Could We See a “Red Shift” in Vote Totals Toward Republicans After Election Night?

For years we have been noticing a pattern of Democrats voting later with absentee ballots, resulting in their ballots being counted later, and races where a Republican was in the lead on election night end with a Democratic victory. A prominent example of this “blue shift,” as Ned Foley and Charles Stewart call it, is Sinema’s victory over McSally in Arizona in 2018. Sinema gained 70,000 votes after election day.

I had been thinking that the shift would be even MORE pronounced this year, an it still may be in some places, as Democrats shift to much more vote by mail than Republicans, and as many (but not all) states report in person voting first. (Much depends on the state’s rules for processing mail ballots).

But then Nate Silver noted that Democrats are returning their mail-in ballots more quickly than Republicans, perhaps because they are more receptive to the “vote early” messages to deal with the problems of mail voting during the pandemic:

Charles Stewart thinks this could be an issue too.

Nate says this may not matter if it is a Biden blowout, and Michael McDonald thinks that decision desks and election forecasters can handle the uncertainty:

Still, it strikes me as a reason for greater caution and patience on Election Night.

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