Monthly Archives: November 2012

Sen. Tim Johnson

Rounds to Challenge Johnson in South Dakota Senate Race

Sen. Johnson

Sen. Tim Johnson

Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds (R) yesterday officially announced a challenge to three-term Sen. Tim Johnson (D) in the 2014 election. This action was expected, since Rounds formed a Senatorial exploratory soon before the November election. He served as South Dakota’s governor from 2003-2011. Because of the state’s term-limits law, Rounds was ineligible to seek re-election in 2010. He garnered 57 percent of the vote in his original campaign, and 62 percent four years later. Prior to his time as governor, Rounds served five two-year terms in the state Senate.

Due to Johnson’s physical condition after suffering a stroke in the latter stages of 2006, many have speculated that he will not seek re-election. Since the Republicans only fielded token opposition to him in 2008, the senator’s first real political test since enduring the unfortunate health situation will come in the next election.

For his part, Johnson issued a statement welcoming Rounds to the race and indicated that he will make a final decision whether to run again next year. Johnson said that he “feels great” and that he intends “to put together a winning campaign in the weeks and months ahead.” Johnson has been in public office consecutively since his original election to the South Dakota House of Representatives in 1978. He went onto serve in the state Senate and the US House of Representatives before winning the Senate seat in 1996.

South Dakota is no stranger to hotly contested and notable Senatorial campaigns in its recent past. In 2002, Johnson nipped then-Rep. John Thune (R-SD-AL) by a mere 524 votes statewide. Two years later, Thune defeated then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D) 50.6 to 49.4 percent in the 2004 general election. Should Johnson decide to retire, former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD-AL) is most often mentioned as a potential Democratic candidate. The senator’s son, Brendan Johnson, who is the sitting US Attorney for the District of South Dakota, is also a potential future candidate for a statewide political office.

McIntyre Wins, Finally, in NC-7

Only one 2012 US House election remains unresolved, as the state of North Carolina has now certified Rep. Mike McIntyre (D) as the winner of their 7th Congressional District contest. After all of the ballots were finally recounted, McIntyre actually gained one tally and secured a now official 654-vote victory over state Sen. David Rouzer (R).

The North Carolina redistricting plan gave McIntyre a much more challenging seat, as thousands of Democratic voters in the Lumberton area were placed in a different district. The changes made the Wilmington-anchored southeastern North Carolina seat a very competitive one and will likely be so again in 2014.

The one remaining House seat to be decided will be finalized in southwest Louisiana (LA-3) on Dec. 8. There, two Republican incumbents face each other in a run-off election since neither captured a majority of the vote in the Nov. 6 statewide primary vote.

Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA-7), originally elected in 2004, and freshman Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA-3) are vying for the new 3rd District. Since the new 3rd is comprised from 76 percent of Boustany’s current constituency and includes his home political base of Lafayette, he is regarded to be the favorite for the run-off. But, as we have repeatedly seen, anything can happen in a low-turnout election.

NOTE: Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s (D-IL-2) post-election resignation has caused a vacancy in his Chicago-anchored seat, which will be filled via special election early next year. The all-important Democratic primary is scheduled for Feb. 26, with the general election to be held March 19. A bill is making its way through the legislature to allow the governor to schedule the special general concurrently with the April 9 local and municipal elections, and is expected to pass. Current law requires all Illinois political vacancies to be filled within a 155-day period after the incumbent officially exits.

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling

Virginia Governor Update

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling

In what will probably become the closest of the 2013 elections, significant action is already occurring in the open Virginia governor’s race. Since this state is the only one in the nation that still imposes a one-term limit on its chief executive, the odd-year election is always incumbent-less and thereby competitive. Next year’s campaign will be no exception.

Already, the Republican nomination situation is coming into focus. Clearly understanding that he could not win majority support in a statewide nominating convention against the more conservative Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is again dropping plans to run for governor — this time with bad blood. Four years ago, Bolling stepped aside to give then-AG Bob McDonnell a clear shot at winning the nomination.

Objecting to the Republican Party of Virginia’s decision to replace a primary election with a convention, Bolling is not only exiting the governor’s race but says he will retire as lieutenant governor, too. “Under normal circumstances, I would be open to the possibility of running for another term as lieutenant governor, but I would not be interested in running on a statewide ticket with Mr. Cuccinelli,” he stated in a parting quote. Bolling’s reluctant action will now give Cuccinelli the opportunity of becoming the consensus Republican candidate.

