Jeff Singer

Civil War legend's descendent launches bid against Rep. Nancy Mace to flip gerrymandered South Carolina seat

Businessman Michael B. Moore, who is the great-great grandson of the legendary Civil War figure and Reconstruction-era Rep. Robert Smalls, has announced that he's seeking the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Rep. Nancy Mace. The current version of South Carolina’s 1st District along the state’s coast backed Donald Trump 53-45, which would make it a tough lift for any Democrat.

The constituency may be different next year, though, as a federal court in January struck down the current 1st District after ruling that Republican lawmakers intentionally discriminated against Black voters when they redrew it. However, it's likely Republicans will find a way to keep it sufficiently red even if they address the court's concerns about racial gerrymandering.

Moore, who filed a fundraising committee last month, previously served as the founding president and CEO of the International African American Museum, a Charleston-based institution that’s set to open this year. The Democrat is a first-time candidate, but he comes from a distinguished family: Moore's ancestor, Smalls, famously escaped slavery in 1862 when he and his compatriots stole a well-armed cotton steamer with 17 enslaved people and steered it past rebel ships to Union lines.

Smalls went on to provide vital military intelligence to the United States and helped convince Secretary of War Edwin Stanton to enlist Black soldiers. Smalls, who served in combat throughout the duration of the Civil War, went on to become a Republican state legislator after the conflict as well as a congressman during three stints that spanned from 1875 to 1887. Another Moore ancestor, great-grandfather Samuel Jones Bampfield, also served in the state House during Reconstruction.

Two new polls give Democrat the edge in an unexpectedly close race for governor of Oklahoma

We have two different polls from GOP firms that show Oklahoma Democrat Joy Hofmeister, leading Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, though they disagree by how much. Ascend Action, a group that doesn’t appear to have ever released horserace numbers anywhere, puts Hofmeister up 49-42. The local GOP pollster Amber Integrated, meanwhile, has the Democrat edging out Stitt 46-45, with another 3% going to the independent campaign of former GOP state Sen. Ervin Yen; last month, Amber showed Stitt ahead 47-44.

These numbers came about a week after a media poll from SoonerPoll showed Hofmeister up 47-43. Stitt, for his part, tried to pre-empt these surveys with his own late September internal showing him well ahead 48-33, though he’s loudly griped that outside groups are massively outspending him.

One of those organizations, Imagine This Oklahoma, is also out with a new ad pushing back on Stitt’s attempts to link Hofmeister to national Democrats. “Kevin Stitt attacked our teachers,” says one member of the commercial’s cast, before others jump in, “He attacked healthcare professionals. He attacked Native American tribes.” The spot continues, “Now Kevin Stitt and his cronies are attacking Joy Hofmeister. This is not about D.C. politics. This is about Oklahoma—our roads, our schools, our families.”

Trump's latest GOP primary target: A South Carolina congresswoman who worked for his 2016 campaign

Donald Trump on Wednesday night gave his “complete and total” endorsement to former state Rep. Katie Arrington’s day-old campaign to deny freshman Rep. Nancy Mace renomination in the June Republican primary for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, and he characteristically used the occasion to spew bile at the incumbent. Trump not-tweeted, “Katie Arrington is running against an absolutely terrible candidate, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, whose remarks and attitude have been devastating for her community, and not at all representative of the Republican Party to which she has been very disloyal.”

Trump previously backed Arrington’s successful 2018 primary campaign against then-Rep. Mark Sanford about three hours before polls closed, and his statement continued by trying to justify her subsequent general election loss to Democrat Joe Cunningham. The GOP leader noted that Arrington had been injured in a car wreck 10 days after the primary, saying, “Her automobile accident a number of years ago was devastating, and made it very difficult for her to campaign after having won the primary against another terrible candidate, ‘Mr. Argentina.’” It won’t surprise you to learn, though, that a whole lot more went into why Cunningham, who suspended his campaign after his opponent was hospitalized, went on to defeat Arrington in one of the biggest upsets of the cycle.

Mace, as The State’s Caitlin Byrd notes, spent most of the last several years as a Trump loyalist, and she even began working for his campaign in September of 2015 back when few gave him a chance. But that was before the new congresswoman, who won in 2020 by unseating Cunningham, was forced to barricade in her office during the Jan. 6 attack. “I can’t condone the rhetoric from yesterday, where people died and all the violence,” she said the next day, adding, “These were not protests. This was anarchy.” She went even further in her very first floor speech days later, saying of Trump, “I hold him accountable for the events that transpired.”

Still, Mace, unlike homestate colleague Tom Rice, refused to join the small group of Republicans that supported impeachment, and she stopped trying to pick fights with Trump afterwards. In a July profile in The Atlantic titled, “How a Rising Trump Critic Lost Her Nerve,” the congresswoman said that intra-party attacks on him were an “enormous division” for the GOP. “I just want to be done with that,” said Mace. “I want to move forward.” Since then she has occasionally picked fights with far-right party members like Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, but Mace has avoided messing with Trump directly.

Trump, though, very much isn’t done with her, and Mace seems to have decided that the best way to fight back is to emphasize Arrington’s loss. On Thursday, the incumbent posted a video shot across the street from Trump Tower where, after talking about her longtime Trump loyalty, she says, “If you want to lose this seat once again in a midterm election cycle to Democrats, then my opponent is more than qualified to do just that.” The GOP legislature did what it could to make sure that no one could lose this coastal South Carolina seat to Democrats by passing a map that extended Trump’s 2020 margin from 52-46 to 54-45, but that’s not going to stop Mace from arguing that Arrington is electoral Kryptonite.

While Trump, who The State says is planning to hold a rally in South Carolina as early as this month, has plenty of power to make the next several months miserable for Mace, the incumbent has the resources to defend herself: Mace raised $605,000 during the fourth quarter and ended December with $1.5 million on-hand. The congressman also earned a high-profile endorsement of her own earlier this week from Nikki Haley, who resigned as governor in 2017 to become Trump’s first ambassador to the United Nations. On the Democratic side, pediatrician Annie Andrews just reported raising almost half a million dollars in her first two months in the race.

Anti-yoga Republican who endorsed Roy Moore in 2017 eyes primary bid against governor of Alabama

Businessman Tim James, who came in a very close third during the 2010 Republican primary, confirmed Wednesday that he was thinking about waging an intra-party campaign against Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and would decide by the end of the year. James is the son of former Gov. Fob James, who was elected governor as a Democrat in 1978 and as a Republican in 1994 but badly lost re-election four years later.

Ivey infuriated the GOP's anti-vaxx base in July when she said it was "time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks" for the resurgent pandemic, but the younger James himself didn't say this week why he believed the governor should be fired. Instead, he declared war on the "beast with three heads," which he said were critical race theory, transgender rights, and yoga in public schools. Ivey's team responded to James' speech by saying, "We appreciate his unwavering commitment to the important fight on yoga. As for Gov. Ivey, she doesn't do any yoga."

Republicans across the nation routinely demonize transgender people and the idea of critical race theory, but James' attack on yoga is much more unusual. The only notable Republican we'd heard torch the exercise before now was E.W. Jackson, the 2013 nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia who once suggested it leads to Satan, but James isn't the only Alabama conservative up in arms about it.

In May, Ivey signed a bill that removed a nearly three-decade ban on yoga in public schools, though it still required English names for any positions. Additionally, the law's language said, "Chanting, mantras, mudras, use of mandalas, induction of hypnotic states, guided imagery, and namaste greetings shall be expressly prohibited."

The Montgomery Advertiser's Brian Lyman tweeted in the spring that the bill "close[d] the book on one of the stupidest moral panics in Alabama history, which is really saying a lot," but as James' speech demonstrates, not everyone is done panicking. The Eagle Forum of Alabama alleged that yoga wasn't an exercise but was instead done as "an offering of worship" to Hindu deities. The Universal Society of Hinduism pushed back, saying that many yoga instructors aren't Hindus and that "traditionally Hinduism was not into proselytizing."

James, for his part, badly lost the 2002 primary for governor, but his second bid for the GOP nod eight years later went far better. The candidate generated national attention when he said in an ad, "This is Alabama. We speak English. If you want to live here, learn it." James ended up finishing 166 votes behind state Rep. Robert Bentley for the important second-place spot in the runoff, and that tiny loss proved to have enormous consequences. Bentley went on to win the nomination and the general election, and the sex scandal that led to his 2017 resignation elevated Ivey to the governor's office.

Ivey already faces a potential primary challenge from state Auditor Jim Ziegler, who formed an exploratory committee in June. Former Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard also hasn't ruled out switching from the Senate race to the gubernatorial contest. Alabama requires primary candidates to win a majority of the vote in order to avoid a runoff.

Alaska's former independent governor mulls comeback bid against GOP successor

Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy confirmed Friday that he would seek re-election in Alaska, but he may face his predecessor in next year's top-four primary.

Bill Walker, an independent who was elected to his only term in 2014, told the Anchorage Daily News he was giving "very serious consideration" to seeking a comeback. The only other notable politician who has expressed interest in running so far is former state Rep. Les Gara, a Democrat who formed an exploratory committee last month and recently said that, while he hasn't made a final decision, he's "likely" to get in.

If Walker runs, he'll continue a long and eventful career in Last Frontier politics. Walker got his start as a Republican in the 1970s as a member of the city council and later became the mayor of Val. He went on to serve as general counsel for the Alaska Gasline Port Authority. Walker first ran for governor in 2010 when he challenged incumbent Sean Parnell, who had ascended to the state's top post the previous year after Sarah Palin resigned, but he lost the GOP primary 50-33.

Walker decided to seek a rematch with Parnell as an independent in 2014. Still, while early surveys from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling gave the incumbent only lukewarm approval ratings in this red state, Parnell looked secure in a three-way contest that included Democratic nominee Byron Mallott. All of that dramatically changed around Labor Day, though, when Mallott dropped out and became Walker's running mate, which made the independent candidate the de facto Democratic nominee.

Parnell suddenly found himself in a much tougher race than he'd anticipated, and one he wasn't adequately prepared for: While the Republican's campaign belatedly tried to buy TV ad time, there just wasn't much left to purchase in a state that was hosting an ultra-expensive Senate race between Democratic incumbent Mark Begich and Republican Dan Sullivan. Indeed, while Parnell ended up launching a hard-hitting commercial against Walker, he could only air it in the Juneau media market, where just around 10% of the state lives. Ongoing questions about how Parnell handled sexual assault cases in the state National Guard only made things worse for the governor.

Walker ended up unseating Parnell 48-46 even as that year's red wave was propelling Sullivan to victory, but the new governor faced a tough four years in office thanks to a budget crisis from declining oil revenue. Walker, with Mallott at his side, planned to take advantage of a recent court decision that would have allowed him to claim the Democratic nomination in 2018 while still identifying as an independent, but he decided to run without any party support after Begich made a late entry into the race.

Dunleavy, like Parnell four years before, very much looked like the frontrunner in this three-way race—thanks in large part to Alaska's red hue—and the Walker and Begich camps spent the next several months arguing that the other should drop out. Ultimately, Walker ended up leaving the contest and endorsing Begich weeks ahead of Election Day after Mallott resigned after a sexual harassment scandal. It wasn't enough to stop Dunleavy, though, from beating Begich 51-44, with another 2% going to Walker.

