Election News

California Top-Two Primary a Good Predictor of General Election

June 5, 2018

California holds its non-partisan primary today. All candidates appear on a single ballot, with the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, moving on to the general election in November. We discussed some of the implications of that type of ballot in a short primary overview yesterday.

While this type of primary may yield some odd outcomes, such as a major party being shut out of a general election race, it also may prove to be a very good predictor of what to expect in November. Analyzing about 25 years of top-two results, the New York Times finds that "the California primary elections on Tuesday might give us a better idea of whether Democrats are headed for a so-called wave election — or whether their recent slide in the generic ballot and the bump in President Trump’s approval rating mean they should worry."

The data shows that "Since 1990, the major party vote share in top-two congressional primaries in Washington (which also uses the top-two system) and California has differed from the general election result by an average of just three percentage points."

This data seems logical in that, other than the sheer number of candidates, a non-partisan primary ballot is essentially a general election race. Barring a major shift in the political environment between now and November, aggregating the Democratic and Republican vote today would seem to be as a good a predictor of the general election as anything available.

National Implications

There are 11 congressional districts in California expected to be at least somewhat competitive, according to Sabato's Crystal Ball.  Nine of these are held by Republicans. Seven of those nine GOP-held districts were won by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.  While the vote in California isn't predictive of the rest of the country, Democrats will almost certainly have to gain seats here to take back the House. Therefore, today's aggregate vote may go a long way toward showing how many of the state's 53 districts are truly in play this fall. 

Click or tap the image for an interactive map with all the current House ratings from Sabato's Crystal Ball.


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Californians to Pick 'Top Two' on Busy Primary Tuesday

June 4, 2018

California's non-partisan election highlights a busy primary Tuesday this week. Also on the calendar, with more traditional primaries, are Alabama, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota. Nominees will be chosen for five Senate and five gubernatorial races across the eight states. California (and New Mexico) have elections for both.

The video below, from the Los Angeles Times, provides an overview of California's top-two primary system. All candidates appear on a single ballot. The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, move on to the general election. The most closely-watched races that might be impacted are three Republican-held congressional districts in Orange County and the state's gubernatorial race. 

Each of the three congressional races features two or more viable Democratic candidates. In fact, voters in each of these districts must choose from no fewer than 15 candidates on the ballot. The party's fear is a split vote such that two Republicans advance to November. This would give the GOP automatic victories in one or more races that are winnable by Democrats. 

Candidates on the primary ballot in three competitive congressional districts:

On the other hand, Republicans are concerned that two Democrats will advance to November in the race to replace termed-out Gov. Jerry Brown. The race to watch is that for 2nd place, between Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa, the former Mayor of Los Angeles and Republican businessman John Cox. Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is likely to get the most votes. A Democrat will almost certainly win in November, but having no Republicans on the ballot for a statewide race - the U.S. Senate contest is expected to feature two Democrats - might suppress turnout.

Polls close Tuesday at 11:00 PM Eastern / 8:00 PM Pacific. It is the last of the eight states to close, and almost certainly will be the last to finalize all the results, if 2016 is any guide

Arizona Special Election Deadline Passes

June 1, 2018

The special election deadline has passed in Arizona, at least as it is interpreted by Republicans. Should Sen. John McCain leave office this year, Gov. Doug Ducey will appoint his replacement. That individual will not need to face the voters until the next regular election for the seat, which is in November, 2020.

According to Politico, "The likely lack of a second open Senate race this year is politically significant: Arizona has become an increasingly competitive battleground state, and another open Senate race this year would increase the chances that Democrats could take back the Senate."

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens Resigns

May 29, 2018

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens announced his resignation Tuesday, ending a months-long stalemate following his indictment in February on felony invasion of privacy.  The move comes one day after a judge ordered Greitens' political nonprofit to turn over documents to the Missouri House. That body had begun looking into misconduct as a precursor to possible impeachment.

Greitens resignation will be effective June 1st. The first-term Republican will be replaced by Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, also a member of the GOP. The seat will next be contested in 2020.

The resignation will be a relief to Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley, who is the state's Attorney General. He is locked in a very competitive race with incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill.  The national Democrats Senate Majority PAC has spent millions of dollars linking Hawley to the embattled governor. 

