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.
May 22, 2013
2014 Open Seat Outlook: Congress
By Kelly McDonough and Briana Huxley
May is almost over and we are nearly to the halfway point of 2013. The races for 2014 are beginning to take shape as federal legislators determine whether they will run for reelection or hang up their hats to begin a life of retirement, relaxation or their next professional adventure. In Congress, most attention is focused on the U.S. Senate because of the increasing potential for Republicans to win control of the chamber next year. Currently Democrats hold 53 seats, Republicans hold 45 and two Independents caucus with the Democrats. In order for Republicans to gain control of the Senate, they need to pick up at least six seats currently held by Democrats. Already, six Democrats have announced their retirement creating open seats. Open seats create the best opportunity for pick-ups by opposing parties because candidates don't have to unseat incumbents who typically have more fundraising and party support than challenger candidates. The open seats created by Senators deciding to leave are also creating open seats in the House because Representatives are trying to run for the newly open Senate seats. Because open seats create the most opportunity for change in party control, competitiveness and unpredictability, we have created a 2014 overview of all the current open seats up in Congress for next year's election. Next week we will provide an overview of Governors' races.
U.S Senate: 8 Open Seats (6D, 2R)
Georgia: Saxby Chambliss (R)
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, currently serving his second term, has announced that he is sick of partisan politics and will not be seeking a third term. He was also one of the more vulnerable Republicans up in 2014 and was expected to face a primary challenger from the right. This is traditionally a conservative seat, but a contentious Republican primary could make this more competitive. Currently there are four Republican candidates vying for the nomination-Reps. Paul Broun (R), Phil Gingrey (R) and Jack Kingston (R), and Secretary of State Karen Handel (R). There are no declared Democratic challengers yet. Rep. John Barrow (D) has declined to run, though Michele Nunn (D), daughter of former GA Senator Sam Nunn, could potentially enter. Georgia is a conservative state, but an ugly Republican primary could create an opportunity for a credible Democrat.
Iowa: Tom Harkin (D)
Currently serving in his fifth term, 73 year old Sen. Tom Harkin has cited age as his primary reason to retire. The frontrunner on the Democratic side is Rep. Bruce Braley (D), from Iowa's 1st Congressional District, who has been endorsed by Harkin. On the Republican side, several Republican potentials have all declined to run, including Lt. Gov Kim Reynolds (R), Rep. Tom Latham (R) and Rep. Steve King (R), leaving the race wide open. Harkin's departure leaves the Chairmanship of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions open, assuming the Democrats keep control of the Senate.
Michigan: Carl Levin (D)
After 34 years in office, the current Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin has announced his retirement. Rep. Gary Peters (D) has announced his Senate candidacy and is not expected to face any serious Democratic competition. There are no declared candidates on the Republican side yet, but Reps. Mike Rogers (R) and Justin Amash (R) have both been floated as potentials.
Montana: Max Baucus (D)
Sen. Baucus is the most recent Senator to announce his retirement from the Senate. He has served six terms and is chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, but was expected to face a tough race in 2014 - Montana is a red leaning state that went to Romney in 2012. This may be a difficult seat for Democrats to hold on to, though they are currently courting Brian Schweitzer (D), a popular former Governor. Possible Republican candidates include Rep. Steve Daines (R), former Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) and former Gov. Marc Raicot (R).
Nebraska: Mike Johanns (R)
The least senior Senator on this list, Sen. Mike Johanns has announced his retirement after serving only one term in the Senate. This seat is expected to stay Republican. Candidates include current Gov. Dave Heineman (R) who is term limited, and all three Nebraska Congressmen, Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R), Adrian Smith (R) and Lee Terry (R).
New Jersey: Frank Lautenberg (D)
89 year old Sen. Frank Lautenberg has decided it is finally time to retire. Just as Nebraska is a safe Republican seat, New Jersey is expected to stay in Democratic hands. Newark Mayor Corey Booker (D) garnered a lot of attention when he announced his intention to run for the seat before Lautenberg's decision to retire, but he could face a formidable primary challenger in Rep. Frank Pallone (D).
South Dakota: Tim Johnson (D)
This was an expected retirement; Sen. Tim Johnson suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2006 and is still recuperating. This does, however, give Republicans another shot at gaining a seat. South Dakota trends red and Romney carried it in 2012. It also appears that top tier Democrats will not be running for the seat, including Former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D) and Johnson's son, Brendan Johnson (D). The potential Democratic candidate right now is Rick Weiland (D), former aide and friend of former Sen. Tom Daschle. On the Republican side, possible candidates are former Gov. Mike Rounds (R) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R). Johnson's departure also leaves the Chairmanship to the Senate Banking Committee available, assuming the Democrats can keep control of the Senate.
West Virginia: Jay Rockefeller (D)
Sen. Jay Rockefeller's retirement from the Senate gives the Republicans another good chance at a seat pickup - Romney won West Virginia by 27 points. The five term Senator is also another long-serving Senator giving up a chairmanship, this time on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Rep. Shelly Moore Capito (R) has already announced her candidacy and seems to have the Republicans rallying around her. There are no announced Democratic candidates yet, but names being floated include attorney Nick Preservati (D), a pro coal businessman, state Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Robin Davis (D) and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D).
U.S. House of Representatives: 9 Open Seats (5 R, 4 D)
Iowa 1: Rep. Bruce Braley (D) is running for Senate to replace Sen. Tom Harkin (D) creating an open seat. Braley has represented this district since 2006. Barack Obama won this district 55.9% to Romney's 42.3% illustrating that this is a fairly Democratic district. Several individuals have shown interest in running which means we can expect to see very crowded primaries for both parties. The individuals leading the pack today are Iowa state Rep. Pat Murphy (D) who was Speaker of the legislature from 2007 to 2011 (Murphy announced in Feb.), former television anchor and state Senator Liz Mathis (D), businessman Rod Blum (R) who narrowly lost the primary for this seat last year with 47% of the vote, and former Cedar Rapids Mayor Paul Pate (R) who has the best name ID out of all the candidates. The filing deadline is not until next spring and of all the open House seats, this one is the least partisan, but as of today, D's still have an advantage.
Georgia 10: Rep. Paul Broun (R) is running for Senate to replace Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) creating an open seat. This seat is very conservative and Broun has represented the district since 2006. Mitt Romney won this seat with 62.5% of the vote in 2012, but a third of all residents are minorities, and those demographics are expected to grow in coming years so you can expect to see the dynamics of this district evolve. Two individuals have announced their intentions to run - state Rep. Donna Sheldon (R), the chairwoman of the GOP Caucus, and Jody Hice (R), radio host and Southern Baptist pastor. This seat should easily stay in Republican hands and most of the action will be seen in the primary.
West Virginia 2: Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) is running for Senate to replace Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) creating an open seat. Capito has represented this conservative district since 2000 and Mitt Romney won the district with 60% of the vote. There are a number of candidates from both parties interested in this seat. Although the district leans Republican, it is not out of the question for a strong Democrat to make this competitive. The top contenders so far are Nick Casey (D), former state Democratic Chair, state Sen. Eric Wells (D) -his wife is Sec. of State Natalie Tennant who has been mentioned to run for Senate- and state Sen. Herb Snyder (D). On the Republican side, numerous names have been mentioned but the names at the top are House Minority Leader Tim Armstead (R), Senate Minority Leader Mike Hall (R), former state Republican Party Chairman Mike Stuart (R) and state Delegates Eric Nelson (R), Patrick Lane (R) and Steve Harrison (R).
Louisiana 6: Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) recently announced he is running for the Senate in a challenge to current Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, creating an open seat in Louisiana's 6th Congressional District. Cassidy has represented this very Republican district since 2008. President Barack Obama lost this district by 34 points in 2012, making this a very attractive seat for local conservatives. The district includes Baton Rouge and surrounding suburbs. Most of the contenders for the seat are state representatives or state senators, but also considering the seat is former Rep. Jeff Landry (R) who lost in a member vs. member election last year. The only catch is that he does not technically live in the district.
Georgia 1: Another Congressman from the Georgia Delegation, Rep. Jack Kingston (R), is also running for Chambliss' open seat, creating another open seat. Kingston has served in the 1st District since 1993. The district leans Republican, and voted for Romney with 56% of the vote in 2012. There are currently three candidates, state Sen. Buddy Carter (R), Darwin Carter (R), a businessman who worked in President Reagan's administration, and David Schwarz (R), a Republican consultant and former Kingston staffer. v Georgia 11: Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) is also running for Saxby Chambliss' (R) open senate seat. Gingrey has served in the 11th District since 2003. With Romney and Gingrey both winning over 60% of the vote in this district in 2012, it is safe to say this is a red seat. Several Republicans have already announced their candidacy for the open seat, including businesswoman Tricia Pridmeore (R) who previously worked in Gov. Nathan Deal's administration, former House Rep. and federal prosecutor Bob Barr (R), state Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R) and state House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey (R).
Hawaii 1: For the past few months, it was unclear if Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) would challenger Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) or Sen. Brian Schatz (D) in the 2014 elections. Abercrombie did not follow Sen. Inouye's dying wish to appoint Hanabusa to the Senate, and instead chose his Lieutenant Governor, Schatz. Hanabusa has decided to challenge Schatz in the Democratic Primary, officially creating an open seat in Hawaii's 1st District. The district is extremely Democratic and voted overwhelmingly for Obama in 2012. A crowded Democratic primary is expected to replace Hanabusa, but right now there is only one declared candidate, Councilman Stanley Chang (D).
Michigan 14: Rep. Gary Peters (D) is running for Senate to replace retiring Sen. Carl Levin (D) creating an open seat in Michigan's congressional delegation. The 14th District leans far to the left. President Obama won the district with over 80% of the vote last year with black voters making up just under 60% of the district's constituents. Several Democrats have said they are interested in the race including former U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke (D) and state Rep. Rudy Hobbs (D) - both have officially declared. One Republican has been mentioned, the 2010 and 2012 Republican nominee, businessman, and tea party activist John Hauler (R).
Pennsylvania 13: Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) is challenging Gov. Tom Corbett (R) for the governor's mansion in 2014. This is the only open seat in the House in which the incumbent member is not running for the U.S. Senate. Schwartz was first elected to this district that covers the northern corner of Philadelphia in 2004. This is a left leaning district that President Obama won in 2012 with 66% of the vote. Several candidates are interested in the Democratic Primary including state Rep. Brendan Boyle (D), physician and activist Valerie Arkoosh (D), state Sen. Daylin Leach (D) and former U.S. Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky (D). No candidates have announced on the Republican side.
May 1, 2013
Stakes in the States: Lieutenant Governor - Stepping Stone to the Governor's Mansion
By Kelly McDonough
In 2013, two states have gubernatorial elections - New Jersey and Virginia. They will coincide with elections for the states' second in command position, lieutenant governor. The lieutenant governor position is often seen in many states as the necessary precursor to running for governor or even federal office. The processes by which these positions are filled vary significantly between the two states. And it is often the processes themselves that significantly influence who is ultimately elected to that position.
New Jersey changed the rules in how they select their lieutenant governor seven years ago. Previously the lieutenant governor was an appointed position by the governor. Now, the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial nominees select the individual they would like to run on the ticket with them. They are then elected as a pair on the same ticket. In 2009, Governor Chris Christie (R) selected Kim Guadagno (R) as his running mate and they both were successfully elected to office. This round, Christie is expected to select her again. The presumed Democratic nominee for NJ governor is state Sen. Barbara Buono. She has not indicated who she will select as her running mate if she wins the primary on June 4th, but the most popular names include: Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty, Essex County Freeholder Brendan Gill, Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr and Roselle Mayor Jamel Holley. In New Jersey the ability for the gubernatorial nominees to select their lieutenant governor places more value on personal relationships with those who have ambitions for higher office.
In Virginia, the lieutenant governor is elected separately from the governor. This means you could elect a governor of one party and a lieutenant governor from another party. Usually, once the nominees for governor and lieutenant governor are determined, they will campaign and run for election as a pair. In 2013 the nomination process is very different for the two parties. Voters will select the Democratic nominee during the June 11th primary. Two candidates have filed: Aneesh Chopra, former VA Secretary of Technology and the first Chief Technology Officer for President Obama's administration, and Ralph Northam a state Senator and former Major in the Army.
