Tuesday, June 23, 2015


There is currently an overflow of statistical analysis being
unloosed about the upcoming presidential election. Claims
and presumptions are being made about which side (and
thus which nominee) has the advantage in 2016. I suggest
most of it is not yet very useful or predictive.

There can be little doubt that, based on the 2012 election,
and earlier ones, that more minority group voters favor a
Democrat for president, as do more women, while more men
favor Republicans. But only a few years ago, these trends
were quite different. By recent demographic standards,
several states --- including Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, Virginia, New Mexico and
Nevada ---are already in the Democratic column.

Furthermore, there are assumptions being made that there
are dramatic differences in these and several other states
in party turnout in presidential election years -- in contrast
to midterm election years.

There is no disputing the statistical facts of previous
elections, but I think it is a potentially a large and certainly
premature error to superimpose these statistics on an
election which has not yet taken place, especially an election
with no incumbent. This is not an abstract contention.
Current polls in the states mentioned above (which have a
total of more than 100 electoral votes) signal that the
current Democratic frontrunner, while slightly ahead of
most GOP opponents in these states, is far from a sure
winner in them --- all of which voted for Barack Obama
in 2012.

What happens if an Hispanic Republican is on the 2016 ticket?
Or a woman? What happens if an Hispanic Democrat is on
the 2016 ticket? What will be the consequences for turnout if,
as is almost certain, there is no black on either party’s ticket in
2016? President Obama will have served two terms by the
next election. What is the impact of the general (but not
exclusive) rule that American voters like to change parties
after two terms of one party in the White House. What about
the impact of innovations in voter ID and GOTV technology?
And what about the often very important impact of candidate
personality on the turnout in any presidential election?

I suggest that there is no reliable measure yet available for
the circumstances mentioned above. Smug presumptions using
numbers from the past, and stereotypes from the past, are not

The real environment of the 2016 election, I suggest further, is
not even visible now in the summer of 2015. What happens if
there is a recession? Or alternatively, what if the stock market
is at all-time highs and unemployment at new lows in November,
2016? What happens if there is an international crisis?

An election is made of actual votes. We have not yet held a single
primary or caucus. There have not even been any real presidential
debates. The demo-intensity of 2016 has not yet been determined.

Anything can yet happen in the next presidential election. Any
other presumption is neither science nor useful.

Be patient, the next election picture will become clearer in its
own good time.

Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reseerved.

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