On election night back in February the only vote totals made available by the Chicago Board of Elections were the citywide totals. It wasn't until around 11 or midnight that the ward by ward totals were available. There isn't a whole lot of interesting analysis that can be gleaned from just the aggregate totals so I probably won't be doing much tomorrow night.
My hope is that the major media outlets cover this election night well, I thought they did a good job with the runoff. Keep an eye on the Sun-Times, on election night in February a few of their reporters were discussing ward by ward totals well before the Chicago Board of Elections was making that data publicly available. Also, WBEZ has had a lot of good data work throughout this election.
Here are a few of the questions I think people will want to try to quantify on election night, if possible.
You should be able to answer the first two questions even without ward by ward totals. Also, the CBOE should be able to tell you how many vote by mail applications were processed and how many ballots were returned so far. The remainder will be a useful number, if there are 20,000 outstanding VBM ballots and the election night totals are within 20,000 votes you'll want to know that. Any vote by mail ballots have to be postmarked today to be counted but they can be received at any time in the next few weeks.
Unlike November there is no same day registration so the total number of uncounted provisional ballots will not be as significant.
On Thursday afternoon I will be speaking at a lunch panel on the Chicago municipal elections sponsored by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. The event is at noon in the French Room of the Union League Club, ticket info is available here.
I typically do a post-mortem in the day or two after the election to cover all the various insights available from the data. For this election I have agreed to be part of a larger and more comprehensive written report, I will probably even have to double check my spelling and grammar. The report should be available early next week, I'll provide a link when it is available.
The CBOE has updated their election results twice already to include valid late arriving vote by mail votes. They will update on March 10th with final numbers that will include any further late arriving VBM votes and any provisional votes that are deemed valid. There will be some more votes added in before these numbers are finalized and certified but not a huge amount. Here's where the totals stand as of now:
Using round numbers there were about 475K total votes in this race and just shy of 100,000 people (99,035) voted for one of the candidates that did not qualify for the runoff. Those votes are in play and we discussed them in detail the other day.
Let's assume for a second that everyone who voted for each of Emanuel and Garcia last month votes again in April and for the same candidate. With that assumption Emanuel starts with a lead of almost 58K votes (57,518) that Garcia needs to make up, and obviously the most fertile ground to find those votes is among the people who voted for either Wilson/Fioretti/Walls because they've already turned out for an election once this year. Now let's also assume that of the voters who voted for either Wilson, Fioretti or Walls back in February at least some of them decide to stay home in April because they just don't favor either candidate in the runoff. There comes a point where if that number gets sufficiently large then Emanuel doesn't have to win over any new voters to win the runoff, he could theoretically win the runoff by holding his existing coalition among an April electorate that has shrunk from the February electorate.
Garcia has to keep these Wilson/Fioretti/Walls voters in the April electorate and voting. If 42% of them don't turn out in April then Garcia can't win without expanding the electorate in other places. Even if the Wilson/Fioretti/Walls voters lean moderately to heavily anti-incumbent he has to win them over and turn them out, of those roughly 100K votes he has to get the first 58K and then do no worse than split the rest.
The next and possibly more difficult option is to try to expand the electorate. As we saw last week, historically runoff elections in Chicago have lower turnout than the February election. This is our first runoff election for Mayor in the modern era so perhaps this runoff will behave differently. If Garcia is going to be able to expand the electorate in his favor these are his most likely avenues:
Garcia has momentum on his side and a mathematically plausible path to victory, but the math for him isn't easy. Looking at his February numbers there is no one subgroup where he had sufficient support to have a clear focus, if he is going to emerge victorious it seems like it will require a multifaceted approach. If the size of the runoff electorate in April shrinks as has historically been the case then Emanuel moves closer to victory simply by holding his current coalition together. Garcia has to find the raw votes to make up that difference, either by winning over the supporters of other candidates or turning out new voters. Early voting starts two weeks from Monday, the clock is ticking.
Because we have shapefiles (GIS data files) of the Chicago precinct boundaries from Tuesday's 2015 Mayoral election we can use software to match them up against any other data set where we have shapefiles, including 2010 US census data. I ran an intersect on the precinct boundary shapefiles against the 2010 census data by census tract (and then prorated the vote totals based on the percentage of land area overlap) so that I could merge data on median household income, education as measured by the percentage of people in a census tract that had a bachelor's degree or higher and also a much more granular estimation of race than the tracker from the other night. It yielded some interesting results.
