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Commentary by Alan I. Abramowitz

Most Recent Releases

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September 23, 2021

Can Democrats Win Back the White Working Class? By Alan I. Abramowitz


— One of the defining features of American politics is the realignment of white, college-educated voters toward Democrats and that of white voters without a degree toward Republicans.

— There are competing views on how or whether Democrats can perform better among white non-college voters.

— Appealing to the economic interests of white non-college voters may not be enough for Democrats to win back their support.

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June 10, 2021

Forecasting the 2022 Midterm Election with the Generic Ballot By Alan I. Abramowitz


— National House generic ballot polling can be a useful tool in projecting the overall results of House and Senate elections.

— The president’s party often loses ground in midterms, but the magnitude of those losses varies greatly depending on the national political environment and the seats held by each party prior to the election.

— A model using the generic ballot and seat exposure shows that a single digit lead on the generic ballot would give Democrats a good chance to keep control of the Senate. Given the expected impact of redistricting, however, Democrats probably need a larger lead to keep control of the House.

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February 25, 2021

Assessing the Impact of Absentee Voting on Turnout and Democratic Vote Margin in 2020 By Alan I. Abramowitz


— While the 2020 presidential election saw a record volume of absentee votes cast, not all states made it equally accessible.

— Eased absentee voting rules contributed to higher voter participation rates.

— With higher turnout, President Joe Biden’s performance still tracked closely with Hillary Clinton’s state-by-state results in 2016 — he just performed slightly better across the board.

— All told, the sharp increase in absentee voting in 2020 wasn’t disproportionately beneficial to either presidential candidate.

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September 29, 2020

State Polls Give Biden Strong Lead in Electoral College as First Debate Looms By Alan I. Abramowitz


— There is a strong relationship between the 2020 presidential polls in the states and the 2016 results.

— This relationship makes sense given that there is an incumbent on the ballot. In these kinds of elections, we see a very high degree of consistency in the results at the state level.

— There are enough competitive states for Donald Trump to come back and win, but Joe Biden is considerably closer to the magic number of 270 than Trump, based on the polls.

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June 16, 2020

Comparing National Polls in 2016 and 2020 By Alan I. Abramowitz

Biden’s lead has been similar to Clinton’s, but it has been more stable.


— In aggregate, Joe Biden’s national lead over Donald Trump so far this year is very similar to the lead Hillary Clinton held over Trump in the first half of 2016.

— However, Biden’s lead has been more stable.

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March 19, 2020

A Coronavirus Recession Could Doom Trump’s Reelection Chances By Alan I. Abramowitz


— The coronavirus public health crisis likely will lead to an economic downturn of unknown length and severity.

— Historically, second-quarter GDP growth in the election year is an important variable in predicting how an incumbent president will perform in the fall.

— A recession could seriously damage President Donald Trump’s reelection chances.

— However, we are in truly uncharted territory, and it’s unclear how the public will respond electorally to an economic downturn forced by a pandemic.

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November 14, 2019

Medicare for All a Vote Loser in 2018 U.S. House Elections By Alan I. Abramowitz


— “Medicare for All” has been a major issue in the Democratic primary race. But it also came up a lot in the 2018 cycle.

— A regression analysis comparing the performance of 2018 Democratic House candidates shows that those who supported Medicare for All performed worse than those who did not, even when controlling for other factors.

— Democratic presidential candidates would do well to take heed of these results, particularly as the eventual nominee determines what he or she wishes to emphasize in the general election.

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August 22, 2019

Which Party’s Voters are More Divided? By Alan I. Abramowitz

Hint: It’s Not the One You Think.


— More Republicans identify as conservative than Democrats identify as liberal.

— This has led to questions about whether ideological fissures in the Democratic Party could make it harder for the party to rally around its eventual nominee.

— However, Democrats actually are more united on individual issue positions than Republicans, which may mean the Democrats are less divided than ideological self-placement suggests.

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August 8, 2019

Did Russian Interference Affect the 2016 Election Results? By Alan I. Abramowitz


— Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s recent testimony was a reminder that Russia attempted to influence the outcome of the 2016 election and very well may try to do so again in 2020.

— This begs the question: Is there any evidence that Russian interference may have impacted the results, particularly in key states?

— The following analysis suggests that the 2016 results can be explained almost entirely based on the political and demographic characteristics of those states. So from that standpoint, the answer seems to be no.

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July 25, 2019

The 2020 Congressional Elections: A Very Early Forecast By Alan I. Abramowitz


— A forecasting model based on postwar electoral history along with the president’s approval rating and the House generic ballot points to Democratic gains next fall.

— The model’s projection won’t be finalized until late next summer and will be based on whatever the president’s approval and the House generic ballot polling is at that time.

— The Republicans enjoy some advantages on both the House and Senate map that might allow them to overperform whatever the model’s final projection is.

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April 4, 2019

Assessing Trump’s Chances: Forecasting the 2020 Presidential Election By Alan I. Abramowitz

The author’s “time for change” presidential forecasting model has a successful track record of projecting presidential elections. In 2016, it showed Donald Trump as a favorite to win the national popular vote. Though Trump ultimately lost the popular vote while winning the Electoral College, the model presented an early indication that Trump was more than capable of winning the 2016 election.

