Category Archives: 2020 elections

Methodology Note: Precinct Analysis

By Adam Pagnucco.

In coming days, I’ll be crunching precinct-level results from the 2020 general election. This post summarizes the methodological choices I made and I’ll refer back to it in the future.

General election precinct results for candidate races and ballot questions are available here for every county in Maryland. In prior years, precinct results were available only for election day voting. For this year’s general election (but not the primary), they are available for all voting modes. That’s an improvement but it means that precinct results for this year aren’t strictly comparable to earlier years.

This year, Montgomery County has 258 precincts. Three of them are “ghost precincts,” which do not report results because no people live in them. If you see the number of precincts alternatively represented as 258 or 255, the three ghost precincts are the reason. Don’t worry about it because vote tallies are unaffected.

All precincts are assigned to congressional, state legislative and council districts. Their town designation is determined by the location of the voting place. This gets a little blurry at times as folks from one town can have a voting place in another, but this shouldn’t have a huge impact on geographic results.

The Democratic Crescent, a term I used two years ago to identify regularly voting downcounty Democrats, includes precincts in Bethesda, Cabin John, Chevy Chase, Kensington, Takoma Park and Silver Spring inside the Beltway. Upcounty includes precincts in Brookeville, Clarksburg, Damascus, Dickerson, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Laytonsville, Montgomery Village, Olney, Poolesville, Sandy Spring and Washington Grove. Residents of smaller nearby communities vote in these precincts, including people who live in Ashton, Barnesville, Beallsville, Boyds and Goshen. Wheaton includes zip code 20902. Glenmont/Norbeck includes zip code 20906, except for Leisure World, which is tracked separately. Silver Spring East County includes all other Silver Spring precincts outside the Beltway and located in zip codes 20901, 20903, 20904 and 20905.

I may refer to how precincts voted for term limits in 2016. Term limits voting is correlated both with partisan turnout and certain other voting behavior this year.

I included estimates of average household income by zip code from the Census Bureau for the five-year period of 2014-2018. I wish I had recent estimates by precinct but that will hopefully be released with the next batch of decennial census data.

Finally, I took a shot at demographics by precinct. This was a huge and imprecise exercise. Using 2010 census data, I matched census blocks to precincts. This is challenging because the two frequently don’t match exactly and precinct definitions have changed over the years. After a great deal of work, I was able to generate rough estimates of percentage Asian, Black, Latino and white for each precinct’s population and use them to gauge crude patterns of voting associated with race. I can’t stress how rough and dated this is and I look forward to getting updated 2020 census data to plug in.

That’s about it. We’ll start digging into data soon!

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Minority Members of the U.S. House

Note: This is a first cut at the data. If you catch any errors or omissions, please let me know. I have updated the original post to include Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (NY 11).

The total number of Black, Latino, Asian and Native American Members of Congress elected in 2020 is 111, or 25.5% of the membership. These numbers exclude non-voting members from D.C. or the territories.

In a departure from previous Congresses, one-half of new minority members will sit as Republicans–10 of 20. Among Latinos and Asians, the total number of Democrats is down while the number of Republicans is up. African and Native Americans saw gains in members from both parties.

African Americans

The 55 African Americans will compose 12.6% of the U.S. House as compared to 12.5% of the total population that was estimated as non-Hispanic Black (one race) by the Bureau of the Census in 2019. The total number of Black representatives is four higher than elected in 2018. All but two of the members elected in 2020 are Democrats, a net increase of three Democrats and one Republican.

Latinos

The 39 Latinos will form 9.0% of the U.S. House compared to an estimated 18.5% of the total population. There is no change in the total number of Latino representatives but there is a shift in the partisan breakdown. While there were just six Latino Republicans in the old Congress, the new Congress will have ten. Correspondingly, the 27 Latino Democrats elected in 2020 represent a decline of three from the 30 who won in 2018.

Asian Americans

The 15 Asian American elected will comprise 3.4% of the House but non-Hispanic Asians (one race) are an estimated 5.9% of the total population. This year’s elections produced a net gain of one Asian representative over 2018. While all elected in 2018 were Democrats, two elected in 2020 are Republicans. The number of Asian Democrats is down one.

The greater under representation of Latinos and Asians is not surprising in light of the much higher rates of non-citizenship. Latinos and Asians who are citizens are especially highly concentrated among the non-voting under 18 population as well as younger voters, who tend to participate at lower rates than older voters in all racial and ethnic groups.

Note that, following convention, Asian includes only East and South Asian here. As a result, the count excludes one Arab American and one Iranian American who are newly elected or returning after a gap in service. Both are Republicans.

