Election News

The Road to 270: Minnesota

August 10, 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.

Minnesota, with its dynamic politics and enterprising economy, is known for its high electoral engagement. Geographically, in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” -- a nickname that its license plates allude to -- a majority of the population can be found in the area around the Twin Cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. By contrast, Outstate Minnesota is sparsely populated and home to mid-sized cities and small towns. Once a state dominated by agriculture and mining, today Minnesota is a financial hub. Many of its residents claim Scandinavian and Eastern European heritage, giving it one of the most unique cultures in the country.

In a political context, the state’s distinct traditions are readily apparent. Unlike almost every other state in the nation, the Democratic Party does not technically exist in Minnesota. In the 1920s, members of the national left-wing populist movement called the Nonpartisan League stood for election under a new banner, the Farmer Labor Party. In 1944, they merged with the Democrats to form the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL), which endures to this day.

Congressional Politics

Over the last few cycles, Minnesota, with its eight congressional districts, emerged as a battleground for control of the U.S. House. 2018 saw half of the state's congressional districts change hands, with two suburban seats (Districts 2 and 3) flipping to the Democrats and two Outstate seats (Districts 1 and 8) flipping to Republicans.

In a great year for Democrats, why was there bipartisan turnover? Let’s take a closer look at the key districts.

The 1st District includes the southern tier of Minnesota, spanning the Iowa border. Resembling northern European farmland, this area was settled by Germans and Scandinavians after the Civil War. Small towns popped up along the railroads and along the banks of the Mississippi River -- that mighty river starts out as stream in Minnesota. Perhaps the most well-known city there is Rochester, home to the Mayo Clinic. Traditionally, Republican statewide candidates would fare well in southern Minnesota. A Midwesterner, Barack Obama carried this district twice, but Donald Trump’s message resonated with voters in this largely white working-class district. Clinton carried Rochester’s Olmstead County but Trump swept the district’s other 20 counties. MN-1’s congressman at the time, Democrat Tim Walz, held on, but by just 2,500 votes out of about 336,000 cast -- the closest reelection of his career. Despite his close call two years earlier, no race forecasters rated the 1st District as competitive in 2016.

For 2018, Walz gave up the seat to run, successfully, for governor, and his 2016 opponent, Republican Jim Hagedorn, narrowly flipped the district. This year, Hagedorn has a rematch with his 2018 Democratic opponent, Dan Feehan. Feehan is a veteran of the Army, and has an impressive profile, but the district may be too Republican-leaning.

Sitting atop the state is the Duluth-centric 8th District, which includes the Iron Range. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, its rich deposits of iron ore fostered a substantial mining industry that attracted European immigrants. From 1975 to 2011, this district was represented by Jim Oberstar, a pro-labor Democrat who prioritized work on transportation and infrastructure. In the Catholic tradition, Oberstar was against abortion -- so he was a great fit for an area that has a heavy presence of eastern European voters. In 2010, MN-8 was the site of one of the cycle’s biggest upsets: After a routine 68%-32% win in 2008, Oberstar lost by less than two percentage points to Republican Chip Cravaack.

For 2012, the district’s borders hardly changed, and Cravaack was a top Democratic target. Former Rep. Rick Nolan (D), who represented a neighboring seat in the Carter era, made a comeback, beating Cravaack by 9%. Nolan ran as a progressive populist and proved to be a resilient campaigner. Between 2014 and 2016, he won two close bouts against GOP businessman Stewart Mills -- in 2016, he held on while running considerably ahead of Clinton.

In 2018, Nolan announced his retirement and decided to run for lieutenant governor, on a ticket with then state Attorney General Lori Swanson. Ultimately, Swanson lost the primary and Democrats were unable to hold on to the 8th District. Retired hockey player and St. Louis County Commissioner Pete Stauber flipped the seat by almost six points, defeating former State Rep. and Nolan aide Joe Radinovich. In the gubernatorial race, this district flipped from blue to red, going against the national environment.

In the sprawling rural western half of the state lies the state's intriguing 7th District. Democrat Collin Peterson is in his 15th term, having first been elected in 1990. A conservative Democrat, Peterson is an anomaly in an increasingly urban caucus. The Almanac of American Politics described Peterson’s politics as an ‘irritant’ to state DFL activists but a ‘smash hit’ with voters in his district -- as the area has gotten redder, Peterson’s mavericky brand has paid off.  He now chairs the House Agriculture Committee, a major boon to this rural district.

The 7th District won't determine control of the House this year but is a notable contest nonetheless. There's no other member -- from either party -- representing a district that went so strongly for the opposite party's presidential nominee in 2016. MN-7 voted for Trump 62%-31% in 2016 and Peterson was reelected by five percentage points that year.

Republicans landed a star recruit in MN-7 this cycle with former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach. Peterson is considered the only Democrat who could feasibly hold this seat, and is hoping his status as Agriculture Chair can give him a lift back home. Most forecasters rate this race as a ‘Toss-up.’ Although the national environment favors Democrats -- like it did in 2018 -- Peterson will need to retain his crossover support. National Republicans often characterize Peterson as “cranky,” but his gruff demeanor seems to be part of his appeal. Peterson's enduring brand is rather remarkable. Although the President endorsed his opponent, Peterson won 52-48% in 2018. Although his margins continue to slip from cycle to cycle, Peterson still enjoys significant crossover appeal.

Minnesota is currently slated to lose a seat in the House after the next Census and the 7th District, which has seen slow population growth, is the most likely district to be eliminated. There are a lot of factors at play -- if Democrats take both chambers of the state legislature this year, they’d control the redistricting process -- but a likely scenario is that much of that district is combined with the 8th District. Should she win this year, Fischbach may find herself in a district with current National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Rep. Tom Emmer. As it is now, Fischbach’s home is just a few miles outside Emmer’s 6th District.

As rural Minnesota has trended rightward, Democrats increasingly find their success in the once-Republican suburbs -- both of the congressional districts that flipped from red to blue in 2018 are located there.

In the 2nd District, which includes suburban Dakota County and a handful of exurban counties, Angie Craig (D) defeated Rep. Jason Lewis (R). This was a rematch from 2016, when the congressional result closely mirrored the presidential margin. MN-2 is narrowly divided, as it went for Obama and Trump by about a point each.

