Election Insights is a political analysis publication of the Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC). BIPAC is an independent, bipartisan organization, that is supported by several hundred of the nation’s leading businesses and trade associations. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the views of our organization.
February 15, 2017
Trump Approval Numbers and Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, and New Jersey News
by Jim Ellis
Fox News released a national presidential approval poll (2/11-13; 1,103 US registered voters), which produced exactly the same President Trump favorability rating as Rasmussen Reports detected last week. By a slight margin of 48:47%, the respondents view President Trump's performance in office as favorable. But, the individual issue numbers suggest the President's standing is much better.
When asked whether they believe the economy will be stronger or weaker next year, a decisive 55% responded "better", versus only 35% who said "worse." Forty-six percent believe the country will be "safer" next year, versus 43% who say the opposite. By a margin of 52-45%, respondents rate President Trump as a "strong leader." And, a scant majority, 50-49%, says they trust the President's judgment in a crisis.
Answering whether the respondents believe the Trump Administration is "doing things to help your family," 47% agreed while 48% disagreed. Even this response rate is not particularly bad for a Republican candidate or office holder.
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R) again received some bad public polling news. According to the Political Marketing Information (PMI) polling firm (2/7; 921 likely 2018 Republican primary voters via automated response device), Sen. Flake actually trails former state Sen. Kelli Ward (R), 30-23% in an early Republican primary ballot test. Ms. Ward garnered 40% of the vote in her 2016 GOP challenge to Sen. John McCain.
The more dangerous potential Republican challenger, however, continues to sit in the wings. State Treasurer Jeff DeWit (R), the top Arizona spokesman for Trump during the campaign, has already announced that he will not seek re-election next year, but has yet to declare for the Senate. Mr. DeWit was not tested in this poll, but it is likely that his standing would even be higher than Ms. Ward's in comparison to Sen. Flake.
The Arizona Senate primary is certainly becoming a race to watch. Democrats are stepping up their candidate recruiting here in anticipation of facing a weakened Sen. Flake in the 2018 general election.
As reported last week, 4th District Republican Committee delegates in former Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo's (R-Wichita) House seat elected state Treasurer Ron Estes as the party nominee for the April 11th special election. Following suit, the local Democratic convention chose newcomer attorney James Thompson in an upset result. The favorite had been former state Treasurer Dennis McKinney, but him losing as an incumbent to Estes in 2010 by landslide proportions - 25 points throughout District 4, in fact - gave a majority of Democratic delegates reason for pause. Clearly most believe they have a better chance fielding a fresh face than they do with an individual who has already lost badly to Mr. Estes.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R), as expected, quickly scheduled the special election to replace Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) now that the latter has been confirmed as Health & Human Services Secretary. Already 15 candidates have announced their intention to enter the special election. Democrats, citing President Trump carrying the 6th District by only a point and one-half after comfortably retaining this CD all the way back to when Newt Gingrich represented the region, feel they want to make a stand in this particular special election.
Gov. Deal has called the jungle primary for April 18th, with a special general to follow on June 20th. All candidates will be on one ballot with the top two finishers advancing to the subsequent run-off. Should a candidate receive a majority of the vote on 4/18 - something considered highly unlikely - the individual would then be elected outright.
Maine's Susan Collins (R) is apparently joining a rather long line of US Senators either actively or previously considering entering their state's open Governor's race. Already, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Tom Udall (D-NM) publicly explored the gubernatorial waters but decided to remain in the Senate. Sens. Collins, Durbin and Udall are next in-cycle during the 2020 election, while all the other aforementioned office holders will face the voters next year.
Sen. Collins is now beginning to acknowledge that she is considering running for Governor. She clearly would be formidable, being first elected to the Senate in 1996 and racking up a 67% victory for a fourth term in 2014. Simultaneously, term-limited Gov. Paul LePage (R) is publicly considering challenging Independent Sen. Angus King. The only other Governor looking at a potential Senate race is Florida's Rick Scott (R).
Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind polling sector just released their new New Jersey Governor's poll (1/25-29; 839 NJ registered voters; 410 self-identified Democratic voters; 275 self-identified Republican voters). The results were inconclusive because the open seat contenders have low name identification.
For the Democrats, former Wall Street executive and ex-US Ambassador Phil Murphy tops the field with just 17% support. State Sen. Ray Lesniak is second with 7%, while Assemblyman John Wisniewski follows at 6%. On the Republican side, though the 275-member sample cell is much too low to gauge accurately, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno leads comedian Joe Piscopo, 18-12%. Gov. Chris Christie (R) is ineligible to seek a third term. Democrats will be favored to convert this state house.
February 8, 2017
Who will replace Sessions and Virginia Governor's Race Heats Up
by Jim Ellis
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) is narrowing the field of prospective US Senate appointments to replace incumbent Jeff Sessions (R). It appears that Mr. Sessions will be confirmed as Attorney General, possibly as early tonight, meaning he will resign the Senate seat immediately before being sworn into his new position.
The two leading prospects for the interim appointment appear to be Attorney General Luther Strange (R) and ten-term US Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville). Four others, including two state legislators, are on the Governor's final announced list of six individuals.
Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said he isn't "closing any doors" in relation to possibly seeking the Utah Senate seat in 2018. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) stated when running for a seventh term in 2012 that he would not again seek re-election. His latest comments, however, suggest he is at least considering changing course and may well strive to continue his 40-year Senatorial career. Former Governor, US Ambassador to China, and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman (R) has also expressed interest in the Senate race.
Mr. Huntsman has said he will not challenge Sen. Hatch, and it is presumed that Mr. Romney would follow a similar course. Should the Senator decide to retire, this Republican nomination battle would very quickly become a campaign of national interest.
In Virginia, Rep. Dave Brat (R-Glen Allen) announced that he will not challenge Sen. Tim Kaine (D) next year, and presumably would seek re-election to a third term in the House. Mr. Brat was viewed as a sure candidate in a special Senate election, which would have occurred had Sen. Kaine been elected Vice President. Rep. Brat is apparently not willing to risk his House seat for what would be a long shot attempt in a regular election year.
Fourth District Republican Committee delegates in former Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo's (R-Wichita) House district gather tomorrow evening to choose a nominee for the April 11th special election. Mr. Pompeo was appointed and confirmed as CIA Director, prompting him to leave the House. Democrats will have their nominating convention on Saturday. The eventual Republican nominee will be favored to hold the seat.
Former US Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Wichita) and state Treasurer Ron Estes are the most prominent candidates among whom the Republican delegates must choose, but Wichita City Councilman Pete Meitzner and former Trump campaign official Alan Cobb are also credible contenders.
We can expect Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) to quickly call the special election to replace Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell). It appears the latter man will win confirmation as Health & Human Services Secretary later this week. Already ten candidates have announced their intention to enter the special election. Former Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) said she will announce her plans when Rep. Price formally resigns.
The California special election continues to move forward in Los Angeles. Veteran Rep. Xavier Becerra (D) resigned to become California Attorney General, accepting Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) appointment to replace Kamala Harris (D). The latter resigned the Attorney General's position when she was elected to the US Senate.
This week, state Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez won the official state Democratic Party endorsement, meaning he will be afforded party resources in the primary and his name will be annotated as the official Democratic candidate on the ballot. This is a major boost for Mr. Gomez, as he attempts to forge ahead of 22 other individuals who have already announced their candidacies. Democrats are a sure bet to hold this seat. The primary is April 4th followed by a special general election on June 6th.
It looks like Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) doesn't have a free shot at his party's gubernatorial nomination. Though Northam is locking up the key Democratic establishment support, former Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Charlottesville) could be a legitimate contender.
A Christopher Newport University poll (1/15-28; 1,002 VA registered voters; 464 likely Democratic primary voters; 418 likely Republican primary voters) finds Northam leading Perriello by only a 26-15% split. Though a statewide official, Mr. Northam has very low name identification (only 23% said they knew enough about him to form an opinion) thus explaining his weak standing.
For the GOP, former Republican National Committee chairman and 2014 US Senate nominee Ed Gillespie breaks 30% primary support (33%), while his two opponents, state Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) and Prince William County Board chairman Corey Stewart, don't even reach 10 percent.
The Virginia Governor's race will be held this year. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is ineligible to seek re-election. The Commonwealth is the only entity that still limits its Governors to one term in office.
February 1, 2017
Flake Dodges One Primary Challenge and California Polling
by Jim Ellis
After flirting last week with mounting a Republican primary challenge to embattled Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake - damaged among GOP base voters for his public and prolonged campaign feud with President Trump - Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Prescott) announced this week that he will seek re-election to a fifth term in the House next year and not run statewide.
Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel/north Indianapolis) announced that she will not oppose Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) next year. On the other hand, Rep. Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie) appears to be moving closer to entering the statewide contest. Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) confirms that he is considering becoming a Senate candidate. With Indiana's strong Republican performance in 2016, Sen. Donnelly begins the election cycle rated as one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents.
