Election Day on Tuesday will see gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, as well as a special election to fill a vacancy in Utah's 3rd congressional district. The Virginia race is highly competitve, the other two less so.
Virginia Gubernatorial Election: Incumbent Democrat Terry McAuliffe is term-limited. Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam will represent the Democrats, while former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie is the Republican nominee. Gillespie lost a 2014 race for U.S. Senator from Virginia, although the race against incumbent Mark Warner was much closer than expected. Warner prevailed by less than 1%.
Most of the final polls give Northam a small lead; the Real Clear Politics Average has Northam up by 3% (as of late morning Nov. 6). Sabato's Crystal Ball and The Cook Political Report have the race rated as 'Leans Democratic. Inside Elections calls it 'Tilt Democratic' - this is a categorization between toss-up and lean that the other two pundits don't use. Polls are open from 6:00 AM to 7:00 PM Eastern Time.
CNN breaks the race down by geography, noting that Northam should perform very well in the areas around Washington, DC. "To offset the wide Democratic margins in Northern Virginia, Gillespie will need to run up the score in the more rural parts of of the commonwealth, particularly in the southwest and Southside regions." In the end, CNN notes, the race may well be decided by voters in two exurban DC counties - Loudoun and Prince William.
For more on the candidates and the issues in this election, see this article from The Washington Post.
New Jersey Gubernatorial Election: Term-limited Republican Chris Christie will be replaced by Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno (R) or businessman and former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy (D). The incumbent is highly unpopular, complicating Guadagno's efforts to prevail in this traditionally blue state. Recent polls, such as this one from Monmouth University, all show lead of 14-16 points for the Democratic nominee, who is expected to win. Polls are open from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM Eastern Time.
Utah's 3rd Congressional District Special Election: The race is to fill the open seat created by the departure of former Rep. Jason Chaffetz. It will be contested again in 2018 as part of the midterm elections. The Republican nominee is the Mayor of Provo, John Curtis. The Democratic nominee is a physician, Kathie Allen. Curtis led by 27 points in a recent poll, and is highly likely to prevail. Polls are open 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM Mountain Time.
In addition to the above, Virginia and New Jersey will have some state legislative elections. A number of large cities will also elect mayors tomorrow. These include: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Cleveland, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City and Seattle.
Looking ahead, the Alabama Senate special election is on Tuesday, December 12th. Next year will bring the midterm elections, where all 435 House seats and 33 Senate seats will be contested. 36 gubernatorial races will also be held.
This article was first published on November 5th; updated November 6th
Republican Lamar Smith of Texas, head of the House Science Committee, announced his retirement Thursday afternoon. He is in his 16th term, and is the 2nd longest-serving member of the Texas House delegation. Only Rep. Joe Barton has served longer. Smith will serve out the remainder of his term.
Smith represents Texas' 21st district, a somewhat oddly-shaped area that sits primarily west of Austin and San Antonio, although it also runs north-south near I-35 between those two cities.
Smith easily won reelection last November by 21%. However, Donald Trump only won here by 10 points over Hillary Clinton, a sharp drop in margin from 2012, when Mitt Romney took the district by 22% over Barack Obama. At this point, however, the district remains as 'Safe Republican'.
Smith is the 4th of 36 Texas House members to pass on reelection in 2018. His announcement comes just two days after another powerful Texas House Republican, Jeb Hensarling announced his retirement. Overall, 31 House members have announced their departure, including 21 Republicans.
We've launched the 2018 Senate Race Ratings page, which summarizes how each race is viewed by three pundits. Those ratings form the basis for the 'Battle for Control' table, which shows where each party stands in its efforts to hold or regain majority status.
While the Senate is narrowly divided by party, the Battle for Control highlights the uphill battle Democrats have to take the majority in 2019. The party needs to reach 51, a net gain of 3 seats. However, Democrats currently hold 25 of the 34 Senate seats to be contested in 2018*. Once we back those out and add back in the seats the pundits all see as safe for the incumbent party, Republicans are at 48, just two shy of the 50 needed for control. After adding back in the seats that are unlikely to be competitive, Republicans have a 49 to 38 advantage.
Putting it all together - at this point - Democrats need to sweep all 13 competitive races to regain control. This includes next month's Alabama special election, which would be a pretty significant upset in that deep red state.
The pundit ratings come from Sabato's Crystal Ball, The Cook Political Report and Inside Elections (formerly the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report). Note that there is still considerable variation across pundits in some states (e.g., Maine). This is expected to lessen as the 2018 match-ups take shape, and there's a better handle on the overall political environment heading into these midterm elections.
