Election News

Kamala Harris Resigns from Senate in Advance of Wednesday's Inauguration

January 18, 2021

Kamala Harris resigned from the Senate effective at noon EST Monday. The move comes two days before her inauguration as vice president.  In that role, Harris will become president of the Senate.  This is a largely ceremonial role, but one that it includes the ability to cast tiebreaking votes.  That will take on added importance this year given the chamber's upcoming 50-50 split.   

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has appointed Secretary of State Alex Padilla to serve the final two years of Harris's term. Until he is sworn in the Senate will have 51 Republicans and 47 Democrats (including two independents). The Harris seat and one in Georgia formerly held by Republican David Perdue are vacant. Perdue's term ended January 3; he lost a runoff to Democrat Jon Ossoff on January 5. Georgia's other Senate seat will be changing hands as Democrat Raphael Warnock defeated incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler in a special election runoff. 

Once the Senate returns to full strength, each party will control 50 seats. Republicans will be defending 20 and Democrats 14 in the 2022 Senate election.

First Look: 2020 Presidential Election if All States Voted Like Maine and Nebraska

January 13, 2021

Last week, Wisconsin state Rep. Gary Tauchen (R) introduced a bill to change how the state allocates its electoral votes.  If enacted, the state would move from the winner-take-all allocation currently used in 48 states to that of Maine and Nebraska. Those two states use the congressional district method, awarding two electoral votes to the popular vote winner of the state and one to the popular vote winner in each congressional district.  U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R, MI-02) has suggested his state do the same. 

At nearly the same time, Nebraska state Sen. Julie Slama sponsored a bill to switch that state back to winner-take-all. (Slama is a Republican, although the single body Nebraska legislature is officially nonpartisan.)

These proposals seem to pop up after each election. While often couched as fairer, the proposals are almost always partisan in nature, meant to benefit the electoral college fortunes of the party that introduces the bill.  That is the case in all the above.  The 31 electoral votes associated with the above 3 states went 27-4 for Joe Biden in 2020. If the proposed approaches had been in place, Donald Trump would have received 19 of them to 12 for Biden.

Congressional District Method: 2020 Presidential Election

This is an estimate, as the data is not fully available yet. Most states do not break out votes by congressional district, so it falls on a 3rd party to do the number crunching. We use calculations by Daily Kos.  Whether or not you agree with that site's politics, they do excellent work with election data.  We've projected the outcome in each state where the data isn't yet available, looking at the margins in both the 2020 congressional and 2016 presidential elections.  

The net result is a very narrow 274-264 estimated Biden win if this approach were used. Both candidates won 25 states, giving them 50 electoral votes. On top of that, we project Biden to have won 221 districts to 214 for Trump. Finally, we allocate the 3 Washington, DC votes to Biden, where he won 93% of the popular vote.

It is important to note that even if this map ends up being 100% accurate, it is unlikely that the election would have turned out exactly this way. Campaigns make strategic and tactical decisions based on getting to 270 electoral votes. They would undoubtedly allocate resources differently in an election run under these rules.

 

Would this be an improvement over winner-take-all?

The appeal of a more proportional allocation of electoral votes in each state is understandable. Unfortunately, in the real world, this particular method is not a good solution.  There are rarely more than a few dozen competitive congressional districts each cycle. This is because most congressional districts are drawn by politicians - usually a state's legislature - with the party in control at the time of redistricting looking to create district lines to their benefit. This gerrymandering would become exponentially worse if it helped dictate the outcome of presidential elections.  And, in fact, it would. There will likely be fewer than 15 districts in 2020 where the winning congressional and presidential party is different. 

To see how this (and other methods) fared in the 2012 and 2016 elections, see this article on Gaming the Electoral College

Georgia Senate Runoffs: Overview and Live Results

January 5, 2021

Georgia voters will decide the outcome of their two U.S. Senate seats in runoff elections Tuesday. Their choices will also determine which party controls the Senate in the new Congress. The runoffs were necessitated when no candidate in either race received 50% of the vote in the elections on November 3, as required by Georgia law.

Polls close at 7:00 PM ET. Live results will appear below.

Regular Election: Perdue (R) vs. Ossoff (D)

This is for a full six-year term. As the prior term ended with the start of the new Congress, the seat is currently vacant. In November, incumbent Republican David Perdue finished first by about 1.8%, narrowly missing the 50% threshold. Democrat Jon Ossoff finished second.

Special Election: Loeffler (R) vs. Warnock (D)

The special election is to complete the final two years of the term of Johnny Isakson, who resigned for health reasons at the end of 2019. Republican Kelly Loeffler was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to serve until the special election; she remains in the Senate pending the outcome of Tuesday's vote. An all-party primary was held in November. Warnock received 33% support and Loeffler 26%. There were 20 candidates on the ballot; Loeffler split much of the conservative GOP vote with former Rep. Doug Collins who finished third with 20%.

