Recall Tracker Update - One-third voted, how does that compare to 2020?

By Paul Mitchell | Political Data Inc | @Political_Data |

We are headed into the last weekend of this crazy unique recall election.

A common look-back is to the 2020 General, which, as I’ve said, seems like a crazy comparison to make.  In the 2020 General we had more votes cast than any state has ever cast for anything in US history.

But, sure… let’s once again compare that historic election to this odd-year, September, special recall election.

In the 2020 General, calculating the ballots cast as of the Friday AM before the election, we were at 42% turnout. As of this AM, we are at 33% turnout in the recall.

So, in that way, we are nearly 10-points behind where we were in the 2020 General, accounting for a 1.9 million vote difference.

In partisanship we can see a trendline for this special election that looks mostly like 2020, but with some differences in Independent and Republican turnout rates.

As the following graphs show, in the 2020 General Republicans were lagging behind Independents a bit, at just 22% of the votes cast, lower than their 24% rate of registration.  In this recall, they are doing better, at 25%, just above their rate of Registration.



Conversely, Democrats are a bit below their 2020 General numbers as they were at 54% in 2020 at this time, and are at 53% now.

Someone could make the point, “But, Paul… there are 800,000 fewer Democratic voters so far this year!” And that’s true.  But that 20% or so fewer, is about the same as the 20% or so fewer Republicans who have voted this year.

And, of course, where are the goalposts?  Does the recall election win if the Republican/Democratic margins are 5% lower than the 2020 General (when Biden beat Trump by nearly 30-points)?  Based on polling, the recall probably needs to see the margin between Democrats and Republicans cut in half, or more.  

Recall backers would make this more competitive if late-voting Republicans can narrow their gap to Democrats to around 15%, with an electorate that breaks something like 30% Rep, 45% Dem, 25% Independent.  But the gap right now is at 28%.

And, without getting too mathy, narrowing the Dem lead from 28% to 15% may be too steep of a hill to climb.  Too many votes have been cast. 

If, for example, we project five million more votes are going to be returned, and we are trying to get the Democratic advantage down to 15%, that remaining vote would have to break something like 32% Democratic, 40% Republican, 28% Independent.  That would be a more than 35-point swing.

The hope for the recall proponents are in these in-person voting opportunities that are increasing this weekend as more counties open more vote centers.  Then, of course, there’s going to be Election Day, when pro-recall forces would really have to go gangbusters to change this underlying partisan disadvantage.

A Berkeley IGS Poll just released as I’m about to hit “send” suggests that 70% of the in-person voters are pro-recall, which can be a bit of good news for proponents.  But, all voting methods considered, they show the recall losing with 39% Yes, 60% no.

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