Before his election to Congress, Jason Lewis (R) made a number of controversial remarks years earlier when he hosted a radio show. In the 2018 rematch, Craig won by five points. She outperformed Obama’s numbers in most of the suburban areas while falling behind in some of the rural towns. She broadly outran Clinton everywhere though, so she had an almost ‘best of both worlds’ performance. Republicans have touted their recruit, veteran Tyler Kistner, in his bid to take on Craig. Although his fundraising has been solid, his campaign released an internal poll showing him down 9%. Like Feehan in MN-1, Kistner is a good candidate, but the district fundamentals may lean too far in the other direction.

A similar story can be told in the 3rd District, in the western Minneapolis suburbs. Democratic businessman Dean Phillips swamped Rep. Erik Paulsen (R) in 2018 by double digits. Sabato’s Crystal Ball has rated the seat as ‘Safe Democratic’ since the beginning of the cycle. Republicans like their candidate but it’s too uphill a battle these days in these increasingly blue suburbs. In 2014, Sen. Al Franken (D) lost the district by a few votes, even as he was reelected 53%-43%. Four years later, Sen. Tina Smith (D) matched Franken’s overall showing, but carried MN-3 by 12% -- proof that the area is now a bread-and-butter part of Democrats’ coalition.

Minnesota’s senior Senator is Democrat Amy Klobuchar. Regularly ranking among the chamber’s most popular Senators, Klobuchar has won three landslide victories in a row. As she touted during her presidential bid, she carried all eight congressional districts each time she was on the senatorial ballot. Klobuchar’s bid for the presidency in 2020 was dogged by rumors of her alleged mistreatment of congressional staff. Although these stories had been circulating for years, voters back home still seem to view her as an effective senator. In the Senate, Klobuchar has generally been one of the more moderate Democratic senators.

When Klobuchar ran for president, her green campaign logo was reminiscent of the signs that the late Sen. Paul Wellstone used in his campaigns. Wellstone served two terms before tragically dying in a 2002 plane crash, and is something of a patron saint to Minnesota Democrats. A progressive who was respected for his honesty and grit, he was known for the maxim, “we all do better when we all do better.”

Following the resignation of Sen. Al Franken (D), then-Gov. Mark Dayton (D) appointed his lieutenant governor, Tina Smith, to the chamber. In the Senate, Smith has voted as an establishment liberal. Though she never ran as a candidate in her own right, Smith had no problems winning the 2018 special election to finish Franken’s term -- and it helped that she ran with Klobuchar, whose seat was up concurrently. Since Smith is something of a generic Democrat, here is how she did vs. Democratic candidates for Congress in 2018.

Smith held her own throughout the state and ran almost even with the House candidates in the suburbs. The decline in ticket splitting in the suburbs is evident. The two Democratic incumbents that sought reelection, Reps. Betty McCollum and Collin Peterson, outperformed her. That Peterson ran so far ahead of Smith shows that he won’t be a pushover this year. Smith is seeking a full term this year but the race is not expected to be competitive. Nonpartisan forecaster The Cook Political Report recently moved the race from ‘Likely Democratic’ to ‘Solid Democratic,’ though Sabato’s Crystal Ball still maintains a ‘Likely Democratic’ rating.

State level politics

In recent years, Minnesota has proven to be fool’s gold for Republicans -- particularly in statewide races. In 2010, former Sen. Mark Dayton (D) won the open gubernatorial race against longtime State Rep. and future congressman Tom Emmer (R). A former state Auditor, Dayton served one term in the Senate. Dayton declined to run for reelection in 2006, citing his dislike of fundraising. Though the GOP saw success at the state legislative level in 2010 and 2014, the governorship has proven elusive. In 2018, Dayton handed off the governor’s mansion to then-Rep. Tim Walz -- a transition that marked the first time Minnesota voters elected back-to-back DFL governors.

Minnesota’s most recent Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty, attempted to make a political comeback in 2018 but was defeated in the Republican primary by 2014 nominee Jeff Johnson. Pawlenty got some buzz in 2008 as a leading VP prospect, and briefly ran for president himself in 2011. Still, he was last on the gubernatorial ballot in 2006, and a great deal changed in those twelve years.

Minnesota’s friendliness towards third parties led to the election of former wrestler and Navy SEAL Jesse Ventura in 1998. Ventura ran under the Reform Party banner (the party founded by Ross Perot in 1992) and won a three-way race against two heavy-hitters: Republican Norm Coleman (who was later elected to the U.S. Senate) and DFL state Attorney General Skip Humphrey (the grandson of Vice President Hubert Humphrey). Ventura declined to run for a second term, but made one of the most interesting decisions of his tenure shortly before he left office. In November 2002, after the death of Sen. Wellstone, he appointed former Minnesota Reform Party Chair -- and his 1998 campaign manager -- Dean Barkley. In the Senate, Barkley declined to caucus with either party and served for just 60 days. More recently, Ventura weighed a Green Party presidential run in 2020.

The Minnesota legislature is likely to be heavily-contested this year. Democrats flipped the state House in 2018, picking up 18 seats in the chamber. The state Senate, which is only up in presidential years, is narrowly divided between the two parties and control is very much up for grabs. Democrats are seeking to gain a trifecta in the state and Republicans hold just a one seat majority in the upper chamber.

Presidential politics and 2020 outlook

Minnesota Polls >>

It is an oft-repeated statistic that Minnesota last voted Republican for president in 1972. While true, without the presence of native son Walter Mondale on the ballot in 1984, it would have almost certainly supported Reagan that year -- as it was, Mondale carried the state by just under 4,000 votes.

In between 1984 and 2000, Democratic nominees saw relatively easy victories there. Vice President Gore carried the state by a little over two points while Green Party nominee Ralph Nader took 5% of the vote. Minnesota was again contested in 2004. President Bush made seven visits to the Land of 10,000 Lakes but still came up 3.5% short. In a sense, Minnesota has become to Republicans what Florida is to Democrats: A state they’d very much like to win but always seem disadvantaged.

Barack Obama had little trouble carrying this state twice but Hillary Clinton came perilously close to losing it in 2016. Trump and Romney actually took the same 45% vote share, while Clinton’s share dropped 6% from Obama’s. Trump’s criticism of U.S. trade deals resonated across Outstate Minnesota -- he made double-digit gains over Romney’s margins in many counties. Clinton’s saving grace, though, was Trump’s toxicity in the populous Twin Cities, and their suburbs.