Native Americans

There will be six Native American U.S. House members in the new Congress. They will be 1.4% of the U.S. House as compared to an estimated 1.5% of the total population. The population numbers include Native Alaskans, Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders as well as Native Americans.

The total number of Native American representatives is up by two in 2020. The incoming Native American Members of Congress, including one Native Hawaiian, are split evenly between the two parties, as was the case in 2018.

Members Counted Twice

Four representatives fall into more than one of the above categories, so the totals summed from each category are higher than the overall total of 110 minority representatives. New York Reps. Ritchie Torres and Antonio Delgado are Afro-Latino. Similarly, Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott and Washington Rep. Marilyn Strickland are Afro-Asian.

Minority Members of Congress

Black, Latino, Asian and Native American Members of Congress Elected in 2020

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Klacik Crazy Continues: Hogan Helped Mfume Steal Her Election

Look, this all comports with an effort by Kim Klacik to continue to keep her profile high so she can take in more money by riding the Trump train. She was never in any danger of winning Mfume’s seat, so why not see how much more money she can raise from the gullible.

At least Klacik realized that it had better be a doozy, Otherwise, how can she compete Giuliani’s tale of a long dead Venezuelan dictator organizing a national conspiracy with Democrats to steal the presidential election? Klacik claims the Republican governor is working to steal the election for a liberal Democrat who was going to win anyway by about this amount.

It all makes sense. Or rather, it’s so clearly bonkers, that Mike Ricci, Gov. Hogan’s Communications Director, retweeted it with a shrug above it.

Don’t forget, however, there’s a sucker born every minute. Based on the 2016 presidential election, Klacik is probably our next governor.

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Hogan Hits Back Hard at Trump Tweet on COVID Tests. “Stop golfing and concede”

Gov. Larry Hogan is having a very bad press week as the media finally focuses on the well known fact that the COVID tests from South Korea were overpriced duds and that he has continued to pretend that they were a success long after it was clear that they weren’t.

But Gov. Hogan is absolutely 100% right on the money when he says that the federal government left the states completely at sea. After denial of the pandemic was no longer possible, President Trump repeatedly and publicly told the states that they were on their own. So Gov. Hogan may have failed in this instance, but why on earth did the president and the federal government leave him to scramble for tests and other supplies?

Gov. Hogan was among the first Republicans to do the utterly normal and congratulate President-Elect Biden. He hadn’t gone beyond that to show leadership in demanding that Trump concede or point out that his behavior was that of an undemocratic sore loser. Looks like the President’s attack has just goaded him into precisely just that.

It turns out that President Trump isn’t the only one who doesn’t take well to public slams and knows how to punch back twice as hard.

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MD Republicans Promoting False Election Fraud Claims

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has provided a refreshing bit of sanity and leadership by refusing to join the chorus of his fellow Republicans claiming that Democrats stole the presidential election and congratulating President-Elect Joe Biden.

Unfortunately, Maryland Republicans are not following his lead. As the Washington Post reported, U.S. House Rep. Andy Harris (R-1) is propagating unsubstantiated allegations:

Secret unobserved vote counting in the swing states means that we will have to wait until a court unravels what really went on. When that thorough investigation is over, and we know that only legal votes have been counted then we will know who the real winner is – and then and only then we need to move on.

All of Trump’s claims regarding observers have been dismissed around the country. Just a reminder of what happened in the Philadelphia case:

during a hearing for a federal version of that suit on Thursday, Judge Paul Diamond of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania pressed a lawyer for Mr. Trump on whether the campaign’s observers did, in fact, have access to the facility. The lawyer said, grudgingly, that there were “a nonzero number” of people in the room.

Oops.

Meanwhile, Seventh District Republican Nominee Kim Klacik has been promoting groundless claims in Baltimore:

There is voter fraud whether people want to admit it or not. Just so you know, there are people looking into my race as well, and as soon as I have information, I’ll share that.

More on Twitter:

Yes, Kim Klacik is alleging that people were stealing votes for Kweisi Mfume in her race. She’s also claiming that people are looking into it, which sounds equally fanciful. I bet the gumshoes on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? were more active. Mfume beat Klacik by over 130,000 votes or 43% in this heavily Democratic district.

Meanwhile, as I look around Twitter and Facebook pages of Republican members of the General Assembly, I keep coming up empty in my search for someone who echoes the Governor’s thoughts in congratulating President-Elect Biden. (Hope springs eternal, let me know if I missed someone.) I found plenty who touted Republican gains–funny how there was never any fraud mentioned in those elections.

