Election News

June 9 is Primary Day in Five States: Overview and Live Results

June 9, 2020

Joe Biden formally clinched the Democratic nomination over the weekend, ending what little suspense was left in finalizing the top of the ticket. Nonetheless, Georgia and West Virginia hold their presidential primaries on Tuesday, as Biden continues to build his delegate count heading toward the August convention. Those states, as well as Nevada, North Dakota and South Carolina also have congressional and - where applicable - gubernatorial primaries.

On this page, we provide an overview and live results for some of Tuesday's key primary elections. Associated with each section is a link to live results for the remainder of the state's contested primaries.  


Polls Close (Eastern Time)

Update: Polling places in Fulton County, Georgia (Atlanta and some suburbs) will remain open until 9:00 PM Eastern. As a result, we don't expect much - if anything - in the way of results prior to that time.

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

7:00 PM Georgia, South Carolina
7:30 PM West Virginia
9:00 PM North Dakota*
10:00 PM Nevada

*Many polling places close an hour earlier


Results by State

Georgia Nevada North Dakota South Carolina West Virginia

 

Georgia

For any congressional primary (Senate or House) where no candidate gets a majority of the vote, the top two finishers will meet in an August 11 runoff election.

President: There are 105 pledged delegates available in the Democratic presidential primary.

Senate: Both Georgia U.S. Senate seats will be on the ballot this November. The seat currently held by David Perdue (R) is up for its regular six-year term. Perdue has no opposition to his renomination. On the Democratic side, a field of seven is competing. Jon Ossoff, who lost a fiercely-contested U.S. House special election race in 2017, is likely to receive the most votes. Ossoff saw 42% support in a recent poll. However, the survey also found 28% still undecided, so it is certainly possible Ossoff could get the 50% needed to avoid a runoff. 

If a runoff is necessary, Ossoff's likely opponent will be former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson or Sarah Riggs Amico, who lost an election for Lt. Governor in 2018.

The other Senate seat is currently held by Kelly Loeffler (R), appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp when former Sen. Johnny Isakson resigned at the end of 2019. The special election is for the final two years of Isakson's term. Under Georgia special election law, there are no party primaries. Instead, all candidates from all parties will be on the ballot Election Day, November 3.

House: Georgia has 14 congressional districts, but not much general election drama in most of them. 12 of the districts are safe for the incumbent party. However, the two competitive suburban Atlanta districts will be closely watched. Karen Handel (R), who defeated Ossoff in the aforementioned special election, is attempting to regain the District 6 seat after losing to Lucy McBath (D) by one percentage point in the 2018 midterms.  The 2018 race in adjacent District 7 was the closest congressional race in the entire country. Incumbent Rob Woodall (R) was reelected by about 400 votes over Carolyn Bourdeaux (D). Woodall announced his retirement, creating an open primary on the Republican side. Bordeaux will attempt to be renominated in the Democratic primary.

All Georgia Results >>

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Nevada

House: There are contested primaries for both parties in all four congressional districts.  All of the incumbents are expected to prevail. Looking ahead, District 1 (Las Vegas) is safely Democratic in November, while District 2, covering the northern third of the state, is safely Republican. The Nevada Independent has overviews of the GOP primary candidates in District 3 and District 4.  These are more likely than not to stay Democratic in November, but could be competitive in the right environment. Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 1% in District 3 in 2016.

All Nevada Results >>

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North Dakota

Governor: Gov. Doug Burgum (R) has has a nominal primary challenge. He should have little trouble with that or with winning a 2nd term in November.

House: Incumbent Kelly Armstrong (R) is unopposed. There's a Democratic primary to choose his opponent. Little general election suspense is expected in this race.

All North Dakota Results >>

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South Carolina

For any congressional primary (Senate or House) where no candidate gets a majority of the vote, the top two finishers will meet in a June 23 runoff election.

Senate: Sen. Lindsey Graham is seeking a 4th term. He does have a primary, but should be renominated. The general election may prove more interesting. Graham has evolved into one of President Trump's most ardent defenders, which has given this race an outsized national profile. Democratic nominee Jaime Harrison outraised Graham in Q1, with about 92% of those donations coming from out of state.  Graham remains favored in this deep red state, but The Cook Political Report moved the race out of the 'safe' column in late April.

House: As noted earlier, neighboring Georgia has 14 districts, but only two are competitive in November. South Carolina has a parallel situation, at a smaller size.  The Palmetto State has seven districts, and only one is competitive. And as in Georgia, the competitive seat will be fiercely contested. In 2018, Joe Cunningham (D) won the coastal 1st District by just over 1%. Cunningham defeated Katie Arrington (R) who had beaten incumbent Mark Sanford (R) in that year's GOP primary. This is a district Donald Trump won by a 13 point margin in 2016.

Four Republicans are vying for the nomination. The frontrunners are state Rep. Nancy Mace and Mount Pleasant Councilwoman Kathy Landing. 

All South Carolina Results >>

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West Virginia

The state that gave Donald Trump his largest percentage share of the vote in 2016 will also have elections for Senate, governor and U.S. House on the November, 2020 ballot.

President: There are 28 pledged delegates available in the Democratic presidential primary.

Senate: Shelley Moore Capito (R) should have little trouble winning her primary or a 2nd term in November.  Her opponent will likely be Richard Ojeda, who ran a brief campaign for president, or Paula Jean Swearengin, who unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in the 2018 Democratic Senate primary.

 

Governor:  Elected as a Democrat in 2016, Gov. Jim Justice switched to the GOP in 2017.  He's attracted six challengers in his bid to be renominated, but is expected to prevail. Five Democrats are vying for their party's nomination.  Justice is a strong favorite to win a second term in November.

House: All three GOP incumbents are seen as safe for reelection in November.

All West Virginia Results >>

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The Road to 270: Missouri

June 8, 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.

In 1820, Missouri was admitted to the Union as part of the Missouri Compromise. It was admitted as a slave state while Maine -- until then, largely a part of Massachusetts -- was admitted as a free state. Missouri is located in a unique geographic position: it’s neither fully northern nor southern. This border state status allowed Missouri to develop a political culture influenced by both regions of the country. Electorally, this confluence led to a state that was often reflective of the nation as a whole -- until recently.