Early voting starts in a little over three weeks (March 23rd) so these two candidates have very little time to persuade voters. It will be interesting to see which of these two campaigns tries to win over new voters vs. which ones just focus in increasing turnout among the subsets of voters where they have the most support.
It probably won't come as a surprise for you to learn that the Mayor did better with affluent voters than the less affluent voters but it did surprise me to learn that a small majority (50.3%) of voters on Tuesday live in census tracts where the median household income is less than $60,000. The Mayor only won that group 41-34 as opposed to the people who live in census tracts with median household income above $60,000 where the Mayor's margin was greater at 50-33. There is a pretty clear financial divide for these two candidates that may prove beneficial for GOTV strategies.
In census tracts with a majority Hispanic population Garcia won an outright victory 56-34, however only 15% of Tuesdays voters live in those areas. On the other hand Emanuel won a clear victory in census tracts with a majority white population 53-32 and 37% of Tuesday's voters live in those areas. Even though Garcia has a natural base with Hispanic voters that base is smaller than the voting population of other ethnic groups.
34% of the voters who live in majority African American census tracts voted for one of the candidates that didn't qualify for the runoff, these voters are now coveted by both candidates. Among the voters who live in majority African American census tracts Emanuel's support is roughly the same regardless of household income. For example the AA voters who live in census tracts with a median HH income between $0 - $20,000 supported him at 42.5% while the AA voters with median HH income between $80,000 - $100,000 supported him at 41.5%. On Tuesday Emanuel won the support of more AA voters than any other candidate and whatever message it was that won him that support seemed to work the same regardless of the voter's income.
On the other hand, Garcia's support among the voters who live in majority AA census tracts did vary by income and he had greater support among the more affluent African American voters than the less affluent. For example the AA voters who live in census tracts with a median HH income between $20,000 - $40,000 supported him at 21% while the AA voters with median HH income between $100,000 - $120,000 supported him at 36%. Garcia has two challenges here 1) he earned a greater rate of support among affluent AA voters on Tuesday but the vast majority of the AA voters on Tuesday came from the less affluent census tracts (1/3 of the AA voters came from tracts with median HH income less than $40,000 and 82% less than $60,000) so he'll have to tailor his persuasive message toward the less affluent if he wants to improve his support rate, and 2) he has a difficult needle to thread in that his best GOTV strategy for the city overall is to focus on voters in < $60,000 census tracts while his best performing AA subsets are the more affluent ones.
Voters in majority white census tracts tended to be somewhat more affluent than their counterparts in majority AA or majority Hispanic census tracts. For example only 7% of voters who live in majority white census tracts had a median HH income under $60,000 whereas 82% of voters who lived in either of AA or Hispanic majority census tracts had a median HH income under $60,000. So voters in majority white census tracts tend towards the higher income brackets compared to their counterparts in AA or Hispanic majority tracts and there is a clear correlation between an increase in income bracket and an increase in support for the Mayor but there is still a ray of hope for Garcia among middle class white voters. A good majority of white voters (59%) live in census tracts with a median HH income between $60,000 - $100,000 and of all of the subsets of white voters this is where Emanuel did the worst, falling just below 50%. Also, even though Fioretti didn't win much support anywhere this was the subset of voters where he was the strongest. Garcia has the opportunity to make some inroads with middle class white voters.
When I ran the numbers I included data about education as measured by the percentage of people in each census tract that had a bachelor's degree or higher but I haven't included this data in this analysis mostly because those numbers track pretty closely to the income bracket numbers. Higher income areas tend to have a higher percentage of college educated people so the conclusions tend to mirror one another.
Election day is a little more than 5 weeks away and in a little more than 3 weeks early voters can start casting ballots again so there isn't much time to turn out voters and there is even less time to win over new ones. For either campaign to emerge successful they're going to have to study these data subsets and find their winning formula.
There has been a lot of attention given to the fact that turnout last night was significantly lower than four years ago, which is true, however that year was a bit of an outlier and this year's numbers track pretty closely to the 2007 and 2003 Chicago Municipal elections:
|Reg Voters||Tot Mayor Voters||Participation Rate|
With some valid late arriving vote by mail ballots left to be counted the total votes in the Mayor's race last night currently stands at about 466K (very close to my projection last night) and a participation rate of a little under 33% on about 1.4 million registered voters. You can see that over the last four cycles the number of citywide registered voters has stayed within a band of 30,000 so it's held pretty flat. The total vote last night held remarkably similar to 2003 and 2007. In other words last night's election was nothing special, wasn't a big turnout like 2011 and wasn't a horrible one either, it just tracked well with other recent elections with an incumbent Mayor.