Dunleavy made his own enemies early in his tenure after he oversaw draconian budget cuts, including a retaliatory reduction in funds for the Alaska Supreme Court after it ruled against him in an abortion rights case. This led a bipartisan group to launch a recall campaign against him in 2019, but the pandemic ended up dramatically slowing their signature gathering.

The deadline for the Recall Dunleavy campaign to turn in the 71,000 valid petitions they'd need isn't until early June of next year, but it's not clear how many signatures are still needed. There have also been no recent polls indicating if Dunleavy is vulnerable either in a recall campaign or in a regular election.

No matter what, though, Alaska will be in for a very different gubernatorial election than any state has ever had next year, thanks to the passage of a 2020 ballot measure. Starting in 2022, all the candidates for congressional, legislative, and statewide races will compete on one primary ballot, where contenders will have the option to identify themselves with a party label or be listed as "undeclared" or "nonpartisan." The top four vote-getters will advance to the general election, where voters will be able to rank their choices using instant-runoff voting.

Maine Republican will run to avenge 2018 House defeat he still refuses to recognize

Former Rep. Bruce Poliquin announced Wednesday that he would seek the Republican nomination to take on Rep. Jared Golden, the Democrat who unseated him in a tight 2018 contest for Maine's 2nd Congressional District.

Poliquin, though, is continuing with his Trumpish refusal to accept his defeat in that instant runoff general election, as he once again proclaimed, "Head-to-head, you know, I beat Golden in 2018, and God willing, I will do it again next year." Poliquin joins state Sen. Trey Jackson in the primary, which will also be conducted using instant runoff voting, in their quest to take one of the seven Democratic-held Trump seats in the House.

Poliquin, a one-time Wall Street investment manager who later was appointed state treasurer, flipped this northern Maine constituency during the 2014 GOP wave, and he held it two years later as his district was swinging from 53-44 Obama to 51-41 Trump. The Republican incumbent, though, learned the hard way in 2018 that the area hadn't abandoned its Democratic roots. Golden ran a strong campaign that emphasized his service in the Marines, and this race ended up attracting huge amounts of outside money from both parties.

The contest also took a weird turn in the final days when Poliquin aired an ad set in a local hot dog restaurant that featured diners awkwardly and unconvincingly praising him and dissing the challenger. Some sample dialogue from the actors, many of whom were actually local Republican officials: "One thing's for certain, Bruce Poliquin's good for jobs," and "Stopping Mainers from buying heating oil? Golden's out there."

The spot also featured a doctor sporting a lab coat with the logo of the Central Maine Medical Center, which led the hospital to publicly call for the campaign to pull the commercial. Poliquin's team, naturally, refused to so much as make a minor edit to remove the logo.

Poliquin led Golden 49-47 among first-choice voter preferences on election night, but that wasn't enough under the 2016 voter-approved instant runoff law. Golden ended up prevailing 50.6-49.4 once votes were assigned to subsequent preferences as minor candidates were eliminated, a result that made Poliquin the first incumbent to lose re-election in the 2nd District since 1916.

The defeated congressman, though, responded by filing a lawsuit arguing that the ranked choice law violated the Constitution. Poliquin's suit was frivolous, and both the district court and an appellate court emphatically rejected his legal arguments since nothing in the Constitutional provisions he cited came close to barring the use of instant-runoff voting, which several states have used for overseas and military voters for years to comply with federal law regarding absentee ballots. Poliquin ultimately dropped all his legal challenges a full seven weeks after Election Day but never acknowledged his defeat.

The now-former incumbent soon began expressing interest in a 2020 rematch, and he took every chance he got to pretend he was the rightful victor of the last race. In April of 2019, Poliquin ranted that he'd "won in 2018" and his defeat was illegitimate because "[w]e have this thing called ranked voting" that is "the biggest scam I've ever seen in my whole life."

Not everyone was excited about the idea of a Poliquin return, though. The National Journal reported that even Republican operatives who believed he could beat Golden thought he'd made some serious mistakes in 2018, and they singled out his hot dog restaurant commercial for particular scorn. The former congressman ultimately announced that, while he was "itching to run again," he'd sit the cycle out to care for his ailing parents; Donald Trump soon nominated Poliquin for a volunteer post on the Board of Securities Investor Protection Corporation, but the Senate never held a confirmation vote.

Republicans may have been better if Poliquin, for all his flaws, had been their standard bearer in 2020, however. The eventual GOP nominee, Dale Crafts, struggled to raise money, and major groups on both sides dramatically cut their ad buys in the final weeks of the race to focus elsewhere. Golden ultimately fended off Crafts 53-47 even as his seat backed Trump 52-45.

Extreme partisan gerrymandering once again saved Michigan Republicans — despite Biden's statewide win

Daily Kos Elections has calculated the 2020 presidential results for every state Senate and state House district in Michigan, where the GOP's gerrymandered maps will be replaced next year by plans crafted by a new independent redistricting committee. You can find all of our district-level data nationwide at this bookmarkable permalink.

Republicans drew the lines for the 2012 round of redistricting just as they had for the previous decade, and they've used their power in this swing state to craft some truly brutal gerrymanders. Last year's election is a perfect illustration: While Joe Biden beat out Donald Trump 51-48 statewide last year, Trump still carried 60 of the 100 seats in the state House and 21 of 38 in the state Senate.

We'll start with a look at the House, where members are up for re-election every two years but are limited to a maximum of three terms. Democrats had hoped to net the four seats they needed to take control for the first time since 2010 but, despite once again winning more votes than GOP candidates—as they have in almost every election over the last decade—they were unable to so much as dent the GOP's 58-52 majority.

Unlike in many other states in 2020, crossover voting actually benefited Democrats more than Republicans. Four Democrats sit in Trump districts, with state Rep. Darrin Camilleri holding the reddest of the bunch: Camilleri earned his third term 53-47 even as Trump was taking his suburban Detroit constituency 54-45. (The other three similarly situated Democrats are Nate Shannon, Jim Haadsma, and Angela Witwer.) Meanwhile, just two Republicans, Mark Tisdel and Ryan Berman, represent Biden seats, though just barely. Tisdel's district, which is also in the Detroit area, backed Biden just 50.2-48.6, while Berman's was even closer, 49.9-48.9.

One way we can dig deeper to see just how rough these maps are for Democrats is to sort each district in each chamber by Biden's margin of victory over Trump to see how the seat in the middle—known as the median seat—voted. Because the House has an even number of seats, we average the two middle seats to come up with the median point in the chamber. Taking this approach, we find that the median House seat supported Trump 51-47, a full 7 points to the right of his 3-point statewide loss.

That's bad, but the Senate, which is only up in midterm years and where members can serve two four-year terms, is far worse. The median seat in the upper chamber went for Trump by a stunning 54-44 margin―13 points to the right of his statewide showing. Republicans hold one Biden constituency while Democrats represent no Trump turf, which gives Team Red a 22-16 edge. The one crossover seat belongs to Republican state Sen. Jim Runestad, who won an open seat 52-48 two years before Biden went on to carry his suburban Detroit seat 51-48.

The Senate has been in Republican hands since early 1984, when the GOP successfully recalled two Democratic incumbents, but Team Blue may have an opening to finally take it back next year. That's because in 2018, voters approved the creation of an independent redistricting commission to draw new lines in place of the state legislature. Republicans are by no means guaranteed to lose control in this competitive state, of course, but for the first time in a long time, Democrats won't have to compete on a gerrymandered playing field.

While we're on Michigan, we also have an update for our calculations by congressional district. Though the state certified its results last year, election officials have since completed their regular review process, during which they've found and fixed data entry errors in county vote totals. These corrections (which the state refers to as "statistical adjustments") can result in candidates either gaining or losing votes in a given county.

These changes have made a small impact on our numbers in three congressional districts. The largest shift is in the 7th District, where Biden's total dropped by about 1,600 votes, while Trump's dropped by about 300. The district consequently moves from 56.7-41.6 Trump to 56.9-41.4 Trump.

These two 'Biden-Republican' districts highlight Colorado's leftward trend over the last decade

Daily Kos Elections has calculated the 2020 presidential results for every state Senate and state House district in Colorado, a one-time swing state that has shifted sharply to the left over the last few years. You can find all of our district-level data nationwide at this bookmarkable permalink.

Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by a wide 55-42 margin, which was the best Democratic performance at the top of the ticket since Lyndon Johnson's 1964 landslide. Unsurprisingly, Democrats also maintained their majorities in both chambers of the legislature.

In the House, where all seats are up every two years, Democrats enjoy the same 41-24 majority they went into 2020 with. Team Blue took control of the lower chamber in 2004 after 28 years in the minority and, apart from the two years following the 2010 Republican wave, they've held it ever since. Crossover voting helped the GOP, but not nearly enough: Republicans hold all 22 Trump districts but just two of the chamber's 43 seats that went for Biden.

Those two Biden-Republican seats illustrate Colorado's overall leftward trajectory well. In HD-43 in Douglas County, state Rep. Kevin Van Winkle won his fourth and final term 53-47 despite Biden winning his district 52-46. Only a few years ago, though, it would have been shocking to imagine a Democratic presidential candidate winning in a constituency located in what has long been Team Red's biggest source of strength in the Denver area: Mitt Romney carried Van Winkle's HD-43 by a wide 58-40 margin, while Trump won it 49-42. Even in 2018, Republican Walker Stapleton took this seat 51-47 despite losing the governor's race to Democrat Jared Polis in a 53-43 blowout.

His colleague is Colin Larson, who secured his second term 51-46 in HD-22, a 49-48 Biden district in neighboring Jefferson County that also was solidly red not long ago: Trump won it 50-41 in 2016 and Romney carried it 55-43 four years earlier.

In the Senate, meanwhile, Biden won 23 districts to Trump's 12, with Republicans occupying all the Trump seats plus three Biden constituencies, leaving Democrats with a 20-15 advantage overall. Only half of the chamber is up each cycle, though, so only two of these Republicans had to fight against anti-Trump headwinds last year.

One was state Sen. Robert Rankin, who was reelected 50.6-49.4 as his SD-08 in western Colorado went for Biden 52-46; the other was state Sen. Kevin Priola, who won another term 51-49 in SD-25 despite Biden's 52-45 victory in this slice of suburban Denver. The final Biden Republican is Minority Leader Chris Holbert, who will be termed out in 2022; his SD-30, also in the Denver 'burbs, went for Biden 50-48.

While Democrats look dominant in the Senate now, that advantage only solidified after years of rough fighting. After flipping the chamber in 2004, Democrats emerged from the 2012 elections holding the same 20-15 majority they have now, but the NRA financed a successful recall campaign against two Democratic legislators the following year that whittled the party's Senate edge to just a single seat.

Democrats recaptured those two districts in 2014 but lost three others, a result that handed Republicans a one-seat edge, which they clung to in 2016 despite Hillary Clinton's 48-43 victory in the state. It wasn't until the 2018 blue wave that Democrats were able to recapture a 19-16 majority, which they expanded last year.