Retiring NASCAR race driver Carl Edwards (R) is reportedly contemplating entering the Missouri US Senate race to challenge Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. Widely viewed as one of the most competitive of the upcoming 2018 Senate contests, Edwards may well face a Republican primary field of candidates that potentially includes one or more of the following: Reps. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin), Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Jefferson City), Sam Graves (R-Tarkio), and state Treasurer Eric Schmitt.
A new Dan Jones & Associates poll (1/9-16; 605 UT registered voters) finds Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch trailing former Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) badly in a hypothetical GOP primary. The numbers project the former Governor, US Ambassador to China, and presidential candidate to be leading the seven-term Senator 49-35%, among a small number of self-identified Republicans. Sen. Hatch indicated his 2012 campaign would be his last, but is now reportedly considering running again. Mr. Huntsman says he will not run against Hatch, but other Republicans might.
Two of the upcoming special congressional elections are now scheduled. California Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) was confirmed as the state's new Attorney General, and he immediately resigned from Congress to accept the position. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) then called the replacement election for June 6th, with a jungle primary on April 4th. Eighteen candidates have already announced, including 15 Democrats, two Republicans and one Green. It is likely that a pair of Democrats will advance to the run-off from the downtown Los Angeles district.
Former Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo's (R-Wichita) confirmation as CIA Director resulted in his immediate resignation from the House. Gov. Sam Brownback (R) set the 4th District special election for April 11th. Republican and Democratic Party leaders will meet in local convention to choose their nominees, and must complete their process by February 18th. The eventual Republican nominee will be favored to hold the seat. Former US Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Wichita) and state Treasurer Ron Estes appear to be the most prominent candidates among whom the Republican delegates must choose.
Remaining in Kansas, US Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Topeka) announced that she won't seek re-election to a sixth term in 2018. Her leaving the House is not a surprise, but stating a desire to return to the private sector does raise eyebrows. It was commonly believed that she would enter the upcoming open Governor's race. Her action yields wide-open campaigns for both Governor and her 2nd District House seat. Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.
A new Moore Information poll (1/18-19; 500 MT likely special election voters) conducted for the Greg Gianforte Campaign finds the former Republican gubernatorial nominee opening up a substantial lead against the two most prominent potential Democratic candidates. Gianforte tops state Rep. Amanda Curtis (D), 47-33%, and Assistant US Attorney Zeno Baucus (D), 45-29%. Perhaps the Democrats' best candidate, former Montana School Superintendent and 2016 congressional nominee Denise Juneau, declined to run in the special election.
Republicans received good news in South Carolina when state Senator and former gubernatorial nominee Vincent Sheheen (D) announced that he will not enter the special election to replace soon-to-be-confirmed Office of Management & Budget director Mick Mulvaney (US Rep; SC-5; Lancaster/Rock Hill). Mr. Sheheen, who once held former Gov. Nikki Haley (R) to only a four-point statewide win, says he will remain in the legislature. Without him as the party standard bearer, the Democrats' chances of scoring a special election upset greatly diminish.
A new Public Policy Polling survey (1/17-18; 882 CA registered voters) tested the upcoming open California gubernatorial race in a jungle primary format. The results found Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) leading the field with 25%, followed by San Diego Mayor Kevin Falconer (R) who has 20% support. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) and former Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin (R) followed with 13 and 12%, respectively. Announced candidates Antonio Villaraigosa (D), a former LA Mayor, and John Chiang (D), the state Treasurer, scored only 9 and 2% voter preference.
Lt. Gov. Newsom, and Messrs. Villaraigosa and Chiang are the only officially declared candidates. Mayors Falconer and Garcetti are reported to be considering the race, while Ms. Swearengin has already said that she will not be running for Governor. Incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is ineligible to seek a third consecutive term. He was originally Governor from 1975-1983, and then returned to the position in 2011.
January 25, 2017
South Carolina has a New Governor and Special Elections Start to Form
by Jim Ellis
Though national radio talk show host Laura Ingraham resides in Washington, DC, she is now being mentioned as a possible challenger to Virginia Senator and former Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine (D) in 2018. She would certainly have plenty of time to establish residency in Virginia - her offices are in Arlington, VA, for example - and she is now confirming at least a passing interest in making the jump into elective politics. It is much too early to suggest that she will be a candidate, but it is unlikely the Republicans will give Sen. Kaine a free ride in the next election, whether or not Ingraham decides to run.
It has largely been assumed that the Senate's most elderly member, California's 83-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), would not seek re-election in 2018 but such may not be the case.
According to an interview the Senator conducted this past week with a California radio station, Ms. Feinstein confirmed she is actually leaning toward running again. The veteran Senator says she still believes her work is effective, hence giving her reason to run for an additional term despite being over 90 when her next term would end. The comments, however, could also be made to avoid lame duck status for as long as possible. Therefore, Sen. Feinstein now becomes a person to watch.
Two of the upcoming special elections will be scheduled by sometime next week at the latest. California Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) was confirmed as the state's new Attorney General, and he immediately resigned from Congress to accept the position.
Though 18 candidates have already announced their candidacies (15 Democrats, two Republicans, and one Green), Gov. Jerry Brown (D) will now officially schedule the special election to fill the vacancy. Under California election law, the contest must occur between 126 and 140 days after the official call. A likely potential date for the special general is June 6th, which is commensurate with a normal California primary date.
The Golden State special will feature all candidates on one ballot in the first election, which will likely be sometime in April. If no one obtains majority support, almost a certainty in a race featuring such a large field of candidates, the top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, will run-off in the June election.
Former Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo's (R-Wichita) confirmation as CIA Director resulted in his immediate resignation from the House. Gov. Sam Brownback (R) must call the election within five days, and set the vote between 45 and 60 days from his declaration. Therefore, this special election will conclude quickly, being completed by the end of March. Republican and Democratic Party leaders will meet in local convention to choose their nominees. The voters will then go to the polls only one time. The eventual Republican nominee will be favored to hold the seat.
It appears the Montana Democrats may have lost their strongest candidate in the upcoming special election to replace Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Whitefish), once he is confirmed as Interior Secretary. It was expected that former two-term Montana School Superintendent and 2016 congressional nominee Denise Juneau (D) would enter the special election, but she will not. Ms. Juneau just announced that she will forego the opportunity of again becoming a congressional candidate. The two parties will meet in convention to nominate their respective special election contender. Republican gubernatorial nominee Greg Gianforte is favored to win the GOP nomination. Democrats will now most likely look toward state Rep. Amanda Curtis, the 2014 US Senate nominee.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) was confirmed as the new United States Ambassador to the United Nations, and she immediately resigned her gubernatorial position. Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster (R) now becomes Governor and will be expected to run for a full term in 2018.
January 18, 2017
Opponents Eye Sen. Kaine's Seat and Open Seats from Trump's Cabinet
by Jim Ellis
West Virginia Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-Huntington) confirms that he is considering launching a 2018 Senate challenge to Sen. Joe Manchin (D). Though the state is now solidly Republican, Sen. Manchin remains popular and will be difficult to unseat. Even though the Mountain State performed as Donald Trump's second strongest state in the nation, Democratic businessman Jim Justice held the open Governor's race in the same election, winning a seven-point victory. Attorney General Tim Morrisey (R), who scored his own ten-point re-election win in November, is also a potential US Senate candidate.
Though national radio talk show host Laura Ingraham (R) resides in Washington, DC, she is now being mentioned as a possible challenger to Virginia Senator and former Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine (D) in 2018. She would certainly have plenty of time to establish residency in Virginia - her offices are in Arlington, VA, for example - and she is now confirming at least a passing interest in making the jump into elective politics. It is much too early to suggest that she will be a candidate, but it is unlikely the Republicans will give Sen. Kaine a free ride in the next election whether or not Ingraham decides to run. Reps. Barbara Comstock (R-McLean) and Dave Brat (R-Glen Allen) are both frequently mentioned as potential candidates.
Former Montana gubernatorial Republican nominee Greg Gianforte, a businessman who held Gov. Steve Bullock (D) to a 50-46% re-election victory in November, is reportedly making major progress toward locking up convention delegate support for the upcoming at-large special election.
Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Whitefish) is currently going through the confirmation process to become Interior Secretary in the Trump Administration. As soon as the confirmation vote is held, Mr. Zinke will resign his congressional position and Gov. Bullock will schedule a special election within a 100-day period. Both parties will nominate in convention, so the voters will only go to the polls one time. Considering the progress Gianforte is making with the party delegates and leadership, along with earning support from Sen. Steve Daines (R), the defeated gubernatorial nominee appears to have jumped out to an early lead in the shortened process to succeed Secretary-Designate Zinke.