The death of a bellwether

From 1904 to 2016, Missouri voted for the winning presidential candidate in all but three elections (1956, 2008, and 2012). Since 2008 the state has lurched rightward and is now firmly in the Republican column. As Barack Obama was winning by seven points nationally, he lost Missouri to John McCain by less than 4,000 votes or 0.13%. This stunning result prompted many Democrats to wonder whether the great Missouri bellwether was dead. In fact, going into the election, Obama, as a senator from next door Illinois, even had some built-in name recognition in the populous St. Louis metro area. The Democratic ticket visited the state 13 times during that 2008 general election campaign and the Republican ticket visited the state 14 times, while both camps spent roughly $10 million each there. The problem for Democrats has been the staunch rightward shift of everything outside four reliably blue localities: the urban core of Boone, Jackson and St. Louis counties, as well as the city of St. Louis.1 1The city of St. Louis seceded from St. Louis County in 1876. It is one of the few U.S. cities not part of any county.  

Hillary Clinton matched Obama's margin in the state's urban core but fell off elsewhere -- Trump ran 13 points ahead of Mitt Romney's showing in the rest of the state. In addition to the rural areas, even some of Missouri’s suburban counties now vote Republican. It's clear that the rural slippage for Democrats began long before the Trump era did. Since Obama-Biden in 2008, no Democratic ticket has visited the state -- something unlikely to change soon. Once an important cultural and political bellwether, Missouri is increasingly conservative.

Regional divides give way to nationalization

Like many states, Missouri used to have stark regional divisions that drove its politics. In southeastern Missouri lies the Lead Belt, a seven-county region known for its status as the largest concentration of lead in the world. Like other mining communities, the Lead Belt -- with its historical ties to organized labor -- was once reliably Democratic but has strongly trended towards Republicans in recent years. One of the poorer and less educated regions of the state, it's no surprise that the region is losing population. As blue collar whites continue to trend Republican, areas like this will drift away from the Democratic Party.

Further southeast, the Bootheel has undergone a similar transformation. A 1930 House race illustrates its old allegiance well: The Bootheel, and counties around it, were loyally blue while western counties, in the Ozarks, were red. As politics became increasingly nationalized -- with elections falling more along urban/rural lines -- older regional divides have disappeared.

Today, Missouri's congressional delegation is dominated by Republicans, but it wasn't always that way: some of the state’s most iconic figures in Washington D.C. were President Harry Truman, and later, veteran Democratic congressmen Ike Skelton and Dick Gephardt. Democrats hold just two of the state's eight congressional districts: St. Louis’ 1st District and the Kansas City-based 5th District. The state's two Senators are Republicans Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley.

First elected to the Senate in 2010, Roy Blunt has been a fixture of Missouri politics for several decades. He was elected Missouri's Secretary of State in 1984 and was reelected in 1988. After an unsuccessful bid for Governor in 1992, Blunt ran for the open MO-7 in 1996. Anchored by the city of Springfield and cradled in the Ozarks, southwestern Missouri is traditionally the reddest part of the state. Even as President Clinton won the state by 6% that year, he didn’t carry a single county in the district. Blunt won 65%-32%.

From a safe district, Blunt quickly ascended through House leadership, becoming Chief Deputy Whip in his second term and Majority Whip in 2003. Upon the resignation of Majority Leader Tom Delay, Blunt served as Acting Majority Leader for several months in 2005. He then served as Minority Whip after Republicans lost the House in 2006. A month after Senator Kit Bond (R) announced his retirement in January 2009, Blunt announced he was running for the open seat. He easily dispatched Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, daughter of the late Governor Mel Carnahan. In the Senate, Blunt is also a member of Republican Leadership. An ally of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Blunt is regarded as an establishment conservative. Though mostly a reliable vote for his party, he sometimes rankles activists -- recently for his opposition to the President's use of an emergency declaration to fund the border.

Blunt’s 2016 reelection was surprisingly close. He faced a strong challenge from Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D). Against attacks from the National Riffle Association over his support for background checks in this rural gun friendly state, Kander touted his service in the Army and his familiarity with guns. Kander had one of the most memorable campaign ads of all time: he assembled a rifle blindfolded. Though Kander lost 49%-46%, it was much better than Clinton’s punishing 56%-38% loss -- if the presidential ticket had done just a few points better, it’s easy to see the senatorial result being different.

Representing the state in the U.S. Senate from 2007 to 2019 was Democrat Claire McCaskill. With the grit and tenacity of a country lawyer, McCaskill had a long career in Missouri politics. In the 1980s, she represented Kansas City in the Missouri House of Representatives. She was elected to the Jackson County Legislature (the equivalent to a county commission) in 1990 and was elected Jackson County Prosecutor the following year. She first won statewide in 1998, becoming state Auditor, and had an easy reelection bid in 2002 against a convicted felon. In 2004, McCaskill made the unusual decision to primary the (increasingly unpopular) incumbent Governor -- Bob Holden -- but lost the general election to Secretary of State Matt Blunt (R) (Sen. Blunt’s son). In 2006, though, she rebounded to win a U.S. Senate seat. Shortly after, in 2008, she made waves by becoming the first woman senator to endorse then-Sen. Obama’s presidential campaign.

By 2012, it was evident Missouri was drifting rightward, and McCaskill was widely considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents up for reelection. Recognizing this, she famously meddled in the GOP primary that year and got her preferred opponent: Rep. Todd Akin. A congressman from the St. Louis suburbs, Akin was known as a devout social conservative. Initial post-primary polling showed Akin ahead, but in August, he ignited a firestorm with his comments on rape and abortion. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) subsequently pulled their support of him (though they came around just before the election). Ultimately McCaskill pulled off a 15 point win, despite Obama's nine point loss in the Show Me State.

Vowing not to get burned again, Republicans made the 2018 Senate race a priority. After Trump's resounding victory in the Show Me State, national Republicans looked to state Attorney General Josh Hawley. Hawley impressed Republicans with his first run for office in 2016 -- he easily won an open post. Although his 2016 ads critiqued career politicians who jump from job to job, he found himself on that same course.

Though McCaskill was no slouch, the partisanship of the state weighed heavily. After numerous visits from President Trump and in the wake of the contentious Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, McCaskill found her crossover appeal dry up -- she lost 51%-46%. As a candidate who modeled herself after the state’s most famous son, Harry Truman, McCaskill’s defeat signaled the end of an era for Missouri Democrats. As for Hawley, he’s been a conservative populist in the Senate, and is often mentioned as a future GOP presidential candidate.