New maps will replace the current districts next year, but Democrats' top-to-bottom takeover of state government nonetheless won't give them authority over the coming round of redistricting. That's because voters approved two independent redistricting commissions, one for Congress and one for the state legislature, in 2018. The congressional commission is slated to release a preliminary map on Wednesday while the panel handling the legislative redraw will do so for both chambers next week.

The power of GOP gerrymandering: Georgia's median Senate seat was 15 points redder than the state

Daily Kos Elections has calculated the 2020 presidential results for every state Senate and state House district in Georgia, a state that Joe Biden put in the Democratic column for the first time in nearly three decades but where Republican gerrymanders helped keep Team Red firmly in control of both legislative chambers.

Democrats, until last year, had failed to win a single statewide race in Georgia since 2006, but the highly educated and diversifying Atlanta area's rapid swing to the left during the Trump era helped power Biden to a 49.5-49.3 victory. Two months later, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock proved this showing was no fluke by capturing both of the Peach State's U.S. Senate seats.

However, while the legislative boundaries the GOP crafted in 2011 and tinkered with in 2014 and 2015 failed to anticipate the party's erosion in the suburbs, they were still more than enough to protect the party's majorities. Democrats netted only one seat in each chamber, which left the GOP with a 34-22 advantage in the Senate and a 103-77 edge in the lower chamber.

Despite his statewide loss, Donald Trump carried 31 Senate seats to Biden's 25, as well as 94 House districts compared to 86 for Biden. That divergence between the statewide outcomes and the legislative results is only one way, however, to illustrate the power of the GOP's gerrymanders—and how tough it would have been for Democrats to have flipped either chamber under these maps.

Diving deeper, we can sort each district in each chamber by Biden's margin of victory over Trump to see how the seat in the middle—known as the median seat—voted. Because both chambers have an even number of seats, we average the two middle seats to come up with the median point in each chamber.

Taking this approach, we find that the median Senate seat backed Trump 57-42, a full 15 points to the right of his statewide margin. That means that for Democrats to have secured a majority, the party's Senate candidates would have somehow had to win districts that remained firmly Republican by double digits even during the best year for Georgia Democrats in recent memory. The median point in the House wasn't quite so unfavorable at 52-47 Trump, but that was still a 5-point advantage for the GOP and, in this age of heavily polarized voting, a massive obstacle for Democrats.

It was therefore Democrats who badly needed voters to split their tickets downballot, but it was Republicans who actually benefited from crossover support. Three Republican senators and nine House members represent seats that voted for Biden, while not a single Democrat represents a Trump district.

The bluest GOP-held Senate seat is SD-56, where Republican incumbent John Albers prevailed 51-49 even as Biden was taking his suburban Atlanta constituency 53-45. Its counterpart in the House is HD-43 around Marietta; Biden won by an even larger 54-44 spread, but longtime state Rep. Sharon Cooper was also re-elected 51-49.

Republicans will once again be in charge of redistricting ahead of the 2022 elections, so the legislature will have the chance to shore up these seats, as well as any other vulnerable turf.

P.S. You can find all of our district-level data at this bookmarkable permalink.

Democrat resoundingly wins New Mexico special election that GOP tried to make a referendum on crime

Democratic state Rep. Melanie Stansbury defeated Republican state Sen. Mark Moores in a 60-36 landslide to hold New Mexico's 1st Congressional District in Tuesday's special election to succeed Deb Haaland, who resigned earlier this year to become U.S. secretary of the interior.

Stansbury improved on Haaland's 58-42 win last year and even ran slightly ahead of Joe Biden's 60-37 showing in this Albuquerque-based constituency, a result indicating that Republican efforts to turn the race into a referendum on crime gained little traction. Moores almost singularly focused his campaign on the rising local crime rate, a message his party hopes will resonate nationally next year. One of his TV ads even featured horror movie-style sound effects of a woman screaming as the narrator went after Stansbury on police reform.

Stansbury, though, pushed back and aired her own ads featuring law enforcement personnel vouching for her. She also emphasized her support for the Biden administration and its policies and campaigned with both first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff.

While Democrats will be pleased with the end result, whether the outcome portends anything for the midterms is much harder to say. At the very least, extrapolating from a single special election is a risky endeavor, and Republicans will be quick to note that GOP outside groups didn't spend any serious money on Moores' behalf.

For now, though, Stansbury's victory means Democrats will restore one more vote to their slim House majority, giving Nancy Pelosi a 220-211 advantage with four more vacancies to be filled in future special elections.

Arizona's independent commission produced districts that matched the state — but will it last?

Daily Kos Elections is out with new data from Arizona breaking down the 2020 presidential results for each district in the state legislature. Republicans maintained the narrowest possible majorities in both chambers last year even as Joe Biden became the first Democrat to take the state's electoral votes in the 21st century.

The Grand Canyon State is divided into 30 legislative districts, with each electing one senator and two state representatives every two years; the districts are exactly the same (or "perfectly coterminous") for both chambers. Last year, Biden and Donald Trump each carried exactly half of the districts as Biden was prevailing statewide 49.4-49.1, but crossover voting was just enough to keep Republicans in power. As you'd expect when both candidates each carried half the districts, the two median districts when averaged together come close to reflecting the statewide result itself, with Biden winning them 50-48 for a Democratic median seat advantage of just one point.

Despite a strong Democratic campaign to flip the legislature, they netted just one seat in the Senate, knocking the GOP's majority from 17-13 to 16-14, while Republicans maintained their 31-29 edge in the House.

We'll start in the Senate, where just one lawmaker holds a seat carried by the other party's presidential candidate. That incumbent is Republican J.D. Mesnard, who prevailed 53-47 in LD-17, which includes a large part of Chandler in the Phoenix area, even as Biden won his constituency 51-47.

The only other Senate Republican who won a closer race was Paul Boyer, whose LD-20 around Glendale backed Trump just 49.2-48.9. Boyer, though, still ran several points ahead of the ticket to win 52-48. Split-ticket voting wasn't quite enough, however, to save Republican state Sen. Kate Brophy McGee, who lost to Democrat Christine Marsh 50.2-49.8 as Biden was carrying the Phoenix-based LD-28 by a 55-43 margin.

In the House, the electoral rules are a bit different. Each party can nominate up to two candidates for each district, and voters can vote for their top two choices in the general election, with the top two vote-getters winning. Sometimes, though, parties will choose to nominate only one candidate in a tough constituency and encourage their voters to not select a second contender, a tactic known as "bullet voting." The hope is that, by ceding one seat, the party will increase its chances to take the other one, and as we'll see, this maneuver did indeed seem to aid both parties last year.

Two House Republicans represent Biden districts, but unlike in the Senate, there's one Democrat in a Trump seat. That Democrat is Judy Schwiebert in the aforementioned LD-20, who was her party's only nominee here: Schwiebert took first place with 34.4%, while Rep. Shawnna Bolick edged out fellow Republican incumbent Anthony Kern 33.5-32.0.

Bullet voting, though, also likely secured the GOP control of a seat in LD-04, a geographically vast constituency in the southwestern corner of the state that backed Biden 56-43. Democratic state Rep. Charlene Fernandez led with 40%, but Republican Joel John beat out the district's other Democratic incumbent, Geraldine Peten, 32-29 for second.

The other Republican-held Biden seat in the House is also in LD-17, where one incumbent from each party ended up winning. Democratic state Rep. Jennifer Pawlik, who was Team Blue's sole nominee, led with 33.8%, while Rep. Jeff Weninger defeated fellow Republican Liz Harris 33.4-32.8.

Democrats may have another chance to flip either chamber of the legislature in 2022 if the new map looks similar to the current one, but redistricting will be an especially unpredictable affair in Arizona.

The state's congressional and legislative maps are drawn by an ostensibly independent commission, but Republicans have done everything they can to hijack it: Its nominally independent tiebreaking member has troubling ties to the GOP and has repeatedly sided with Republican commissioners on a variety of preliminary matters, such as hiring a map-drawing consultant who testified as an expert witness in support of a Republican gerrymander in North Carolina that was struck down by the courts.

P.S. You can find all of our district-level data at this bookmarkable permalink.

Washington Republican who voted to impeach Trump earns challenge from far-right extremist

Far-right ex-cop Loren Culp announced Thursday that he would challenge Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse, who is one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump in January. Culp, who was the GOP's 2020 nominee for governor, made it very clear he'd be making his campaign all about that vote: After accusing the incumbent of having a "spine made of jelly," Culp, without offering any evidence, accused Newhouse of making "some kind of deal" with Democrats.

Newhouse was already facing intraparty challenges on his right from state Rep. Brad Klippert and businessman Jerrod Sessler in next year's top-two primary, and more could still join. It's possible that a crowded field of opponents could split the anti-Newhouse GOP vote in the 4th District and allow the congressman to advance to a general election with a Democrat, but that's far from assured. This 58-40 Trump seat is red enough that Newhouse went up against a fellow Republican in both 2014 and 2016, and this eastern Washington seat will almost certainly remain very conservative turf after redistricting.

Culp may also be prominent enough to emerge as Newhouse's main foe, especially since Klippert did not report raising any money in the time between his January launch and the end of March. (Sessler entered the race in early April.) Culp himself served as the small community of Republic, which is located in the neighboring 5th District, in 2018 when he made news by announcing he wouldn't enforce a statewide gun safety ballot measure that had just passed 59-41.

Culp's stance drew a very favorable response from far-right rocker Ted Nugent, who posted a typo-ridden "Chief Loren Culp is an Anerican freedom warrior. Godbless the freedom warriors" message to his Facebook page.

Culp soon decided to challenge Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, and he quickly made it clear he would continue to obsessively cultivate the Trump base rather than appeal to a broader group of voters in this blue state. That tactic helped Culp advance through the top-two primary, an occasion he celebrated by reaffirming his opposition to Inslee's measures to stop the pandemic, including mask mandates.

Inslee ended up winning by a wide 57-43, but Culp responded by saying he'd "never concede." Instead, he filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a fellow Republican, that made allegations of "intolerable voting anomalies" for a contest "that was at all times fraudulent."

The state GOP did not welcome Culp's refusal to leave the stage, though. Some Republicans also openly shared their complaints about Culp's campaign spending, including what the Seattle Times' Jim Brunner described as "large, unexplained payments to a Marysville data firm while spending a relatively meager sum on traditional voter contact."

Culp also gave himself a total of $48,000 for lost wages and mileage reimbursement, a sum that Brunner said "appears to be the largest-ever for a candidate in Washington state." Republicans also griped that Culp had spent only about a fifth of his $3.3 million budget on advertising, a far smaller amount than what serious candidates normally expend.

Culp's attorney ultimately withdrew the suit after being threatened with sanction for making "factually baseless" claims. Culp himself responded to the news by saying that, while the cost of continuing the legal battle would have been prohibitive, "It doesn't mean that the war's over … It just means that we're not going to engage in this particular battle through the courts."

Newhouse, for his part, responded to Culp's new campaign by reaffirming that he'll be running for a fifth term next year. Newhouse brought in $288,000 during the first quarter for his campaign, and he ended March with $528,000 to defend himself.