Though Democrats have only a long shot chance of taking the GA-6 special election when incumbent Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) is confirmed as Health & Human Services Secretary, the party leadership appears to be winnowing the field in order to unite behind one candidate. Four Democrats have announced their candidacies, but one is yielding to another candidate.
Attorney Josh McLaurin is dropping out of the 6th District race in order to unite behind a front-runner candidate. Mr. McLaurin says he believes that individual is investigative filmmaker Jon Ossoff, a former staff member to US Reps. John Lewis (D-Atlanta) and Hank Johnson (D-Lithonia). Former state legislators Ron Slotin and Sally Harrell remain in the race, however. The Democrats' hope lies in coalescing behind one candidate in the jungle primary, thereby virtually guaranteeing them a slot in the special general election.
A Remington Research poll in the soon-to-be-called South Carolina special congressional election gives one potential candidate a large lead in the Republican primary, though the individual is ostensibly interested in another race.
State House Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope (R) has 25% of the 5th District electorate support, according to the RR data (1/7-8; 778 SC-5 likely voters). Following are state Rep. Ralph Norman, the only officially announced candidate, and ex-state Republican Party chairman Chad Connelly, both with 9% backing, while state Rep. Gary Simrill follows with six percent. Mr. Pope has interest in running for Governor, but it is unlikely that Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster (R) will have much Republican opposition once he ascends to the position after incumbent Nikki Haley (R) is confirmed as US Ambassador to the United Nations.
Nevada Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchinson (R) ruled himself out of the open 2018 Governor's race, opting to instead seek re-election. Earlier, US Sen. Dean Heller (R) also announced that he will run for a second term in the Senate rather than move to the Governor's campaign. This seemingly opens the door for Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R), who is beginning to amass a large campaign war chest and is obviously making moves to run statewide, most probably for Governor rather than re-election. Nevada politics runs close, so we can expect a hotly contested race in 2018. Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.
A new Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey (1/5-10; 625 VA registered voters) finds former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie jumping out to an early lead over Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D), 44-41%. The other tested Republican candidate, Prince William County Board chairman Corey Stewart, trails Northam 45-38%. If ex-Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Charlottesville) became the Democratic nominee, he would trail Gillespie by an even larger margin, 36-45%, while the former Congressman would top Mr. Stewart, 40-38%. The Virginia gubernatorial election will be held in 2017. Gov. Terry McAuliffe is ineligible to seek a second term.
January 11, 2017
2016 Presidential Election Cycle Closed and Election News from Alabama, Texas, and Virginia
by Jim Ellis
President-Elect Donald Trump's last political hurdle was successfully traversed in a joint congressional session on January 6th. The Electoral College vote of 304-227 became official when the 50-state tally was presented to the assembled Senators and Representatives. House Democrats came forward with several protest motions but the lack of any Senator joining the move effectively killed the long shot maneuver.
The Electoral College rules allow individual electoral votes to be challenged, but at least one House member and one Senator must jointly make the motion. Though the Democrats had plenty of Representatives joining the chorus, not having a Senator invalidated the motion.
If advanced, the members from each house would have returned to their respective chambers and debated the protest motion for no more than two hours, at which time a vote over whether to accept the protest would have been taken.
With that, the 2016 presidential election cycle finally draws to an official close, and Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the nation's 45th President on January 20th.
Two points of note that occurred during the week may change the Senate political picture. First, El Paso Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) made comments indicating that he is taking steps toward challenging Sen. Ted Cruz (R) next year. Mr. O'Rourke was first elected to the House in 2012 when he defeated then-Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-El Paso) in the Democratic primary. During that campaign, O'Rourke, a former El Paso City Councilman, pledged to serve no more than four terms. He has now completed two.
Early in the week the Congressman sounded definitive in moving toward a statewide race, but later, not as much. He made several statements "clarifying" his original comments, now saying that he is merely "considering" running for the Senate.
Though the Lone Star State Democrats performed better in the 2016 presidential race when compared to recent past campaigns, particularly in the cities where Hillary Clinton carried five of the six largest Texas cities, they are still a long way from establishing a winning position. The Democrats being overwhelmed in the outer suburban and rural regions was key in providing Donald Trump his nine-point statewide victory margin. Therefore, despite an improvement in his party's standing, Rep. O'Rourke would still have a very uphill battle in attempting to defeat Sen. Cruz.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) at least partially clarified his thought process in regard to selecting a replacement for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) when the latter is confirmed as US Attorney General. State election law gives the Governor wide latitude in scheduling replacement special elections. He can, and is now opting to, run the special concurrently with the regular election cycle. This means that the eventual appointed Senator will serve until the 2018 general election. If the interim member runs and wins, then he or she will serve the balance of the current term, which is two more years. At that point - the 2020 election - the new Senator would be eligible to run for a full six-year term.
Veteran Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX), who heroically served for 29 years in the United States Air Force including enduring seven horrific years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, announced that he will not seek a 14th term in the House next year. Mr. Johnson will be 88 years of age at the next election. In addition to his congressional service, he was elected four times to the Texas House of Representatives.
Rep. Johnson's departure will ignite a major early March (2018) Republican primary and run-off battle for the north Texas district that was last open in a 1991 special election. A multitude of Republican candidates will likely seek the seat, including state Sen. Van Taylor and Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis. The Democrats are not competitive in this district.
In a surprise announcement, former one-term Virginia Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Charlottesville) has joined the 2017 Democratic nomination campaign for Governor. The party establishment has already lined up behind Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, but Perriello, campaigning from the Democratic Party's left wing faction will maximize his political base in Charlottesville and would have strong potential to do well in vote rich northern Virginia. Mr. Northam's base is the southeastern Tidewater region. He also has a strong chance of performing better than Perriello in the state's western coal country. Though the former Congressman is a relatively late entry into the Governor's campaign, he could become competitive and must be regarded as a significant candidate.
More Texas news features Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick squelching rumors that he is considering challenging Gov. Greg Abbott in next year's Republican primary. Mr. Patrick instead announced that he will seek re-election to his current position and simultaneously endorsed Gov. Abbott's bid for a second term.
January 4, 2017
2018 Senate Elections Underway and Trump Faces Final Vote
by Jim Ellis
President-Elect Donald Trump's last political hurdle occurs this week when the electoral votes are officially tabulated in a joint session of the US House and Senate on January 6th. In terms of state voting, Mr. Trump scored 306 electoral votes compared to Hillary Clinton's 232.
It is possible for members to object to certain electoral vote ballots. Such a protest requires at least one member of the House and Senate to jointly come forward. If a protest is lodged, the two houses would retire to their individual chambers and consider the challenge(s) for no longer than two hours before rendering a vote. No such challenge has ever been sustained.
There is no reason to think a challenge could be approved, but this election cycle has been contentious to the degree that raising a series of protests is certainly within the realm of possibility. No reports of such a movement are circulating, but there is still time to erect some final obstacles to a Trump Presidency.
Several quiet announcements were made during the holiday break period. Two Senators, both who previously indicated they might forego a run for re-election in lieu of running for Governor of their respective states, have decided not to pursue the chief executive position.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D), who would have been a prohibitive favorite in an open seat run for Governor of Minnesota, told local Minneapolis reporters that she will run for a third federal term in 2018. She is unlikely to receive a major challenge.
In Nevada, first-term Republican Sen. Dean Heller, who scored only a 46-45% win in the 2012 campaign, was apparently actively testing the waters for an open gubernatorial run. Reports suggest that Mr. Heller feared a backlash from Republican primary voters because he was less than conciliatory toward Donald Trump during the general election. Instead, Sen. Heller is now firmly committed to seeking re-election. The Nevada race could well become the Democrats' top conversion target of the 2018 election cycle.
At-large Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck), the Republican Party leaders' first choice to oppose North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D), says he will decide in the next few months about running for the Senate. Now appearing more unlikely that Sen. Heitkamp will join the Trump cabinet, Rep. Cramer will be forced to decide if he wants to risk a safe House seat in order to oppose the first-term incumbent. Had there been a special election, Rep. Cramer would have been the leading candidate.
Reports are circulating in Milwaukee that Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau) is becoming more serious about challenging Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) next year.
Despite a political rumor beginning to circulate in the Tampa Bay area, former Florida Governor and newly elected US Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) says he will not enter the open Governor's race in 2018. In fact, he says, steps are already being taken to prepare for his first re-election to the House.
A spokesman for Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flushing/Flint) released a statement saying that the Congressman "appreciates the encouragement he is getting from across the state to run for Governor." The spokesman further said that Mr. Kildee "will make a decision (in the coming months) about where he can do the most good for Michigan families." Rep. Kildee is widely expected to enter the open Governor's race.