Del. Justin Ready impugned Philadelphia elections without any basis even though he admits it probably won’t change the outcome:

Except there is no evidence of any “irregularities” or “shenanigans” beyond the deep abnormality of the failure to concede the election and invented claims of a stolen election designed to delegitimize the President-Elect and our democracy.

Sen. Steve Hershey is looking to help elect the two Republicans to the U.S. Senate in Georgia–the same two with corrupt stock trades who have now demanded the resignation of Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State at Trump’s behest because he ran an election in which Trump lost.

Though Hershey is clearly more interested in golfing:

It’s almost a Klacik level of commitment.

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Watching the Vote Counts: A Lesson from Maryland

By Adam Pagnucco.

Just like me, I bet you’re eagerly watching the presidential vote counts in states like Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Here’s a bit of info from Maryland that might help you digest what you’re seeing.

Press coverage of those states emphasizes voting by county. If certain big counties (like Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, Clark in Nevada, Fulton in Georgia and so on) are both heavily Democratic and have counted below average percentages of their votes, that is obviously going to impact the overall state leads. But there’s another thing to consider: voting mode. Democratic Party leaders told their people to vote by mail and vote early. Republican Party leaders told their people to avoid mail and vote in person. That has apparently had some impact in how members of each party chose to vote.

The chart below shows former Vice-President Joe Biden’s vote percentages in nine Maryland counties as of this writing (3 PM on November 5): Allegany, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Garrett, Harford, Queen Anne’s, Washington and Worcester. The data comes from the State Board of Elections. All of these counties gave at least 60% of their total votes so far to President Donald Trump. They are arguably the most conservative counties in the state. The red bars in the chart show Biden’s percentage of the total votes. The blue bars show Biden’s percentage of the mail votes.

In every one of these counties, Biden received less than 40% of total votes tabulated so far. However, in every one of these counties, Biden received a majority of mail votes. In seven of the nine counties, Biden received at least two-thirds of mail votes despite losing by double digits overall to Trump.

A strong caveat: this is Maryland, not Arizona, Georgia, Nevada or Pennsylvania. But these are also rather conservative places in Maryland, places where Democrats at all levels usually lose. The implication here is that voting mode may matter as much as vote count percentages by county. If a disproportionate share of the outstanding votes in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania are mail votes, Biden may have an advantage as those votes come in even if they come from red counties.

Let’s see how much that matters in the hours ahead.

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MoCo’s Bad Bailout Bet

By Adam Pagnucco.

There are a lot of reasons to pay attention to the races for president and Congress: social justice, climate change, the pandemic, the economy, the fate of planet Earth… you get the idea. Here’s one more reason. If you’re a MoCo taxpayer, the fiscal fate of your county government might depend on what happens in Washington. And right now, that fate is not looking great.

Here’s why: since the summer, MoCo has been praying for a federal bailout. The reasons include:

1. The county is facing a revenue shortfall currently estimated at $192 million in this fiscal year and more than a billion dollars over the next six years.

2. In July, the county passed a nothing-burger savings plan that relied to a great extent on lapses rather than actual cuts.

3. From January through mid-September, the county council spent $28 million out of reserves.

4. The county executive has entered into open-ended agreements with county employee unions to give them emergency pay which could total $100 million over the course of a year. (Employees at MCPS, the college and park and planning are not covered by these agreements.) MoCo’s emergency pay is far more generous than offered by any other jurisdiction in the region.

5. Counting both appropriations and placeholders, the county’s share of federal CARES Act money is already spoken for.

6. The county’s own emergency management director has expressed skepticism in public that FEMA will reimburse the county for a meaningful share of its COVID expenses.

7. The county has ended its hiring freeze and is filling positions across many different departments, including ones not directly related to the pandemic emergency.

But who needs fiscal discipline when a blue wave sweeps over Washington, giving the Democrats total control of the federal government? And then they can solve all of MoCo’s financial problems with the biggest state and local government aid package in U.S. history. Right?

Wrong.

As anyone not hiding on Mars has noticed, the federal elections have not gone as planned for Democrats. Three scenarios seem plausible, all with troubling consequences for MoCo.

President Donald Trump wins reelection.
This is obviously awful for many reasons. One of them is that Vice-President Mike Pence can break ties in the U.S. Senate, giving GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell extra latitude in his chamber.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden defeats Trump but Republicans hold control of the Senate.
This is better than a second Trump term but let’s remember that McConnell once said he would prefer that state and local governments go bankrupt rather than get more federal aid. Additionally, the last thing McConnell would want is to give Biden a big win with tons of federal money for blue localities like MoCo.