Notorious ex-Democrat launches GOP primary challenge to Georgia governor

Former state Rep. Vernon Jones, a Trump-obsessed Democrat-turned-Republican, announced Thursday that he would oppose Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in next year's GOP primary. Jones' challenge comes as Kemp is also preparing for a widely anticipated rematch against Democrat Stacey Abrams, whom Peach State political observers universally expect to run again.

Jones used his kickoff Friday to once again repeat the lie that Trump would still be in the White House if Jones had been governor in 2020. Joe Biden, of course, would still have earned an electoral college majority if Trump had carried Georgia, but that's hardly stopped Trump from targeting his one-time ally Kemp for refusing to go along with his efforts to try and steal the state's electoral votes.

That hasn't changed in the last month even though Kemp has attracted plenty of gratitude in conservative circles for signing the new voter suppression bill, a development that led Major League Baseball to move the All-Star Game from the Atlanta suburbs to Colorado. Trump instead responded earlier this month by labeling the new law "far too weak and soft" and claiming, "Kemp also caved to the radical left-wing woke mob who threatened to call him racist if he got rid of weekend voting."

Jones, as we'll discuss, has been an ardent Trumpest throughout the last year, but Kemp is already trying to make his Democratic past a liability. The incumbent's team greeted Jones' arrival into the race by noting that the then-Democrat opposed a 2019 bill that effectively banned abortion just six weeks into a pregnancy, legislation that has since been struck down by a federal court. Jones, who agreed during his 2008 U.S. Senate campaign that abortion should be legal, tried to get ahead of Kemp's attacks by tweeting on Monday, "Life begins at conception - period."

The governor may also have plenty of other material to work with from Jones' long time in Democratic politics, a career that was defined by several failed attempts to win higher office. After a stint in the state House in the 1990s, Jones became the first African American to lead DeKalb County following his 2000 victory for CEO of this large Atlanta-area community. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that during his tenure, he "drew intense scrutiny for angry outbursts and an accusation of rape that he said was a consensual act between three partners." Jones, however, was never charged.

Jones, who had voted for George W. Bush twice, tried to use his high-profile post as a springboard to statewide office by seeking Team Blue's nomination to take on Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss in 2008. However, the CEO earned plenty of negative attention during the nomination contest after Barack Obama took him to task for creating a mailer that made it appear that the two were campaigning together. Jones lost the primary runoff 60-40 to Jim Martin, who went on to lose to Chambliss.

Jones then challenged Rep. Hank Johnson in the 2010 primary for the 4th Congressional District and lost 55-26. In 2013, a grand jury probing his time leading DeKalb County recommended he be investigated for what the AJC calls allegations of "bid-rigging and theft." The following year, his campaign for county sheriff ended in a landslide 76-24 primary defeat.

Jones, though, resurrected his political career when he won the 2016 primary to return to the state House in a safely blue seat. Months later, DeKalb District Attorney Robert James announced that he wouldn't be charging a number of figures, including Jones, for lack of evidence.

Jones spent the next few years often voting with Republicans and tweeting favorably of Trump, but he only burned his last bridges with his party in 2020 when he endorsed Trump's re-election campaign. The state representative, who was already facing a competitive primary, ultimately retired from the legislature (albeit after initially saying he'd be resigning), and he spent the rest of the campaign as a prominent Trump surrogate. Jones spent his time after Election Day headlining Trump rallies alleging nonexistent voter fraud, and he finally switched parties in January.

This notorious party-switcher is eying a GOP primary challenge to Georgia governor

Former state Rep. Vernon Jones, an ardent Trump fan who left the Democratic Party in January, tweeted Monday that he was "looking closely" at a GOP primary bid against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.

Jones, unsurprisingly, echoed his patron's lies about election fraud by insisting, "If it weren't for Brian Kemp, Donald Trump would still be President of these United States." Joe Biden, of course, would still have earned an electoral college majority if Trump had carried Georgia, but that's hardly stopped Trump from targeting his one-time ally Kemp.

Jones had a long career in Democratic politics, though he'd struggled to win higher office under his old party. After a stint in the state House in the 1990s, Jones became the first African American to lead DeKalb County following his 2000 victory for CEO of this large Atlanta-area community. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that during his tenure, Jones "drew intense scrutiny for angry outbursts and an accusation of rape that he said was a consensual act between three partners." Jones, however, was never charged.

Jones tried to use his high-profile post as a springboard to statewide office, but he lost the 2008 primary runoff for Senate 60-40 to Jim Martin, who went on to lose to Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss. Jones then challenged Rep. Hank Johnson in the 2010 primary for the 4th Congressional District and lost 55-26.

In 2013, a grand jury probing Jones' time as DeKalb County CEO recommended he be investigated for what the AJC calls allegations of "bid-rigging and theft." The following year, his campaign for DeKalb County sheriff ended in a landslide 76-24 primary defeat.

Jones, though, resurrected his political career when he won the 2016 primary to return to the state House in a safely blue seat. Months later, DeKalb District Attorney Robert James announced that he wouldn't be charging a number of figures, including Jones, for lack of evidence.

Jones spent the next few years often voting with Republicans and tweeting favorably of Trump, but he only burned his last bridges with his party in 2020 when he endorsed Trump's re-election campaign. Jones, who was already facing a competitive primary, ultimately retired from the legislature (albeit after initially saying he'd be resigning), and he spent the rest of the campaign as a prominent Trump surrogate.

Jones finally switched parties in January, and he's been eyeing another statewide bid over the last few months. Jones has been mentioned as a prospective Senate candidate, and he reportedly eyed a primary campaign for secretary of state against Brad Raffensperger as recently as last week. Trump, though, has touted former NFL running back Herschel Walker as a prospective Senate candidate and endorsed Rep. Jody Hice's bid against Raffensperger on Monday (see our GA-SoS item), which may be why Jones is now talking about taking on Kemp instead.

Missouri's Roy Blunt becomes the fifth Republican senator to retire in 2022

On Monday, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt became the fifth Republican senator to announce that he would not seek reelection in 2022. Blunt's decision came as a surprise as his spokesperson had said in November that the senator would be seeking a third term, though Blunt himself sounded a bit less sure the following January.

Blunt's decision will set off an open seat race in a former swing state that has swung hard to the right during the 21st century. Donald Trump took Missouri last year 57-41, while Republican Gov. Mike Parsons won reelection by that very same margin against the only Democrat who holds statewide office: state Auditor Nicole Galloway. Blunt himself only scraped by in 2016 49-46, but Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill lost reelection to Republican Josh Hawley two years later 51-46 despite the 2018 blue wave.

It remains to be seen if Blunt's departure will entice national Democrats to take a harder look at the Show Me State. Democrats already had a notable candidate, former state Sen. Scott Sifton, running before Blunt retired, and it's possible others will get in now.

This suburban St. Louis district hosted one of the closest presidential contests we've ever seen

Our project to calculate the 2020 presidential results for all 435 House seats nationwide tours Missouri, which was home to what will almost certainly be the closest district-level presidential outcome in the nation. You can find our detailed calculations here, a large-size map of the results here, and our permanent, bookmarkable link for all 435 districts here.

The site of that election was Missouri's 2nd District in the St. Louis suburbs, which Donald Trump won 49.18-49.16―a margin of just 115 votes. This represented a giant crash for Trump from his 53-42 performance in 2016, but it still wasn't enough for Democrats looking to unseat Republican Rep. Ann Wagner. Like a number of Republican House candidates running in ancestrally red suburban seats, Wagner ran well ahead of the top of the ticket and defeated Democrat Jill Schupp 52-46.

This extremely narrow victory is the tightest presidential result we've found for all of the 404 congressional districts we've released 2020 data for so far, and we'd be very surprised if it gets displaced when we wrap up our remaining three states (Alabama, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania). The second-closest seat in last year's elections was Iowa's 3rd, which Trump claimed 49.15-49.02, a gap of 567 votes. Four years ago, the most competitive seat was Oregon's 4th, which Hillary Clinton edged out Trump by 554 votes, or 46.14-46.0. (Joe Biden took it 51-47 this time.)

As it happens, our preliminary calculations suggested that Biden had won Missouri's 2nd, but the closeness of the results sent us on a rigorous hunt for more accurate data that even involved researching election system software manuals to determine whether such data might be available at all. Fortunately, it was.

In St. Louis County, which makes up about three-quarters of the district, official election returns assigned every vote to a precinct, and no precincts were split between districts. We could therefore be certain that we could correctly assign every vote to its proper congressional district because we know which precincts belong to which districts.

However, official results from the other two counties in the district, Jefferson and St. Charles, only assigned Election Day votes to precincts. Absentee votes, which were almost a third of all votes cast in both counties, were only reported countywide in both cases.

In such situations when we have no other choice, we can use techniques to estimate how we should divvy up unassigned votes like these between districts, which is how we arrived at those extremely tight preliminary numbers that showed Biden just ahead. But we couldn't settle for an estimate in this case given the narrowness of the margin.

Thankfully, we learned that the software used in both counties was capable of producing reports that break down election results by congressional district—in other words, they could automatically execute the very task we almost always have to perform manually. After weeks of pursuit, and with the help of friendly local officials willing to work with us, we obtained these breakdowns for both Jefferson and St. Charles. We're extremely glad we went the extra mile, because the final results differed from our initial estimate and ended in an extraordinarily narrow win for Trump.

We should note that even with these more accurate reports from Jefferson and St. Charles, about a dozen votes (mostly absentees) remain unassigned. But since Trump's margin was more than 100 votes, we can say with certainty that he carried Missouri's 2nd Congressional District—just barely.

Zooming out statewide, Trump won Missouri 57-41, which wasn't much of a change from his 57-38 victory four years ago in what used to be a fiercely contested swing state. The Show Me State's remaining House seats were also anything but competitive. Biden took Rep. Cori Bush's 1st District in the city of St. Louis 80-18, while he carried fellow Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver 5th District in Kansas City at the other end of the state 59-40.

Trump, meanwhile, won the other five GOP-held seats with more than 63% of the vote. Republicans will have their chance to protect Wagner, and possibly make life more complicated for Cleaver, though, as they'll have complete control of the redistricting process.

Republican senator's surprise retirement could give Democrats a pickup opportunity in Ohio: analysis

In a big surprise, Republican Sen. Rob Portman announced Monday that he would not seek a third term next year in Ohio. Portman, who is 65, had not shown any obvious interest in retirement, and he had a large $4.6 million war chest at the end of September of 2020. The senator, though, explained his decision by saying, "I don't think any Senate office has been more successful in getting things done, but honestly, it has gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy, and that has contributed to my decision."

Portman's departure will likely give Democrats a better shot at his Senate seat, but Ohio's rightward drift over the last few years will still make it difficult for Team Blue to score a win in this traditional swing state. Joe Biden targeted the Buckeye State hard in 2020, but Donald Trump still defeated him 53-45. However, Ohio still isn't a place that Republicans can take victory for granted: Portman's Democratic colleague, Sen. Sherrod Brown, earned reelection 53-47 in 2018, and last year, Democrats won an officially nonpartisan race for the state Supreme Court.