On the Democratic side, former national committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, who fared poorly in the party’s gubernatorial primary four years ago losing to eventual nominee Creigh Deeds 50-26 percent, is indicating he will be back for another run. Former one-term Congressman Tom Perriello (D-VA-5) is also a potential Democratic candidate.

NOTES:

 
NC-7 Recount

Only one county remains to be re-canvassed in one of the closest House races in the country, the North Carolina contest between Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC-7) and state Sen. David Rouzer (R). When the recount began, McIntyre’s lead was 655 votes. Through the current portion of the almost completed process, the congressman has actually increased his lead by eight votes to a margin of 663 tallies. It is only now a matter of time before McIntyre is awarded an official victory. Expect this Wilmington-anchored 7th District to be a major Republican target in 2014.

New Hampshire Senate

Already, the first 2014 Senate poll has been conducted. Public Policy Polling (Nov. 14-15; 1,018 New Hampshire registered voters) surveyed a hypothetical pairing between first-term Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) and former Sen. John E. Sununu (R). The results stake the incumbent to a 53-42 percent advantage. There is no indication that Sununu will run again, but PPP often tests the most well-known political figures against incumbents before a field of actual challengers comes to the forefront. Sen. Shaheen’s job approval is 51:36 percent favorable to unfavorable.

IL-2 Special on Schedule – Sort Of

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has set the special election to replace resigned Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL-2) for a Feb. 26 primary followed by a March 19 special general election, but the latter date will likely move. Illinois law requires a vacancy to be filled within 155 days of a vacancy occurring.

Quinn’s schedule falls within the current law’s parameters, but with local and municipal elections already scheduled for April 9, a move will be made to consolidate the two voting periods, per the request of local officials. Instead of asking a court to waive the legal requirements as first thought, Quinn will simply ask the legislature upon convening in January to change the special election law with an urgency clause. Such action will give him authority to move the special general election to April 9.

Since this is a heavily Democratic seat, the special general is irrelevant. What does matter is the Democratic primary, and that will stay on Feb. 26, since the municipal nominating contests are also that day.

Already, three candidates have announced their intentions to run. Former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11), who challenged Rep. Jackson in the 2012 Democratic primary, officially joined the race over the weekend. Quickly following her public move was Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale along with state Senator-elect Napoleon Harris. All three are Democrats.

Many more candidates are expected to file before the end of December. Though the district is more than 62 percent African-American, Halvorson hopes a crowded field with no run-off election will allow her to coalesce the minority white vote around her and overtake the majority African-American vote, which will be fractured among multiple contenders. Halvorson scored just under 24 percent against Jackson in March of this year, meaning that she has at least a small base from which to begin this campaign.

Gov. Chris Christie

Good News for Gov. Christie

Gov. Chris Christie

A new Rutgers-Eagleton New Jersey electorate poll (Nov. 14-17; 1,108 registered New Jersey voters) provides Gov. Chris Christie (R) with some very good news. According to the sampling universe, his job approval stands a 67 percent favorable to 26 percent unfavorable. But the better news for Christie is his standing against all potential Democratic rivals.

When paired with state senator and former Gov. Richard Codey, Christie’s margin is 56-31 percent. Against Newark Mayor Corey Booker, the governor stands at 53-34 percent. The numbers are even better when isolated with lesser-known potential Democratic rivals. Matched up against opposing former party chairman Tom Byrne, Christie soars to a 58-22 percent advantage. His gap grows to 60-22 percent when paired with state Sen. Barbara Buono and 60-21 percent when the opponent is Assemblyman Lou Greenwald. None of these individuals is an announced gubernatorial candidate.

Quinnipiac University is scheduled to release its latest New Jersey poll later today, but already leaked that their Christie job approval ratio is a whopping 72:21. It’s hard for a New Jersey Republican to begin an election year in better position. Gov. Christie is eligible to seek a second term next year.

Capito for Senate in W.Va.

West Virginia Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-2nd CD) officially announced that she will challenge Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) next year, becoming the first person of the new election cycle to declare intentions for another office. Though speculation has been heavy that the senator won’t seek a sixth term in 2014, Rockefeller in response to his new challenger, says he plans to run even while disparaging the constancy of the campaign season.