Biden wins and Democrats get razor-thin control of the Senate.
Even if Democrats win the Senate, McConnell could use the filibuster to block or reduce more federal aid. Would Democrats repeal the legislative filibuster with control of the Senate hanging on a vote or two?

Clearly, a huge bailout for MoCo is far from a sure thing under any of these scenarios. It’s also not helpful that the Democratic majority in the U.S. House could be the smallest held by either party in 20 years.

MoCo’s bailout bet was always a bad one. At the very least, a bit of restraint was in order. But we are now one-third of the way into the current fiscal year and any budget adjustments made now will be more severe than if they were put into effect months ago. The mess is getting harder to clean up, not easier.

Is anyone going to bring order to the budget or are we headed for another tax hike?

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How Many More Votes Will be Counted?

By Adam Pagnucco.

As of right now, here is the status of key election results in MoCo.

School Board At-Large: Lynne Harris 53%, Sunil Dasgupta 46%

School Board District 2: Rebecca Smondrowski 60%, Michael Fryar 39%

School Board District 4: Shebra Evans 66%, Steve Solomon 33%

Circuit Court Judge: Bibi Berry 23%, David Boynton 21%, Michael McAuliffe 21%, Christopher Fogleman 20%, Marylin Pierre 14%

Question A (Authored by Council Member Andrew Friedson, freezes property tax rate with unanimous council vote required to exceed): For 62%, Against 38%

Question B (Authored by Robin Ficker, would limit property tax receipt growth to rate of inflation and remove council’s ability to exceed): For 42%, Against 58%

Question C (Authored by Council Member Evan Glass, changes county council structure to 4 at-large seats and 7 district seats): For 61%, Against 39%

Question D (Authored by Nine Districts for MoCo, changes county council structure to 9 district seats): For 42%, Against 58%

You can see the latest results here for school board and judicial races and here for ballot questions.

But all of this is subject to a HUGE caveat: not all the votes have been counted. How many more remain?

Three batches have yet to be counted. First are the remaining election day votes. As of right now, only 3 of 40 election day vote centers in the county have reported 80% or more of their results. At this moment, 6,474 election day votes have been cast for president. That suggests tens of thousands of votes more could come in.

Second are the remaining mail votes. According to the State Board of Elections, MoCo voters requested 378,327 mail ballots. At this moment, 177,628 mail votes have been cast for president. This suggests that roughly 200,000 mail votes are out there. Not all of them will ultimately result in tabulated votes but it’s still a lot.

Third are provisional ballots. How many are out there is not known right now. However, this will be by far the smallest of these three categories and they will make a difference only in tight races.

So let’s put it all together. At this moment, 312,452 total votes for president have been tabulated. (I don’t have an official turnout number, but since the presidential race has the least undervoting, this figure is probably reasonably close to turnout so far.) This suggests – VERY roughly – that 55-60% of the votes have been counted, with the vast majority of outstanding votes coming from mail ballots.

What does that mean for the results above? To determine that, we need to examine how different the election day votes and the mail votes were from the total votes tabulated so far since those two categories are where most of the remaining votes are coming from. And of those two categories, mail votes will be far larger than election day votes.

President

MoCo’s votes for president (as well as Congress) are not in doubt but the differential results by voting mode are suggestive of a pattern affecting other races. Former Vice-President Joe Biden has received 79% of total votes as of this moment. However, he has received 51% of election day votes, 65% of early votes and 90% of mail votes. That illustrates a strong partisan pattern associated with voting, with election day votes most friendly to Republicans and mail votes most friendly to Democrats. Keep that in mind as you proceed to the races below.

Circuit Court Judges

Challenger Marylin Pierre has so far received 14% of early votes, 14% of election day votes, 15% of mail votes and 14% of total votes. Each of the incumbent judges cleared 20% on all of these voting modes. This is a non-partisan race so the partisan pattern noted above has minimal effect here. With little reason to believe that the next batch of mail votes will be different than the mail votes already tabulated, it’s hard to see Pierre pulling ahead.

School Board

The district races are blowouts. Let’s look at the at-large race between Lynne Harris and Sunil Dasgupta. Harris has so far received 53% of early votes, 60% of election day votes, 53% of mail votes and 53% of total votes. These are not big leads but they are fairly consistent. For Dasgupta to pull ahead, he would need to pull at least 55% of the outstanding votes yet to be counted, more than flipping the outcome of the existing votes. Unless the next batch of votes – especially mail – is somehow fundamentally different from what has already been cast, it’s hard to see that happening.

Ballot Questions

There are two things to note here. First, none of these results are close at this moment. Second, while these are technically non-partisan, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party endorsed in opposite directions and both sides worked hard to make their views known. The partisan split seen in the presidential election had an impact on the ballot question results.

