April 11, 2017
Republican Ron Estes is the projected winner of the special election in Kansas' 4th congressional district, edging Democratic nominee James Thompson in a much closer than expected race. With 94% of the vote in, Estes leads by just 5.8%.
Former Rep. Mike Pompeo (now CIA Director) won this seat by 32 points last November, while Donald Trump bested Hillary Clinton by 27 points here.
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April 11, 2017
Voters in Kansas' 4th congressional district head to the polls today in the first congressional election of the Trump era. The seat became vacant earlier this year when Mike Pompeo resigned to take over the CIA. The district covers the south-central part of the state, including Wichita. Polls are open until 7PM Central Time (8PM Eastern).
Pompeo won reelection by about 32% last November, while Trump won by 27% within the district. As the article linked to in the first paragraph notes "It’s a district that would, under normal circumstances, be considered a lock for the Republican candidate. But of course, these are not normal times, and resources are flooding into the district from left and right."
While special elections are always tricky to predict, everything would have to go right (from the Democratic perspective) for this seat to flip. The most likely outcome is a Republican win, albeit with a smaller margin than in the 2016 elections. How small that margin is will likely form the basis for how each party spins the result once it is known. However, Republicans are taking no chances. Even the president is getting involved, recording a robocall Monday and sending out a tweet Tuesday morning:
The race pits the State Treasurer, Republican Ron Estes against Democrat James Thompson, a civil rights attorney. Also on the ballot is Libertarian Chris Rockhold.
April 10, 2017
Alabama governor Robert Bentley resigned on Monday and agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor campaign violations. As part of the plea deal, the state will not pursue other, more serious charges against Bentley. This also puts to an end impeachment proceedings which had begun against the governor. The troubles for Bentley stem from an extramarital affair with a staffer and an alleged law enforcement cover-up.
Lt. Governor Kay Ivey will serve out the remainder of Bentley's term. The seat is up for election in 2018, one of 36 gubernatorial races that year.
April 10, 2017
The first of five special elections to fill vacancies in the U.S. House of Representatives will be held on Tuesday. That race, in Kansas' 4th congressional district became open after Mike Pompeo resigned to become Director of the CIA. While this is a deeply red district, the race has recently shown signs of becoming more competitive. The Hill reports that Democrats in the district have been energized by Trump's low approval ratings. In addition, the Republican nominee, State Treasurer Ron Estes, has apparently run a very poor campaign.
Pompeo won reelection by 32 points in November, while Trump won by 27 points within the district. A Democratic victory here remains a highly unlikely outcome. That said, The Cook Political Report and Inside Elections have recently updated their ratings from 'safe' to 'likely' Republican. Sabato's Crystal Ball remains at 'safe'.
The table below highlights these pundit ratings for all five special elections to be held over the next couple months.
Up next is the GA-6 'jungle primary' next Tuesday, April 18th. This is the most competitive of the five races this spring. Democrat Jon Ossoff is expected to easily lead the large field when voting is complete. He is polling in the low 40s, while Republican support is spread across multiple candidates. The big question is whether he can get over 50% of the vote, to avoid a runoff in June. This is a Republican-leaning district, so Ossoff's best chance at flipping the seat may be next Tuesday.
Montana's single congressional seat will be contested on May 25th. This seat is likely to stay in Republican hands, although Montanans have elected a Democratic Senator and a Democratic governor.
We know California's 34th District will remain in Democratic hands. The recent top-two primary was won by two Democrats. They move on to the general election on June 6th.
The final current vacancy, in South Carolina's 5th district, will be filled on June 20th. At this time, all pundits see it remaining safely under Republican control.
April 6, 2017
A Gravis Marketing survey of Montana likely voters gives Republican Greg Gianforte a 12 point lead over Democrat Rob Quist in the race for the state's at-large congressional seat. The special election will be held May 25th. The seat became vacant when Republican Ryan Zinke resigned after being confirmed as Secretary of the Interior.
Gianforte, a technology entrepreneur, saw 50% support in the poll, with Quist, a musician, at 38%. The seat has been in Republican hands since 1997. Zinke won re-election by 15 points in November, while Donald Trump won the state by 21 points. The race is rated as likely Republican by Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball and The Cook Political Report, while Inside Elections has it as safe Republican.
