Election News

Ossoff Continues to Leads Georgia Special Election Race; Runoff Remains Likely

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.



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Democrats Gomez, Ahn Top Two in California Special Election; Will Meet in June Runoff

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.


Shift in White Working Class Voters, Not Turnout, Helped Lead Trump to Victory

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.


Poll: Democrat Ossoff Leads Election to Replace Price; Expected Runoff is Competitive

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.


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.


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. 



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