Election News

Senate and House Voting History 1982-2018

September 1, 2020

The 270toWin state history pages have been updated to include recent congressional elections.  You'll be able to see the winning party for regularly scheduled general elections held from 1982-2018.

The example below shows the available information for Iowa.

 

The Road to 270: Michigan

August 31, 2020

The Road to 270 is a weekly column leading up to the presidential election. Each installment is dedicated to understanding one state’s political landscape and how that might influence which party will win its electoral votes in 2020. We’ll do these roughly in order of expected competitiveness, moving toward the most intensely contested battlegrounds as election day nears. 

The Road to 270 will be published every Monday. The column is written by Drew Savicki, a 270toWin elections and politics contributor. Contact Drew via email or on Twitter @SenhorRaposa.

Michigan - the birthplace of American auto industry and a booming industrial center in the Midwest has fallen on hard times in recent years. The increased outsourcing of manufacturing has been felt deeply in the state. Long past its golden age, Detroit has struggled to revitalize itself and has fallen behind other major cities in the country.

Geography

Michigan can be divided up into a few geographical regions that help explain its current political divide.

Northern Michigan: The northern half of Michigan can be split into two subregions. The first is the upper peninsula or as it is often referred to, the "UP". This largely rural and blue collar region has drifted away from the Democrats in recent years. On the far western end is Gogebic County, a former mining community. Like other such communities, it was once reliably Democratic but swung heavily towards Trump. 

The area below the UP is referred to as the northern lower peninsula. This rural region is where some of the most Republicans areas in the state are located. Particularly interesting in this region are two resort counties that, unlike other counties in the area, have trended leftward. Leelanau and Grand Traverse Counties swung heavily towards Democrats in 2018. By contrast, the counties in this region that border Lake Huron are more comparable to those on the UP. 

Central Michigan: Home to three major metro areas in Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Flint.  The Grand Rapids area, where Gerald Ford was raised, is a traditional Republican bastion that has trended Democratic in the Trump era. Meanwhile, the more industrial Flint area has seen a declining population and its heavily white working class suburbs have raced towards Republicans.

Western Michigan: Traditionally Republican, this area largely overlaps with the state's 2nd and 6th Congressional Districts. It is home to a sizable Dutch population that has influenced its conservatism. Republican Fred Upton has represented the 6th Congress since the late 1980's. Although he's generally had a lock on his Kalamazoo based district, 2018 saw the closest race of his career. This region is predominately suburban but still swung towards Trump in 2016. It saw a considerable shift back to the Democrats in 2018 and will be a crucial region for both sides in the presidential race this year.

Detroit Metro: Michigan's population hub, this region is the source of Democratic votes in the state. As residents have moved out of Detroit into the suburbs, the demographics of the suburbs have shifted. The small city of Harper Woods - northeast of Detroit, has seen a stunning demographic transformation in 20 years.

The Thumb: This rural region is mostly industrial and a Republican bastion. No Democratic nominee for President has carried this region since Bill Clinton in 1996. Like most rural white areas, this region swung heavily towards Trump in 2016. The Thumb based 10th Congressional District has seen quite a bit of turnover in the past few years, first with longtime GOP Rep. Candice Miller's retirement and then her successor's retirement this year.

Congressional politics

The past decade has seen considerable turnover in Michigan’s congressional delegation. House Dean John Dingell retired in 2014, with his successor as Dean, John Conyers resigning amidst a 'MeToo' scandal in 2017. 

Representing Southeastern Michigan in Congress for nearly 60 years, Dingell was a beloved staple of the state's politics. He first won election to the House in a 1955 special election held following the death of his father, Rep. John Dingell Sr. He had little trouble holding the seat, winning reelection with more than 60% of the vote all but twice in his career, one of which was in the Tea Party wave of 2010. A steadfast supporter of his state's auto industry and ally to organized labor, Dingell was a mainstream Democrat, though he broke with the party on gun rights. The family dynasty, which began in 1933, continues to this day: John Dingell passed the torch to his wife Debbie, who is now completing her 3rd term. 

Michigan has something of a fondness for dynastic politics as Democratic Reps. Dan Kildee and Andy Levin come from well-known political families. Kildee represents one of the most interesting districts in the state. The Flint based 5th district snakes up into several predominately white working class counties that prior to 2016 used to be quite friendly to Democrats.

With a sharp turn to the right among white working class voters, the district swung considerably towards Trump in 2016. Though Kildee saw his margin slip from 2016 to 2018, he’s still popular in the area, and he obviously has considerable appeal among white working class voters. On paper this should be a competitive seat, but Kildee's big margins have kept this district off the competitive radar. The Kildee family has represented this area since 1977 and that shows no signs of changing, although he has been mentioned as a possible candidate for Senate when a seat opens up.

Like Northern Minnesota, Northern Michigan used to be friendly to electing Democrats. From 1993-2011, Democrat Bart Stupak represented Michigan’s 1st District in Congress. A conservative Democrat, Stupak was known for his opposition to abortion rights. His stance on abortion played well with his district’s rural conservative voters. Stupak retired in 2010 and Republicans have held the seat since. Democrats have targeted it a few times over the years but its trend to the right has kept it out of reach for the party. That is not expected to change in 2020.

In contrast, 2018 saw Democrats pick up two traditionally Republican suburban seats outside Detroit and Lansing. The 8th District, which stretches from Lansing to northern Oakland County was represented by Republican Mike Bishop from 2015-2019. Generally a backbench conservative, Bishop lacked much of a profile and lost to Democrat Elissa Slotkin 51%-47% in 2018. Although this district has voted Republican for President in the past two presidential elections, Slotkin’s enormous fundraising scared off any top tier Republicans from running. Slotkin is not out of the woods just yet, as Trump could potentially carry the district, but her race is clearly not a top Republican priority. Likely out of an abundance of caution, both the Crystal Ball and Cook rate the district as ‘Leans Democratic.’ As Senator Debbie Stabenow's Congresswoman, Slotkin is often mentioned a possible successor to her down the line. 