Given the close margin in 2016, at the beginning of this cycle it seemed like Minnesota was primed to a major battleground. However, as Trump’s approval ratings have slipped, so have his electoral prospects -- Minnesota seems out of reach for him now. In late May, George Floyd, a Black Minneapolis man, was killed by police, sparking national protests. While Republicans hope the local backlash will help Trump, recent polling suggests that Minnesota voters trust Biden more on race relations.


Next Week:  Nevada

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:

 

Hawaii Primary: Overview and Live Results

August 8, 2020

The vote by mail Hawaii primary is Saturday. Live results for the contested primaries in the state's two congressional districts will be available after 1:00 AM Eastern Time on Sunday.

There's not a lot of suspense here in terms of the general election. Both districts in this deep blue state were won by a margin of over 50% in 2018. They are both safely Democratic this November.

The one primary to watch is for the Democratic nomination in District 2. Incumbent Tulsi Gabbard did not pursue a 5th term in an unsuccessful effort to win the party's presidential nomination. 

Several candidates are vying to replace Gabbard. The frontrunner appears to be State Senator Kai Kahele, who announced his bid back in January, 2019, long before Gabbard decided not to run again. 

In District 1, freshman Democratic Rep. Ed Case is unopposed.

Updated Inside Elections House Ratings

August 7, 2020

Inside Elections updated their 2020 House outlook on Friday. The forecaster moved the ratings of 29 seats, 27 of them favoring Democrats.  From their analysis:

"Not only is the majority all-but-completely out of reach for this fall as initial GOP takeover targets are dropping completely off the list of competitive races, but dozens of Republican incumbents previously regarded as safe for re-election are vulnerable as Trump underperforms his 2016 totals by 8-10 points or more around the country. It’s certainly possible that a House candidate overperforms the top of the ticket. But it’s impossible to ignore the fact that presidential results and House results match up at least 90 percent of the time."

Here's the updated Inside Elections map. Click/tap for an interactive version. A tweet listing all the changes follows the map.

Note that on the graphic in the tweet below, the Old Rating for Michigan 8th should be Likely Democratic.

Who Will Succeed Lamar Alexander? Tennessee Primary Overview and Live Results

August 6, 2020

Tennessee is the only state in the country to have a Thursday downballot primary. That day of the week is specified in the state's original constitution and has never been modified.  

All polls close at 8:00 PM Eastern Time.  

All Tennessee Results >>

Senate: Republican Lamar Alexander is retiring.  In this deep red state, the primary winner will be an overwhelming favorite in November. As a result, the contest has drawn a large field of 15 hoping to succeed the three-term Senator. The two who have received the most attention are Bill Hagerty, a businessman and former Ambassador to Japan and orthopedic surgeon Manny Sethi.

President Trump has endorsed Hagerty, although both candidates have been trying to prove they are the most Trumpian. The last three polls of the race, including this one from JMC Analytics, have been within the margin of error, although Hagerty has had a small lead in each.

The Democratic frontrunner appears to be James Mackler, an attorney and Army veteran. 

House: The state's nine districts are split between seven Republicans and two Democrats. There's very little to see here in November: none of these seats were decided by less than 29% in 2018. Six-term incumbent Phil Roe (R) is retiring in District 1. Roe won his last term by 56 points, so the primary winner will almost certainly be the district's next representative. A large field is vying to succeed him.

All other incumbents are seeking another term.  A few of them have drawn primary challenges, but none appear to be in jeopardy. You can see all the results here.

Primary Recap: Marshall Wins GOP Senate Nomination in Kansas; Two House Members Ousted

August 5, 2020

Five states held their primaries on Tuesday. Click or tap to view full live results by state:

Arizona Kansas Michigan Missouri Washington

 

Kansas Republicans solidify general election prospects:  Rep. Roger Marshall defeated former Secretary of State Kris Kobach to win the GOP Senate nomination, while in District 2, state Treasurer Jake LaTurner ousted incumbent Rep. Steve Watkins. In both cases, voters chose the candidate favored by party leaders and who likely had the best general election prospects. 

Kansas hasn't elected a Democratic Senator since 1932. While the race isn't completely off the competitive radar - Democratic nominee State Sen. Barbara Bollier is a credible nominee - the controversial Kobach would have been a tougher sell to the full electorate. The same could be said of Watkins, who was recently charged with multiple felonies. Cook Political moved this Topeka-area district from Leans to Likely Republican.

Dynastic Congressman ousted in Missouri:  The Clay family has held Missouri's first congressional district since 1969. That will end this year, as Rep. Lacy Clay was defeated by progressive challenger Cori Bush. This is a safely Democratic seat, so Bush will almost certainly be the next representative of this St. Louis district.

With Tuesday's results, seven U.S. House incumbents have been defeated in party primaries this year. That is the most in a non-redistricting cycle since 1974.  Our Retirement Map shows these, as well as candidates who voluntarily chose not to run for reelection this year.

Arizona:  As expected, Sen. Martha McSally easily won the GOP nomination. She starts as the underdog in a general election battle against Democrat Mark Kelly.

Kansas:  Former Lt. Gov. Tracey Mann won the District 1 GOP nomination. This is the seat being vacated by Marshall, now the Senate nominee. This is a safe Republican seat, making Mann the heavy favorite in November.

Michigan:  In District 3, grocery scion Peter Meijer won the GOP nomination for the seat being vacated by former Republican Justin Amash. In District 6, political newcomer Jen Richardson is leading State Rep. Jon Hoadley in the Democratic primary to take on Rep. Fred Upton. This would be an upset. Lisa McClain won the GOP nomination in the open District 10. This is safe Republican territory. In District 13, 'Squad' member Rep. Rashida Tlaib has a substantial lead over Brenda Jones. The race hasn't been called as of this writing due to a large number of uncounted absentee ballots.

Missouri: As expected, GOP Gov. Mike Parson and Democratic State Auditor Nicole Galloway easily won their respective nominations. Parson starts as the favorite in the general election.

Washington: Gov. Jay Inslee was renominated for a third term. He is a prohibitive favorite in November against Republican Loren Culp, who finished second in the top two primary. The primary in District 10 remains uncalled as of this morning. A large field is vying to replace Democratic Rep. Denny Heck.  It looks like both of the top two finishers will be Democrats. Heck is running for Lt. Governor, and appears to have secured a spot in the general election.