Today I saw two schools of thought on the likely turnout for the April runoff: 1) the number of total voters in the Mayor's race in the April runoff will be lower because a) there aren't competitive aldermanic elections in every ward, b) some supporters of the candidates that did not qualify for the runoff will not vote and c) election fatigue. The other school of thought is 2) the number of total voters in the Mayor's race in the April runoff will actually be higher than February because a) with a slimmed down field the campaign coverage will be more focused and more voters will be paying attention, b) the Mayor's veil of invincibility has been pierced leading some disaffected voters to participate, c) the weather will be better and d) with fewer other races to distract the campaigns or dilute the campaign staffs more people will be working to drive up turnout.
I still tend to believe that the overall number of voters in the Mayor's race in April will be lower than the total from February but I find the conversation interesting. We don't have much historical data to work with, there hasn't been a runoff in the Mayor's race since the current format was put in place in 1999. However we can look at all of the aldermanic elections that went to runoff in the last three cycles and see how regularly the April runoffs featured more total voters than the February elections:
|Year||Ward||Feb Total||Apr Total||Diff||Diff %|
Looking at the table above the general expectation for an aldermanic runoff is the April election will have fewer total votes than the February election, in fact the average for the 14 aldermanic runoffs of 2011 was about 31% lower (12% lower on average in 2007 and 11% lower on average in 2003). There are a few exceptions of course but it's clear that April just has a lower participation rate.
However I would caution these totals are just for downballot aldermanic races. A runoff in a Mayor's race is likely to lead most newscasts over the next 6 weeks. You'll also see plenty of broadcast TV ads and heavy mail and likely phone calls or door knocks. The level of attention given to this runoff will be very different from these past aldermanic runoffs. No matter what your preferred theory is for turnout in April I don't think the data rules out any possibility.
Late last night the Chicago Board of Elections made their ward by ward (and precinct by precinct) numbers available and I was able to plug those numbers into the tracker I would have used had those numbers been available earlier in the night. Most of these insights are derived from a quick glance at the tracker.
A few thoughts:
Here are some of the big questions going into April:
Now we have a six week sprint until April.
UPDATE: our election night tracker for the Chicago's Mayor's race is now live:
End of update.
The Chicago municipal elections are on Tuesday for all 50 aldermen/women, the Mayor, the City Clerk and the City Treasurer.
Since the last Chicago municipal election in 2011 the City of Chicago has redrawn their ward boundaries. The Mayor's race is not expected to be close on Tuesday but it is expected that Mayor Emanuel will come very close to reaching or exceeding the 50% + 1 threshold needed to avoid a runoff. I thought it would make sense to take the precinct level data from the 2011 Mayoral election and reconfigure those vote totals based on the new ward map. Some of the wards are similar to the 2011 map but some, such as the 2nd ward, are very different. I think it will be interesting to see how the Mayor's 2015 numbers compare to his 2011 numbers and this will give a better apples to apples comparison.
I took the shapefiles for the 2011 citywide precincts and dumped that into some GIS software and ran an "Intersect" against the shapefiles for the current ward boundaries. I then used the percent of land area to assign a percentage to precincts that covered multiple wards. This is not exact for reasons I won't bore you with but it's pretty close. If you download the link above you'll see a summary sheet with the data I just described as well as a worksheet that shows the precinct by precinct analysis and also there's a sheet that shows the percentage of voters by race in each ward from census data. You may find any or all of that useful.
Both the City Clerk's race and the City Treasurer's race feature unopposed incumbents so the only actual citywide race is the Mayor's race.
Thanks to the team at Aldertrack, this cycle's indispensable daily must-read for all Chicago related election news, who teamed up with pollster Ogden & Fry for a regular tracking poll we have this graphic below showing how little traction the challengers have made.
