Monday, July 27, 2015

New Mexico in Presidential politics

In this installment of the state-by-state series, I examine the newest Mexico there is, New Mexico. A relatively small state with relatively large swings in its margin of victory, to the intelligent human eye it seems to be somewhat unpredictable, with perhaps a chance of being a bit more democratic than the nation as a whole.

Democrats did better in New Mexico than in the nation as a whole in 5 of the last 7 presidential elections, and when they did worse, it was only by 1-2%. By contrast, when democrats did better in New Mexico than they did in the nation as a whole, they've lately been doing 6-10% better. This adds up to a prediction that democrats will do better in New Mexico than the nation as a whole by about 7.1% (based on my simple linear fit model). This is a close one, but I'm going to color it blue in our little map:

The Democrats seem to be doing well. However, keep in mind that in this map, blue and red are more like the projections of which party would win that state if the overall popular vote was at or near a tie. If one party has a large 4% advantage over the other, then a state like New Mexico, Nevada, Virginia, or North Carolina may well flip.

Friday, July 17, 2015

New Hampshire in presidential politics

Measurements of smaller populations should have larger uncertainty and error bars - and this is exactly what we see in New Hampshire, the smallest state to be covered so far on this blog series. Aside from a spectacular win by George H. W. Bush in 1988, New Hampshire has fluttered back and forth from republican-leaning in 1992 to democratic-leaning in 1996, back to the right in 2000, and finally back to the left for the following 3 elections since. I'll interpret this to mean that the Dukakis campaign probably abandoned all hope of winning there, and focused instead on other states. Subsequent campaigns probably focused more on New Hampshire, bringing it closer to the center.

We can see the somewhat ridiculous prediction by my naive linear model: an 8.9% advantage by the democrat, with rather large 4.6% error bars. Any real person looking at this data would predict that it'll probably be much closer, with perhaps a small democratic advantage (neglecting 1988 from my linear fit model - without any objective basis - gives a prediction of a smaller democratic advantage of 0.8-5.4%). My model could benefit from some way of weighting recent elections more heavily than long-ago elections. Maybe next time.

Coming up sometime soon (maybe) by popular demand: including the midterm election data in my prediction and analysis!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Arizona in Presidential Politics

Good old Arizona. I've seen a fair bit of interest on the left in a demographic advantage that Democrats my someday gain in Arizona (and other states, mostly in the South). So when I analyzed Arizona's margins in the last 7 elections, I was expecting to find some interesting wiggles and bounces. I was disappointed.


Aside from a small bounce for Republicans in 2008 (caused by hometown hero John McCain at the top of the ticket), Arizona has had little movement over the past 7 elections. In constructing my simple linear model, I excluded the 2008 data, and got a prediction that in 2016, Arizona will vote about 10% more republican than the nation as a whole. As it always has.

Blatantly screen-grabbing another website that lets me easily make my own little predicted map of the 2016 election, here's what we've got so far:

In this map I've shaded the states red or blue based on my guess as to whether or not a given party has a large advantage in that state. In other words, democrats won't necessarily win Pennsylvania, but if they've lost Pennsylvania, it will be because they've done very poorly in the national popular vote. As I visit each state on this blog, I'll fill in more states on this map, or leave them blank if they're true toss-up states. But as of right now, Democrats seem to be sitting pretty.

Astute readers will note that I have declared certain states without presenting a detailed analysis. For some of those states, I'll visit them in forthcoming posts. For others, I'll just let the history speak for itself (and if you want to gamble that Wyoming breaks blue, I'll take that bet).

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Missouri: A Bellwether state from yesteryear

Until 2008, Missouri had the longest unbroken streak of electing the presidential candidate who ended up winning the presidency (although not always the popular vote). But during the last two cycles, Missouri abandoned its bellwether status, breaking toward the republicans even when Barack Obama won the national popular vote by more than seven points.

Starting in 1996, Missouri started drifting to the right of the nation as a whole, culminating in a 10% romp for Romney in 2012 while the nation voted for Obama by 4%. Based on my simple linear model, Missouri is almost certain to break for Republicans by a large margin.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Nevada in presidential politics

The next stop for our tour of possible swing states is Nevada.

We can see a pretty clear case of a state that has shifted somewhat from flirting with the republican party to flirting with the democratic party. Based on my extremely simple model, if this trend continues, Nevada has an 84% chance of voting at least 4.8% more democratic than the nation as a whole.

What might be causing this slow-and-steady shift to the left for Nevada? Perhaps an influx of minorities and young workers.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Kansas in Presidential Politics

Just a quick post that looks like all the others. Here I focus on Kansas, and how it has shifted from 5% more republican than the rest of the country, to reliably 25%+ more republican than the U.S. as a whole.
In contrast to the previous two states I've analyzed, Kansas clearly and definitively departed the "swing state" zone a long time ago. It's probable that neither party bothered to mount much of a campaign, causing Kansas to quickly shift to some kind of "natural state", the way it votes for president when it isn't a focus for both campaigns. And for Kansas, that natural state seems to be solid red.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pennsylvania in presidential politics

This is the next post in our series, "How are the swing states doing anyway?" Next up, we have Pennsylvania, which has been consistently just a little more democratic than the nation as a whole:

It has jumped around a little bit, so it's hard to discern any real trend other than "probably steady". Quantitatively this translates into our 2016 prediction: Pennsylvania will probably be around 2.6% more democratic than the rest of the nation (68% chance for a democratic advantage between 1.15-4.05%, with large assumptions including a straight-line fit through the historic dem advantage).

Without a clear trend, I won't even try to come up with any kind of guess about what demographic, political, or economic events could have been causing these observed numbers.

Once I complete this kind of analysis for all of the swingier states, I'll be able to construct a model predicting which states are likely to be the tipping point states, and what kind of national vote totals will translate into an electoral college win on either side.