Welcome to the Tuesday, January 17, Brew.
By: Samuel Wonacott
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Signatures required for ballot initiatives decreased by 7.34% on average following the 2022 election
- The average margin of victory was higher in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House than in 2020
- Over the last week, 253 election-related bills were introduced in state legislatures
Signatures required for ballot initiatives decreased by 7.34% on average following the 2022 election
Welcome back! Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and we hope you enjoyed the long weekend. For our first story this week, we looked back at signature requirements for ballot initiatives in 2022.
This year, signature requirements for citizen-initiated measures changed in 20 states. There are 26 states that allow for initiatives or referendums, and in each of these states, the number of signatures required is tied to another number. The most common type of requirement is based on the number of votes in a specific election, such as the gubernatorial election.
Turnout on Nov. 8, 2022, caused signature requirements for citizen-initiated ballot measures to change in 17 states. An additional three states will change their requirements based on the number of registered voters. The average state signature requirement change was a -7.34% decrease. Changes ranged from a -28.84% decrease in Wyoming to a +7.70% increase in Arizona.
Overall, signature requirements increased in Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, South Dakota, and Arkansas. They decreased in Colorado, Oklahoma, Ohio, Massachusetts, Illinois, California, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Alaska, and Wyoming.
Arizona had the largest percent increase (+7.70%) in the number of signatures required, while Wyoming had the largest percent decrease (-28.84%).
- In Arizona, the signature requirement is based on votes cast in the 2022 gubernatorial election. Including Arizona, 13 states base their signature requirements on the number of votes cast in midterm gubernatorial elections or another state executive election. The average change in these states was -1.72%, with a range of -12.99% in Maryland to +7.70% in Arizona.
- In Wyoming, the signature requirement is based on turnout at the preceding general election, both presidential and midterm elections. Including Wyoming, four states base their signature requirements on turnout at the preceding general election. As turnout was lower in 2022, a midterm election, compared to 2020, a presidential election, the signature requirement decreased in each of these four states, from −28.84% in Wyoming to -23.00% in New Mexico.
The number of signatures required also decreased by -7.04% in Idaho, where the signature requirement is based on the number of registered voters at the time of the election. In Utah, the signature requirement changed on Jan. 1, 2023, based on the number of active voters. In Nebraska, the signature requirement is based on the number of registered voters at the signature deadline.
Signature requirements did not change in six states – Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, and Washington. In North Dakota, the requirement changes once per decade with the decennial census population count. In Florida, the requirement is based on the number of votes cast for president. The other states base their requirements on votes cast in gubernatorial elections that did not occur in 2022.
The average margin of victory was higher in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House than in 2020
Over the last few months, we’ve been hard at work bringing you unique analyses of the Nov. 8, 2022, general elections. Today, let’s look at our most recent analysis article—the margin of victory (MOV) in U.S. House and U.S. Senate elections.
An electoral MOV is the difference between the share of votes cast for the winning candidate and the runner-up. Margins of victory can be used to measure electoral competitiveness, political party or candidate strength, and, indirectly, the popularity of a particular policy or set of policies.
Here’s a summary of what we found:
- The average MOV across 35 U.S. Senate elections was 19%, larger than the 18.1% average in 2020 Senate elections.
- The average MOV across 435 U.S. House elections was 28.9%, up slightly from 28.8% in 2020 and the second smallest MOV since 2012.
- Republicans had a larger average MOV than Democrats in Senate races (21.3% versus 16%) and House races (30.2% to 27.7%).
The average margin of victory in the U.S. Senate was 19%, larger than the 18.1% average margin in 2020. The average MOV was 21.3 percentage points for Republicans and 16 percentage points for Democrats.
The narrowest margin in any U.S. Senate election in 2022 was 0.50 percentage points in the U.S. Senate election in Nevada between Catherine Cortez Masto (D) and Adam Laxalt (R). The largest MOV was in Hawaii, where Brian Schatz (D) defeated Bob McDermott (R) by a margin of 52.17 percentage points.
The average MOV in the U.S. House was 28.9 percentage points, the second smallest margin since 2012. The average MOV was 28.8 percentage points in 2020.
Broken down by the winner’s party, the average MOV was 27.7 percentage points for Democrats and 30.2 percentage points for Republicans.
The closest U.S. House race in 2022 was in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, where Lauren Boebert (R) defeated Adam Frisch (D) by a margin of 0.17%, or 546 votes out of more than 300,000 cast. This was 540 votes more than the closest House race in 2020. In that race, Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) defeated Rita Hart (D) by a margin of 6 votes out of nearly 400,000 cast, the narrowest margin of victory in any U.S. House election since 1984.
Click the link below to learn more about our analysis of Congressional races in 2022, including data on all 35 U.S. Senate elections and all 435 U.S. House elections.
Over the last week, 253 election-related bills were introduced in state legislatures
With legislatures convening for their 2023 sessions, officeholders are busy introducing a flurry of bills. One category of bills we closely follow are those related to elections and election administration. Here’s an update on the election-related bills we tracked over the previous week.
Since Jan. 6, 253 election-related bills were introduced (or saw pre-committee action). One-hundred and thirty-eight bills were introduced in states with Democratic trifectas, while 83 were introduced in states with Republican trifectas. In states with divided governments, legislators introduced five bills.
Three bills passed one chamber—two in states with Democratic trifectas and one in a state with a divided government.
Overall since Jan. 6, 256 bills have been acted on in some way (representing a 365 percent increase as compared to last week’s total of 55 bills). These 256 bills represent 41 percent of the 632 bills we are tracking in 2023. One-hundred and forty of these bills are from states with Democratic trifectas, 83 are from states with Republican trifectas, and 33 are from states with a divided government.
The bar chart below compares recent activity on a week-to-week basis over the last eight weeks.
The map below visualizes the concentration of this recent activity across the nation. A darker shade of yellow indicates a higher number of relevant bills that have been acted upon in the last week. A lighter shade of yellow indicates a lower number of bills that have been acted upon in the last week.
To date, we’ve tracked 632 election-related bills in 2023. These bills were either introduced this year or crossed over from last year’s legislative sessions. If you want to learn more about election-related legislation, click the link below and subscribe to our weekly election legislation tracking digest. You’ll receive weekly updates on election-related activity across the states, including information about noteworthy bills, the number of bills acted on within a given week, and which states have seen the highest concentration of legislative activity.
You can also listen to the most recent episode of On the Ballot, our weekly podcast, where we take a closer look at the week’s top political stories. In this week’s episode, Staff Writer Ethan Rice gives host Victoria Rose a roundup of where some election-related legislation stands in the first few weeks of the new year.