An Elections Specialist You Should Get to Know


Rachel Bitecofer (screenshot via CBC)

There is someone who predicted, with almost scary accuracy, what happened in the 2018 midterm elections. Know who it is?

I am not an elections specialist, and so am always on the lookout for smart voices who seem to understand the data and trends in politics better than most. And I have my eye on Rachel Bitecofer.

Who is Rachel Bitecofer?

Rachel Bitecofer is a Senior Elections Fellow at the Niskanen Center, a think tank that advocates for environmentalism, immigration reform, civil liberties, and more.

Months before the 2018 midterms, she predicted how many seats the Democrats would win in the House. She was off … by one seat.

Because of that, and her extreme frankness, she has been getting booked on various TV shows and getting quoted in articles, because of course, everyone wants to know what she thinks will happen in 2020.

What is Bitecofer saying now?

It’s hard to boil down all of the factors that go into her forecasts, but if I were to take a stab at it, it is that she believes negative partisanship drives elections, and that there are very few actual swing voters. Put another way, she doesn’t believe that elections are won or lost depending on which side swing voters vote for, but instead that the electorate is hyper-polarized and it comes down to who decides to vote or not.

So, in her models, it doesn’t matter who is running for president. It only matters which side is more energized to vote against the other side. Which is why she’s currently predicting that the Democrats can win the White House.

It goes without saying that other election forecasters think she’s wrong about how the electorate behaves and why. But Bitecofer loves that — she feels that they’ve been looking at voter behavior in the wrong way and is happy to be the one upending things.

I encourage you to check her out. You can find her on Twitter at @RachelBitecofer and her latest analysis at the Niskanen Center. You might also read these two fascinating articles:

Rachel Bitecofer Breaks the Rules

An Unsettling New Theory: There Is No Swing Voter

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