The Republicans scored big with this recruit. Now needing to gain six Democratic seats to achieve bare minimum control, the West Virginia campaign may be behind only North Carolina as a GOP conversion opportunity. Should Sen. Rockefeller reverse course and retire, then Capito would become a prohibitive favorite in an open seat situation.

The congresswoman was originally elected in 2000, and has consistently strengthened her political base with each re-election campaign. This year, she racked up a 70-30 percent win after notching 68 percent of the vote in 2010. Prior to these two elections, her victory percentages had been in the 50s. In a three-congressional district state, Ms. Capito represents one-third of the state’s voters and West Virginia’s largest urban area of Charleston.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL-2)

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Resignation is Official

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL-2)

Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s (D-IL-2) resignation from the House became official on Nov. 21, thus starting the special election clock. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) will make an announcement today setting the election calendar, but local officials in the three-county region that comprises the 2nd District have already asked for a waiver from the scheduling law. Should Quinn agree to bypass the special election timing requirement, judicial approval will be required.

Illinois election law states that the governor has five days to call a special election in the event of a vacancy in Congress or for state office. The vacancy is supposed to be filled within 115 days after the date of resignation, but the county officials are asking that the election be postponed to coincide with their municipal and local elections already scheduled for April 9. The special election law would require that both the nominating and special general elections occur before March 16. Quinn has already indicated that his election calendar plan will be both “… fair to the electorate and as economical as possible for taxpayers,” according to his original statement. It is expected that he will make the election concurrent with the regular municipal election date since the two dates are only three weeks apart.

The election officials have also requested that the governor place the nominating election on the same date as their regularly scheduled municipal and local primary, which is Feb. 26. Since the 2nd District is heavily Democratic, it is this party’s primary vote that will be determinative, as the general election will merely be pro forma. Therefore, it is the February date that becomes critical for this replacement process.

Jackson’s resignation is due to health reasons and an ongoing federal investigation into whether he illegally used campaign funds to cover personal expenses, as outlined in his official letter to Speaker John Boehner.

Expect a large Democratic field to compete in the special primary. Already, former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11), originally elected in the old 11th District but defeated in 2010 after one term, has officially announced her candidacy. She opposed Jackson in the 2012 Democratic primary but secured only 23.6 percent of the vote.

Since Illinois has no run-off, Halvorson is hoping to unify the smaller white vote, which may be enough to secure victory if the African-Americans split among many candidates. IL-2 has a black population of 62.4 percent. Two other majority African-American districts, Tennessee’s 9th CD (Rep. Steve Cohen) and Michigan’s 14th (Rep. Gary Peters), currently send white males to Washington, winning under similar circumstances to what Halvorson hopes will occur in this upcoming special election.

Other individuals said to be considering running to replace Jackson are the former congressman’s brother Jonathan Jackson, prominent local Chicago pastor Corey Brooks, attorney Sam Adam Jr., state senators Toi Hutchison and Donne Trotter, Chicago Aldermen Anthony Beale and Will Burns, and former state Reps. David Miller and Robin Kelly. All are Democrats.

The 2nd District encompasses the south Chicago area in Cook County and includes part of Will County and all of Kankakee.

Unexpected Voter Turnout Patterns

We wish you the best for the happiest of Thanksgiving holidays. The PRIsm Political Updates will return Monday, Nov. 26.

The official state participation and candidate preference statistics are being released throughout the nation, and many of the numbers are quite surprising. While turnout was down nationally, it was up in most of the battleground states and, despite Pres. Barack Obama’s victory, it may be erroneous to assume that the turnout pattern completely favored him.

While it is clear the president obviously benefited from the voting preferences of the aggregate group of people who cast ballots during the election process, it is interesting to note that he was only able to return 91.5 percent of the total vote he received in 2008. In contrast, losing national Republican nominee Mitt Romney retained 99.4 percent of John McCain’s 2008 vote. Obviously Romney needed to do better than to simply equal McCain’s vote, but it is significant that Obama’s share of the vote declined by almost a full 10 percent from what he obtained four years ago, especially when understanding that the Obama campaign clearly had the superior grassroots organization.

Nationally, and rather astonishingly from what was widely forecast before the election, overall voter turnout was down six million votes from the number cast in 2008, or a fall-off of 4.7 percent. It appears that virtually all of the drop-off came from the Obama coalition, as the president’s vote receded by almost that same amount as did the national turnout (voter participation reduction: 6,148,768 individuals; Obama drop: 5,917,631 votes).