Looking at the House, elections in seven of Missouri's eight districts were decided by a margin of 25% or greater in 2018, making it a very safe map for the incumbent party. The one exception is in the 2nd District, which encompasses the St. Louis suburbs and is expected to see yet another competitive race this year. State Senator Jill Schupp (D) is challenging four-term Rep. Ann Wagner (R), who had a close 2018 race. Originally drawn as a securely red seat, both Senator McCaskill and Auditor Galloway carried it in 2018. Schupp has fundraised well but Wagner has a substantial financial lead. Forecasters such as Sabato's Crystal Ball rate the 2nd District as 'Leans Republican,' so Wagner is the favorite but not prohibitively so.

State level politics

2016 was a realigning election in Missouri. With Trump's coattails, Republican candidates swept into all statewide offices that year. The 2016 gubernatorial race was interesting: Democrats ran state Attorney General Chris Koster, a Republican until 2007, while the GOP nominated first-time candidate Eric Greitens, who was a registered Democrat for much of his life -- in that way, it was actually like the presidential race: Trump has a history of party switching while Clinton was originally a Republican. In any event, Koster received endorsements from some notable GOP-leaning groups, namely the state Farm Bureau and the NRA, but it was such a red year that he still lost 51%-46%. Hawley won the open Attorney General's office and Jay Ashcroft, an attorney and son of elder statesman John Ashcroft, won the open Secretary of State's office. Missouri is unusual in that only two offices have term limits: Governor and Treasurer. Democrat Clint Zweifel was term limited in 2016 and Republicans easily picked up the office.

A number of resignations in the past few years have shaken up Missouri's row offices. In 2018, Greitens resigned amidst a sexual blackmail scandal and first-term Lt. Gov. Mike Parson assumed the Governorship. In office, Parson has been largely scandal-free and is governing as a mainstream conservative. When Hawley resigned to become a U.S. Senator, Parson appointed Treasurer Eric Schmitt to fill the vacancy. State Representative Scott Fitzpatrick was appointed to the Treasurer's office.

As a result of the shuffling, of the five statewide officers elected in 2016, Ashcroft is the only one who still holds the same office. Except for its state Auditor, Missouri elects its row officers in presidential years. Given the increasingly red lean of the state these days, none of these races are likely to be competitive and Republicans are expected to hold all of them.

Missouri's lone statewide Democrat is Auditor Nicole Galloway, who served as Boone County Treasurer prior to her appointment to the position by then-Gov. Jay Nixon (D) in 2015. Nixon appointed her following the death of Auditor Tom Schweich (R). Galloway ran for and won a full term in 2018, against Republican Saundra McDowell. As the party's best hope, she announced a bid for Governor in August 2019, though still faces an uphill race. Parson, who lacks Greitens’ baggage, has the lean of the state on his side. Limited polling of the race has shown Parson with a lead of at least high single-digits. The presence of Trump on the ballot once again should help Republicans down the ballot.

Looking to redistricting, Republicans have large supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature; the best Democrats can hope for is breaking the supermajority and winning the Governorship. The Democratic-held 5th District could see some major alterations after 2020. Republicans could easily divide up Kansas City multiple ways, thus diluting the Democratic vote. In 2018, voters approved redistricting reform for state legislative maps but many Republicans in the legislature are pushing for a repeal of the amendment.

Presidential outlook

Missouri Polls >>

Joe Biden seems likely to improve upon Hillary Clinton's performance in the Show Me State but it's unlikely to receive much attention. Flipping the state seems out of the question, though Democrats are focusing on unseating Rep. Wagner in MO-2. A suburban district where Trump did worse than Romney, the 2nd District is likely to be the main target of political spending in the state.

Next Week: New Jersey

Reports in this series:

Joe Biden Clinches Democratic Nomination

June 6, 2020

Former Vice-President Joe Biden clinched the Democratic nomination on Friday, having locked up the necessary delegates per the latest tabulation of The Associated Press. As of Saturday morning, Biden has won 1,995 delegates, four more than the 1,991 needed to win on the first ballot.

Biden has been the presumptive nominee since early April, when Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders exited the race in the midst of a pandemic that had essentially frozen the presidential race in place. 

Biden will become the party's standard-bearer on his third try for the nation's top office. His first two attempts, in 1988 and 2008 were unsuccessful, although the 2008 effort led to him becoming Vice-President for two terms under President Barack Obama.

There are 150 days until the November 3 presidential election.

Joe Biden 35 Delegates From Clinching Democratic Nomination

June 3, 2020

Joe Biden, the presumptive nominee for nearly two months, is just 35 pledged delegates away from the 1,991 needed to clinch the Democratic nomination.  This is based on the latest count of the Associated Press.  Biden has thus far claimed 390 delegates from Tuesday's primaries, with Bernie Sanders earning 33. There are 56 delegates still to be awarded.  

If Biden comes up a bit short after this week's primaries, he will almost certainly cross the threshold just after Georgia polls close next Tuesday.

After clinching the nomination, the next pledged delegate number of interest is 2,375. Surpassing that would give Biden a majority of the 4,7501 1This number, and thus the majority number, may vary slightly from this estimate. total Democratic delegate votes available this year. That seems likely, with about 800 pledged delegates available in the remaining primaries. Should that happen, superdelegates will be able to cast a vote on the first ballot at the party convention in August.  Superdelegates not voting unless the nomination was assured is one of the changes the party made for 2020.

Rep. Steve King Loses Primary; Seat Moves to Safe Republican in November

June 3, 2020

Nine-term incumbent Rep. Steve King was defeated Tuesday in the GOP primary for Iowa's 4th congressional district. King, more-or-less abandoned by the party after a long history of controversial comments, was defeated by state Senator Randy Feenstra. 

While Democrats are undoubtedly happy to see King go, his loss effectively takes the district out of play for November.  Democrat J.D. Scholten - renominated on Tuesday - held King to a three point win in 2018.  However, Donald Trump won this conservative district by 27% over Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Feenstra will likely be its next member of Congress.

Most pundits updated their rating to Safe Republican, and that is also reflected on the Consensus 2020 House Map.

King is the second incumbent to lose a U.S. House primary in 2020. In March, Rep. Dan Lipinski was ousted in the Democratic primary for Illinois' 6th district. We've added King's district to the House Retirement Map, which now shows 39 current members leaving after this term. 

Nine States and DC Hold Primaries Today: Overview and Live Results

June 2, 2020

Rescheduled primaries have led to June 2 being one of the busier days on the 2020 calendar.  Seven states and the District of Columbia will hold presidential primaries. Six of those states will also hold downballot primaries, as will Idaho and Iowa.  Those latter two states held their presidential primaries earlier this year.