Republicans will select their nominee during the party convention in May. Being chosen as the nominee at a convention has its pros and its cons. In order to win the spot, you have to win a majority of delegate votes at the convention. These are committed conservatives who are often more to the right of your average voter. By catering to these groups, candidates miss out on the opportunity to communicate directly with voters as they would if they were being selected in a traditional primary. However, it does give the party control over the process. Currently there are seven individuals vying for the spot. Those who appear to be leading the pack are businessman Pete Snyder and state Sen. Steve Martin, but the outcome of party conventions is difficult to predict.
The Virginia lieutenant governor position has grown in its prominence over the past four years. In 2011, the state Senate elections resulted in a 20 R to 20 D tie, giving the lieutenant governor the tie breaking vote. In the 2013 legislative session current Lt. Governor Bill Bolling (R) broke the record for casting the most tie breaking votes in Virginia Senate history with 28 votes - the previous record was 12.
Could New Jersey's or Virginia's next lieutenant governor be their states' next governors? Possibly. It's difficult to tell with New Jersey because the elected position is so new, but of Virginia's 39 lieutenant governors, 15 went on to serve higher offices. What we do know is that who these individuals are, depends just as much on process as it does on winning an election.
Breaking It Down: Massachusetts Senate Special Election
By Briana Huxley
The special primary election in Massachusetts took place yesterday, with Representatives Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch vying for the Democratic nomination. Markey was the establishment choice, endorsed by the DSCC and former Sen. John Kerry (D), while Lynch ran as the Washington outsider and working class candidate.
While the spotlight has been on Boston in the past few weeks due to the Boston Marathon Bombings, the Senate race has had a hard time gaining much traction in the state, especially after the attacks. In the few days after April 15th, the candidates halted their campaigns and the dialogue changed from gun control and healthcare to who is best for national security.
To view results of the MA Special Election and information on the Republican candidates, visit the BIPAC Blog.
April 10, 2013
Two Thumbs Up or Two Thumbs Down for the U.S. Senate?
By Kelly McDonough
The U.S. Senate reconvened this week after a two-week recess, for what could be the most critical four months of the 113th Congress. With over a dozen newcomers and nearly half the chamber serving in its first term, the expectations for the Senate at the beginning of the year were cautiously optimistic. The business community was looking to the upper chamber to provide problem solvers, fixers and individuals who could lead a deeply divided Congress into an era of good government and policy reform that would help get the country moving again. Several Senators have risen to the occasion, and although they aren't all headlining the news or regularly in the national spotlight, they have been quietly working behind the scenes and across party lines to get things done. Other individuals, who came into the Senate on an elevated platform with hopes of bringing life to a lethargic legislative process, have fallen short of those too-high expectations. So in honor of the recent passing of movie critic Roger Ebert, below is a film-style critique of some key U.S. Senators based on the first 100 days of the new Congress.
TWO THUMBS UP
Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Freshman Sen. Jeff Flake started off the new Congress in good shape when he was given a post on the prestigious Judiciary Committee. Additionally, he was selected as one of the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" members tasked with solving immigration reform. Flake is a former six-term member of the U.S. House whose previous experience gives him a unique perspective on how the "Gang" can create legislation that is workable for the more conservative members of the House. Flake has taken a behind-the-scenes role, allowing fellow Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to take most of the limelight. Rubio has had to walk a tightrope, balancing the need for meaningful reform and his ambitions for higher office. Flake is able to speak publicly about the process in ways Rubio cannot. Flake has always marched to the beat of his own drum, and has shown no qualms with supporting issues that aren't always in line with the establishment, which has added significant value to immigration and other debates.
Mark Warner (D-VA)
Mark Warner is serving the final two years of his first term as Senator from Virginia. His ratings in Virginia are high and he remains a popular Democrat in the Senate. Although up for reelection in 2014, Warner looks to be very comfortable in holding onto his seat. As a result, Warner has continued in his fight, or what he calls "obsession" with reducing the deficit. Recently, balancing the budget has taken a back seat to more high profile issues like immigration and gun control. Even Republicans have eased off the issue in an attempt to seem more compassionate and advocate for human interests, not just budget interests. Yet Warner has continued the effort to solve the country's debt crisis in a balanced approach, and continues to advocate for reform at nearly every public opportunity. While others have been distracted by political tides and more media-driven, popular issues, Warner has stayed true to his beliefs fighting for fiscal reform.
Rand Paul (R-KY)
There's a lot to be said about Sen. Rand Paul. He's made significant headlines this year providing the Tea Party response to the President's State of the Union speech, winning CPAC's straw poll, and filibustering the Senate floor 13 hours during the nomination of CIA Director John Brennan. The filibuster became a trending topic on Twitter as the hash tag #StandWithRand went viral. In recent years, Paul has often been lumped in the same category as his father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), as someone contributing to the debate, but not anyone to be taken seriously. But after the first three months of 2013, it's fair to say Paul has squashed that reputation. He has proven himself to be aggressive, savvy and candid on his positions. Paul's coveted alliance with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks more to his political wiles than winning CPAC's straw poll. McConnell backed Paul's opponent during his Senate primary election potentially creating a divisive relationship for both Kentucky senators. But now Paul's top campaign strategist is working for McConnell's reelection campaign in 2014 further deepening their friendship. Despite the personal growth shown in recent months, Paul is still relatively new to the political scene, only being elected in 2010, and still remains largely untested. However, if there is one thing to know about Rand Paul moving forward - he is not to be underestimated.
Heidi Heitkamp (R-ND)
Heidi Heitkamp starts off the 113th Congress as a freshman Senator from a state Mitt Romney won by twenty points. She defeated Rep. Rick Berg (R) by less than 3,000 votes in a highly competitive election. Heitkamp proved herself to be a tenacious campaigner and has carried that trait with her to Washington, D.C. Since being in Congress she's made an effort to make connections with all necessary interest groups on agriculture and energy sectors (regardless of political leaning) to make sure she's representing what's best for North Dakota. She truly represents her home state and not a political party or presidential agenda. She has shown herself to be a North Dakotan first and a Democratic Senator second. In her first few months on the job, she's taken criticism from groups all across the political spectrum on a variety of issues, e.g. the Keystone Pipeline. This is a good sign she's doing something right.
ONE THUMB UP & ONE THUMB DOWN
Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Sen. Ted Cruz could fall into either of these categories depending on one's point of view. Cruz's victory as an underdog in the Texas primary last year showed that he had a lot of potential to be a leader in Congress. He is respected as an incredibly intelligent and thoughtful legal mind with experience clerking for former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Rehnquist. He's known for going against the grain and is not afraid of what people think. Cruz was clearly in an enviable position arriving to Washington, D.C. this year. He'd earned considerable political capital on the campaign trail, but much of it has been unnecessarily squandered due to his lack of respect for elder Senators, process, tradition and decorum that are part of being in the Senate. Cruz said he was coming to the Washington to shake things up, and to be fair he has done just that. But the U.S. Congress is a place where you keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Having little respect for those who have a different political philosophy won't allow you to get very far in the halls of Capitol Hill. Cruz still shows tremendous potential, but his first several weeks have proven to be a disappointment.
TWO THUMBS DOWN
Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
Sen. Bob Menendez started the 113th Congress as the new Chair for the Committee on Foreign Relations. He is also one of the Democratic Senators in the "Gang of Eight" group aiming to help reform immigration. Menendez was poised to be an influencer this session holding a considerable amount of power. Yet, a closer look shows perhaps his notoriety was overhyped. Aside from the scandal related to a campaign contributor that resulted in his approval rating dropping by fifteen points, Menendez has proven to be underwhelming in his new roles. His position on the Foreign Relations Committee was described by Bloomberg news as an "accidental" chairman. Since 2008, five more-senior Democrats have left the committee including President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry. Additionally, his role with the Gang of Eight has been reduced due to the credibility challenge that accompanies a scandal. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) have been the primary leaders for Democrats during negotiations.
Harry Reid (D-NV)
Sen. Harry Reid was applauded a few weeks ago for leading his party to pass a budget in the Senate. The praise was not warranted as this was the first time since 2009 there was even a vote allowed on a budget, despite legislative rules requiring there to be one. Harry Reid has obstructed the ability for regular order to occur creating a Senate that is stagnant and unproductive. Regular order is Washington-speak for the process in which appropriations bills are moved out of committee and brought to a vote on the Senate (or House) floor. Reid's decision to run the chamber as a party leader as opposed to the Senate leader has damaged the ability to pass laws and frustrated members of both parties. The beginning of the new Congress provided an opportunity in which there could have been healthy debate on a variety of issues, but the ability to do so was limited by Reid's management of the rules and procedures. There's willingness for Senators of both parties to work together, but they need a leader that allows them to do this within the legislative process.
John McCain (R-AZ)
Sen. John McCain entered the 113th Congress no longer as ranking member of the Armed Services Committee because of term limits, but McCain is an establishment in the Senate and his experience and leadership allow him to have input on nearly every debate despite not officially having the leadership post. However as new, fresh faces emerge in the Senate, McCain has appeared to struggle in dealing with some of his younger colleagues and has had to walk back his vocal disapproval over some of their tactics and positions. His comments calling Sens. Paul and Cruz "wacko birds," in addition to the hostile questioning of Chuck Hagel during nomination hearings, has presented a senior Senator that is not following his own counsel as closely as he could when it comes to being respectful and working with civility. So far he's worked closely with members of both parties on immigration, fiscal issues and has weighed in on the gun control debate. His influence is significant, but his attitude needs to be tempered if he wants to stay relevant and avoid isolating himself from future leaders.
Breaking It Down: 2014 Senate Landscape
By Briana Huxley
With 2014 fast approaching, it's never too early to start paying attention to the upcoming Senate elections. Below is our 2014 Senate Elections Landscape map, which highlights the states that have Senators that are up for reelection and which states have open seats. It can also be found in the Election Outlook section of the BIPAC Political Analysis portal page, along with several other election maps.
View larger map here.
April 3, 2013
Stakes in the States: Mayoral Rundown
By Kelly McDonough
Mayors and mayoral elections often fall below the national radar, even though they are an important part of our state and local governance. As America observes a Congress unable to balance its own budget, heads of municipalities around the country have been making tough decisions and rising to the needs of their constituents for years. Not only have they been struggling to govern in a weak economy, they've also been tasked with simultaneously saving and cutting pensions, reducing school budgets while improving education and cutting law enforcement while at the same time keeping their citizens safe. And most recently they've had to cope with a lack of federal funding as sequestration cuts have gone into effect.
As of April 2nd, 64 cities already held mayoral elections or appointments this year. Most mayoral offices are elected by voters, but a significant number of mayors are appointed by local councils. There are an additional 607 mayoral elections scheduled to be held in 23 states throughout 2013. Cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, Cleveland and Houston have elections this year, as well as the country's two most populous cities - New York City and Los Angeles.
Serving as mayor is often a stepping stone for higher office such as congress, governor or even president. Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McRory (R) is now the governor of North Carolina. Former governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle (R) was first the mayor of Maui. Current U.S. Senators Mark Begich (D) and Dianne Feinstein (D) got their starts as mayors in Alaska and California. And three U.S. presidents were mayors before moving to the White House: Calvin Coolidge (Northampton, MA), Grover Cleveland (Buffalo, NY) and Andrew Johnson (Greeneville, TN). Perhaps 2013 will produce the next batch of future senators, governors or a future president.
