Republicans Greg Murphy (NC-3) and Dan Bishop (NC-9) were sworn in by Speaker Nancy Pelosi Tuesday. Both won special elections for vacant North Carolina congressional districts on September 10.
For the first time in the 116th Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives is at 435 members. There are 235 Democrats, 199 Republicans and one independent.
The full house will last less than a week. Wisconsin GOP Rep. Sean Duffy has announced he will resign effective September 23 to tend to a family health issue. Gov. Tony Evers has not yet announced the date for a special election.
The Los Angeles Times reports that California Rep. Paul Cook will not seek reelection in 2020. The four-term Republican will instead run for a seat on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors. He becomes the 20th retirement this cycle; the House Retirement Map has been updated.
Cook represents California's 8th congressional district. It is geographically the largest one in the state and includes sparsely populated desert areas in the eastern part of the state to the Nevada border. It was one of the few districts in the country without a Democrat on the ballot in 2018, as the state's top-two primary advanced two Republicans to the November election. Donald Trump won here by about 15% over Hillary Clinton in 2016. At this point, the district will keep a safe Republican rating for 2020.
Cook represents one of only seven Republican-held congressional districts out of the state's 53. The party lost half its 14-member delegation in the November elections that propelled Democrats into the House majority.
Morning Consult released the first national poll taken entirely after last week's 3rd Democratic debate. There was little movement in the race, when compared to the firm's prior weekly tracking poll. Sen. Elizabeth Warren gained two points to 18%, but she continues to trail former Vice-President Joe Biden (32%) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (20%). Those two each lost 1%, as did Sen. Kamala Harris.
The graphic below shows the comparison for each candidate getting 2% in this new poll. You can also see how it relates to our calculated national average for each candidate. There are some notable differences; click/tap the graphic for full results on this and other polling for the Democratic nomination.
Warren has seen her support slowly increase through the summer in this poll. In the June 24 survey, just before the first Democratic debate, she was at 13%. That gain of 5% compares to a loss of 6% for Biden. Sanders was at 19%, so little change there. Harris got a nice bump from her performance in that first debate, peaking at 14% in the Morning Consult poll. However, that has all disappeared - her current 6% is identical to that on June 24.
The New York Times and CNN will co-host the 4th Democratic debate, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced Friday. It will take place October 15 - possibly continuing on the 16th - at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. CNN anchors Anderson Cooper and Erin Burnett will moderate; they will be joined by the national editor of the Times, Marc Lacey.
Eleven candidates have so far met the required criteria of 2% support in four polls and 130,000 unique donors. This includes the ten candidates on the stage for this week's debate as well as investor Tom Steyer, who recently qualified. Other candidates have until October 1 to qualify. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and author Marianne Williamson are closest. Both have met the donor threshold but are short on qualifying polls: Gabbard needs two more, Williamson three.
The first two debates, with 20 candidates, took place across two nights. The more restrictive qualifying criteria used for this week's event reduced the field to ten. The same criteria are in place for the October 15 debate. With a field likely to be just slightly larger than 10, the DNC will need to determine whether to have a crowded one-night event, or split it over two nights. The latter would afford each candidate significantly more air time, but those leading in the polls may not be on stage at the same time.
There are currently two vacancies in the U.S. House. Both are in North Carolina and both are to be filled via special elections Tuesday. Polls close at 7:30 PM Eastern Time. Live results will appear below after that time.
9th Congressional District: This district stretches from suburban Charlotte eastward into more rural areas. The seat has been vacant since the beginning of the current Congress in January. An apparent narrow GOP win in the November, 2018 midterms was tossed out because of ballot fraud. The 2018 Democratic nominee, businessman Dan McCready is again on the ballot. His opponent, state Sen. Dan Bishop won the Republican nomination in a large primary field. Mark Harris, the party's 2018 nominee, chose not to run in the special election.
Although Donald Trump won this GOP-leaning district by 12 points in 2016, only 905 votes separated the candidates in the discarded election. Tuesday's election is seen as a toss-up. For more information on how we got here and what to expect, see this analysis from FiveThirtyEight.