 

Five States Hold Primaries; All Eyes on GOP Senate Contest in Kansas

August 4, 2020

After a two week break, the primary calendar picks up again Tuesday.  Five states hold congressional primaries; two of those also will finalize their nominees for governor. All eyes will be on the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Kansas. (View Live Results) The choice party voters make may well impact how competitive the November general election is - and, in turn, may be the deciding factor in which party controls the Senate in 2021.

There are a number of other races of interest.  See below for more information on those, as well as links to all the results for each state.

Looking ahead, Tennessee follows with primaries on Thursday. As in Kansas, Republican voters there will also choose a nominee to replace a retiring Senator. That winner will be heavily favored in November. On Saturday, there are a few congressional primaries in Hawaii. Next Tuesday, four states are on the calendar, including the final presidential primary in Connecticut.   


Polls Close (Eastern Time)

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

8:00 PM Kansas (CT), Michigan (ET), Missouri
9:00 PM Michigan (CT), Kansas (MT)
10:00 PM Arizona*
11:00 PM Washington

Most of Kansas and Michigan are in the time zones with 8:00 PM Eastern Time poll closings. The Washington primary is conducted by mail; the time shown is the drop box deadline.

* Polls close at 7:00 PM local time. The state doesn't participate in Daylight Saving Time, although the Navajo Nation does on tribal lands. 


Results by State

Arizona Kansas Michigan Missouri Washington

 

Arizona

Senate: The real action in this race will be in the general election. Incumbent Republican Martha McSally faces a nominal primary challenge. She will meet retired astronaut, Democrat Mark Kelly in November. Kelly is ahead by 11 points in the 270toWin polling average, with several forecasters now rating this 'Leans Democratic'.  

The November election is a special election to complete the final two years of the term of the late John McCain. After McCain's death in 2018, Gov. Doug Ducey appointed John Kyl to fill the seat. Kyl resigned at the end of the year, at which time Ducey elevated McSally to the role.  McSally had just been defeated by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the state's regular 2018 Senate election. 

House: There are five Democrats, four Republicans in the delegation; all are seeking another term. A few incumbents are facing primary challenges, but none appear to be in jeopardy. 

The most competitive general election race is expected to be in the Phoenix area District 6, where Republican David Schweikert is seeking a 6th term. Four Democrats are seeking to challenge the incumbent, including 2018 nominee Anita Malik, who lost by about 10% that year.

All Arizona Results >>

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Kansas

Senate: Tuesday's 'main event' will be the Republican nomination for this seat. Four-term incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts is retiring. A number of candidates are seeking to fill the seat; the frontrunners look to be Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Rep. Roger Marshall (KS-1).

Per Politico: "GOP voters will decide between hard-line conservative Kris Kobach and Rep. Roger Marshall as their nominee for an open Senate seat. Democrats haven’t won a Senate race in Kansas in nearly a century.1 1The last Democratic Senator here was elected in 1932. This is the longest such active single-party streak in the country. But both parties think Kobach as the nominee would put the race squarely on the map, stretching Republican resources thinner as they’re already spending to protect a half-dozen vulnerable incumbents.

The Democratic nominee is expected to be State Sen. Barbara Bollier. 

House: There are three Republicans and one Democrat in the four-person delegation. Most of the attention Tuesday will be on the Republican primary in District 2.

District 1: Roger Marshall is foregoing reelection to seek the U.S. Senate nomination. This is a deep red district; the winner of Tuesday's primary will be a prohibitive favorite in November. 

District 2: Freshman Republican Steve Watkins faces a serious primary challenge from state Treasurer Jake LaTurner.  Watkins has faced a number of controversies dating back to the 2018 campaign and was recently indicted on multiple felonies. LaTurner was recruited by Republican officials, and has received the endorsement of many others, including Rep. Ron Estes (KS-4).

The Democratic nominee is expected to be Topeka mayor Michelle De La Isla. As in the Senate race, the choice GOP primary voters make will impact how forecasters see the general election.  Kyle Kondik at Sabato's Crystal Ball tells us that a Watkins win here will lead to a downgrade of Republican chances in November.

District 3: Several Republicans are competing for the chance to deny Democrat Sharice Davids a 2nd term in this Kansas City-area district. Davids defeated incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder by nine points to flip the seat in 2018. At this point, most forecasters see the general election as Leans Democratic.

All Kansas Results >>

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Michigan

House: The delegation is comprised of seven Democrats, six Republicans and one Libertarian. 

District 3: Justin Amash (MI-3) was elected to a 5th term as a Republican in 2018; he left the party, becoming an independent in 2019, before joining the Libertarian Party earlier this year. He is not seeking reelection. Five are vying for the Republican nomination. The two frontrunners are grocery chain scion Peter Meijer and state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis. The Democratic nominee will be attorney Hillary Scholten. This Grand Rapids district leans Republican, but is on the competitive radar in November.

District 8: Four Republicans are looking to challenge freshman Democrat Elissa Slotkin, who flipped this Lansing-area district by four points in 2018. Donald Trump won the district by 7% in 2016. Forecasters see the general election as Leans Democratic, but it should be competitive.

District 10: Incumbent Paul Mitchell is retiring. This district is in "The Thumb" region, stretching from north of Detroit to Lake Huron. It is a very conservative district; Mitchell won by 25% in 2018, while Trump had a 32% margin two years earlier. The winner of the nomination will almost certainly be the next member of Congress from here.

District 13: Freshman Rashida Tlaib is being challenged once again by Detroit City Council president Brenda Jones. In 2018, Jones beat Tlaib in the Democratic primary for a special election to replace John Conyers, Jr., who had resigned late in 2017. On the same day, Tlaib won the primary for the regular two-year term.  In this safely Democratic district, both easily won on Election Day, with Jones serving in the lame duck session, and Tlaib seated with the new Congress in January, 2019.  

Tlaib is part of 'The Squad' of four progressive female House freshmen, along with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Oman (MN-5) and Ayanna Pressley (MA-7). She enjoys a large fundraising advantage over Jones heading into the primary.