Polls Close (Eastern Time)

Your individual polling place may have different hours. Do not rely on this to determine when to vote. Total Democratic pledged delegates by closing time* are displayed

6:00 PM 0 Indiana+ (ET)
7:00 PM 82 Indiana+ (CT) (82)
8:00 PM 328 District of Columbia (20), Maryland (96), Pennsylvania (186), Rhode Island (26), South Dakota+ (CT)
9:00 PM 50 New Mexico (34) South Dakota+ (MT) (16)
10:00 PM 19 Idaho^ (MT), Iowa, Montana (19) 
11:00 PM 0 Idaho^ (PT) 

*For states holding presidential primaries today.
+Indiana polls close 6:00 PM local time; South Dakota is 7:00 PM local time. Delegate count is listed with the later ET closing.
^Ballots not yet mailed can be returned to a drop box before 8:00 PM local time.


Democratic Delegate Count

Heading into June 2, presumptive nominee Joe Biden is 425 delegates short of the 1,991 he needs to clinch the Democratic nomination. 479 delegates are available Tuesday. While it is mathematically possible for Biden to get there, he'll need to hold Bernie Sanders below 15% in almost all the jurisdictions (states and individual congressional districts) distributing delegates today.  If he doesn't make it Tuesday, he'll almost certainly cross the threshold with primaries next week1 1If Biden is very close to 1,991 after Tuesday, the next opportunity will come with the Virgin Islands caucus this Saturday. Seven delegates are available. in Georgia and West Virginia.

A late caveat:  Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf issued an executive order on June 1 extending the deadline for some ballots returned by mail to be received and counted. It applies only to six of the state's 67 counties, but those counties include Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.  Since the ballots must be postmarked by June 2, we may still see some presidential vote counts Tuesday, and perhaps a projected winner. However, it is unclear how many delegates will be projected before the June 9 deadline.  As the state has nearly 40% of the 479 delegates available, this change may remove the possibility of Biden reaching 1,991 before next Tuesday. 

Results Summary

Results by State

Idaho Indiana Iowa Maryland Montana
New Mexico Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Dakota Washington, D.C.

The Democratic presidential primary results as well as results for other races we're watching closely are on this page, broken out by state.  There are links to the full results for each state, including - as applicable - presidential, congressional and gubernatorial primaries.

Idaho

Idaho held its presidential primary on March 10. 

June 2 is the extended deadline to receive ballots for a primary that has been conducted entirely by mail. 

Senate/House: While there are a couple congressional primaries, the U.S. Senate seat held by Jim Risch as well as both congressional districts are seen as safely Republican this November.

All Idaho Results >>

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Indiana

President: There are 82 pledged delegates available in the Democratic presidential primary.

House: While there are contested primaries in both parties in most of the nine congressional districts, the seven incumbents seeking reelection are seen as safe in November.  In District 1, 18-term incumbent Rep. Peter Visclosky is retiring. A very large field is attempting to succeed him, with the winner Tuesday likely to be the next member of Congress from this safely Democratic district. The leading candidates look to be state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon and Hammond mayor Thomas McDermott Jr.

In District 5, Republican Susan Brooks is retiring. 14 Republicans are vying for the party's nomination. On the Democratic side, state Rep. Christina Hale is the likely nominee. The general election race for this suburban Indianapolis district is expected to be somewhat competitive, although most forecasters give the GOP a small edge.  

All Indiana Results >>

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Iowa

Iowa held its presidential primary on February 3.

Senate: Theresa Greenfield is favored to become the Democratic nominee, although the party's state convention will make the final decision if no candidate reaches 35%. Whoever emerges will face off against Sen. Joni Ernst (R) in November.  While not the most likely Democratic pick-up this year, the general election race is definitely on the competitive radar. Most forecasters see it as Leans Republican.

House: One of the more interesting races of the night is in the state's 4th district, where Rep. Steve King attempts to stave off a challenge from state Sen. Randy Feenstra. King is a nine-term incumbent, but one of the more controversial members of the GOP House caucus.  The party is supporting Feenstra.  The winner will meet Democrat J.D. Scholten, who held King to a 3 point win in 2018. A Feenstra nomination will make things much more difficult for Scholten in this conservative district that Donald Trump won by 27 points in 2016.

Iowa's other three congressional districts are all held by Democrats and are all seen as highly competitive in November. Incumbents Abby Finkenauer (IA-1) and Cindy Axne (IA-3) will be seeking a 2nd term. Axne is likely to face a rematch against former Rep. David Young, who she unseated in 2018.  Finkenauer's likely opponent is state Rep. Ashley Hinson.

In District 2, state Sen. Rita Hart will be the Democratic nominee; Rep. Dave Loebsack is retiring after seven terms. There is a contested primary among five candidates on the Republican side.

For any primary where no candidate reaches 35%, a nominee will be selected at a convention of county parties within the district.

All Iowa Results >>

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Maryland

President: There are 96 pledged delegates available in the Democratic presidential primary.

House: There are contested primaries in each of the state's eight congressional districts.  All eight incumbents are running, and all eight districts are safe in November. The only incumbent races that might have a bit of suspense are in the 5th and 7th districts.  In District 5, Steny Hoyer, the House Majority Leader, is being challenged from the left by activist Mckayla Wilkes. She is hoping to replicate what Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accomplished with her surprise primary win in the 2018 midterms. Wilkes has generated some buzz, but the demographics of the district make this a steeply uphill climb.

In District 7, Rep. Kweisi Mfume recently won a special election to replace the late Rep. Elijah Cummings. Mfume emerged from a crowded Democratic field - which included Cumming's widow - to win the nomination in February.  Because of filing deadlines, most of the candidates from the special election primary will again be on the ballot.  Regardless of who emerges, that person will almost certainly prevail in the general election; this is one of the bluest districts in the country.

All Maryland Results >>

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Montana

President: There are 19 pledged delegates available in the Democratic presidential primary.

Senate/Governor/House:  As discussed in the Montana Road to 270 article, the state isn't likely to be competitive at the presidential level in November. However, the races for Senate and Governor are expected to be closely-contested. The at-large House seat is open, as Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) makes a run for governor. The current governor, Steve Bullock (D), is termed-out and is running for Senate.  Bullock is expected to win his primary and face incumbent Sen. Steve Daines in the general election.