The four core states also recorded interesting turnout patterns. Of the quartet of places that Romney needed to convert if he were to unseat the president, it was North Carolina — the only state in this group that he did carry — that had the highest participation rate increase from 2008. North Carolina voter turnout was up 4.5 percent in comparison to their aggregate number of voters from four years ago. Virginia and Florida, two of the three core states that remained with the president, also saw increased participation. Virginia was up 3.5 percent; Florida 1.0 percent.

Ohio, often believed to be the most important state in the presidential contest because it was viewed to be a national bellwether, surprisingly recorded a lower turnout this year than during the previous Obama victory campaign. Ohio turnout was down a rather substantial 5.9 percent, or greater than 336,000 participants from 2008.

Of those seven states commonly viewed to be in the secondary target group — at least one of which Romney would have had to have carried to be successful, more if he failed to carry all of the core states — four saw increased participation, and three declined. The states producing a greater number of voters were in the Midwest (Wisconsin, up 2.4 percent; Iowa, increasing 1.9 percent) and West (fast-growing Nevada adding 4.5 percent; Colorado, up 3.1 percent).

The three eastern and Mid-Atlantic states all recorded a smaller voter participation rate. Pennsylvania, always considered a swing state and a place that attracts a great deal of campaign attention, saw its voter turnout rate fall 6.1 percent; Michigan, the only state in the Union that actually lost population in the preceding decade, dropped 5.7 percent; and New Hampshire returned almost the same number of voters, coming in just 5,091 ballots under their 2008 total.

It appears the biggest voter drop-off occurred in some of the nation’s largest states, those that are most Democratic and among the president’s strongest places. His home state of Illinois, for example, saw more than 431,000, or 7.8 percent, fewer people vote this year than when compared to their favorite son’s first election in 2008. New York had the largest drop-off, a stunning 19.8 percent below its participation level of four years ago. California, the nation’s largest state, was off 12.5 percent. But, lower turnout rates were not confined only to the large Democratic states. Texas, the biggest and most loyal Republican entity, also saw a reduction in turnout. Over 112,000 fewer voters went to the polls in 2012 when compared to 2008.

More analysis will be completed when additional data is available, but these statewide turnout numbers may have produced more questions about the nation’s voting patterns than answers.

Rep. Charles Boustany

La. House Race Still to be Decided

Rep. Charles Boustany

All but one of the 2012 US House races have been called and further legal challenges and recounts in at least two districts notwithstanding, a group of 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats will take the oath of office on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013. Though we know the partisan count, the identity of the 234th Republican member is still undetermined. The election cycle’s final campaign will feature Louisiana GOP Reps. Charles Boustany (R-LA-7) and Jeff Landry (R-LA-3) vying for the right to represent the state’s new 3rd District on Dec. 8.

Under Louisiana election law, the state’s primary date is scheduled concurrently with the national general election day, meaning that Bayou State voters went to the polls for the first time just this past Nov. 6th. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in what is commonly called the jungle primary, then a run-off election between the top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, is held at a later date. California and Washington also use this system, but Louisiana is the only one that holds their primary concurrently with the general election. Because they choose this electoral method, the state’s voters can elect a candidate outright without a second election. In the other jungle primary states, candidates must advance to the run-off election regardless of the percentage received.

Due to national growth patterns and after-effects of the devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Louisiana failed to keep all seven of its congressional districts in reapportionment. Therefore, two members would inevitably be forced into a pairing. The legislature placed veteran Rep. Boustany, elected in 2004, and freshman Landry together in a new southern district. The new seat heavily favors Boustany, because he currently represents 76 percent of the territory and his home base of Lafayette is included whole. Landry sees only 24 percent of his current 3rd District constituency carry over to the new LA-3.

In terms of campaign funding, the two will undoubtedly raise and spend more than $5 million combined. So far, Boustany has obtained just under $3 million, spending $2.64 million and retaining $917,612 for the period beginning October 18th. Landry raised $1.832 million, already spent $1.194 million and had $638,316 in the bank at the close of the Oct. 17 pre-general election reporting period.

