December 4, 2013
With 2013 coming to a close, the attention now turns to 2014 and the Senate midterm elections. Currently controlled by the Democrats, 2014 presents an opportunity for the Republican Party to change control of the chamber, given the high number of Democratic seats up for re-election. The current Senate is split with 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans, and two Independents who caucus with the Democrats, essentially 55-45. There are 35 races in 2014 and Republicans must win 6 seats total (in addition to defending all current seats) to win the majority.
Republicans are optimistic of their chances because 7 of the Democratic seats up in 2014 are in states that voted for Romney in 2012, including Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Three of these Senators have announced retirement making them open seats - Baucus (D-MT), Johnson (D-SD), and Rockefeller (D-WV). This leaves challenger races for Republicans in Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Additional open Democratic held seats are in the Obama carried states of Iowa and Michigan and there are 2 Republican retirements but both in the Romney carried states of Georgia and Nebraska. In total, there are the 7 Democratic held seats in Romney won states and 2 additional open seats in Iowa and Michigan that Republicans see as the most likely pick up opportunities.
The Democrats may be on the defensive this cycle, but Republicans will face their own challenges going into 2014. Democrats are eying challenges in the open seat in Georgia and possible challenges in Obama won states like Maine, as well as in Kentucky against Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. Furthermore, the 2 Republican open sets, Georgia and Nebraska, will have Republican primaries where out of the mainstream candidates could turn the seats Democratic. This is similar to Indiana, Missouri, and Nevada in 2012 where Republicans felt confident of their opportunities prior to the general election.
While the election landscape for 2014 looks to benefit Republicans, there are several factors at play. The current congressional and political parties' favorability is dismal, and with a year out from the election, there is still a lot that can happen. Right now, Republicans are poised to gain seats in the Senate; though winning a net gain of 6 seats is still an uphill battle.
Among the most competitive seats:
Alaska - Currently represented by Democrat Mark Begich, the state voted for Romney with 55% of the vote and has a Republican Governor and other Senator. The Republican primary is between Lt. Governor Mark Treadwell, Dan Sullivan, and tea party candidate Joe Miller. Current polling has Begich running near even against either Treadwell or Sullivan but with a substantial lead against Miller.
Arkansas - Currently represented by Democrat Mark Pryor, the state voted for Romney with 61% of the vote. Congressman Tom Cotton has cleared the primary for the Republican nomination and polls show the two running neck and neck. Arkansas has a history of voting Republican for President, but electing Democrats to other offices, as the election of Pryor has demonstrated as well as current Democratic Governor Mike Beebe.
Georgia - Currently held by Republican Saxby Chambliss who has announced his retirement, this will be an open seat in a state carried by Romney with 53% of the vote. Democrats have cleared the primary field for Michelle Nunn, daughter of long time, highly respected Senator Sam Nunn. Republicans have an extremely crowded 8 person primary with 6 "legitimate" candidates with polling showing no clear front runner at this point. A bloody and highly unpredictable Republican primary and a strong Democratic candidate both make this a race to watch.
Iowa - Currently held by retiring Democrat Tom Harkin, Iowa voted for Obama with 52% of the vote. Like Arkansas, Iowa has a history of voting across party lines regularly with a long time Republican Governor and a very conservative Republican as one Senator and a liberal Democrat as the other. Democrats have cleared the primary field for Congressman Bruce Braley while Republicans face a crowded primary with at least 5 candidates, each positioning themselves in different ways. An unusual Republican nominating process could lead to any number of outcomes which could make this race highly competitive or make it likely to remain in Democratic hands depending on the GOP nominee.
Kentucky - Represented by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, Democrats see this as an opportunity to "take down the leader" even though the state voted for Romney with 61% of the vote. The highly polarizing McConnell faces a primary challenge from a tea party backed candidate and a general election opponent in Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes who has cleared the primary field and is raising money from across the country as Democrats look for an opportunity to be on offense. Current polling has the general election very close.
Louisiana - Democrat Mary Landrieu is running for reelection in this state which gave Romney 58% of the vote. Republicans have two candidates running, Congressman Bill Cassidy, who is backed by the NRSC, and tea party backed Rob Maness. Louisiana's unique "jungle primary" system where all candidates run on the same primary ballot, regardless of party, gives Landrieu the opportunity to win the election outright if she garners over 50% of the vote at that point, while the Republican vote would be split between Cassidy and Maness. If she does not exceed 50%, she would go to a runoff with the next highest vote getter - a runoff which would work in the way a general election typically would. In a runoff scenario, current polling has her with a small lead over either challenger.
Michigan - With Democrat Carl Levin retiring, an open seat in this state carried by Obama with 54% of the vote represents another pick up opportunity for Republicans. Primaries in both parties have been cleared, leaving Republican Terri Lynn Land facing Democratic Congressman Gary Peters. Land won her election as Secretary of State by a greater margin than any Republican winner in Michigan history and is willing to partially self-fund the campaign. Current polling shows Peters with a 1-5 point lead a year out from the election.
Montana - Retiring Democrat Max Baucus represents this state carried by Romney with 55%, creating an open seat Republicans hope to pick up. Congressman Steve Daines has cleared the GOP primary field and will face either current Democratic Lt. Governor John Walsh or former Lt. Governor John Bohlinger. Polls currently show Daines with a substantial lead over either possible challenger.
North Carolina - Democratic Senator Kay Hagan is running for reelection in a state that was one of the closest in the last two Presidential elections. Republican State House Speaker Thom Tillis is facing tea party backed Dr. Greg Brannon and two others in a GOP primary. Polling shows a neck and neck race for Hagan whichever opponent she faces.
South Dakota - South Dakota is another open seat in a state carried by Romney with 58% of the vote. Democrat Tim Johnson is retiring, setting up a race between Democrat Rick Weiland and former Republican Governor Mike Rounds, who faces a tea party backed challenger, Dr. Annette Bosworth, in the primary. Polling shows a substantial lead for Rounds to turn this seat Republican.
West Virginia - The third Democratic held open seat in a state carried by Romney with 62% of the vote comes as Jay Rockefeller retires, leaving a race between Republican Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito and Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. Despite heaving supporting Romney for President, West Virginia has two Democratic U.S. Senators and a Democratic Governor, showing a strong ability to cross party lines in elections. Even still, current polling shows Capito with a commanding lead.
