The team at Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball is out with their initial look at the 2020 presidential election. They see the race starting as a toss-up, although few states are individually characterized that way. Their analysis gives the GOP a 248-244 edge, although Democrats have the edge in states that are safely in their column. The map is below; click for an interactive version.
Notably, Florida starts with a leans Republican designation, while Michigan is seen as leans Democratic. Both these states were narrowly carried by President Trump in 2016. Florida statewide elections, while always close, have mostly broken for the GOP in recent years. This includes the Senate and gubernatorial races in the just-completed midterms. Of the blue wall states flipped by Trump in 2016, Michigan was the closest, with 2018 results and demographics making the eventual Democratic nominee a slight favorite next year.
Both these rating characterizations appear to have been close calls. Perhaps the most important takeaway at this early stage is the implication should the ratings shift in the opposite direction: "Just as we think Florida going blue would probably mean a Democratic presidential victory, so too do we believe that a Republican win in Michigan probably would mean that the GOP is retaining control of the White House. So if we move either to Toss-up, it may mean that a favorite is emerging in the presidential race overall."
The Road to 270
This feature can be found below the interactive electoral map. As you shift the forecast, the number of paths to 270 electoral votes will automatically update. Click 'View all Combinations' to see the specific combinations associated with the undecided states on your electoral map.
For the initial Sabato forecast, with only four states (and one Nebraska district) starting as toss-up, the number of pathways to 270 for each party is very small. Two tie scenarios remain possible. The image below is a composite from the details page associated with the map.
Here are the 2020 consensus ratings for Senate, House and Governor. At this time, they are based on the initial ratings of three forecasters: Sabato's Crystal Ball, The Cook Political Report and Inside Elections. We'll keep this map updated and likely add more projections as they become available.
Click any of the maps for the permanent URL, as well as an interactive version. Note that only races seen as safe by all three forecasters are given the darkest shade of red/blue on the map. This allows for the broadest look at the competitive landscape.
34 seats will be contested in 2020, including a special election in Arizona. 22 are held by the GOP, 12 by Democrats. To take control, Democrats will need to gain 3 or 4 seats.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is joining the 2020 Democratic presidential field. He made the announcement on Tuesday.
I'm running for president. I am asking you to join me today as part of an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign that will begin with at least 1 million people from across the country. Say you're in: https://t.co/KOTx0WZqRf pic.twitter.com/T1TLH0rm26— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 19, 2019
Sanders 2016 campaign, where he finished runner-up to Hillary Clinton, helped push the party to the left. The question will be whether he can stand out in a much larger 2020 field that will include a number of ideologically similar Democrats.
Sanders is the 6th Democratic Senator to join the race.
The 'Road to 270' calculator is now available below the 2020 Electoral College Map. The feature uses your forecast to determine the number of winning combinations* available for each party, as well as any possible 269-269 ties. As you change your map, the number of combinations automatically updates.
For example, this map reflects the nine locations decided by a 3% or less popular vote margin in 2016.
There are a pretty even number of paths to 270 electoral votes. However, if you give Florida to the GOP, the number of Democratic options becomes much more limited -- with several states becoming must wins.
A combinations detail page is also available; it allows you to look at the specific paths available based on your map. This page is also interactive, letting you further narrow down the possibilities.
* To keep things manageable, undecided states are assumed to be decided from most to fewest electoral votes. For a very simple example, let's say a party has 251 electoral votes, with PA (20) and NH (4) remaining to be decided. Since PA alone will get the party to 270, that is the only winning combination. In this case, winning or losing NH doesn't matter in terms of reaching 270, and so PA + NH is not displayed. See this article for more information on this tool.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld is exploring a primary challenge against President Trump. Weld announced the launch of an exploratory committee at a New Hampshire breakfast on Friday morning.
"It is time for all people of good will to take a stand and plant a flag...It's for this reason that I have today established an Exploratory Committee to pursue the possibility for my running for the Presidency of the United States as a Republican in the 2020 election." pic.twitter.com/LUrsyyo1fP— Gov. Bill Weld (@GovBillWeld) February 15, 2019
Weld served two terms as Massachusetts governor during the 1990's. More recently, he was the Libertarian Party's vice-presidential nominee in 2016. On the ballot with Gary Johnson, the Party received over 3% of the nationwide vote. This was the best 3rd party performance since Ross Perot in 1996.
