Election News

Montana Gov. Bullock Launches Senate Campaign; State Now in Play for 2020

March 9, 2020

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced Monday that he will run for Senate this year.

Bullock is unable - due to term limits - from seeking a third term as the state's governor in 2020.  He ran for president over the second half of 2019 before dropping out in December. He had previously resisted efforts from within the party to challenge incumbent Republican Sen. Steve Daines, but ultimately acquiesced.  Today is the candidate filing deadline in the state.

Bullock's candidacy moves the Senate seat onto the competitive map, with a consensus Leans Republican rating.  While still underdogs in this deep red state, it does give Democrats an additional path to pick up the 3 or 4 seats needed to take control in 2021. The number may more realistically be 4 or 5 seats, as the GOP is favored to recapture the Alabama seat in a presidential election year with a popular Republican incumbent on the ballot.

Based on consensus, the four most competitive races are in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina. All these seats are GOP-held.

 


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin

Polling Update for March 10 Democratic Nominating Contests

March 9, 2020

352 pledged delegates, across six states, are available in Tuesday's Democratic nominating contests. Here are the latest polling averages in each of those states, as Monday morning, March 9. 

Note that given the much smaller field, we have only averaged polls released after Super Tuesday, March 3.  We've also plugged these averages into our Delegate Calculator (create your forecast here) to get a sense of how the delegate split might look.  

Super Tuesday: Latest Polling, Live Results, and Overview

March 3, 2020

Live Results

President - Democratic Primaries President - Republican Primaries

 

The following states hold their regular primary elections as well. We'll have results for any contested Senate, House or gubernatorial races. 

Alabama California North Carolina Texas

Arkansas also has non-presidential primaries; there are no contested races we are tracking.


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.

7:00 PM 115 Vermont (16), Virginia (99)
7:30 PM 110 North Carolina (110)
8:00 PM 268 Alabama (52), Maine (24), Massachusetts (91), Oklahoma (37), Tennessee (64), Texas* 
8:30 PM 31 Arkansas (31)
9:00 PM 370 Colorado (67), Minnesota (75); Texas* (228)
10:00 PM 29 Utah (29)
11:00 PM 415 California (415)
Other 19 American Samoa (6) Democrats Abroad (13)

*Polls close 7:00 PM local time. That's 8:00 PM ET in all but the far western part of the state.


Democratic Polling Averages & Delegate Estimates

There are two new surveys for each of the 14 states that vote today. This gives us more information, particularly in places where polling was minimal or non-existent. The smaller field is likely to increase the number of candidates hitting the 15% threshold in several states, which will flatten the distribution of delegates. 

For polling detail, click or tap the image below and select a state on the linked page. 

Click or tap the image below for the interactive delegate calculator.


Recommended Reading

How to Watch Super Tuesday Like a Pro - This Politico article succinctly analyzes the Democratic presidential primary in each state.

California Overview - Sanders is likely to win the overall vote here, but this demographically diverse state will likely yield more split results in the 53 districts that combine for 271 delegates. Analysis from FiveThirtyEight.

Slow Results from the West - Several western states have largely transitioned to vote-by-mail. While it may mean more voter participation, it can slow the results.  Article from NPR.

Congressional Races to Watch - Jeff Sessions wants his old job back, as do a few other familiar names. Two incumbents in Texas are facing competitive primaries.  Analysis from Roll Call.

Amy Klobuchar to End Campaign, Endorse Biden

March 2, 2020

Sen. Amy Klobuchar will suspend her campaign and endorse former vice-president Joe Biden later Monday. The move comes one day prior to Super Tuesday, where her home state of Minnesota will join 13 others in awarding over 1/3 of the total 3,979 delegates available this year.

Klobuchar finished third in New Hampshire but had been unable to replicate that performance in the other early states. In Super Tuesday states, she was only tracking to earn delegates in Minnesota, where she held a small lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders in limited polling. 

She joins businessman Tom Steyer and former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg in exiting the race after Biden's large victory in South Carolina. A once historically-large Democratic field has now been winnowed to Biden, former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

The Road to 270: Tennessee

March 2, 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 Seth Moskowitz, a 270toWin elections and politics contributor. Contact Seth at s.k.moskowitz@gmail.com or on Twitter @skmoskowitz.