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December 20, 2018

Moderation in the Pursuit of Reelection May Not Help: Evidence from the 2018 House Elections By Alan I. Abramowitz

In my book, The Great Alignment: Race, Party Transformation and the Rise of Donald Trump, I argue that the United States has entered a new era of electoral competition in the 21st century. The most important characteristics of 21st century elections are partisan polarization and nationalized elections, and the results of the 2018 House elections provide striking evidence of both. The outcomes of House contests in 2018 were overwhelmingly determined by two factors — the partisan composition of House districts and the unpopularity of President Trump in many of those districts, including some that had supported him in 2016.

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December 14, 2017

Partisan Gerrymandering and the Outlook for the 2018 U.S. House Elections By Alan I. Abramowitz

There is a growing sense among political observers that the United States may be heading toward a wave election in 2018. Results of recent special elections, including Doug Jones’ (D) victory in the Alabama Senate race on Tuesday, along with Democratic victories in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial elections and surprisingly large Democratic gains in the Virginia House of Delegates all point toward the likelihood of substantial Democratic gains in next year’s midterm elections, including a real possibility that Democrats could regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition, results of recent generic ballot polling generally show large Democratic l

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August 3, 2017

Forecast Model Suggests Democratic Gains Likely in 2018 Gubernatorial Contests By Alan I. Abramowitz

In addition to the entire U.S. House of Representatives and about one-third of the U.S. Senate, Americans will be choosing 36 state governors in 2018. Control of statehouses is crucial not only because many important policy decisions are made at the state level, but because the governors elected next year will, in many cases, play key roles in redrawing congressional and state legislative district lines after the 2020 census.

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July 6, 2017

Generic Ballot Model Gives Democrats Early Advantage in Battle for Control of House By Alan I. Abramowitz

Results of recent special elections have fueled speculation about whether Democrats have a realistic chance to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections. Although Republican candidates have won recent special elections for seats vacated by President Donald Trump’s Cabinet appointees in Georgia, Kansas, Montana, and South Carolina, the GOP victory margins in all four contests have been much smaller than those for the former Republican incumbents in 2016.

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August 25, 2016

Generic Ballot Forecasting Model: Democrats Could Take Back Senate but Republicans Likely to Hold House With Reduced Majority By Alan I. Abramowitz

Since the conclusion of the Republican and Democratic national conventions last month, pundits, political reporters, and ordinary Americans have, for understandable reasons, been preoccupied with developments in the presidential campaign. And the contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has certainly provided plenty of material for serious political observers as well as late night comics. With the presidential contest getting so much coverage in the national media, however, much less attention has been devoted to the critical battle for control of the next Congress. Regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, whether Republicans or Democrats control the House and Senate will have enormous consequences for the direction of the country and the ability of the next president to carry out his or her agenda.

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August 11, 2016

Forecasting the 2016 Presidential Election: Will Time for Change Mean Time for Trump? By Alan I. Abramowitz

The Time for Change forecasting model has correctly predicted the winner of the national popular vote in every presidential election since 1988. This model is based on three predictors — the incumbent president’s approval rating at midyear (late June or early July) in the Gallup Poll, the growth rate of real GDP in the second quarter of the election year, and whether the incumbent president’s party has held the White House for one term or more than one term. Using these three predictors, it is possible to forecast the incumbent party’s share of the major party vote with a high degree of accuracy around three months before Election Day.

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June 2, 2016

Model Points to Close California Result Between Clinton and Sanders By Alan I. Abramowitz

On June 7, five states — California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota — will hold primary elections. It is the last major day of primaries of 2016, and with the Republican race already decided, almost all of the attention will be focused on the Democratic side, where 676 pledged (elected) delegates will be at stake in those five states.

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May 26, 2016

Why Democratic Unity Could Be Easier to Achieve This Time: Donald Trump and Barack Obama By Alan I. Abramowitz

With only a few weeks left in the 2016 primary campaign, a lot of liberal pundits and Democratic Party leaders are getting very nervous about the outlook for the general election. To almost everyone’s surprise, Donald Trump has secured the Republican presidential nomination while Hillary Clinton is still locked in a contentious battle with Bernie Sanders. Although Clinton holds a nearly insurmountable lead over Sanders in pledged delegates, Sanders continues to attack Clinton and win primaries.

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August 6, 2015

The Angry American Voter By Alan I. Abramowitz and Steven Webster

As Republicans take the stage in Cleveland for their first presidential primary debate tonight — with Donald Trump in the middle of it — one thing is already abundantly clear: A lot of voters are angry. Very angry. In fact, a lot of voters have been angry for some time. The phenomenon that we call “negative partisanship,” antipathy on the part of Democratic and Republican voters toward the opposing party and its leaders, has been on the rise since the 1980s, and today it is arguably the most salient feature of the political scene in the United States. Now voter ire appears to be shaping both parties’ 2016 presidential nomination races. The rise of Trump and Bernie Sanders in the Republican and Democratic nomination contests, respectively, is symptomatic of this increased anger in the American electorate.