All Michigan Results >>

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Missouri

Governor: Incumbent Republican Mike Parson and Democrat Nicole Galloway, who is the State Auditor, are expected to advance to the general election. As Lt. Gov., Parson assumed office in 2018 when Gov. Eric Greitens resigned.  Parson remains favored to win a full term in November, but his polling margin has narrowed. Forecasters generally have the election rated as Leans or Likely Republican.

House: All eight incumbents - six Republicans and two Democrats - are running for reelection. Aside from the suburban St. Louis District 2, there's not a lot to watch here in November. The seven other incumbents each won their 2018 election by 25% or more.  The District 2 primaries are uncontested; incumbent Ann Wagner (R) will seek a 5th term against State Sen. Jill Schupp (D). That contest is rated Leans Republican.

However, there is one primary of note. In District 1, ten-term incumbent Democrat Lacy Clay is being challenged from the left by Cori Bush, a civil rights activist. Clay defeated Bush by 20 points in the 2018 primary, but Bush is back with a more aggressive campaign and the backing of progressive group Justice Democrats. The spending of that group helped Jamaal Bowman oust 16-term incumbent Eliot Engel in the June primary for New York's 16th congressional district.

All Missouri Results >>

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Washington

In Washington, all candidates appear on a single ballot. The top two advance to the general election, even if from the same party.

Governor: Incumbent Democrat Jay Inslee is seeking a third term. He shares a primary ballot with over 30 others who would like his job.  Inslee is expected to be renominated and prevail in November, extending the nation's longest active streak of consecutive Democratic governorship. The last Republican governor here, John Spellman, was defeated by Democrat Booth Gardner in 1984.

House: There are seven Democrats and three Republicans in the ten-person delegation. All but Democratic Denny Heck (WA-10) are seeking reelection2 2Heck said he wanted to spend more time with his family. However, he subsequently entered the race for Lt. Governor, when the incumbent decided not to seek reelection.

District 3: Forecasters see this southwestern Washington district as the state's most competitive in November. Republican Jaime Herrera Beutler won a 5th term in 2018 by about 5% over Democrat Carolyn Long, a professor. Long is looking for a rematch.

 

District 10:  A large field - nearly 20 - is looking to replace the retiring Denny Heck in this district that includes the capital, Olympia. The district came into existence in 2012, as the state gained a House seat after the 2010 census.  Now in his 4th term, Heck is the only representative in the district's short history.  He won by 23% in 2018 and the district is expected to stay in Democratic hands.

The leading candidates, based on fundraising, are all Democrats: State Rep. Beth Doglio, former State Rep. Kristine Reeves and former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. Doglio has been endorsed by leading progressives, including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-7). The top two Republicans appear to be Jackson Maynard and Nancy Slotnick, although there is some possibility that the GOP is shut out of the general election here.    

 

All Washington Results >>

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The Road to 270: Maine

August 3, 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.

Known for its fierce independence, vibrant fishing industry, and its proximity to French Canada, Maine has developed unique politics distinct from that of lower New England. With its rural nature, Maine voters expect to see their politicians and retail politics is essential in this state. Despite its small size, Maine enjoys outsized clout in federal politics thanks to Mainers often rewarding their politicians for longevity of service.

Congressional Politics

Maine voters will experience something unusual this year: a competitive U.S. Senate race. Longtime Senator Susan Collins (R) is facing the race of her life from Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon (D). First elected in 1996, Collins has cultivated a moderate image during her career in the Senate. In recent years when Republicans have had a slim Senate majority, Collins has played a crucial role in the chamber. In 2017, when the GOP-controlled House passed a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, much attention was placed on the few Senate Republicans who could plausibly sink it when the bill came up in the upper chamber. Collins, along with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and the late John McCain (R-AZ), sided with all 48 Democrats and voted down the repeal effort. This did wonders for Collins' popularity among Democrats, but that wouldn’t last.

The following summer, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he was retiring. One by one, senators announced their support or opposition for the President's nominee -- Judge Brett Kavanaugh. For Collins, the Kavanaugh nomination was contentious for several reasons. As a Supreme Court Justice, Anthony Kennedy was the lone Republican-appointed Justice who would uphold the right to have an abortion. With Kennedy’s retirement, the Court would inevitably shift to the right and, therefore, Roe v. Wade would have a much greater chance at being overturned. By late summer came allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh, which increased the liberal pressure on Collins. After a lengthy speech on the Senate floor, Collins announced she would vote to confirm Kavanaugh. This immediately drew the ire among liberal groups and the search quickly began for a Democratic challenger.

In an increasingly polarized era, Collins is very much a throwback to a different time. In 2008, she won a third term by turning back a serious challenger in then-Rep. Tom Allen (D, ME-1). As Obama carried Maine by 17%, Collins was reelected by 23% -- so voters were clearly making a distinction. In 2014, national Democrats were largely on the defensive, so they didn’t target her; and she won with almost 70%. Gideon’s fundraising has far outpaced what Collins’ previous challengers have raised, and in the last fundraising quarter, she outraised Collins by $5 million. Major race prognosticators see  this race as a ‘Tossup’ and Collins is in for the toughest reelection fight of her career.

Maine’s two Congressional Districts represent the two 'halves' of the state well. In southern Maine is the state’s 1st Congressional District, which is represented by Democrat Chellie Pingree. A former State Senator, Pingree actually ran against Collins in 2002; she lost by 16% but rebounded by getting elected to the House in 2008, to replace Allen. The 1st District is reliably Democratic and encompasses the southern coastal part of the state, including the Portland area. Per the Census, this district is narrowly divided between urban and rural population, which makes it one of the most rural congressional districts held by a Democrat. It is widely assumed that when Pingree retires, she will be succeeded by her daughter Hannah, who served as Speaker of the Maine House from 2008-2010.

The remainder of the state is covered by the  2nd Congressional District. The district covers nearly nine times more land area than the 1st, and is the largest in the Eastern Time Zone. This rural and overwhelmingly white district shifted strongly from Obama to Trump in 2016, so it is not necessarily a place you would expect Democrats to still find success. Still, Marine veteran and former Collins staffer Jared Golden (D) defeated Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) in 2018. It was the first congressional election ever decided by ranked choice voting. Poliquin’s loss was also the first time a sitting Representative from Maine had been defeated for reelection in 100 years.