Tennessee

Tennessee has a history of distinguishing itself from its southern neighbors. It resisted secession and the Civil War, was first to break the "Solid South" electoral block, and was home to the first southern city to desegregate.  This independent streak goes back to Tennessee's earliest days before it was a state. 

Statehood and Early Presidential Politics

The territory that would become Tennessee was originally part of North Carolina. In 1789, after years of dissatisfaction with North Carolina governance and previous secession attemptsthe region broke off to form the “Territory South of the Ohio River”. Tennessee was admitted to the Union seven years later, in 1796.

Like most of the agrarian south, Tennessee reliably cast electoral votes for Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party. It did so in each of its first eight elections from 1796 to 1824. The last of these, 1824, featured the Tennessean general Andrew Jackson. Jackson won his home state with 97% of the popular vote and won the plurality of the national popular vote with 41%. He lost that election due to a “Corrupt Bargain” between John Quincy Adams and Speaker of the House Henry Clay.

Four years later, the Tennessean populist ran again under his new Democratic Party — the same one we have today — and dominated his home state, the national popular vote, and the Electoral College. During his tenure, Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act that forcibly displaced Native Americans out of the Southeastern United States, including Tennessee. The Trail of Tears, as it would come to be known, did little to hurt Jackson’s electoral fortunes. He won the popular vote and his home state in a landslide.

Unlike its southern neighbors, however, Tennessee broke from the Democratic Party for the next five elections. From 1836 to 1852 Tennessee would vote for the Whig Party, which built an effective infrastructure and tailored message in the state. As historian Jonathan Atkins writes,

"The Tennessee Whig Party built its platform on warnings that powerful, demagogic forces conspired to rob republican citizens of the liberty won during the American Revolution. Whigs also argued that the power of government should be used to promote the public good. This tactic proved especially successful during the economic depression of the late 1830s and early 1840s, when Whig supporters recognized that the party's success could enhance their material well-being."

Slavery and Civil War

By 1856, however, the question of slavery and the survival of the Union overshadowed all other political concerns. In 1856, Tennessee voted for Democrat James Buchanan, and in 1860 for Constitutional Unionist, John Bell. The Constitutional Union Party was formed to hold the Union together and performed best among the states forming the border between North and South. The only three states to vote for it — Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky — were largely pro-slavery, but wanted to hold the Union together. They had reason to fear that a civil war would be fought within their borders.

Displaying its moderate tendencies, Tennessee initially voted against secession. Later, following the attack on Fort Sumter, the state changed tack and joined the Confederacy. The state’s population, however, was not uniform in its support for secession. The eastern third of the state, made up mostly of homesteads and family farms, favored staying in the Union. The rest of the state, covered with large cotton and tobacco plantations, relied on slavery and supported secession.

Tennessee and the Solid South

After the war, Tennessee’s voting patterns reflected these feelings on secession and slavery: whites in the east voted Republican and those in the center and west supported Democrats. In the first post-war election of 1868, Tennessee voted Republican. Many newly freed slaves were able to vote for the first time while some whites were disenfranchised during Reconstruction. As whites regained the franchise and African Americans faced exclusion and voter suppression, Tennessee shifted into the reliably Democratic column. From 1872 through 1916, the state would vote exclusively Democratic. Unlike other southern states, and in particular those in the Deep South, Tennessee regularly gave Republicans over 40% of the popular vote.  

This moderation would help make Tennessee the first state to break the “Solid South”, the group of southern states that had voted uniformly Democratic since 1880. In 1920, due to the unpopularity of Woodrow Wilson’s foreign entanglements in the isolationist Appalachian regions of Tennessee, Republican Warren Harding would overcome his party’s drought in the state. Again in 1928, largely due to an anti-Catholic sentiment haunting Democratic candidate Al Smith, Republican Herbert Hoover would again break the Solid South and carry Tennessee by 8%.

With the popularity of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal, Tennessee again shifted back to Democrats. The Tennessee Valley Authority, a state-owned enterprise created as a part of the New Deal helped employ, power, and pull a suffering region out of the depths of the Depression. Though not without its share of controversy and resentment, the TVA and Roosevelt’s legacy helped solidify Tennessee as a Democratic state.