The Democratic gubernatorial primary is between Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney and businesswoman Whitney Williams. Both candidates are doing well in fundraising and endorsements; with no polling to guide, the race is seen as a true toss-up.  Gianforte is favored in the GOP primary.

All Montana Results >>

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New Mexico

President: There are 34 pledged delegates available in the Democratic presidential primary.

Senate: Sen. Tom Udall (D) is retiring; Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-3) will be the party's nominee for this safely Democratic seat.

House: The seven-candidate primary to fill Lujan's seat in the House is drawing a bit of added interest due to former CIA operative Valerie Plame being on the ballot.  This is a competitive primary in a safe Democratic district: whoever wins Tuesday is likely to be headed to Congress. 

In terms of November, the more important primary to watch is for the GOP nomination in District 2. Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small flipped the district in 2018; regaining it is a top GOP target.  The primary is between 2018 nominee Yvette Herrell and businesswoman Claire Chase. It has gotten rather personal around who is more loyal to President Trump. A Democratic PAC has also thrown money at the race, attacking Herrell as a Trump loyalist.  This will help Herrell in a GOP primary; so the thinking must be that she will be the easier Republican to defeat in November.

All New Mexico Results >>

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Pennsylvania

President: There are 186 pledged delegates available in the Democratic presidential primary.

House:  All 18 incumbents are standing for reelection in November.  Only two have a contested primary: Brian Fitzpatrick (R, PA-01) and Michael Doyle (D, PA-18). Although he is expected to prevail, Fitzpatrick's is the more competitive of the two. His District 1, as well as Districts 8 and 10 are seen as the most competitive in November.  Because of Gov. Wolf's order extending the mail-in deadline in parts of the state, we may not have race calls for all of the associated primaries until June 9.

All Pennsylvania Results >>

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Rhode Island

President: There are 26 pledged delegates available in the Democratic presidential primary.

The state holds its primary for other offices on September 8.

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South Dakota

President: There are 16 pledged delegates available in the Democratic presidential primary.

Senate/House: Sen. Mike Rounds and at-large Rep. Dusty Johnson have drawn primary challenges from GOP state representatives.  Regardless of how those play out, both seats are safely Republican in the fall. In fact, no Democrat qualified for the U.S. House primary, so the party will not field a candidate for that office in November.

All South Dakota Results >>

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Washington, D.C.

President: There are 20 pledged delegates available in the Democratic presidential primary.

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The Road to 270: Washington

June 1, 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.

Up in the Pacific Northwest, Washington state was known as something of a contrarian in presidential elections for much of the second half of the twentieth century. In four of the most high-profile presidential races of that era, it sided with the losing nominee: Nixon in 1960, Humphrey in 1968, Ford in 1976, and Dukakis in 1988. That Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis (D) carried Washington in 1988 was noteworthy because he lost in an Electoral College landslide. According to the Almanac of American Politics, Dukakis' win in the Evergreen State was also a surprise because the networks had called the state for Bush earlier that evening.

If Washington misses the mark in this year’s presidential election, though, it will be due more to partisan loyalty than to any contrarian streak. It supported Democratic candidates in the past three elections by double-digits, and it’s hard to see that changing soon.

The great divider

The Cascade Range both physically and politically divides Washington state. As a result, the state has a unique east-west split. While the Cascades’ divide is somewhat less useful today when it comes to politics, the split is important from a geographic perspective. West of the Cascades, Washington is predominately urban and suburban. The Seattle metro area -- anchored by King County -- is home to much of the state's population. Using the traditional definition of eastern Washington, the chart below shows how the two regions have voted in presidential elections since 2000. The number of votes cast have grown in both regions with each cycle, but eastern Washington has not seen the level of population growth the western half of the state has.

A changing Washington

The rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders played a key role in the changing nature of Washington politics. In the western and southwestern parts of the state, Donald Trump flipped four working class counties in 2016 (Clallam, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, and Pacific). At the same time, longtime progressive Seattle Rep. Jim McDermott (D) retired that year and was succeeded by Pramila Jaypal (D), a Bernie Sanders acolyte. Although McDermott's district went heavily for Senator Sanders in the non-binding Democratic primary that year, McDermott had already endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2015. The Seattle City Council has marched steadily leftward in recent years, inspired by Sanders' movement.

On the other side of the spectrum, Donald Trump’s campaign resonated with the culturally conservative voters of coastal Washington, many of whom used to work in the once-dominant logging industry. A combination of the logging industry's decline and the Democratic Party's embrace of environmentalism has pushed these voters into the Republican Party. Grays Harbor County stands out: in 2016, Trump became the first GOP nominee since Herbert Hoover, in 1928, to win the county. Down the ballot that year, voters remained loyal to Rep. Derek Kilmer (D) and Sen. Patty Murray (D), a known commodity in state politics. Still, in a sign of the hardening polarization, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) lost Grays Harbor County 52%-48% during her easy reelection in 2018.

Three of the four Obama/Trump counties in Washington are located in the state's 6th District. Represented by Kilmer since 2013, WA-6 stretches from Tacoma to more the working class coastal communities on the Olympic Peninsula. This district went for President Obama by 15% in 2012 and Hillary Clinton by 12% in 2016. 

Kilmer is a relatively backbench Congressman but now serves as Chairman of the center to center-left New Democrat Coalition, the largest caucus among House Democrats. Rep. Kilmer tends to stay away from the spotlight and focuses mostly on local issues. An Ivy League graduate with a business background, he’s quite different from other Democrats with strong working class appeal, like Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and fellow Reps. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Pete Visclosky (D-IN), and Tim Ryan (D-OH). Although a popular local figure, Kilmer has started to lose ground in working class Grays Harbor. 

In 2018, Kilmer outran Obama by double-digits in all but Mason and Grays Harbor -- the two most working class counties in the district. Kilmer only slightly outperformed Obama in Mason and did worse in Grays Harbor. The once reliably Democratic blue collar voters are increasingly opting to vote Republican downballot. Still, Kilmer has strong appeal with these voters and could very well be a Senator down the line, in the style of Senator Cantwell.

Congressional Politics

Washington's House delegation has remained relatively stable in recent years but it went through a period of upheaval during Bill Clinton's first term. After the 1992 elections, Democrats controlled eight of the state's nine U.S. House districts but after 1994, that became a 7-2 Republican advantage.

Washington enjoyed outsized clout during the late 1980's and into the mid 1990's when 5th District Rep. Tom Foley (D) served as Speaker of the House. Representing eastern Washington since the mid 60's, Foley rose through the ranks of House Democratic leadership quickly, though his ascent was due to some favorable circumstances.