November 20, 2013
Many have wondered what the impact of the government shutdown will be on the 2014 elections. Historically, such issues burn brightly in the media spotlight and quickly fade from voter's minds as more pressing, long term issues such as jobs, taxes, healthcare, education, etc. come to the fore. This is especially true when such an incident happens more than a year from the election. There are important landscape shifts that took place as a result of the shutdown, which are difficult to quantify in polls, but will likely play a large role in the 2014 elections. Chief among these are long term reputational damage to Washington, further fueling anti-incumbent sentiment and a more open war within the Republican party between the strongly anti-government faction and the pro-growth, pro-stability faction. The business community has begun to recognize the need to mobilize on behalf of pro-growth, pro-stability candidates where they are challenged by fervently anti-government candidates.
In terms of which party is held responsible for the government shutdown, the landscape has shifted quickly. Initial polling data indicated large majorities found Republicans in Congress to be primarily responsible. In the subsequent weeks however, voter's views of responsibility for the shutdown have shifted. In Virginia, a state particularly affected by the shutdown because of the large number of federal employees and contractors in the DC suburbs, exit polls from November 5th's Gubernatorial election showed that voters split almost evenly between holding Republicans in Congress and President Obama as primarily responsible for the shutdown. Voters who indicated that the shutdown directly affected their household (1/3 of all voters in Virginia) voted for the Democrat McAuliffe by a 56-37 margin. Voters not directly affected by the shutdown supported Cuccinelli 50-43. This would lead one to believe that being impacted by the shutdown trended against Republicans, but these voters are overwhelmingly concentrated in the Northern Virginia suburbs which has historically trended Democrat by such margins, so it is difficult to say that the shutdown extended Democratic margins beyond their normal parameters.
Who is More to Blame for the Government Shutdown?
Did the Shutdown Affect Anyone in Your Household?
Similarly, voters tended to break along predictable patterns in terms of which candidate they supported based on who they held primarily responsible, indicating that Republicans tend to blame Obama and vote for the Republican candidate and Democrats tend to blame Republicans for the shutdown and support the Democratic candidate. All of this contributes to the sense that, as an issue driving voting patterns, the shutdown and responsibility for it had faded to traditional partisan differences within a few weeks of being resolved, making it even less likely that it will play a role as a vote motivator in the 2014 elections for most voters.
While the effect of the shutdown on voting behavior may be minimal, there are more subtle changes that likely WILL impact the elections in significant ways.
Gallup reported large drops in approval ratings of Congress from September to October, dropping from 20% overall to 11%. The all-time low in the history of the poll is only 10%, reached in February and August of 2012. The abysmal view of Congress in general by the public, fueled in this case by the shutdown, contributes to a "pox on both their houses" mentality which puts incumbent members of both parties at risk and increases the appeal of "outsider" candidates in challenger or open seat races. If Congress continues the partisan gridlock and issues such as the government shutdown, possible debt default, the sequester, and other signs of an inability to handle basic functions of government continue, voters may move towards a "throw them all out" mentality and place more Congressional seats in the competitive category, but without a partisan tinge to the result.
The other primary result of the shutdown on the 2014 elections is being played out within the Republican Party as "anti-government" factions battle "pro-growth" factions. Terms such as "tea party" and "establishment" are becoming less useful because they denote ideology and the battle within the GOP isn't really an ideological one. It is one of priorities. Some Republicans see their role primarily as disrupting and reducing a dysfunctional federal government that has gotten too big and too intrusive and they want to stop that at any cost. Others see their role as providing a stable, functional government that can be pared back and shaped to be more effective and responsive. Often these priorities are able to work in concert. The shutdown pitted them head to head. The business community has quickly come to realize that disrupting the business environment with non-targeted sequester cuts, government shutdowns that could last a couple of days or a few weeks, and enormous uncertainty on possible government debt default is the result of actions taken by the "anti-government" faction within the Republican Party and is as dangerous to the economic climate as anti-competitive policies from the far left.
As a result, the business community has quickly begun to mobilize to support "pro-growth" candidates in primaries. The first test was a special election runoff in Alabama's First Congressional District pitting business friendly candidate Bradley Byrne against fervent anti-government candidate Dean Young. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were deployed on Byrne's behalf through contributions and independent expenditures in the final weeks of the election by the business community in Alabama and around the country. Byrne won 52-48, but almost certainly would have been defeated without the last minute push by the business community. The tough win has served as a bellwether that with more planning and better coordination, the business community can be even more effective in producing general election candidates that won't threaten the foundations of the economy and business climate.
While the shutdown will not likely push many voters from one candidate to another by itself, it may have a huge impact on which candidates emerge from primaries and the overall number of competitive seats if voters conclude that ALL of Congress needs a makeover.
November 13, 2013
Today we finish our 4 part series in which BIPAC analyzes the upcoming 2014 House crossover districts. House crossover districts are the congressional districts where the U.S. Representative and the presidential candidate voted for by that district are of opposite parties. There are currently 26 House crossover districts or 26 House members whose district voted for the presidential candidate of the opposite party. There are 15 incumbent Republicans serving in districts President Obama won and 9 incumbent Democrats serving in districts Mitt Romney won. This series analyzes the incumbents, the districts and potential challengers as the political landscape for 2014 continues to evolve and take shape.
To see the full list of House crossover districts visit the BIPAC portal here.
Mike Coffman (R, CO 6)
Frank LoBiondo (R, NJ 2)
Michael Grimm (R, NY 11)
Dave Reichert (R, WA 8)
Patrick Murphy (D, FL 18)
Mike McIntyre (D, NC 7)
Jim Matheson (D, UT 4)
November 6, 2013
The pro-growth community can have a huge impact.
Virginia is the quintessential swing state. It supported George Bush twice, then Barack Obama twice. It has alternated between Republican and Democratic Governors and Senators. New Jersey is not a swing state. It has gone Democratic in every Presidential election of the last 30 years. But it is New Jersey where a Republican was just reelected Governor by land slide margins and Virginia that went Democratic. In short, there are a LOT of New Jersey voters who voted for Barack Obama and Chris Christie and Virginia voters who voted for Mitt Romney and Terry McAuliffe. This tells us two things primarily - first, that candidates matter and secondly, that despite partisan polarization in Washington, swing voters aren't dead and are readily willing to switch between parties.