Though the outcome will not change the House’s new partisan division, the final result will still be interesting. The pairing is clearly designed for Boustany to win — and he placed first in the Nov. 6 primary election garnering 45-30 percent, a margin of 45,589 votes. But strange things often happen in run-offs. Landry enjoys strong support among the Tea Party activists of southern Louisiana, but exactly what impact they will have in what promises to be a low-turnout election remains unknown.

In another boost for Rep. Boustany occurring just yesterday, the primary’s third place finisher, Democrat Ron Richard who recorded 21.5 percent (67,058 votes), publicly threw his support behind the veteran congressman.

After a winner is declared here on Dec. 8, the new 2014 election cycle will officially begin.

The Final Electoral Score

The electoral results announced this weekend produced a Democratic clean sweep of the political overtime campaigns. All US House races now possess either an official or definitive winner with the exception of the double-Republican run-off in Louisiana’s 3rd District (to be decided Dec. 8). On election night, all but nine races were called forcing a tight count of the early, absentee and provisional ballots in the affected jurisdictions not producing a winning candidate.

Though each of the nine campaigns were originally too close to call, final projections released over the weekend proclaimed Democrats as winners in the remaining outstanding elections, joining those previously declared overtime victors. The final results in AZ-2, NC-7, and FL-18 completed the Democratic sweep.

After Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ-2) expanded his lead to 1,402 votes of more than 285,000 cast with only about 15,000 absentee ballots remaining as of late Friday, Republican Martha McSally conceded the election to the short-term House member on Saturday afternoon. Barber was originally elected in June to fulfill resigned Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ unexpired term. Running in the regular election for the newly configured 2nd District, Barber ran into a much more difficult competitor in McSally than originally forecast. It would not be surprising to see the two square off again in 2014, as the former Gulf War veteran and Air Force pilot received high marks for her ability as a candidate.

Also on Friday in southeast North Carolina, Rep. Mike McIntyre (D), who had been redistricted into a much more Republican seat, officially clinched re-election over state Sen. David Rouzer (R). The final tally separates the two candidates by 655 votes, a spread that falls within the legally proscribed margin to trigger an automatic recount. Though all the ballots will be officially counted again, the outcome is likely to remain the same and McIntyre will almost assuredly serve a ninth term in the House.

Rep. Allen West’s (R-FL-18) post-election saga continues but, barring an unforeseen development in the final early voting count, Democrat Patrick Murphy has defeated the outspoken one-term incumbent. Even after recounting the final three days of received early ballots resulted in West gaining on Murphy and both candidates seeing their vote totals decline, St. Lucie County Circuit Judge Larry Schack denied the congressman’s motion to re-tabulate all of the early ballots. But, in a surprise move on Friday, the St. Lucie County Election Commission voted 2-1 to grant West’s request.

Despite the commission decision, and with Murphy’s lead now expanding to more than 2,100 votes, it is highly unlikely that the result will be overturned. West will then have to decide whether to make a post-certification legal challenge once the results are deemed to be final and official.

All Florida counties were required to report their final canvass results to the Secretary of State yesterday. The state must certify all of the state’s elections on November 20th.

In addition to the aforementioned results, the previously declared overtime winners are Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT-4), California challengers Raul Ruiz (D-CA-36), Ami Bera (D-CA-7), and Scott Peters (D-CA-52), and Arizona open seat candidates Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ-9). The House will divide with 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats, a net gain of eight seats for the Dems.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Virginia Numbers Tell the Tale

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The Virginia State Board of Elections just released their 2012 results segmented by congressional district, the first state to do so, and the data give us further insight as to why Pres. Barack Obama again carried the Old Dominion. The state was long known to be one of the determining voting entities of the campaign, therefore the refined and newly released information carries national significance.

Statewide, voter turnout was reported to be 75.9 percent of the registered voters recorded as “active” by the Virginia state elections officials. The highest turnout district was that of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA-7), as 82.8 percent of the central Virginia active registered voters participated. The lowest turnout rate was found in Rep. Gerry Connolly’s (D) northern Virginia 11th District where only 68.9 percent of active registered voters went to the polls.