Shifting Rightward

After Roosevelt’s landslide in 1936, however, Tennessee began shifting rightward every election cycle. The trend finally overtook Democrats in 1952, when the moderate Republican Dwight Eisenhower beat out Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson by 0.28%. Eisenhower’s victory marks a breaking point in Tennessee presidential politics; after his 1952 victory, no non-southern Democrat would win the state. Republicans would go on to win every election in Tennessee outside of 1964, 1976, 1992, and 1996, when Texan Lyndon Johnson, Georgian Jimmy Carter, and Arkansan Bill Clinton would be the Democratic standard-bearers.

A century after the Civil War, Tennessee’s ancestral voting patterns prevailed. The eastern third of the state remained staunchly Republican while the rest of the state would swing between elections. The once secessionist central and western regions would still sometimes vote for liberal Democrats including George McGovern and Michael Dukakis. Once again, Tennessee’s course is different than those of than its southern neighbors. Most southern states stuck to their Democratic roots until 1964 when the Civil Rights Act fractured the Democratic Party. 

As the parties further polarized along social issues including civil rights, abortion rights, gun control, and especially the environment, Tennesseans cut these ancestral ties. In 2000, Al Gore, a former Tennessee Senator and Representative, ran as an environmentalist. The platform played poorly in his home state, which Gore lost by 4%. That year, Gore won 21 fewer counties than Clinton had in 1996. Each subsequent election would see Republicans expand their margin of victory and flip more counties.

Economic Development in the Last Century

Tennessee’s economy, though once reliant on farming and agriculture, has shifted away from its agrarian roots. During the mid-20th Century, the Tennessee Valley Authority and World War Two had drawn manufacturing investment and a labor force into Tennessee. The cheap labor drew in more manufacturing jobs including in the textile and chemical industries. The state continued to attract new industries through the 1970s with its skilled labor force, low taxes, loose regulations, and tight restrictions on labor unions.  

In 1983, Nissan opened a manufacturing plant in Tennessee, kicking off a new era in the state’s economy. Other automobile companies, most importantly General Motors, also opened manufacturing centers that helped fuel the state’s economy and built up a skilled workforce that spread to other industries. A vestige of the TVA, Tennessee still produces a significant amount of energy though oil, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric, and nuclear facilities.

The state's economy also relies on transportation and logistics, an industry boosted by the state’s position between the South and the Midwest and Northeast. The tourism industry is healthy, with music lovers drawn to Nashville’s country scene and Elvis Presley’s Graceland Mansion in Memphis. Chattanooga in the southeast has become an unlikely tech hub and the state is still covered in farmland, much of which is dedicated to soybeans, hay, and corn.

Recent Elections and Political Landscape

Downballot state elections lagged behind Tennessee’s national trends. As recently as 2004, Democrats held a government trifecta — holding the Governorship and both chambers of the state legislature. The State Senate was the first to flip in 2005, next was the State House in 2010 and last was the Governorship in 2011. In just 7 years, Democrats lost and Republicans picked up a state trifecta in Tennessee.  

Meanwhile, Republicans continued to expand presidential margins in Tennessee. George W. Bush won by 14% in 2004, John McCain by 15% in 2008, and Mitt Romney by 20% in 2012. Republicans gained ground in the rural and suburban communities in the central and western portions of the state. Democrats saw improvements in the most dense and diverse Shelby and Davidson Counties that house Memphis and Nashville.  

In 2016, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton with a 26% margin, the largest since Richard Nixon’s 49-state landslide in 1972. Trump improved on Romney’s margins in 91 of the state’s 95 counties. Clinton would only carry three counties — Shelby (Memphis), Davidson (Nashville), and Haywood, which along with Shelby, is one of Tennessee’s two majority-black counties.  

This November, Tennessee will hold elections for president, U.S. Senate and nine U.S. House seats. None of these elections is expected to be competitive. 

There is, however, a competitive election happening in the state this week. Tomorrow, on Super Tuesday, Tennessee Democrats will have their say in the party’s primary. There has been a dearth of polling in the state, but if regional and demographic trends are indicative, Joe Biden’s recent success in South Carolina could portend a plurality victory for him here. The Democratic electorate is whiter here than in South Carolina, however, a distinction that is likely to help Bernie Sanders. 

While Tennessee’s primary election results are uncertain, those of the general election are not. It is safe to assume a Trump victory in Tennessee this November, likely with a margin approaching 30%.  

Next Week: Maryland

Reports in this series:

Pete Buttigieg Suspending Campaign

March 1, 2020

Former South Bend Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg will suspend his campaign Sunday night.  Buttigieg earned delegates in the first three Democratic contests, but saw limited support from Latinos in Nevada, finishing third overall. In South Carolina, he finished fourth, receiving only 3% support from blacks, who make up a majority of the electorate there. 

