Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Something Strange This Way Comes

In addition to preparing today's data on mail-in absentee ballots, I was asked to look back at the past few election cycles and see what the trends and numbers were like for mail-in absentee ballots, and found that this year's election may portend that indeed 'something strange this way comes.'

First, the requested mail-in ballots continue at their usual pace, with requests from registered Democrats leading the pack:

Of the requested ballots so far:
  • 41 percent from registered Democrats
  • 36 percent from registered Republicans
  • 24 percent from registered unaffiliated voters
  • 56 percent from women
  • 82 percent from white voters
  • 13 percent from black voters
Among party affiliation, Democrats dropped slightly over the past trend lines, while Republicans inched up in their overall percentages.

Among accepted ballots returned so far:

Returned and accepted ballots are running at 44 percent from registered Democrats, 36 percent from registered Republicans, and 21 percent from registered unaffiliated voters.  White voters are 82 percent of returned and accepted ballots, with 14 percent from black voters. Females are 53 percent to 46 percent for men.

In the "Something Strange This Way Comes" analysis part of today's posting, I looked back at just mail-in ballots that were accepted in the 2006 through 2012 election cycles:

It has traditionally been the case that registered Republicans would make up the plurality of mail-in ballots (which ranged from a little over 34,000 in 2006 to 226,812 in 2008): from a low of 44 percent in 2006 to a high of 54 percent in 2008.  

This year, the composition of Republican registered voters is at 36 percent, with registered Democrats near at their 2006 high--but what is really surprising is that unaffiliated voters are at 24 percent of the returned and accepted ballots so far, which is the highest they have been in the past 4 elections.  While the growth of unaffiliated voters is well documented, their participation in mid-term elections is well known.  Perhaps with their steady growth over the past few election cycles in this one area of balloting, their interest and participation may be something to continue to watch for both parties.  

And if this trend holds, we could be in for "something strange this way comes" in this year's election with the early indicators of mail-in absentee balloting.