At the congressional level, eight of the 11 districts were drawn to favor Republicans. The map performed as designed, because the eight GOP congressional incumbents all won re-election. In the presidential race, however, Obama obviously outperformed his Democratic congressional running mates, but only carried one more district than they. Obama won Districts 2 (Rep. Scott Rigell-R), 3 (Rep. Bobby Scott-D), 8 (Rep. Jim Moran-D), and 11 (Rep. Connolly). Therefore, despite GOP nominee Mitt Romney carrying seven of 11 congressional districts, he still lost the state. Obama’s official margin over Romney was 149,279 votes, meaning at least this many people are ballot switchers or did not vote in their individual congressional race.

Perhaps the most extraordinary finding is how Romney’s performance compared to the Republican congressional candidates. In all but one CD, the Republican congressional candidate recorded more votes than Romney. The lone exception was the western-most 9th District, commonly called “The Fighting Ninth” or the “coal district.” Here, Romney scored 11,456 votes more than Rep. Morgan Griffith (R), even though the latter was winning a convincing 61.3 percent re-election victory.

But it is the Northern Virginia seats where the most eye-opening results occurred. Despite not running competitive campaigns against Reps. Moran and Connolly, Republican candidates J. Patrick Murray and Chris Perkins in Districts 8 and 11, respectively, actually recorded more votes than did Romney. Murray secured 4,933 more votes than the Republican presidential nominee; Perkins garnered 9,441 tallies greater than Romney’s total. But none can come close to the results found in the new 10th District, where veteran Rep. Frank Wolf (R) out-polled Romney by 38,362 votes.

To put this in perspective, even though Murray received only 30.6 percent support against Moran and Perkins 35.5 percent in opposing Connolly, more people voted for them in these two districts than for Romney.

The other determining region was the Tidewater area, where the former Massachusetts governor failed to carry Rep. Rigell’s District 2 (he scored 48.6 percent there) and ran 12,466 votes behind the congressman, who won his first re-election with 53.7 percent. The other marginal Republican Tidewater CD, Rep. Randy Forbes’ (R) 4th District, showed an even greater difference between Romney and the congressional candidate. Here, Forbes ran 18,287 votes ahead of the man at the top of his party’s ticket. Romney eked out a 50.1 percent win over Obama, while Forbes racked up 56.9 percent in clinching his sixth re-election.

Comparing the presidential and congressional races to the Senate campaign between eventual winner Tim Kaine (D), the state’s former governor, and ex-Sen. George Allen (R), it was the Democratic candidate who carried the majority of the congressional seats — six to the Republican’s five. In addition to the seats that went for Obama (Districts 2, 3, 8 and 11), Kaine also carried Republican districts 4 and 10.

In more Virginia news, Quinnipiac University (Nov. 8-12; 1,469 registered Virginia voters) just released the first public survey of next year’s gubernatorial contest. Not surprisingly, the results determined that popular Sen. Mark Warner (D) would easily defeat both known Republican aspirants, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Warner’s margins are 53-33 percent over Bolling and a similar 56-33 percent when paired with Cuccinelli. There has been speculation that Warner might enter the state’s 2013 governor’s race, thus giving him a better platform from which to launch a presidential campaign in 2016.

Former Democratic National Committee chairman and 2009 gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe was likewise tested against the two Republicans. These match-ups suggest a much closer statewide race. Against Bolling, McAuliffe jumps out to a slight 38-36 percent lead; the margin becomes 41-37 percent when Cuccinelli is inserted as the hypothetical Republican nominee.

House Developments

Three new members of the House were officially sworn in to complete partial terms, and a fourth will be in a matter of days. The quartet of special election winners are replacing members who resigned early or, in the case of New Jersey Rep. Donald Payne Sr., passed away. All but one were also elected to a full term. The exception is Michigan Democrat Dave Curson who won the special election to serve the remainder of resigned Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s term but lost the regular election to Republican Kerry Bentivolio. The latter will join the freshman class in January. The new official members are Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1) replacing Gov.-Elect Jay Inslee (D), and Thomas Massie (R-KY-4) succeeding resigned Rep. Geoff Davis (R). Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ-10), who will take over for his late father, will be sworn in later this week.

Turning to the outstanding House races, California Democrats Ami Bera (CA-7) and Scott Peters (CA-52) continue to expand their leads over Reps. Dan Lungren and Brian Bilbray. It appears only a matter of time before both are declared victorious. Bera’s lead is now greater than 3,000 votes; Peters’ just under that number.