In a wholly unsurprising move, Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos' Vice President and General Manager John Elway announced that he will not seek the Republican nomination for Governor. Incumbent John Hickenlooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term, and this race factors to be one of the more competitive open statewide campaigns in the nation next year. Both parties have many credible options.
The Rhode Island situation continues to heat up. In addition to attorney and former gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell (D), grandson of the late Sen. Claiborne Pell (D), Cranston Mayor Allan Fung (R), who finished just four+ points behind Gov. Gina Raimondo (D), is openly considering another run. Former Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, who finished second in open 2014 Democratic primary, says he will not run in 2018.
December 21, 2016
Electoral Votes, Special Elections, and Rhode Island Governor News
by Jim Ellis
Despite organized protests and an opposition move by several electors naming themselves after Alexander Hamilton's Federalist Essay #68, Donald Trump received 99.3% of the electoral votes he won in the states. The Electoral College met in the various state capitols earlier this week, and the announced vote totals awarded Mr. Trump the Presidency. Only two Republican electors refused to vote for him, both from Texas. Ironically, Hillary Clinton lost more votes, four, all from the state of Washington.
In the end, the final Electoral Vote count was 304-228 in favor of Mr. Trump. Retired General Colin Powell received three votes, while Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), ex-Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), and environmental activist Faith Spotted Eagle all recorded one vote apiece.
The electoral votes, cast by secret ballot, were transported to the National Archivist in Washington where they will be kept until being presented to Congress on January 6th. The votes will then be officially tabulated and the totals read to the members, thus finally ending the 2016 presidential election.
Protests from the members of Congress, however, can still be lodged. An official protest to individual or delegation electoral votes can be made on January 6th. To officially challenge a vote, at least one member from the House and Senate must jointly come forward to issue the challenge. The full congressional bodies would then return to their separate chambers for consideration of a period lasting no more than two hours, and vote to either sustain or reject the challenge. No electoral vote challenge has ever been sustained.
Considering the tenor of this election, a challenge is not beyond the realm of possibility, especially over the Russian hacking issue. But, the Republican majorities in both houses would certainly dispense with any such action. The state officials announced their individual electoral vote totals quoted above after tabulating the secret ballots before transporting to the Archivist.
With only one major cabinet position still remaining, that of Agriculture Secretary, speculation has cooled around Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) being appointed. Though reports suggest that President-Elect Trump still wants to select her, strong pressure from her Democratic colleagues may have dissuaded her from accepting the appointment. Heitkamp leaving the Senate would almost assuredly result in her seat going Republican in a special election, meaning that the Republicans would gain a 53rd Senator.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D), also under consideration for a Trump cabinet position, announced before the selection of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) as Energy Secretary that he would best serve his Mountain State constituents by remaining in the Senate.
Another Trump appointment coming from the House of Representatives means yet another congressional special election will be added to what is becoming a second campaign season. So far, President-Elect Trump has chosen four House members for Administration positions, while California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) tabbed Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) as his pick to succeed Senator-Elect Kamala Harris (D) as the state's Attorney General.
The latest Trump selection, that of South Carolina Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-Lancaster) as Director of Office of Management and Budget, means that the Palmetto State's 5th District will join KS-4 (Rep. Mike Pompeo; CIA Director-Designate), GA-6 (Rep. Tom Price; Health & Human Services Secretary-Designate), MT-AL (Rep. Ryan Zinke; Interior Secretary-Designate), and CA-34 (Rep. Becerra) as seats that will host special elections upon the current incumbents resigning after being confirmed to their new posts.
Rep. Becerra has already resigned from the House, meaning that Gov. Brown will soon schedule the replacement election for that particular seat.
Rhode Island attorney and former gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell (D), grandson of the late Sen. Claiborne Pell (D) who served in Washington for 36 years, says he is not ruling out a 2018 Democratic primary challenge to Gov. Gina Raimondo (D). Mr. Pell ran in the 2014 open seat contest, receiving 27% of the Democratic vote compared to Ms. Raimondo, then the state's Treasurer, garnering 42%. Then-Providence Mayor Angel Taveras finished second in that race with 29%.
December 14, 2016
Hamilton Electors and Special Elections
by Jim Ellis
The re-counts have ended with Trump actually gaining net votes in Wisconsin, being halted in Michigan, and never gaining serious traction in Pennsylvania. All states have reported their certified election numbers to the Electoral College, meeting the imposed December 13th federal deadline.
Now attention turns to the December 19th meeting of the national electors for purposes of casting official votes. Reports of Russia so-called "hacking" the electoral system is gaining media attention, but the focus hasn't brought anything more than the Wikileaks release of Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton Campaign emails to the surface. No evidence has been uncovered or released that suggests any state's voting system was interfered with or altered in any way.
The group calling themselves the "Hamilton Electors" continues to make noise but are making little in the way of progress. The unofficial organization's goal is to convince other electors not to vote for Mr. Trump, thus forcing the election into the House of Representatives. Though Trump would win there, too, the effort is launched to attempt to de-legitimize the President-Elect's political victory.
The Hamilton electors are from states, Colorado and Washington specifically, where the majority of voters supported Hillary Clinton. Therefore, mainly convincing electors not to vote for Clinton and instead supporting an alternative Republican is going to inflict little damage upon Trump.
So far, according to the Republican National Committee elector tracking operation, and accompanying media stories, it appears that only one Republican elector so far, a man from Texas, is saying he will become a faithless Trump elector and vote for someone else. Most states require the electors to vote as their electorates did. Keep in mind that the parties or winning campaigns in the particular state choose the national electors; therefore, seeing en masse defections is highly unlikely. The Electoral College vote will make official the presidential election winner.
The 2016 election cycle officially ended last Saturday with the Louisiana run-offs. Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy easily defeated Democrat Foster Campbell by a 61-39% result in a low turnout of just over 884,000, a little over half of what other LA run-off elections have produced. Since the campaign was not hotly contested, the contest's foregone conclusion aspect came to fruition with the Kennedy victory.
The nation's final Senate election means the party division beginning the 115th Congress will be 52R-46D-2I, with the latter pair caucusing with the Democrats.
Now, the new election cycle begins and already we are looking at potentially two upcoming Senate elections. In Alabama, Gov. Robert Bentley (R) has the option of scheduling the vote to replace Attorney General-Designate Jeff Sessions (R), the state's junior Senator, with an early special election or making it concurrent with the regular 2018 election cycle. The Governor will decide after Mr. Sessions is confirmed and officially resigns his current position.
Should President-Elect Trump choose North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) as Agriculture Secretary, as appears to be the latest direction, an immediate special election will be called in that state. There, incoming Gov. Doug Burgum (R) will have no appointment authority. If the special election occurs, at-large Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) will be the early favorite to win the special.
The two Louisiana House run-offs were also decided last Saturday. In the Shreveport seat (LA-4), state Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City) defeated attorney J. Marshall Jones (D), 65-35%. The seat is heavily Republican, and 69.8% of the people voting in the jungle primary chose a GOP candidate, so the Johnson victory in the run-off was an early foregone conclusion.
In the neighboring 3rd District, retired Lafayette police captain Clay Higgins (R) racked up a 56-44% run-off victory over fellow Republican Scott Angelle, a state Public Service Commissioner and former gubernatorial candidate.
The final two House elections means the party division is a 241R-194D split for the coming Congress. The Democrats gained only six seats from the presidential election, far below the 12-20 seats that most analysts predicted.
Because of the incoming Trump Administration cabinet choices, special US House elections will occur in Kansas (Rep. Mike Pompeo; 4th District; CIA Director), Georgia (Rep. Tom Price; 6th District; Secretary of Health & Human Services), and now Montana (Rep. Ryan Zinke; at-large; Secretary of Interior).
In California, Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) nomination of Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) to be the state's Attorney General leads to another special election in that state. Now that Mr. Becerra has officially resigned from the House, Gov. Brown will officially schedule the replacement election.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has conceded defeat in the re-count of his re-election effort. Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) has won the race by just about 10,000 votes statewide.
New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall (D), who had been flirting with a run for Governor next year, announced that he will not become a candidate. Mr. Udall next faces his state's voters in 2020, so he would not have had to risk his Senate seat to enter the Governor's race. Incumbent Susana Martinez (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.
November 30, 2016
Cabinet Appointee Dominoes and 2018 Election Moves
by Jim Ellis
Most of the week's presidential electoral news was devoted to Green Party nominee Jill Stein's re-count request action in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. None of the states are close enough for an automatic re-count, and the action is merely designed to fire one last possible political shot at President-Elect Donald Trump. Re-counts can change hundreds of votes in a statewide election, but certainly not thousands or tens of thousands as is the case in each of the three states.
Under federal law, the states must certify their vote counts by December 13th, necessary to having the Electoral College meet on December 19th to cast their official presidential votes. At that time, Donald Trump's election will become final.