Below is an overview of the top mayoral races making headlines in 2013:
The 2013 Boston mayoral election looks to be not only the most exciting mayoral race in Boston history, but possibly in the entire country in November. Incumbent Thomas Menino (D), the longest-serving mayor in Boston's history, recently announced that he will not run for a sixth term due to health issues. After serving the city of Boston for 20 years as a popular public official, Menino's departure is going to trigger a free for all for this race. Additionally, since defeating incumbents is very difficult in Boston mayoral elections, now is an opportune time for candidates to enter the race. So far, the only major candidate that has declared is John R. Connolly, member of the Boston City Council. Other declared minor candidates include former Boston police officer Charles Clemons and 2011 Boston City Council candidate Will Dorcena. With Menino's recent announcement, many more candidates are expected to enter the race. Potential candidates include City Councilors Rob Consalvo and Tito Jackson, Representative Martin Walsh (D), and former Boston City Council President Michael Flaherty (D). The filing period for the mayoral election ends on May 21st, with the primary election taking place on September 24th. The top two candidates from the primary election will advance to the general election, which will be held on November 5th. Note: The Boston race is a nonpartisan election and several of the candidates above do not wish to be identified with a party affiliation, however backgrounds and professional experience show each as having ties to the Democratic Party.
New York City
NYC is the largest city in the country and has a population larger than 39 states. As a result, previous NYC mayors such as Ed Koch (D), Rudy Giuliani (R) and current mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) have left lasting legacies and became national figures in U.S. politics. As the race for Bloomberg's successor takes shape, it looks like the current crop of candidates is going to have some big shoes to fill. There are four Democratic candidates who have declared and two Republicans: Christine Quinn (D) City Council Speaker, Bill Thompson (D) Former Comptroller & 2009 mayoral nominee, Public Advocate Bill De Blasio (D), Comptroller John Liu (D), MTA Chairman Joe Lhota (R), and billionaire John Catsimatidis (R). Recent polls have shown that a Democrat is heavily favored to win this race, which would make it the first time a Democrat has won since 1989. Christine Quinn has been the front runner, but has had to contend with close ties to Bloomberg. She has tried to distance herself while the other candidates have sought to exploit that alliance. She has also had to address concerns regarding her temperament and bellicose personality. The filing deadline to run is July 11th, the primary is September 10th, and if no candidate receives 40% of the vote a runoff will be held September 24th. The general election will be held November 5th.
The Los Angeles mayoral race is a nonpartisan race. Current Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa (D) has termed out, creating an open seat. The election for mayor is conducted through California's top-two primary system, in which the top-two vote getters, regardless of party move on to the general election held May 21st. The primary was already held on March 5th and Eric Garcetti (D) and Wendy Greuel (D) emerged from the election as the top-two vote getters. Garcetti took 33% and Greuel took 29%. Eric Garcetti (D) is a city councilman and has played up his Mexican heritage. He's backed by the Teamsters and the teachers union. He just received the endorsement of Jan Perry (the third place finisher in the election and favorite of the African American voters) and most of the Los Angeles City Council. Wendy Greuel (D) is the City Controller, and if elected, would be LA's first female mayor. She's received endorsements from the SEIU, LA County Federation of Labor, Department of Water and Power Union and Bill Clinton. The race is too close to call with the most recent polls giving Garcetti a slight edge. The election is expected to have low voter turnout, so whichever candidate gets the most supporters to the polls will be the winner.
The 2013 Seattle mayoral election will give the city a chance to show their displeasure with current mayor Mike McGinn (D). McGinn, who will seek reelection for a second term in office, has had a difficult tenure characterized by unpopular stances on issues and poor demonstration of leadership. Early speculation indicates that the city does not want another four years of McGinn, and the winner of the primary election will be the favorite to take the office. Currently, several candidates have declared that they will be running for the position of mayor: Tim Burgess, Bruce Harrell, Kate Martin, Ed Murray, Charlie Staadecker, and Peter Steinbrueck. Of these candidates, City Councilmembers Harrell and Burgess, former City Councilmember Steinbrueck, and state Senator Murray appear to be the most formidable opponents to McGinn. The filing deadline for mayoral candidates is May 17th, and the primary election will occur on August 6th. The top two candidates from the primary election will advance to the general election, which will take place on November 5th. Municipal elections in the state of Washington are non-partisan elections. Note: Because this is a nonpartisan election, several of the candidates above do not wish to be identified with a party affiliation. However backgrounds and professional experience show with the exception of Burgess and Staadecker, each has ties to the Democratic Party.
Kelsey Moncreif and Jon Thielen contributed to this article.
Breaking it Down: Mayors to watch
By Briana Huxley
Cory Booker (D), Mayor of Newark, NJ: Everyone's favorite "Super-Mayor" Cory Booker may not be Mayor for much longer, after announcing his intentions to run for U.S. Senate in 2014. Booker has recently gained national attention, due to his active social media presence, rescuing a woman from a burning house and living off of food stamps for a week.
Rahm Emanuel (D), Mayor of Chicago, IL: President Obama's former Chief of Staff is currently the 55th Mayor of Chicago. Emanuel and Chicago have been in the media spotlight over the past few months, as the city known for its violence becomes ground zero for gun control debate. With extensive legislative and policy background (he is a former Congressman, White House Chief of Staff and Chair of the DCCC) Emanuel's name has already been floated as a possible 2016 presidential contender.
Mick Cornett (R), Mayor of Oklahoma City, OK: Mayor of Oklahoma City since 2004, Cornett was named one of Newsweek's most innovative Mayors for improving quality of life in Oklahoma City. He represented the Republican Mayors at the 2012 Republican National Convention and helped attract the NBA team, Oklahoma City Thunder, to the city in 2008. There is no word yet if he plans for run for higher office.
Julián Castro (D), Mayor of San Antonio, TX: Julián has served the city of San Antonio since 2009 and in his last election he won with over 80% of the vote. Not to be confused with his twin brother, Freshman Congressman Joaquín Castro (D- TX), Julián was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Democratic Convention - the first Latino to do so at the DNC. Featured in Time Magazine's "40 Under 40," list of promising future leaders, Castro was rumored to run for governor of Texas in 2014, and maybe president in the future. Right now he seems content where he is, announcing he is running for re-election in 2013.
March 27, 2013
2013 Special Elections Update
By Kelly McDonough
2013 can hardly be described as an "off" election year. There are four federal special elections scheduled for 2013 (so far), and if you combine the number of primary, runoff and general election dates you will find a total of eight federal election dates on the calendar. Throw in the statewide elections held in VA, NJ, OH and WI and the number of significant election dates increases to 16. To help you keep track of the numerous elections held this year, below is an update on all the special elections scheduled for 2013.
U.S. House: South Carolina-01
A special election in SC's 1st Congressional District is being held to fill the vacancy created by former Rep. Tim Scott (R) who was appointed to the Senate in January of this year. Sen. Scott was chosen to replace retiring Sen. Jim DeMint (R) who left the Senate to head up the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. The primary for the House seat (held last Tuesday, March 19th) has provided an enormous amount of entertainment for those following the race closely.
The Democratic nominee is Elizabeth Colbert Busch - sister to comedian Stephen Colbert. Although she's seen as the underdog in this race, Colbert Busch has great name ID, strong connections in the community, and the ability to fundraise. And having a famous brother doesn't hurt. She currently works for Clemson University's Restoration Institute as Director of Business Development.
The Republican primary had over 16 candidates vying for the nomination. Top vote getter was former Gov. Mark Sanford who left office amid a personal scandal. Prior to being governor he actually served in this district but term-limited himself and left in 2001. He received 37% of the vote, but needs 50% in order to avoid a runoff. He will compete in the runoff on April 2nd, against former Charleston City Councilman Curtis Bostic.
The winner will compete in the general against Colbert Busch on May 7th. This is a conservative district and the eventual Republican nominee has a strong advantage. One thing to note - Colbert-Busch's name will appear on the ballot twice, once as the Democratic nominee and again as the nominee for the Working Families Party. SC is one of eight states that allow candidates endorsed by multiple parties to appear on the ballots separately for each one.
U.S. House: Illinois-02
Illinois has scheduled a special election for their 2nd Congressional District in order to replace former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D), who resigned for health and ethical reasons in November of last year. The primary election has already taken place (February 26th), and the general election will be on April 9th between Republican Paul McKinley and Democrat Robin Kelly.
Robin Kelly (D) earned headlines thanks to significant outside support from NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) who turned this primary into a race about gun control. His Super PAC spent over a million dollars on the race, targeting former Rep. Debbie Halvorson's (D) positions on gun control.
In complete irony, the winner of Republican primary was Paul McKinley, a reformed ex-convict who served time in jail for armed robbery. I would expect nothing less from Chicago politics. This district is a very liberal seat and Kelly is expected to be the newest member of Congress as soon as the general election is held April 9th.
U.S. House: Missouri-08
Missouri's 8th Congressional District will hold a special election on June 4th in order to replace former Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson (R), who resigned in January of this year. Emerson now serves as CEO for the National Rural Cooperative Association in Washington, D.C. No primary election was held for this seat. Instead the local parties selected their respective nominees from a field of multiple candidates earlier this year. The general election will be a three-way race between Jason Smith (R), Steve Hodges (D), and Bill Slantz (Lib).
Jason Smith is a state representative, small business owner and is 32 years old. Steve Hodges, the Democratic nominee, is also a state representative for Missouri and has served for six years. The Libertarian candidate, Bill Slantz owns his own consulting firm. This is a very conservative district (apparently it includes Rush Limbaugh's home town...), and Republican nominee Jason Smith is expected to easily win the special election in June.
U.S. Senate: Massachusetts
Due to the resignation of Sen. John Kerry (D) to become Secretary of State, Massachusetts will hold a special election to elect a new U.S. Senator. Governor Deval Patrick (D) appointed William "Mo" Cowan (D) as interim senator to fill the seat until the new senator is sworn in, however, Cowan will not run in the special election. The primary election for the new senator will take place on April 30th.
On the Democratic side, the two candidates vying for the nomination are both current members of Congress: Ed Markey (CD 5) and Stephen Lynch (CD 8). Markey is the establishment choice for this seat and has the support of the national party and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Markey has served in the House since 1977. Lynch is running as the "Washington outsider", playing on Markey's reputation for rarely spending time in the state. Lynch is consistently rated as the most conservative member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation. The most recent polls have Markey leading Lynch 35% to 24% with 40% undecided. The majority of voters expected to turn out in an off-year special election will probably be more liberal, definitely giving Markey a strong advantage.
The candidates on Republican side are fairly unknown: State Rep. Dan Winslow, Former U.S. Attorney and former acting Director of ATF, Michael Sullivan and businessman and former Navy Seal Gabriel Gomez. Few polls have been conducted for the Republican primary since former Sen. Scott Brown announced he wasn't running, but the most recent numbers show Sullivan with 28%, state Rep. Winslow with 10% and Gomez with 8% of support.
Both Democratic candidates lead each of the Republican candidates in every match up. Despite the fact that the majority of Massachusetts registered voters are Independent, this seat is likely to stay in Democratic hands. The winner of the special election will serve in Kerry's seat until the end of his term in January, 2015 and if he chooses to run for reelection will compete in 2014 mid-terms.
Breaking It Down: Special Elections Interesting Facts
By Briana Huxley
South Carolina: Sen. Tim Scott is the first African American senator from South Carolina. He is also the first African American senator from the South since Reconstruction.
Illinois: The 2nd Congressional District of Illinois has not elected a Republican representative for over 50 years. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. had repeatedly won the 2nd District with over 80% of the vote, and even in 2012 when he took a leave of absence, he won with 63%.
Missouri: There was no primary to select the candidates for Missouri's 8th Congressional District special election. Local Republican and Democratic Party committees choose the nominees for their respective party when there is a vacancy. During general elections, Missouri has an open primary.
Massachusetts: Massachusetts currently has the least senior member of the Senate, Senator Cowan, who was sworn in on February 7, 2013. The Massachusetts Senate delegation is now at the bottom of the seniority list, after losing Sen. Scott Brown and veteran Sen. John Kerry.
Hawaii: Another state at the bottom of the Senate seniority list, Hawaii also takes the cake for coming in last place for voter turnout in 2012. Approximately 44% of the voting eligible population turned out to vote.
March 20, 2013
Breaking It Down: Changes in Obama's Cabinet
By Briana Huxley
Below is the breakdown of the current Cabinet and who President Obama has nominated so far in his second term. You can also view the below information on the portal on our President Obama's Cabinet & Executive Appointments page.