First, let’s look at election day voting. Judging by the presidential race, this was the most favorable voting mode for the GOP. Here is how election day voting (so far!) compares to total voting (again, so far).

Question A For Votes: Election day 51%, total 62%
Question B For Votes: Election day 60%, total 42%
Question C For Votes: Election day 52%, total 61%
Question D For Votes: Election day 60%, total 42%

This looks like good news for supporters of Question B (Robin Ficker’s anti-tax question) and Question D (nine districts). After all, there are probably tens of thousands of election day votes yet to be counted.

However, the big majority of outstanding votes are mail ballots. Joe Biden received 90% of mail ballot votes tabulated so far, a sign that Democrats dominated this voting mode. Here is what the mail votes (so far) look like.

Question A For Votes: Mail 68%, total 62%
Question B For Votes: Mail 34%, total 42%
Question C For Votes: Mail 65%, total 61%
Question D For Votes: Mail 33%, total 42%

The mail votes uphold the winning margins of Questions A and C and depress the results for Questions B and D. That’s not a surprise if 1. Democrats voted disproportionately by mail and 2. Democrats stuck with their party’s position on the ballot questions. Indeed, we know here at Seventh State that this post on the Democrats’ statement on the ballot questions got huge site traffic.

As a matter of fact, one could even go so far as to say that once the ballot questions turned partisan, it may have been the beginning of the end.

Plenty of votes remain to be counted so let’s respect that. We may know a lot more by the weekend.

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Pierre Trailing in Challenge to Incumbent Judges

Based on the report run just after midnight, progressive challenger Marylin Pierre is trailing in her bid to unseat one of the four incumbent judges.

These are incomplete results but they show Pierre with a substantial deficit of over 50,000 votes behind Christopher Fogleman in fourth place.

Note that the number of under votes, the people who cast ballots but chose not to vote in the contest, is far higher than the number of votes received by an of the judicial candidates. There are no partisan cues and most people don’t know the candidates.

Pierre has run a spirited challenge, winning a slot in the general election by defeating one of the incumbents in the Democratic primary. She won some noted endorsements, including one from Prince George’s State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy the other day.

At the same time, Pierre’s campaign made several missteps. Previously, the progressive-backed candidate had donated to Republicans. Her twitter account suggested wrongly that burden of proof was on accused police in the George Floyd case to show that they are not guilty. Pierre blamed the misstep on a volunteer who failed to follow guidelines in managing the Twitter account.

The incumbent judges proved ready to capitalize aggressively on these errors, even to the point of getting a restraining order against Pierre for a campaign volunteer who inaccurately portrayed her as Judge Pierre. These problems combined with a very different electorate that of the Democratic Primary appear to have left Pierre short last night with the incumbent slate of four judges returning to the bench in Montgomery.

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Klacik’s Vanity Project

Republican Kim Klacik sure garnered a lot of attention and money for her longshot bid to unseat Kweisi Mfume in the Seventh Congressional District. But she has been far more focused on building her national brand than on Baltimore.

Klacik may have become the first congressional challenger in history to refuse free local TV time when she wouldn’t sit down for a standard candidate profile interview with WBAL at the end of October. As WBAL reported:

Klacik declined an invitation to sit down with 11 News for this election series. A spokesman said Klacik would agree to a live TV interview or nothing.

Klacik doesn’t live in the Seventh District. As she notes, it’s not a legal requirement, and says she’ll move if she wins. Klacik has spent an unusual amount of time outside the district for someone claiming to have a genuine interest in winning it. Klacik traveled to Arizona to take part in rallies with President Trump and Donald Trump, Jr. — not the usual stomping grounds for voters in the Seventh District (at least of Maryland).

Republican blogger Brian Griffiths and I rarely agree on anything political. Seems like he got this one dead right though:

Kim Klacik doesn’t actually give a damn about winning the election. Kim Klacik doesn’t give a damn about the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee, of which she ostensibly remains a member. She doesn’t give a damn about the Maryland Republican Party or even the city of Baltimore. All she cares about is continue to parlay her unearned fame into continued speaking fees and media appearances. Hey, she wouldn’t be the first internet celebrity Republican to follow the money. But for Kim Klacik to do it now, mere days before her election, is an insult of the highest order and she is making a fool out of everybody who has ever supported her or gave her money.

Generally, it’s great for any community to have strong choices and to be courted by both parties. But that’s not what Klacik’s campaign has been about. Maryland voters of all political stripes ought to remember that when she launches her next vanity project.

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