In Florida, Rep. Allen West (R-FL-18) has filed a lawsuit to have all of the St. Lucie County early ballots counted. Recounting the final three days of received early voting tallies resulted in both he and his Democratic opponent losing votes. West now trails by more than 1,700 votes, but that is a reduction from an original deficit that exceeded 2,300. Meanwhile his opponent, Democrat Patrick Murphy is in Washington, D.C., and attending freshman orientation. Further research into the double-counting of St. Lucie County ballots is appearing to cut against West’s original claims. The post-election saga here is likely to continue for some time but it appears the eventual final outcome will favor Murphy.

california

Race Updates; Freshmen Stats

The remaining two California House races are developing clear and similar trends as more ballots are counted and reported. Both Reps. Dan Lungren (R-CA-7) and Brian Bilbray (R-CA-52) are falling considerably behind their Democratic challengers.

In Lungren’s case, physician Ami Bera has now jumped ahead by 3,284 votes in the last publicly released count with approximately 50,000 ballots left to verify and count. Bera’s lead has grown consistently since Election Day, when he led by less than 1,000 votes. In San Diego, Port Commission chairman Scott Peters has increased his lead to 1,899 votes with about 60,000 remaining to count. This race, too, showed less than a 1,000 vote differential on Election Day. The most recent trend is likely to yield two more Democratic congressional victories. If the challengers do go onto win, the new California delegation split will be 38D-15R, a gain of four Democratic seats.

Five Golden State districts can expect to see major competition in 2014, when the lower mid-term turnout could pose more favorable results for Republicans. Newly elected members in the 7th (Bera) and 52nd (Peters) districts, should they ultimately end in a Democratic victory, can expect strong re-election competition, as will freshman in the marginal 26th District (Rep.-Elect Julia Brownley; Ventura County), and the 36th District where Dr. Raul Ruiz defeated Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R). These seats were designed to be competitive for most of the decade. Republican Gary Miller who won the new 31st District after two Republicans surprisingly qualified for the general election can expect a strong Democratic challenger next time.

The new freshmen are beginning to file into Washington for orientation, and more is being learned about them and the electoral patterns that we all just witnessed. In the House, a minimum of 80 new freshmen will be sworn into office in January, more once the five outstanding races are settled. A dozen new senators will also take their seats as the new year begins.

Unlike the past three election cycles, 2012 proved to be an incumbents’ year. Pres. Barack Obama was, of course, re-elected as were all but one US senator (Scott Brown of Massachusetts) who chose to seek another term. In the House, not counting those members who faced their colleagues in paired incumbent situations, 368 sought re-election and a minimum of 344 were victorious. Therefore, the total congressional incumbent retention factor is right around 94%, proving that the electorate is returning to its pro-incumbent predisposition.

Of the 12 new senators, six are current members of the House of Representatives, three are former statewide officials (two governors and an attorney general), two are from the legal and private sector, and one is a state legislator.

Turning to the 80 known House freshmen, nine are former US House members, 29 are current or former state legislators, 21 from the legal and private sector, 14 currently hold or formerly held local office, three are federal officials, two physicians, and a pair of career military officers.

As you can see, these numbers represent quite a change from the previous House where a full 40 members held no previous political office of any kind.

Another Race Called; West Gains in Recount

Arizona election officials have called the new 9th Congressional District race for Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, a former state senator. She has defeated Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker, Republican. With 100% of the precincts reporting, Sinema has 48.3% to Parker’s 45.3%, a difference of 6,500 votes, exactly. There are further ballots to count, but not enough to alter the outcome.

Sinema won the early vote 49.1% to 44.9%, but outpaced Parker on Election Day by only 98 votes. So far in the counting, 154,267 votes were cast early versus 62,080 on Election Day. Sinema’s victory means just one Arizona congressional race remains undecided, that in the new 2nd District, a campaign between Rep. Ron Barber (D) and challenger Martha McSally (R). Earlier in the post-election process, former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) was declared the winner in the new 1st District.

Turning to the outstanding 18th District in the state of Florida, the court-ordered recount of the St. Lucie County early votes seems to be giving Rep. Allen West’s (R) claims of an irregular counting process some support. Already, in the first stage of the special canvass — the ballots received in the final three days of the early voting period — both candidates’ vote totals have been reduced. West originally charged that votes were double-counted.

In the new counting, West has seen his vote total fall 132 votes, but Democrat Patrick Murphy’s total receded by 667 votes. This allows the one-term congressman to move a net 535 votes closer to his challenger. West is now 1,907 votes behind, district-wide.