Create and share your own forecast with the 2018 Senate Interactive Map.
* Includes Alabama special election to be held on December 12th, 2017
Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas announced Tuesday that he will not seek reeelection in 2018. The Dallas-area Republican, now in his 8th term, is chair of the powerful House Financial Services Committee. He will serve out the remainder of his term.
In this deep red district, Hensarling easily won reelection last November with nearly 81% of the vote. The Democratic Party did not field a candidate; Libertarian Ken Ashby took the other 19%. Donald Trump won here by about 29 points.
Hensarling is the 20th Republican, and 30th member overall, planning to retire or run for another office in 2018.
Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona announced Tuesday that he will not seek reeelection to a 2nd term in 2018. Flake made his announcement on the Senate floor, in a speech that bemoaned the direction politics is taking in the United States.
Flake, who has had a difficult relationship with President Trump, made waves in his party earlier in the summer with his book "Conscience of a Conservative". Two polls from late summer had him trailing the much more conservative Kelli Ward by over 25% in the Republican primary. Ward is very much in the Trump/Bannon wing of the party. As Flake told The Arizona Republic "here's the bottom line: The path that I would have to travel to get the Republican nomination is a path I'm not willing to take, and that I can't in good conscience take."
The various pundits we track all had the 2018 Arizona Senate race as a toss-up, and they all reconfirmed that rating today. Interestingly, Flake's announcement might actually improve the Republican chances of holding this seat, as there are many who doubt Ward can win statewide should she take the Republican nomination. Flake's exit opens the door for other Republicans to run in 2018.
Whomever the Republicans choose, their likely Democratic opponent will be Rep. Kyrsten Sinema who announced her candidacy in late September.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has set March 13, 2018, as the date for a special election to fill the vacant 18th Congressional District seat. That seat was previously held by Republican Tim Murphy, who resigned earlier this month after text messages surfaced of him urging a woman with whom he was having an affair to seek an abortion.
There are now two vacancies in the U.S. House. The other is in UT-03, vacated earlier this year by Republican Jason Chaffetz. That seat will be filled in a special election on November 7th. The current U.S. House has 239 Republicans and 194 Democrats, along with the two vacancies.
At this point, those two seats are expected to remain in Republican hands. That said, Pennsylvania Democratic governor Wolf's scheduling of the vote on a different date than the state's general 2018 primary (May 15) could benefit his party as turnout is often much lower in one-off special elections.
Nearly 30 House members have announced they will not seek reelection to that body in 2018. Visit our retirements page for the latest information.
Updating an earlier story, nine term Republican Pat Tiberi of Ohio announced he would not seek reelection in 2018 and would resign Congress no later than January 31, 2018.
Tiberi represents Ohio's 12th Congressional District, which includes areas to the north and east of Columbus. The interestingly shaped district is drawn favorably for Republicans and Tiberi easily won a 9th term last November by nearly 40 points. That said, Sabato's Crystal Ball has moved the seat from 'safe' to 'likely' Republican. This is due to the overall political environment coupled with the uncertainties (e.g., low turnout) often associated with special elections.
Governor John Kasich will set the date for a special election to fill the seat for the remainder of Tiberi's term. The seat, as with all 435 House Districts, will be contested again in the midterms on November 6, 2018.
The New York Times reports that nine-term Republican Pat Tiberi (OH-12) may resign from Congress to take a position with a business consortium in Ohio. Tiberi is an influential member of the House Ways and Means Committee and was a close ally of former House speaker John Boehner.
An announcement is possible as soon as this week.
As of this morning, 28 House members have announced they are not seeking reelection to that body in 2018.
A new poll from Fox News finds the Alabama Senate race a dead heat. Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones are both at 42%, with 11% unsure. The special election is about seven weeks out, on December 12th. The poll surveyed 801 registered voters, with a margin of error of 3.5%. The full topline for the poll can be found here.
This is the first poll to show the race this competitive; the last two polls have had Moore up 8% in a state that Donald Trump won by about 28%. Whether the poll marks a shift in voter sentiment or is an outlier remains to be seen.
Maine Senator Susan Collins announced Friday that she will forego a run for governor of her state in 2018, and (presumably) run for reelection in 2020. The four-term moderate Republican had been considering this decision for many months. Current governor Paul LePage cannot run again due to term limits.
If Collins had run, she could have remained in the Senate during the campaign. However, winning the race would have required her to step down. A replacement would have been named by LePage.
Without Collins, the 2018 gubernatorial race in Maine is currently seen as a toss-up.There are a total of 36 governorships to be contested next year, in addition to those in New Jersey and Virginia next month.
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