A similar story can be found in the 11th District where Democrat Haley Stevens flipped the open seat in 2018. The 11th district is located in the traditionally Republicans suburbs northwest of Detroit. Moderate GOP Rep. Dave Trott chose not to seek reelection in 2018. A former Obama administration official, Stevens flipped this seat 53-47% and this district seems likely to go for Biden this time. Stevens has been an excellent fundraiser and the absence of a top tier challenger is why the Crystal Ball rates her race as ‘Likely Democratic’. Given the educated nature of this district, it seems like a plausible Trump/Biden district.

One other area of the state that is worth noting is the state’s 7th Congressional District, which includes parts of central and southeastern Michigan. Republican Tim Walberg represented this district from 2007-2009 and then again from 2011 to present. Walberg’s profile as a socially conservative pastor is not the best fit for this working-class district but the party affiliation is all that matters now in this strongly Republican trending seat. After this district went for Mitt Romney just 51-48% in 2012, Donald Trump carried it 56-39% four years later and Gretchen Whitmer didn’t carry it in 2018.

Michigan’s senior Senator is Democrat Debbie Stabenow. A former congresswoman, Stabenow defeated one-term Sen. Spencer Abraham (R) in 2000, and was not seriously challenged in 2006 or 2012. Generally a popular figure with voters, Stabenow has held elected office in the state almost continuously since 1979. If Democrats retake the Senate majority, Stabenow will the Senate Agriculture Committee, which will be a boon to the state’s farming industry.

Stabenow’s 2018 race was the closest Senate race in Michigan since 2000 -- she won reelection by 6.5% against Army veteran John James (R). Stabenow didn’t run much of a campaign -- she was more interested in helping other down-ballot Democrats -- but James attracted some attention from national Republicans. After his loss in 2018, Republicans recruited him to run again this year against Michigan’s junior Senator, Gary Peters.

In the Senate, Peters has kept a low profile but he’s no electoral slouch. His time in Congress started after the 2008 elections when was elected to a swingy House seat in Oakland County-- and he impressively held it in 2010. After redistricting, Peters found himself in the majority Black 14th District and in a redistricting contest against 13th District Rep. Hansen Clarke. That Peters won in a primary in a majority-Black district really shows the extent of his appeal. It is rare to see a white Democrat representing a majority Black congressional district.

When Sen. Carl Levin retired in 2014, Peters announced a bid for the Senate. This race was initially thought to be highly competitive but his opponent, former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, made a number of gaffes throughout the campaign. Ultimately, Peters won by 14% and will almost certainly be the last Democrat for a long time to carry a number of rural counties. Peters even won the highly rural 4th District in central Michigan, which Gretchen Whitmer would lose by 13% four years later.

Initially, the 2020 Senate race in Michigan was thought to be one of the most competitive Senate races in the county. Both candidates are excellent fundraisers but Peters continually leads in polls and the Trump campaign seems to have abandoned Michigan at this point. In an era of straight ticket voting, James needs Trump to win the state in order to beat Peters. It seems like this race has really fallen off the radar as the cycle has gone on.

State level politics

Despite its blue streak at the presidential level, Republicans have found great success at the state level in Michigan. Republicans have controlled the Michigan Senate since the 1980s and aside from a four year period in the mid-2000s, they have controlled the House since the late 90s.

In 2018, Democrats flipped both the Secretary of State and Attorney General’s offices for the first time since the 1990s. Four women were elected statewide in 2018, which makes Michigan one of the friendliest states in terms of electing female statewide officeholders. Former county prosecutor and state legislator Gretchen Whitmer won the open governorship by 10% but a number of towns that voted for President Obama in 2012, voted Republican. In contrast to those mostly working class towns, Whitmer won a number of suburban towns that voted for Mitt Romney six years earlier.

After making considerable gains in 2018, Democrats are once targeting the Michigan House this year and only need a few seats to flip it. After voters approved a redistricting amendment in 2018, the legislature will no longer have a role in redistricting every 10 years. A bipartisan citizens redistricting committee will be established in 2021 to draw new legislative and congressional district maps.

Presidential politics and 2020 outlook

Michigan Presidential Polls >>

It is a commonly recited fact that before Trump, Michigan had not voted Republican for President since 1988 -- that is true but it's an oversimplification of how competitive the state has been. Barack Obama won the state handily in two elections and that obscured the state's competitiveness. Al Gore and John Kerry only carried the state by a few points in 2000 and 2004. Obama's strength in the Midwest obscured how competitive the region really is, as he was a unique candidate with an impressive ability to win over rural voters.

One key battleground county in the presidential race will be the curious Macomb County. Divided between a more blue collar north and a more white collar south, Macomb is one of the swingiest counties. Although often labeled as the home of so called ‘Reagan Democrats,’ Macomb is not nearly as Democratic as many people thought. In 1996, Bill Clinton was the first Democrat to win the county since Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Donald Trump winning it in 2016 was by no means a surprise, though he may struggle to carry it again by the 11% he did four years ago.

Of the Obama/Trump states, Michigan has always made the least sense in the Trump corner. It is the most urbanized of the “Blue Wall” trio of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Polling has generally backed up this assertion. Biden has consistently led in polls and the 2018 results were across the board gains for Democrats in the state. As a relatively urbanized state, it seemed strange to see Michigan in the Republican column and polling this cycle indicates that it was a fluke. The Trump campaign has gone dark in Michigan and has instead turned their attention to Minnesota, which seems like a longer shot and offers fewer electoral votes than the Wolverine State. Neither campaign seems to be heavily contesting Michigan at this point but things could change as election day draws closer. For now, it seems like Joe Biden is favored to put this state back in the blue column once again.


Next Week:  Pennsylvania

Tentative Schedule:  Wisconsin (9/14), Florida (9/21), Texas (9/28), Arizona (10/5), North Carolina (10/12), Ohio (10/19), Georgia (10/26), Iowa (11/2). Dates subject to change. 

We use the model powering the 2020 presidential election simulator to determine the following week's state. Specifically, we will look at the 'Battleground 270' results of 25,000 simulations run late Sunday afternoon.  Of the states remaining, the next to be covered will be that with the highest likelihood of a Trump or Biden win as of that date. View the current state-by-state probabilities in the table at the bottom of the Battleground 270 page.

