Category Archives: Election Analysis

Early House Outlook – Part III

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 22, 2021 — Continuing with our electoral preview for the US House, today we look at 13 states in the country’s northeastern region. Monday, we conclude in the south.


• Connecticut – 5 Seats (5D)

With all of the Nutmeg State’s five congressional districts venturing past the 700,000 resident mark, each of Connecticut’s CDs appear secure after the state lost a seat in 2010 reapportionment. With Democrats holding the redistricting pen, expect only perfunctory changes in the congressional delegation map with each incumbent being awarded a safe seat. All were re-elected in 2021 within a vote percentage range between 56 and 65.


• Illinois – 18 Seats (13D5R)

Democrats have a big advantage in the Illinois delegation and, with the party leaders in control of the redistricting pen, their edge is positioned to expand. Despite the Republicans holding less than half of the number of Democratic seats comprising the delegation, it is one of the Dem’s members who is likely to be paired with another incumbent.

The state has actually lost population (approximately 250,000 residents) when compared with the 2010 census, meaning Illinois will certainly lose one CD with the outside possibility of dropping two. Since the major population loss is coming from the downstate area, the Democrat map drawers will have little trouble taking the seat from the Republicans and can justify such a draw based upon the region losing so many people. This, even though Rep. Cheri Bustos’ (D-Moline) seat has the lowest population figure in the state.

The Chicago area gives the Democrats some redistricting challenges, however. Three of their metro incumbents, Reps. Marie Newman (D-La Grange), Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove), and Lauren Underwood (D-Naperville) scored re-election percentages of 56.4, 52.8, and 50.7 respectively, meaning all three will be lobbying to add more Democrats to their districts. Their lower win percentages are a clue that the metro districts are already stretched to the maximum from a Democratic perspective, so it’s possible such an over-reach could have backfire potential.


• Indiana – 9 Seats (2D7R)

The nine Hoosier State seats also appear secure from a population standpoint, so Indiana looks to be a sure bet to retain all of its nine congressional districts. One seat to watch from a competitive perspective is that of freshman Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville), who won an Indianapolis suburban CD in a tight 50-46 percent margin. Democrats will target her in 2022. All of the veteran incumbents seeking re-election broke the 61 percent mark. Freshman Democrat Frank Mrvan (D-Highland/Gary) succeeded retiring Rep. Peter Visclosky (D) with a 57-40 percent victory margin.


• Maine – 2 Seats (2D)

The Pine Tree State again holds two districts with smaller base population figures for the coming decade, one from the north and the other south. Democrats hold both and will control the redistricting pen but with only approximately 30,000 people needing to move from the southern 1st District (Rep. Chellie Pingree-D) to the northern 2nd (Rep. Jared Golden-D), the map will only change marginally. The 2nd CD is the more competitive seat of the two and will again be contested but the state’s Ranked Choice Voting system tends to give the Democrats an added advantage.


• Massachusetts – 9 Seats (9D)

The Bay State, home to one of the Democrats’ most loyal constituencies in the entire country, will retain its nine districts after dropping a seat in the 2010 reapportionment. All nine Democratic incumbents are safe and will continue to be so. The victory percentage range fell between 58-74 percent for the nine current Democratic incumbents, all but one of whom was running for re-election.


• Michigan – 14 Seats (7D7R)

Michigan redistricting will be different in 2021 with the introduction of a voter-passed redistricting commission. The citizen members will be tasked with reducing the 14-member delegation to 13, and Republicans will likely find themselves on the short end. Rep. John Moolenaar’s (R-Midland) 4th CD looks to be the most vulnerable. The districts in the northern part of the state all must gain population, and with Rep. Moolenaar’s seat being surrounded by the rest, his is the most likely to be split in pieces order to feed the others.

Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly/Lansing) and Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills), with respective 2020 win percentages of 50.9 and 50.2, will be in need of more Democrats that may not be forthcoming. Therefore, we could see a more competitive Michigan congressional delegation at least in the early part of the new decade.
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Early House Outlook – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 21, 2021 — Continuing with our electoral stage preview for the US House, today we look at 12 states in the country’s central region. Tomorrow and the following Monday, we move further east.


• Arkansas – 4 Seats (4R)

Arkansas holds four Republican districts, and the GOP controls the redistricting pen. They will obviously attempt to draw a new map that protects all four incumbents, and they should be able to do so with relative ease as the state continues to move toward the ideological right.

