Election News

Gubernatorial Elections Map Now Live; NJ, VA This Year, 36 More in 2018

March 15, 2017

The 2017-18 interactive map for gubernatorial races is now live. 38 of the 50 states will elect a chief executive during this period.  The vast majority of those races, 36, will coincide with the 2018 midterm elections. New Jersey and Virginia have elections this November. Both incumbents are termed-out.

 

The gubernatorial races over this two-year period will take on outsized national importance as the 2020 Census looms, followed by congressional redistricting. In most states, that redistricting is controlled by the state legislature, but is subject to a veto by the governor.

Currently, there are 33 Republican governors (most since 1922), 16 Democrats, and one independent (Alaska). 27 Republicans, 10 Democrats, and that independent-controlled seat are up in this cycle. An early look by The Cook Political Report indicates roughly half the races may be competitive (rated toss-up or leaning). At this point, only New Jersey is leaning toward a party flip, as unpopular governor Chris Christie leaves office. Six other races are seen as true toss-ups. Five of those will be contested in 2018 and are all held by Republicans. Also a toss-up is the 2017 race in Virginia, as Democrat Terry McAuliffe departs.



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It's March 2017; Time for a 2020 Democratic Poll of Iowa!

March 15, 2017

There's only 1,055 days* until the 2020 Iowa caucuses; seems like a good time for aspiring politicians to start testing the waters. That's what Martin O'Malley is doing in Iowa. Politico reports the former Maryland Governor commissioned a poll to see how he stacks up against eight other potential Democratic candidates.

Not surprisingly, since the results are seeing the light of day, O'Malley did relatively well. His 18% total was effectively tied for the lead with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker who had 17%. Seven other names combined for 33%, with "not sure" getting 32%. Notably excluded from the poll were three high-profile Senators: Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Vermont's Bernie Sanders.

O'Malley received just 0.6% of the vote in the 2016 Iowa caucus and dropped out of the race that same night.

* Actual date TBD. Assumes a caucus date of Feb. 3, 2020, the first Monday of that month. The 2016 Iowa caucuses were held Monday, Feb. 1.


Carson and Perry Confirmed, Join Trump Cabinet

March 3, 2017

Dr. Ben Carson and former Texas governor Rick Perry joined the Trump Cabinet yesterday after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate. 13 of Trump's 15 Cabinet picks have now been confirmed, along with four of five cabinet-rank officials, as shown in the graphic below, courtesy of Axios:

Former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue is awaiting a hearing, as is former Bush administration official Alexander Acosta. Mr. Acosta is Trump's second choice at Labor, after Andrew Puzder dropped out. Both selections are expected to win confirmation.

The Cabinet part of the table is ordered (left to right, by row) in order of presidential succession.  Preceding Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would be Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and President pro tempore of the Senate Orrin Hatch. If Designated Survivor were real-world, Ben Carson would be President of the United States.


Zinke Confirmed as Interior Secretary, Creating 5th Vacancy in House of Representatives

March 1, 2017

Montana's at-large U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke was confirmed as Interior Secretary Wednesday. Zinke's departure creates the fifth vacancy in the House. Four Republicans have departed to become part of the Trump Administration, while the Democratic Representative is now Attorney General of California.

All five seats will be filled by special election this year; the calendar is below. At this point, only the race in Georgia appears to have a decent possibility of being competitive. That seat, formerly held by Tom Price, is in a Republican-leaning district in the northern Atlanta suburbs. Price easily won reelection by a 62-38% margin last November. However, Donald Trump won the district by only 1.5%, and Democrats would like to make this an early test of the new president's popularity.  

CA-34: Formerly held by Xavier Becerra (D), now California Attorney General. Safe Democrat

April 4: Jungle Primary Special Election | June 6: Top-two runoff if no candidate receives 50%

GA-06: Formerly held by Tom Price (R), now Secretary of Health & Human Services. Republicans favored to hold seat

April 18: Jungle Primary Special Election | June 20: Top-two runoff if no candidate receives 50% 

KS-04: Formerly held by Mike Pompeo (R), now Director of CIA. Safe Republican

April 11: Special Election

MT-AL: Formerly held by Ryan Zinke (R), now Interior Secretary. Safe Republican

May 25: Special Election 

SC-05: Formerly held by Mick Mulvaney (R) now Director of Office of Management and Budget. Safe Republican

May 2: Party Primaries | May 16: Party runoffs as needed, if no candidate gets 50% in primaries | June 20: Special Election 

Republicans currently hold 237 seats to 193 for Democrats. If all five vacancies are held by the incumbent party, the full House will be 241 Republican, 194 Democrats.  218 seats are needed for control.  Visit our 2018 House interactive map for an early look at the midterm congressional elections. 