Cabinet (in order of succession to the Presidency):
Joseph R. Biden
Secretary John Kerry
Secretary Jack Lew
Secretary Chuck Hagel
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar (resigning)
Sally Jewell (nominated)
Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack
Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank
Acting Secretary Seth D. Harris
Thomas Perez (nominated)
Health and Human Services:
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
Housing and Urban Development:
Secretary Shaun L.S. Donovan
Secretary Ray LaHood (resigning)
Secretary Steven Chu (resigning)
Ernest Moniz (nominated)
Secretary Arne Duncan
Secretary Eric K. Shinseki
Secretary Janet A. Napolitano
The following positions have the status of Cabinet rank:
Chief of Staff:
Environmental Protection Agency:
Acting Administrator Robert Perciasepe
Gina McCarthy (nominated)
Office of Management and Budget:
Jeffrey Zients, Deputy Director
Sylvia Matthews Burwell (nominated)
United States Trade Representative:
Acting Ambassador Demetrios Marantis
United States Ambassador to the United Nations:
Ambassador Susan Rice
Council of Economic Advisors:
Chairman Alan B. Krueger
Small Business Administration:
Administrator Karen G. Mills (resigning)
March 6, 2013
Stakes in the States:
From the Highest Court to the Lowest: Political Implications of the Voting Rights Act
By Kelly McDonough
Last week, the nation's highest court heard arguments against Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act; an issue that is both complicated and sensitive and a ruling that thankfully it's not my job to decide. But, while everyone is talking about the Sequester, I want to take this opportunity to draw your attention to such a noteworthy court case, the impacts it may have on 16 states, and the political implications that could follow.
In Shelby County v. Holder, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) is being challenged under the claim that it poses an unconstitutional burden on specific states. Section 5 of the VRA requires nine states and cities or counties in seven additional states to "pre-clear" (or get permission) with the Department of Justice or a panel of three federal judges in D.C. before making any changes to their voting process: redistricting, voter ID laws, special election dates, etc. This was put into place in 1965 in order to protect any voters from discrimination based on racial or ethnic background. The Supreme Court upheld the law four years ago but essentially told Congress that it needed to review the legislation and determine if the formula for which states need to be covered, should be updated - the formula is thirty-five years old. Congress, being completely useless these days in passing meaningful legislation, did not heed the Court's suggestion, and as a result, Section 5 of the law is now being challenged. I am no legal expert and could not even begin to weigh in on what the ruling will be or the merits of the challenge, but I do find the potential political implications of the outcome extremely important to consider.
The outcome of this challenge is expected to be decided this June. Of the 16 states affected, the nine states that are entirely covered include: Alaska, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia. The seven states that are marginally covered via counties/townships are: Michigan, New York, New Hampshire, South Dakota, North Carolina, Florida and California. Several of these states have had little issue with the pre-clearance process and have been able to make the case that they should be exempt from the process, and therefore have been able to "bail-out". The Department of Justice has tracked the number of objections it has issued to new or revised voting laws in all of the above states since the VRA was signed into law. The number of objections from bailed out states like New Mexico and Alaska totals one each. The majority of southern states, however, have had a greater challenge getting pre-clearance for legal changes.
Number of objections per state and most recent rejection date:
SC: 122 (2011) LA: 146 (2011) MS: 173 (2012) GA: 178 (2012) TX: 209 (2012)
Last cycle, voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina were objected by the Department of Justice, and redistricting laws for districts at all levels of government were objected in North Carolina, Texas, Georgia and Mississippi. This goes to show that in some states the preclearance process is still an active part of the voting law process.
So how has this law affected politics over the past four decades? Section 5 has ensured that congressional districts are drawn in a way that protects racial minority voters, in many states creating what are often referred to as "majority-minority" districts. According to Census analysis done by the Cook Political Report, the 113th Congress currently has 111 non-white majority or majority-minority districts. Democrats represent 87.4% of those districts, while Republicans represent 67.9% of majority white districts. If you take a step further at where those districts are located, you will find the majority of them fall within jurisdictions of Section 5 of the VRA. Of the nine states in which the entire state must be pre-cleared, 28 majority-minority districts are located within them - 15 of which are in Texas, 5 in Georgia, 2 in Virginia and Arizona, and 1 in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. And if you examine the seven states which are partially covered, 13 majority-minority districts are touched by those counties and townships.
If Section 5 is upheld, then it will only be a matter of time before it is challenged again and ultimately changed or ruled unconstitutional. For now, we know that Section 5 has protected many disenfranchised voters in a number of states over the last half-century. Hoever, we also know that districts drawn to protect those voters have now created congressional districts that elect a racially divided Congress. The issue is a double edged sword and I do not envy the decision the Court has to make.
Breaking It Down: 2014 Open Seats
By Briana Huxley
Below is the current list of open seats for 2014 due to term limits, retirements and legislators running for Senate. This information is also available and up to date on the portal: 2014 Open Seats.
Senate (5: 2 R, 3 D)
- Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) is retiring.
- Tom Harkin (D-IA) is retiring.
- Mike Johanns (R-NE) is retiring
- Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is retiring.
- Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is retiring.
House (3: 2 R, 1 D)
- Bruce Braley (D- IA 1) is running for Senate.
- Paul Broun (R- GA 10) is running for Senate.
- Shelley Moore Capito (R- WV 2) is running for Senate.
Governor (5: 2R, 3D)
- Mike Beebe (D- AR) is term limited.
- Jan Brewer (R-AZ) is term limited.
- Dave Heineman (R-NE) is term limited.
- Martin O'Malley (D-MD) is term limited.
- Deval Patrick (D-MA) will not seek re-election.
February 6, 2013
Stakes in the States:
Divided States of United Governments
By Kelly McDonough
Several decades ago, the title of this article more likely would have read "United States of Divided Governments." But today the number of states with divided government at the state level has steadily decreased over time, while the number of states with single-party control and supermajorities is on the rise. The impacts are playing out in several legislative sessions right now, but the influence will likely be more restrained than expected.
As a result of the 2012 elections, in 35 states, control of the state legislature and governorship is held by one party. It bears repeating that this election was not status quo. The number is technically 37 if you include Washington and New York (D's have majorities in both chambers and control the governors' mansions, but their state Senates are officially run by R and D coalitions). If you look at the number of states that have sole party control of just the legislature, the number bumps up to 43.
There are only three states that have truly divided party control between both chambers: Iowa, New Hampshire and Kentucky. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the last time there were so few divided chambers was 69 years ago in 1944. The other exceptions not included in the 43 states with single party control are New York and Washington which were mentioned above, Nebraska which has a unicameral legislature and Virginia whose state Senate is tied, but their Republican Lt. Governor has the tie breaking vote.
Additionally, only 12 states have divided government between the legislature and the governor: Iowa, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Arkansas, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Rhode Island. NCSL reports the last time there were so few states divided among governor's mansions and state legislative bodies was 1952.
Also on the rise, is the number of states that hold legislative supermajorities and/or have veto-proof majorities. Seven states gained supermajorities as a result of the 2012 elections: CA, GA, IL, MO, NC, OH, and OK, bringing the total number of states that have veto-proof majorities to 25, up four from 21 in 2012. Not every state requires a supermajority to be veto-proof. NCSL lists seven states as having simple majority vote requirements needed to overturn a gubernatorial veto: Arkansas, Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia. Georgia and Vermont are included in the 25 states, but require an Independent to vote with the party in control. Regardless, the fact remains that half of all state legislatures have the power to override vetoes issued by their state's governors. Of those, 16 are controlled by Republicans, 9 by Democrats.
The question remains what does this mean for governing in 2013? The high number of states with single party dominance would seemingly indicate more partisan politics and a year of state legislative sessions in which one party openly runs the table with their agenda. But by looking at the realities in the two states below, both at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of party control, you'll see that outcomes will be much more nuanced.
Single Party Control: California
The Democratic Party of California has achieved ultimate supremacy at the level of state government. Jerry Brown (D) controls the governor's mansion and Democrats recently gained supermajorities in both the state Assembly and state Senate. Immediately following the 2012 election outcomes, spectators were expecting an aggressive, liberal policy agenda to be hammered through the legislature immediately when session convened. However, vacancies in the upper chamber will impact the supermajority in the lower chamber. Former state Senators Juan Vargas and Gloria Negrete-McLeod, members of the freshman class of 113th Congress, were able to hold their senate seats until officially being sworn into Congress Jan. 3. As a result, their seats have become vacant, meaning members of the lower chamber will likely run to replace them, thereby creating vacancies in the Assembly. These vacancies are enough for Democrats to lose the supermajority in the Assembly. Additionally, one or two lawmakers could leave in the spring for seats on city councils. The constant political shifting and sensitive timing makes the supermajorities very soft and creates difficulty for any hardline policy making by one party. And ultimately, liberal lawmakers would have to face off with Governor Jerry Brown who has maintained a centrist-Democratic approach to governing.
Divided Party Control: Iowa
Iowa Democrats have a narrow two seat majority in the state Senate, while Republicans hold the House by only six seats. Terry Branstad (R) is the current Governor and is possibly running for reelection in 2014 (this would be his 6th four year term). Iowa's state government is the perfect example of divided government. There are very narrow majorities in both chambers which are controlled by different parties, and they are governed by a Republican governor in a state that President Barack Obama won by 5.6% in 2012 and 9% in 2008. Historically Iowans have preferred divided government. In only six of the past 30 years has one party controlled both the legislature and governor's office at the same time. Both Gov. Branstad and state lawmakers will have to work together and strike deals to determine the most effective use of the state's budget surplus and implement needed reforms. Split control at the state level promises to be contentious and heated, but the extra government cash Iowa is sitting on is a nice contrast to the U.S. deficit hanging over federal lawmakers' heads.
Although the decline of divided state government raises concerns that states will be shifting bluer and redder at the local level as well as at the federal level, the nuances at the state level show that outcomes will be more modest than expected when it comes to policy making.
Breaking It Down: The Power of the Texas State Senate
By Briana Huxley
With the ever-changing political landscape in Texas, 2013 promises to be anything but an off-year for the state Senate. Due to redistricting, all 31 Senate seats were up for election in 2012. Texas State Senators are elected every four years, with half of the Senate up for election every two years. Because the entire body ran in 2012, Senators drew lots to determine who would serve four years and who would be up for re-election in two years. If the Senate maps are redrawn in the coming years, then all senators will once again be up for re-election.
2013 would normally be a quiet year as far as elections go, but the death of Senator Mario Gallegos, Jr. last October left Senate District 6, which covers parts of Houston, vacant. Texas state Senate seats hold tremendous weight in the state because the senators represent almost 800,000 Texans and represent more people than their U.S. Congressional districts. SD 6 recently held a special election for the district on January 26th, but no candidate received more than 50% of the vote, leading to a run-off election.
Former County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia (D) and state Representative Carol Alvarado (D), with about 45% and 41% of the votes respectively, will compete in the run-off election likely to take place in late February or early March. The winner will serve a four year term. If Alvarado is elected, a special election will take place to fill her seat in House District 145.
In Texas, the Lieutenant Governor, also known as the President of the Senate, is the presiding officer of the Senate. It is the Lt. Gov. who appoints the chairs and members of committees, refers bills to committees and schedules a majority of the bills for consideration, allowing him to wield significant power. Texas currently has a Republican trifecta, where the Governor, majority Senate and majority House are all of the same party.
January 30, 2013
2014: The Senate Scramble
By Kelly McDonough
In the NFL, a "quarterback scramble" occurs when a QB is under pressure by an opposing team's defense, he may run forward, backward, or laterally in an attempt to avoid being sacked. There's no doubt we'll see this more than once from Flacco and Kaepernick in Sunday's Super Bowl 47. And like Sunday's game, it's not easy to make predictions about 2014 political outcomes. The current political environment has senators not only scrambling to avoid an impending sack, but they're heading to the sidelines and in some cases leaving the game entirely. What's potentially more interesting is how the recent scrambles in the Senate could affect other lineups in the House of Representatives and governors' mansions in 2014.
