
Contrast that to the 546,523 Texans who voted in the 2014 Democratic primary in a state that now is home to over 26 million people and more than 13.6 million registered voters.

And about 1.3 million voted in the 2014 Republican primary compared to the 821,234 voters in the 1926 primary (obviously the Republican Party wasn’t exactly a force to be reckoned with in 1926).
Overall, Texas ranks dead last in voter turnout and 47th in voter registration (Source).
There’s a lot to digest in those numbers.

Michael Li posted an interesting chart showing voter turnout in Texas since 1926:

In 1926, for example, 821,234 Texans voted in the Democratic primary -  at a time when the state had just barely over 5.4 million residents.

Contrast that to the 546,523 Texans who voted in the 2014 Democratic primary in a state that now is home to over 26 million people and more than 13.6 million registered voters.

And about 1.3 million voted in the 2014 Republican primary compared to the 821,234 voters in the 1926 primary (obviously the Republican Party wasn’t exactly a force to be reckoned with in 1926).

Overall, Texas ranks dead last in voter turnout and 47th in voter registration (Source).

There’s a lot to digest in those numbers.

Text

Negative Ad Complaints: TX Primary Edition

It’s like a bad recurring rash, i.e., the complaint about “negative” ads, or as I like to call them: informative.

The latest comes from Gromer Jeffers at the Dallas Morning News regarding the recent Republican primary in Senate District 16:

Huffines, part of the family that owns area car dealerships, has considerable campaign resources and has used them to drag Carona through the mud.

What’s dragging the incumbent through the mud you might ask?

He’s criticized the senator for political issues and ethical questions, saying the incumbent has used his perch in the Legislature to shepherd laws that helped his property management business.

So, bringing up information which has already been verified and discussed in the media - see here - is dragging him through the mud.  Yes, the Godfather mail piece was probably pretty cheeky, but humor and cheekiness don’t undermine the information.

If the information wasn’t factual, then perhaps there would be grounds for complaint; however, the facts of the ads were never disputed.

Then there is the well worn canard that negative advertising drives down turnout:

For Huffines, the idea is to not only aim at Carona’s support base, but to use the attacks to suppress the vote.

Actually, negative ads have no impact on turnout or a slight positive effect (see here and here).

The claim that negative ads reduce turn out is particularly egregious in this instance, since the incumbent hasn’t had a primary opponent since he was elected in 1996.  In 2012, twenty-nine thousand people voted in the SD16 primary.  This year 49,637 individuals voted.  This was more than voted in the CD 32 primary where Pete Sessions was challenged by TEA Party activist Katrina Pierson (Source).

Past posts on this topic:

Attacking Negative Ads

Do Negative Ads Make A Difference?

Photoset

Remembering the fallen of the 2014 Texas primary elections.

Quite a few incumbents lost during last night’s primary, and other elected officials who were making attempts at higher office also saw their dreams dashed (Source).  I do admit to taking a perverse pleasure in seeing Lon Burnam being retired from the Pink Building.  This does mean I’m going to have to update and revise my Twitter list though.