April 5, 2017
Democrat Jon Ossoff continues to lead the large field looking to fill the vacant seat in Georgia's 6th congressional district according to a new SurveyUSA poll for 11Alive in Atlanta. Ossoff receives 43% of the vote, with Republicans Karen Handel and Bob Gray receiving 15% and 14% respectively. Dan Moody is at 7% and Judson Hill gets 5%.
Candidates from all parties will participate on a single ballot in the April 18th election. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a top-two runoff will take place on June 20th. Absent an outright win, Ossoff will almost certainly move on to face one of the aforementioned Republicans in what should be a very competitive election.
The seat became vacant when the former incumbent, Tom Price, was confirmed as Secretary of Health & Human Services earlier this year. Price easily won re-election in November, but Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by less than 2% among the district's voters. No Democrat has held the seat since 1979, when voters chose a history professor named Newt Gingrich to fill the seat. As a historical note of interest, Gingrich was actually the first Republican to hold the seat, which had been in Democratic hands since the Civil War.
The race is garnering national attention, as well as large investment from both parties. It is also creating a wave of anti-Trump activism on the ground. Regardless of who prevails, this election may give us our first read on the 2018 midterm elections, or it may not.
April 5, 2017
Democrats Jimmy Gomez and Robert Lee Ahn were the top two vote getters in the April 4th special election in California's 34th congressional district. In the field of 24 candidates, Gomez received 28% of the vote, while Ahn saw 19% support. As neither received a majority of the vote, these two will meet in a runoff on June 6th.
This is a deep-blue district, with almost 90% of the votes cast for one of the many Democrats running. Therefore, it is no surprise that the top two vote getters were from that party. Gomez was endorsed by Xavier Becerra, the district's previous representative. Becerra resigned the seat in January, after being confirmed as California's Attorney General.
There are currently five vacancies in the U.S. House. Four other special elections are scheduled in the weeks ahead. All are seats previously held by Republicans. Two of those (KS-04 and SC-05) will almost certainly remain in Republican control, Montana's at-large district is likely to stay 'red' as well. The fourth seat, for Georgia's 6th congressional district, is shaping up as a very competitive race.
March 29, 2017
The New York Times Upshot reports that nearly one in four white, working class voters who supported President Obama's reelection in 2012 abandoned the Democratic party in the 2016 presidential election, selecting either Donald Trump or a third-party candidate. It is this shift, not a major change in expected turnout, that propelled Mr. Trump to victory in the 2016 presidential election.
The Upshot reached this conclusion by reviewing actual voter files, comparing those to The Upshot's pre-election turnout projections in Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. The turnout patterns in these three states are representative of broader trends throughout the nation, according to the analysis.
March 27, 2017
Democrat Jon Ossoff leads a large field looking to replace Tom Price as congressional representative from Georgia's 6th congressional district, according to a recent poll conducted by Opinion Savvy. Ossoff received 40% support in the poll, double that of his nearest challenger, Republican Karen Handel. Candidates from all parties will participate on a single ballot in the April 18th 'jungle primary', with the top two advancing to a runoff on June 20th, assuming no single candidate achieves 50% support.
The Democratic Party has rallied around Ossoff, a filmmaker and former congressional aide who has never held political office. The Republican field is led by former Ga. Secretary of State Karen Handel. Other Republicans receiving significant support include Johns Creek City Councilman Bob Gray, and former State Senators Judson Hill and Dan Moody.
If this poll is reasonably accurate, Ossoff will meet one of the aforementioned Republicans in the top-two runoff on June 20th. Opinion Savvy also tested Ossoff head-head vs. each of these four Republicans; all results showed a competitive race well within the margin of error. Both parties are investing heavily in the race as it is being seen as an early proxy for the policies of Donald Trump.
No Democrat has held this seat since 1979. Former Rep. Price, now Secretary of Health & Human Services, won re-election here this past November with 62% of the vote. However, Mr. Trump only defeated Hillary Clinton by 2% in the district.
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.