Challenging an Incumbent
It remains to be seen how much traction Weld will get or if he proceeds with a campaign. However, it is worth noting that the history of serious incumbent primary challenges in the modern era is not a good one - either for the challenger or the sitting president. A strong primary challenge highlights fractures in a party, and often weakens the incumbent in the general election. We saw this most recently in 1992, where George H.W. Bush fended off Pat Buchanan, but lost the general election to Bill Clinton. Interestingly, that situation is somewhat the mirror of today. Trump represents the now-ascendant populist wing of the party, while someone like Weld would potentially appeal to the type of GOP championed by the Bushes.
In 1976 and 1980, presidents Ford and Carter faced serious primary challenges. Both prevailed but were defeated in the general election. Another type of situation occurred in 1968, where President Johnson faced a challenge from Sen. Eugene McCarthy, who ran on an anti-Vietnam War platform. McCarthy's strong early showing caused Johnson to abandon his re-election effort. Ultimately, McCarthy didn't win the nomination and Republican Richard Nixon was elected in November of that year.
Politico reports that President Trump's advisers are focusing their efforts on three of the declared 2020 Democratic presidential contenders. Senators Cory Booker (NJ), Kamala Harris (CA) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) are seen by the campaign as the most viable candidates at this point.
The advisers believe the list of Democrats in the race will grow significantly before summer and expect that their target list will evolve over time. Trump himself believes former Vice-President Joe Biden would be the most formidable general election rival.
Overall, there are 9 Democrats in the 2020 field. We've got 25 names on our list of prospective and announced candidates.
GOP Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina passed away Sunday on his 76th birthday. He had entered hospice care in late January. Jones ran unopposed for a 13th term this past November.
The 3rd district of North Carolina encompasses much of the state's Atlantic coast north of Wilmington. A special election will be held to fill the remainder of his term.
The U.S. House currently has 235 Democrats and 197 Republicans. There are three vacancies.
There are 17 Democratic women in the U.S. Senate. With her announcement Sunday, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar becomes the 4th of those to join the 2020 presidential race. She follows Kamala Harris (CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Elizabeth Warren (MA). Warren officially joined the race on Saturday. There are now nine* Democrats seeking the party's nomination.
Interestingly, of all the Democrats that may run in 2020, none are from a state that was as closely-contested as Minnesota in 2016. Hillary Clinton prevailed here by just 1.5% over Donald Trump, as it nearly joined the blue wall states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that powered Trump's win. On the other hand, Minnesota has not voted for a GOP nominee since Richard Nixon in 1972, the longest such state single-party streak^ in the nation. The Cook Political Report has started the state as Leans Democratic in 2020.
* Including two that have formed exploratory committees; one step short of a formal announcement.
^ Washington, D.C. has had 3 electoral votes since 1964. It has never voted Republican. Curious about your state's streak? See our Same Since Electoral Maps.
After Woodall's announcement; Bourdeaux indicated she would run again in in 2020. The race is again likely to be closely-contested. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes, "the race to represent the 7th District, which includes portions of Gwinnett and Forsyth County, was the closest congressional race in the country last year. Once lily white and deeply conservative, it’s now at the center of the demographic shifts that have transformed Atlanta’s wealthy suburbs into political battlegrounds."
We've updated the Interactive Electoral College Tie Finder for the 2020 race. It shows all possible 269-269 ties for a given group of undecided locations (states and/or Maine/Nebraska districts).
11 states, as well as Nebraska's 2nd district were decided by less than a 5% popular vote margin in 2016. There are 64 possible ties based on that group of locations. An additional seven locations were decided by approximately 5-10% that year.
Use the tool to look at what ties are possible based on any combination* of these 19 locations. Over time, we'll update the locations in the tie finder as needed based on how the 2020 race evolves.
In this random example, there are five possible tie combinations:
If no nominee reaches 270 electoral votes, the presidency is decided by the U.S. House of Representatives, with each state receiving a single vote, regardless of the size of its delegation. The GOP currently holds a 26-22 lead across the 50 states, with two ties. This would favor that party in a 269 tie scenario. However, that is not set in stone, as any tie in the 2020 presidential election would be broken in January, 2021, by the House members elected that November.
* Up to 12 locations can be included in the calculation
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