26 October 2010

Early voting in Maryland, projections after three days

During the early voting period prior to the September 2010 primary election, 77,288 people voted early, which represented 2.44% of all eligible voters.  Over the six day period, the numbers were as follows (with percentage of early voting total by day):

Day 1 (9/3/10): 14,049 (18.18% of all early voters)
Day 2 (9/4/10): 8,891 (11.50%)
Day 3 (9/6/10): 10,076 (13.04%)
Day 4 (9/7/10): 12,347 (15.98%)
Day 5 (9/8/10): 13,844 (17.91%)
Day 6 (9/9/10): 18,081 (23.39%)

What you see is strong initial enthusiasm, followed by an immediate drop and then a gradually increasing rise to the last day.

Here are the numbers so far for the early voting period prior to the November 2010 general election (with percentage increase from the primary election):

Day 1 (10/22/10): 32,131 (+229% since Day 1 of primary election)
Day 2 (10/23/10): 28,282 (+318%)
Day 3 (10/25/10): 34,818 (+346%)

What we see so far is that the turnout model  during the primary election early voting period ("strong initial enthusiasm, followed by an immediate drop and then a gradually increasing rise to the last day") has not been predictive of turnout during the first three days of the general election early voting period, even when accounting for massive increases in turnout.

Through the first three days, 95,231 people voted; this represents a 288% increase over the 33,016 people that voted through the first three days of the primary election early voting period.

Monday turnout review: Based upon numbers we have seen thus far and comparing them to numbers from the primary election early voting period, we estimated ~26,500 people would vote statewide on Monday (although the estimate was a range anywhere from 23,000 to 32,000).  In fact, turnout exceeded even the highest prediction, which again shows that the primary election turnout numbers are not proving to have much predicative value.

Tuesday turnout preview: Under our previous "primary election turnout" model, we could estimate that ~35,600 people would vote statewide on Tuesday.  However, we have already seen flaws in the predicative nature of the primary election numbers, so I have modified the formula to give more weight to previous days of general election turnout.  Likewise, this formula should self-modify itself a bit more each day.  In this case, we find that we get an estimate of ~41,000.  Obviously, we can tweak this again tomorrow based upon what we see.

Overall turnout: Our initial projection was for at least 200,000 people (and quite possibly upwards of 250,000.  Given the strong turnout so far, I would be willing to move the floor to about 230,000 while still considerable upward potential to 250,000 and beyond.

September's early voting turnout was 2.44% of all eligible voters; general election early voting turnout was initially projected to be somewhere between 6-7%, and now looks closer to 6.5-7.0% with higher being possible.

Partisan turnout: Democrats are turning out so far at approximately 7 percentage points higher than their percentage of party registration; Republicans are turnout out less than one percentage point higher than their percentage of party registration.  While this would seem to suggest a enthusiasm gap on the part of the Democrats (which would also counter the nationwide trend), there is no historical data from previous election cycles with which to compare this (i.e., if Democrats typically turn out +10, than this election would show less enthusiasm).  This data is less useful now, but will be more useful in 2012.

However, we can look at the turnout during the primary election early voting period.  Statewide voter turnout in early voting was 2.44%; Democrat turnout was 2.82% of their eligible voters; Republican turnout represented 2.37% of their eligible voters.  Democrats represented nearly 71% of early voters, with Republicans at 28%.  So by a slight margin, Democrats showed a slight turnout edge in early voting.

Compare this to Election Day: 21.83% of eligible Democrats turned out; 27.24% of eligible Republicans turned out.  Democrats represented 62% of Election Day voters, with Republicans at 36%.  In total, Democrat turnout was 24.65% while for Republicans it was 29.60%; Democrats represented 63% of total voters, with Republicans at 36%.  So that significant edge in early voting only accounted for one additional percent on Election Day.  This 5 percentage point overall turnout edge for Republicans was not predicted by the early voting turnout.

What we do know is that in September, registered Democrats represented 61.39% of all eligible voters and cast 70.87% of all early votes; a +10 advantage compared to registration numbers.  Republicans represented 28.90% of all eligible voters and cast 28.02% of all early votes; a +1 advantage.  Now, if we go back our original numbers, we see Democrats turning out in early voting at +7 and Republicans at +1.  If the September early voting has any predictive value at all, it actually shows that Democrats are turning out -3 less than you would expect.  Again, caveat: there is no historical data from previous election cycles with which to compare this.
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