Prior to the start of early voting the Mayor was polling in the low 40's, undecided was in 2nd place in the low 20's and the challengers were either in the teens or single digits. Since the first week of February when early voting started they have stopped offering undecided as an option and the Mayor is hovering right around 50% with his challengers well behind. Unless something really unexpected happens Emanuel will finish first on Tuesday and the main point of interest will be to see if he can beat the 50% + 1 threshold needed to avoid a runoff. (Emanuel avoided a runoff in 2011 with 55.28% of the vote)
I am going to spend some time over the weekend looking at building a dashboard for the Mayor's race. If I can make it work the way I hope I may turn it on for election night on Tuesday. I'm mainly interested in seeing in real time how the Mayor is doing against his runoff threshold and how each ward compares to his 2011 numbers. If I can build a straightforward easy to read dashboard that auto-updates every 2 minutes or so I'll make it live and distribute the link. Keep an eye on the Illinois Election Data Twitter account @ILElectionData and I'll try to let you know by Monday if I think I can do something for Tuesday night. (Why is there always a Hawks game on election night?)
The Chicago Board of Elections already has live links to their 2015 Municipal election results in their Election Results section. If you go to their website then click on Election Results you'll see that in the dropdown below you can select "2015 Municipal General - 2/24/15" as one of the options. From there you can select whatever race you want. None of the race pages have numbers yet, obviously, but it's nice that the links are live and available so that you know where you can find the results when they're available.
A note about Aldertrack: this group of political hobbyists have spent the last few months amassing a wealth of political information and making it widely available for little or no cost. You can buy their data-rich Racing Form for $10 (it's actually currently free until election day but if you find it useful you should give them some money). Also you can sign up to receive a free daily email that includes original reporting, polling, reports from the field and a news roundup for all the Chicago races. I highly recommend.
At at time when news organizations are downsizing both Aldertrack and the also terrific Illinois Observer have been very welcome additions to the Illinois political news scene. I am not affiliated with either organization.
Today outgoing Governor Pat Quinn signed two election bills into law, 1) HB4576, which passed both chambers during a special session on Thursday, that will allow for a special election for certain constitutional offices under certain circumstances and will result in a special election in 2016 for Comptroller to fill the remaining term of the late Judy Baar Topinka, and 2) SB172 the omnibus elections bill that was passed during veto session which has received the most attention for making same day registration permanent but also makes changes to vote by mail, early voting, college campus voting, vote counting procedures and election administrative changes.
For anyone who followed the lengthy vote counting process in the very close 2014 State Treasurer's race SB172 includes some changes that will make more vote counting information available for any similar situations in the future. Here is a rundown for both bills.
This bill is pretty straightforward, this about covers it:
Provides that if there are more than 28 months remaining in the term of office for Secretary of State, State Comptroller, Treasurer or Attorney General, the appointed office holder shall serve until the next general election, at which time the office shall be filled by special election for the remainder of the term. Provides for nominations for special elections to fill the unexpired term of a vacant office. Effective immediately.
As I mentioned before starting with the 2014 General Election the Illinois State Board of Elections has made precinct-level vote totals available for all races. The State Board offers flat files in csv format for each of the state's election authorities. I have assembled that data, formatted it and created some interesting tools.
First, to find this new data click on "ANALYSIS" and then "Precinct Level Election Results". Here is a rundown of what is available:
Also if you want to see Statewide Race by Districts in table format we have that too:
The statewide file is large, it's about 1.8 million records so some pages may take a few seconds to load. Also, when looking at statewide races by district (congressional, state senate, state rep) currently the only method available is the Simple Method which includes any precinct that is in whole or in part in the district. I hope to be able to add a more complex apportionment method where precincts that include more than one district have those votes apportioned to one district or another. For reasons I won't get into you can't guarantee that one method is more accurate than the other but the apportionment method is generally favored. If you'd like to develop your own methodology for evaluating the data I have made the raw and formatted data available for easy download so you can use it as you wish. In the meantime I wanted to publish what I had here so I could move on to finishing up the maps and then get the 2014 monthly campaign budgets done later this month.
Feel free to contact me with any questions at Scott.Kennedy (at) illinoiselectiondata.com or on Twitter at @ILElectionData.
UPDATE: 12/1 (5:00pm)
All of the spreadsheets in the Analysis section for the statewide races have been updated with the 2014 certified general election totals. Also, I have changed the way they are displayed and made it easier for you to take this info in widget format by adding "Copy this Widget" code for each, just copy and paste that into your own websites for your own use. For example here is the data by region - traditional collars that appeared here on the front page often leading up to the election:
End of update.
