As expected, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has come out with a revised map for the state's 18 congressional districts.
Here's the current map (with incumbent party)
The 'instant punditry' on Twitter is that the new map is quite favorable for the Democrats, although we haven't seen any specific district-by-district analysis as of yet. Republicans will almost certainly challenge the ruling.
The full ruling, along with dissenting opinions can be found here.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is expected to decide today on new boundaries for the state's 18 congressional districts. The Court had previously indicated it would create the map today if the Republican-controlled Legislature and the Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf were unable to reach agreement on one.
Including individual maps drawn by the Legislature and Governor, seven proposals were submitted for consideration. The Court could choose one of those or create one of its own. It has retained a redistricting expert to assist in the process.
A few notes:
The March 13 special election for the vacant 18th district will take place using the current borders
The new districts will be effective for voting beginning with the primaries, scheduled for May 15
However, the borders will not change for representation purposes until the next Congress (January, 2019)
While Pennsylvania is roughly a 50/50 state, Democrats are heavily concentrated in Philadelphia and, to a lesser extent, Pittsburgh. Given other geographic and political factors involved (e.g., contiguous area, keeping counties/towns together wherever possible), it is likely that the new map will still favor Republicans in more districts than Democrats.
Assuming no further litigation, the new map will be effective for the 2018 and 2020 elections. After the 2020 Census, most states will engage in a redistricting process that will be effective with the 2022 elections.
North Dakota's at-large Rep. Kevin Cramer will announce Friday his entry into the U.S. Senate race. The 3-term Republican will give the party a top recruit in its effort to unseat Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.
Cramer initially had passed on running, but apparently has had a change of heart in recent days. The only other Republican in the race, state Sen. Tom Campbell, may shift over to run for Cramer's seat in the House.
A Facebook page 'Kevin Cramer for US Senate' posted that the announcement would come late Friday afternoon in Bismarck.
Cramer will become the 51st current House member to pass on re-election to that body in 2018. He'll be the 10th of those running for the U.S. Senate. We'll add him to the list of retirements when the announcement is official.
Kramer won his third term in 2016 by 45%, while Donald Trump won the state by 36%. This is Heitkamp's first term; she won election in 2012 by just under 1%.
Pennsylvania's Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has rejected the revised congressional map submitted late last week by the Republican-controlled Legislature. The two parties have until Thursday to agree on a new map or the Court will draw one of its own.
The proposed map was redrawn after an order by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last month that held the current congressional district borders were unconstitutional. An appeal of this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied.
While the revised map meet some of the Court's specifications regarding geographic compactness and political (e.g., county and/or city) boundaries, numerous analyses have found the submitted map to be roughly as partisan as the current map.
Proposed Map (from the Washington Post, based on presidential margin of victory in 2016):
The Court order specified that the new borders will be effective for the 2018 midterms, beginning with the state's primaries, scheduled for May 15th. However, the special election for the vacant 18th district, scheduled for March 13th, will take place under the existing boundaries.
Minnesota Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan announced he won't run for re-election in 2018. Nolan's 8th district, which covers the northeastern part of the state, including Duluth, was one of just 12 nationally that elected a Democrat to the House in 2016 while also voting for Donald Trump. Trump won by over 15%* here, while Nolan won re-election by less than 1%. While the race remains a toss-up, per Kyle Kondik at Sabato's Crystal Ball, it does represent one of the few attractive pickup opportunities for Republicans in this year's midterms.
Nolan is the 50th current member of the U.S. House to not stand for re-election. The list includes 34 Republicans and 16 Democrats. In addition to Nolan, Minnesota's Democratic 1st District Rep. Timothy Waltz is leaving; he is running for governor.
Five of Minnesota's eight districts are expected to be at least somewhat competitive in 2018. No states with more districts has this high a percentage of competitive races.
* Of the 12 districts, only the adjacent 7th district went more heavily for Trump that year. He won by 31% there. The long-time Democratic incumbent, Collin Peterson, won a 14th term by 5%.
Republican Trey Gowdy of South Carolina and Democrat Bob Brady of Pennsylvania announced Wednesday that they will retire at the end of the year. This brings to 49 the number of current members not seeking reelection. 34 of those are Republicans, while 15 are Democrats.
Gowdy, in his 4th term, chairs the House Oversight Committee, and is most well-known for chairing the Benghazi investigation. His 4th district includes much of Greenville and Spartanburg in the northwest corner of the state. Gowdy won reelection in 2016 by 36 points, while Donald Trump won here by 26 points over Hillary Clinton. The district is expected to remain in Republican hands.