Reports in this series:

 

Summary of Polling Resources on 270toWin

August 28, 2020

President

  • Most Recent Polls:  A listing of the latest polls in reverse chronological order.  You can also choose to see the most recent poll in each state where there has been at least one poll. Choose a location to see all polls and a calculated average.
  • Polling Averages by State: The 270toWin polling average for each state. Default sort is most recent poll, with options to sort by state, competitiveness (closest states first) and highest to lowest Biden or Trump %. Select the state name for its voting history. Select the 'All Polls' text to see all polls. There's an option to display polls where 3rd party candidates have been specifically named. Note that this 3rd party polling has been very limited.
  • Electoral Map Based on Polling: This interactive map categorizes each state based on the spread between Trump and Biden. Use the timeline above the map to see how the map has changed each day since late May. The 2016 actual spread between Trump and Clinton is used where there are no polls.1 1Many states are polled infrequently, so this map can sometimes show unlikely outcomes. For example, the only Arkansas poll, as of the date of this article, showed a two-point Trump lead. Therefore, the state shows as toss-up on the map, despite it being one of the most GOP-leaning in the country.  
  • Direct Links: Use the map below to link directly to the presidential polls in each state. Where district-level polling is available in Maine or Nebraska, it will be displayed. These pages also have the 'When did it last happen' feature.  Curious when the last time a Democrat won Florida while a Republican won the presidency? This will tell you (1924).  States in gray have not been polled, but you can still link to them for the historical feature.

Senate

  • Most Recent Polls:  A listing of the latest polls in reverse chronological order.  Choose a state to see all polls and a calculated average.
  • Senate Forecast Based on Polling This interactive map categorizes each state based on the polling average spread between the Democratic and Republican nominee. Many non-competitive races have not been polled; the 'safe' rating is used for those.2 2Senate polling is not frequent in most places. As with the presidential polling map, this can sometimes lead to ratings that may not reflect the current state of the race. 
  • Direct Links: Select a green-colored state in the map below to view Senate polls. States in the darker gray have not been polled; states in lighter gray have no Senate election this year.

GOP Runoff in Highly Competitive Oklahoma 5th District: Overview and Live Results

August 25, 2020

One of the largest surprises in the 2018 midterms occurred in Oklahoma's 5th congressional district. Democrat Kendra Horn defeated incumbent Republican Steve Russell by about 1.5% in this Oklahoma City-area district. Just two years earlier, Russell had been reelected by 20%, while Donald Trump won the district by more than 13 points over Hillary Clinton. Horn became the first Democrat elected in the district since the 1970s and the first in any Oklahoma district since 2010.

The district is a top GOP target in 2020. We're about to find out who the party's nominee will be. Businesswoman Terry Neese and state Sen. Stephanie Bice meet in a runoff election. Neither received a majority of the vote in a nine-way primary held June 30. Neese finished first with 36%, while Bice took second with 25%.

Polls close at 8:00 PM Eastern Time. Live results will appear below after that time.

 

The Road to 270: New Hampshire

August 24, 2020

The Road to 270 is a weekly column leading up to the presidential election. Each installment is dedicated to understanding one state’s political landscape and how that might influence which party will win its electoral votes in 2020. We’ll do these roughly in order of expected competitiveness, moving toward the most intensely contested battlegrounds as election day nears. 

The Road to 270 will be published every Monday. The column is written by Drew Savicki, a 270toWin elections and politics contributor. Contact Drew via email or on Twitter @SenhorRaposa.

Editor's Note:  There are only ten weeks until the presidential election on November 3. At the bottom of this article, we list the current schedule for the remaining ten states in the Road to 270 series. 


The most conservative of the New England states, New Hampshire is known for its strong libertarian streak. Home to the nation's first presidential primary every four years, New Hampshire voters enjoy a front row view to American politics.

Geography

New Hampshire’s two congressional districts split the state east-west, and reflect the cultural, geographic, and political divides in the state well.

  • NH-1: The 1st District includes the Manchester area and the seacoast. This is traditionally the more Republican leaning of the two districts, partly due to its large presence of Massachusetts expats, many of whom fled the Bay State’s high taxes. The seacoast is home to wealthy towns and villages, with its largest city being Portsmouth. Saint Anselm College, which houses the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, is here -- it's hosted presidential debates, and is a must-visit venue for serious candidates during the primary season.
  • NH-2: Home to the state capital of Concord and the tech hub of Nashua, this scenic district covers western New Hampshire. Small, Trump-friendly working-class towns dot the landscape up north while its southern towns, along the Massachusetts border, usually preferred Republicans like Mitt Romney. Located in far northern New Hampshire is Dixville Notch, where every four years, residents cast their primary votes at midnight.

Congressional Politics

New Hampshire is no stranger to competitive congressional races. For election junkies, there is perhaps no greater saga than the four consecutive contests between former Reps. Carol Shea-Porter (D) and Frank Guinta (R). Shea-Porter was elected to the 1st District in 2006, and held it in 2008. Still, Shea-Porter’s single-digit margins made her a Republican target in the 2010 midterms. Republicans snagged a top recruit in former Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta. Although President Obama had carried the district by 6% two years earlier, Guinta won the election by 12 points. With Obama back on the ballot in 2012, Shea-Porter mounted a comeback and defeated Guinta. In the more anti-Obama 2014 midterm, the national environment favored Guinta, who won the second rematch. Bogged down in a campaign finance scandal, Guinta lost reelection to Shea-Porter in 2016.

An era ended in October 2017, when Shea-Porter announced she was retiring from Congress. Her retirement opened up a crowded field of candidates, including her former Chief of Staff, Naomi Andrews, Levi Sanders (the son of next-door Sen. Bernie Sanders), Marine veteran and Obama admin official Maura Sullivan, and Manchester Executive Councillor Chris Pappas. With support from both the state’s senators and Rep. Anne Kuster (D), Pappas won the primary with 42% of the vote, setting up a historic election. Pappas, an openly gay politician defeated Republican Eddie Edwards, a retired Black police Chief from South Hampton.

