May 1, 2013
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
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
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)
Mark Warner (D-VA)
Rand Paul (R-KY)
Heidi Heitkamp (R-ND)
ONE THUMB UP & ONE THUMB DOWN
Ted Cruz (R-TX)
TWO THUMBS DOWN
Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
Harry Reid (D-NV)
John McCain (R-AZ)
Breaking It Down: 2014 Senate Landscape
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
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.
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 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 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.
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.
March 20, 2013
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):
The following positions have the status of Cabinet rank:
March 6, 2013
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.
Breaking It Down: 2014 Open Seats
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)
House (3: 2 R, 1 D)
Governor (5: 2R, 3D)
February 6, 2013
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
Divided Party Control: Iowa
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
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
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.
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
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
Breaking Down the Inauguration
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.
Besides the Constitution's requirement to take the oath on January 20th at noon, it says little else about the inauguration. The only other requirement it spells out is the wording of the oath of office in Article II, Section I, "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." It has also become tradition to say "So help me God" at the end of the oath, even though it is not included in the constitutional wording. President Obama has followed this tradition and said it after his oaths of office. The Constitution also does not specify who gives the oath of office, though typically the Chief Justice administers it. This year, Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the oath of office to President Obama and Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered the oath to Vice President Joe Biden.
January 2, 2013
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.
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.
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
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
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
While the legislative focus the last few years has been more on the United States Congress than the State House (or the Round House if you are in New Mexico), the impact at the state level can never been underestimated. For many individuals and companies, what happens in their own backyard, at the state level, is more important and has a greater impact than what is going on in Washington. With this in mind, here is one last review of the 2012 elections with a focus on changes at the state level.
Democrats and Republicans both have important victories at the state level to feel good about, but on balance the Democratic Party celebrated a few more victories.
Overall Big Winners
From a state perspective, Democrats were big winners in Minnesota and New Hampshire. In Minnesota, Democrats had a net gain of one seat in the U.S. House, but both state legislative chambers also switched party control from Republican to Democrat. In New Hampshire, Democrats won both U.S. House seats by defeating incumbent Republicans and held off a strong GOP challenge to maintain control of the governor's office. However, these impressive gains were not the biggest Democratic win of the night in New Hampshire. In the 400 member state house, Republicans held a commanding 288 to 102 seat majority (plus 10 vacancies) over Democrats going into the election. Following the election, Democrats now have a 221 to 179 seat majority.
Republicans were big winners in Arkansas and North Carolina. In Arkansas, Republicans won a majority in the state senate and house for the first time since reconstruction, while also flipping one U.S. House seat. Following redistricting, Republicans in North Carolina were expected to have the largest net gain in U.S. House seats, and that is exactly what happened. The GOP gained three seats, with redistricting as the overwhelming cause. Republicans in the Tar Heel state also flipped control of the governor's office and won a critical state Supreme Court race.
There were eleven gubernatorial elections in the 2012 election cycle compared to the 36 offices that will be up in 2014. Only in the open seat contest in North Carolina, where Gov. Beverly Perdue (D) decided not to seek re-election, was there a party change in the highest state office. Pat McCrory (R) defeated Walter Dalton (D) by a comfortable 54.7% to 43.2% margin to give Republicans the only party switch of the night. The North Carolina result was expected, but the Republicans missed opportunities for additional gains in Montana, New Hampshire and Washington. Republicans now control the governor's office in 30 states (a gain of 1), while the Democrats now control 19 states (a loss of 1), with Gov. Lincoln Chafee (RI) serving as the lone Independent. Look for several Governors to begin drumming up support for a U.S. Senate or Presidential run in 2014/2016.
Following a primary election season that saw nearly 200 state legislators lose their battle for re-nomination, significant turnover and change was anticipated in many of our 99 state legislative chambers. Prior to the election, Republicans held control in the majority of state senates (29 GOP, 19 DEM, 2 TIED) and state houses (31 GOP, 17 DEM, 1 TIED) and were never in serious jeopardy of losing control of a majority of states.