As of today what we know about 2014 is there are 35 U.S. Senate races (2 specials: SC & HI) with 21 Democrats and 14 Republicans up for reelection. The most vulnerable seats are those of the seven Democrats representing states that Mitt Romney carried last November: Pryor (D-AR), Begich (D-AK), Landrieu (D-LA), Hagan (D-NC), Baucus (D-MT), Johnson (D-SD) and an open seat in West Virginia. The only Republican up in a state Barack Obama won is Susan Collins in Maine - and for the moment she looks pretty safe. It's possible we might see one or two of these vulnerable D's head to the sidelines before 2014 and join the other retirees we've seen in recent weeks (recap below). Overall the environment in the Senate provides a lot of opportunity for Republicans to get closer to gaining the six seats they need for a majority - although if you recall we've heard that story before. If Republicans don't line up a large group of star QB's (and soon) we could see a repeat of 2012.
West Virginia - Jay Rockefeller (D) does not plan to seek a sixth term to the Senate. Rockefeller was governor of WV prior to being elected to Congress in 1984. He now serves as Chairman of the Commerce Committee and Chair of Finance's Subcommittee on Health Care. As a 75 year old public servant, the Senator has cited wanting more time to spend with his family. The open seat in WV poses a potential pick-up opportunity for Republicans - Mitt Romney won WV by 26 points last November. The graphic in this article demonstrates how WV has shifted from a blue to a red state over the past 40 years. However, it's not an automatic lock for Republicans considering the governor's mansion, the state legislature and the other Senate seat are all in Democratic hands.
Georgia - Saxby Chambliss (R) announced his 2014 retirement last Friday, stating the increased partisanship and lack of leadership in Washington as his reason for departure. Chambliss was a member of the "Gang of Six" and went out on a party limb conceding that tax increases may be necessary to solve the nation's debt crisis, sparking several Republicans to begin weighing a primary challenge. Expect a crowded primary field and for the seat to remain in conservative hands, but it's worth noting NC was the only other state Romney won by a smaller margin. Georgia's rapid population growth has led to it becoming one of only 13 states that have a minority population of over 40%. Republicans' inability to connect with minority voters could pose a challenge for them in the future.
Iowa - To the surprise of many, last Saturday Tom Harkin (D) announced he also would not seek another term in Congress. Harkin is Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and at age 73 said he is ready to step aside and let a younger crop of leaders serve. Harkin was not exactly an ally of the business community, receiving 0% on BIPAC's P2 Voting Record for the 112th Congress. But his departure creates a competitive open seat that has both Republicans and Democrats in the state eyeing it closely. Iowa is considered a swing state, electing Barack Obama to the presidency twice, has a Republican governor, and split control in the state legislature.
*HI, SC, MA: It's also worth noting the two departures in HI and SC have created special elections in 2014, and John Kerry's (D) appointment as Secretary of State has created a special election in 2013 (primary 4/30 and general 6/25), the winner of which will run for another full term in 2014. All three of the departed/ing Senators from HI, SC and MA served on the Senate Commerce Committee.
The flurry of activity in the Senate is causing several members of Congress and other politicians to coyly posture themselves as they wait to see if there's an opportunity to jump in a race (some not so coyly... Cory Booker anyone?). Democrats currently need a net of 17 seats to win control of the House, so unless a wave rolls through it looks like any significant changes will come from primary challenges, as well as open seats created as a result of Representatives hopping into Senate races or one of the 36 gubernatorial races. One Independent, 22 Republican and 13 Democratic governors are up for reelection in 2014, and 25 states have both U.S. Senate and governor's races on the ballot. Expect to see a lot more shifting, scrambling and fleeing to the sidelines in the months to come... we'll be keeping an eye on those 2nd and 3rd string players eager for their opportunity to come off the bench.
Breaking It Down: Senate Seniority
By Briana Huxley
Seniority in the U.S. Senate has always been viewed as beneficial. More senior members usually have increased clout in the chamber and higher positions in committees. However, in a year where almost half of the senators have been serving less than six years, lack of seniority and experience can also be a good thing. This is a great time to reach out to the newer members and introduce yourself and your issues.
There are currently 46 senators (this includes Senator Kerry's successor) that have served less than six years and 39 of these senators are still serving in their first term. In eleven states - CO, CT, HI, IN, MA, ND, NE, NH, NM, VA and WI - both senators have served less than six years.
Since the 2012 elections, changes in the Hawaii and Massachusetts delegations have drastically altered seniority in both states and the Senate. When Senator Inouye passed away, the Senate lost its most senior member and Hawaii lost its seniority as a state in the Chamber. Both Sens. Schatz and Hirono have served less than 2 months, a major change from the long careers of Sens. Inouye and Akaka. Schatz is considered Hawaii's senior member, since he was sworn in on December 27, 2012 and Hirono was sworn in on January 3, 1013.
Now that Kerry has submitted his resignation to become Secretary of State, Massachusetts lost the seniority it held for decades. Kerry was the seventh most senior senator and Ted Kennedy, before he passed away, was the second most senior member. Once Kerry's seat is filled, both Senators from Massachusetts will have been in office for less than a year (This will still hold true if Scott Brown is elected to take Kerry's seat. He lost his seniority when he left office in January 2013 after losing to Elizabeth Warren).
Two states that still hold considerable seniority in the Senate are Iowa and California. For Iowa, Senator Grassley is the sixth most senior senator, followed by Senator Harkin who is seventh. Iowa's position will change following the 2014 election now that Harkin has announced his retirement. California holds the fourteenth and fifteenth most senior spots, with Sens. Feinstein and Boxer. Senator Leahy from Vermont is the Senate's most senior member, and President pro tempore.
January 23, 2013
Decisions Are Upon Us
By Kelly McDonough
On Monday, we saw our nation's first African American President ceremoniously sworn into office for a second term. Regardless of political leanings, inaugurations are always a reminder that America is a model of democracy, innovation and purpose. Inauguration Day is also the President's first opportunity to begin sharing what his vision for the next four years will look like. We heard in President Obama's remarks that he aims to address the nation's deficit, revamp the tax code, and find a path to sustainable energy, among many other objectives. He has laid out his vision, much of which aligns with prerogatives of different industry sectors within the business community. What is actually achieved in the next term remains to be seen, but in the words of the President, "Decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay." The new Congress has now been sworn in, as well as the Vice President and President. It's now time to get to work. It's now time to govern.
Although 2013 will be relatively quiet compared to the intensity and chaos of 2012, there are many events that will occur impacting policy and elections in 2014, 2015 and 2016. For an overview of moments that are flying both over and under the radar in 2013, view the graphic below. To see what's "on the radar", check out the dates in Blue, and to see what's "under the radar" see the dates in Red.
Breaking Down the Inauguration
By Briana Huxley
Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States was officially sworn into his second term this past Sunday, taking the oath of office in the Blue Room at the White House. While the 57th Presidential Inauguration took place on Monday, January 21st, the 20th Amendment to the Constitution requires that the President officially be sworn in on January 20th at noon. President Obama took the oath of office two times this year, making him the only president besides Franklin Roosevelt to have taken the oath of office four times. In 2009, Chief Justice John Roberts botched the oath during the Inauguration, and re-administered it the following day. In Roosevelt's case, he took the oath after being elected four separate times.
January 2, 2013
New Year, New Congress, New Realities
By Kelly McDonough
Two nights ago as America watched the New Year's ball drop in NYC's Time Square, Congress was in Washington dropping the ball on the fiscal cliff. Although a deal was ultimately reached following the cliff deadline, it did very little to solve any of America's systemic economic challenges. It merely solved a problem that Congress manufactured in the first place. Who are the winners and losers of the fiscal cliff negotiations? After this entire debacle I would argue everyone lost... the President, House Republicans, Senate Democrats, the American people, the legislative process, yes, everyone. But as both parties continue to point fingers and play the blame game, the business community stands ready to address the challenges of this New Year, this new Congress, and the new realities we face after what was not, to me, a status quo election. We see these challenges as an opportunity to take the road less traveled and lead the charge to fix what's broken and push for meaningful reform that will create more prosperity and growth.
Tomorrow, Congress will swear in 13 new Senators (12 elected in November, and the newly appointed Senator Tim Scott-R) and 84 new members in the House of Representatives. This will bring party control in the Senate to 55 Democrats and 45 Republicans with two Independents caucusing with Democrats. The House will have 233 Republicans and 200 Democrats with 2 vacancies (IL 2 and SC 1). Although party control in both Chambers remains the same, the demographic and cultural make up of both bodies has changed dramatically. The Senate will hold a record number of women, a Buddhist will serve in the Senate for the first time, and in the House a Hindu. More Hispanics and younger members will serve in the House and Senate than ever before - a governing body much more reflective of the nation's workforce.
However, the most striking change to both Chambers will be the extremely large number of newcomers. With Senate seats changing in SC, MA and HI (see below), the number of U.S. Senators serving their first six years in office will reach 45 in 2013, just under half of the entire body. When new members in the House replace the vacancies created in IL 2 and SC 1, and after February MO 8, the number of U.S. Representatives serving in their first or second term will reach 169 or 39%. Again, not status quo. The greatest challenge of this new and diverse Congress is that it's expected to be significantly more polarized. Only 88 of all 435 Congressional districts can be considered moderate or swing districts- down from 188 two decades ago. And far less are splitting tickets with the presidential vote than ever before. (To see an excellent NYT post on the district breakdowns click here.) Only five Senate races split tickets with the presidential vote in 2012, four of which were Democrats who won in Romney states (MO, IN, MT, ND) and one Republican who won an Obama state- Nevada.
So what does this new reality mean for the business community moving into 2013? For starters, despite the steep learning curve of this new Congress, the high number of newcomers provides ample opportunity for different industry sectors to educate incoming members on their issues and create winning coalitions. But the path to achieving our goals will not be solely through Congress. Only by operating outside the box and looking to governors and state legislatures, to regulators, and even the court system will we see success in 2013.
Breaking it Down: Senate Special Elections
By Briana Huxley
And you thought election season was over. It has been two months since November 6 and the Senate already has three changes for 2013. Jim DeMint (R-SC) left office on January 1st to run the Heritage Foundation, John Kerry (D-MA) has been nominated by the President to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and Daniel Inouye (D-HI) passed away December 17th, after serving nearly 50 years in the Senate. Below is a breakdown of how the special elections will pan out.
Governor Nikki Haley (R) selected Congressman Tim Scott (R) to fill DeMint's (R) seat. Congressman Scott will be sworn into office on January 3rd and will serve through January 2015. A special election will take place in November 2014 to determine who will serve the two remaining years of DeMint's seat. Scott is expected to resign today, January 2nd and the general special election to fill his House seat will take place 18 weeks after.
Assuming John Kerry (D) is confirmed by the Senate, there will be a special election 145-160 days after Kerry's resignation. The 2013 special election should take place in late spring, early summer and the winner will remain in the Senate until Kerry's term expires in January 2015. The winner of the November 2014 election will then serve a full six-year term. Governor Deval Patrick (D) will appoint a placeholder to hold the seat until the 2013 special election.
Governor Neil Abercrombie (D) has chosen Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz (D) to fill Senator Inouye's seat. Senator Schatz was sworn in on December 27th and will serve until 2014, when there will be a special election to fill Inouye's last two years. The Governor chose from three picks that the Hawaii Democratic Party selected. The other two party candidates were Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and Deputy State Land and Natural Resources Director Esther Kiaaina.
There's never a dull moment here in DC and we'll be keeping a close eye on changes in the beltway and around the Nation, so stay tuned for more.
November 28, 2012
Top States to Watch Over the Next Few Years
By Michael R. Davis
While there is always something interesting going in every state, there are a few more events or developments going in a handful of states that will likely have an impact beyond their own state boundary lines. Here are those states (or groups of states):
Alaska & North Dakota
These two key energy states will be at the intersection of every legislative and regulatory battle when it comes to the nation's future production, use, and development of oil and gas. Both states also have one Democrat and one Republican in the U.S. Senate. Watch Alaska Sen. Mark Begich (D), who is up for re-election in 2014, and North Dakota's newly elected Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) as they balance working with the administration and the pressures from back home.
