Nate Cohn Profile picture
18 Nov, 18 tweets, 3 min read
One election looms over the Georgia runoff: the 2008 runoff, when the GOP won a runoff election by 15 points after leading by just 3 points on Election Day.
I really don't think this should, well, loom over our analysis
For starters, some of the mythologizing about the 2008 runoff is wrong. Many analysts have blamed a precipitous decline in black turnout, but I don't think that's what happened
By my estimate (since for whatever reason the GA SOS didn't publish it, as they usually do), the Black share of the electorate in the GA special was 27.7 percent Black--it was down a bit from the general (29.9 IIRC), but still quite healthy (and indeed, higher than 2020!)
Now, I don't have the data to decompose exactly what *did* happen. I'm sure there was an unfavorable turnout shift, especially among young voters--and Dems back then were very dependent on young voters. But the core idea that black voters just don't turnout in runoffs seems wrong
I believe that's wrong in part because there have been lots of more competitive runoffs in Louisiana, where the Black share of the electorate often increases in runoffs compared to the general! No one should be surprised if that happens here, and that's a real risk to the GOP
More generally, this just isn't 2008's GA electorate. Democrats have a lot more strength at the top of the turnout spectrum, thanks to gains among subrbanites. There are roughly equal numbers of Dem/Rep primary voters, so they can compete in a lower turnout election
You can see this in the 2018 runoff for SOS.
The turnout plummets, but Democrats only lose by 3.8 pts.
The black share of the electorate falls (Abrams no longer top of ticket), but only to 27.4 percent--higher than 2020.
The 2018 runoff isn't exactly a best case for Democrats. Turnout fell to ~35% of the 2018 general election. I don't think we expect such a severe dropoff in this runoff.
And in this case, a Black candidate is at the top of the ticket--so it's the reverse of 08/18
Now, none of this means that the Democrats are clearly favored to win or something. GOP outvoted Dems in both Senate races in the general. But I think Dem chances are being downgraded from ok to a pipedream for reasons that aren't true anymore, even if they were a decade ago
And I think the new dynamics, post-2020 general, are ... murky? Trump is still dominating the news. GOP is out there claiming the election was stolen, even though the GOPers ran ahead of Trump in part by winning some Biden folks who can't be too pleased not to be taken seriously
The big thing the GOP is counting on, IMO, is a big shift in the national environment toward the GOP, as they now inherit the mantle of party out of power and presumably all the thermostatic balancing advantages that traditionally help in midterms/specials
I think that's definitely a possibility. But in the scheme of cases where a party flips to out of power, this is... again, a relatively murky one. Dems didn't win big. Trump hasn't even conceded, and he's still dominating the news
And unlike cases where the president-elect's party holds so much power that they don't have much to fight for, the Democrats do have some big opportunities here: win control of the Senate! It's not like they're fighting for nothing while the other side is desperate to claw back
So, IDK. I think it's hard to avoid concluding that the GOP is favored by some amount, simply because R Sen candidates outran Democrats in the general. But I don't see the case for the GOP to be a huge favorite bc of 08 or something
I usually don't think fundraising is a great measure to watch--just ask Senator-elect Harrison--but Dem fundraising will be interesting here, as it may be at least some indication of whether Dem activists are quite as energized and tuned in as they have been
And this is a huge question, especially given the... flaws of the GOP candidates. It's also one that's harder to evaluate than some of the others.
I will say that the huge GOP turnout in rural GA in the 2018 midterm elections does make me think this factor may not be as helpful to Dems as they might hope.
After all, GA is one of the very few places where the GOP ticket in '18 did better than Trump in 2020
(or if you prefer, where the top of the Dem ticket did worse than Biden)

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More from @Nate_Cohn

20 Nov
The thing that's most dispiriting about the 'vote dump' charts (which purport to show irregularities, but just show large Dem. cities reporting), is that it's in such complete bad faith that there's no way the electoral process could be reformed to guard against it going forward
Take mail voting, for instance. If you wanted to restore the credibility of the electoral process, you could eliminate no-excuse mail voting on the grounds that it's no longer credible to a wide swath of the electorate, even if you thought their concerns were completely wrong
The 'vote dumps,' OTOH, are an inevitable artifact of how jurisdiction reports their votes in batches, rather than updating their tally vote by vote. There's really nothing you can do to avoid this. Taking issue with it just means you don't believe election results, period
Read 5 tweets
20 Nov
It was clear by 3AM or so on Election Night that we were probably headed to Biden at 306, and the 2020 gods have pulled out every stop to keep things even vaguely interesting for as long as possible
At the time, yes, I thought Biden was pretty clear favored. In retrospect, I was wrong about that—and I was against/rejected the AP call. At the time, I thought Biden would win by 40-50k in the end
Read 4 tweets
19 Nov
One thing that's fairly unique about election analysis--and that rubs people the wrong way, I think--is the emphasis on the components of change from one election to the next
Take a football game. If a few weeks ago, Seattle loses to football game, 42-35, and then a few weeks later, Seattle beats the same team 35-28, with Wilson throwing 5 TDs, the headline is probably about Wilson throwing 5 TDs and the offense winning them the game
In electoral analysis, that's definitely not how we'd cover it. We'd say that the Seattle defense made huge strides and/or that the opponent's offense fared worse. Wilson would almost be taken as a given
Read 12 tweets
18 Nov
This is a good question, so let's take a look
As an initial definitional question, we do have to define what we're calling the 'suburbs' here--and for simplicity I'm basically going to include the whole Democratic-trending part of the Atlanta area, including all of DeKalb and Fulton Counties--even though it includes Atlanta
There are plenty of suburbs in DeKalb and Fulton, and Biden made huge gains there. Unfortunately, I don't have the ability to exclude Atlanta-proper from the historical data. But we can go back at the end and take out DeKalb and Fulton and see if it's a different story
Read 20 tweets
17 Nov
Let's take a look at the turnout data so far in North Carolina, where counties worth one-third of the electorate have now updated their vote history data
These counties lean a little bit left, with a disproportionate chunk of the white liberal vote (Wake, Buncombe, Durham all in). So I think these numbers could be rosier than the final tallies for Democrats statewide, but I think the patterns will largely hold up
Let's start with party registration.
In these counties, 77% of Democrats turned out v. 82% of GOP. That's a 7 pt increase over 2016 in both cases.
As a result, the electorate by party reg in these counties is D+5.8, v. D+7.4 among all registered voters.
Read 15 tweets
17 Nov
A few people have asked about some other demographic groups in Georgia, namely young and other nonwhite groups. For some arcane reasons, it's a little more complicated to think about those groups--but let's go into it
The age problem is induced on our end: we do not have the final Georgia SOS voter file from before the election (though we've had a request in).
This doesn't make a material difference on race, based on public state figures. It might on age, given that late registrants are young
If we did go down the road of analyzing age, based on this data, I'm fairly confident it would be at least a little biased against youth turnout, and potentially meaningfully for the way the story is written. So we're just going to wait and see on that one
Read 11 tweets

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