Both races are seen as toss-ups.  Polling has been limited, with many well-regarded pollsters sitting out the race. The final 270toWin polling average in each race shows a small lead for the Democratic candidate, but most polls have been well within the margin of error. Georgia was the closest state in the 2020 presidential election; Joe Biden prevailed by about 0.25%.

History and polarization say a split decision is unlikely. The last time a double-barrel Senate election led to each party winning one seat was in 1966. In addition, there are currently only six states where each party has one seat.1 1Includes Maine but excludes Vermont. Those two states have independent Senators that caucus with the Democrats. In the case of Maine, the 2nd Senator is a Republican. This is the smallest number since direct election of Senators began over 100 years ago. 

These articles provides a more detailed overview of the races, including money spent, early voting trends and what to watch for on Tuesday:

Senate in the balance: How Georgia's runoffs break down

Georgia Senate Runoffs: What to Watch For

Republicans will retain control of the Senate with a win in either race. A Democratic victory in both would yield a 50-50 Senate. In that scenario, Democrats will take control after the Biden administration gets underway January 20. Vice-president Kamala Harris becomes president of the Senate at that time and is able to cast tie-breaking votes. 

117th Congress Underway

January 3, 2021

The 117th congress convened Sunday, January 3.

Senate

  • Republicans will start in control with 51 seats, Democrats 48.
  • Control of the Senate after January 20 will hinge on two runoff elections in Georgia on Tuesday. Republicans maintain control by winning either.
  • The term for Georgia Republican David Perdue has ended. That seat will be vacant until a winner is certified in his runoff. Perdue is being challenged by Democrat Jon Ossoff.
  • Georgia Republican Kelly Loeffler remains in office while the special election runoff is conducted. Either she or Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock will then serve through 2022.
  • 34 seats will be contested in 2022. Republicans will be defending 20 of those seats, Democrats 13. The winner of the Georgia special election will determine the party for the 34th seat.
  • The 2022 Interactive Senate Map is available. 

House

  • Democrats retained control but have a much narrower majority.  At the outset, that party will have 222 seats, Republicans 211. There are two vacancies.
  • Nancy Pelosi reelected as Speaker of the House.
  • NY-22 is vacant as the November election remains unresolved. Former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) currently has a lead of about 30 votes over Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D). 
  • LA-5 is vacant. Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R) died on December 29. An all-party primary will be held March 20. If no candidate gets 50%, there will be a runoff on April 24.
  • Three Democrats are expected to resign to join the Biden administration:  Cedric Richmond (LA-2), Deb Haaland (NM-1), Marcia Fudge (OH-11). Haaland and Fudge must be confirmed by the Senate.
  • An initial version of the 2022 Interactive House Map will be available in a few weeks. However, redistricting later this year - after the Census results come out - will lead to district boundaries changing in most states for the 2022 midterms.
    • District lines for congressional representation will not change until January, 2023.

2022 Interactive Senate Map is Live

December 31, 2020

The 2022 Senate Interactive Map is live. 34 Class 3 seats will be contested in this next cycle.  20 of those are held by Republicans, 13 by Democrats. The Georgia special election runoff on January 5 - Loeffler (R) vs. Warnock (D) - will determine which party will be defending the last seat.  This special election is to complete the final two years of Johnny Isakson's term. Isakson resigned for health reasons at the end of 2019.

The new Senate will be seated January 3 and will initially be comprised of 51 Republicans and 48 Democrats. The Georgia seat currently held by David Perdue (R) - on its regular election cycle - will be vacant pending a separate January 5 runoff. Perdue is being challenged by Democrat Jon Ossoff.  

If Republicans win either of these runoffs, they will retain control of the Senate.

There will be six new Senators on January 3: Tommy Tuberville (R, AL); John Hickenlooper (D, CO); Roger Marshall (R, KS); Ben Ray Lujan (D, NM); Bill Hagerty (R, TN); Cynthia Lummis (R, WY). Tuberville and Hickenlooper defeated incumbents, while the others are succeeding retiring members of their same party.  Separately, in Arizona, Mark Kelly (D) defeated incumbent Martha McSally (R) in November. As that was a special election, Kelly was eligible to be seated once the state certified its results. He was sworn in on December 2.

Two Republican Senators, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania have already announced they will not run in 2022.  Democrat Kamala Harris of California will be replaced by Alex Padilla (D) after she resigns to becomes Vice President.

Note that on the images below, the totals only add to 99 due to the Georgia vacancy (as of January 3).

First Look at the 2022 Landscape

This map (click for an interactive version) is largely based on an overview by Sabato's Crystal Ball. 24 of the 34 races start out as safe for the incumbent party. The 10 remaining seats are expected to have varying levels of competitiveness, with seven of those looking to be the most closely-contested at this early date. Interestingly, as Sabato notes in the article, this includes the six closest states in the 2020 presidential election.