This past summer I started calling Arizona the new Florida, Ohio or Virginia. I did this because way we thought of those three key presidential battleground states is how we will be describing Arizona in the next few election cycles. With over 400,000 Hispanics that are eligible, but not yet registered, to vote and immigration as the main driving issue in the state, the long term direction for Republicans goes through Arizona.
Both the House and Senate switched party control to Republican for the first time since reconstruction and Arkansas will have an open gubernatorial race in 2014.
The largest state is always worth watching, but 14 of its 53 House members will be freshmen in the 113th Congress. High profile Democrats such as Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D), Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (D) have all expressed interest in running for governor if incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown (D) decides not to seek re-election. Remember these three names as California governors always have at least one toe on the national stage.
Iowa can make a strong argument that it is the most evenly split state in the country. Iowa voted for President Obama (D) in the last two elections, has a Republican governor, a Democratic controlled state senate, a Republican controlled state house, one Democratic U.S. Senator, one Republican U.S. Senator, and its four U.S. House members are evenly split 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans.
Maine & Minnesota
Both legislative chambers in these two states moved to Democratic control after the 2012 elections, which will alter the direction of public policy in the state. Maine's newly elected Sen. Angus King (I) will also be in the news frequently as one of the most independent members of the Senate.
Maryland, Massachusetts & Nebraska
In addition to Arizona and Arkansas, Maryland and Nebraska have governors who are term-limited in 2014. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) is not term-limited but has already announced that he will not be running for re-election. An open seat race for governor in these five states is already generating attention and these are races to watch.
New Jersey & Virginia
Both of these states have gubernatorial elections in 2013 and both promise to have hard-fought battles. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is running for re-election while the Virginia seat will be open due to a non-consecutive term limit on Gov. Bob McDonnell (R). Both developed high profiles while strongly stumping for presidential candidate Mitt Romney over the last year. The Virginia Senate is also the only chamber in the country that is currently tied.
Gov. Susana Martinez (R) is one of the most promising governors in the country to keep an eye on, but in order to boost her prospects she will have to show some success working with a state legislature controlled by the opposite party.
Ohio, Pennsylvania & Texas
Redistricting battles in the courts will likely carry over into 2013, meaning that elections in 2014 could mark three straight elections with three different maps candidates run under.
There are an estimated 2.2 million Hispanics that are eligible, but not yet registered, to vote in Texas. While most would consider Texas to be a reliable Republican state today, the demographic reality of the changes could rapidly change that status within this decade. Texas will also have 8 House freshmen in the 113th Congress, second only to California.
After the turmoil of multiple recall elections that failed to change the partisan landscape, most within the state would rather be on a list of politically calm states. With a high profile governor in Scott Walker (R), and Rep. Paul Ryan (R) in the middle of the fiscal cliff/budget conversation, the state will receive plenty of attention in 2013.
Behind the Numbers with Michael
By Michael R. Davis
In the 2012 election, 20 states recorded at least 2.5 million votes for president. President Obama won 15 states while Governor Mitt Romney won 5 states.
Here are the 15 states Obama won (for a total of 276 electoral votes) in order of total ballots cast: California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maryland and Colorado.
Here are the 5 states Romney won (for a total of 90 electoral votes): Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, Missouri and Indiana.
November 21, 2012
Election Gives Democrats Slightly More to be Thankful for at the State Level
By Michael R. Davis
- Democrats win big in Minnesota and New Hampshire while Republicans win big in Arkansas and North Carolina
- Just one party control shift at the gubernatorial level - North Carolina (DEM to GOP)
- 11 state legislative chambers switched party control (7 for DEM, 4 for GOP)
- Republicans now hold an advantage in 29 state houses
- Only Iowa, Kentucky and New Hampshire have split party control in the state legislature
- California, Texas, Florida and Illinois lead the way in number of U.S. House freshmen
- 1,790 women elected to state legislatures, slight increase from current numbers
- GOP to DEM: ME Senate, ME House, MN Senate, MN House, NH House & NY Senate
- TIE to DEM: OR House
- TIE to GOP: AK Senate
- DEM to GOP: AR Senate, AR House & WI Senate
- 14 - CA (11 DEM, 3 GOP)
- 8 - TX (5 DEM, 3 GOP)
- 7 - FL (4 DEM, 3 GOP)
- 6 - IL (5 DEM, 1 GOP)
- 5 - NY (4 DEM, 1 GOP)
- 4 - NC (4 GOP)
- 3 - AZ (2 DEM, 1 GOP), IN (3 GOP), OH (2 GOP, 1 DEM), PA (2 GOP, 1 DEM), WA (3 DEM)
- 2 - KY (2 GOP), MI (1 DEM, 1 GOP), NH (2 DEM), NV (2 DEM), OK (2 GOP)
- GOP to DEM: Arizona, Illinois and New Hampshire
- TIE to DEM: Minnesota
- DEM to TIE: Iowa and New Jersey
- GOP to TIE: Nevada
- DEM to GOP: North Carolina
November 7, 2012
A Slowly Improving Economy, Quality of Candidates and Redistricting are Biggest Factor in Deciding 2012 Election Outcomes
By Michael R. Davis
- Main factors in election outcomes: improving economy, redistricting changes & quality of candidates
- Slow, but an improving perception of the economy was critical in Obama's win
- Difference in quality of candidate decided Senate races in Florida, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri and Nevada
- In part due to shoring up districts through redistricting, House Republicans kept the majority
- Winning numbers in the presidential, senate, house & gubernatorial races (303, 55, 236, & 30).
The last three elections all saw significant changes in incumbents and party control shifts of the White House, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Governor Offices, and State Legislatures across this country. Last night, voters made little partisan change and much of the change that did occur was a result of the once-in-a-decade redistricting as a result of reapportionment.
Despite minimal partisan change, it was still an action-packed, tense election cycle with a reported $6 billion worth of advertising. The main factors in deciding races included the improving economy, redistricting changes and the quality of candidates.
Also, unlike the last three elections where one party clearly won the day, this election was more of a split decision. Democrats win the night on points by taking the biggest prize in winning the White House and also maintaining control of the Senate. Republicans can claim important victories in keeping control of the House, picking up gubernatorial seats and increasing the number of state legislative chambers they control.
Republicans will look at the 2012 election as an election of missed opportunities:
- A missed opportunity to unseat a vulnerable president running for re-election while the country is still hurting economically
- A missed opportunity to win majority in the United States Senate when the starting point in terms of where the open seats were and which seats were up clearly gave Republicans a strong chance to take away the majority from Democrats.
Republicans could have done better, but Democrats benefited from a slow, but improving, economy and a better set of candidates in key senate races.
The unemployment rate is down to 7.9% from 9.1% in January. The number unemployed is down by three million workers over the last two years. Consumer confidence is up 30 points from one year ago. While no one is satisfied with where the economy is at today, and there is clearly much improvement needed, the perception of the current economy is that it is improving and people are starting to believe that better days are once again within reach. This was not the case one or two years ago.
It is no coincidence that with the slowly improving economic numbers, President Obama's job approval numbers improved from 44% in January to 50% today. At 44%, the president loses re-election, but with a gradual improvement to the 50% today, he could be competitive in the face of a still tough economy.
Quality of Candidates Matter
In competitive races where there is no distinct demographic or partisan advantage and either candidate could win, the deciding factor is often the quality of the candidates. While much energy will go into figuring out why Republicans performed poorly in Senate contests they could have won, the main reason in several races is simply that the better candidate who ran the better campaign won. This was the case in 2010 and is still the case in 2012.
In 2010, Republicans had strong candidates in several key contests. Republicans Marco Rubio in Florida, Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, Roy Blunt in Missouri, Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin and Rob Portman in Ohio were all strong candidates in competitive races and they all won. The same could be said about Democratic candidate Joe Manchin in West Virginia who won a special election to fill out the term of Sen. Robert Byrd (D).
In 2012, a blunt assessment of the Republican senate field of candidates will lead you to this conclusion: The quality of the Democratic candidates in more of the truly competitive (or potentially competitive) seats was better than the quality of Republican candidates. With only 10 of the 33 Senate seats up in 2012 being held by Republicans, the possibility to go on the offense and pick up some vulnerable seats was realistic at the start of this election cycle. Not only was the math on the side of Republicans, so was the mix of states that were on the ballot. Democrats had to defend open seat contests in Nebraska, North Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin. All were winnable by Republicans - with a good, quality candidate that is.
Would the outcomes have looked different if:
- The Republican field had not been cleared in Florida?
- Less controversial candidates had not been the nominee in Missouri or Michigan? With two stronger general election candidates losing in the primary, Missouri will rank as the biggest missed opportunity in 2012.
- If Sen. Lugar (R-IN) had decided to retire, making it more likely that a different candidate would have emerged from the primary?
- If someone other than a now 35 year old who had just taken the oath of office as State Treasurer three months before announcing his run for Senate in Ohio had been the nominee?
At the same time, the strongest possible Republican candidate was on the ballot in Nebraska, where Deb Fisher (R) won, but Heather Wilson (R) lost in New Mexico, Linda Lingle (R) lost in Hawaii, Linda McMahon (R) lost in Connecticut, and Sen. Scott Brown (R) lost in Massachusetts.
Here are seven Senate races where a clear difference in the quality of the candidates running made a key difference in the outcome of the race:
- Sen. Bill Nelson (D, FL) wins re-election
- Rep. Joe Donnelly (D, IN) wins an open seat
- Former Gov. Angus King (I, ME) wins an open seat
- Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D, MI) wins re-election
- Sen. Claire McCaskill (D, MO) wins re-election
- Heidi Heitkamp (D, ND) wins her first term
- Sen. Dean Heller (R, NV) wins his first full term
Following redistricting, neither party could claim an outright victory in the number of U.S. House seats that would clearly change hands simply due to redrawing district boundary lines. I had the overall net change at +1 Republican. However, there was significant change resulting from the new lines at the district-by-district level. A large number of incumbents decided not to run for re-election largely because they faced too steep of a re-election fight simply because their district became too favorable to the challenging party.
A significant shift also occurred in the number of competitive districts that could possibly change hands. Simply put, many districts that were once competitive were made much safer for one party. Both Republicans and Democrats in state legislatures across the country drew lines to reduce the number of competitive seats. With Republicans in control of the redistricting process in more states than Democrats, the result was that more Republican seats were moved into safer territory. This resulted in Republicans having to defend fewer seats, especially many from the large 2010 freshman class, than they would have if the maps had not changed. The new, simple math of it all in the House gave Republicans a distinct advantage in maintaining majority in a non-wave election year.
Here are the states with the biggest changes in their partisan makeup of their House delegation:
- Florida - Gain of 4 Democrats and a loss of 2 Republicans
- Illinois - Gain of 4 Democrats and a loss of 5 Republicans
- New Hampshire - Both seats switch to Democratic seats
- New York - Loss of 2 Republicans
- North Carolina - Gain of 3 Republicans and a loss of 3 Democrats
- Pennsylvania - Gain of 1 Republican and a loss of 2 Democrats
- Texas - Gain of 3 Democrats and a gain of 1 Republican
Some of the most interesting contests of the years also took place as a result of redistricting. There were a total of 13 incumbent member versus incumbent member contests involving 11 pairs of incumbents (2 in California faced each other in the primary and general election). Five of these battles took place yesterday.
Behind the Numbers with Michael
By Michael R. Davis
Numbers matter. The President wins re-election with 303 electoral votes (with Florida still to be decided). Republicans maintain control of the House with 236 members, a net loss of 6 seats. Democrats increase control of the Senate with 55 members (includes 2 Independents who are likely to caucus with Democrats). Republicans increase the number of gubernatorial seats they hold to 30.
These numbers are now the new starting point for the 2016 (president), 2014 (House, Senate and Governor) and 2013 (Governor) contests.
Election 2012: The Nation of Katy Perry Como
By Bernadette A. Budde
Senior Vice President, Candidate Advocacy
Over the weekend, while trying one more time to figure out this baffling election cycle, I thought about music and pop culture. Two images popped into my head. One was of Katy Perry, wearing her so-called ballot dress, marked for Obama-Biden, appearing at last minute rallies with President Obama in Las Vegas ... and of all places, Milwaukee. The second was Perry Como (who died in 2001), who had an early day tv show where he sat on a stool, crooning songs while reading viewer letters. Too simplistic to say that those who prefer Wide Awake to Catch a Falling Star voted for President Obama, while those who loved Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes to Firework voted for Mitt Romney. But ... you get the point.