The backlash to Watergate swept in a fresh crop of liberal Democrats to the House in 1974. At the time, the Agriculture Committee was chaired by Bill Poage, a conservative Democrat from Waco, Texas. According to the Almanac of American Politics, the more liberal caucus felt Poage was too conservative for the post; they elected Foley Chairman instead.

Though 1980 was a disastrous election for Democrats nationally, it strengthened Foley’s hand. As President Carter lost reelection, Republicans gained 34 seats in the House, and House Majority Whip John Brademas of Indiana was swept out in that red wave. Then an appointed position chosen by the Speaker and Majority Leader, the Majority Whip post was suddenly vacant and Foley, by then an ally of leadership, was chosen.

Ironically, Foley's rise through the party ranks complicated his standing back home. Eastern Washington, a more conservative region of the state, was growing increasingly friendly to Republicans. With the resignation of Speaker Jim Wright in the summer of 1989, he was elected Speaker of the House. By the early 1990's, Foley was the face of an increasingly liberal party. Initially, he seemed to bridge the gap well back home: he was reelected by a comfortable 38 point margin in 1990 but slid to just a 55%-45% win in 1992.

In 1994, the Republican Revolution was full steam ahead. Foley, an outspoken opponent of term limits, faced conservative Republican George Nethercutt that year. As Speaker of the House, Foley took positions that were mainstream within his caucus but out of step with his district's voters. Specifically, Nethercutt seized on Foley’s support of the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994. In the end, Nethercutt became just the third person to defeat a sitting Speaker of the House for reelection. Winning by 4,000 votes, Nethercutt's victory cemented Republican grip on eastern Washington and the 5th district is still in GOP hands.

Today the 5th District is represented by Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R). As with Foley, McMorris Rodgers quickly rose through House Republican leadership: she served as Vice Chair of the Republican Conference from 2009 to 2013 and then Conference Chair from 2013-2019. Although Democrats targeted her in 2018, McMorris Rodgers still comfortably won reelection and it’s hard to see this district being heavily contested soon. The district houses Spokane -- the state’s second largest city -- as well as Pullman (home to Washington State University) but the rest of the district is quite red. With Republicans in the minority, McMorris Rodgers decided to step down from leadership and was succeeded by second-term Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

Looking at the House landscape this year, none of the Democratic-held seats are likely to be heavily contested. The 8th District is a largely suburban seat that was held for many years by Rep. Dave Reichert (R); it flipped when he retired in 2018. Republicans haven't put up any top tier candidates against his successor, Rep. Kim Schrier (D). The only open seat this year is Washington's 10th District, held by Denny Heck (D). Heck is retiring to run for the open Lieutenant Governor's office. While going Congress to Lieutenant Governor is certainly an unusual career move, it's not unheard of. Going into the 2014 cycle, Arkansas Rep. Tim Griffin (R) announced his retirement but then pivoted to the Lieutenant Governor’s race and won.

In southwest Washington’s 3rd District, Democrats are looking to give Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) a competitive race, after she was reelected by just 5% in 2018. She’s likely to face a rematch with her 2018 opponent, Carolyn Long. Still, Herrera Beutler has some bipartisan appeal and, as discussed earlier, southwest Washington is home to many Obama/Trump voters. What keeps this district competitive is suburban Clark County. Immediately north of Portland, Oregon this growing suburban county is starting to vote like other similar suburban counties. Sabato’s Crystal Ball rates WA-3 as Leans Republican. As a rare minority and woman in the heavily white and male House Republican Conference, defending Herrera Beutler is a top priority for many in the party.

Washington's two Senators are Democrats Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. Murray ranks third in Senate Democratic Leadership and has often been mentioned as a future Senate Democratic Leader. She is the top Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and has generally worked well with Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN). The state's junior Senator is Maria Cantwell, a former congresswoman who was swept out in the 1994 wave but staged a political comeback in 2000. Cantwell keeps a lower profile and is generally considered the more moderate of the two; she’ll frequently work across the aisle with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Still, on big issues, both of Washington’s senators are reliable party votes.

State level politics

At the state level, Washington is blue but not overwhelmingly so. Democrats hold small majorities in both chambers of the legislature and control all but two statewide offices. The two Republicans are Secretary of State Kim Wyman and Treasurer Duane Davidson. Both face strong challenges this year from a pair of state representatives. Wyman has generally been regarded as a competent bureaucrat so the election will be a test of whether she can overcome the state's partisanship. Running for a third term this year, she does have history on her side -- the Washington Secretary of State’s office has been in Republican hands since 1964. Wyman only faced nominal opposition in 2016 and Davidson won in a unique scenario where Washington's top-two system led to two Republicans facing off.

Gov. Jay Inslee (D), a former congressman, holds high approval ratings and faces no serious opposition from Republicans this year. He is likely to cruise to reelection. His brief presidential bid last year, where he emphasized climate change, does not seem to have hurt him, and it almost seems like a distant memory at this point.

For redistricting, Washington uses a bipartisan commission comprised of five members, one appointed by each of the majority and minority leaders from the legislature. A fifth non-voting member is chosen by the four to serve as Chair. Such commissions generally prioritize incumbent protection for both parties. Redistricting is likely to be quite uneventful. The most likely change will be to shore up Kim Schrier and draw a much safer seat for her. The population boom in Washington will be the primary cause behind any major changes to the district boundaries.

Presidential outlook

Washington Polls >>

Although Trump flipped a number of heavily working class counties in southwestern and western Washington, Hillary Clinton did 1% better statewide than Obama in 2012. Trump’s struggles in the Seattle suburbs completely erased whatever gains he was able to make elsewhere. Although some Obama/Trump counties may not flip back, Joe Biden seems likely to improve upon Clinton’s showing across the board. The Evergreen State’s 12 electoral votes are solidly in the Democratic corner.

Next Week: Missouri

Reports in this series:

The Road to 270: Mississippi

May 25, 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.

After receiving the 1980 Republican nomination for president, Gov. Ronald Reagan headed down to the Neshoba County Fair, in Mississippi. In his first post-convention speech as the party’s nominee, Reagan emphasized support for states' rights. The significance of the location was not lost on political observers: in Philadelphia, just a few miles away, three civil rights activists were murdered in 1964. While Reagan’s supporters saw the cause of states' rights as fitting into a larger message of economic freedom, critics accused him of pandering to southern conservative whites.