Although Golden should be a top Republican target this year, the Republican nominee, former State Rep. Dale Crafts, has fundraised poorly -- he reported just $32,000 on hand at the end of the second quarter. In contrast, Golden reported $2.2 million on hand. A recent Colby College poll of Maine had Golden 45-33% over Crafts. Though analysts such as the Crystal Ball and the Cook Political Report rate this race as a ‘Tossup’ at the moment, do not be surprised if the race gets shifted to Golden’s favor as election day draws closer.

The Pine Tree State’s senior Senator is the independent Angus King. King served two terms as Governor, from 1995-2003. King began his political career as a Democrat, working as a legislative assistant for Sen. Bill Hathaway (D). When he ran for Governor in 1994, King decided to abandon the party label and run as an independent. The two party candidates were former Governor Joe Brennan (D) and Regional Coordinator for the Small Business Administration Susan Collins (R), who he’d later join in the Senate. King won the election with 35% of the vote and four years later took a commanding majority with 59% of the vote.

When longtime Senator Olympia Snowe (R) announced her retirement in 2012, speculation immediately fell on the two House Democrats from the state but King was also seen as a strong candidate. Ultimately no major Democrats ran and King waltzed to the Senate with 53% of the vote, 22% ahead of his nearest opponent. In the Senate, King has drifted a bit leftward from his time as governor but remains one of the chamber’s most moderate Senators. He has boasted high approval ratings, winning reelection with 54% of the vote in 2018. During the 2018 campaign, King said it would likely be his last race.

The 2018 Senate race is interesting to look at because it is a rare major contest with a serious third-party candidate. King clearly benefits from not having the party label. Unlike Bernie Sanders in close-by Vermont, King doesn’t run in the Democratic primary (Sanders does, but declines the nomination). In both of King’s senatorial elections, there were Democratic candidates on the ballot. Looking at King’s performance vs the two most presidential elections in Maine, King outran both Obama and Clinton but to varying degrees. King’s rural support was much better than Clinton’s, and in some places was stronger than what Obama received, but it also shows there was a lot of slippage in six years. Despite a stronger statewide margin, King only marginally improved upon Obama in some rural areas.

State level politics

Maine, along with Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Tennessee elects no statewide executive offices besides governor. Much like Alaska, Maine is incredibly friendly to third parties. 2018 was the first gubernatorial election since 1998 in which a winning candidate claimed a majority of the vote.

Despite its reputation for electing moderate Republicans to the Senate, recent Republican candidates for governor have been increasingly conservative (reflecting the shift across the GOP as a whole). Elected amidst the Republican wave of 2010 was the bombastic Paul LePage (R), who fashioned himself as a Tea Party-style conservative. Though he was term-limited in 2018, LePage is reportedly eyeing a comeback.

Speaking of term limits, the Maine State Legislature is an oddity among New England states: it’s the only legislature in the region that has them. The Maine Legislature restricts members to serving no more than eight years consecutively between the chambers, but members are eligible to serve again after a two year period. In the lower chamber, the House specifically allocates three non-voting representatives to the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Penobscot Nation, and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians. Following a dispute with the state in 2015, the Passamaquoddy Tribe and Penobscot Nation have withdrawn their representatives. The Houlton Band continues to seat their one member, though. Interestingly enough, Maine has a very low Native American population.

Democrats control both chambers of the Maine Legislature and are expected to hold those majorities -- but there are some rural Democrats at risk of losing their seats this year. Democrats have continued to thrive at the local level in rural Maine but some electoral trends may be catching up to them. Senate President Troy Jackson, a logger by trade, represents a rural seat in far-northern Aroostook County, and has proven quite popular. Needless to say, if Republicans hope to make any gains in the legislature, their path to victory runs through seats like Jackson’s.

Like Connecticut, Maine requires a 2/3 supermajority in both chambers to pass redistricting plans. Democrats currently fall short of that in both chambers, but they’ll be hoping to cement control of state government this year to shore up Rep. Jared Golden in ME-2, should he win reelection. That said, it’s possible the state’s two districts may not change much, though given the shifts in population, ME-2 will likely need to pick up residents, while ME-1 should contract, geographically. 

In 2016, Mainers approved the use of ranked choice voting (also known as instant runoff voting). Ranked choice allows voters to rank the candidates in order of preference. If no candidate reaches a majority, then the one who finished last is eliminated and their votes are redistributed. After legal challenges in 2017, another referendum was held in 2018 and RCV was approved for use that year. With Maine's habit of deciding elections by plurality, this ensures no one will again be elected without a majority of the vote.

Presidential politics and 2020 outlook

Like most of New England, Maine was reliably Republican at the presidential level for many years -- along with Vermont, it was one of two states that never supported Franklin Roosevelt. Before Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory, the Pine Tree state voted Democratic for President just three times (1912, 1964, and 1968) in the twentieth century. Maine has stayed in the blue column since, though there have been some close calls. With third parties taking 7% of the vote there in 2000, Al Gore ended up with a 49%-44% margin. Obama’s two big wins obscured how competitive the state is. Hillary Clinton only won the state by three points in 2016, with a huge collapse among the state’s many rural working class voters. Perhaps fitting a liberal stereotype, all the counties Clinton carried touched the coast. The shift from the 2000 to 2016 elections in Maine was an identical reflection of the 2016 county map. Every county that swung towards Clinton voted her and every county that swung towards Trump voted for him.

At the presidential level, Maine and Nebraska, are unique in that they allocate their electoral votes by Congressional District. 2016 was actually the first time since Maine adopted the method, for 1972, that a split occurred. Since Clinton won the statewide vote, thanks to her margin in ME-1, she received three of its four electoral votes, but Trump, who carried ME-2, nabbed its electoral vote. ME-1 almost always casts more raw votes than ME-2, which benefits Democrats at the state level.

The state’s demographics don’t particularly benefit Democrats anymore -- it’s older and whiter than the national average. It’s considerably more rural as well. Still, with the president’s approval rating sitting about 40%, Maine looks out of reach. The 2nd Congressional District is where all the action will be. Although it went for Trump by over 10 points in 2016, polling indicates Biden has a chance to flip it back. To put it simply, if Trump is struggling in places like ME-2 than he’s in a bad spot for reelection. Non-college educated whites swung sharply towards him in 2016 and if he can’t hold on to these voters, his path to reelection disappears. Sabato’s Crystal Ball rates Biden as a favorite to carry three of Maine’s electoral votes but rates ME-2 as Leans Republican for Trump. Other outlets, like The Cook Political Report, recently moved their electoral college rating for ME-2 from ‘Leans Republican’ to ‘Tossup.’ Supporting that shift, the aforementioned Colby College poll showed Biden with a 45%-42% lead in the district.