Given the historical competitiveness of the district, Pappas' 8.5% win is rather remarkable, and was slightly better than Barack Obama's win in the district in 2008. Pappas was able to appeal to traditionally Republican suburbanites and likely won back some blue-collar Trump voters. The Cook Political Report recently changed its rating for this district, from 'Leans Democratic' to 'Likely Democratic', citing Pappas' strong fundraising, mediocre opposition, and private polls that show him well-positioned to win reelection.

In western New Hampshire, Democrat Anne Kuster, a former attorney from Concord, has locked down the state’s 2nd District. Though Hillary Clinton only carried this district by 3% in 2016, Republicans largely threw in the towel against Kuster in 2018. Kuster has proven to be highly popular here and although the Crystal Ball rates the district as ‘Likely Democratic,’ other outlets like Cook and Inside Elections rate the race as ‘Solid Democratic’.

Compared to Obama, Kuster has seen clear weakening among blue-collar voters -- not too surprising, considering the inroads that Trump made with that group in 2016. Still, she made some gains along the Massachusetts border, where Trump’s support was comparatively soft.

The state currently has two Democrats in the Senate. This is unusual -- the last time both its senators were Democrats, Jimmy Carter was president. New Hampshire is ancestrally Republican but, unlike the other New England states, its GOP senators don’t have a tradition of moderation. Its previous senators, like Bob Smith, Judd Gregg, Gordon Humphrey, and, most recently, Kelly Ayotte, were all fairly conservative.

New Hampshire and Virginia are the only states where both senators are former governors. New Hampshire’s senior Senator, Jeanne Shaheen (D), served as governor of the state from 1997-2003. A mainstream Democrat, Shaheen has long been in state Democratic politics. She was the New Hampshire Chair of Colorado Sen. Gary Hart’s 1988 campaign for president and her husband served in that role for Vice President Al Gore’s campaign in 2000. Shaheen was actually on Gore’s shortlist for Vice President that year.

As a popular governor, Shaheen was recruited by national Democrats to run for an open Senate seat in 2002. Republicans nominated then-Rep. John E. Sununu, of the 1st District -- his father is former governor and White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu. President Bush’s approvals were high in 2002 -- the weekend before that election, the president made a stop in New Hampshire, which likely helped Sununu to a 51%-46% win. In a totally different political climate, Shaheen tried for a rematch in 2008, and beat Sununu by 6%. With that, she became the first Democratic senator elected from the state since John Durkin, in 1974.

In 2014, Shaheen faced former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R). Though he represented the Bay State from 2010 to 2013, Brown spent portions of his childhood in Portsmouth, where his parents were from. National Republicans lined up behind Brown, but his loose ties to the state seemed hard to overcome. Public polling showed a tight race and, in the end, Shaheen pulled off a three-point win. Though her overall margin was reduced from 2008, Shaheen actually improved in much of the north -- that area of the state is, geographically, farthest away from Massachusetts, so Brown’s carpetbagging may have been especially suspect to those voters. In addition, northern New Hampshire is outside the Boston media market so voters in that area would not have been terribly familiar with Brown.

Shaheen is up for reelection this year but Republicans are not making a major play for the seat. After Gov. Chris Sununu (R) opted to run for reelection in 2020, Republican interest in this race quickly disappeared. Although the Crystal Ball is maintaining its rating of ‘Likely Democratic’ for now, Cook has rated it ‘Solid Democratic’ the whole cycle. In contrast to its presidential primary, New Hampshire has among the latest congressional primaries -- it'll be on September 8 this year. Both leading Republican candidates have military backgrounds, though Trump endorsed attorney Corky Messner. Regardless, Shaheen shouldn’t have much trouble in the fall. Given her strength as an incumbent and her fondly remembered tenure as Governor, she has proven to be an enduring figure in the Granite State's politics.

New Hampshire’s junior Senator is Maggie Hassan. A longtime state Senator, Hassan was elected governor in 2012, when Gov. John Lynch (D) retired after serving an unprecedented four-term tenure. After two terms as governor, Hassan ran for the U.S. Senate against Sen. Ayotte. Like the presidential race that year, New Hampshire’s Senate race was extremely close: Hassan won by 1,017 votes, out of almost 740,000 cast. Following the release of the Access Hollywood tape, Ayotte was one of many Republicans who withdrew her endorsement of Trump, which may have cost her support on the right. Hassan credits her son, who has cerebral palsy, for her interest in public service -- in office, she is highly attentive to issues that impact the disabled.

Looking at where Hassan did better than Clinton is quite interesting and shows that Ayotte struggled with a lot of Trump voters. She showed clear weakness in 'Trumpier' blue collar towns while running ahead of Trump in the state's urban and suburban areas. It wasn't enough for her to win though.

With the New Hampshire primary enjoying so much attention every four years, the state's congressional delegation is highly sought after for endorsements but only Rep. Kuster made one this year. Kuster endorsed former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg - who ultimately finished a respectable second place in the state.

State level politics

New Hampshire is one of just a few states in the country that elects no statewide executive offices, besides its governor. Occupants of its other row offices, like the Attorney General and Secretary of State positions, are elected by the legislature. Institutionally, its governor is considered one of the nation's weaker executives. The governor's power is partially shared with a separate executive body, called the Executive Council of New Hampshire. Five members are elected via districts (as of August 2020, Democrats hold a 3-2 majority). The governor retains the power to veto legislation, but the power to make certain executive or judicial appointments is shared with that of the Council. Depending on the party control of the governorship and the Council, they can work in tandem or hamstring one another. New Hampshire, along with neighboring Vermont, are the only states with two-year gubernatorial terms.

The legislature -- known as the General Court -- is among the nation’s most curious. The state Senate is comprised of 24 members, who serve two year terms. The state House is the largest legislative chamber in the nation, with an astonishing 400 members. Due to the General Court's enormous size, legislators receive just $200 per term as compensation -- so New Hampshire has what is often called a ‘citizen’ or ‘volunteer’ legislature. Members have outside jobs that they hold even while they are in session. Such legislatures are most common in New England and the western U.S.