Portman's retirement also ends a long career in state and national politics. Portman got his start interning for his local GOP congressman, Cincinnati-area Rep. Bill Gradison, and working on George H.W. Bush's unsuccessful 1980 presidential campaign. He went on to serve as a White House associate legal counsel in 1989 after Bush won on his second try. Portman, who became close to the president, quickly rose to become head of the Office of Legislative Affairs, and he returned home in 1991 a year ahead of Bush's defeat.

Portman soon got his own chance to run for office in 1993 when Gradison resigned to lead the Health Insurance Association of America and asked his former intern to run in the special election to succeed him. Portman also benefited from support from former First Lady Barbara Bush, who, as Politico would recount in 2012, "recorded a radio ad name-dropping Cincinnati's Skyline Chili and Portman in the same sentence." Portman won the primary by beating former Rep. Bob McEwen, who had lost renomination in 1992 after redistricting pitted him against a fellow incumbent, 36-30, and he had no trouble in the general election for the conservative 2nd District.

Portman quickly became entrenched in the House, but he resigned in 2005 to become United States Trade Representative under George W. Bush. (Portman's departure set off an unexpectedly competitive special election between Republican Jean Schmidt and Democrat Paul Hackett that Schmidt ended up winning just 52-48.) Portman later served as head of the White House's powerful Office of Management and Budget from 2006 to 2007, and he played Barack Obama in 2008 during John McCain's debate practice sessions.

Portman got another chance to run for office in early 2009 when Republican Sen. George Voinovich announced his retirement. Portman quickly launched his campaign and proved to be a very strong fundraiser from the jump, something that helped the political insider avoid any primary opposition even as the emerging Tea Party declared war on other party establishment figures.

Ohio had backed Obama 51-47 in 2008 and this looked like it would be a top tier Senate target for much of the cycle, but that's not how things turned out. Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher won the Democratic nomination after a costly primary campaign, and he never was able to come close to matching Portman's financial resources. The Republican took a lead during the summer as the political climate got worse and worse nationally for Team Blue, and Democratic outside groups ended up concentrating on other races. Ultimately, Portman beat Fisher 57-39.

Portman's wide win in this battleground state made him an attractive vice presidential prospect in 2012, and Mitt Romney seriously considered him before opting instead for Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan; while the senator wasn't on the ticket, he did reprise his role as Obama as Romney prepared to debate the real president. Portman later considered his own White House bid, but he announced in late 2014 that he'd instead seek reelection to the Senate.

National Democrats soon recruited former Gov. Ted Strickland, who had narrowly lost reelection during the 2010 wave, to take on Portman, and this again looked like it would be one of the most competitive races of the cycle. Unfortunately for Strickland, though, he suffered a similar fate in 2016 as Fisher had six years ago.

Portman and his allies spent heavily during the summer on ads blaming Strickland for job losses that took place during the Great Recession, when every state experienced painful job losses that had nothing to do with who was governor. Strickland didn't have the resources to fight back in time. Portman once again built up a clear lead in the polls months before Election Day, and national Democrats pulled out of the state in mid-October. Portman ended up winning his final term 58-37 as Trump was carrying the state 51-43.

Ohio's decade-old gerrymander still performed exactly as the GOP intended in 2020

Our project to calculate the 2020 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts nationwide goes to O-H-I-O. You can find our complete data set here, which we're updating continuously as the precinct-level election returns we need for our calculations become available.

Despite Democratic hopes, Donald Trump's 53-45 win in Ohio matched his 52-44 performance in this one-time swing state four years ago. Trump also carried the same 12 congressional districts that he took last time, while the remaining four Clinton seats also went for Biden. Likewise, all the Trump districts remained in GOP hands, while the four Clinton/Biden districts once again elected Democratic members. You can find a larger version of our map here.

Democrats were optimistic that Biden could flip the 1st District in the Cincinnati area, and the seat did move to the left. However, while Trump's 51-48 showing this time was notably weaker than his prior 51-45 performance, veteran Republican Rep. Steve Chabot still rode to a 52-45 victory over Democrat Kate Schroder.

Trump secured single-digit victories in three other seats. The 10th District in the Dayton area supported him 51-47, which was a slip from his 51-44 win last time. Longtime Republican Rep. Mike Turner, though, again ran well ahead of the ticket and beat Democrat Desiree Tims 58-42.

The 12th District in the Columbus suburbs, meanwhile, went for Trump 52-46, which was quite a bit narrower than his 53-42 performance in 2016; Republican Rep. Troy Balderson, though, won 55-42 against Democrat Alaina Shearer. Trump also prevailed 54-45 in the 14th District in the Cleveland suburbs, which was down a little from his prior 54-42 win, though Republican Rep. David Joyce racked up a strong 60-40 win over Democrat Hillary O'Connor Mueri.

Biden, by contrast, lost ground in the 13th District, ancestrally blue turf in the Youngstown area with a large white working class voting bloc. This constituency had already moved dramatically to the right: Barack Obama carried it 63-35 in 2012 but Clinton won it just 51-45, and Biden hung on by an even narrower 51-48 margin. Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan beat former Republican state Rep. Christina Hagan by a stronger 52-45 spread, but it was by far the narrowest victory in his 10 House campaigns.

These results owe much to the extreme gerrymander that Republicans passed in the last round of redistricting, which has locked in a 12-4 congressional majority for the GOP every single year, even when Obama won Ohio in 2012. There's a good chance the coming decade will see something similar.

Voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2018 that theoretically puts congressional redistricting in the hands of a commission that includes members from both parties. However, if the commission's proposals don't achieve the bipartisan support the amendment requires, the Republican-led legislature would be able to just pass its own maps again. Those maps would only be good for four years instead of the usual 10, but the process would just repeat itself. In other words, anyone who wants to gerrymander just needs to pass new maps more often.

North Carolina set to have another competitive Senate race — and this time it'll be an open seat

Republican Sen. Richard Burr said he would not seek a fourth term all the way back in 2016, and it's very unlikely he'd be able to change his mind now that he's under investigation for the large stock transactions he made just before the markets tanked in mid-March as the coronavirus pandemic worsened. There are a number of North Carolina Republicans who could run to succeed Burr in this light red state, and multiple media organizations reported Thursday that Lara Trump, who is the wife of Eric Trump, is considering.

Trump, a Tar Heel State native who worked as an adviser for her father-in-law's failed reelection campaign, was mentioned last year as a possible contender for New York's 2nd Congressional District on Long Island, and she initially didn't rule the idea out. Trump, who didn't end up making the race, currently lives in Westchester County, New York, which is quite far from both the Long Island-based 2nd District and especially North Carolina.

Several other Republicans could also compete here. Outgoing Rep. Mark Walker decided not to run for anything this year after court-supervised redistricting turned his gerrymandered seat reliably blue, recently reaffirmed that he was interested in a Senate bid. Outgoing Rep. George Holding, who also decided to retire for the same reason as Walker, didn't rule out a bid for the upper chamber last year, though he doesn't appear to have said anything since then.

Oh, that's not all. Former Gov. Pat McCrory, who lost reelection in 2016, also said in late 2019 that he was mulling a campaign to succeed Burr. In September, McCrory said he was interested in seeking office again, though he added that he was "having fun" pursuing other activities.

A few other GOP politicians are also reportedly thinking about it. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who resigned from Congress earlier this year, doesn't seem to have said anything about his 2022 plans, but the New York Times' Annie Karni writes that he's "widely expected to move back home and run for the seat as well." (Update: Meadows announced Friday that he wouldn't run.) Karni adds that outgoing Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who lost this year's gubernatorial contest to Democrat Roy Cooper 52-47, is "expected to be in the field." State House Speaker Tim Moore was also name-dropped as a potential contender, though there's no word on his interest.

The Democratic field is taking longer to develop. Outgoing state Sen. Erica Smith told the News & Observer's Brian Murphy on Friday that she was running for the Senate again, but few national Democrats will want to see her as their nominee. Earlier this year, Republicans spent nearly $3 million on an unsuccessful effort to help Smith, who had raised very little money herself, win the primary against Democratic establishment favorite Cal Cunningham. Democratic groups spent heavily to push back on the GOP meddling, and Cunningham beat Smith 57-35 before narrowly losing this month to Republican Sen. Thom Tillis.

Months later, Smith endorsed Republican Sonja Nichols' campaign against one of her colleagues, Democratic state Sen. Jeff Jackson. When Smith was asked about her decision on Facebook, she responded by telling the poster, "[Y]ou cannot see beyond your sexist male privilege. Funny that you are not attempting to deal with the real issues." Jackson ended up prevailing 55-41.

Bright sign from Georgia: Democrats flip House seat in Atlanta's long-Republican suburbs

The Associated Press called the open seat race for Georgia's 7th District for Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux on Friday, which gives House Democrats a welcome pickup after an unexpectedly rough cycle. Bourdeaux flipped this longtime Republican-held constituency in the northwest Atlanta suburbs by beating Rich McCormick 51-49 in a contest that attracted millions in outside spending from both sides. Bourdeaux's win comes two years after she lost a surprisingly tight race to Republican incumbent Rob Woodall, a showing that helped prove that Georgia's 7th was no longer safely red turf.

Gwinnett County, which dominates this seat (82% of the district is located here, with the balance in Forsyth County), spent decades as a GOP stronghold up and down the ballot. The suburb decisively voted for Ronald Reagan even as he was losing statewide in 1980 to Georgia's former governor, President Jimmy Carter; Gwinnett County also backed Mack Mattingly 68-32 that year in his narrow victory over Democratic Sen. Herman Talmadge, a contest that made Mattingly the Peach State's first Republican senator since Reconstruction.

Gwinnett County would continue to overwhelmingly support every Republican presidential nominee well into the first decade of the 21st Century, and the rapidly growing community was also a major source of strength for Team Red's gubernatorial and Senate candidates during this time. The county also soon became very friendly turf for Republican congressmen. Woodall spent years working as an aide to local Rep. John Linder, who never had any trouble winning reelection during his nearly two decades in Congress, and Woodall himself faced no serious general election opposition when he ran to succeed his boss in 2010.

Gwinnett County became more competitive during the 2000s, with John McCain carrying it just 55-45 four years after George W. Bush overwhelmingly won it 66-33, but that didn't seem to matter much for Woodall. Republican mapmakers did all they could to make sure the 7th District remained safely red when they redrew the maps in 2011, and he was left with a redrawn seat that included just over 70% of Gwinnett County as well as the same portion of Forsyth County, a smaller but far more conservative area. (About 22% of Gwinnett County, including its more Democratic areas, was assigned to the safely blue 4th District, while the balance went to the dark red 10th District.)

For a time, the GOP gerrymander worked exactly as intended. The new 7th District backed Mitt Romney by a strong 60-38 margin even as he was carrying all of Gwinnett County only 54-45, which was Team Red's weakest showing in a presidential race since Carter won it back in 1976. National Democrats also didn't make any serious effort to unseat Woodall, who seemed completely safe.

However, things dramatically changed during the Donald Trump era in this well-educated and diverse suburb. Trump outright lost Gwinnett County 50-44, and while he did win the 7th District, his 51-45 showing in 2016 was a big drop from what the GOP was accustomed to. Woodall himself easily turned back an underfunded Democratic foe that year in a contest that attracted no outside attention, and he seemed ardently convinced that he would remain safe despite Trump's drop. In May of 2017, Woodall even glibly said of his own race, "It's gerrymandering that makes these things noncompetitive, right?"