Virginia Rep. Thomas Garrett to Retire; Cites Battle with Alcoholism

May 29, 2018

Rep. Thomas Garrett of Virginia, reversing an announcement he made last week, said he would not run for a 2nd term in Congress this November. Garrett cited a personal battle with alcoholism in his decision. He had also come under fire in recent days for reports that he and his wife regularly had staff members do personal tasks such as picking up groceries and pet waste.

Garrett's 5th congressional district is the largest, by area, in the state. The primarily rural district includes Charlottesville. Garrett won by 17% in 2016, while Donald Trump was beating Hillary Clinton within the district borders by 11%. Sabato's Crystal Ball has moved the race from likely to leans Republican due to the seat becoming open.  Whomever the GOP nominates will face Democratic nominee Leslie Cockburn in the general election. 

There are now 54 current members of the House not seeking re-election in November. This includes 37 Republicans and 17 Democrats. 

Primary Highlights: Stacey Abrams Makes History; U.S. House Incumbents All Win

May 23, 2018

Some highlights from Tuesday's primaries. Click the state name for full vote tallies from the New York Times.


  • Governor: Stacey Abrams easily won the Democratic nomination. Abrams received over 76% of the vote and won all but a handful of the state's 159 counties. In doing so, she becomes the first black woman to be a major party nominee for governor in U.S. history. On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle received the most votes, as expected, but fell well short of the 50% needed to win outright. Cagle will meet Secretary of State Brian Kemp in a July 24 runoff. Whomever GOP voters advance to November will start out the general election favorite, but this will be one of the most closely-watched gubernatorial races of 2018.

  • U.S. House:  Incumbents ran and won in all 14 congressional districts; 9 of these races were uncontested. All but two of those incumbents look safe in November. Republican-held District 6 and 7, on Atlanta's north side may prove competitive. Runoffs will be held for the Democratic nominee in both districts


  • U.S. House: Incumbents won in all 6 districts. Only the Republican-held 6th district, in the Lexington area, may prove competitive this fall. That was also the location of the most closely-watched primary. Retired Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath defeated Lexington Mayor Jim Gray for the Democratic nomination.


  • Governor: Incumbent Republican Asa Hutchinson easily won his primary, as did Jared Henderson on the Democratic side. Nearly twice as many votes were cast in the Republican primary for governor in this deep red state. Hutchinson is a heavy favorite to win a 2nd term in November.
  • U.S. House: All four districts are Republican-held; all four incumbents moved on to November. Only the 2nd district, which includes Little Rock, has some prospect of being competitive in the fall.


The Lone Star State held runoffs for those races where no candidate got a majority of the vote in the March 6th primaries. In the Democratic race for governor, Lupe Valdez prevailed over Andrew White. Like Abrams in Georgia, her nomination is historic: She's both the first Latina and first lesbian to win a major party gubernatorial nomination in the state. In a closely-watched 7th congressional district race, establishment candidate Lizzie Fletcher defeated activist Laura Moser. Fletcher will take on nine-term incumbent John Culberson for this Houston-area seat. It is one of the few competitive races across the state's 36 districts.

Links to Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas Election Results

May 22, 2018

The New York Times has pages set up to track the results for today's primaries in Kentucky, Georgia and Arkansas, as well as the runoffs in Texas. Click or tap the state name below.

Kentucky: Polls close at 6:00 PM local time. The state is split between the Eastern and Central time zones, so that will be 7:00 PM Eastern for those in the western part of the state. The Democratic primary in the 6th district is being closely-contested. This is the only congressional district in the state that looks competitive in the fall. Those results should begin coming in around 6:15 PM Eastern.

Georgia:  Polls close at 7:30 Eastern; results should begin to arrive shortly thereafter.  Both parties are choosing nominees for governor. Democrats will choose a woman (Stacey Abrams or Stacey Evans) who will attempt to become the first female governor in the state's history. If Abrams prevails - she has been ahead in the polls - she will attempt to become the first black female governor in U.S. history. On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is likely to garner the most votes. Up against several opponents, the question is whether he can get to the 50% needed to avoid a July 24 top-two runoff.

Arkansas:  Polls close at 7:30 Central (8:30 Eastern), with first results about 15 minutes later. Gov. Asa Hutchinson is likely to be renominated, although is facing a challenge from the right. Whomever prevails is expected to win in November.

Texas: Polls close at 7:00 local time, which is 8:00 or 9:00 Eastern, for those in the Central or Mountain time zones, respectively. with results expected shortly thereafter. Results should begin arrive shortly thereafter. These are runoffs for races where no candidate received 50% in the March 6th primary. 