An amazing twenty-six legislative chambers switched party control in the 2010 and 2011 elections, all away from Democratic control. With redistricting, Republicans began this election cycle with improved chances of continuing to hold a partisan advantage in a majority of states, even in those states where the GOP gained an unexpected majority in 2010 or 2011. Eleven state legislative chambers switched party control in the 2012 elections:
Only the dramatic shift in New Hampshire was surprising as many of these bodies moved back to their typical party control following the wave election of 2010.
Following the 2012 elections, Republicans still enjoy majority status in 29 state senates and 28 state houses while Democrats have a majority in 20 state senates and 21 state houses. Only the Virginia Senate is currently tied (and the GOP holds the tiebreaker). When looking at which party controls the governor's office and the two state chambers, Republicans have an advantage in 29 states compared to 21 for Democrats. State legislatures also became slightly more one-party control with a net gain of four states (for a total of 45 states) that now have the same party controlling both state legislative chambers. With one legislative chamber in Nebraska, and the Virginia Senate tied, that leaves Iowa, Kentucky and New Hampshire as the only states with split party control in the state legislature.
In all 23 states where Republicans have the governor's office and majority control of both state legislative chambers, they also have a majority of that state’s U.S. House delegation. Democrats hold that distinction in 12 of the 14 states where they dominate the state house landscape.
U.S. House of Representatives
Several states will need significant updating to their congressional legislative directory following the 2012 elections. Redistricting had a considerable impact, with new district lines creating a large number of districts without an incumbent on the November ballot. This resulted in the freshman class in the U.S. House for the 113th Congress to be 84 new members. Here are the sixteen state delegations with at least two House freshmen and the partisan breakdown of those new members:
In addition, party control of the U.S. House delegation changed in eight states:
Changes in Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Nevada and New Jersey were in part due to a gain or loss of a seat following reapportionment.
Behind the Numbers with Michael
By Michael R. Davis
Women played a deciding role in many races across the country and were heavily targeted by both presidential campaigns along with nearly every other top race on the ballot. According to data from the Women's Legislative Network of the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are now 1,790 women elected to serve at the state legislative level beginning in the 2013 state legislative session. This represents a slight increase from the 1,746 women that served during the 2012 state legislative session.
Overall, women will represent 24.2% of state legislators in 2013, up from 23.7% in 2012.
Of the 1,790 women who will serve in the 50 state legislatures in 2013, 1,139 (63.6%) are Democrat, 636 (35.5%) are Republican with the remaining 15 coming from another party. The new numbers also represent a larger increase in women elected that are Democratic. In the 2012 state legislative session, 1,051 or 60.2% were women.
November 7, 2012
Republicans could have done better, but Democrats benefited from a slow, but improving, economy and a better set of candidates in key senate races.
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.
October 31, 2012
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:
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:
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.
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
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:
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":
Races rated as "Competitive - Democrat Favored":
Races rated as "Competitive - Republican Favored":
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
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:
October 17, 2012
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:
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
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.
October 10, 2012
The importance of election at the state level cannot be emphasized enough. While most of the focus and attention revolves around the tightening presidential race and a few contests for the U.S. Senate, what happens at the state level is typically more relevant to our daily lives and the pocket book issues Americans rate as the most important issue facing the country.
Which of these two, an impressive debate victory or an improved unemployment rate, will have more staying power and a larger impact on deciding the outcome of the presidential contest? For Romney, he must follow up his first debate performance with two more strong showings. He must continue to show knowledge of the issues, statistics and give specific solutions to problems on domestic issues and foreign policy. For Obama, he needs to convince voters that it is his policies that have lowered the unemployment rate across the country.
In New Hampshire, four-term Governor John Lynch (D) is retiring leaving the door open for the 2010 Senate candidate Ovide Lamontagne (R) or former state senator Maggie Hassan (D) in another tossup race. New Hampshire and Vermont are the only two states with two year terms for Governor and Lynch was the only Democrat to win statewide in 2010. In a state that truly has independent minded voters, winning over this group will decide the election.
Control for State Legislature
My favorite three states to watch are Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota and New Mexico.
Behind the Numbers with Michael