To be fair, both Chris Christie in New Jersey and Ken Cuccinelli are both extraordinary candidates in some ways. Christie pulls many more crossover votes than an average candidate and as a result, drew a fairly weak opponent. Conversely, Cuccinelli proved more polarizing than other Republicans of similar ideology, so each is a bit of an outlier in terms of crossover potential. That each ARE outliers, however, demonstrates just how wide the political center is when presented with extraordinary candidates.
For all of the partisan divide in Congress and the rancor between the parties in DC, the election results yesterday tell us that there are many Americans who still vote for individual candidates and issues, not parties. While the lesson is likely to be lost (sadly) on the DC political class, it is good news for the business community because it means that on the issues, we have the opportunity to build consensus across party lines and to work with both parties to find ways to promote economic growth and expand business opportunity and grow jobs.
The results are stark. Candidates matter and campaigns matter.
In Virginia, Cuccinelli underperformed Romney and dramatically underperformed his immediate GOP predecessor Bob McDonnell. He underperformed Republican Attorney General candidate Mark Obenshain who has a similar ideological profile, but a different approach, style and temperament.
This fall off was particularly pronounced in the vote rich counties of DC suburbs and exurbs of Northern Virginia.
Prince William County:
Most telling about the nature of campaigns and the difference a higher profile race can make and how effective the McAuliffe (a deeply flawed candidate himself) campaign's efforts were to define Cuccinelli as an extremist candidate is that Cuccinelli dramatically underperformed HIMSELF from his 2009 election as Attorney General. In that race, he received 1,124,137 votes or 57.5%. For Governor, he received only 1,008,554 for 45.5%.
New Jersey offers a mirror image. Obama won New Jersey with 58% and 57% in 2012 and 2008 respectively. Governor Chris Christie was elected in 2009 with only a plurality 48% of the vote over scandal plagued incumbent John Corzine. Yesterday, he walked away with 61% of the vote. Again, looking at vote percentages at the county level is revealing.
All of this simply illustrates what Washington has had such a hard time understanding: that voters are not wedded to parties the way politicians are, with a few exceptions. They are willing to switch between parties to support candidates that reflect their interests. Again, this is GREAT news for the business community. Not because Chris Christie or Terry McAuliffe will do a better job of promoting free enterprise in their states (though both are expected to be pretty friendly to business growth), but because voters have demonstrated they are readily willing to break from partisan ideology to follow their own interests. BIPAC firmly believes that what is good for growing jobs and the economy is good for most Americans.
The results also demonstrate how important candidates and campaigns are. Good candidates with good campaigns can and will win in the most unlikely places. Voters showed in Virginia and New Jersey last night that a new way is possible.
(Note: For this analysis, Obama/Romney results are a partisan benchmark. According to exit polling, Obama drew 92% of Democratic votes, Romney drew 93% of Republican votes and Independents split evenly 50-50. Thus, Romney and Obama provide an excellent barometer to evaluate over or under performance by a candidate based on a standard partisan behavior.)
October 16, 2013
Today we continue our 4 part series in which BIPAC will analyze the upcoming 2014 House crossover districts. House crossover districts are the congressional districts where the U.S. Representative and the presidential candidate voted for by that district are of opposite parties. There are currently 26 House crossover districts or 26 House members whose district voted for the presidential candidate of the opposite party. There are 15 incumbent Republicans serving in districts President Obama won and 9 incumbent Democrats serving in districts Mitt Romney won. This series will analyze the incumbents, the districts and potential challengers as the political landscape for 2014 continues to evolve and take shape.
To see the full list of House crossover districts visit the BIPAC portal here.
Jeff Denham (R, CA-10)
Bill Young (R, FL-13)
John Kline (R, MN-2)
Scott Rigell (R, VA-2)
Ron Barber (D, AZ-2)
Nick Rahall (D, WV-3)
Massachusetts 5th Congressional District Special Election (October 16th, 2013)
New Jersey Senate Special Election (October 17th, 2013)
September 25, 2013
Yesterday was Alabama's primary for the First Congressional District special election. Jo Bonner (R) resigned in August to take a position as Vice Chancellor of the University of Alabama System, setting off a special election for his seat. To read more on the results, visit the BIPAC Blog.
September 19, 2013
Today we continue our four part series in which BIPAC will analyze the upcoming 2014 House Crossover districts. House Crossover districts are the congressional districts where the U.S. Representative and the presidential candidate voted for by that district are of opposite parties. There are currently 26 House Crossover districts or 26 House members whose district voted for the presidential candidate of the opposite party. There are 15 incumbent Republicans serving in districts President Obama won and nine incumbent Democrats serving in districts Mitt Romney won. This series will analyze the incumbents, the districts and potential challengers as the political landscape for 2014 continues to evolve and take shape.
To see the full list of House Crossover districts visit the Political Analysis page of the BIPAC portal here.
David Valadao (R, CA 21)
Tom Latham (R, IA 3)
Jon Runyan (R, NJ 3)
Peter King (R, NY 2)
John Barrow (D, GA 12)
Pete Gallego (D, TX 23)
September 11, 2013
There are several state and federal elections taking place in 2013, due to off year and special elections. Below is a quick recap of each of the elections taking place and where you can find additional resources.
New Jersey Senate
Alabama 1st District
Massachusetts 5th District
Virginia Candidate Questionnaire Video Series:
Each week they will strategically roll out candidate videos by issue topic to help inform the business community on the candidates' positions on that topic. In conjunction, VirginiaP2 will promote that week's topic through social media, blog posts, press releases and other forms of media. There will be a focus on the key issues to not only inform the voter on where the candidates stand on the issues but to educate voters on the facts about that issue currently. The videos will also have live surveys available for employers and employees to share their point of view instantly on a related question. VirginiaP2 will also conduct polling on the related issue to offer a prospective of the general public.
Click here to view the first of the video responses, centered on the state of Virginia's business climate, with pointed responses from Ken Cuccinelli, Terry McAuliffe, E.W. Jackson and Ralph Northam.
August 28, 2013
There are 36 states with governor's races in 2014. The current party breakdown for governorships is 30 Republican and 20 Democratic. There are currently six open seats in AR, AZ, NE, MD, MA and TX meaning there are 30 governors running for re-election. Despite Republicans having a ten seat advantage, several current Republican governors won election in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and nine Republican governors are up in states that Obama won in 2012. As such, Republican governors are now running for re-election in states that are far more moderate than they've governed, leaving them more vulnerable than their Democratic counterparts. Below is a list of the top four most vulnerable Republicans and top four most vulnerable Democrats running for re-election in 2014. We've provided an overview as to why they are at risk and listed the most recent race ratings from several top political analysts as well as those from BIPAC.