That obliviousness to his seat's changing politics almost cost him reelection in 2018. Bourdeaux, a Georgia State University public policy professor, won the Democratic nomination after a crowded primary, and she proved to be a strong fundraiser. Woodall, though, didn't run any ads for most of the campaign or even do many advertised campaign events. However, he got something of a wake-up call late in the campaign when Independence USA, a super PAC funded by former New York City Mayor and gun safety advocate Michael Bloomberg, dropped $913,000 on him in the final days of the race. Finally, on the Friday before Election Day, Woodall finally went up with his first TV spot.

Bourdeaux ended up losing to Woodall by just 433 votes in a performance that shocked both parties. It wasn't an outlier, though: Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, despite the taint of Republican voter suppression that marred her election, performed well in Gwinnett County and other Atlanta suburbs, and she even won the gerrymandered 7th District by a 50-49 margin.

Bourdeaux quickly made it clear that she'd be running again, and this time, both parties were aware that they'd have a fight in the 7th. Republicans reportedly weren't keen on having Woodall stick around after he almost sleepwalked to victory, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in early February of 2019 that some unnamed GOP officials were pressuring him to "consider his options" for the cycle. Woodall seems to have gotten the message, and he announced his retirement days later.

A number of candidates from both parties soon entered the race to succeed Woodall, but neither primary ended up going to a runoff. Bourdeaux's opponent this time was Rich McCormick, an emergency room physician who received serious support from the far-right anti-tax Club for Growth. The general election also proved to be a very expensive affair, with the DCCC and House Majority PAC spending a total of $6.5 million on the Democratic side compared to $5 million from the NRCC and Congressional Leadership Fund.

Ultimately, while House Democrats didn't make the gains in the suburbs they were hoping for, Bourdeaux pulled off a victory. This pickup came as once solidly Gwinnett County continued to move hard to the left: Joe Biden has dramatically improved on Hillary Clinton's showing from just four years ago, and Democrats will also be looking for a strong performance here in January as they try to win as many as two U.S. Senate runoffs.

Republicans are growing anxious about losing a Senate seat in Texas — once again

The final two weeks of the 2020 election are upon us, and with the political climate continuing to favor Democrats overall, Daily Kos Elections is moving our race ratings in 11 more contests—nine shift to the left, while two move towards the GOP. We also now have a total of 11 GOP-held Senate seats rated as Lean Republican or better for Democrats. You can find all our Senate, gubernatorial, and House ratings at each link.

TX-Sen (Likely R to Lean R): Democrat MJ Hegar not only swamped Republican Sen. John Cornyn 2:1 in fundraising over the last quarter, she just got a big vote of confidence from the Senate Majority PAC, which announced it would invest almost $9 million to support her bid—the first time outside Democratic groups have spent money on a Texas Senate race in forever. (Yep, even Beto didn't get that kind of love.)

All polls still have Cornyn ahead, and Texas is still Texas. But the gap has narrowed, and with presidential polling showing a near-tie, the once unthinkable is now a whole lot more thinkable. Cornyn himself also seems to be feeling the heat: After spending four years positioning himself as nothing but an ardent Trump ally, the senator insisted to reporters over the weekend that he'd disagreed with the White House plenty of times but kept his dissent private.

CO-Sen (Lean D to Likely D): With reports that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and the Senate Leadership Fund have both drastically scaled back their spending in Colorado's Senate race, Republicans have now all but abandoned Cory Gardner. Confirming the development, the top Democratic super PAC, Senate Majority PAC, has also cut seven figures from its planned advertising. Every single poll of this race has shown Gardner trailing Democrat John Hickenlooper, most by double digits. At this point, Colorado is simply too blue for a Republican with no real ability to distance himself from Donald Trump—like Gardner.

VT-Gov (Likely R to Safe R): Despite Vermont's deep blue hue, the state has continued its long history of electing Republican governors, and Phil Scott has remained exceedingly popular, in part because of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Limited polling has shown him crushing his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, and there's been no indication that outside groups plan to get involved here in the final weeks.

CA-21 (Lean D to Tossup): Democrat TJ Cox narrowly unseated Republican Rep. David Valadao in one of the biggest upsets of 2018, and he faces a difficult campaign to stop Valadao from reclaiming California's 21st Congressional District this year.

The only recent poll we've seen out of this southern Central Valley seat was a mid-September American Viewpoint internal for the pro-Republican Congressional Leadership Fund that found Valadao ahead 49-38. It may seem implausible that Valadao could have a huge lead in a district that Trump lost 55-40, but Democrats have not responded with better numbers, and Politico also recently reported that this was one of only a few seats that Team Blue is "growing increasingly nervous" about.

There are some other factors that could complicate Cox's chances even in a good year for his party. National polls show Trump running better with Latino voters than he did four years ago, which could help him make up some ground in this heavily Latino district. And Valadao has always run ahead of the GOP ticket in past years, sometimes quite dramatically. Cox may still be the slight favorite to hang on, but a Valadao win would no longer be a surprise.

FL-18 (Safe R to Likely R): Republican Rep. Brian Mast looked secure after he beat a well-funded opponent by a convincing 54-46 during last cycle's Democratic wave, but he faces another credible challenge this year from Navy veteran Pam Keith in Florida's 18th Congressional District.

A mid-September survey from St. Pete Polls found Mast ahead by a wide—but not insurmountable—50-42 margin even as respondents narrowly favored Biden in a district that had backed Trump 53-44 four years earlier. An early October Keith internal from Clearview Research then showed her ahead 45-43, and Mast's allies haven't responded with alternate numbers. There has been no notable outside spending so far in this seat, which includes the Palm Beach area and the Treasure Coast to the north, but an upset is possible if Nov. 3 is a strong night for Team Blue.

IL-13 (Lean R to Tossup): We had thought that Betsy Dirksen Londrigan's near-miss against Republican Rep. Rodney Davis in 2018 might have been a high-water mark for Democrats in central Illinois' 13th Congressional District, which isn't necessarily the most favorable sort of turf from Team Blue. But a recent survey for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) found her leading Davis by five points in her rematch after prior polls showed the race neck-and-neck, and we haven't seen any sort of GOP response.

The D-Trip has backed up its data with hard dollars: Along with the House Majority PAC, they've matched spending with the big outside Republican groups. This one is looking very close once again.

MI-03 (Likely R to Lean R): Michigan's 3rd Congressional District hasn't been competitive in a general election in some time, but outside groups from both parties are spending serious amounts of money in the contest to succeed Republican-turned-independent-turned-Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash, who is retiring after a tumultuous career.

The few polls we've seen have shown an unsettled contest in this Grand Rapids-based seat between Democrat Hillary Scholten, an immigration attorney, and Republican Peter Meijer, whose family owns an eponymous retail chain with almost 200 locations. A mid-September internal from Global Strategy Group for Scholten's allies at House Majority PAC showed a 41-41 tie as Biden led 49-41 in a district that backed Trump 52-42 in 2016; weeks later, the Democratic nominee released numbers from ALG Research that had her ahead 44-42. Meijer did get better news, though, when a late September survey from the conservative firm We Ask America had him leading 48-41 as Biden and Trump deadlocked 47-47.

This seat is still red enough that Meijer remains the frontrunner, but Scholten's chances are as strong as they've ever been.

NC-08 (Likely R to Lean R): While Republican Rep. Richard Hudson is still the favorite against Democrat Pat Timmons-Goodson, a former justice on the state Supreme Court, major outside groups on both sides have begun spending serious amounts of money late in the contest for North Carolina's 8th Congressional District.

The only two polls we've seen in recent weeks have both come from Democrats, and they've each shown a close race. A late September internal from Brilliant Corners for Timmons-Goodson showed Hudson up 44-42 as Trump led only 47-44 in a seat he took 53-44 four years ago. An early October DCCC Analytics poll was even more favorable: It found Timmons-Goodson and Biden up 42-39 and 47-43, respectively. Republicans have yet to release contradictory numbers.

There's also one other factor that could complicate Hudson's path in this seat, which includes Fayetteville and some of Charlotte's suburbs: Because of court-supervised redistricting, the Republican is seeking reelection in a seat where a quarter of all residents are new to him, which could prevent him from enjoying the full benefits of incumbency.

SC-01 (Tossup to Lean D): Freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham won South Carolina's coastal 1st Congressional District in one of the bigger upsets of 2018, but he's the frontrunner going into the final weeks of his bid for reelection.

An early October DCCC internal from GQR found Cunningham leading GOP state Rep. Nancy Mace by a wide 55-42 margin as respondents backed Biden 48-47 in a district that Trump took 53-40 last time. Mace responded the following week with a Strategic National survey that showed her ahead 47-45 as Trump led 47-44, but even fellow Republicans don't seem to believe she's actually doing that well: Last week, Politico recently reported that Republicans privately believe Mace's prospects are "dimming."

Major outside groups on both sides are still spending heavily here, and a Mace win is still very possible, but Cunningham, for perhaps the first time in his political career, is the favorite.

TX-32 (Lean D to Likely D): Freshman Democratic Rep. Colin Allred flipped Texas' 32nd District after a very expensive 2018 battle, but it will be hard for businesswoman Genevieve Collins to reclaim it for her party.

This historically red suburban North Dallas seat swung from 57-41 Romney to 49-47 Clinton, and diverse and well-educated constituencies like this have only become more hostile to the GOP over the last four years. Major outside groups also aren't acting like this will be close: While both parties are pouring millions into the neighboring 24th District, they've steered clear of this race so far. Collins still has the resources to run a credible campaign on her own, but it would be a big surprise if she emerged victorious.

WA-03 (Likely R to Lean R): Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is still the frontrunner against Democrat Carolyn Long, whom she defeated 53-47 in 2018, but their rematch for southern Washington's 3rd Congressional District has been looking more competitive recently.

In late September, Long released an internal from GQR that found Herrera Beutler up 49-47 as Trump led just 48-47 in a district he took 50-43 in 2016. That's the only survey we've seen here in some time, but major outside groups are acting like this seat is very much in play. The National Republican Congressional Committee and Congressional Leadership Fund went on the air on Oct. 13 to aid the congresswoman, the very same day the DCCC released its first anti-Herrera Beutler ads. Altogether, national GOP groups spent almost $900,000 during the week of Oct. 12, while the DCCC dropped $470,000 during that time.

Herrera Beutler still has the advantage, though, in this conservative seat. The incumbent pulled off a healthy win last cycle, and even Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell narrowly lost the 3rd District 51-49 that year while she was winning statewide in a 58-42 landslide. However, if 2020 turns out to be a stronger year for Team Blue than 2018 was, Long will have an opportunity to notch an upset.

Major Democratic super PAC cancels TV ads in Colorado GOP senator's path to re-election collapses

The Democratic group Senate Majority PAC announced Friday that it was canceling its remaining $1.2 million TV reservation in Colorado, a move that's only the latest sign that Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is in dire shape against Democrat John Hickenlooper.