For all the talk of divides, one thing we didn't have was a narrow election playing field. By geography and demographics, this election forced both presidential campaigns to look across America in all its diversity. President Obama and Mitt Romney had to campaign in at least a dozen states every poll showed were within margin of error. They had to appeal to rural voters, suburbanites, and people in big cities. Their last days on the campaign trail forced them to don parkas in one part of the country, while standing in a hot sun elsewhere. They had coasts, corn fields, coal mines, campuses, convenience stores, even casinos as backdrops. They found us where we dine, shop, live, play, pray, and work. Exit polls told us that mothers liked Obama, fathers liked Romney. Imagine, raising children, imparting family values while disagreeing on the choice for president. We likely make too much of so-called differences that are the political equivalent of only skin deep.
Control of the Senate wasn't dependent on New York, California, Texas, states with certain outcomes. Instead, the competitive races were in Montana, Nevada, North Dakota where outsiders often misunderstood the local environment and where unique personas were nominated by both parties. Political operatives often disregard the role of ticketsplitters, but we had them in abundance, or the Senate wouldn't have turned out as it did, where Republican nominees such as Linda McMahon, Linda Lingle, and Heather Wilson ran ahead of Mitt Romney in Connecticut, Hawaii, and New Mexico. Democrats won seats in Florida, Indiana, Missouri, and Virginia with bigger margins than those scored by President Obama. Americans are capable of remarkable dexterity when weaving their way through complicated ballots.
The House stays in Republican hands, but beneath the numbers were indications of significant uncertainty. There were highly competitive elections all across California, resulting in at least nine new members from that 53-delegation state. In upstate New York, areas ignored by presidential and Senate candidates, some Republican freshmen survived while their party's nominees for other office were obliterated. Democrats were successful in eliminating the suburban Republicans in Illinois, with few exceptions. Democrats added seats in both Florida and Texas.
This supposedly divided nation gave us a most decidedly American outcome ...accountable checks and balance. All the winners, especially the 113th Congress, would be wise to listen to Taylor Swift's Eyes Open, written for The Hunger Games. The chorus is "Everybody's waiting, everybody's watching, even when you're sleeping, keep your eyes open. " That's what happens in democracies where everyone participates. We are a people of multi-generations, multi-ethnic backgrounds, living in many different types of residences, speaking more than one language at home, working in many occupations, forming many different definitions of family. It might be a lot simpler to govern a country where native-born white males over 50 run businesses, and the rest of us follow in their shadows, but that's not what we've been for a very long time.
Last night confirmed that we don't see eye to eye. Our definitions of good guy/bad guy are very different; our cultural references confuse each other. Call me Polyanna, but this doesn't bother me. Despite what political pundits tell us, there are still places where Americans of all varieties congregate, and there are many political figures who cut across whatever divides the social demographers think keep us apart, at least in our time of need. Governor Chris Christie (R NJ) comes to mind. If he and Governor Andrew Cuomo (D NY) revive their battered post-Sandy communities, we'll see high approval ratings for both of them in the coming months from those of all political persuasions.
So, if you feel like drinking hemlock, order it with a chaser of champagne. At least the ads are off the air.
October 31, 2012
Close Races Remain During Unpredictable Last Week
By Michael R. Davis
- Many outcomes are still unclear - White House and Senate control lead the way
- Romney must win either CO, IA, NH, NV or WI in addition to OH to be the next president
- Obama likely wins re-election with a win in the Buckeye state
- Democrats hold slight advantage in holding control of Senate, but either party could win
- Republicans are in a strong position to hold control of the House
- 6 days until Election Day - Please Go Vote.
Before this week, words like Hurricane, Superstorm, Flooding, Blizzard, Windy, Perfect Storm in the last week of the election was more likely to be used as an adjective describing campaigns across the country, but just like the impact the first presidential debate had in changing the race for the White House, Sandy changed the news cycle away from the election.
With less than one week to go before the last day of voting ends in the 2012 General Election there remains many unanswered questions. Who is going to win the White House? Will Democrats keep control or will Republicans win a majority in the United States Senate? When will the presidential candidates fully re-engage on the campaign trail after pausing due to Sandy? How will Sandy impact voter turnout? Will the October unemployment rate released on Friday or any other economic news have an impact on those who have not yet voted? Will there be any new revelations released regarding events in Benghazi? Some have even floated the prospect that the election will be delayed due to massive storm and damage caused by Sandy. While this last point seems remote and unlikely, answers to the other unanswered questions above will tell us who the winning candidates will be next Tuesday.
The presidential race remains up for grabs and while the focus is first on the outcome of Ohio, other states will also play a decisive role in deciding the winner. Unlike before the first debate, what is clear today is that either candidate could win. If Pres. Obama wins Ohio he almost certainly has won re-election. Same goes for Florida, Virginia and North Carolina. If Gov. Romney wins Ohio (and the three states just mentioned), then the focus turns to see if he can win Colorado, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada or Wisconsin. To get across the magic number of 270 electoral votes, Romney will need to win one of those five states in addition to Ohio. Frankly, I am more interested in the outcome of these last five states than I am in Ohio. If Obama wins Ohio, the race is likely over. If Romney wins Ohio, he still must win one of these five states. If Obama wins all five of these states, he wins and the outcome of Ohio will be like winning the first three games of the baseball World Series to only see the other team win the next four games and, more importantly, the Championship.
Look to see if voter turnout (especially early voting) in eastern Ohio and along the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina has decreased due to Sandy. Will there be a gender gap that proves decisive? Would you be surprised if the bigger gender gap is currently among men and not women? Right now, Romney has a larger lead among men than Obama does among women according to recent numbers from Gallup polling. Romney has a 14 point lead among men (57-43) while Obama has an 8 point lead with women (54-46). While there has been a larger focus on winning over women voters, a larger than expected spread with men may result in a Romney victory. For Obama, he doesn't need to win women voters by the 14 point margin he did in 2008, but he does need to win this heavily targeted voting group by a larger margin than he currently leads. Additional groups/areas to pay attention to in the presidential race:
- Any area within 50 miles of Lake Erie in Ohio
- Catholic voters in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida
- Military voters under 40 years old in Northern Virginia and in the Southeast part of the state
- Can Mitt Romney win at least 36% to 37% of the Hispanic vote in states like Colorado, Florida and Arizona?
- Non-white suburban voters
- Blue collar workers in Midwest states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio
- How big will the decrease in the percentage of white voters be as a percentage of all voters?
While the news cycle this week is likely to be dominated by news surrounding Sandy, the new October unemployment numbers are to be released Friday. The tightly held, but closely watched figures will likely be the last official set of data released before the election. You can bet that both campaigns have already prepared their attack/defense messages and will fine tune their final pleas accordingly. Most economic indicators have shown improvement compared to a year ago, thus the long term trend line is positive for Obama. However, both candidates have it right that where the country is at economically today is still not good and we still have a long way to go before we have a full recovery. This may seem to simple, but if a voter who feels the country is heading in the right direction is more likely to be voting for Obama while a voter who thinks the country is heading in the wrong direction is more likely to vote for Romney.
While GOP efforts to win majority in the Senate took an additional hit with the controversial comments made by Richard Mourdock (R, IN), control of the upper chamber is still up in the air. Ten races remain within 5 points of the last credible independent poll and both Democrats and Republicans have enough possible combinations to claim majority. While Democrats have a slight advantage heading into election night, both parties have multiple paths to victory. Here is what to look for in the remaining days that will decide control:
- Can Republicans salvage the Indiana seat with Richard Mourdock (R)? Polls close first in the Hoosier state and a win by Democratic candidate Joe Donnelly likely results in Harry Reid (D) staying Senate Majority Leader.
- Polls close at 8:00pm ET or earlier in these states with key Senate contests: Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Pennsylvania.
- While Rick Berg (R) appears to be solidifying his chances against Heidi Heitkamp (D) in North Dakota like Bill Nelson (D) is in Florida over Connie Mack (R) and Bob Casey (D) is in Pennsylvania over Tom Smith (R), a reversal in any three of these races may indicate a larger shift is taking place.
- Competitive races with a potential impact as a result of Sandy are in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio.
- Similar to the presidential race, several Senate debates have been noteworthy. The outcomes in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Arizona, Indiana and Wisconsin have been partially shaped by the candidate debates and at least a couple of winners will likely cite this event as the difference maker.
In last week's Election Insights we gave an overview of the House races and Republicans continue to be in a commanding position to retain majority. At this stage, even Democrats are starting to acknowledge the likelihood of a net gain of 25 seats or more to win majority is unlikely. Early voter turnout in a few competitive races will be impacted by Sandy. Races in NJ-03 (Rep. Runyan vs. Adler), RI-01 (Doherty vs. Rep. Cicilline), MD-06 (Rep. Bartlett vs. Delaney), CT-05 (Roraback vs. Esty) and a few others in New York will likely see lower early voting turnout than projected and maybe higher election day only turnout than expected.
Unlike the last three elections when Republicans clearly won 2010 and Democrats clearly won in 2008 and 2006, Republicans and Democrats will likely both score significant victories in 2012. While the party winning the White House will argue they won the election, a more accurate description will likely be to call this one a split decision.
Behind the Numbers with Michael
By Michael R. Davis
Days Remaining Until Election Day
If you live in a swing state or in an area with a highly competitive contest, you have already been asked to do this multiple times already, but no matter where you live we are only 6 days away until Election Day and make sure you go vote.
October 24, 2012
Republicans Have Advantage In Holding House Majority
By Michael R. Davis
- GOP likely to hold House, 95 races in either "Competitive" or "Tossup" category on our House Race Ratings
- Democrats need to win at least 15 of 20 "Tossup" races to think about majority
- California and Illinois are states to watch where Democrats are favored
- North Carolina and New York are key states for GOP holding majority
- To have a realistic chance at majority, Democrats need to defeat 25-30 GOP incumbents
- Rep. Allen West has raised the most money in a competitive House race - over $15 million
While the bigger fights on election night are the battle for the White House and control of the Senate, the reshuffling of chairs in the House following redistricting has resulted in many changes. The numbers game of the 435 seats up for election give Republicans a clear advantage in maintaining control of the House. For Democrats, gaining seats is a possibility, but they will likely fall short of the net gain of 25 seats needed to win back the majority. Republicans currently have control with a 242 to 193 margin over Democrats, assuming all 5 seats currently vacant hold with the party last holding the seat.
All of the most recent polls show that neither Republicans nor Democrats enjoy an advantage on the generic congressional ballot question (Which party would you prefer control Congress?). Along with a competitive presidential contest where either Pres. Obama (D) or Gov. Romney (R) could win, where control for the Senate is up in the air, the generic congressional ballot further indicates that this is not a wave election for either party. Without the benefits of a wave (like Republicans enjoyed in 2010 and Democrats in 2006), Democrat chances are further eroded at this late stage.
Here is one quick version for Democrats to win at least 218 seats and a House majority:
- Hold all the currently held Democrat seats where the Democrat candidate is favored (168)
- Win all the Democrat favored newly drawn districts due to redistricting with no incumbent running (7 for a total of 175)
- Defeat all Republican held seats in Democrat favored districts (7 for a total of 182)
- Win at least 75% of the tossup races (15 for a total of 197)
- Save almost half of the Republican favored districts that is either a new district, member versus member or currently Democrat held seat (5 for a total of 202)
- Win 50% of the seats currently held by Republicans rated as "Competitive - GOP Favored" (18 for a total of (220)
On our House Race Ratings, 95 are listed as either "Competitive" or "Tossup" contests (plus 2 interesting California races where 2 Democrats face each other). A closer look at the breakdowns gives you an idea of the difficulties Democrats face in winning back a majority.
Races rated as "Tossup":
- Of the 20 races listed as Tossup, Republicans currently hold 12 seats to 7 for Democrats plus 1 race where a Democrat incumbent faces a Republican incumbent.