Primary Tuesday: Arkansas, Georgia and Kentucky; Runoffs in Texas

May 21, 2018

Tuesday sees voters going to the polls for primaries in Arkansas, Georgia and Kentucky. Runoff elections will also be held in Texas, for those races where no candidate reached 50% in the March 6th primary. 

There are no U.S. Senate races in any of the three primary states. Arkansas and Georgia have gubernatorial contests, which are among the 36 such races in 2018. In Arkansas, incumbent governor Asa Hutchinson is expected to move on and seems pretty safe for re-election in November.

In Georgia, incumbent Republican governor Nathan Deal is not on the ballot due to term limits. Although there are frontrunners in both parties, the gubernatorial primary in Georgia looks more interesting both for the personalities on the ballot and because there is some possibility this race could be competitive in November. The Democrats will nominate a woman today, either Stacey Abrams or Stacey Evans. This would make a Democratic victory here in November historic:  No woman has ever been elected governor of Georgia. If Abrams were to prevail today and in the fall, she would become the first female African-American governor in American history.

Both Arkansas and Georgia have runoff elections where no candidate gets a majority of the vote. Among other places, that is likely in the Georgia Republican gubernatorial race, where the frontrunner, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, has four opponents. If runoffs are needed, they will take place on June 19 in Arkansas and July 24 in Georgia.

Poll closing times are as follows:

Kentucky: 6:00 PM local; which is 6:00 PM Eastern for those in that time zone, 7:00 Eastern for those on Central time.

Georgia:  7:00 PM Eastern

Arkansas: 8:30 Eastern (7:30 Central)

In Texas, polls close at 7:00 PM local; which is 8:00 PM Eastern for those on Central time, 9:00 PM Eastern for those on Mountain time.     

Upcoming Primary Calendar

After a break for Memorial Day next week, the schedule picks back up again in June. Here's the full calendar.

June 5:   Alabama, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota

June 12:  Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, Virginia

June 26:  Colorado, Maryland, New York, Utah

Incumbents, Pennsylvania Women Running for Congress Do Well in Tuesday's Primaries

May 16, 2018

There were few surprises in Tuesday's primaries in Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Idaho and Oregon. All incumbents running for Congress moved on to the general election, as did the expected opponents for the Senate seats in Pennsylvania and Oregon.

Women running for Congress in Pennsylvania had a big night. The state has the largest all-male congressional delegation in the country. Democratic women won in the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 11th, 14th, and 15th districts, while a Republican woman won in the 5th district. In addition, the female Democratic candidates in the 10th and 12th districts are slightly behind; these races have not yet been called by the Associated Press.

Looking out to November, both major parties have nominated a woman in the 5th district, all but guaranteeing an end to the all-boys club in 2019. The Democrat is expected to win in this Philadelphia-area district, as well as the adjacent 4th, and is favored to win in the 6th. The 7th district is a toss-up, with the 11th, 14th and 15th seen as safe Republican.

Primary Tuesday: Pennsylvania Voters Cast Ballots in New Congressional Districts

May 15, 2018

Primaries are being held today in Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Idaho and Oregon. In Pennsylvania, it will be the first time voters will cast ballots in the redrawn congressional districts. All four states have gubernatorial elections this fall; Pennsylvania and Nebraska also have Senate races. Nominees will be chosen today, although none of these six races are seen as highly competitive in November at this point.

Poll Closing Times and Results

Click/tap the state name for results from The New York Times

Pennsylvania:  8:00PM Eastern

Nebraska: 9:00 Eastern (8:00 PM for those in the Central Time Zone, 7:00 PM in Mountain)

Idaho:   10:00 & 11:00 PM Eastern (8:00 PM local time for both Mountain and Pacific Time)

Oregon:  Same as Idaho (almost all votes are submitted by mail; voters can also use a state drop box up until the deadline)


As noted above, many voters in the Keystone State will not see their current Representative on the primary ballot as the state's congressional districts have been redrawn. 

Looking at the House ratings from Sabato's Crystal Ball, 6 of the state's districts look competitive or potentially competitive in the fall, while 7 are safe Republican, 5 safe Democrat. FiveThirtyEight has a good overview of some of the more interesting primaries here, as well as races to watch in the other three states.

Upcoming Primary Calendar

Aside from Memorial Day week, the next month will be very active. Here's the full calendar.

May 22:  Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky

June 5:   Alabama, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota

June 12:  Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, Virginia

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