For this map, we've set the rating to 'leans' if the incumbent is expected to run (giving them the benefit of the doubt at this early point), while the open races in North Carolina and Pennsylvania are shown as toss-up. Georgia is also shown as a toss-up pending the result of the special election.

Current Party

This map shows the partisan composition of seats to be contested in 2022. Georgia is subject to change pending the January 5 runoff.

Blank Map

This map shows all 34 seats as toss-ups.

Competitive Presidential Election States: 2020 vs. 2016

December 21, 2020

Most competitive states in the 2020 presidential election, with a comparison to 2016.  The faithless electors in 2016 are ignored for this analysis.

Decided by 5% or less

Eight states were decided by 5% or less in the 2020 presidential election.  This is down from 11 states (and one congressional district) in this category in 2016. However, the net change was only a reduction of 10 electoral votes. Georgia (16 electoral votes) was the only state added to the list in 2020. It was the closest state in the country, decided by about 0.25%. The other four states flipped by Joe Biden: Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16), Arizona (11) and Wisconsin (10) were also decided by 5% or less in 2016.

Exiting this category were Minnesota (10), Colorado (9), New Hampshire (4), Maine at-large (2) and NE-2 (1).  All these states, except Colorado, were decided by between five and ten points (bottom map).  The Democratic margin of victory was 13.5% in Colorado vs. 4.9% in 2016. This 8.6% shift was the 2nd largest change in the country behind Vermont's 9.5%.

 
Decided by 5-10%
 
An additional 80 electoral votes from 6 states and two congressional districts fell into this category. These are shown in the lighter red/blue below. In addition to the four states and NE-2 mentioned above, this category includes Texas (38 electoral votes), Ohio (18), Iowa (6) and ME-2 (1).  The three states were in this category four years ago; ME-2 was decided by just over 10%. Also exiting this category were Virginia (13) and New Mexico (5).
 
Taken together, Joe Biden won by >10% margin in states worth 210 electoral votes. This compares to Hillary Clinton's 183 four years ago. The difference was Virginia (13), Colorado (9) and New Mexico (5). Donald Trump's 125 electoral votes in this category was only one different than 2016, as ME-2 (1) was closer.  These are reflected in the dark blue/red colors in the bottom map. 

Joe Biden Wins Electoral College Vote; Affirmed as President-Elect

December 14, 2020

Joe Biden won the electoral college vote Monday, affirming him as the president-elect.  California's 55 electoral votes put the former vice-president over the top.

With only Hawaii outstanding, the vote has gone smoothly, with all electors voting as pledged.

The ballots will be formally counted in a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021. 

 

 

Electoral College Meets Monday to Vote for President

December 13, 2020

The Electoral College meets on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in presidential election years. This year, that date is December 14.  Electors will gather in their respective states (and District of Columbia) to cast their votes. Each elector will fill out two ballots, one for president and one for vice president.

After each state certifies the vote, it files a Certificate of Ascertainment that lists the slate of electors associated with each candidate and the number of votes received. The electors that meet Monday are those associated with the candidate receiving the most votes. For example, Biden won Massachusetts, so it is the slate of Democratic electors that will cast the vote.

As a practical matter, this means the Electoral College vote is largely symbolic; the final result is unlikely to deviate much (if at all) from the expected total of Biden 306, Trump 232. The votes will be forwarded to Congress, where they will be tallied in a joint session on January 6.

As the votes become known, we'll populate this map with the results

The schedule below shows the time the electors are expected to convene in each state. Indiana, Tennessee, New Hampshire and Vermont kick things off at 10:00 AM Eastern; Hawaii is the final state at 7:00 PM Eastern.  

The schedule below has updated meeting times for Nebraska and New Hampshire.

Hawaii is Final State to Certify Presidential Vote; Electors to Vote Next Monday

December 8, 2020

Hawaii became the final state to certify the results of its presidential election Tuesday, declaring Joe Biden the winner with 63.1% of the vote. All 50 states and DC have now certified their vote. As expected, president-elect Joe Biden emerged from this process with a 306-232 advantage in the electoral college.

 

The electors will meet in each state on Monday, December 14, to cast their votes.  

Louisiana 5th District Election: Overview and Live Results

December 5, 2020

Voters in Louisiana's 5th congressional district will elect a representative Saturday in a top-two election. None of the nine candidates in the November 3 all-party primary received a majority of the vote, forcing Saturday's runoff.  

This is a deep red district and both those who advanced to today's election are Republicans. Luke Letlow, who is the former Chief of Staff for the district's retiring representative, Ralph Abraham received 33% of the vote. State Representative Lance Harris finished second with about 16.5%. 

Polls close at 9:00 PM Eastern Time. Live results will appear below.

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