TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Brendan McPhillips, Fetterman for PA Campaign Manager
DATE: Monday, November 7, 2022
RE: What to Prepare for on Timing of PA Election Results
Election Day is almost here, and Republicans are already laying the groundwork to potentially spread false conspiracy theories about the likely “red mirage” of ballot processing in Pennsylvania. The reality is Pennsylvania law means in-person votes that skew Republican tend to disproportionately be counted and reported before Democratic-leaning mail-in votes.
Don’t just take our word for it: independent analysts universally expect to see a red to blue shift happen after reporting begins Tuesday night. Similar to 2020, the reality is it will take time – likely several days – to count the votes accurately and ensure every eligible vote is counted.
Pennsylvania is home to the biggest and most competitive U.S. Senate race in the country. With so much disinformation, it’s never been more critical that media outlets act responsibly and proactively in how they report on election results this week.
THE FACTS ABOUT PA’S REPORTING OF ELECTION RESULTS
Flash back to two years ago: the 2020 presidential race was not called in Pennsylvania until nearly four days after polls closed. It could take that long again this cycle. It takes time to count ballots in Pennsylvania, and counties report their own results.
- Associated Press, 11/2/22: “Vote counting typically extends for several days… In recent elections, that has meant that votes counted later in the process have been more likely to favor Democrats. That skews election night counts toward Republicans, and ballots counted in the hours after that tend to heavily favor Democrats, creating a dynamic where Republicans may lead heavily on election night in races but see that lead shrink or disappear hours or days later.”
- McClatchy, 10/27/22: “We will not have unofficial results in Pennsylvania on Election Night and that’s a fact,” Leigh Chapman, Pennsylvania’s acting secretary of state, told McClatchy in an interview. “We’re expecting at least a few days for results to be final.”
- Crystal Ball, 11/2/22: “expect Pennsylvania to look redder on Election Night — as was the case in 2020 — than it will when all the votes are tabulated (hopefully within a couple of days after Election Day).”
Counting for ballots cast by mail and early in person cannot begin until Election Day, thanks to the GOP-controlled legislature – an intentional move to help Republicans baselessly sow doubt about the election results when it suits them. Pennsylvania is one of only eight states that bans pre-processing of early mail-in ballots, forcing county officials to wait until 7 a.m. on Tuesday to begin opening returned ballots and scanning them into the system.
Because Pennsylvania is one of the only states that reports Election Day totals first before ballots cast by mail, and because more populated counties around Philadelphia can take longer to report, we should expect one of the most dramatic shifts in the country from initial GOP support in early results to stronger Democratic gains as more votes are processed.
We expect that in-person votes will skew Republican, and that mail votes will skew heavily Democratic – similar to how they did in 2020. In 2022, more than 1.4 million mail ballots have been requested, with about 70% requested by registered Democrats and about 20% requested by registered Republicans.
As a reminder of what this could look like in practice: on early Wednesday morning after the 2020 election, NBC News reported that Trump had an 11-point lead in Pennsylvania and 25% of the vote was still outstanding. Trump beat Biden by a nearly 32-point margin for votes cast on Election Day but Biden went on to win by more than a point when all votes were counted.
Pennsylvania voters who choose to vote by mail will also have time to fix some types of errors on their application. Voters who did not provide ID when they voted by mail have until Monday, November 14th to cure their ballot and have it counted. The Fetterman campaign will be reaching out to these voters. After Election Day, our efforts will shift to focusing on curing mail-in ballot applications before the deadline.
OZ’S REPUBLICAN ALLIES ALREADY SPEWING FALSE CONSPIRACY THEORIES
The election hasn’t even happened yet, but Mehmet Oz’s top GOP allies are already preparing to question the 2022 results without evidence. On Election Night and soon after, we expect Republicans who embrace the Big Lie could try to double down on spreading disinformation and bogus lawsuits in an effort to illegally stop ballots from being counted.
Donald Trump reportedly “plans to challenge” the 2022 elections starting in Philly, and he is fixated on challenging the results of Pennsylvania’s Senate race as a “dress rehearsal for Trump 2024.” Here’s what Trump said on Saturday night at the rally he hosted for Oz and Mastriano: “I'm so worried about Oz and Doug Mastriano. We can't let this happen. […] The election was rigged, and stolen, and we're not gonna let it happen again! […] No, we're not gonna let it happen again. So from now on, you can’t do all the things they did to us because they were illegal.”
- Doug Mastriano said the fact that it will take several days to count ballots is “an attempt to have the fix in.”
- Tucker Carlson told his Fox News viewers it would be “absurd” for voters to accept the Pennsylvania election as legitimate if John Fetterman wins.
- Ted Cruz is baselessly raising doubts about larger cities in Pennsylvania taking too long to count ballots.
- Even Oz has repeatedly raised doubts about the integrity of the 2020 election results for his own political gain.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Buckle up for a long week. This race is close, and we should all be prepared for a process that takes several days before all eligible votes are properly counted and the results are clear.