Either way, Mississippi, once part of the Democratic ‘Solid South’ -- Franklin Roosevelt never received less than 93% of its votes -- seemed like prime territory for Reagan. Whites there had been drifting Republican as the national Democratic Party became more liberal. With its 6 Electoral Votes, Mississippi is a firmly red state today.

The rise of the Mississippi Republican

The decade before Reagan’s speech marked a period of change in Mississippi. In 1972, President Nixon carried the state in a landslide, and swept in two Republican congressmen on his coattails: Thad Cochran and Trent Lott. Both would go on to become enormously influential in state and national politics. Cochran and Lott's victories marked the first time since Reconstruction that Republicans had more than one member in the congressional delegation.

In 1978, after three terms in the House, Cochran ran for the Senate seat being vacated by longtime Senator Jim Eastland (D). Eastland, a conservative Democrat, was known for his steadfast support of segregation. Cochran’s election to the Senate was the first time the state had popularly elected a Republican since the enactment of the 17th Amendment, which went into effect in 1914. Ideologically, Cochran was conservative, but in terms of his political style, he was described by the 1982 edition of the Almanac of American Politics as "closer to Majority Leader Howard Baker" -- in other words, gentlemanly and congenial.

That 1978 Senate election was an interesting contest. Cochran, who at the time represented the Jackson area in the House, faced former Marion County District Attorney Maurice Dantin (D), and independent candidate, Charles Evers, the mayor of Fayette. Evers, who is African-American, split the Black vote with Dantin, which allowed Cochran to win with a 45% plurality. In the Senate, Cochran established himself as a master appropriator known for his ability to steer federal funding to his home state. He rose in seniority over the years, eventually chairing two committees during his time in the Senate.

From 2003-2005, Cochran chaired the Senate Agriculture Committee, a position of great importance to his rural and farm heavy state. From 2005-2007, and again from 2015-2018, Cochran chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee. A soft spoken man, he earned himself the nickname the "Quiet Persuader." In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and when it came time for Congress to put together a relief bill, the Louisiana congressional delegation asked for a $250 billion relief bill. Their effort was unsuccessful but Cochran put his foot down and secured $29 billion in relief funds for the storm stricken communities along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. 

In the twilight years of his career, Cochran began to draw attention from the right. When he was up for reelection in 2014, he faced a strong primary challenge from State Senator Chris McDaniel. McDaniel, a Tea Party-style Republican was an opponent unlike anyone Cochran had ever faced. The quiet gentleman Cochran vs the brash, fiery partisan Chris McDaniel reflected the divide among the state's Republicans. Whereas Cochran represented the traditional Mississippi Republican, McDaniel represented where the party was going. In the primary, McDaniel placed first, but with less than 50%. To win his runoff, Cochran made an unusual decision for a Republican, especially a southern one: he courted the black vote. Although a reliably Democratic voting bloc, African-Americans make up nearly 40% of the state.

With no party registration in Mississippi, any eligible voter who did not cast a ballot in that year's Democratic Primary (which was uncontested) was eligible to vote in the Republican runoff. Cochran's gambit paid off in a big way. He carried the black-majority 2nd Congressional District by a lopsided 27 point margin. Being the most Democratic district in the state, the 2nd District naturally casts the fewest votes in Republican primaries, but that kind of margin proved decisive for Cochran -- he won the runoff 51%-49%.

Citing his health, Cochran announced he would be resigning from the Senate in 2018 -- he died in May 2019, at age 81. Cochran’s resignation triggered a 2018 special election, which was concurrent with the regular election for state's other Senate seat, held by Roger Wicker (R). GOP Governor Phil Bryant appointed then-state Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) to Cochran's seat. Originally elected to the State Senate as a Democrat, she switched to the GOP in 2010. In 2011, she was elected Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce and was easily reelected in 2015. Hyde-Smith stood for the Senate special election, and had the full support of the party establishment, including Cochran himself and President Trump. McDaniel ran in that race too, but was not much of a factor.

For special elections, Mississippi borrows from its western neighbor, Louisiana, and uses a 'jungle primary' system: all candidates run on the same ballot, though with no party labels. Democrats rallied around former Agriculture Secretary and Congressman Mike Espy, though Republicans were quick to attack Espy over ethics issues that led to his resignation as President Clinton's Agriculture Secretary. Hyde-Smith had a number of gaffes during the campaign, such as insensitive remarks regarding lynchings. With the lean of the state on her side, Hyde-Smith won the runoff, but Espy’s 46% share was better than what other recent Mississippi Democrats got. The two will have a rematch in November.

Geography

Mississippi's four congressional districts represent the state's geography well.

  • MS-1: Northeast Mississippi. The 1st District includes the northeastern portion of the state as well as the Memphis suburbs. This is the most ancestrally Democratic of the four districts. Even in his 1980 loss, President Carter took 60% in some counties here -- by 2016, Hillary Clinton was struggling to crack 20% of the vote in many of them. This district was the birthplace of a number of the state's most influential figures ranging from Thad Cochran to Elvis Presley. One of its main cities, Oxford, houses the University of Mississippi - "Ole Miss" as it is commonly known.
  • MS-2: Western Mississippi: This district encompasses the Mississippi River Delta Region, home to the majority of the state's African-American population. Although this district looks rural, the bulk of the population is in Jackson. Given its demographics, this is the only district that votes Democratic.
  • MS-3: Central Mississippi and Southwestern Mississippi: This mostly rural district covers mostly rural white counties, the wealthy white Jackson suburbs, and a few small majority Black counties.
  • MS-4: Southern Mississippi: Roughly divided between urban and rural population, this district includes the Pine Belt and the Gulf Coast region. The northern half of the district is quite rural and heavily forested while the southern portion is home to a number of the state's larger cities such as Biloxi and Gulfport.

Congressional politics

Owing to the state's red lean, Mississippi's congressional delegation is overwhelmingly Republican. Since 2011, the lone Democrat in the state's delegation has been 2nd District Rep. Bennie Thompson, a longtime figure in the African-American community in Mississippi. One of the most senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Thompson was elected to the House in a 1993 special election to succeed Espy. Espy had resigned to lead the Department of Agriculture, under the Clinton Administration. With Democrats in the majority, Thompson is once again Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. Immigration is a touchy subject in Mississippi, given its large agricultural industry and that industry's reliance on undocumented immigrants as workers. With Democrats in control of the House, the Magnolia State's 3-1 Republican House delegation carries little sway.