Michigan, now being called for Trump, gives him 306 electoral votes as compared to Hillary Clinton's 232. For the re-count effort to succeed, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan would all have to be invalidated.
Ms. Clinton does have a popular vote lead over the President-Elect. Nationally, her advantage is currently 2,109,796 votes. Her margin largely comes from California, where she leads by more than 4 million votes with still almost 800,000 ballots to count under the state's marathon processing procedure. In the 19 states where both candidates actively campaigned, Trump carried the battleground entities by more than 3 million votes.
Once California is fully counted, and all the late votes are tabulated, the national presidential turnout could reach 135 million, which is an all-time record. The previous high was set in 2008 (Barack Obama vs. John McCain), when 131,426,292 people voted.
With the Louisiana Senate election approaching on December 10th, a Trafalgar Group survey (11/14-17; 2,200 LA likely run-off voters) that we reported upon last week is the only data released into the public domain to date. The fact that slight attention is being paid to this race and little in the way of outside spending coming from the national party committees and independent organizations favors Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy. The fact that the Democratic committees are not making a major effort for their candidate, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, likely confirms the Trafalgar data that posted Kennedy to a 58-35% advantage.
Two Democratic Senators have already announced that they will seek re-election in 2018. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), commonly viewed as one of the most vulnerable 2018 in-cycle members, announced that she will run for a third term. Likewise, for Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D), who confirms that he, too, will ask the voters of his state to return him for a third six-year stint.
Conversely, New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall (D), who has openly been considering a run for Governor, says he will announce a decision about running by the end of this year. Sen. Udall is not in-cycle in 2018. Therefore, he can seek the state's open Governor's office and not risk his Senate seat. Should he enter the race and win, Mr. Udall would be able to appoint his own successor.
The final House race prior to the two Louisiana districts being decided on December 10th has been decided. In southern California, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) has won re-election. The Congressman has just over a 2,300 vote lead with only a few more ballots to count. Therefore, his 50.4 percentage will hold to give him a close re-election victory. Mr. Issa was originally elected to this San Diego/Orange County congressional district in 2000. Immediately after the election being called, Democratic nominee Doug Applegate, a retired Marine Colonel, announced that he will run again in 2018.
President-Elect Trump nominating Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-KS-4) and Tom Price (R-GA-6) for CIA Director and Secretary of Health of Human Services, respectively, mean that special congressional elections will be called in Wichita and the northern Atlanta suburban area. The Governors of the two states will schedule the elections after the seats officially become vacant in accordance with Kansas or Georgia election law.
The Price selection means there will be a battle to replace him as chairman of the House Budget Committee. The three contenders, in a Republican Steering Committee decision that will be made at the end of this week, are Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA-4), Todd Rokita (R-IN-4), and Diane Black (R-TN-6).
The important Energy & Commerce Committee chairmanship will also be decided this week. Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL-15) and Greg Walden (R-OR-2) are the principal contenders.
President-Elect Trump's choice of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) as US Ambassador to the United Nations will mean the state will have a new chief executive. Upon confirmation, Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster (R) will ascend to the Governor's office and serve the final two years of the current term. He would be eligible to run for a full term in his own right in 2018, and will obviously be the front runner in the Republican primary, which is generally tantamount to winning the position in the general election.
November 23, 2016
Post Election Presidential Math and Louisiana Runoff Polls
by Jim Ellis
As President-Elect Trump continues to interview prospective cabinet members during his transition into office, more information is coming into focus relating to the final presidential numbers.
It is becoming clearer that Mr. Trump will secure 306 electoral votes once the canvass process is completed in all states. Michigan remains officially uncalled, but it appears that Trump will carry the state by about three-tenths of one percentage point. The awarding of the final 16 electoral votes to increase his total to 306 EVs will represent the most votes a Republican candidate has obtained since George H.W. Bush earned 426 electoral votes in 1988.
In seeing the final map unfold, it is evident that after Trump built upon the Republican base by taking Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina, the Great Lakes states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin transformed the race from a losing Republican performance into a winning one. Mr. Trump is the first Republican to carry Michigan and Pennsylvania since 1988, and one must research all the way back to 1984 to find the last time a Republican presidential nominee won Wisconsin.
It is now apparent that the 2016 election will set an all-time voter turnout record. While the media reported on Election Night that turnout was projected to be lower than the previous record set in 2008 and worse than the recorded 2012 total, more than 13 million votes received and counted after the election (absentees, provisional ballots, overseas voting, and ballots postmarked on Election Day in California and Washington) mean the final total will approach, and possibly exceed, 135 million voters.
The previous aggregate vote set in 2008 was 131,426,292. To put these totals in perspective, the 2008 election broke the turnout record of 2004, which featured only 122,339,717 votes. When Ronald Reagan won his landslide re-election in 1984, the aggregate vote cast was just 92.5 million voters.
On the other hand, Hillary Clinton will clinch the popular vote, and probably exceed Mr. Trump's vote total by more than 2 million votes. The two candidates conceded a total of 32 states to their individual opponent and only competed head-to-head in 19 states. Clinton racked up her high popular vote total by netting almost a 5 million vote lead in the voting entities that were a foregone conclusion to support either the Democratic or Republican candidate. In the 19 competitive states, it was Mr. Trump who held the popular vote lead, by almost 3.2 million votes.
A Trafalgar Group survey (11/14-17; 2,200 LA likely run-off voters) finds Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy staking out a commanding lead over Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell in the open Louisiana US Senate runoff election scheduled for December 10th. According to the Trafalgar data, Kennedy leads Campbell 58-35% when leaners for both candidates are included.
Little in the way of outside support coming in for either candidate suggests that the Democrats are basically conceding the race to Kennedy. Should the situation remain constant all the way through Election Day, Mr. Kennedy will become the new Congress' 52nd Republican Senator.
The aforementioned Trafalgar Group survey also tested the two Louisiana congressional run-offs in Districts 3 and 4. Both polls sampled over 600 likely run-off voters that came from the statewide respondent universe commissioned for the Senate race described above.
In the 3rd CD, the open seat vacated by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-Lafayette) who ran unsuccessfully for US Senate, Public Service Commissioner and former Lt. Gov. Scott Angelle and retired police captain Clay Higgins are locked in a tough battle to be decided December 10th. While Angelle should be in the driver's seat here based upon name identification and political connections, he actually trails former law enforcement officer Higgins, 42-50%.
As head of the Department of Natural Resources in the Bobby Jindal Administration, Mr. Angelle was involved in a regional public safety issue that drove up his negative ratings. The Public Service Commissioner counters his opponent's data with his own internal OnMessage survey that finds him leading Higgins, 46-42%. Angelle has the clear resource advantage but possesses much higher negative ratings, so this race will go down to the wire. Since both men are Republicans, the GOP wins regardless of who claims the seat in early December.
In the Shreveport based 4th District, open because Rep. John Fleming (R-Minden) also failed in his US Senate run, Republican state Rep. Mike Johnson (R) has a clear advantage over Democratic attorney Marshall Jones. According to the Trafalgar poll of this district, Johnson leads, 59-35%. Since 70% of the jungle primary voters chose a Republican candidate and the region has been in GOP hands since 1988, Mr. Johnson is a good bet to win the December 10th runoff election.
In California, Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove/Sacramento) was finally declared the winner in his tight battle against Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones (R). Down the Golden State coast, the San Diego/Orange County 49th District incumbent Darrell Issa (R-Vista) is positioned to hold his seat, but the laborious counting process continues to drag. The least optimistic forecast for Issa is he defeats retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate (D) by less than 2,000 votes.
November 16, 2016
Trump's Electoral College Win and Republican Majorities Hold
by Jim Ellis
It appears President-Elect Donald Trump is on his way to securing 306 electoral votes, as the states launch their official vote canvass procedures this week. The process verifies and makes official the individual state vote counts. Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia are called for one candidate or the other, leaving Mr. Trump with 290 EVs and Hillary Clinton with 232. This clinches the Trump victory, but the state of Michigan remains outstanding.
Under Wolverine State election law, the vote will not be projected or finalized until the re-count request period elapses. Trump has a lead of just under 12,000 votes with all ballots received and counted, meaning the contest broke 47.6% for Republican nominee while Clinton secured 47.3%. Since the final result is within a percentage point, the re-count request period begins. Once this post-canvassing re-count request deadline passes, the Michigan vote will be finalized.
Though Trump's margin is small in the context of a statewide vote that saw more than 7.7 million individuals casting their ballot, almost 12,000 votes is still a spread that will likely prevail. The canvass merely confirms the reported count in the 83 counties, and does not include challenging any votes, so it is unlikely that mistakes or mathematical errors would change the outcome to such a degree that Clinton would win the state.