2018 Interactive House Map with Initial Race Ratings

February 25, 2017

Our 2018 House interactive map is live, populated with initial House ratings from The Cook Political Report. Those ratings show 205 safe seats for Republicans, 173 for Democrats. The remaining 57 seats are seen at varying levels of competitiveness. At this early date, these are the 57 seats most likely to determine the battle for 218 - the number needed for control.

The GOP currently controls the House, with 238 seats to the Democrats 193. Four seats are vacant, three of which were previously held by Republicans now part of Donald Trump's administration.  The one open Democratic seat, in California, became vacant when Xavier Becerra became California Attorney General. All four seats will be filled by special election in the months ahead. Only one, for Georgia's 6th congressional district, has some prospect of being competitive

If we assume those four seats remain with the incumbent party, Republicans will have 241 seats, Democrats 194. This means Democrats will need to gain 24 in the 2018 election to gain control of the House. As can be seen in the above map, Cook is currently forecasting very little change. However, that is undoubtedly more a function of where we are in the election cycle than anything else. How things ultimately play out will likely be somewhat correlated with President Trump's popularity at the time.

Trump's approval rating is 41%, based on the latest Gallup Daily Poll. The table below shows the midterm change in House seats for each election since 1938. We've highlighted the seven occurrences where the president's approval rating was 45% or lower. In six of those, the president's party lost more than the 24 seats that the Democrats need to make up. 

The one time fewer than 24 seats changed parties with an unpopular president was the most recent time, when Democrats only lost 13 seats in 2014. To the extent that reflects the relative lack of competitive congressional seats in 2010's America, an unpopular Donald Trump in 2018 might be best seen as a requirement for, but not a guarantee of, a change in House control.


2018 Senate Map Updated for Alabama Special Election

February 15, 2017

The 2018 interactive Senate map has been updated to include the special election that will be held in Alabama on the general election date of November 6th of that year. The seat became open when Jeff Sessions was confirmed as U.S. Attorney General earlier this month. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley appointed Luther Strange, the state's Attorney General at the time, to fill the seat.

This is a 'Class 2' seat, and will therefore be contested again, for a full six year term, in November, 2020.  

 

With the addition of this special election, 34 Senate seats will be contested in 2018. As a practical matter, this additional race won't change anything in terms of the battle for control. The seat is heavily favored to remain in Republican hands. Democrats must gain three seats to take control. This will be a difficult climb, even if the climate turns more favorable, as only nine of these 34 seats currently have a Republican incumbent. 


Proposed Constitutional Amendment: Apportionment Based on Citizenship

February 13, 2017

As reported by GovTrack, Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King has introduced a Joint Resolution for a proposed constitutional amendment that would apportion congressional districts based on the number of U.S. citizens in each state. Currently, this apportionment is determined by the number of residents* of each state, as calculated in each Census.

This is not the first time such an amendment has been proposed. While it is highly unlikely that the current proposal will get anywhere, we were curious how the electoral map would shift if it was only based on citizens.**  

This report estimates the number of U.S. citizens in each state as of 2013, and uses those totals to calculate the number of congressional districts for each state. Somewhat surprisingly, only 11 states would be impacted. The big loser would be California, which would see 4 of its 55 electoral votes trimmed away. No other state was impacted by more than one electoral vote. FL, NY and TX would lose one each, while seven states (LA, MO, MT, NC, OH, OK, VA) would gain one.  

In terms of states won in the 2016 election, Donald Trump would have won 4 additional electoral votes, giving him 309. The Maine split and faithless electors were excluded.  

* Also included are overseas military and civilian federal employee population and their dependents living with them. In most states, this is well under 1% of the resident population.

** Each state receives electoral votes equal to its congressional delegation. That includes two U.S. Senators and one for each congressional district. Changing how congressional districts are allocated would therefore change the distribution of electoral votes. 


The 2016 Election Under Alternate Electoral Allocation Methods

February 7, 2017

We've updated our Gaming the Electoral College feature to show how different allocation methodologies would have played out had they been in place for the 2016 presidential election. The chart below summarizes the results for 2016 and compares them to 2012.

 

While all the alternative methods benefited Mitt Romney in 2012, they would have negatively impacted Donald Trump's results in 2016. That said, he would still have won the electoral vote, albeit with a smaller margin over Hillary Clinton, in most of these scenarios. The reason is that the winner take all method is much more volatile than the ones involving congressional districts or the popular vote. 