The New Hampshire legislature is frequently one of the most competitive legislatures in the country -- the state House has flipped four times over the past dozen years -- and this year will be no exception. Democrats are currently considered slight favorites to hold the Senate while their majority in the House looks firmer.

Secretary of State Bill Gardner (D) is an institution in the state’s politics and is a fierce defender of his state’s presidential primary. Serving since 1976, he has remained in office even when the General Court has been in GOP hands. In December 2018, with a newly-elected Democratic majority in the legislature, Gardner faced a real race from 2016 gubernatorial nominee Colin Van Ostern. Gardner was criticized for taking part in President Trump’s (now-defunct) Commission on Election Integrity -- to many Democrats, he was legitimizing the president’s politically-motivated commission. Gardner ultimately kept his job, though the vote was close.

Gov. Chris Sununu was elected in 2016 and reelected in 2018. He is in a historically rare situation: for the first time since the 1870s, the state has a GOP governor and Democratic-controlled legislature. Still, his approval ratings are high, and he’s favored for reelection. His political future is uncertain, but he is often mentioned as a possible challenger to Sen. Hassan in 2022.

Presidential politics and 2020 outlook

New Hampshire Polls >>

It is impossible to discuss New Hampshire’s role in presidential elections without discussing the New Hampshire primary. Every four years, the state holds its ‘first in the nation’ presidential primary (although the Iowa Caucus is the first contest where delegates are awarded). According to New Hampshire state law, “The presidential primary election shall be held on the second Tuesday in March or on a date selected by the secretary of state which is 7 days or more immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election.” In other words, the state is legally obligated to maintain its status as the first presidential primary.       

New Hampshire has held a presidential primary since 1916, but the contest gained its modern-day significance in 1952. That year, voters began to vote directly for candidates. After a poor showing in the primary that year - he lost the state to Tennessee Sen. Estes Kefauver, President Truman dropped out of the race. On the Republican side, it was Dwight Eisenhower’s first foray into politics -- his Granite State win showed he was a viable candidate for the nomination. 

In an increasingly diverse Democratic Party, New Hampshire’s relevance in the Democratic nominating process has been questioned. Its heavily white and liberal electorate simply does not match the Party’s base. This was shown when Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders carried the state in both his unsuccessful presidential runs. Joe Biden -- who won the nomination in large part from his strength with Black voters in later contests -- placed fifth in the Granite State primary.

On the Republican side, New Hampshire is a much better fit for the party’s base. In the past three cycles, the winner of the New Hampshire primary has won the GOP nomination. In 1992, incumbent president George H. W. Bush’s weakness in the primary -- he beat conservative challenger Pat Buchanan by only 53%-38% -- foreshadowed his general election loss.

The Granite State emerged as a swing state in 1992, when Bill Clinton narrowly carried it over Bush. In fact, aside from Clinton’s Arkansas home, New Hampshire saw the biggest blue shift from 1988 to 1992: Bush's share plunged from 62% to 38% between the elections. That drop was surely exaggerated by the presence of Reform Party nominee Ross Perot on the ballot. Perot earned nearly a quarter of the vote, polling relatively well in the blue-collar north. For 1996, it basically matched the national vote, going to Clinton 49%-39%. In 2000, George W. Bush won the state with a 48% plurality, thanks to Green Party candidate Ralph Nader receiving 4%.

2000 remains the last time the state voted Republican but, by raw vote margin, it was the closest state in the country in 2016. This cycle, polling of the state has been scarce, and the two campaigns seem more interested in larger electoral prizes. With much of the state located in the expensive Boston media market, the state isn't a terribly efficient one in which to air ads. 

As of 2018, 36.5% of Granite State adults hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, making it one of the nation’s most educated states. New Hampshire is one of those states where Democrats trading blue collar voters for college educated whites isn't likely to hurt them. The Trump campaign will be holding a rally in Manchester this week but with it playing defense in states like Iowa and Ohio, and given the strength Democrats have shown with college graduates in the Trump era, it seems Biden is favored to carry the state. 


Next Week:  Michigan

Tentative Schedule:  Pennsylvania (9/7), Wisconsin (9/14), Florida (9/21), Texas (9/28), Arizona (10/5), North Carolina (10/12), Ohio (10/19), Georgia (10/26), Iowa (11/2). Dates subject to change. 

We use the model powering the 2020 presidential election simulator to determine the following week's state. Specifically, we will look at the 'Battleground 270' results of 25,000 simulations run late Sunday afternoon.  Of the states remaining, the next to be covered will be that with the highest likelihood of a Trump or Biden win as of that date. View the current state-by-state probabilities in the table at the bottom of the Battleground 270 page.

Reports in this series:

 

A Look at the Remaining Primaries

August 19, 2020

The 2020 primary calendar will soon wrap up. Four East Coast states remain; all will have their contests in the first half of September. There is also a GOP runoff in Oklahoma next Tuesday. In terms of a highly competitive general election, that runoff is the only relevant race remaining.

There are three contests of interest in Massachusetts on September 1. All are safely Democratic seats, so winning the primary is the hard part. 

Date State Notable Races (General Election Consensus)
Aug. 25 Oklahoma
  • OK-5 GOP runoff. Winner will meet freshman Democrat Kendra Horn (Toss-up)
Sep. 1 Massachusetts
Sep. 8 New Hampshire
  • GOP primary to take on Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (Likely/Safe D) 
  • Democratic primary to challenge Gov. Chris Sununu (Likely R)
Sep. 8 Rhode Island

 

Sep. 15 Delaware
  • GOP primary to take on Sen. Chris Coons (Safe D)
  • GOP primary to take on Gov. John Carney (Safe D)

Florida Republican Ross Spano Loses Primary; 8th House Incumbent to Fall this Year

August 18, 2020

Freshman Republican Ross Spano was defeated in his bid for renomination Tuesday. Spano, who has been under investigation for campaign finance violations, lost to Lakeland Commissioner Scott Franklin.

In the general election, Franklin will face off against former investigative journalist Alan Cohn, who won the Democratic nomination. The consensus rating for this district, which sits between Tampa and Orlando is 'Leans Republican'. Spano won his seat by six points in 2018.