Next Week:  Minnesota

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:

 

Simulator Enhancements: Bellwether and Tipping Point Frequencies Added

August 1, 2020

We've added bellwether and tipping point frequencies to the 2020 presidential election simulator.  This information has also been added to the simulator daily trends page, where we show the results by state for the most recent day's run of 25,000 simulations (scroll toward bottom of the page).

Bellwether:  Percentage of simulations where the nominee winning a state also wins the election.

Tipping Point: This is the state that gives the election winner 270 electoral votes, when ordering the states won from largest to smallest margin of victory.

The top 5 states in each category for July 31 are below. 

 

The Road to 270: Colorado

July 27, 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.

Admitted to the Union in 1876, Colorado’s vast deposits of natural resources attracted a diverse settlement from all corners of the country. Today, Colorado retains that industry-based economy, while the booming Denver metro area is home to the largest city in the Interior West.

Politically, its partisan registration numbers suggest a state that’s split cleanly three ways: 40% of its active voters are unaffiliated, while Democrats and Republicans split the balance about evenly. Though this large independent swath produced some volatile elections earlier this century, Colorado is looking more loyally blue today.

Congressional Politics

At the House level, Colorado has been fairly boring in recent years. During the Obama era, former Rep. Mike Coffman (R) was a perpetual Democratic target -- in his suburban Denver-area 6th District, he survived a string of three competitive races from 2012 to 2016. But Coffman’s luck ran out in the Trump era, at least at the congressional level (he’s now mayor of Aurora). In 2018, Jason Crow (D) defeated Coffman by 11%, becoming the first Democrat to represent CO-6 since its creation (Colorado was awarded a sixth seat in Congress after the 1980 census). There's no reason to think this Obama/Clinton district will revert to red.

If Coffman’s suburban CO-6 eluded Democrats earlier this decade, CO-3 -- which encompasses the Western Slope, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains -- has eluded them into the Trump era. But in June, the congressional scene in that district took an unexpected twist. Rep. Scott Tipton (R), a generic backbencher, lost renomination to conservative firebrand Lauren Boebert. Tipton had the endorsement of President Trump but did not take his primary seriously -- he didn't even air any television ads. Seemingly asleep at the wheel, Tipton was ripe for a primary defeat. Boebert’s anti-establishment profile simply resonated with GOP primary voters. A gun-toting restaurant owner, Boebert is a lightning rod for controversy, especially considering that she expressed some support for the far-right ‘QAnon’ conspiracy theory. Democrats have long eyed 3rd District after losing it in 2010. It's a fascinating mixture of working class Hispanic voters in places like Pueblo County, conservative rural whites, and ultra-liberal ski towns.

On primary night, Boebert’s win prompted Sabato’s Crystal Ball to move its rating for the race from ‘Likely Republican’ to the more competitive ‘Leans Republican.’ Democrats nominated former State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, who held Tipton to an eight point win in 2018. Over the past decades, the 3rd District has been open to supporting moderate Democrats. From 1987 to 1993, it had Ben Nighthorse Campbell -- a judo champion, he was a member of the North Cheyenne tribe, and was known for wearing scarves, instead of ties, on the House floor. Independent-minded, he would criticize the Denver liberals in his party. Campbell was elected to the Senate in 1992 as a Democrat but joined the GOP in 1995, though his overall record remained relatively centrist. From 2005 to 2011, Democrat John Salazar, who was a supporter of gun rights, held the seat.

The 3rd District has proven elusive for Democrats, even when they're winning the state by a decent margin. The high point for a recent statewide Democrat was 2008 when Barack Obama received 48% of the vote in this district. Getting those last extra few points has proven difficult for Democrats and Diane Mitsch Busch has her work cut out for her, open seat or not.

Up the ticket, Colorado has a Senate race, featuring its junior Senator, Cory Gardner. Originally from the state’s High Plains, along the Kansas border, he was elected to Congress in 2010 to represent the 4th District. Gardner earned a promotion to the Senate in 2014, when he defeated Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, a former Congressman himself. Udall ran a campaign that, at times, seemed entirely focused on abortion rights -- with the pervading anti-Obama tone of the year, that just wasn’t enough. Gardner, by contrast, ran an upbeat campaign and simply outpaced Udall as a retail politician.

Colorado has steadily trended leftward since Gardner took office and, as Mike Coffman can attest, suburban voters there seem less willing to make distinctions between politicians of the same party these days. In the Senate, Gardner has had a largely conservative record and has tied himself closely to the President. The problem for Gardner is Joe Biden is very likely to carry the state -- perhaps by double-digits, if his current national lead endures -- and there aren’t many split ticket voters left in Colorado these days. For example, in 2016, Colorado reelected its other senator, Michael Bennet (D), by 5.6% -- two years later, now-Gov. Jared Polis (D) nearly doubled Bennet’s margin but carried the exact same number of State House districts.

The Democratic nominee is former Gov. John Hickenlooper. He initially mounted a quixotic 2020 bid for President, but dropped out. Several Democrats were eyeing the Senate contest earlier this cycle, but when Hickenlooper pivoted to the race, he largely cleared the field. Some Republicans maintain that Hickenlooper has come to see the Senate seat as a consolation prize -- in fact, that was the theme of a Gardner ad. But there’s no guarantee voters will agree with that reasoning. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio initially sought the GOP nomination for President in 2016 -- after he dropped out, he repeatedly denied that he was considering running for reelection the Senate, but reversed course anyway. That didn’t hurt him with voters, and he was reelected easily.

Gardner is in for the race of his life and it’s not clear there’s any way for him to turn things around, given how college educated whites are shifting -- and Hickenlooper perhaps not a great candidate, but a still sufficient one. Unless Trump can pull up his numbers nationally and in Colorado, Gardner is in trouble. Currently, forecasters like Sabato’s Crystal Ball and Inside Elections have Democrats as modest favorites to flip the seat but it seems possible those ratings will get pushed further towards Democrats by election day.