Only a small number of the 435 congressional districts are battlegrounds. While voting for one party in a House election doesn't guarantee a similar vote for president, it happens most of the time. In 2016, only 23 districts that voted for a Republican in the House voted for Hillary Clinton. Just 12 voted for a Democrat and Donald Trump.  The net effect is that absent a change election that sweeps through the House, the congressional method will yield roughly the same result each time. We see that in 2016 vs. 2012, where Donald Trump had 100 more electoral votes than Mitt Romney, but the difference was only 16 using the method currently used by Maine and Nebraska.

Allocating by popular vote will also yield a close electoral map, absent a landslide.  This was especially true in 2016, when Clinton won the popular vote. Trump still comes out ahead in these two options (although doesn't reach 270 if there are no electoral votes separately allocated to the state winner, as the map below shows). This is because we are still looking at each state as an individual contest. The proportional popular vote methods also make it easier for 3rd party candidates to secure electoral votes.

 


2018 Senate Map Launched; Democrats Defending 25 of 33 Seats

January 31, 2017

Our first pass at the 2018 Senate Interactive Map is now live. This three-way map lets you look at the current composition of the Senate, make a forecast for the 33 races scheduled for 2018, and then see the new (2019) Senate based on those predictions.

After gaining two Senate seats in the 2016 election, Democrats currently hold 48 seats (including two independents). The party will need to gain an additional three seats in 2018 to wrest control from the Republicans. That will be a tall order as 25 of the 33 seats to be contested in 2018 are currently held by the blue team.  

We've included three 'Starting Views'. Two of those are initial ratings from The Cook Political Report and Inside Elections (formerly The Rothenberg & Gonzales Report). We've also included a composite battleground map that shows as competitive any race rated toss-up or leaning by one of the above-mentioned forecasters. 

 

If Jeff Sessions is confirmed as Attorney General, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley would appoint a replacement for Sessions until a special election is held. That election will most likely coincide with the 2018 general election. Assuming it plays out that way, we will add the Alabama race to the map. The winner of the special election would face re-election in 2020, the next regularly scheduled election for that seat.  


Congress Update: Recent and Pending Vacanies; Retirements Announced

January 26, 2017

Two vacanies have arisen this week in the House of Representatives as a result of political appointments. Additional vacancies may be forthcoming as President Trump's nominations are confirmed. Lastly, several House Members have announced they will not be running for re-election in 2018.

Vacancies

  • Mike Pompeo (R, KS-03) resigned on January 23rd after being confirmed as CIA Director. A special election for this safely Republican seat will take place on April 11.
  • Xavier Becerra (D, CA-34) resigned on January 24th after being confirmed as California Attorney General. A primary election for this safely Democratic seat will take place on April 4. In the unlikely event that one candidate gets over 50%, there will be no general election. Otherwise, that election will take place on June 6th.

With these two vacancies, the House sits at 240 Republicans, 193 Democrats.

Awaiting Confirmation

  • Mick Mulvaney (R, SC-05) is awaiting confirmation as Director of the Office of Management and Budget. A special election would likely take place in the spring. While Republicans would be favored to hold the seat, it could be competitive with a strong Democratic nominee. Mulvaney, just beginning his 4th term, is the first Republican to hold this seat since 1883.
  • Tom Price (R, GA-06) is awaiting confirmation as Secretary of Health & Human Services. A special election would follow his departure from Congress, no less than 30 days after his seat opens. Price won re-election to his north Atlanta district in November with 62% of the vote, although Donald Trump won the District by less than 2%. While Republicans would likely be favored to hold the seat, this election could be competitive.
  • Ryan Zinke (R, MT-AL) is awaiting confirmation as Secretary of the Interior. Zinke won re-election to his statewide seat by 15% in November; Trump won here by 21%. A special election would be held between 85-100 days after Zinke leaves office. Republicans would be heavily favored to hold the seat.
  • Republican Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions is awaiting confirmation as United States Attorney General. He is not up for re-election until 2020. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley would appoint a replacement for Sessions until a special election is held. That election will most likely coincide with the 2018 general election.

Retirements (not running for re-election in 2018) have been announced by:

  • Michelle Lujan Grisham (D, NM-01)
  • Lynn Jenkins (R, KS-02)
  • Sam Johnson (R, TX-03)
  • Kristi Noem (R, SD-AL)

Grisham and Noem are running for governor in 2018.



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