We continue our look at districts potentially in play in November with our first statewide exploration of straight-party voting trends in Republican-held districts. Prior analyses have looked at districts that are bluer than the state as a whole, districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 and districts where challengers have raised at least half as much as the Republican nominee. We also previously published our high-level analysis of federal and state and legislative seats we rate “lean Republican” or “toss up.”
There are two types of voters, at least for one more election.
One type of voter casts a straight-party ballot by marking their party of choice by using a single punch, mark, pull or other action. This single-punch, straight-party vote goes to every candidate of that party up and down the ballot. Within this group are straight-party Republican, straight-party Democratic and a much smaller number of straight-party voters supporting the minor parties. Single-punch, straight-party voters cast three out of every five ballots during the last three general elections.
The other type of voter does not cast a straight-party vote. We refer to them as “full-ballot” voters because they mark their choices up and down the ballot, although some may only vote in a handful of races. Full-ballot voters cast two out of every five votes in the last three general elections.
Any deficit a candidate faces with the first group of voters must be made up within the second. In almost every race on any ballot, the second group is smaller, so a candidate needs a higher percentage of that group than the other candidate got from straight-party voters to win. Sometimes it’s a much higher percentage. Often, it’s a bridge too far, especially since full-ballot voters tend to exhibit a similar partisan breakdown as the district’s true partisans.
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