Arkansas had previously received Justice Department approval to draw a map where all of its 75 counties whole within the individual congressional districts, and thus exceeding the plus-or-minus one individual congressional district population variance requirement.


• Iowa – 4 Seats (1D3R)

Iowa has a hybrid redistricting system. The legislature voluntarily cedes power to a particular legislative committee, which then draws the four congressional districts based upon a mathematical population algorithm without regard to incumbent residences or political preferences. The legislature must then approve or reject the map without amendment.

The current map has produced competitive districts as is evidenced in the 2nd District being decided by just six votes in the 2020 election. Three of the state’s four CDs have seen both Republican and Democratic representation during this decade. It is likely we will see the process produce a similar map later this year.


• Kansas – 4 Seats (1D3R)

Both parties have seats at the redistricting table as Republicans control the state House and Senate while Democrats have the governorship. Republicans will attempt to at least protect the status quo but Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly can be expected to hold out for a 2R-2D plan. Any prolonged impasse will send the map to either a state or federal court in order to produce an interim map for the coming 2022 election.


• Louisiana – 6 Seats (0D4R; 2 Vacancies)

The more immediate political task Louisiana sees is filling its two vacant congressional districts. The New Orleans-Baton Rouge 2nd District has no representation because Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) resigned to accept a White House appointment from the Biden Administration. Rep-Elect Luke Letlow (R) tragically passed away after his election and before he was officially sworn into office. Therefore, both seats will be filled in a two-tiered March 20/April 24 special election calendar.

Republicans control the legislature, but Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) holds the veto pen. The number of seats will remain constant since the population appears relatively even through the state’s six districts. The 1st (Rep. Steve Scalise-R) and the 6th (Rep. Garret Graves-R) are over-populated while the 4th (Rep. Mike Johnson-R) and the 5th (Letlow vacancy) will need to gain residents.
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Early House Outlook – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 20, 2021 — With the presidential Inauguration dominating political attention this week, it is a good time to set the upcoming electoral stage for the US House on a 50-state basis. Today, a first of a four-part series, will begin to look at the 13 western states. During the rest of the week, we will move eastward.


• Alaska – 1 Seat (1R)
Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), the Dean of the House, won his 25th term in November with a 54-45 percent victory in a competitive race. With Alaska being an at-large state, reapportionment and redistricting won’t change the political situation. The big question surrounding the 87-year-old congressional veteran is when will he retire?


• Arizona – 9 Seats (5D4R)
The Arizona population growth rate makes them a cinch to gain a 10th District in reapportionment. It is also clear that the new seat will be placed in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Arizona has a redistricting commission comprised of two Democrats, two Republicans, and one Independent. The latter member becomes the chairman. The membership has not yet been chosen.

The state’s marginal nature suggests that we will see a very competitive state once all 10 seats are in place. Currently, there are two districts where the winning House member received 52 percent of the vote or less. This means GOP Rep. David Schweikert (2020 winning percentage: 52.2) and Democratic incumbent Tom O’Halleran (2020 winning percentage: 51.6) will be looking to add more Republicans and Democrats to their seats, respectively.

An open governor’s race (Republican Gov. Doug Ducey ineligible to seek a third term) and what should be a competitive re-election for Sen. Mark Kelly (D) could cause open seats in the House delegation should any of the sitting members attempt to run statewide.


• California – 53 Seats (42D11R)
For the first time in history, the Golden State appears positioned to lose a seat in their US House delegation. With migration exiting the state exceeding those incoming, it appears the California growth rate did not keep up with the specified threshold in order to keep all of their 53 seats. The Los Angeles area is likely to absorb the loss of the seat, but which member will be paired with another is an open question.

California voters adopted an initiative before the 2010 census that established a citizens’ commission to administer redistricting under strict parameters that emphasizes keeping cities and counties whole when possible and irrespective of where any particular incumbent may reside. Therefore, with the mapping power removed from the legislature, it is possible that inside Democratic politics might play a lesser role in the redistricting process.

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The Late Luke Letlow’s Widow to Run

By Jim Ellis

Late last week, Julia Letlow (above), widow of late Louisiana Republican Rep.-Elect Luke Letlow, announced that she will run for her late husband’s seat, issuing a statement saying she wants to “ … continue the mission Luke started.” Luke Letlow, 41, passed away Dec. 29, 2020 from a heart attack while battling COVID-19.

