The 4th showed Trump his best performance in any of the 411 Congressional boroughs we have released 2020 data so far, and we are confident that there is no chance it will be postponed when we calculate the results for our two remaining States, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania. And the result comes as no surprise: in 2016, Trump got his largest share of the vote nationwide in the 4th year, even though his net margin was just a touch higher in 13th Texas.
There are several reasons Alabama’s 4th is so deeply conservative. The district is both extremely rural and strong whitebut what makes it unique is that it is has the highest percentage of Protestant residents in AmericaAbout 54% of the population identify as such. It’s also in the nation’s lower quintile both in terms of diversity and level of education, a category occupied exclusively by deeply republican districts.
While it is now impossible to imagine Aderholt being threatened by a Democrat, he barely won his first choice for an earlier version of the 4th nearly a quarter of a century ago. In 1996 Aderholt ran to succeed Rep. Tom Bevill, who was a prominent member of a powerful bloc of Conservative Democrats Nickname “Boll Weevil”. Bevill himself had won his last term two years earlier without contradiction Even as the Republicans flipped numerous southern districts on their way to their first house majority in 40 years and the local Democrats showed strength even lower in the vote.
The Democrats nominated former Senator Bob Wilson, who narrowly lost re-election in 1994 but was still able to fight a tough fight. Wilson argued he would secure the funds needed for his seat “in the tradition of Tom Bevill,” but he also focused on his opposition to abortion and his membership in the NRA.
Aderholt, who was a local judge at the time, linked Wilson with the national democratic leadership, arguing that he would not be a replacement for Bevill. Both parties viewed the race as a priority, and Spokesman Newt Gingrich stumbled for Aderholt on a cycle where his newly minted majority appeared to be at stake. Ultimately Aderholt pulled a 50-48 off Victory like Bob Dole was Defeat Bill Clinton 48-43 in the district.
Wilson was looking for a rematch in 1998 lost his elementary school to Donald Bevill, the son of the former congressman. However, the general election this time around was not as competitive as it is Aderholt won 56-44. That didn’t quite end Democratic attempts to reclaim their old turf, but the next cycle did: Former Alabama First Lady Marsha Folsom lost the 2000 election to Aderholt through a punishing 61-37 spread like George W. Bush was draw a 59-39 win. Team Blue didn’t put up a challenger two years later, and Aderholt has been completely safe ever since.
Trump nowhere near his high water mark anywhere else in Alabama, but he still won at least 63% of the vote in the state’s five remaining GOP districts. Biden, meanwhile, scored a 71:28 victory in the 7th district of Democratic MP Terri Sewell, a constituency that Republican card makers had drawn to accept as many African-American voters as possible.
Finally, there is a methodological issue that we want to address in Alabama that, like many other states, does not assign every vote to a district. This is not a new topic, and we have techniques that can be used to estimate how unassigned votes like this are split between districts.
However, the coronavirus pandemic resulted in a significant increase in votes cast prior to election day, and in Alabama that meant a much larger than usual percentage was not allocated to any congressional district: in 2016, those unallocated votes made up just 4% of the total votes in the seven Counties spread across multiple districts, but that number rose to 14% in 2020.
Even with this issue, there is no question which presidential candidate won each of the seats in the State House. Nevertheless, we try to make our estimates as accurate as possible. Fortunately, Alabama includes the total number of unassigned votes cast in each district in each county (but not their breakdown by candidate). This is important information that is rarely available.
For example, in Jefferson County, the largest state in the state, approximately 327,000 ballots were cast, of which approximately 50,000 were not assigned to any district. However, thanks to data from the state, we know that 26,000 of these unassigned ballots were cast in the 6th Congressional District and the remainder in the 7th Congressional District.
We use this information to more accurately assign these votes by congressional district. First, we’ll assume that the way a candidate’s supporters cast their ballots is similar regardless of where they live. For example, if 30% of Biden voters in District A vote absent, we assume that about 30% of Biden voters in District B are also absent. (We confirmed this assumption by testing it in other states. Provide more detailed breakdowns of votes.) This assumption is then used to compute an initial estimate of the votes for each candidate in each district of a district.
We then use the total number of unassigned votes cast in each district in each county to adjust our initial estimates to match the totals. Finally, we’ll adjust the number of votes again so that the number of unassigned votes for each candidate across the county is consistent with the official results.
These estimates are not perfect and will result in errors in our final numbers. We suspect that for districts in Alabama, the error for a candidate’s overall district vote share is about a percentage point or less, based on calculations in other states that know the number of votes by type of vote. However, we believe that this method will allow us to assign those previously unassigned votes to their correct congressional district as accurately as possible.