This is my first post regarding the 2016 presidential election. I will make several new posts analyzing the polls and building a prediction model.
So now major parties have determined their nominees for president (and likely for Senate too). With Clinton and Trump, we might be facing the two most unfavorable nominees in the history of presidential elections.
But that is not the objective of this post. Today, I conducted an analysis that put all the results of the past six presidential elections in battleground states together, and analyzed certain trends in these results. I considered the states Virginia, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Colordado (14, 183 electoral votes) battleground states. Here are a few interesting finds:
- Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan only voted Democratic.
- 1996 election was a landslide in most states.
- Ohio voted with the eventual winner every time.
- Were Florida to vote Kerry in 2004, Kerry would have become president.
- All 2016 battleground states, including Georgia, voted Democratic at least once.
- Generally speaking, first term trend differ from overall trend by almost a percentage point.
Contrary to public beliefs, Georgia and Arizona, the two red states with most chances of Democratic takeover this year, are trending red in borh first-term elections and elections in general. Pennsylvania, which the Washington Post and Nate Silver called trending red, did have a slight Republican trend, but it only has an effect of 0.28 points per election, and if we only look at first term elections, the trend is reduced to 0.075 points.
Virginia and New Hampshire are slowly becoming blue states. New Hampshire swinged to the Republicans once, in 2000 of which it voted for George W. Bush instead of Gore, differing by 1.7 adjusted percentage points. Virginia, on the other hand, never voted Democratic prior to the 2008 election, but the trend to Democratic is steady.
Missouri downgraded from a bellwether state to a red state over the years, with a huge overall trend of R+1.13 points per election and a huge first term trend of R+1.65 points, both largest in all 2016 battlegrounds.
Florida remains the most competitive state, but North Carolina has been showing trends of becoming very competitive. Florida voted Republican in 1992, 2000 and 2004, and Democratic in 19996, 2008 and 2012. The nominees won Florida on average of 2.92 points. In North Carolina, the number is larger because of the Republican landslides in 2000 and 2004, which Bush won by 13 points in 2000 and 12.4 points in 2004, but otherwise the nominees won the state by only 1.53 points.
Another (not so good) predictor of competitiveness is by calculating average voting percentage. Among the 14 states, Michigan has the most Democratic leaning, at 9.8 points, followed by Pennsylvania, at 7.33 points, and Wisconsin, at 6.53 points. Georgia has the most Republican leaning, at 7.1 points, followed by Arizona, at 5.87 points, and North Carolina, at 5.5 points.
Bill Clinton’s landslide in 1992 in Missouri boosted the Democratic number up to 49.9, but the state has been trending Republican since that election. Obama’s vote share in Missouri in 2012 is similar to that in a lean red state, such as Arizona and Georgia.
Attached is the raw data file for anyone interested to read and experiment with. It is in XLSX format.