The move comes two days before Super Tuesday and will free up his supporters to vote for other moderate candidates. During last week's debate, Buttigieg had said that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was too radical to beat President Trump.

Looking at Super Tuesday, Buttigieg was seeing upper single digit to low double-digit support in most of the 14 states that will vote that day, but was not tracking to hit the 15% threshold in most of them.

Buttigieg is expected to speak at 8:30 PM ET in South Bend.

 

Super Tuesday Polling Update

March 1, 2020

This Tuesday, Democrats in 14 states will go to the polls.  Collectively, they will award over one-third of all 3,979 pledged delegates available this year.  Here are the latest polling averages in each of those states, as of late Sunday morning, March 1.  

For polling detail, click or tap the image below and select a state on the linked page.

These 14 states have 1,338 pledged delegates. In addition, 6 delegates will be awarded from the American Samoa caucus that day. The Democrats Abroad primary also begins Tuesday, and goes for a week. 13 delegates will be available there. This brings the total for Super Tuesday to 1,357 pledged delegates.

Related:   Interactive Delegate Calculator

South Carolina Primary: Overview and Live Results

February 29, 2020

The final Democratic primary before Super Tuesday will see South Carolina voters cast their ballots.  Live results and projected delegate allocations will be available here after the 7:00 PM Eastern poll closing time.

54 delegates will be allocated based on the results; the largest number of any of the four February contests. These will go to candidates getting 15% or more of the vote statewide or in one or more congressional districts.

Joe Biden looks poised for his first win of the year. His frontrunner status here had eroded earlier in February, after Bernie Sanders registered strong performances in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. Biden appears to have regained the upper hand, if the most recent polling proves accurate. This comes after one of his better debate performances and the subsequent high-profile endorsement by long-time Rep. James Clyburn.  

There is no Republican presidential primary in South Carolina; it was canceled by the state party.  As South Carolina Democrats have an open primary, this has created an opportunity for Republicans to attempt to create mischief by voting today.  Whether that has any impact remains to be seen.

How a Sanders Nomination Might Impact the Electoral Map

February 27, 2020

Most presidential election forecasts at this point - and thus the consensus electoral map - are based on a generic Democratic nominee against President Trump.  That means the forecasts are largely driven by history, with some consideration given to the incumbent's popularity and the state of the economy. It is also why there aren't that many forecasts yet and why those that have been released have not shifted very much.  

All of that will begin to change once we know who the Democratic nominee will be, as each has strengths and weaknesses that will impact their likelihood of prevailing in the battleground states. 

To that end, Sabato's Crystal Ball is out with a hypothetical preview of how its Electoral College ratings might shift if Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders becomes the presumptive nominee. They see the southern states of Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Texas being less attainable Democratic pickups in 2020. These 98 electoral votes could shift from Leans to Likely Republican. Virginia is seen as moving from Likely to Leans Democratic. Arizona and Nebraska's 2nd District - could move from Toss-up to Leans Republican.

These last two changes would shift the total from 248-248 to Trump 260, Sanders 248 and leave just Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as toss-ups. In this scenario, Sanders would need to win both of these states.  In sum, they see Sanders with a narrower path to 270 electoral votes - at least initially - reflecting how his policies might play in battleground Sun Belt states.

Read their full analysis here.

The first map below is the current Crystal Ball forecast, adjusted for these possible adjustments. Click or tap for an interactive version.

For comparison, here are the official Crystal Ball Electoral College ratings as of February 27. Click or tap for an interactive version (which will reflect the ratings in effect when you view the map).

Rep. Ralph Abraham of Louisiana Will Not Run in 2020

February 26, 2020

GOP Rep. Ralph Abraham said Wednesday that he will not seek reelection in 2020.  In his announcement, Abraham cited a commitment he made as a candidate in 2014 to only serve three terms in Congress.  The decision also comes after an unsuccessful run for governor in 2019.

Abraham represents Louisiana's fifth congressional district, its largest one by area. It covers much of the northeastern part of the state, including the entire border with Mississippi. It is a safely Republican district; Abraham won his 2018 election by 37%, while Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by nearly 30%.

37 current members of the House have announced they are retiring or seeking another office in 2020.