In some ways, Bennie Thompson is a Democratic equivalent to Thad Cochran. Cochran was a Republican who could court black voters while Thompson is a rare southern Democrat who has strong appeal with black voters and can also peel off a non-trivial number of conservative whites. According to the Almanac of American Politics, Espy had similar appeal with the district's white voters -- his 1988 race, Espy carried more than 1/3 of white vote (impressive by Deep South standards). Bennie Thompson shares this distinction with a few southern members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Thompson outran Obama by five points in 2008 and really improved over Obama in the areas with the highest number of white voters. A native of Hinds County, Thompson outran Obama in the white suburbs of Jackson but fared less well in Jackson proper. He also demonstrated great appeal with the district's large number of rural voters, particularly with the white voters.

The Magnolia's State senior Senator is Republican Roger Wicker. An appropriator like Cochran, Wicker represented the state's 1st District in the House from 1995-2007. When former Majority Leader Trent Lott resigned from the Senate in 2007, then-Gov. Haley Barbour (R) appointed Wicker to the Senate. Democrat Travis Childers flipped Wicker's old House seat in a May 2008 special election and won a full term in the fall of that year -- in 2010, the seat fell back into GOP hands. In the Senate, Wicker is generally regarded as an establishment conservative who usually supports the majority's agenda. Wicker has however bucked the party in relation to the President use of a National Emergency Declaration that essentially bypasses the appropriations process and funds construction of his border wall.

The state's population shifts since 2010 pose an interesting problem for redistricting. In terms of partisanship, there will likely be no changes to the delegation's partisan composition. The state's majority-black 2nd Congressional District is protected under the Voting Rights Act. The Delta region's significant population loss over the course of the last decade could make redistricting a bit difficult. Other than that though, redistricting will be largely uneventful.

State level politics

Until 2019, Mississippi generally lagged behind the national urban/rural realignment at the state level. White Democrats held some deep red districts in both chambers of the legislature. Democrats also held the state Attorney General's office from 1878 until January of this year. A.G. Jim Hood opted to run for Governor in 2019 rather than reelection -- Hood lost that race 52%-47% and the GOP, predictably, picked up his old office. At the local levels, Democrats continue to hold many local offices in otherwise deep red counties. 

The Magnolia State is known for its quirky state-level electoral college. A remnant of the Jim Crow era, Mississippi law has an unusual requirement if no statewide candidate receives a majority of the vote. If that’s the case, the leading candidate must win a majority of the state house districts or the election is decided by the State House, much like the federal Electoral College. Even in his near 11 point win in 2015, Jim Hood still failed to carry a majority of state house districts.

Presidential outlook

At the presidential level, Mississippi is solidly red and highly inelastic: blacks routinely give Democrats 90% of the vote, while white voters are almost as loyal to Republicans. With that, political analysts characterize Mississippi as a ‘high floor, low ceiling’ state for Democrats -- Democrats can easily get 40% of the vote (slightly higher than black percentage share of the overall population), but getting much past that is a challenge. Indeed, no Republican nominee has won the state with more than 60% of the vote since Ronald Reagan, in 1984. Since 2000, the Republican win margin has ranged from 11.5% to about 20%. This year's election result is likely to be in that range.

In 2012, Mississippi was just one of six states where President Obama improved from his 2008 performance, even though he slid nationally. Obama, as the first black president, inspired strong turnout with that group while Mitt Romney -- a wealthy, technocratic Mormon – was a poor fit for working class whites in the state. Obama took 44% in Mississippi that year, but in 2016, Hillary Clinton couldn’t match his enthusiasm with blacks and faced an opponent better suited for the state -- she fell to 40%.

If Biden is polling closer to Obama’s 44% than Clinton’s 40%, it may be a sign of his strength with black voters. Otherwise, the only interesting things to watch are whether Joe Biden can win back the four Obama/Trump counties (Benton, Chickasaw, Panola, and Warren) and whether he can make any significant inroads in the state's few suburban counties.

Next Week: Washington

Reports in this series:

Hawaii Democratic Primary Results

May 23, 2020

Hawaii Democrats released results Saturday for the state's party-run primary.  Joe Biden finished first with 63% of the vote, winning 16 of the 24 pledged delegates. Bernie Sanders received 37% of the vote, winning the other 8 delegates.  Note that voting in this primary began before Sanders withdrew from the race on April 8.

The primary, originally scheduled for April 4, was changed to be run exclusively by mail in response to the pandemic. Ballots were due back by May 22.

While Biden is the presumptive nominee, he has not yet reached the 1,991 delegates needed to officially clinch the nomination.  That could change on June 2, when the first set of primaries after the Memorial Day holiday is held. 7 states, as well as the District of Columbia will hold contests that day, several of them rescheduled from earlier dates.

479 pledged delegates will be available on June 2. Biden needs 425 of them, based on the latest count by NPR and the Associated Press.1 1AP recently reallocated 40 delegates from candidates dropping out to Biden. We don't have specifics, but these are likely statewide delegates which cannot be retained by candidates who leave the race, per party rules. The delegate count of Sanders was not affected, as the Biden and Sanders campaigns reached an agreement whereby the Vermont Senator would effectively keep those delegates. That may be a reach, with Bernie Sanders still seeing enough support in some locations to add to his delegate count.

House Ratings Changes from Inside Elections

May 23, 2020

On Friday, Inside Elections updated its House ratings for the November elections, shifting 15 races.  Changes were made to eight competitive races, with seven more moving to safe, taking them out of play - per this forecaster - for November.  

The main takeaway from the full report (subscription required): "Even after losing 40 seats in 2018, there’s no guarantee Republicans won’t lose more in November. With less than six months to go before Election Day, not only is the House majority not at risk, Democrats could gain seats. Right now, the most likely outcome is close to the status quo and fall into a range of a GOP gain of five seats to a Democratic gain of five seats."

Three seats moved to safe Democratic:  CA-10, CA-45, NY-19. Four more moved to safe GOP: NC-9, OH-12, TX-2, TX-31. In terms of competitive races, CA-25 starts at Tilt Democratic after the Republican victory in this month's special election. The other seven changes moved one category each in favor of Democrats.  NY-22 and UT-4 now sit at Tilt D, with IL-14 and NJ-3 moving to Lean D. NV-3 is now Likely D.  The final two seats are GOP-held, with MT-AL now at Likely R and TX-21 at Leans R.