Jan. 18, 2021 — On Dec. 5, former congressional chief of staff Luke Letlow (R) won a big election victory, scoring a 62-38 percent Louisiana runoff victory to secure the 5th Congressional District seat and replace his retiring boss, retiring Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto). Just 24 days later and before even being sworn into the House, Letlow, 41, tragically passed away from cardiac arrest after contracting COVID-19.

Late last week, his widow, Julia Letlow, issued a statement saying she wants to “ … continue the mission Luke started — to stand up for our Christian values, to fight for our rural agricultural communities and to deliver real results to move our state forward.” The comments were part of her announcement declaring her own candidacy for the 5th District special election to replace her late husband.

Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) has scheduled both the vacant 2nd District (Rep. Cedric Richmond-D has accepted a position in the Biden Administration and officially resigned from the House last Friday) and the 5th CD special elections for March 20, with a runoff on April 24 should no one receive majority support in the first vote. The candidate filing deadline for both seats is a week from today, Jan. 22.

So far, the LA-5 candidate field has been slow to form largely in anticipation of Julia Letlow becoming a contender. At this point, Democrat Candy Christophe, who missed qualifying for the regular election runoff by just 428 votes, is an announced special election candidate. The only other currently declared contender is frequent GOP candidate Allen Guillory. State Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria), who qualified for the regular runoff election and lost to Luke Letlow, has not yet indicated whether he will enter the special election campaign.

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Comparing 2020 & 2016

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 15, 2021 — Now that the presidential numbers are final and certified in all 50 states, we can begin to draw comparisons between the two Trump election years and see the states where movement was most significant.

The 2020 election results show interesting parallels in the race between President Donald Trump and President-Elect Joe Biden and the 2016 race between Trump and Hillary Clinton.

A total of 158,507,118 people are recorded as voting in the 2020 election, an all-time record. In 2016, by comparison, 136,792,535 individuals cast ballots. The current total represents an increase of 15.9 percent. Even those forecasting a turnout of just above 155 million, which seemed outlandish at the time, were low as the 2020 aggregate final vote widely cleared all previous electoral participation records.

As you will see from the following charts, most states performed similarly in 2020 as they did in 2016. In the preponderance of places, both President Trump and President-Elect Joe Biden posted better percentages in 2020, though Trump recorded slightly lower 2020 percentages in 13 states as compared to Biden falling below 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in only one (Mississippi).

The change factors are largely due to lesser independent and minor party candidates on the 2020 ballot as opposed to 2016 and an increase in first-time voters.

Nationally, as determined in all 50 states, President Trump’s numbers increased an average of one percentage point per state, while Biden saw a mean average four percent jump over Clinton’s standing.

The first charts depict President Trump’s state totals in alphabetical order. To reiterate, his per state average gain was 1.0 percent. The second chart shows the states in order of the largest gains.

The succeeding Democratic charts illustrate Biden’s increased performance over that of Clinton. Though his national per state victory margin over President Trump was low in comparison to 2016 – changing Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin and the 2nd District of Nebraska would have changed the national outcome and the aggregate vote margin was only 65,009 – his standing in every state was significantly better than hers. The Biden average per state gain was 4.0 percent.

