2018 Florida Vote Projection Model – Day 1

By Tom Arthur from Orange, CA, United States (vote for better tape) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

It is that time of year again. Everyone comes up with their predictions for the elections. Many in the prediction business, like Nate Silver, look at public opinion polling to determine voting behavior. Some, like the Larry Sabato, don’t use any methodology and just approach predictions in a crystal ball manner (hence the name of his website). Others look at other factors such as the economy and primary election results.

As for me, I take a different approach. For years, I predicted elections by looking at past results and public opinion polling. However, over the last few years I have come not to trust polls. Also, polls cannot predict turnout. Therefore, I no longer use polls when predicting elections. Nowadays, I use early vote and vote-by-mail vote to determine how the vote might turn out in the state. The reason I have taken this approach is because these are actual votes that have been cast in the election. With that, I simply try to predict vote choice likelihood based on party registration. I also look at voting methods to determine how many votes either part can expect on Election Day (something that will be updated once early voting starts).

With that, I am presenting my prediction map for the 2018 elections in Florida. These are not specific to any race, just how well an average Democrat or Republican would preform in each county, based on the political parties of the voters who have already submitted their ballots. I will get into specific methodology in a later post, but the above description gives the gist of the prediction model. The model can be found here.

As of right now (based on votes being reported as ‘submitted’ by the Florida Division and Elections and some individual Supervisor of Elections offices), the Republicans have a slight edge when it comes to the early vote-by-mail result. But, I caution, it is very early days, with only 1.04% of the vote in so far. Even so, the Republicans are projected to win 52.29% of the vote, the Democrats 44.01%, and others 3.70%. But again, this is very early…don’t look into these numbers at all as far as an overall prediction. This is just a prediction of the votes that are submitted right now.

In this first few days of vote-by-mail, Democrats have some good and some bad news. As far as the good news, Democrats will perform better. Most of the counties with higher turnout right now are strong Republican counties. Currently, Collier County has a 4.2% turnout rate. Compare that with Broward County’s .01% turnout, and one can easily see why the Democrats are in the hole early. So, it will get better once the Democratic counties update their number. Additionally, Democratic numbers will increase drastically as soon as early voting starts.

But, of course, there is some early signs of bad news. If we look at the county results, Pinellas County is showing a slight edge for the Republicans. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the VBM vote by 3.4%. As of now, the projection shows Republicans with a 1.3% advantage. If the Democrats lose the VBM totals in Pinellas County, it is extremely unlikely they will make up the vote in early voting or on Election Day.

This is still early days….very, very early days (if I haven’t said that enough already). This time next week, we should have a better understanding of the electorate. However, if these trends continue, Democrats should be worried. The electoral map could look the same as it did in 2016. This means that turnout in strong Democratic countries might be the key to success in November.

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