Top Four Vulnerable Republicans
Gov. Rick Snyder (MI)
Snyder's approval ratings dropped drastically after signing Michigan's "right-to-work" law last December. While it has improved in the past few months, it has not fully recovered. His recent decisions regarding Detroit's bankruptcy have helped him with approval ratings, but his support for expanding Medicaid is now costing him with Republicans. This is a state that Obama won in 2008 and 2012.
Gov. Paul LePage (ME)
LePage has faced attacks from both sides of the aisle during his time in office, most recently with his own party over Maine's budget, supporting a government shutdown over the legislature's bipartisan agreement. The potential three-way race shaping up could help him again if he runs in 2014, just as it did in 2010.
Gov. Rick Scott (FL)
Rick Scott, one of the more vulnerable governors in the country, could see a primary challenge from his own party. His approval ratings have been improving a bit recently, with Florida's economy regaining some strength and his reversal to support Medicaid expansion in Florida (though he was unable to win legislative support for it).
Gov. Tom Corbett (PA)
Corbett has a lot working against him for 2014. He has yet to get his "big three" campaign promises passed, including transportation funding, liquor privatization and public employee pension reform. Pennsylvania's unemployment rate is also often above that of the national average, and Corbett has been highly criticized for his handling of the Penn State scandal when he was attorney general.
Top Four Vulnerable Democrats
Gov. Dan Malloy (CT)
Malloy faced a large drop in approval ratings when he signed the largest tax hike in Connecticut's history, during his first year as governor. Connecticut has also been ranked the worst state for economic growth the past two years. Malloy has gained some popularity of late, due to his support of gun control legislation in the state. This may not however, be enough to offset the lack of support for his economic policies.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee (RI)
Chafee's biggest problem for re-election is Rhode Island's economy. For July 2013, it was ranked third in the nation, with an unemployment rate of 8.9 and was rated the second worst state for business by CNBC in 2013. Chafee has recently switched parties, from Independent to Democrat, which could help his chances at winning re-election.
Gov. Pat Quinn (IL)
Quinn's approval ratings are so low it is very possible he will face a primary challenger, which is where he will be most vulnerable in the deep blue state. Like several of the governors on this list, Quinn's unpopularity has a lot to do with the economy. Illinois has faced major budget problems under Quinn, including a $100 billion pension crisis; the worst faced by any US state. Quinn has halted payments for state lawmakers until they pass pension reform and is now being sued by members of his own party for the pay freeze.
Gov. Hickenlooper (CO)
Hickenlooper could be potentially vulnerable for two main noneconomic reasons- his recent stances on the death penalty and gun control legislation. A Quinnipiac survey found that his handling on both issues, granting temporary reprieve to a man on death row, and supporting gun control legislation, went against public opinion in Colorado. Whether or not these will be enough to make Hickenlooper a one term governor has yet to be seen.
August 21, 2013
Given the difficulty Congress has faced in passing substantive legislation this year, it's a wonder that congressional caucuses don't play a more prominent role in providing opportunities for members to reach across the aisle and also build relationships within their own party. Only 22 bills were signed into law before the 113th Congress left for recess, the fewest number at this time of any Congress in history. Caucuses are the individual issue task forces of the United States Congress and it's within these groups that ideally, many policy challenges are addressed.
Officially, a congressional caucus is a structured, yet informal group of United States Senators and Representatives who meet to pursue common legislative objectives concerning a shared interest. They are certified working groups of the United States Congress. They date back to colonial times, but were often thought of as corrupt, back-room meetings filled with tobacco smoke and whiskey. It wasn't until the mid-20th century that the caucuses we view today began to take shape, and in the last 20 years the number of active caucuses has sky rocketed.
There are over 200 caucuses existing in Congress at any given time. The exact number registered with the Committee on House Administration for the 113th Congress is 238. But just because a caucus hasn't registered, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It could simply be dormant due to a chair or co-chair having lost reelection or retiring from Congress completely.
Although caucuses exist in both the House and the Senate, the majority of caucuses exist in the House. The primary reason being that Senate offices have much larger staffing operations they can dedicate to issues and legislation. Members of the House, however, have fewer resources, and as a result rely on the help of caucuses to share information, compile research and produce reports on particular issues.
There are several types of caucuses. A few examples are:
Party/Ideological: Blue Dog Coalition, Liberty Caucus, Senate Democratic Caucus, House Republican Caucus
Demographic: Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Caucus on Women's Issues
Industry Groups: Congressional Automotive Caucus, Congressional Caucus on Wild Salmon
International: Congressional Caucus on Vietnam, US-Mexico Friendship Caucus
What strikes me as interesting is that despite having over 200 working groups for members of Congress to join, in addition to the committee and subcommittee groups already in place, the legislative process is still stagnant. Of course the gridlock can be blamed on leadership, intentional party strategy and other political motives. But if you can't come together over rock-n-roll, bourbon, bikes or peanuts - all of which have registered caucuses - what can you come together on?
August 14, 2013
"Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters." - Abraham Lincoln
Money alone can't win elections. If it could, Linda McMahon ($50 million spent) would be a U.S. Senator today and Meg Whitman ($160 million spent) would be Governor of California. Winning campaigns are fueled by people and savvy campaigns rely on volunteers for their victories.
No doubt campaign contributions are important - a fully-funded campaign treasury is necessary. But a well-utilized volunteer base provides direct connections between the candidate and the people who actually vote. President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign had no shortage of money, but most importantly was awash in volunteer labor with more than 700,000 volunteer "shifts" working in the battleground states in the final four days of the campaign.
Your options for volunteering aren't limited to national high-profile campaigns, or even to candidate campaigns. According to BallotPedia, there are 133 issue initiatives filed in various states for 2013. Statewide and local races in Virginia and New Jersey are underway, special elections and local races are happening all over the country. Each and every one of these campaigns will benefit from the expertise you can provide. Perhaps you want to help your political party in their efforts, in which case your county central committee might be a good place to start.
What's in it for me?
"In my experience, elections are not won by money, candidates or actions supported by them; elections are won by the hard work of volunteers engaging people in local communities. The stakes are just too high to stay home and be complacent. The success of my country depends on my candidate. My candidate depends on people like me."
"Talking to people was very personal and gave me a lot of insight into their thinking and the political process itself. The most important thing I learned was that while I had made up my mind on my presidential candidate for years, most people are completely undecided right up to the end."