Spano is the eighth House member to lose in a primary this year. The last non-redistricting year with that many incumbents losing was 1974.

Overview and Live Results: Florida, Alaska and Wyoming Primaries

August 18, 2020

Three states hold primaries Tuesday. Overview and live results for some of the more interesting races is below, along with a link to all contested congressional primaries in each state.


Polls Close (Eastern Time)

Your individual polling place may have different hours. Do not rely on this schedule to determine when to vote. 

7:00 PM Florida (ET)
8:00 PM Florida (CT)
9:00 PM Wyoming
12:00 AM Alaska (AT)
1:00 AM Alaska (HT)

In Florida, all but congressional districts 1 and 2 in the state's Panhandle are in the Eastern Time Zone. (AT) is Alaska Time, (HT) is Hawaii-Aleutian Time.


Results by State

Alaska Florida Wyoming

 

Alaska

Senate: Incumbent Republican Dan Sullivan is seeking a 2nd term; he has no primary opposition.  The likely Democratic nominee is actually an independent, orthopedic surgeon Al Gross.  In Alaska, non-Democrats are allowed to compete for the party's nomination.  

Sullivan is favored in the general election - most forecasters have the race as 'likely Republican'. However, Gross has been competitive in fundraising and trailed Sullivan by only five points in an early July poll

House: At-large Rep. Don Young (R) is the longest-serving member in the U.S. House. First elected in a 1973 special election, he is seeking a 25th term. 2018 brought one of Young's tightest reelection contests. He prevailed by 6.5% over Alyse Galvin, an independent who ran as a Democrat. Galvin is back for a rematch with Young, although both must first win their respective primaries, which they are expected to do.

All Alaska Results >>

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Florida

House: The Sunshine State's 27 districts are closely divided - 14 Republicans and 13 Democrats.  In terms of the general election, only a handful of races look to be somewhat competitive in November.  However, there are a number of interesting primaries to watch.

District 3:  A large field of hopefuls is looking to succeed retiring Rep. Ted Yoho in this fairly safe Republican district in the north-central part of the state. Yoho's former Deputy Chief of Staff, Kat Cammack is among the frontrunners; she led with 25% support in a recent poll.  Several other candidates polled between 10-15%, including Judson Sapp (15%), James St. George (13%) and Gavin Rollins (11%). However the survey was only of 290 people, 20% of whom said they were undecided.

District 13: Democrat Charlie Crist is seeking a third term in this Tampa Bay area district. While it's not clear how much of a threat he'll face in November - most forecasters see the race as 'Likely Democratic' - there is a spirited factional primary for the Republican nomination.  Amanda Makki is being supported by top House Republicans, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Opposing her is Anna Paulina Luna, the favorite of Trump-aligned Republicans such as Rep. Matt Gaetz (FL-01). Also competitive in the race is George Buck, who was the party nominee here in 2018. He lost to Crist by 15 points in the general election. 

District 15: Freshman Republican Ross Spano seems to be the most endangered incumbent in Tuesday's primaries. Spano, who is under investigation for campaign finance violations, is being challenged by Lakeland Commissioner Scott Franklin.  A recent poll had the race statistically tied. There is a three-way primary on the Democratic side. 

Looking ahead to November, the election in this district, which sits between Tampa and Orlando, may be among the more competitive. Spano won by 6 points in 2018.  Most forecasters rate it 'Leans Republican'.

District 19: Republican Francis Rooney is retiring after two terms. This southwestern coastal district includes Ft. Myers and Naples. It is a conservative area - Rooney won here by 25 points in 2018 - so Tuesday's GOP primary winner will likely be the next representative.  A recent poll showed four candidates closely-grouped at the top of this nine-person field: Casey Askar, Byron Donalds, Dane Eagle and William Figlesthaler.

District 21:  Despite being the home of Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club, this Palm Beach-area district is safely Democratic.  Lois Frankel was unopposed for a fourth term in 2018.

The GOP primary has attracted some attention with a colorful group of prospective nominees.  From the Washington Post:  "The six people competing in the Aug. 18 primary include a former burlesque dancer and wild animal exhibitor who did business in the same circles as “Tiger King” Joe Exotic; a Palm Beach neighbor of Mar-a-Lago who is supported by QAnon believers; and Laura Loomer, a far-right commentator and anti-Islam activist who calls herself “the most banned woman on the Internet” and who once handcuffed herself to the front door of Twitter’s office in New York. There’s also an ex-cop, a nuclear engineer-turned college professor and a retired investigator for the IRS."

District 26: Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell flipped this district - the southernmost in the continental United States - in 2018, winning by 2 points over incumbent Republican Carlos Curbelo. Most forecasters see a competitive general election again this year; it is the only district with a consensus rating of toss-up. Mucarsel-Powell has no primary opponent. On the GOP side, the frontrunner is Carlos Gimenez, who is the mayor of Miami-Dade county.

All Florida Results >>

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Wyoming

Senate: Mike Enzi (R) is retiring after four terms in the Senate.  A field of 10 is competing in Tuesday's Republican primary to take his place. In this deep-red state, the winner will almost certainly be the state's next Senator.  The frontrunner is Cynthia Lummis, who served four terms as the state's at-large U.S. Representative before retiring in 2016. She was succeeded in the House by Liz Cheney who notably decided not to pursue the open Senate seat.

While unlikely to find much success in November, six are competing for the Democratic nomination.

House: Rep. Liz Cheney (R) should have little trouble in her primary and is expected to easily win a 3rd term in November.

All Wyoming Results >>

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The Road to 270: Nevada

August 17, 2020

The Road to 270 is a weekly column leading up to the presidential election. Each installment is dedicated to understanding one state’s political landscape and how that might influence which party will win its electoral votes in 2020. We’ll do these roughly in order of expected competitiveness, moving toward the most intensely contested battlegrounds as election day nears. 

The Road to 270 will be published every Monday. The column is written by Drew Savicki, a 270toWin elections and politics contributor. Contact Drew via email or on Twitter @SenhorRaposa.