While SMP is the first group that has stopped spending here altogether, Gardner's allies have also largely directed their resources elsewhere. The Denver Post's Justin Wingerter reported on Friday that the NRSC, the committee that Gardner himself chaired just two years ago, had spent $145,000 during the first half of October, a negligible sum for the final weeks of a Senate race.

The Senate Leadership Fund has spent $2 million from the start of October through Friday, which, while a lot more than the NRSC, still is much less than its directed elsewhere. SLF is still running spots here and told Politico that it would continue doing so, but it's clear the super PAC doesn't see this race as a major priority in a cycle where it has so many seats to defend in far more conservative states.

The Gardner campaign responded to SMP's announcement by arguing, "It's clear the Democrats also know John Hickenlooper has no chance of winning," but few fell for that truly uninspired spin. Four surveys have been released so far in October, and they've all shown Hickenlooper ahead by at least 9 points. Every recent poll has also shown Joe Biden far ahead in what a swing state only a few years ago, which makes Gardner's task even tougher.

Republican district in Pennsylvania Trump easily won is now a tossup: analysis

Daily Kos Elections is changing our race ratings in five more contests—four shift in the direction of the Democrats, while one moves to the right. We also now have a total of 10 GOP-held seats rated as Lean Republican or better for Democrats. You can find all our Senate, gubernatorial, and House ratings at each link.

PA-10 (Lean R to Tossup): Republican Rep. Scott Perry narrowly held Pennsylvania's 10th District 51-49 last cycle, but he faces an even tougher challenge next month from state Auditor Eugene DePasquale. National Democrats have released several polls showing DePasquale leading Perry, and they've simultaneously found Joe Biden out front in this Harrisburg-area seat that supported Donald Trump 52-43 in 2016. Perry's allies, meanwhile, have yet to release contradictory numbers. This district is red enough that Trump could still carry it even if he loses Pennsylvania and help get Perry across the finish line, but the incumbent no longer looks like the favorite to hang on.

AK-Sen (Likely R to Lean R): Republican incumbent Dan Sullivan began the year looking like a lock for reelection, but his standing has continually eroded the closer we get to November. We've seen only a few polls of Alaska's Senate race, but they've all shown Sullivan in a tight race against orthopedic surgeon Al Gross, an independent who won the Democratic nomination in August.

Importantly, major outside groups on both sides are behaving like this seat is quite competitive and have continued to spend millions as Election Day draws nearer. Gross has also proven to be a very strong fundraiser, and the senator's campaign has reportedly said it expects to be badly outspent. Sullivan still has the advantage in Alaska, which has long been a reliably red state, but the possibility of an upset looms large.

KS-03 (Lean D to Likely D): Democrat Sharice Davids won an expensive race two years ago to flip Kansas' 3rd Congressional District, but her first reelection campaign in the Kansas City area is looking considerably less eventful. This constituency backed Hillary Clinton 47-46 after supporting Mitt Romney 54-44, and well-educated suburban areas like this have moved even further to the left since then: Democrat Laura Kelly, for instance, romped to a 56-37 win in the 3rd District in her successful bid for governor two years ago.

The only poll we've seen was a late September survey from the Republican firm VCreek/AMG, and it showed Davis beating former state Republican Party chair Amanda Adkins 56-36. Importantly, major outside groups haven't spent anything here this cycle.

NY-24 (Lean R to Tossup): Republican Rep. John Katko held off Democrat Dana Balter 53-47 last cycle, but their rematch in New York's 24th Congressional District looks like it will be even more competitive. A late September poll from Siena showed Balter ahead 42-40, while Joe Biden led 53-34 in a Syracuse-based seat that Hillary Clinton carried just 49-45. Outside groups from both parties have also already spent considerably more money here than they deployed during the entire 2018 contest.

Katko is a strong campaigner who ran dramatically ahead of Trump in 2016 and managed to survive the midterm blue wave. However, political conditions look even worse for the GOP this time than they did two years ago, and Katko will have a tougher time holding on in November.

OR-04 (Safe D to Likely D): Veteran Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio has always won reelection in Oregon's 4th Congressional District with ease, but 2020 is shaping up to be his toughest contest yet. DeFazio faces a credible challenge from former Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, who attracted international attention in 2015 when he helped stop a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train. And while there has been next to no outside spending here in decades, both parties have been airing ads in recent weeks.

This seat, which includes the southern Willamette Valley and Oregon's southern coast, backed Hillary Clinton by a tiny 46.1-46.0 spread, and it's possible that Donald Trump could carry it this year even if Nov. 3 is otherwise a bad night for the GOP. DeFazio has never had trouble winning votes from ticket-splitting Republican voters before, and he's still the front-runner, but this is one to keep an eye on.

Both parties pour millions more into Alaska's surprisingly competitive Senate race

While Alaska's U.S. Senate race looked like just an afterthought for both parties as recently as a few months ago, major outside groups on each side are continuing to book millions here just weeks ahead of Election Day.

Politico's James Arkin reports that a newly established Democratic group called North Star has launched a $4 million ad buy in support of Al Gross, an independent who is running as the Democratic nominee. The first ad stars a local breast cancer survivor, and she takes Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan to task for voting to let insurance companies deny coverage due to preexisting conditions. Arkin also reports that the conservative Senate Leadership Fund will spend $3.7 million here to protect Sullivan, which would bring the super PAC's total planned spending for this race to $5.3 million.

While SLF's investment gives Sullivan's side more firepower, the incumbent is still being very badly outspent. OpenSecrets reports that Gross' allies have already spent $6.6 million in this race, a figure that doesn't yet account for North Star's new offensive, while the only major pro-Sullivan spending was the aforementioned $1.5 million buy from SLF.

Gross also announced that he raised a massive $9 million during the third quarter of 2020—over $1 million more that Sullivan brought in during his entire 2014 campaign. Sullivan hasn't announced his own haul, but Arkin writes that his campaign "has said they expect to be outraised and outspent by a staggering, five-to-one margin."

All of this spending comes despite the fact that very few polls have been released here over the last month, though the few numbers we've seen have shown a close race. In late September, a Harstad Research poll for Al Gross' allies at Independent Alaska showed Sullivan up just 46-45. Donald Trump also led only 47-46, which is not only a big drop from his 51-37 victory here in 2016, it would be the closest presidential contest ever in the Last Frontier state, narrowly topping Richard Nixon's 51-49 win over John F. Kennedy in 1960.

The local firm Alaska Survey Research also released its own poll recently that showed Sullivan and Trump up 48-44 and 50-46, respectively.

Three more House race ratings move in the Democrats' direction — including Darrell Issa's

Donald Trump is continuing to harm his party downballot, which is why Daily Kos Elections is moving three more contests in the direction of the Democrats. You can find all of our Senate, gubernatorial, and House ratings at each link.

CA-50 (Safe R to Likely R): Republican Darrell Issa looked like a sure bet to return to the House after he narrowly prevailed in the March top-two primary for California's 50th Congressional District, but two polls taken over the summer have shown him locked in a surprisingly tight race with Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar.

A late July Campa-Najjar internal from Strategies 360 had Issa ahead 47-43, while an early September SurveyUSA poll showed the Republican up just 46-45. And while Campa-Najjar's team did not disclose the presidential results, SurveyUSA showed Joe Biden ahead 48-45 in an ancestrally Republican seat in inland San Diego County that backed Donald Trump 55-40 in 2016.

Issa, who infamously decided to run here two years after he retired as the congressman from the neighboring—and much bluer—49th District just ahead of the 2018 blue wave, is still favored to prevail here. Despite those numbers from SurveyUSA, it would be a big surprise if Trump lost a seat where Republicans have done well across the ballot for decades. Indeed, it was only two years ago that then-Rep. Duncan Hunter managed to fend off Campa-Najjar 52-48 even though Hunter was under indictment at the time for misusing campaign money.

Still, Campa-Najjar has the resources to run another strong campaign, and these polls give us a good reason to watch this contest.

ME-02 (Tossup to Lean D): Democrat Jared Golden narrowly flipped Maine's 2nd Congressional District following an instant runoff two years ago, but he's run well ahead of former Republican state Rep. Dale Crafts in every poll that's been released in 2020.

Golden also got some encouraging news on Sept. 21 when the Republican ad-tracking firm Medium Buying reported that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) was scaling back its TV reservation here in an apparent sign of confidence, though Daily Kos Elections has not been able to confirm the specifics. But while Crafts faces a major cash deficit, the conservative Congressional Leadership Fund reportedly has $2.35 million booked to aid Crafts, so Team Red is hardly acting like he's doomed.

And while Golden may have the edge now, his victory is not a foregone conclusion. Though polls show that Donald Trump is running well behind his 51-41 victory here from four years ago, he could still carry this district—and its electoral vote—again. Both presidential campaigns are targeting the 2nd, and Trump's spending could end up giving the entire Republican ticket, including Crafts, a boost.

MT-AL (Likely R to Lean R): We've seen an unusually large number of polls of the contest for Montana's At-Large Congressional District, and they almost all show a competitive race. As of Sept. 24, the Daily Kos Elections polling average gives 2018 Democratic nominee Kathleen Williams a 46-44 edge over Republican state Auditor Matt Rosendale, who was the party's losing candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2018.

Williams is still the underdog in Montana, which hasn't given its electoral votes to a Democrat since Bill Clinton narrowly won it in 1992. However, as Rosendale found out the hard way last cycle, voters are still open to backing Democrats for downballot contests. Multiple polls have also found that, while Donald Trump is still ahead in the state, he's coming nowhere close to matching his 56-36 showing from four years ago, which reduces the number of crossover voters that Williams would need to win in order to prevail.

A new poll finds a tight special election contest for Georgia Senate seat

Monmouth’s newest poll of Georgia’s special election for U.S. Senate finds a very tight race to advance to the all-but-certain January runoff, a result that’s very similar to what several other firms have found in recent weeks.

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Here's how to keep track of which House races are hemorrhaging support — but there are several caveats

The Texas Tribune reported Friday that the NRCC had canceled $2 million in ad time for the Houston media market—apparently the committee's entire reservation—and would instead direct that money to other parts of the state.

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Ever heard of a 'top-4' primary? It could be heading to a state near you soon

This post was updated after election authorities in Arkansas certified a top-four measure for the November ballot. 

Top-four ballot measures have also been certified for the ballot in Arkansas and North Dakota. However, there’s still ongoing litigation in each state that could impact whether or not these referendums would take effect if they won.

We’ll start with a look at the Florida top-two ballot initiative, Amendment 3, which needs to win at least 60% of the vote in order to pass. If this measure takes effect, starting in January of 2024, all the candidates in races for governor; the other three state cabinet offices (attorney general, chief financial officer, and commissioner of agriculture); and for the state legislature would each compete on one primary ballot rather than in separate party primaries.

The two contenders with the most votes, regardless of party, would then advance to the general election. Candidates would not be able to avert the general election by taking a majority of the vote in the primary. Amendment 3 would not apply to federal elections such as the presidential or congressional contests due to limitations on the scope of any single initiative.