Now a week past the election, all of the Senate races with the exception of the Louisiana run-off that will be held December 10th have concluded. There are no re-counts underway in any Senate race. The country's closest Senate contest, the New Hampshire race that was decided by 743 votes of more than 707,000 cast ballots, is not being challenged. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) conceded defeat to Gov. Maggie Hassan (D), meaning the close margin will be finalized.
Louisiana employs a much different electoral system than any other state. November 8th featured their primary, obviously the last state in the nation to hold their nominating event. In the 1977 election, Louisiana changed their electoral system to one commonly referred to as a "jungle primary". Some call it the "blanket" primary. Simply put, all candidates are placed on one ballot, and if an absolute majority votes for one individual, that person is elected outright. If no one secures 50% of the vote, the top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, advance to a run-off election. California and Washington also use this part of the Louisiana system.
Originally, the Louisiana primary was held in September, like many other states, but the Justice Department ruled that all states must have a general election on national voting day. Since Louisiana decision makers like the idea of having just one election to potentially elect their office holders, they simply moved the primary to run concurrently with the general election. California and Washington hold their primaries in their regular voting slots (CA: June; WA: August), and those two states send the top two to the general election regardless of primary vote percentage obtained.
Thus, we now see a Louisiana Senate run-off, and one for two open House districts, CDs 3 (Lafayette) and 4 (Shreveport), scheduled for December 10th. The Senate participants are Republican John Kennedy, the four-term state Treasurer and former Democrat, and Foster Campbell, the Democratic Public Service Commissioner who has run several times statewide and for the House of Representatives. As of yesterday, neither political party nor outside organization reserved any media time, meaning that this contest may largely be a quiet affair. Considering Louisiana's strong Republican voting trends - Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton here, 58-34%, for example - Mr. Kennedy looks to be in the driver's seat.
If the Louisiana Republican prevails, the final Senate party division will feature 52 Republicans and 46 Democrats with two Independents (Sens. Bernie Sanders (VT) and Angus King (ME)) who both caucus with the latter party.
In addition to the two Louisiana run-off elections still to come, a pair of California House races remains uncalled. Because California allows voters to postmark their mail ballots on Election Day, and this year accepted those ballots through November 14th, an estimated four million Golden State votes remain to be counted. This means that the two contested House races, District 7 in Sacramento (Rep. Ami Bera (D) vs. Scott Jones (R)) and District 49 in San Diego County (Rep. Darrell Issa (R) vs. Doug Applegate (D)), remain undecided. Both incumbents lead, but by one percentage point or less. It is estimated that as many as 80-90,000 votes in each race could still be added to the count.
Since two Republicans - Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and retired police captain Clay Higgins - are vying for Louisiana District 3, it is guaranteed that the GOP will secure this district. This would bring their House conference count to a minimum of 239, even if the party loses the other three uncalled races. It is more likely, however, that Republicans win LA-4 and CA-49, meaning the final count will probably be 241R-194D. Such a division would mean the Republicans lost only a net of six seats.
We now see that a record 33 Republicans have been elected Governor in the current term (2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 elections) even if the uncalled North Carolina contest elects Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) over Gov. Pat McCrory (R). The former leads the latter by just under 5,000 votes statewide, and it is likely the official canvass period, already underway, will finalize the Cooper victory later this week. If their nominee holds, the Democrats will fall to only 16 US Governorships. There is one Independent, Alaska's Bill Walker, who is a former Republican.
The Republicans also set a record in the state legislatures. Even with the New York Senate remaining uncalled, the GOP will hold a minimum of 66 legislative chambers from the country's 99 state bodies.
Nebraska is the only state in the Union that features just one legislative house, and those members are elected on a non-partisan basis. It is clear, however, that the GOP would control the 49-member body if they were elected as Republicans and Democrats, however. This would mean, in actuality, that 67 state legislative chambers are under GOP control. If the final NY Senate seat goes their way, that number could climb to 68.
If the Republicans hold such a margin through the 2018 and 2020 elections, they will be in firm control of the next redistricting process, and that theoretically could lead to sustained Republican control of the US House all the way through 2032.
November 9, 2016
2016 Election Results: Republicans take White House, Senate, and House
by Jim Ellis
Last night's national election produced one of the biggest upsets in presidential history as Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton with what appears to be at least 290 electoral votes. The win was stunning in that it defied a virtually unified polling conclusion that projected Ms. Clinton to have the closing momentum heading into the election.
The last dozen national polls all with ending periods of November 6th or later were a virtual consensus that Clinton had a popular vote lead. Her average lead was approximately 3.6 percentage points, with a range of Clinton +6 (NBC News/Survey Monkey) to Trump +2 (Investor's Business Daily/TIPP). The latter poll has consistently projected Trump to the leading position, as has the LA Times/University of Southern California panel-back tracking poll. The LA Times poll was not included in the national averages because their methodology and survey basis was different than the others. It is safe to say that both the IBD/TIPP and the LA Times/USC polls will gain a great deal more respect in the coming weeks and years.
Rasmussen Reports is another pollster that found different numbers than most, and normally posted Trump to small leads. But, even their last poll arrived at the conclusion that Ms. Clinton held a two-point lead. The major media outlets of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC News all missed the final result by a significant margin, and none found Trump leading.
Donald Trump scored a major come-from-behind victory in the presidential race, and those who suggested that a latent Trump vote was hiding in places like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio were proven correct. In a national popular vote contest that appears as close as the Bush-Gore race of 2000 (Gore winning the popular vote by about 500,000 ballots, though losing the Electoral College), Mr. Trump is running slightly ahead of Clinton on the national vote count, but it is possible that we could again see a President elected who does not secure a plurality on the popular vote when all final votes are recorded.
Mr. Trump carried 29 states and the 2nd District of Maine translating into 290 electoral votes, as compared to Clinton's 228. Two states, Michigan and New Hampshire still remain too close to call. This count differs slightly from most of the media's projection because they still have yet to award Arizona and Minnesota, even though both states appear to have a very clear path to conclusion. In Arizona, Trump continues to lead by almost 80,000 votes with 98% of the precincts reporting. It is unlikely that enough absentee ballots remain that could flip this state away from him.
The same is true for Minnesota, except in the opposite direction. Clinton leads here by 43,000 votes with a reported 100% of the precincts being tabulated. Therefore, placing Arizona in the Trump column and Minnesota with Clinton give us the 290-228 electoral vote split. Should both Michigan and New Hampshire finally go to Trump, and he leads in both places, the total electoral vote split could be as high as 310-228.
Trump virtually flipped the country in comparison to the last two Republican nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney. In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama defeated Sen. John McCain, 365-173. Four years later, President Obama sacked Romney, 332-206. In comparison to last night's results, Mr. Obama scored popular vote margins of 53-46% and 51-47% in his two successful runs for the nation's top office.
Exit polling, often unreliable, portends that Mr. Trump carried 53% of the male vote and Ms. Clinton 54% of the female vote. Clinton carried all age groups under 40, and Trump took the category segments over 40 years of age. The race categories look similar to 2012, but the turnout among whites was clearly stronger than those from minority communities. Trump took 58% of the white vote, and was particularly strong with while males (63%), while Clinton garnered 88% from the African Americans, and 65% apiece from the Hispanic and Asian communities.
Once the final numbers become known and are recorded, and in-depth post-election studies are completed, these figures could change significantly.
Much will come from the 2016 presidential election, and the analysis will continue for weeks. More data will soon be available about the seniors, white males, females, and the various minority constituencies, along with the trends and patterns that led to them to make their eventual presidential choices.
US Senate Overview
The Senate races have been hanging by a thread for better than a month. Last night, they culminated in a surprising Republican victory. Up 54-46 in the current Senate, the Republicans overcame having to defend 24 of 34 in-cycle seats and rode a Donald Trump turnout model to national victory and an outright Senate majority. The new party division, with the Louisiana race still to be decided in a December 10th run-off election and New Hampshire too close to call at this writing, is 51R-47D.
The majority of the most well-known toss-up contests were in five states: Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, before Indiana and Wisconsin joined the group in the waning days of the campaign. In the end, all but Nevada and possibly New Hampshire broke in the Republicans' favor. Most of these races were tight, as expected.
The biggest margin surprise was Republican Todd Young scoring a ten-point victory in Indiana over former Sen. Evan Bayh (D), who originally led by 21 points. North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr (R) scored a six-point win, but all of the other toss-ups were in the two to three point realm. The biggest surprise of the night was Sen. Ron Johnson (R) holding his Wisconsin seat despite only two polls during the entire last year ever showing him to be ahead. Though the race closed in the end, former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) continued to hold a consistent advantage.
Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) held the Democrats' open Nevada seat, and becomes the first female candidate of Latin descent to enter the US Senate. Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R), on the ropes during the last few weeks of the campaign, managed to secure a three-point victory. In another surprise, Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (R) again defied the odds and held his marginal seat, also in the face of bad polling numbers, to secure another six-year term.
