Phoenix, AZ (October 31, 2018) With only 6 days remaining until Election Day, over 1.2 million ballots have already been cast in Arizona. Shattering past midterm election turnout figures for the state, these early ballot returns reveal major trends that will continue to play out through Election Day.
The major takeaways for current ballot returns are:
- Republican ballot advantage far ahead of 2016: On this same day in 2016 – a Presidential election year – 1,228,936 ballots had been returned, with the Republican Ballot Advantage being +6.4% percentage points, with a margin of 79,180 ballots. With a larger ballot advantage of +9.4% this cycle and a margin of 114,512 ballots, the statewide ballot advantage is likely to see only minor shifts, barring any unprecedented Democratic return numbers in the final week.
- Democratic voters holding their ballots longer than 2016: Democratic voters are holding onto their ballots longer than in 2016, averaging 12.44 days compared to 11.36 days in 2016, but shorter than their 13.26 day average in 2014. Meanwhile, Republican voters aren’t holding onto their ballots as long, sitting at an average of 11.76 days compared with 11.97 days in 2016 and 13.48 in 2014.
- Older voters far outnumber young and middle-aged voters: Voter ages 55+ outnumber those under 55 by a 2:1 margin.
- New voters spilt among parties: Republicans hold a 34.04% share of the 88,700 new voters who have cast a ballot, compared to 34.31% Democrats and 29.75% Independents.
According to analysis of AZ-08 special election results, new Arizona voter registration figures, and various pundits, 2018 was projected to be a “blue wave” year. However, as Arizona has historically cast almost two-thirds of its ballots early, a blue wave scenario is looking increasingly unlikely. Gaming out the remainder of early ballot returns, any potential downward shift in the Republican ballot advantage will be offset by their 100,000+ ballot advantage.
Looking at the number of ballots requested, Democrats have seen a higher request rate from their registered voters at 78.9% compared to 77.4% of registered Republicans. This two-point spread is up 1.1 percentage points from the 2016 cycle. However, as we saw in 2016, this disparity is minimized by Arizona having more registered Republicans than Democrats. Turning to returned ballots, Republicans currently hold a statewide turnout percentage of 36.7% compared to 32.0% of registered Democratic voters.
New and Frequent Voters
With every election cycle, there is a push to get new voters* to mail in ballots and show up on Election Day. So far, new voters are only making up 7.15% of total returned ballots. With just fewer than 20% of these 88,700 voters being under the age of 24, a wave of freshly registered young voters does not appear to be returning ballots. Across Arizona’s Congressional Districts, the top concentration of these new voters is in AZ-08 and AZ-05, at 14.93% and 14.54% of the 88,700 voters. At the other end of the spectrum, voters who have voted in all of the past four general elections are a staggering 584,100 of returned ballots and are mostly Republican, with the GOP having a 48.57% share.
*New voters are voters who have not voted in any of the last four general elections.
Election Day Voters
With today being the last day for voters to turn in early ballots and the last major early ballot reports coming out by the end of the week, the focus is turning to Election Day voters. Registered voters who have not requested an early ballot total about 1.2 million. Republicans still hold the advantage here with 27.27% of these voters being registered Republicans. If we look specifically at voters who are likely to turn out based on their general election voting history, the Republican advantage grows to +23.5 percentage points as they have a 50.88% share of these 122,637 voters who have voted in all of the previous four elections. The highest concentration of these voters is in Arizona’s Congressional Districts 02 and 04, with just over 11,000 of these highly likely voters being registered Republicans.
The possibility of early ballots being returned at polling places on November 6th also presents yet another large group of potential voters, totaling just above 1.4 million. These remaining ballots have a slight Democratic advantage, with Democrats holding a 32.95% share compared to a Republican 32.04% share. Looking just at highly likely voters who have voted in three or four of the past four general elections, this advantage flips with the Republican advantage growing to 11.85 points at a 43.96% share of 436,670 ballots.
George Khalaf, President of Data Orbital, issued the following statement: “We started this year anticipating a blue wave scenario with pundits predicting Republicans would have a 4-5% ballot advantage. But now, as we look at early voting, it’s very clear that this blue wave scenario just isn’t happening. Total turnout numbers are only slightly below 2016, which is even more instructive than the current Republican ballot advantage. The record turnout is causing the total raw Republican ballot advantage to be much higher than both 2016 and 2014, giving Republicans a strong advantage going into election day. Since they make up a little more than 50% of likely Election Day voters, it is going to be very difficult for Democrats to turn that advantage around.”
Overall, we are looking at a record-turnout election where both Republicans and Democrats are energized to vote. Over the next six days, we will continue to track returns and trends to better predict election day results. Follow the daily updates at dataorbital.com.