Editor's Note: If you have an ongoing interest in what's happening in Nevada, we highly recommend The Nevada Independent. It is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news and opinion site founded three years ago by Jon Ralston, who has covered Nevada politics for more than 30 years. 

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From its early days as a mining-heavy state to the Golden Age of Las Vegas in the 1950s and 1960s, Nevada has quite a history for such a relatively young state. With shifting demographics and a population boom, Nevada emerged as a swing state in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Geography

To start off, Nevada’s congressional districts offer a solid breakdown of the state’s geography. Until 1982, the Silver State had just a single, at-Large district -- after decades of rapid growth, it claims four districts today. Notably, three of its districts contain part of Clark County, home to Las Vegas. In the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, 68% of the state’s votes came from Clark County.

  • NV-1: City of Las Vegas and the Vegas Strip. This inner Vegas seat is the most Democratic in the state.
  • NV-2: Covering virtually all of northern Nevada, this district is rather difficult to classify. It includes Reno and Carson City but also includes a significant number of rural counties, known as the ‘cow counties.’ This ancestrally GOP seat has never sent a Democrat to Congress, and is currently the sole Republican-held seat.
  • NV-3: Southern Clark County. Includes southern suburbs of Las Vegas such as Paradise, Henderson, and Spring Valley.
  • NV-4: Northern Clark County and central Nevada. Northern portion of the Vegas area and handful of rural counties. Home to the Nellis Air Force Base and, famously, Area 51.

Congressional Politics

It’s hard to talk about Nevada’s contemporary politics without mentioning Harry Reid. A political titan who built up the state Democratic Party, Reid’s early days an amateur boxer set the tone for a volatile electoral career. Though he retired from the U.S. Senate in 2017, he remains influential in the state Democratic Party.

Even before he arrived in Congress, Reid held a bevy of state offices. His political career began in 1966 when, at age 27, he was elected City Attorney of the then-small Vegas suburb of Henderson. After two years, he was elected to the legislature, then became lieutenant governor in 1970. Reid served one term before running for the U.S. Senate in 1974. He was defeated that year by ex-Gov. Paul Laxalt (R) -- close Senate races would become a hallmark of Reid’s career, and he lost that one by just 624 votes. Laxalt was an influential senator in his own right, as President Reagan’s closest ally in the Senate. By 1978, Reid was serving as chairman of the state's powerful Gaming Commission.

In 1982, after the state gained a second district, Reid was elected to the Las Vegas-centric NV-1. In 1986, he won an open Senate seat against his immediate predecessor in the House, Democrat-turned-Republican James Santini. Reid won 50%-45%. Once in the Senate, he eventually became part of  the Democratic leadership team, though navigating that trajectory was challenging for him at times. A Mormon, Reid opposed abortion rights but by the time he became the chamber’s leading Democrat, in 2005, the party had broadly moved leftward on the issue and Reid put aside his own views. Still, his ascent was nearly halted in 1998, when his successor in the House, then-Rep. John Ensign (R) challenged him.

As the congressman from the booming Las Vegas area, Ensign was the ideal candidate to go against Reid. Polling initially gave Reid a double-digit lead, but that lead dwindled by election day. Reid's challenges were compounded by a number of demographic changes to the state. Older, more conservative retirees were moving to the state in droves -- and they were registering as Republicans. In a reversal of his 624-vote loss in 1974, Reid turned back Ensign by a narrow 428 vote margin. In 2004, when he was next up, something of a rarity occurred for Reid: he had an easy election. For the only time in his career, he cleared 60% of the vote, even as the state narrowly supported George W. Bush that year. Ensign was elected to the state’s other Senate seat in 2000 and developed a bipartisan working relationship with Reid there.

For 2010, Reid was back in a familiar position: on the GOP’s target list. Though President Obama carried Nevada by a comfortable margin two years earlier, his approvals were slumping as the midterms approached. In 2004, Republicans ousted Reid’s predecessor as Democratic Leader, South Dakota’s Sen. Tom Daschle, and hoped for an encore in 2010. One reason Republicans were able to beat Daschle six years earlier was because they ran a quality candidate, now-Sen. John Thune (R). As it turned out, this would not be the case in Nevada.

In June 2010, GOP primary voters nominated former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle. A Tea Party conservative, she brought a bombastic style to the campaign and made racially insensitive comments. Reid’s standing improved after Angle’s nomination but most pre-election polls had Angle slightly ahead. Still, veteran state reporter Jon Ralston predicted a Reid win and, sure enough, the old boxer won 50%-45%. Ralston credited the Democrats’ superior campaign operation for the win -- several cycles later, the ‘Reid machine’ is still a potent force.

Reid retired in 2016 -- during his last years in office, he was known for his floor speeches criticizing the billionaire Koch brothers, two conservative megadonors -- and was succeeded by former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D). Cortez Masto defeated then-Rep. Joe Heck, of the 3rd District. Heck initially disavowed Donald Trump following the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape but walked back his criticism after facing blowback on his right flank. The result was eerily in line with the presidential contest: Hillary Clinton and Cortez Masto won by the exact same 2.4% percentage spread. Cortez Masto currently leads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and was considered a leading VP prospect for Joe Biden (though in late May she ruled herself out).

Until 2019, Nevada’s other senator was Republican Dean Heller. Appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) following the resignation of Sen. Ensign in 2011, Heller was a longtime figure in Nevada politics. An affable conservative, Heller won a full term in 2012. As the only Republican representing a state that Clinton carried in 2016, Heller was a major Democratic target in the 2018 elections.

From retirement, Reid recruited freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D) to run against Heller. Heller largely hewed to the party line in the Senate and, for most of the campaign, embraced Trump. The president rallied for him several times, but Heller ultimately lost by about 5%. Rosen, a former synagogue president, made some history: she became the the first congresswoman elected to the Senate after just one term in the House.

