With the end of the 2012 presidential election, a number of analysts are busily analyzing Obama’s victory.
There’s just one problem with all this: all the votes haven’t been counted yet. The nation is still counting millions of absentees and provisionals. California alone has, as of this writing, two million votes to count. Throughout the nation, there are probably still around five million votes left to count.
There’s a lot of analysis being done that’s flawed since the results aren’t complete. Both sides of the political spectrum are guilty of this.
For instance, Nate Silver wrote an article arguing that Democrats had an electoral college advantage. The argument was that Obama’s popular margin was less than his victory in swing states such as Virginia and Colorado, which meant that the electoral college favored Democrats.
At the time Obama was leading by 2.5%. Today he is leading by 2.8%, and his margin will only go up. That is because the Democratic-heavy West Coast still has several million uncounted votes. As Obama’s margin goes up, Silver’s argument (that the electoral college favors Democrats) becomes weaker. The chart, for instance, has Virginia on the Democratic side of the ledger; it will probably end up leaning Republican.
An example on the opposite side of the partisan aisle is given by Republican pundit Andrew McCarthy, who argued:
The country yawned. About 11 million fewer Americans voted for the two major-party candidates in 2012 — 119 million, down from 130 million in 2008. In fact, even though our population has steadily increased in the last eight years (adding 16 million to the 2004 estimate of 293 million Americans), about 2 million fewer Americans pulled the lever for Obama and Romney than for George W. Bush and John Kerry.
Well, of course turn-out seems like it’s down when there are still millions of votes to count!
This was on November 10th. Four days later, the figure stands at 124 million Americans who voted, with millions more to go. It probably is true that 2012 will end up an election with relatively low turn-out. But before analyzing turn-out, it’s a wise idea to wait until counting is finished.
A lot of people are calculating state PVIs (Partisan Voting Indexes, a measure of how Democratic or Republican a state is) based on incomplete returns. Others, especially Republicans are moaning about decreased white turn-out, when there are still millions of whites who haven’t been counted yet.
Let’s all take a deep breath and wait for a few weeks before doing this type of analysis.