The results certainly give the congressman more evidence to call for a full recount. On election night, the totals yielded West an approximate 1,700 vote lead. Once the St. Lucie early votes were added, the totals swung by about 4,000 votes in Murphy’s favor. West argues there were not enough votes cast to allow for such a swing margin, hence his double-counting charge.

Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA-5)

Bono Mack Loses; West in Recount; Other Election Updates

We’re learning more about the eight outstanding House races, and one thing is clear: The trends that so favored the Democrats on Election Day are continuing in political overtime.

Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA-45)

Rep. Mary Bono Mack
Congresswoman Bono Mack who succeeded her late husband in Congress, Rep. Sonny Bono upon his untimely death in early 1998, conceded her re-election contest to physician Raul Ruiz on Saturday in California’s Riverside County/Palm Desert region. The current results, which continue to evolve because California non-Election Day votes are still being counted, put the eight-term congresswoman 7,336 votes behind Ruiz. Such a deficit is too large to overcome considering the number of outstanding votes, hence her decision to concede.

The new 36th District contains 75% of the territory from Ms. Bono Mack’s current 45th District and actually became two points more Republican in redistricting, but this year’s Democratic political tide was too much for her to overcome.

Reps. Dan Lungren & Brian Bilbray
In northern California, at the end of counting on Friday, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA-7) had fallen further behind his challenger, physician Ami Bera (D). Trailing by just 184 votes on Election Day, Lungren now faces a 1,779 vote deficit with still more than 70,000 ballots remaining.

In the San Diego area, we find a similar trend. There, San Diego Port Commission chairman and ex-City Councilman Scott Peters has extended his lead over Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA-52) to 1,334 votes. Approximately 80,000 ballots remain to be counted. With such large pools of ballots still remaining, anything can still happen in both of these districts, but clearly the first reported non-Election Day counts favor the Democrats in both districts.

Rep. Allen West
Turning to southeast Florida, Rep. Allen West (R-FL-18) is encountering a different problem than awaiting a long ballot counting process, but he appears to be having at least a modicum of success in waging his voting irregularity argument. Virtually all of the ballots have been counted here — only those from the military and overseas remain — and West trails attorney Patrick Murphy (D) by 2,442 votes. The congressman’s claim concerns the tabulation of early votes in St. Lucie County. The original election night count gave West about a 1,700 vote lead. When St. Lucie County election officials decided to recount the early votes, based upon a reported technical glitch, the margin shifted by more than 4,000 votes in Murphy’s favor. On Friday, a local judge ordered the 37,000+ St. Lucie County early votes to be recounted. The crux of the West argument is that some of the early votes were double-counted with those cast on Election Day.

Arizona
Counting continues in two undecided Arizona congressional districts. In the tight 2nd District, Rep. Ron Barber (D), who won his seat in a June special election, for the first time leads former Gulf War veteran Martha McSally (R). When counting ended Friday, Barber had taken a 289-vote lead. There could still be as many as 40,000 ballots to count. In the new 9th District, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema continues to lead Republican Vernon Parker, as she has virtually from the beginning. With tens of thousands of ballots remaining, Sinema’s lead has now increased to a substantial 4,710 votes.

Rep. Mike McIntyre
In North Carolina’s 7th District, the re-count trend has favored Republican David Rouzer in his quest to unseat Rep. Mike McIntyre (D). With the counting process continuing, McIntyre’s lead is now down to 394 votes. The final tally is due to be reported on Nov. 16th. Since it is almost a certainty that the end result will fall within a 1% margin, a full recount will be ordered in compliance with state election law. This result will likely hang in limbo for several more weeks.

Rep. Jim Matheson
Counting also continues in Utah’s close 4th Congressional District race even though Republican challenger Mia Love has already conceded to Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT-4). The congressman’s margin in 2,646 votes, and an eventual Matheson victory will be the final official result.

Florida
Turning to the one outstanding state in the presidential contest, Florida election officials have declared Pres. Barack Obama the winner of the Sunshine State vote, meaning the final Electoral College margin is 332-206 in the president’s favor.

Washington
The one remaining Governor’s race has also been decided. Former Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA-1) has been declared the winner of the Washington gubernatorial race, defeating Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) 51-49%.