The one state that did flip from R to D was Illinois, where Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Hoffman Estates) successfully unseated first-term Sen. Mark Kirk (R), as expected.
The new Senate leadership slate will likely be:
Majority Leader: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Majority Whip: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
Minority Leader: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Minority Whip: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Republicans held their Senate majority and could go as high as 53 seats, which would mean losing only one, if they win the Louisiana run-off on December 10th (they will be favored to do so), and should Sen. Ayotte hang on to her small lead in New Hampshire.
Senator Mark Kirk (R) fell to Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Hoffman Estates), 40-54%.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) leads Governor Maggie Hassan (D) by 1,922 votes with counting stopped at 94% of the precincts counted. We will have further information later today.
Republicans held the following competitive incumbent races:
Sen. Roy Blunt (R) defeated Secretary of State Jason Kander (D), 49.4 - 46.2%
Sen. Richard Burr (R) proved the strongest Republican on Election Day, beating back a strong challenge from former state Rep. Deborah Ross (D), 51.1 - 45.3%.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R) defeated former gubernatorial chief of staff Katie McGinty (D) 48.9 to 47.2%
Sen. Ron Johnson (R) scored an amazing comeback victory, topping former Senator Russ Feingold (D) 50.2 - 46.8%
Democrats held three open seats previously held by a Democrat:
Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) easily defeated fellow Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana), 63-37%.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Montgomery County) defeated State House
Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (R), 60-36%.
Former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) defeated Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson), 47.1 - 44.7%
Democrats held seats in these races with their party's incumbent:
Colorado:Sen. Michael Bennet (49.2 - 45.7% surprisingly close)
Connecticut:Sen. Richard Blumenthal
Hawaii:Sen. Brian Schatz
New York: Sen. Chuck Schumer
Oregon:Sen. Ron Wyden
Vermont:Sen. Patrick Leahy
Washington:Sen. Patty Murray
Republicans won these open seats previously held by a Democrat:
Republicans won these open seats previously held by a Republican:
Rep. Todd Young (R-Bloomington) defeated former Senator and Governor Evan Bayh (D), 52.2 - 42.4%, thus retaining the seat of retiring Sen. Dan Coats (R)
This likely Republican seat will advance to a December 10th run-off election:
Louisiana: John Kennedy (R) vs. Foster Campbell (D)
Republican held seats in these races with their party's incumbent:
Alabama:Sen. Richard Shelby
Alaska:Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Arizona:Sen. John McCain
Arkansas:Sen. John Boozman
Florida: Sen. Marco Rubio
Georgia:Sen. Johnny Isakson
Idaho:Sen. Mike Crapo
Iowa:Sen. Chuck Grassley
Kansas:Sen. Jerry Moran
Kentucky:Sen. Rand Paul
Missouri:Sen. Roy Blunt
North Carolina:Sen. Richard Burr
North Dakota:Sen. John Hoeven
Ohio:Sen. Rob Portman
Oklahoma:Sen. James Lankford
South Carolina:Sen. Tim Scott
South Dakota:Sen. John Thune
Utah:Sen. Mike Lee
US House Overview
Republicans held their House majority, only losing six to nine seats, depending upon the calling of final races that are still outstanding. This brings the new majority to the 239-236R range with Democrats falling between 196 and 199.
Republicans held the House largely because of favorable redistricting maps, and a poor Democratic candidate recruiting season minimized the latter party's number of competitive challengers, plus a moderately favorable turnout model at the top of the ticket.
Republicans maintained 90% of their open seats, which includes likely December 10th run-off contests in Louisiana's Districts 3 and 4.
Though Democrats ran with a strategy of attempting to tie all Republican candidates to who they believed was a flawed presidential nominee in Donald Trump, the approach failed. Republicans were able to re-elect all but six of their incumbents, thus underscoring that the Trump/GOP House member connection produced relatively few Democratic victories. Of the incumbent and open seat GOP losses, four were directly due to mid-decade redistricting plans that were enacted before the 2016 election.
Several Republicans like Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO-6) and Rod Blum (R-IA-1) again survived in difficult districts for any Republican.
Key Republican Wins
Republicans may have converted three Democratic seats.
FL-2:Neil Dunn (R) replaces Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee)
FL-18:Brian Mast (R) replaces Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter)
NE-2:Don Bacon (R) remains on a path to unseat Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Omaha), though the race has not been officially called
Republicans held 27 of 30 open GOP seats, with two (LA-3 and LA-4) to be decided in a December 10th run-off election. The LA-3 run-off is a double R campaign.
Key Democratic Wins
Democrats defeated six Republican incumbents:
FL-7: Stephanie Murphy (D) defeats Rep. John Mica (R-Winter Park)
FL-13:Charlie Crist (D) unseats Rep. David Jolly (R-Pinellas County)
IL-10: Ex-Rep. Brad Schneider (D) again unseats Rep. Bob Dold (R-Kenilworth)
NV-4: Ruben Kihuen (D) defeats Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Mesquite)
NH-1: Carol Shea-Porter (D) defeats Rep. Frank Guinta (R-Manchester)
NJ-5: Josh Gottheimer (D) defeats Rep. Scott Garrett (R-Wantage)
California races in Districts 7 (Rep. Ami Bera (D) vs. Scott Jones (R), 10 (Rep. Jeff Denham (R) vs. Michael Eggman (D), 24 (open seat: Salud Carbajal (D) vs. Justin Fareed (R)), 25 (Rep. Steve Knight (R) vs. Bryan Caforio (D)), and 49 (Rep. Darrell Issa (R) vs. Doug Applegate (D)) will take many days if not weeks to become final because of California's slow and laborious ballot counting system.
Democrats held 17 of 19 their own open seats
Democrats win three Republican open seats:
FL-10:Val Demings (D) replaces Rep. Dan Webster (R-Orlando)
NV-3: Jacky Rosen (D) defeats Danny Tarkanian (R)
VA-4: St. Sen. Donald McEachin (D) takes the re-drawn 4th District, defeating Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade (R)
Twelve gubernatorial races were on the ballot, yielding party changes that favored Republicans. Democrats may have converted one Republican state house, that in North Carolina as Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) leads incumbent Pat McCrory (R) by just 5,000 votes. It is unclear if any absentee or provisional ballots remain to be counted. Republicans took Democratic posts in Missouri, New Hampshire and Vermont. Open seats in Delaware and West Virginia remained in Democratic hands, while Republicans held their two open seats in Indiana and North Dakota.
Democratic incumbents were re-elected in Montana (Gov. Steve Bullock) in a close election, Oregon (Gov. Kate Brown), and Washington (Gov. Jay Inslee), while Republicans held Utah (Gov. Gary Herbert).
Overall, the gubernatorial count advances to 33R-16D-1I, with Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) being a former Republican.
The voter participation rate appears to be coming in well under the 129,172,069 people who officially cast ballots in 2012. At the end of initial counting, approximately 122 million individuals are recorded as voting. It is estimated that possibly more than 50% of voters took advantage of the early voting procedures that are available in 43 states and the District of Columbia. A total of 37 states and DC allow "no-excuse" early voting, meaning anyone can vote by mail or in-person as a matter of choice. In six states (KY, MS, MO, NY, SC, and VA) one still must have a valid excuse to vote early or absentee, meaning the individual must indicate that they are unable to be present at their usual polling place on Election Day.
We won't know the final turnout numbers for at least two weeks, as states will conduct their official canvasses after all votes have been received. Large blocks of votes - meaning millions - will be reported in California during the next several days, and even weeks, as their large number of mail votes results in a laborious counting system that begins only when all votes are received. Washington, one of three states that employs a total vote-by-mail procedure, accepts ballots post-marked on Election Day meaning the count will stretch for maybe as long as the next ten days. The other two, Oregon and Colorado, require ballots to be received on Election Day.
In the last 30 years, turnout has increased from 81.5 million voters in 1976 to a high of 131.4 million in 2008. The fall-off between 2008 and 2012 was -1.7%. During this 30-year span, presidential turnout has increased in every election with the exception of 1988, 1996, and 2012.
The largest drop-off from one successive presidential campaign to another (7.8%) occurred in 1996, when President Bill Clinton defeated Republican Bob Dole. The biggest increase in successive elections came in 2004 (President George W. Bush defeating Democrat John Kerry), when a modern day record occurred. An increase of 16.1% in voter participation arose in 2004, when compared to vote levels from the 2000 election. Until then, the highest increase was found in 1992, when 14.0% more voters cast their ballots than did in the 1988 election.
November 2, 2016
Races Tighten Up and Down the Ballot
by Jim Ellis
The new Hillary Clinton email revelation has ushered in a sense of doubt surrounding the final week of this unique presidential campaign. In fact, the latest four polls taken between the October 26-31 period find the race reverting back to within the polling margin of error.