"More important, campaign interactions compel me to constantly consider where I stand, who I stand with, and why I stand where I do on many of the most pressing issues facing our nation and the increasingly interdependent international system to which it belongs."
What can I do?
Most campaigns, unfortunately, don't have a good plan in place for how to accept or utilize volunteers. They may have a phone bank operation planned or a door-to-door drive on the books, but there are so many facets of campaign activities which can benefit from your efforts. In many cases, even the job of managing volunteers and volunteer projects falls to a volunteer - if you know how to manage people and/or projects that might be a very valuable role for you to play. You should be prepared to face an overworked and underpaid campaign manager who doesn't yet know how to best use your time in the campaign - don't let that deter you from helping him or her see how you can add value. Campaign managers come and go, but every successful candidate remembers the key volunteers who were there when they were needed.
How else can you help your supported candidates or cause? Make a contribution - either directly or through your company or association Political Action Committee. Don't fret if you can only give a few dollars - the number of donors is often just as important as the total amount raised. Help recruit more volunteers by talking to your co-workers, friends, and neighbors. Help keep the campaigns honest by being a fact checker on campaign literature or candidate debates. But most importantly help keep democracy alive by being an active part of the campaign process. Volunteer - then drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know about your experience.
Want to volunteer or make in-kind contributions to candidates or causes? State and federal laws and regulations control how your own financial resources can be used in support of your volunteer activities. The Federal Election Commission and most states provide guidance on what you can and can't do. Listed below are recently available guides for federal campaigns as well as state campaigns in the two biggest "off-year" elections of 2013 - please note that the quality of officially-provided information varies widely from state to state.
Have questions regarding local campaigns and initiatives? The best place to start is by contacting your local elections office. You can find the address and phone numbers at www.ezvote.org.
New Jersey Senate: Special Primary Election Recap
Yesterday, New Jersey held a special primary election for the U.S. Senate seat that became vacant when Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) passed away in June. The race yielded the two official nominees who will face each other in the special general election held October 16th. For a full recap of the race, check out the BIPAC blog.
August 7, 2013
What is a recall election? It is a procedure that allows citizens to remove and replace an elected official before the end of their term. Recalls can be used to rid the office of a corrupt or incompetent leader, for partisan politics, or removing officials for a policy position. It is estimated that a majority, three-fourths, of recall elections are at city council or school board level, though there have been increasing instances of recalls at the state level. Nineteen states (AK, AZ, CA, CO, GA, ID, IL, KS, LA, MI, MN, MT, NV, NJ, ND, OR, RI, WA and WI) and the District of Columbia currently allow recalls of state officials. In the past three years, several states have seen state elected officials face recalls, including WI, AZ, MI and currently, CO.
State Level Recalls since 2010 (according to National Conference of State Legislatures)
In the first ever recall elections of state lawmakers in Colorado, two Democratic senators in Colorado are facing recalls due to their vote on stricter gun control measures, State Senate President John Morse of El Paso County and Senator Angela Giron of Pueblo County. After the Secretary of State deemed there were enough signatures for a recall, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) set the recall election date for September 10, 2013.
The gun control bills causing such uproar in CO, passed in the 2013 legislative session by the Democratically-controlled CO state legislature, were the first such bills passed in over ten years. This is a hot topic issue in a state that is well known for the Columbine High School and Aurora shootings, but is also known for its bipartisan passion of hunting and sport shooting.
A group behind the recall, the Basic Freedom Defense Fund (501 (c)(4) non-profit), was set up in February in response to the passed gun legislation. The founding members say the main issue is about legislators not listening to their constituents. Originally, four Democrats were targeted to be recalled, including Sen. Evie Hudak (D) of Westminster and Rep. Mike McLachlan (D) of Durango but only the recall attempts for Sens. Morse and Giron gained enough signatures. Former Colorado Springs City Councilman Bernie Herpin (R) is challenging Morse and former police officer Georgia Rivera (R) of Pueblo is challenging Giron.
Money has been pouring into the elections, with Giron and Morse raising nearly a quarter million dollars, and receiving thousands of dollars from Colorado liberal groups. Recall supporters have been sending their funds to the Basic Freedom Defense, and the NRA has helped with mailers and phone banks. According to El Paso and Pueblo county clerks, the elections will cost somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000.
Even if the recall attempts are successful, Democrats will still hold the majority in the Senate, 18-17. However, supporters of the recall still hope this will send messages to legislators in CO and across the country.
Breaking it Down: Dysfunctional State Parties
State political parties are integral to the national landscape. They have a hand in candidate recruitment, election efforts and educating voters on issues. But many parties at the state level are in disarray and inept, for reasons such as financial and personality issues, leaving them unable to do their jobs. This is a key reason why strong political involvement from the business community is important, even on the local level. You can no longer rely on parties to advocate on your behalf.
Click here to see 7 of the most dysfunctional state parties, compiled by Roll Call.
July 24, 2013
Today's EIS is part one of a four part series where BIPAC will analyze the upcoming 2014 House Crossover districts. House Crossover districts are the Congressional districts where the U.S. Representative and the presidential candidate voted for by that district are of opposite parties. There are currently 26 House Crossover districts or 26 House members whose district voted for the presidential candidate of the opposite party. There are 15 incumbent Republicans serving in districts President Obama won and nine incumbent Democrats serving in districts Mitt Romney won. This series will analyze the incumbents, the districts and potential challengers as the political landscape for 2014 continues to evolve and take shape.
To see full the list of House Crossover districts visit the Political Analysis page of the BIPAC Portal here.
Gary Miller (R, CA-31)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R, FL-27)
Erik Paulsen (R, MN-3)
Joe Heck (R, NV-3)
Ann Kirkpatrick (D, AZ-1)
Collin Peterson (D, MN-7)
Next month will be part two of the four part House Crossover District series.
Breaking it Down: 2014 Political Landscape Map
Our 2014 Political Landscape Map is now up on the portal. The map includes current House delegate breakdowns, 2014 gubernatorial and senate elections, open seats, electoral votes and the 2012 presidential results. You can view an interactive version of the map on the BIPAC Political Analysis section of the portal.