Colorado’s senior Senator is Michael Bennet. A former Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, Bennet was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2009 by then-Gov. Bill Ritter. Senator Ken Salazar (D) resigned to join the cabinet of President Obama as his first Secretary of the Interior. Bennet narrowly won a full term in 2010 against Tea Party Republican Ken Buck. Then District Attorney for Weld County, Buck was considered a poor candidate given the national environment that was extremely favorable to Republicans -- Buck now represents CO-4 in Congress and chairs the state party. At the time, Colorado was still distinctly a purple state, so Bennet was a top target for the GOP.

Bennet’s 2016 reelection showed that Colorado voters were beginning to split their tickets less often. Despite sporting clear leads in public polls, Bennet only narrowly outpaced Clinton statewide, though with a somewhat different coalition. While Hillary Clinton dominated in the Denver metro area, Bennet was much stronger in outstate Colorado. Bennet was reelected by about 6% vs Clinton’s 5% win statewide. Though that 6% margin for Bennet seemed underwhelming, it’s not a great sign for Gardner, either: Colorado has only gotten bluer since then though and Gardner’s fate is hitched to Trump’s.

In the Senate, Bennet has cast himself as one of the more moderate Democrats, occasionally raising the ire of progressive groups over his many votes for President Trump’s judicial nominees. Along with Hickenlooper, Bennet also ran for President in 2020, though with little success. Bennet struggled to rise above a crowded field of candidates and rarely registered in polls, though he did get the endorsement of Democratic strategist James Carville, who engineered Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign.

As Colorado is increasingly moving off the competitive list for Republicans, Bennet’s real threat in 2022 may come from a primary challenge to his left. As electability may become a less pressing concern in primaries for Democratic partisans, Bennet’s moderation may cost him some support among base voters. Given his background as Denver’s Superintendent, Bennet has received some speculation as a potential Education Secretary under a President Biden but the former VP has pledged to choose a public school teacher, should he be elected. If Hickenlooper is elected to the Senate, Colorado will have an unusual Senate delegation, in that its senior Senator would have once served as his junior colleague’s subordinate. Before he was elected Governor, Hickenlooper served as Mayor of Denver and for the first two years of his term, Bennet served as Chief of Staff.

State politics

In 2018, Colorado really made the transition from purple to blue. Democrats picked up three statewide offices and cemented their control of the legislature. Perhaps the biggest indicator of the state’s changing partisanship was that Secretary of State Wayne Williams (R) lost reelection, and by 8 percentage points. A noncontroversial moderate Republican with bipartisan appeal, Williams’s loss to former Obama admin official Jenna Griswold (D) was a shock. Looking to the 2020 cycle, Griswold briefly formed an exploratory committee to run for the U.S. Senate against Gardner but ended her exploratory phase soon before Hickenlooper got in the race. Still in her mid-30s, Griswold seems likely to have a bright future in state politics. Colorado has never sent a woman to the U.S. Senate and, given her documented interest in the Senate, one can’t rule out the possibility that she runs sometime in the future.

In the 2018 gubernatorial race, then-Rep. Jared Polis (D) defeated State Treasurer Walker Stapleton (R) by 11%, easily holding the governorship for Democrats. In the House, Polis was known as a libertarian Democrat -- notably, he was the only Democratic member of the House Liberty Caucus. Polis’ election came with some milestones: he’s the first openly gay governor (of any state) and is also Colorado’s first Jewish chief executive.

Succeeding Polis in the House was Democrat Joe Neguse -- their district, CO-2, includes Boulder, plus some Denver suburbs. In 2008, Polis himself succeeded then-Rep. Mark Udall, who successfully ran for the U.S. Senate that year. As both Udall and Polis used the 2nd District as a statewide launching pad, it seems that Neguse may have similar potential down the line. Until then, as a 36 year-old Black congressman from a white-majority district, Neguse has an uncommon perspective in the House.

Given how Denver-centric Colorado politics is, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock seems likely to have a future in state politics, whether it be a bid for Congress or Governor down the line.

In 2018, Colorado voters approved an independent redistricting commission to redraw Congressional and legislative districts after the next Census. With the state projected to gain another seat, it will be worth watching where that seat falls exactly.

Presidential politics

Colorado's emergence as a swing state really started with the 2004 cycle. Aside from Bill Clinton's narrow win in the state in 1992, Colorado largely voted Republican throughout the 20th Century. Both campaigns made numerous appearances throughout the state -- it received special attention from Kerry’s campaign because it was the state of his birth. Despite the national swing towards Bush, Kerry lost the state by about 4%, a big improvement over Gore's nine point loss four years earlier -- to be fair, Gore’s showing was undoubtedly hampered by Ralph Nader’s 5% share there in 2000. Colorado split its ticket that year though, electing Democratic state Attorney General Ken Salazar to the Senate.

In 2008, Barack Obama carried the state by a comfortable 54%-45%, and it has stayed in the blue column since. In their post-election book How Obama Won, Chuck Todd and Sheldon Gawiser pointed out an ominous sign for the Colorado GOP: while Bush carried white college graduates there by almost 30% in 2004, Obama won that group 56%-42%. Obama’s coattails boosted down-ballot Democrats: they netted a House seat, by handily defeating the controversial Rep. Marilyn Musgrave in the 4th District, and flipped an open Senate seat, with Udall.

In 2012, Obama held the Centennial State -- though he took its nine electoral votes by a reduced margin that year, he actually flipped a county that McCain carried, Chaffee. For 2016, Hillary Clinton won the state 48%-43%. Clinton saw considerable slippage in the rural and more working class parts of the state while making some gains in the suburbs. Given the electorate’s relatively high educational attainment, Joe Biden seems likely to improve upon Clinton’s margin by quite a bit. All the statewide Democrats in 2018 outpaced Clinton’s five point win, suggesting there’s room for Biden to grow. With Trump struggling to lock down states that he carried in 2016 -- such as Michigan and Arizona -- it seems unlikely he can afford to prioritize flipping Clinton states.


Next Week:  Maine

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:

 

Cook Political Moves Florida to Leans Democratic in Latest Electoral Map Outlook

July 24, 2020

The Cook Political Report has updated its electoral college outlook, making for changes. The most significant of these has Florida moving from Toss-up to Leans Democratic. 

Read Amy Walter's analysis of Florida >>

In addition, Indiana, Kansas and Missouri were reclassified from Safe to Likely Republican. 

The updated map is below; click or tap for an interactive version.