3rd Congressional District: This district covers the far eastern part of the state, including the Outer Banks. Long-time GOP Rep. Walter Jones died in February; he ran unopposed to win his final term in 2018. Donald Trump won here by nearly 24% over Hillary Clinton in 2016. The Republican nominee, state Rep. Greg Murphy, is likely to prevail over Democrat Allen Thomas, the former mayor of Greenville.
Although both parties will spin the results however they turn out, Democrats will have had a very good day with a win in the 9th district and a single-digit loss in the 3rd. Republicans need a win in the 9th - preferably by several points - and a decisive margin of victory in the 3rd.
The U.S. House currently has 235 Democrats, 197 Republicans and one independent.
Republican Rep. Roger Marshall of Kansas has launched a bid for U.S. Senate. The incumbent, GOP Rep. Pat Roberts is retiring. Marshall, in his third term, joins a field that includes the former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. It may also eventually include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has deflected questions about whether he will run.
The decision adds Marshall to the list of 2020 House Retirements, which now number 19. The Kansas 1st District is larger, by area, than the state's other three districts combined. It is also the most conservative. Despite the lack of an incumbent running in 2020, it is expected to remain in GOP hands.
Steyer will join the 10 Democrats that qualified for both of the fall debates, including one this Thursday in Houston. With the total qualifiers now exceeding 10, the October debate will likely return to a two-night format, although this has not yet been announced by the DNC. It is scheduled on October 15 and/or 16 from an Ohio location yet to be announced.
Other candidates have until October 1 to make the debate stage. In addition to four qualifying polls, participants must have at least 130,000 unique donors. Both Tulsi Gabbard and Marianne Williamson have met the fundraising requirement, but both are short of the required polls. Gabbard has two, Williamson one.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin announced he will not seek reelection in 2020. Now in his 21st term, he has the 2nd longest tenure among current House members, after Don Young of Alaska. His retirement is the 2nd of the day, after Texas Rep. Bill Flores. The decision comes about a week after his fellow Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy announced he would resign from Congress in late September.
Wisconsin's 5th district covers much of the northern and western suburbs of Milwaukee. It is a conservative district; Donald Trump won here by 20% over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Flores first won election to Congress in the Tea Party wave of 2010. He handily won reelection four times, although his margin of victory has declined significantly since an 80-20 win in 2012. After a 32 point win in 2014, Flores won by about 25 points in 2016 and 15 points this past November. Despite the narrowing spreads, the 17th district, which includes Waco, College Station and northern portions of the Austin area, is still considered safely Republican for 2020.
The Senate Interactive Map has been updated with the Georgia special election. The initial consensus rating is Leans Republican.
The added Georgia election will be for the final two years of Sen. Johnny Isakson's term. Isakson recently announced his resignation, effective at the end of this year. Gov. Brian Kemp will select a replacement who will serve until the winner of the special election takes office in January, 2021.
There are now 35 Senate seats to be contested^ in 2020, 23 held by Republicans, 12 by Democrats. The GOP holds a 53-47 edge. Democrats must have a net gain 3 or 4 seats to take control, depending on the outcome of the presidential election*.
Sabato's Crystal Ball and Inside Elections have started the special election with a Leans Republican rating, while The Cook Political Report has gone with Likely Republican. These ratings all mirror those that each forecaster has in place for Georgia's other U.S. Senate seat, which will be up for a regular six-year term in 2020. This makes sense, at least until we have a better handle on who is running, as these 'double-barrel' Senate races usually break the same way. The last time the parties split in this kind of situation was 1966.
A couple other things to keep in mind...
The Georgia special election will be a 'jungle primary' where all candidates will appear on a single ballot. There will be no party primaries prior to this.
Georgia requires a runoff if no candidate gets a majority of the vote. If either or both of these races need a runoff, it won't take place until January 5, 2021. That is after the expected start of the 117th Congress on January 3, 2021. The November elections could play out in such a way that we won't know who will ultimately control the Senate until January.
^ The Arizona race is also a special election. The winner will complete the final two years of the term of the late John McCain. Gov. Doug Ducey initially appointed Jon Kyl to the role. Kyl later resigned, and Sen. Martha McSally was appointed to replace him.
* A 3 seat net Democratic gain would tie the Senate at 50-50. The vice president breaks ties, so if this were to the result of the 2020 election, control would go to the party that wins the presidency. There is a VP box on the Senate Interactive Map where you can make this selection.