July 17, 2013
The 2014 elections are fast approaching and the decision by former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer not to run for U.S. Senate has put Republicans in a much better position to win control of the chamber. However, the past few cycles have shown that the greatest challenge facing both parties - but particularly Republicans - is recruiting quality candidates. In 2014, Democrats need to find candidates who can win in conservative states like South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia. Republicans need to find credible challengers who can take on vulnerable, incumbent Democrats in red states like Arkansas, North Carolina and Alaska.
So what's the status of the candidate recruitment process? How are the parties faring in recruiting top tier candidates? Now that second quarter fundraising reports have been filed, a clear picture is beginning to take shape. The chart below lists formally announced Senate candidates as well as snapshots of their fundraising abilities. Several candidates do not have amounts to report because they announced their campaigns just recently or else the FEC hasn't posted second quarter totals yet. Fundraising amounts do not equate victory or defeat, but they do convey interest, legitimacy and illustrate that there is some level of support.
There are two significant takeaways from these charts. First, the available fundraising numbers posted by incumbents and declared candidates are impressive and do convey legitimacy. For example, Senator Mitch McConnell's fundraising numbers are extremely high, explaining his ability to deter primary challengers thus far. The same is true for vulnerable Democratic senators. The second takeaway, and perhaps the most striking, is the lack of Democratic candidates recruited in open seats. Only two of the seven open seats have strong Democratic candidates: Michigan and Iowa. Democrats have yet to find candidates in Montana (reelected a Democratic senator in '12), West Virginia (2 Democratic senators and a Democratic governor), Georgia, and Nebraska. Furthermore, the only declared Democratic candidate in South Dakota doesn't have the name recognition or credibility of the likely Republican nominee - former Governor Mike Rounds.
Overall, the biggest challenge Republicans have faced in recent cycles is recruiting strong candidates who can win general elections. At this point, they've been fairly successful at finding solid candidates to fill open seats and take on vulnerable Democrats. There is still time for Democrats to find candidates in open seat contests, but the first filing deadline for a congressional primary is December 9th - just over four months away. As more days fall off the calendar, the more challenging it will be for new candidates to jump in the race.
Breaking it Down: Vacancy Recap
Ed Markey (D- MA) was sworn in as Massachusetts's newest Senator Tuesday, creating a vacancy for his seat in MA's 5th Congressional District. This marks the fourth House vacancy since January, and there will be a fifth come August, when Congressman Jo Bonner (R-AL) resigns to work at the University of Alabama. In the Senate, there have been several vacancies since January as well, with the resignation of DeMint (R), appointment of Kerry (D) to Secretary of State and the passing of Lautenberg (D). These vacancies have led to four special elections so far this year (MA Senate, IL 2nd, SC 1st, MO 8th), with five more to come (NJ Senate, SC Senate, HI Senate, MA 5th, AL 1st).
The current 113th Congress breakdown is:
House: 234 R, 200 D, 1 vacancy
You can always find up to date 113th Congress Math on the Political Analysis section of the portal, or by clicking here.
July 3, 2013
At BIPAC we want to wish everyone a happy Independence Day! This week, members of Congress are in their districts talking to constituents and enjoying the July 4th holiday. This will give constituents a chance to tell their members of Congress how they feel about the current issues being debated, including the farm bill, immigration and sequestration. What members hear will vary from state to state and district to district -but the best predictor to how voters may be feeling often depends on their pocketbooks. July 4th holiday travel and spending are good economic indicators to how voters may be feeling about Congress.
Studies show consumers have mixed amounts of confidence when it comes to spending for the holiday. AAA says 40.8 million Americans will travel over 50 miles for the Independence Day holiday - a 0.8% decrease from last year. Consumers are likely traveling less because of sequestration cuts and the end of the payroll tax cut. Despite travel being down, the average traveler is still expected to spend $747 this July 4th. Visa's national survey on consumer spending for the 4th of July is much more optimistic. The survey showed that people are expected to spend $300 on the holiday, up almost 60% from last year's $190, and national indicators show consumer confidence continues to hold steady at a 6 year high of 84.1%.
The next few weeks are going to be critical if Congress wants to pass immigration reform, address the debt ceiling, or pass any type of budget or tax reform before the August recess. Voters' confidence in Congress to achieve any of this will be influenced by their feelings about the economy. It's evident that voters' confidence regarding spending is up, but they are still being cautious, a sign that we are not out of the woods yet. This will be the mindset most constituents will have when visiting with their elected officials this holiday and will have a significant influence on Congress's voting behavior throughout the rest of the year.
Fourth of July Fun Facts to Share with Your Employees/Members
Tweet us your Independence Day facts at @BIPAC!
June 26, 2013
June 19, 2013
The halfway point of 2013 marks the longest day of the year, the NBA finals, the Stanley Cup finals, and also the conclusion of the majority of state legislatures around the country. Nearly 36 states have completed their state legislative sessions with just over a dozen having their sessions extend into the fall and winter. State and local business groups all across the country have been fighting for policies to improve the economic climate in their states and create more opportunities for growth. While there are ongoing challenges in the policy making process, the business community saw significant success in 2013 at the state level. Below are a few highlights of those successes. For more information on state issues please visit the BIPAC portal to access all state Prosperity Project websites.
Alaska - Oil Tax Reform
The business industry in Alaska scored a victory in helping pass oil tax reform which is seen as a vast improvement over the current policy. Senate Bill 21 was introduced by Gov. Sean Parnell (R) and reduces taxes on oil taken from the ground in Alaska. Proponents assert that the reduction in taxes will encourage the oil extraction companies to increase production and make the system more competitive. Additionally, the University of Alaska's Institute of Social and Economic Research says, "The Alaska OCS may be one of the largest untapped oil and gas basins in the world. An annual average of 54,700 new jobs would be created and sustained through the year 2057 by its development, with 68,600 during production and 91,500 at peak employment. Development of Alaska's OCS resources would result in a total of $145 billion in new payroll through the year 2057, including $63 billion to employees in Alaska and $82 billion to employees in the Lower 48."
Illinois - Hydraulic Fracturing
The Illinois business community helped reach a deal on regulating horizontal hydraulic fracturing in Illinois. According to the Illinois Chamber, the legislation is expected to "create tens of thousands of good, high-paying jobs, generate significant state revenue, reduce U.S. reliance on foreign sources of oil, and establish a low-cost source of energy for Illinois residents and businesses for years while protecting the state's natural resources and providing community safeguards." The bill, SB1715, garnered significant bipartisan support and was signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn (D).
