Explaining the Blue Shift in Election Canvassing

64 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2020

See all articles by Edward B. Foley

Edward B. Foley

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Charles Stewart III

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 1, 2020

Abstract

We conduct statistical analysis of a phenomenon identified by Foley (2013), the rise in the number of votes counted after Election Day (“overtime votes”) and the growing tendency of these votes to disproportionately favor Democrats in presidential elections (the “blue shift.”) We provide a historical description of these two time series, from 1948 to 2016, and establish that the timing of the persistent growth in the blue-shifted overtime vote began with the 2004 election. Changes in the time series are broadly consistent with changes in electoral practices, especially in recent years.

We perform statistical analysis to better understand variability across states in the overtime vote and the blue shift in the 2016 presidential election. We discover that variation in the size of the overtime vote is associated with the number of mail and provisional ballots, and with the partisanship of the state. The blue-shift is associated with state partisanship, but not with the number of mail and provisional ballots.

This analysis has relevance to post-Election-Day dynamics, especially in elections where a close election-night results that favor one candidate may yield to close final-canvass results that favor the other candidate. Among the concluding remarks, we discuss the conditions under which overtime votes counted in the 2020 presidential election could prove especially problematic.

Keywords: Voting, Elections, Recounts, Canvassing, Blue Shift, Election Contests

Suggested Citation

Foley, Edward B. and Stewart III, Charles, Explaining the Blue Shift in Election Canvassing (March 1, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3547734 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3547734

Edward B. Foley

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States
614-292-4288 (Phone)
614-292-2035 (Fax)

Charles Stewart III (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
31
Abstract Views
198
PlumX Metrics