California and Washington already use the top-two primary (Louisiana also uses a similar all-party primary system that does allow candidates to avoid a second round of voting if they win a majority), and as we’ve written before, it’s notorious for producing outcomes that don't reflect the desires of the electorate. One chief reason why: A party can win a majority of votes cast in the primary, yet get shut out of the general election simply because it fields a large number of candidates while the minority party only puts forth a few, or even just two.

Furthermore, primary electorates often feature very different demographic compositions than higher-turnout general elections, producing greater partisan and racial dissonance between the two rounds. These distortions have seen one party or the other get shut out of general elections in recent years in California and Washington, including in contests they likely would have won if the parties had gotten to nominate candidates through traditional primaries.

Indeed, if the top-two had been in place in 2018 when both parties had competitive primaries for governor, Democrats would have been locked out of the general election. That year, Republican Ron DeSantis would have taken first place with 29%, while fellow Republican Adam Putnam would have beaten Democrat Andrew Gillum 19-17 for second, even though Republicans outvoted Democrats just 51-49.

The only poll we’ve seen all year of Amendment 3 was a late May survey from St. Pete Polls, which found the “no” side ahead 44-35. However, Amendment 3’s backers have received at least $6.2 million from conservative billionaire Mike Fernandez, who has been leading the effort to get the top-two implemented, which gives the campaign the resources to put up a serious fight.

Over in Massachusetts, meanwhile, supporters of instant-runoff voting (also known as ranked-choice voting), are trying to pass Question 2 this November. If Question 2 receives a majority of the vote, then starting in 2022, instant-runoff would be used in both primaries and general elections for governor and other statewide offices; U.S. Senate and House seats; the state legislature; and countywide posts such as district attorney and sheriff. The measure would not impact presidential elections or races for city and town offices.

The only poll we’ve seen this year was an early August survey from MassINC that showed voters deadlocked 36-36 on whether to adopt Question 2. If the measure passes, then Massachusetts would become the second state after Maine to use this method to decide many of its elections.

Finally, voters in AlaskaArkansas, and North Dakota each will have the opportunity to vote in referendums that could make their states the first to adopt a top-four primary. This system would require all the candidates to face off on one primary ballot, and the top four vote-getters would advance. In the general election, voters would then be able to rank their choices using instant-runoff voting. Each of these referendums only needs to win a majority of the vote to pass, but there are some key differences between them.

While each would apply to all congressional, legislative, and statewide races, only Alaska’s Measure 2 would also institute instant-runoff voting for the presidential contest. North Dakota’s Measure 3, meanwhile, would additionally remove the legislature's unfettered control over legislative redistricting and put it in the hands of a bipartisan commission.

North Dakota’s top-four law would also take effect 30 days after approval, Arkansas’ would start Jan. 1, 2021, and Alaska’s measure would begin in 2022. The only poll we’ve seen of any from any these three states was a mid-July survey from the Arkansas League of Women Voters, which supports the top-four measure, from Mercury Analytics that showed respondents agreeing by a 60-28 margin that they support “[a]llow[ing] voters to rank their top four candidates when voting in the general election so voters can have more say in their second choice candidate.”

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Democrats book ad time to defeat the Alaska Republican who has served in House since 1973

The Washington Post reported this week that the DCCC had reserved $10 million in TV time in markets across the country, and a source with knowledge of Democratic media buys has broken down the amounts for us. We've assembled this new data into a spreadsheet and added it to our reservations tracker.

While it will still be difficult for Galvin to defeat Young, who has represented the entire state in the House since 1973, the DCCC’s reservation is the latest indication that this contest will be even more competitive than their last bout. A June Data for Progress Poll showed Galvin ahead 43-42, while a July survey from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, which was conducted on behalf of election enthusiasts on Twitter, gave her a similar 43-41 edge.

Galvin is also in a far better financial position than she was at this point in the 2018 race. Young enjoyed a $435,000 to $250,000 cash-on-hand lead just before last cycle’s primaries, but in late July of this year, it was Galvin who had a $1.4 million to $710,000 edge.

The DCCC and its allies at House Majority PAC had already booked millions in the Phoenix media market, which could either go towards defending Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran in Arizona’s 1st District or going after Republican Rep. David Schweikert in the 6th District, but our source says that the D-Trip’s new $1.1 million reservation is intended to be used against Schweikert. By contrast, neither of the two major GOP groups, the NRCC or Congressional Leadership Fund, have announced any reservations in Phoenix.

Both HMP and CLF have booked millions in the Los Angeles media market, which covers a number of competitive House seats. We’re told the DCCC’s $1.1 million reservation is entirely for California’s 48th District, where freshman Democratic Rep. Harley Rouda faces a very expensive campaign against Republican Michelle Steel. CLF earlier said that $600,000 from its reservation would go to this race.

The DCCC’s new $725,000 reservation is also going towards helping Democratic Rep. Max Rose in New York’s 11th District. The committee had earlier announced it was booking ad time in the market to defend Rep. Tom Malinowski in New Jersey’s 7th District and to flip New York’s open 2nd District.

The DCCC’s $1.4 million reservation for Montana’s only House district comes about two weeks after CLF said it was reserving $500,000 to defend this open GOP-held seat. The D-Trip’s $975,000 reservation to go after Republican Rep. Steve Chabot also comes just after CLF booked $775,000 to aid him.

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Scandal-plagued Florida congressman becomes 8th House Republican incumbent to lose primary in 2020

Republican primary voters in Florida’s 15th Congressional District on Tuesday denied renomination for freshman Rep. Ross Spano, who has been under investigation by the Justice Department since last year due to a campaign finance scandal, and instead gave the GOP nod to Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin.

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Trump and his allies greet racist QAnon ally with warm embrace after her primary win

Wealthy businesswoman Marjorie Greene, a defender of the notorious pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon who has her own litany of racist, Islamophobic, and anti-Semitic rantingsdecisively beat neurosurgeon John Cowan 57-43 in Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff for Georgia’s 14th Congressional District. This seat, which is located in the northwestern part of the state, backed Donald Trump 75-22, and Greene will have no trouble winning the general election to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Tom Graves.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, whose office said back in June that he found Greene’s words “appalling,” also made it clear that she’d be welcomed to the GOP caucus when she takes her seat in January and given committee assignments. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Rep. Doug Collins, who are running against each other in the November all-party primary for Senate, each congratulated Greene on her win as well.

Greene began running for office last year in a very different seat than the one she prevailed in this week. Greene, who was based in Alpharetta in Atlanta’s northwestern suburbs, entered the race to challenge freshman Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath in the 6th District. Greene self-funded $500,000 for that campaign, and she threatened to force former Rep. Karen Handel, who was the national GOP’s choice to take on McBath, to spend valuable time and money in the primary.

It soon became clear, though, that Greene would be an awful GOP nominee in a competitive seat like the 6th District. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last summer that in early October 2017, four days after a lone terrorist named Stephen Paddock murdered 58 people at a concert in the deadliest mass shooting in American history, Greene put out a video where she wondered if the attack was part of a government plot to try to pass anti-gun laws.

Greene kept this up five months later when she shared a post on her Facebook page that accused the FBI of taking part in a cover-up and added, "Every American knows we have been lied to." Greene told the AJC in July of 2019 that she now accepted the official version of events and was satisfied that Paddock acted alone, and she insisted she just "had questions and demanded answers." However, Greene's old Facebook post still remained up by the time the paper's article was published on what is now her own campaign's fan page, though it was removed some time during the following months.

Around that same time, the paper reported that Greene was quite the fan of QAnon. She had used her social media account to issue several tweets defending the conspiracy theory, and Greene even implored her followers to send her any questions about it so she could “walk you through the whole thing.” And in a video that would surface later, Greene said that it offered “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out.”

We’ll never got to find out how much trouble the well-funded Greene could have given Handel because in December, Graves unexpectedly announced that he would retire from the 14th District. Greene soon started expressing interest in running there instead, saying that she’d been encouraged to make the switch by prominent members of the nihilist House Freedom Caucus, including Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan. Greene announced a short time later that she would indeed run to succeed Graves even though her Alpharetta community was located about 20 miles from the nearest community in the sprawling 14th District.

Greene’s district-hopping was soon overshadowed by her own words and associates. In May, the AJC reported that Greene had posed for a photo earlier that year with longtime white supremacist Chester Doles. Greene’s campaign didn’t show the slightest bit of contrition, and it instead dismissed the paper’s questions as “silly and the same type of sleazy attacks the Fake News Media levels against President Trump.” Doles, for his part, called Greene “part of the Q movement” and a “[g]ood friend to have.”

Just before the first round of the primary in June, Greene ran a commercial where she held an assault rifle and told the audience that "antifa terrorists have declared war on America." She then casually threw out some anti-Semitic talking points by declaring, "George Soros, Hollywood elites, and Joe Biden's staff are funding antifa." Facebook later removed the ad from its platform, saying it “advocates the use of deadly weapons against a clearly defined group of people.”

Voters didn’t seem remotely bothered by any of this, though. Greene took first place in the nine-way primary with 40% of the vote, while Cowan was a distant second with 21%. Days later, Politico unearthed hours of self-narrated videos Greene posted to Facebook. In those videos, Greene compared Black Lives Matter activists to the Nazis who marched on Charlottesville in 2017; dubbed "white males" the "most mistreated group of people in the United States today"; called Holocaust survivor George Soros a "piece of crap," repeating the lie that Soros was a Nazi collaborator; and declared that "[t]here is an Islamic invasion into our government offices right now.”

In response to a request for comment from Politico, Greene's campaign manager did not dispute the authenticity of the videos but instead said, "Thank[s] for the reminder about Soros. We forgot to put him in our newest ad. We're fixing that now."

McCarthy’s office soon put out a statement saying that he had "no tolerance" for Greene's rhetoric, but neither he nor NRCC chair Tom Emmer backed Cowan or took any real action to stop her. Indeed, as Politico would later report, there was never any serious outside spending against Greene or for Cowan over the following two months. Greene also maintained the support of White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who is a former Freedom Caucus leader.

Greene herself only doubled down on the strategy that had gotten her this far. She issued more racist and anti-Semitic tweets labeling Cowan “a "globalist Never Trumper who wants even more money for the Chinese-controlled WHO,” and claimed that the same GOP establishment that had opposed Trump was trying to sink her. Greene also ran a commercial where she praised Garrett Rolfe, the former Atlanta police officer who faces murder charges for killing Rayshard Brooks.

Cowan, for his part, tried to position himself as an alternative to Greene with the slogan, “All of the conservative, none of the embarrassment.” But, perhaps sensing that this wasn’t an effective argument among Republican primary voters, Cowan focused his ads instead on allegations that Greene’s construction company didn’t take part in a federal program meant to screen out undocumented immigrants.

Cowan released a few polls showing a close race, but national Republican leaders seemed to sense where things were going. Just before Election Day, McCarthy’s team said that he remained neutral and that he now had “a good and productive relationship with both” candidates.

Greene ultimately pulled off a convincing win against Cowan, and she didn’t waste any time demonstrating that she wouldn’t change now that that primary was over. On election night, Greene said of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “She’s a hypocrite. She’s anti-American. And we’re going to kick that bitch out of Congress.” Republican leaders, including Trump, continued to congratulate Greene for her victory.

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