Iowa - Property Tax Reform
The Republican-led House and Democrat-controlled Senate in Iowa reached a compromise on property tax reform this session - an issue that has been promised since 2010. The business community supported the reform and applauded the progress made by both parties and Gov. Terry Branstad (R). Over the next ten years, the legislation will reduce property taxes statewide by billions of dollars while also rebating hundreds of millions of dollars through a new income tax credit and an expansion of the earned income tax credit for the poor.
New Mexico - Tax Reform
A last minute deal was reached in the New Mexico legislature when a major tax reform bill was attached to a very small TV film production incentive (a.k.a. The Breaking Bad bill). The tax reform package included many new reforms that the business community deemed a success, including a reduction in corporate income tax rates and a prohibition on local governments from taxing food or medicine. The Breaking Bad bill was introduced by rank and file Democrats but the tax reform attachment was engineered by the Republican Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, John Arthur Smith. Governor Susana Martinez (R) signed the bill.
Virginia - Transportation Funding
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) signed the first comprehensive transportation funding plan for Virginia in 27 years. The bipartisan bill, though controversial, was supported by business groups in Virginia as well as by bipartisan members of the legislature. Virginia is notorious for traffic congestion and deteriorating roads and bridges and has needed reform for many years. The plan will provide more than $3.4 billion in additional statewide transportation funding, more than $1.5 billion in additional funding for Northern Virginia, and more than $1 billion in additional funding for Hampton Roads, over the next five years. It will also sustain 13,058 new jobs annually and have more than $9.5 billion in economic impact for the state. This was a contentious issue that took decades to resolve and was seen as a success by business leaders in Virginia.
June 12, 2013
Last Tuesday voters in New Jersey formally selected their nominees for statewide office and all state legislative offices. Yesterday, voters in Virginia formally selected their Democratic nominees for statewide office (Republicans held their convention in May) as well as nominees for the Virginia House of Delegates. The general election campaigns have officially kicked off in both states. So what can the business community expect to see between now and November 5th and what will the outcome of these elections mean for 2014?
Let's begin with Virginia. All registered voters were able to vote in yesterday's primary because voters do not declare a party affiliation when they register. In the general election, voters will select their next governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general all separately, so the winners could be any combination of the candidates below. According to Sabato's Crystal Ball, "Since 1969, Virginians have elected straight-party tickets five times but have split their tickets six times. So voters in this state are perfectly capable of making independent choices for the three top offices."
The candidates for statewide office this year have created an interesting dynamic within the political parties of Virginia. Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee for Virginia won the primary uncontested. In 2009 he lost the gubernatorial primary to unknown state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D). This year, he will be facing Republican nominee and current AG Ken Cuccinelli. Both options leave something to be desired for the business community which has resulted in endorsements by individuals from the opposite party. The business community may be concerned Terry McAuliffe will not represent the interests of local Virginians, but they are more concerned that Cuccinelli's extreme views on social issues could hinder the ability to compromise and make deals with legislators. Another concern is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, E.W. Jackson, who is so extreme he often makes Cuccinelli look moderate. Whether or not voters can truly distinguish between the two offices, regardless of party, will determine if Jackson has a negative effect on Cuccinelli's attempt to present himself as the best candidate for business.
Voters in the Commonwealth have twice elected Barack Obama to the presidency but overwhelming voted for Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell in 2009. Current polling gives McAuliffe a 3-5 point lead and he also has a fundraising advantage. If McAuliffe wins the governor's race, this will be a clear sign for next year's midterm elections that voters want candidates who do not let social and religious issues impede their ability to govern and pass laws. If Cuccinelli wins, this will reinforce what we know to be true - that older, conservative voters turn out in much larger numbers in off-year elections - enough so that their turn out will be the determining factor in who wins.
As for New Jersey - the governor's race is all but decided. The primary held Tuesday, June 4th did not result in any surprising outcomes and current polling gives Gov. Christie a nearly 30 point advantage. The nominees for governor (see below) will select the lieutenant governor nominees to be on the ticket with them. Gov. Chris Christie (R), who is running for reelection, has said that he will nominate the current Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno who he selected during his initial run in 2009. State Sen. Barbara Buono has a number of weeks to select her running mate. Several local mayors are said to be considered.
The most notable news to come out of New Jersey was the shake-up caused by the passing of U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D) last week. There was confusion as to what the options were for Gov. Christie in deciding a date for the special election. He ultimately announced a special election to be held on October 16 with a primary on August 13. Last Thursday Christie named state Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa (R) as the interim U.S. Senator. Chiesa will not be a candidate for the special election in October, and the filing deadline to run in the special primary was Monday at 4pm. Six candidates ended up filing. The Democrats are: Newark Mayor Cory Booker, U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone. The Republicans are: Dr. Alieta Eck and conservative activist Steve Lonegan. The most recent poll (Quinnipiac) shows Booker having a huge lead, but the race has only just begun. Whoever wins the special election will then have to decide immediately if they plan to run for reelection in 2014 when Lautenberg's seat was originally scheduled to be up for reelection.
Breaking it Down: 2013-2014 Gubernatorial Elections
Check out the below map for the 2013 & 2014 Gubernatorial election landscape. You can view our other election maps on the political affairs section of the portal.
May 29, 2013
In last week's Election Insights, BIPAC delivered an overview of all eight open U.S. Senate seats and all nine U.S. House seats. This week we have focused on the six open governors' races being held between now and the end of 2014. Of the 36 states that have governor races next year, only five of them are open seats, four of which are term limited. Also included in our analysis is the gubernatorial election in Virginia in 2013. The only governor choosing not to seek reelection is Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D). This differs significantly from the extremely high number of U.S. Senators who are leaving Congress due to partisanship and age. It is unlikely we'll see any current governors announce they aren't seeking another term barring any major events or scandals. We do know however, that as of today there will be at least six new governors heading into 2015. Below is an overview of those states and what we can expect to see between now and Election Day.
Gov. Mike Beebe (D) is limited to serving only two terms as governor. Beebe won first in 2006 and again in 2010 by large margins and will be leaving office very popular with a 68% approval rating. Despite twice electing a Democrat to the governor's mansion, Arkansas has shifted fast and hard in recent years becoming a more Republican state (Romney won 60% of the vote), and as a result this election is going to be very competitive. Two Democrats have announced their intention to run, former Lt. Governor Bill Halter (D) and former U.S. Rep. Mike Ross (D). Several other individuals are considering runs in the Democratic primary. On the Republican side, the list is much shorter. Three individuals have declared their candidacies: former U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchison (R), state Rep. Debra Hobbs (R) and businessman and former U.S. Senate candidate Curtis Coleman (R). Hutchison ran unsuccessfully for governor against Beebe in 2006 and is the current front runner on the Republican side. In the few polls that have been fielded, Hutchison leads among all the Democratic opponents, but it's too early to say he's a shoe-in. Also affecting the top of the ballot will be the U.S. Senate race in 2014. Sen. Mark Pryor (D) is seen as one of the most vulnerable Senators facing reelection next year.