Tonight the Illinois State Board of Elections will meet to certify the election results. Once those results are made available I'll start work on updating the site with all of the data from the 2014 general election. I should have all of the election profiles and the analysis spreadsheets (updated) updated pretty quickly, probably sometime this week.
The maps will probably take a little longer. I only add new maps about every two years and it seems like each time I do Google has added some new security protocol to the batch update process and their documentation is rarely helpful. I will get them done as soon as I can.
Another fun new feature of this election could come soon as well:
10 ILCS 5/22-6 (b)
Beginning with the November 2014 general election and every primary, consolidated, general, and special election thereafter, within 52 days after each election, the State Board of Elections shall publish the precinct-by-precinct vote totals on its website and make them available in a downloadable form.
That should happen no later than around Christmas. I have no idea how the State Board plans to implement this but hopefully it should allow us to parse the data in all sorts of ways including a) seeing how the Governor's race candidates (or other races) performed by congressional, state house and state senate district and b) seeing how the statewide referenda fared in each district, etc. I have zero interest in replicating any functionality offered by the State Board of Elections but if all they offer is raw data and it is in some sort of format that will allow us to convert it into a usable database I'll probably spend some time building some functionality so that it can be parsed in various useful ways.
And then come January the final campaign finance reports for this election cycle will be filed for both federal and state candidates. Once those reports are filed I'll get to work on updating the budgets for each race. That is a lot of work and takes a long time so it won't happen right away.
Also now that the results are certified I may write some articles looking at the results in depth. There are a number of topics that interest me including following up on pre-election articles about the downstate vote, the Chicago vote (especially the African American vote in the Govenror's race), the death of the Cook County suburbs as a reliable bellwether, the stronger than expected performance of some of the challengers in the down ballot statewide races, that razor thin Treasurer's race, the competitive congressionals and turnout and vote share. I may not get to all of those topics or I may find that there is nothing new to add beyond what's already apparent on the surface but for now those are the topics that interest me and seem likely to offer greater insights once looked at more closely.
With at least 89 of the 110 election authorities showing totals that are considered final (mostly just small counties remaining) and the race having been conceded I have stopped updating the tracker.
It's impossible to say exactly how many votes were counted after election night but we can make some approximations. I didn't find the county by county totals for the Treasurer's race until sometime on the afternoon of Wednesday the 5th, and there are still some counties that haven't made final updates in our tracker but if you look at the list of updates I tracked there were at least 132,000 new votes over what was reported by the AP on election night. The tracker currently lists roughly 3.527 million total votes in this race so roughly about 4% of the total vote was reported after election night.
Despite the fact that this race was decided by the razor thin margin of just a few thousand votes (roughly one quarter of one percent) this late counted vote had a decided Democratic lean. Frerichs won this late counted vote 56%-40%-4%, a 16 point spread and in doing so gained an advantage of roughly 21,000 raw votes (at current count).
This leads to two questions:
Let's look at these questions by type of vote. First, why were there so many votes that were not counted until after election day?
Since vote by mail appears here to stay there will always be late arriving vote by mail ballots, although the amount will vary from election to election. Also, if same day registration is renewed then those votes will likely continue to be counted after election night. On the other hand you could potentially reduce the number of votes that need to be counted after election night by giving the clerks the power to count early vote and on time Vote By Mail votes somewhat earlier in the day on election day and better clerical work could reduce the number of traditional provisional ballots that need to be reviewed. So while there will continue to be votes that need to be counted after election night any number of changes could make that universe smaller than what we had in this election.
The next question has to do with partisan advantage. According to our non-exhaustive list of vote total changes since election night these votes had a 16 point advantage for Democrat Mike Frerichs (56%-40%-4%) despite the fact that this race overall had a razor thin margin of roughly one quarter of one percent. Can we expect the Democrats to have the same advantage among late arriving votes in future elections? Again, let's look at this question by each type of vote:
Some of the late arriving ballots will skew towards the Democrats, specifically the traditional provisional ballots and possibly the same day registration ballots (but not certainly) while the late arriving mail ballots could skew towards either party depending on the get out the vote programs of each party and their candidates. There is no guarantee that future elections will see late counted votes skewing towards the Democrats by 16 points as they apparently did in this Treasurer's race according to the best numbers we have available.
If a future election is as close as this one was at the end of election night we're just going to have to study it in detail again and see what characteristics that are unique to that election will have an impact on the final result.