Brady, in his 11th term, has been shadowed by an FBI investigation into a payment his campaign made to a primary opponent in 2012. Brady was not charged, but a political consultant for the congressman pleaded guilty to lying about the payment. He represents Pennsylvania's 1st district, which is one of the most Democratic in the country. Both Brady and Clinton won here by more than 60 points in 2016. The district primarily runs along the Delaware River from Northeast Philadelphia to Chester. It will likely be redrawn if a recent court ruling is upheld.
Brady is the 5th announced departure among the state's 17 current members. Pennsylvania's 18th district is vacant, and will be filled by a special election on March 13th. Gowdy is the first 2018 retirement from South Carolina's congressional delegation.
Gallup has published Donald Trump's approval rating in each of the 50 states. This is based on over 170,000 interviews conducted during 2017. Trump's national approval rating averaged 38% during 2017, with 56% disapproving. Breaking it down by state, the results ranged from 26% in Vermont to 61% in West Virginia. (Washington D.C. gave Trump an approval rating of 6%).
Gallup found that Trump had approval ratings above his 38% national average in 33 of the 50 states. This occurred because some of the states where he performs most poorly are very populous states like California. At a high level, this outcome sounds pretty similar to what we saw in the 2016 election, where Trump surpassed 270 electoral votes while losing the popular vote.
Texas appears to be the biggest surprise; Trump's approval here was just 39%. A couple caveats to keep in mind: the surveys were taken over the course of an entire year, so not really a snapshot in time. Also, the surveys were of adults; no consideration given to voter registration status. That last point might help explain the low number in Texas, as Latinos have historically voted at lower rates than whites.
The above in mind, it probably isn't totally fair to try and translate approval ratings into a 2020 electoral map. Of course, if one published a website around electoral maps, they might do it anyway. So here it is. The map is interactive, so if you don't agree with our categorizations (below the map), you can change them and create your own.
All states with Trump at 50% or higher shown as red.
All states, except Texas, with Trump below 40% shown as Democratic. As it turns out, this is all the states Clinton won in 2016 except for Maine, New Hampshire and Nevada.
Texas is shown as undecided/toss-up based on the above discussion.
All states in the 40-49% range are shown as undecided/toss-up unless Clinton or Trump won it by more than 10% in 2016. There are eight states won by Trump that fit in this category; they are shown as pink in the map.
District information is not provided for Maine or Nebraska, so the map ignores any split possibilities.
New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, announced Monday that he will not seek reelection. Politico notes that "[he] is the eighth Republican committee chairman to forgo reelection in the House ahead of a midterm cycle that’s building against the GOP. But Frelinghuysen, whose district grew increasingly competitive in 2016, only served one full year as appropriations chairman and was not term-limited in his position, unlike other retiring lawmakers."
While Frelinghuysen easily won a 12th term in 2016, Donald Trump only bested Hillary Clinton by 0.8% in the district, and the race was shaping up to be highly competitive this year even with the incumbent running. Three Democrats outraised Frelinghuysen in the 3Q of 2017.
Sabato's Crystal Ball has moved the race from 'Leans Republican' to 'Toss Up'. It is one of five New Jersey districts that are likely to be competitive in 2018. Four are held by Republicans.
Pennsylvania Rep. Patrick Meehan (PA-7) has announced his retirement from Congress at the end of this year. The four-term Republican has been under scrutiny in recent days after it became public that inappropriate behavior with an aide led to a settlement paid by Congress. Meehan was subsequently removed from his seat on the House Ethics Committee.
Meehan's path to reelection in November was further clouded this week as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the state's congressional district lines to be redrawn for the 2018 midterms. The Court found that the lines established by the General Assembly back in 2011 violated the state's constitution. If the decision survives appeal, Meehan's suburban Philadelphia district will likely be significantly altered. That district is among the most gerrymandered in the entire country.
Based on the retirement, Sabato's Crystal Ball has updated their rating from 'Leans Republican' to 'Toss-up'. It is likely that any acceptable redrawing of the district's borders will move the race in the Democrat's favor.
Meehan is the 46th current House member, and 32nd Republican, to forego reelection in 2018. See the full list of retirements, which now includes the 2016 margin of victory within the district for both the House and presidential races. In terms of those on the list, Pennsylvania's 7th district is one of six Republican-held districts that were won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. There were 23 such districts nationwide that year. Three of the retirements are in Democratic-held districts won by Donald Trump in 2016. There were only 12 such districts in 2016.