- 6 of the 12 Republicans were first elected in 2010 while 2 of the 7 Democrats are freshman. Freshman can often be the most vulnerable since they have yet to fully entrench themselves in their district.
- Republican freshman in heated contests to keep an eye on: Rep. West (R, FL-18), Rep. Cravaak (R, MN-08), Rep. Bass (R, NH-02), Rep. Heck (R, NV-03), Rep. Gibson (R, NY-19) and Rep. Canseco (TX-23). West, Bass and Heck are also in highly competitive presidential states and will be impacted by the closeness of that contest.
- Democrat freshman races to watch: Rep. Hochul (D, NY-27) and Rep. Cicilline (D, RI-01). Hochul is looking for her first full term after winning a special election to replace Rep. Lee (R) and Cicilline is fighting off scandals against a credible challenger, Brendan Doherty (R).
- With poll numbers tightening in the presidential and senate races in the Keystone State, the one tossup House race to watch is in PA-12. Rep. Mark Critz (D) survived a member versus member primary battle against Rep. Jason Altmire (D) and now faces a tough and expensive battle against Keith Rothfus in this Southwest district.
- In OH-16, Rep. Renacci (R) faces off against Rep. Sutton (D) in one of only two Republican incumbent versus Democrat incumbent battles due to redistricting. A swing district with two incumbents in a highly competitive presidential state plus a U.S. Senate race means that every vote is being fiercely fought after. It also means this just might end up being the most expensive House race in the country.
- Another contender for most expensive House race is in CA-07 between Rep. Dan Lungren (R) and Ami Bera (D). Bera has a bigger presence on TV in this Sacramento based district.
- The bottom line for Democrats is that they need to win 15 of these 20 races to see a net gain of 10 seats to even remotely entertain the idea of winning majority. Possible, but that will be a difficult task.
Races rated as "Competitive - Democrat Favored":
- Republican freshman in Illinois were targeted in redistricting by Democrats and some gains here are likely. Rep. Walsh (R, IL-08) faces a tough fight in a high profile race against Tammy Duckworth (D). Rep. Dold (R, IL-10) retained only 60% of his old district and the new district went for Obama in 2008 with 63% total. Rep. Schilling (R, IL-17) is the most likely Republican to turn back a Democrat challenger of the several Illinois Republicans in tough races.
- 8 races in this category are in California (2 feature 2 Democrats). With California's new Citizen Redistricting Commission and new Top Two primary system, the House races in the biggest delegation will now feature more competitive/interesting races than in the past. The top races featuring incumbents are Garamendi (D, CA-03) and Stark (D, CA-15).
- Arizona, Florida and Nevada each gained a seat (2 in Florida) as a result of reapportionment and totals 4 new districts where no incumbent is present. The competitiveness of the AZ-09 contest between Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Vernon Parker (R) is now as intense as any other new district race. Each of the 3 other new districts feature at least 1 well-known candidate in the race. In FL-09, former member Alan Grayson (D) faces Todd Long (R). Rising Florida star Adam Hasner (R) faces Lois Frankel in FL-22. Danny Tarkanian (R) and Steven Horsford (D) are in a nasty battle in NV-04. Tarkanian is the son of the former UNLV basketball coach.
- Two Republican incumbents face tough fights largely due to changes made in their district resulting from new lines. Neither Rep. Bartlett (R, MD-06) nor Rep. Buerkle (R, NY-24) are going to find help up ballot, so they need to win over some Democrats to win.
- In WA-06, keep an eye on Derek Kilmer (D). He has a track record of working across aisles to move jobs/economic issues forward, which is clearly something we need more of in the 113th Congress.
Races rated as "Competitive - Republican Favored":
- While Republicans are hurt in Illinois as a result of redistricting, Democrats in North Carolina face the same fate. Rep. Shuler (D, NC-11) and Rep. Miller (D, NC-13) decided not to run while Rep. McIntyre (D, NC-07) and Rep. Kissell (D, NC-08) are in uphill battles for re-election. The North Carolina delegation is likely to move from 7-6 Democrat to 9-4 or even 10-3 Republican. The biggest defeat here is for the Blue Dog Coalition.
- A district that will trend more Democrat over the decade is that of Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R, CA-36). If Raul Ruiz (D) is able to win this year, Democrats may be closer to a net gain of 25 than thought possible.
- With polls closing first in the nation, watch the victory margin in IN-02 between Jackie Walorski (R) and Brendan Mullen (D). A double digit Walorski victory likely means the GOP holds the House while a tight contest (1 or 2 point margin) means Democrats are still in the hunt.
- Republican freshman in New York look to survive. Rep. Grimm (R, NY-11), Rep. Hayworth (R, NY-18), and Rep. Hanna (R, NY-22) all are locked in competitive races, but are in position to win.
Democrats will need to pull out some upsets to have a chance a majority. Races to look at would be in:
- CA-10 - Rep. Jeff Denham (R) versus Jose Hernandez (D)
- CO-03 - Rep. Scott Tipton (R) versus Sal Pace (D)
- FL-26 - Rep. David Rivera (R) versus Joe Garcia (D)
- GA-12 - Lee Anderson (R) versus Rep. John Barrow (D)
- MI-11 - Kerry Bentivolio (R) versus Syed Taj (D)
- NE-02 - Rep. Lee Terry (R) versus John Ewing (D) - Obama won this 1 electoral vote in 2008
- WI-07 - Rep. Sean Duffy (R) versus Pat Kreitlow (D)
Often times elections are about math and the math of the 2012 House elections is on the side of Republicans. Big gains in 2010 followed by redistricting have given Republicans a numbers advantage that will likely prove too difficult for Democrats to overcome this November. Unless Democrats can somehow defeat 25 to 30 sitting Republicans, majority is likely out of reach this election cycle.
Additional resources to look at for House, Senate and Gubernatorial races:
Behind the Numbers with Michael
By Michael R. Davis
Rep. Allen West (R, FL-18) Has Raised the Most for a Contested House Race in 2012
According to the most recent data from the Federal Election Commission, the top five candidates in terms of money raised are all Republicans. Of those five, Rep. Allen West (R, FL-18) is the top one involved in a competitive race. One of the top five ran for president, one is running for Vice-President, one is the Speaker of the House, and the other is in leadership. The next candidate in a competitive race raised $4,529,955 - over $10,000,000 short of West.
Here are the top six House fundraisers for 2012 to date:
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R, MN-06)
Speaker John Boehner (R, OH-08)
Rep. Allen West (R, FL-18)
Rep. Eric Cantor (R, VA-07)
Rep. Paul Ryan (R, WI-01)
David Alameel (D, TX-33)
October 17, 2012
Control of the U.S. Senate Remains Up in the Air
By Michael R. Davis
- All partisan outcomes are still possible in the U.S. Senate
- Republican efforts have been hurt by actions in Maine, Indiana and Missouri
- 11 Senate races are within 5 points today
- Top races to watch are in Arizona, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Virginia & Wisconsin
- 1,354,687 ballots already cast across the country
All final outcomes are still on the table for partisan control of the United States Senate. Democrats could gain seats, there could be no net change, Democrats could lose seats but maintain the majority, there could be an equal number of Republicans and non-Republicans, or Republicans could win the majority. A path to each of these outcomes is realistic and possible. A significant reason why is due to the improved climate for Republicans at the national level due to Gov. Romney’s winning performance in the first debate.
There are 33 U.S. Senate seats up in 2012 with 11 of those seats being open seat contest (AZ, CT, AK, IN, ME, NE, NM, ND, TX, VA, & WI). At the start of this election cycle the conventional wisdom was that Republicans were in great position to capture the majority. To do so would require a net gain of four seats to get to 51 seats and thus clear control. As time marched forward several events have made this task for Republicans much more difficult. Here are a few of the main hurdles that are hurting the GOP’s chances:
- The quality of GOP candidates compared to 2010 is not as strong especially against vulnerable incumbent Democrats.
- A sure victory in Maine with Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) went out the window when she decided to retire and Independent candidate, and former governor, Angus King threw his hat in the ring.
- A likely victory in Indiana turned into a competitive race when GOP challenger Richard Murdock (R) defeated incumbent Sen. Dick Lugar (R). Lugar was the only Senate incumbent to lose a primary this year.
- A highly vulnerable Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) caught two breaks when Rep. Todd Akin (R) won the GOP primary over two stronger General Election candidates and then when Akin made the most controversial comments of the cycle. Even with his foot in his mouth, Akin has closed to within six points.
Despite all of this, eleven contests (AZ, CT, FL, IN, MA, MT, ND, NV, PA, VA & WI) remain within five points in the most recent credible independent polling, thus control of the Senate is still up in the air. Democrats have improved their position of maintaining control and after looking at the map below the net gain would be plus one for Democrats. Democrats would flip three seats (AZ, MA & CT), Republicans would flip two seats (MT & NE), and Independents would flip ME. The next set of possible seats to flip control all favors Republicans – North Dakota, Wisconsin and Virginia.
Clearly each side could wind up in the majority and the combination of victories in these eleven states will decide if Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) will keep his title of Majority Leader or if he will be forced to hand that title over to a Republican.
Here is how Republicans can win the majority: First the GOP must hold at least three of these four - Arizona, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Next, Nebraska appears to be in the win column and Montana needs to follow suit too. This would put Republicans in striking distance with 49 seats. Republicans must win two of these five – North Dakota, Wisconsin, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. All are possible, all are competitive and all will result in a tough win for the victor.
Top five races to watch in the closing days that will determine Senate majority:
Arizona – Jeff Flake (R) is a solid candidate running in a state that will likely be mentioned within the next two presidential elections in the same competitive breath that Ohio, Virginia and Florida are today. Voter’s feelings towards candidates rise or fall faster here compared to anywhere else depending on what candidates say on immigration. Nearly all issues tie back to immigration and where Flake and Richard Carmona (D) stand on this issue will decide the race to succeed the well-respected Sen. Jon Kyl (R)
Massachusetts – Lots of money and lots of attention describe this race. Sen. Scott Brown (R) surprised many by winning the January 2010 special election to replace Sen. Ed Kennedy (D) and has remained in campaign mode ever since. Brown faces a stiff challenge from law professor Elizabeth Warren (D), who has captivated many Democrats across the country. While Brown is likely a better match to the state on fiscal and social issues and the shine to the Warren star has been removed, winning in a presidential cycle that will likely boost Warren’s numbers will make this a tough fight for the popular Brown.
North Dakota – Former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D) is one of the stronger candidates this cycle and has a good story to tell that relates well to voters. Congressman Rick Berg (R) won his first term in 2010 by defeating an incumbent. Both candidates have won statewide in this emerging energy state with the lowest unemployment rate in the country. As a result, the typical messaging seen in other states plays out differently here, but the economy is still tops in this open seat battle.
Virginia – This is consistently the most competitive Senate race this cycle. Since Tim Kaine (D) and George Allen (R) announced they were running last year, this race has been essentially deadlocked. Both are former governors, well-known and have loyal bases. Breaking through with the few remaining undecided in the wealthy, growing Northern Virginia neighborhoods and with military voters in the Southeast corner will decided the outcome. The fortunes of no other contest may be as closely connected to the outcome of the presidential race than this heavyweight battle.
Wisconsin – Tommy vs. Tammy. Old school conservative vs. Madison liberal. Former four-term Governor vs. seven term congresswoman. Former Bush cabinet member vs. consistent Bush critic. This is a tight race where voters are already familiar with Thompson, but will the rest of the state outside of Madison/Dane County that Baldwin has represented be comfortable with her record.
Again, less than three weeks to go and any outcome is possible in the Senate.
Behind the Numbers with Michael
By Michael R. Davis
Early Voting Off to A Fast Pace
According to the United State Election Project at George Mason University, early voting is off to a fast pace with over 1.3 million ballots already being cast. This includes over 327,000 in Florida (slight registration advantage to the GOP), over 241,000 in Iowa (advantage Democrats) and over 300,000 in Ohio (partisan advantage is unknown). In 2008, there were over 31.7 million ballots cast before General Election Day, which represented 25.7% of all ballots cast. Early expectations are that this may hit 35% this year.