On paper, Nevada has two competitive congressional districts, but both seem to have fallen off the radar for 2020. NV-3, just south of Las Vegas, elected Democrat Susie Lee in 2018, after its previous two occupants, Heck and Rosen, used this suburban district to launch statewide runs. Though Trump carried it in 2016, Lee easily won the seat in 2018 against perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian (R). In her Senate race, Rosen carried her old congressional district by 4%, an improvement from Obama’s one point win there in 2012 and Clinton’s one point loss in 2016:

In its brief history -- it was created for the 2012 cycle -- incumbent turnover has defined the 4th District. Its current member, Rep. Steven Horsford (D) is on his second non-consecutive term -- he was elected in 2012, but in a red 2014 wave, lost to GOP state Rep. Cresent Hardy. In 2016, state Sen. Ruben Kihuen (D) defeated Hardy. Following sexual misconduct allegations, Kihuen decided not to seek reelection in 2018. The open 2018 race was rematch between Horsford and Hardy -- the Democrat won 52%-44%. At 47, Horsford is sometimes mentioned as future statewide candidate. Earlier this year, he admitted to having an extramarital affair, though it remains to be seen if such an admission will have any impact on his career.

State level politics

Nevada underwent a significant political shift between the 2014 and 2018 midterms. After the 2014 elections, Republicans controlled all six statewide offices -- following the 2018 elections, the party was down to just holding the Secretary of State’s office. The current governor, Steve Sisolak, is the first Democrat elected to that job this century. Democrats won the legislature in 2016, and for 2018, expanded their majorities in both chambers.

Preceding Sisolak, Gov. Brian Sandoval was hugely popular in the state. A Hispanic pro-choice Republican, Sandoval found broad crossover support and was reelected in 2014 against only trivial opposition from Democrat Bob Goodman. On their ballots, Nevada voters have a ‘None of these Candidates’ option, which got the most votes in the Democratic primary that year (though Goodman, as the highest-polling actual candidate, was nominated). In 2018, it was noteworthy that Sandoval sat out the gubernatorial race, making no endorsement. While serving as governor, he butted heads with the GOP nominee, then-state Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt.

Pre-Trump, Sandoval was often mentioned as possible presidential candidate, in part for his years of experience in a purple state. Before his time as Nevada’s top executive, he served as state attorney general, then was a federal judge. As governor, he was briefly mentioned as a possible Obama Supreme Court pick. While national Republicans may welcome his candidacy in a future Senate race, the party’s base voters have gotten ‘Trumpier’ and may be less enthused. 

With Democratic control of the legislature cemented, the party will control the redistricting process next year. With the growth in and blue shift of Clark County, their first objective will to be shore up the two potentially vulnerable incumbents. Democrats may go after the state’s lone Republican, Mark Amodei in NV-2, though they could risk spreading their voters too thin.

Presidential politics and 2020 Outlook

Nevada Polls >>

Every four years, Nevada enjoys an outsized role in the presidential nominating contests. With its caucus, Nevada is the first western state where voters weigh in. For Democrats, it has a markedly different electorate from other early states. In contrast to Iowa and New Hampshire, with their almost monolithically-white populations, candidates must appeal to Hispanics in Nevada. Candidates must also court organized labor. Despite its large geographic size, Nevada lends itself well to retail politics because much of the population is located in Clark County.

The Nevada caucus technically began in the 1980s but it wasn’t until 2008 that it became prominent in the calendar. For Democrats in 2020, the early primary lineup was Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and then South Carolina. Unfortunately for Nevada, its caucus hasn’t been especially predictive, at least on the Democratic side: since 2008, its winner lost the nomination twice while South Carolina chose the eventual nominee each time. With mounting frustration over caucuses -- after this year’s contest, Reid called for a transition to primaries -- the future of the Nevada caucuses seems murky.

Without looking at its racial demographics, Nevada’s presence in the Democratic column would seem baffling. With the Democratic coalition increasingly centered on educated voters, Nevada sticks out. According to the Census, just 24% of its residents aged over 25 have at least a bachelor’s degree -- perhaps not surprising, considering Nevada’s economy is largely based on the service industry. The workforce heavily skews blue collar but, unlike in the midwestern states, Nevada’s blue collar workers aren’t predominately white. Its workforce is also highly unionized: the powerful Culinary Union represents thousands of workers who power Nevada’s casinos, hotels, restaurants, and other services. Nevada’s tourism-based economy has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic: while down from its peak, the state unemployment rate was 15% in July.

Like many western states, some of Nevada’s libertarian tendencies have made it friendly to third party candidates. It was Ross Perot’s sixth-best state in the nation in 1992 -- he took 26% and actually carried a county, Storey. In the 2016 presidential race, the two major parties accounted for just 93% of the statewide vote.

Though Biden has shown some relative weakness with Hispanics, most forecasters agree that he is favored to carry Nevada’s six electoral votes this year. Perhaps because pollsters are sometimes burned there -- as Democrats typically outperform their numbers -- Silver State polling has been scarce in 2020. Jon Ralston notes that, in terms of voter registration, Republicans have gained during the pandemic but still trail Democrats statewide. Overall, Nevada is still relatively purple but for Trump to carry the state, his national standing will likely need to improve in the 11 weeks that remain before the November 3 election.


Next Week:  New Hampshire

Going forward, we will use the model powering the 2020 presidential election simulator to determine the following week's state. Specifically, we will look at the 'Battleground 270' results of 25,000 simulations run late Sunday afternoon.  Of the states remaining, the next to be covered will be that with the highest likelihood of a Trump or Biden win as of that date. View the current state-by-state probabilities in the table at the bottom of the Battleground 270 page.

Reports in this series:

 

Electoral Map Based on FiveThirtyEight Model

August 15, 2020

We've added an electoral map that is derived from the FiveThirtyEight 2020 Election Forecast that was released earlier this week.  The map will update every two hours, reflecting the then-current probabilities for each state.  The current map is below; click or tap for an interactive version.

 
The color breakpoints are always somewhat arbitrary with a statistical model, but we've selected ranges that seem to fit best when comparing to other forecasts.  The toss-up color is used where neither candidate has a 65% chance of winning. The lightest red/blue gradient is 65%+, medium 80%+ and darkest 95%+. 
 
This FiveThirtyEight article discusses the methodology behind their model.