The ABC News/Washington Post rolling tracking survey (10/27-30; 1,167 US likely voters) reports Clinton's lead dropping to only one percentage point, 46-45%. The Investors Business Daily/TIPP poll (10/26-31; 1,018 US likely voters) also sees a one-point separation between the two candidates. Rasmussen Reports (10/27-31; 1,500 US likely voters) projects a flat tie, 44-44%. Finally, the Lucid/New Orleans Times Picayune (10/29-31; 866 US likely voters) forecasts a two-point spread, 42-40%. This portends quite a different scene from just one week ago.
Trends seem to be favoring Trump now in Florida, Ohio, and Iowa. He's getting back into range in North Carolina and Nevada. The 2nd District of Maine, from one of two states that splits its electoral votes, becomes another possibility for the Republican to add one additional tally. But, Trump must take all of these entities and find one other if he is to forge a winning Electoral College majority.
Three states, Colorado, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, appear as his only final state possibilities, but he leads in none of them right now.
Six polls have been fielded in PA since October 23rd, and all show a Clinton advantage, anywhere from two to eleven points. The latest University of New Hampshire/WBUR-TV survey (10/26-30; 641 NH likely voters) gave Clinton a 46-39-6-1% advantage over Mr. Trump, Libertarian Gary Johnson, and the Green Party's Jill Stein in the Granite State. Finally, in Colorado, Republican polling firm, Remington Research (10/30; 1,176 CO likely voters) sees only a one point difference between the two candidates, at 45-44%, which is the Republicans' best Centennial State showing to date.
Though these polls all suggest that each particular state is within Trump's grasp, at least one of the latter three must fall his way in order to declare final victory next week, assuming the previously mentioned states all break his way and he retains the 23 normally Republican entities. While closer to achieving all of this, the national map still favors Ms. Clinton.
Entering the final week of campaigning, we still do not have a sense as to which party will control the Senate majority next year. Right now, it appears that Democrats look secure in 48 seats, counting holdovers, and Republicans’ 47. Five contests remain as toss-ups. The Democratic number includes converting Republican seats in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
If Democrats hold the Nevada Senate race (Democratic former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson)), it means they would only have to win one of the remaining four seats to re-gain the majority assuming Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine are successfully elected President and Vice President. Right now, this race continues to seesaw between the two Senate candidates. The latest survey, from the Emerson College Polling Society (10/26-27; 550 NV likely voters), gives Republican Heck a 48-44% advantage.
North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) continues to hold a small edge over Democratic challenger Deborah Ross. The latest released survey, from local Elon University (10/23-27; 710 NC likely voters), gives the Senator a three-point advantage, 45-42%.
Monmouth University (10/28-31; 405 MO likely voters) finds Sen. Roy Blunt (R) clinging only to a 47-46% edge over Secretary of State Jason Kander (D). While this poll is consistent with several others, the same respondent sample gives Donald Trump a whopping 52-38% lead over Hillary Clinton. If true, then Sen. Blunt should be ahead by a much greater margin.
Democrats appear to be forging ahead in New Hampshire (Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) vs. Gov. Maggie Hassan (D)), and Pennsylvania (Sen. Pat Toomey (R) opposing Katie McGinty (D)), but these races have been volatile for months and could easily snap back to produce a Republican victory next Tuesday.
The latest Clinton email development and the tightening of the presidential contest will likely help down ballot Republicans, as mentioned above. This is so because Republican turnout will likely be better than feared when it appeared Ms. Clinton had virtually clinched the national campaign.
Democrats still appear poised to make some gains but should the 18 toss-up seats split 50/50, then overall GOP losses will likely fall in the dozen-seat range. This type of result would give the Republicans a majority around the 235 mark, which is exactly in their typical range since they began winning House control back in 1994. In the last eleven congressional terms, Republicans have controlled the House for all but four years.
With a combination of a better Republican voter turnout model and congressional district maps that favor them, the GOP will retain House control for another term. If Ms. Clinton does become President and Democrats re-gain a small Senate majority, then divided government will continue into the next congressional session.
October 26, 2016
Battleground Polling and NC/NH Could Decide Senate Majority
by Jim Ellis
Hillary Clinton is locking in her national popular vote lead, as six new national surveys find her advantage stretching from one to twelve points. As has been the case for the last two weeks, both the Rasmussen Reports (latest: 10/20-24; 1,500 US likely voters) and the Investors Business Daily/TIPP surveys (latest: 10/19-24; 873 US likely voters) poll best for Donald Trump. Here the two give the former Secretary of State only a one-point margin.
On the other side of the spectrum, ABC News (10/20-23; 1,155 US likely voters) and the new Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey for the Democracy Corps liberal advocacy organization (10/21-24; 900 US likely voters) see identical twelve point, 50-38%, Clinton margins.
Five new polls see the all-important Florida race tightening, however, as one projects Donald Trump taking a two point lead (Bloomberg Politics; 10/21-24; 953 FL likely voters), at 45-43%, with Libertarian Gary Johnson notching 4% and the Green Party's Jill Stein taking just 2 percent. Remington Research (10/20-22; 1,646 FL likely voters via automated response telephoning) forecasts a 46-46% tie. Three others, conducted during the same 10/20-24 time period (Survey USA, CBS News/YouGov, and Opinion Savvy) find Ms. Clinton maintaining an edge of either three or four percentage points.
In Ohio, however, the trends favor Trump. Remington Research, Quinnipiac University, and CNN/ORC all see the Republican nominee leading between one and three points during the October 10-22 period. Suffolk University (10/17-19; 500 OH likely voters) finds the two candidates tied at 45% apiece.
The two latest Pennsylvania studies, Remington Research (10/20-22; 1,997 PA likely voters via automated response telephoning) and the Emerson College Polling Society (10/17-19; 800 PA likely voters) post smaller Clinton leads of three and four points.
The Minnesota electorate, which hasn't voted Republican in a presidential race since 1972, was for a time teetering in this race. But, a new Minneapolis Star Tribune survey (10/20-22; 625 MN likely voters) puts the race back in what should be its normal perspective suggesting that Ms. Clinton is topping Donald Trump and the minor party candidates, 47-39-6-1%.
We seem to be seeing movement in the New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Nevada Senate races. UMass/YouGov (10/17-21; 772 NH likely voters) gives Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) a 48-44% advantage when all committed and leaning voters are added to the respondent tally. She and Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) had previously been locked in a tie.
While Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) has been consistently polling ahead by small margins in eight of the last nine statewide polls (the ninth showed a tie between the two candidates), the latest New York Times/Siena College survey (10/20-23; 792 NC likely voters) gives challenger Deborah Ross a slight 47-46% edge. But, simultaneously, Monmouth University (10/20-23; 402 NC likely voters) sees a six-point, 49-43%, Burr advantage. The Monmouth polling sample, however, is just over half as large as the NYT/Siena College respondent universe.
The Nevada Senate race continues to bounce back and forth between the two candidates, but four of the latest six polls give Democratic former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto an edge over Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson). Both Rasmussen Reports and the Las Vegas Review Journal in surveys fielded between October 20 and 23, find Ms. Masto clinging to two and one point leads, respectively.
In the aggregate, the Senate race picture continues to hover around the 50-50 mark, though the latest trends suggest that Democrats will obtain the Senate majority either in a tie vote, or by breaking through to 51 or even 52 seats.
Our own compilation of all 435 House races suggests that the Republicans will maintain control of the chamber in the next Congress, but with a smaller margin.
It appears that Republicans are safe in 197 seats as compared to 177 for Democrats. An additional 21 seats are rated as "Republican favored", where ten more lean to the GOP candidate. In addition to the 177 safe Ds, another nine can be categorized as "Democrat favored", with three more leaning their way.
Thus, the grand total of safe, favored, and lean Republican seats is 228, while the Democratic total looks to be 189. This leaves 18 toss-up districts, fifteen in Republican districts and only three in those currently held by a Democrat. Extrapolating the toss-up category with the latest trends and voter history, suggests that the Republican majority will hover around the low to mid-230s, exactly where most of their margins have resided after first assuming the House majority in the 1994 election. Currently, the House party division is 247R-188D.
Trends are developing in some of the key Governor's races. The latest polling and past election history suggests a Democratic conversion in North Carolina where Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) maintains a small lead over Gov. Pat McCrory (R). The same may occur in Indiana, where Democratic nominee John Gregg maintains a small margin over Republican Eric Holcomb in the seat left open when Gov. Mike Pence (R) accepted the GOP Vice Presidential nomination.
Democrats are poised to hold the open Delaware, Missouri, and West Virginia governorships, while Republicans could score conversion victories in New Hampshire and, most surprisingly, Vermont.
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