Election News

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Qualifies for October Democratic Debate

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii has qualified for the October Democratic debate.  She received 2% support in a Monmouth University New Hampshire survey released Tuesday, giving her the required minimum of four from DNC-approved pollsters. Gabbard had previously met the fundraising requirement of at least 130,000 unique donors.

Gabbard becomes the 12th - and likely final - candidate to make the stage for the October 15 debate. With this many qualifiers, the debate may be split across two nights, although that determination has not yet been made by the DNC.  

Special Election Date Set for Wisconsin 7th District

Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has set January 27, 2020 as the date for a special election to fill the vacancy in the state's 7th congressional district. The seat became vacant when GOP Rep. Sean Duffy resigned, effective September 23.

The U.S. House now has 235 Democrats, 198 Republicans and 1 independent, in addition to the aforementioned vacancy.


DNC Sets Tighter Rules for November Debate Qualification

The Democratic National Committee is raising the bar for candidates to qualify for the fifth candidate debate, to be held in November. These criteria only apply to this one debate.

Polling: 3% in four different qualifying polls (can be a combination of national polls or those from among the four early states) OR 5% in two polls from among the four early states. The 5% option is new; the threshold in the the four-poll rule is increasing from the 2% in place for the September and October debates. 

The early states are Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, which are all scheduled to hold their primary or caucus in February, 2020. Polls must be released from September 13 through seven calendar days prior to the November debate (date is TBA). For more detailed rules on what polls qualify, see the DNC press release.

The threshold for the upcoming October debate is 2% in four different qualifying polls.

Fundraising: Contributions from at least 165,000 unique donors, including a minimum of 600 per state in at least 20 states. The September/October requirements are 130,000 nationally and 400 in 20 states.

Rep. Joe Kennedy to Run for U.S. Senate; Setting up Intraparty Primary Fight

Rep. Joe Kennedy III announced a run for U.S Senate in Massachusetts on Saturday, setting up an intraparty primary battle with the two-term incumbent, Ed Markey. This ended weeks of speculation about whether he would enter the race. 

Should Kennedy win, he would be the 4th member of the political dynasty to serve in the Senate. These include his grandfather, Robert F. Kennedy, as well as two great-uncles, Edward Kennedy and John F. Kennedy. The latter, of course, would go on to become the 35th president.

Regardless of who prevails in the primary, the seat will almost certainly remain under Democratic control. Markey won his 2nd term by a 62-38 margin over Republican Brian Herr in 2014.

We've added Kennedy to the House Retirement Map. 21 current members are retiring or seeking another office in 2020. This includes 16 Republicans and 5 Democrats.

The map doesn't display Rep. Sean Duffy, Republican of Wisconsin. He previously announced he would resign from the House effective September 23.

Highly-Regarded Iowa Poll Gives Warren Small Lead Over Biden

Elizabeth Warren has a narrow 22-20 lead over Joe Biden in Iowa. That's the finding of the latest poll from Selzer & Co., conducted for the Des Moines Register. This is one of the most highly-regarded polls of caucus-goers in Iowa.

Well back in 3rd is Bernie Sanders, with 11%, followed by Pete Buttigieg at 9% and Kamala Harris at 6%. Six other candidates saw 2 or 3% support.  This includes Tulsi Gabbard, which means she is now just one qualifying poll away from securing a spot in the October Democratic debate.

Warren gained 7 points since the last Selzer & Co. poll in early June. Biden, Sanders and Buttigieg all saw a several point drop in support.

Bill de Blasio Exits 2020 Presidential Race

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ended his long-shot presidential bid Friday.  He told MSNBC's Morning Joe “I feel like I’ve contributed all I can to this election, and it’s clearly not my time.”  He was seeing little traction nationally, and even less at home.  A Siena College poll released earlier this week showed him with 0% support in his home city.  

Update on Polling Averages

The table below shows the current polling average* nationally and each of the four early states for the 19 candidates remaining in the race. While the national numbers are ultimately irrelevant, it is interesting to look at them vs. state-level support. For example, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is polling more strongly in Iowa and New Hampshire than nationally.  As these primary and caucus events build on one another (see this article about 'sequencing'), Buttigieg's campaign would likely see a bump after Iowa if results played out this way. On the other hand, former Vice President Joe Biden maintains a significant lead in the polls nationally, but is currently neck and neck with Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Iowa and New Hampshire. 

* There has been only one recent poll in each of Nevada and South Carolina; the number shown is each candidate's support in that poll. 

A Full House for the First Time in 2019 as Murphy, Bishop Seated

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.

Rep. Paul Cook of California Will Not Seek Another Term in 2020

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.

First Post-Debate Poll Shows Little Movement in Race

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.

New York Times, CNN to Co-Host October Democratic Debate

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.