Gov. Jan Brewer (R) was Arizona's Secretary of State when former Governor Janet Napolitano (D) was picked to serve as Sec. of Homeland Security in the Obama Administration in 2009. Because Arizona does not have a lieutenant governor, the next position in line to fill a gubernatorial vacancy is secretary of state. As a result, Brewer was sworn in as governor in January of 2009. Gov. Brewer has been a controversial governor on issues such as immigration, redistricting and, more recently, Medicaid expansion. Her popularity has taken a rollercoaster ride over her tenure and it's unclear where her approvals will be when her term ends. Despite growing Hispanic and Latino populations that increasingly identify with Democrats, Arizona is still fairly conservative. As a result, the field for the Republican nomination is growing every day. Of the candidates who have declared or shown interest, Sec. of State Ken Bennett (R) seems to be a favorite pick but he has yet to formally announce. Former Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman (R) and 2010 AG candidate Andrew Thomas (R) are the only two individuals to have publicly declared their candidacies. Individuals considering the Democratic nomination are former Board of Regents Chair Fred Duval (D), state Rep. Chad Campbell (D) and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D). Duval officially announced his intention to run in April and has already received endorsements from three former Democratic governors and is the presumed frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) is also term limited and will leave office with a reputation as a stalwart for the Democratic Party and liberal policies. During his tenure he repealed the death penalty, signed same-sex marriage legislation, as well as stricter gun control laws. His ambitions for the presidency in 2016 are no secret, and he is finishing his term with modest approval ratings. Despite not being overwhelmingly popular compared to other Democratic governors, his endorsement of Lt. Governor Anthony Brown (D) should be enough for Brown to secure the Democratic nomination. Maryland's deep blue tilt should all but guarantee Brown a seat in the governor's mansion. However, it is still early and state Rep. Heather Mizeur (D) and Attorney General Douglas Gansler (D) are also planning to run for the nomination. A Republican winning the general election isn't likely, but there are still a number of candidates considering a run for the nomination. The individuals most likely to announce as of today are state Delegate Ron George (R) and Harford County Executive David Craig (R).
Gov. Dave Heineman (R) is term limited and is expected to leave office well-liked with approval ratings in the 60s or 70s. Nebraska is a conservative state and the next governor is very likely to be a Republican. The subject that is shaping the governor's race more than anything else is the open U.S. Senate seat that was created when Sen. Mike Johanns (R) announced his decision not to run for reelection. As a result, there are two statewide offices open at the top of the ticket in Nebraska in 2014. Several Republicans are interested in the opportunities creating large candidate pools in both primaries, and Heineman's recent decision not to run for the Senate seat has left the field wide open for both races. For the governor's race, state Sen. Charlie Janssen (R) is the only Republican to officially announce he's running. Others are sure to jump in but it will depend on who gets into the Senate race. On the Democratic side, a handful of candidates are considering but no one has officially announced because of the uncertainty surrounding the Senate race. Time is needed to tell how this election will turn out.
Massachusetts is one of 12 states that do not have gubernatorial term limits. Gov. Deval Patrick (D) will not seek a third term for governor despite being eligible to do so, and even though he had a rough first term Patrick should leave office relatively well-liked. It's still early in the cycle but the pool of candidates stepping up to run has been small and the process has been slow. Two candidates have officially declared to run: Joseph Avellon (D), a business executive and former Chairman of The Wellesley Board of Selectman, and Evan Falchuk (I), an attorney running as an Independent. No Republican candidates have announced, but Charlie Baker Jr. (R) a health care CEO and former cabinet secretary is mentioned frequently. He ran for governor in 2010 but lost to Gov. Patrick by six points. Also mentioned is former U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R), but he has not made a decision and has also been eyeing the New Hampshire Senate race. In recent elections Massachusetts voters have elected Republican governors to balance out the liberal legislature. Before Gov. Patrick's election, Republicans held the governor's mansion since 1990. But with Democrats having a 3 to1 voter registration edge over Republicans, unless a standout Republican wins the nomination, the next governor is more likely to have a D next to his/her name than an R.
The Virginia governor's race is being held in November of 2013 instead of 2014, but it is one of only a handful of open governor's seats this cycle and is certainly worth mentioning. Virginia only allows governors to serve one term at a time, and Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is termed out at the end of this year. The race to become Virginia's next governor has made significant headlines. Virginia's evolution as a swing state and history of acting as an off-year thermometer for how voters are feeling about national politics makes this a marquee race. The Republican nomination became official two weekends ago when Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) was nominated by a state Republican convention. The primary for the Democratic front runner is not until June 11th, but former DNC Chair and businessman Terri McAuliffe (D) is guaranteed to win the nomination. The two candidates have left something to be desired for Virginia voters. Cuccinelli's strong stances on social issues alienate key moderate voters, and Terri McAuliffe, who lost the Democratic nomination in 2011, is seen more as a national party figure, as opposed to a local in tune with the needs of Virginians. This race is going to be very competitive and surveys have shown the candidates taking turns in leading the polls. A component of who wins this race will depend on how disciplined that candidate is in advocating what he is for, as opposed to what his opponent is against.
Breaking it Down: State Unemployment Rates
The economy is always a major headline in elections, especially unemployment rates. When looking at the unemployment numbers for the states that have governors up for reelection in 2014, 14 states currently have unemployment rates higher than the national average of 7.5%. How significantly will these numbers affect the elections? While it is true that several of the nation's most unpopular governors are on this list, including Chafee (I-RI), Quinn (D-IL) and Corbett (R-PA), other governors with high unemployment rates are relatively popular. Nevada has one of the highest unemployment rates right now with 9.6% unemployment, yet Gov. Sandoval (R) has positive approval ratings. While unemployment rates may not predict the outcomes of races, it is certainly a factor to keep in mind going into the 2014 elections.
States with gubernatorial elections that have unemployment rate higher than national average:
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
May 22, 2013
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
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.