REPUBLICAN

Alphabetical

STATE 2016 R 2020 R AVG GAIN
Alabama 62.1% 62.3% 0.2%
Alaska 51.3% 52.8% 1.5%
Arizona 48.7% 49.1% 0.4%
Arkansas 60.6% 62.4% 1.8%
California 31.6% 34.3% 2.7%
Colorado 43.2% 41.9% -1.3%
Connecticut 40.9% 39.2% -1.7%
Delaware 41.7% 39.8% -1.9%
Florida 49.0% 51.2% 2.2%
Georgia 50.8% 49.2% -1.6%
Hawaii 29.4% 33.9% 4.5%
Idaho 59.3% 63.8% 4.5%
Illinois 38.8% 40.6% 1.8%
Indiana 56.9% 57.0% 0.1%
Iowa 51.2% 52.8% 1.6%
Kansas 56.6% 56.2% -0.4%
Kentucky 62.5% 62.1% -0.4%
Louisiana 58.1% 58.5% 0.4%
Maine 43.5% 43.6% 0.1%
Maryland 33.9% 32.2% -1.7%
Massachusetts 32.3% 39.1% 6.8%
Michigan 47.6% 47.8% 0.2%
Minnesota 44.9% 45.3% 0.4%
Mississippi 57.9% 41.1% -0.3%
Missouri 56.8% 56.8% 0.0%
Montana 56.2% 56.9% 0.7%
Nebraska 58.7% 58.2% -0.5%
Nevada 45.5% 47.8% 2.3%
New Hampshire 46.5% 45.4% -1.1%
New Jersey 41.4% 41.4% 0.0%
New Mexico 40.0% 43.5% 3.5%
New York 36.1% 37.5% 1.4%
North Carolina 49.8% 49.9% 0.1%
North Dakota 65.1% 31.8% 2.1%
Ohio 51.7% 53.3% 1.6%
Oklahoma 65.3% 65.4% 0.1%
Oregon 40.4% 56.5% 0.7%
Pennsylvania 48.6% 48.8% 0.2%
Rhode Island 38.9% 38.6% -0.3%
South Carolina 54.9% 55.1% 0.2%
South Dakota 61.5% 61.8% 0.3%
Tennessee 60.7% 60.7% 0.0%
Texas 53.2% 52.1% -1.1%
Utah 45.5% 58.1% 12.6%
Vermont 29.8% 30.9% 1.1%
Virginia 44.4% 44.0% -0.4%
Washington 36.8% 38.8% 2.0%
West Virginia 68.6% 68.7% 0.1%
Wisconsin 47.2% 48.8% 1.6%
Wyoming 67.4% 69.5% 2.1%

Performance Increase

STATE 2016 R 2020 R AVG GAIN
Utah 45.5% 58.1% 12.6%
Massachusetts 32.3% 39.1% 6.8%
Hawaii 29.4% 33.9% 4.5%
Idaho 59.3% 63.8% 4.5%
New Mexico 40.0% 43.5% 3.5%
California 31.6% 34.3% 2.7%
Nevada 45.5% 47.8% 2.3%
Florida 49.0% 51.2% 2.2%
North Dakota 65.1% 31.8% 2.1%
Wyoming 67.4% 69.5% 2.1%
Washington 36.8% 38.8% 2.0%
Arkansas 60.6% 62.4% 1.8%
Illinois 38.8% 40.6% 1.8%
Iowa 51.2% 52.8% 1.6%
Ohio 51.7% 53.3% 1.6%
Wisconsin 47.2% 48.8% 1.6%
Alaska 51.3% 52.8% 1.5%
New York 36.1% 37.5% 1.4%
Vermont 29.8% 30.9% 1.1%
Oregon 40.4% 56.5% 0.7%
Montana 56.2% 56.9% 0.7%
Arizona 48.7% 49.1% 0.4%
Louisiana 58.1% 58.5% 0.4%
Minnesota 44.9% 45.3% 0.4%
South Dakota 61.5% 61.8% 0.3%
Alabama 62.1% 62.3% 0.2%
Michigan 47.6% 47.8% 0.2%
Pennsylvania 48.6% 48.8% 0.2%
South Carolina 54.9% 55.1% 0.2%
Indiana 56.9% 57.0% 0.1%
Maine 43.5% 43.6% 0.1%
North Carolina 49.8% 49.9% 0.1%
Oklahoma 65.3% 65.4% 0.1%
West Virginia 68.6% 68.7% 0.1%
Missouri 56.8% 56.8% 0.0%
New Jersey 41.4% 41.4% 0.0%
Tennessee 60.7% 60.7% 0.0%
Mississippi 57.9% 41.1% -0.3%
Rhode Island 38.9% 38.6% -0.3%
Kansas 56.6% 56.2% -0.4%
Kentucky 62.5% 62.1% -0.4%
Virginia 44.4% 44.0% -0.4%
Nebraska 58.7% 58.2% -0.5%
New Hampshire 46.5% 45.4% -1.1%
Texas 53.2% 52.1% -1.1%
Colorado 43.2% 41.9% -1.3%
Georgia 50.8% 49.2% -1.6%
Connecticut 40.9% 39.2% -1.7%
Maryland 33.9% 32.2% -1.7%
Delaware 41.7% 39.8% -1.9%

DEMOCRAT

Alphabetical

STATE 2016 D 2020 D AVG GAIN
Alabama 34.4% 36.6% 2.2%
Alaska 36.5% 42.8% 6.3%
Arizona 45.1% 49.4% 4.3%
Arkansas 33.6% 34.8% 1.2%
California 61.7% 63.5% 1.8%
Colorado 48.2% 55.4% 7.2%
Connecticut 54.6% 59.2% 4.6%
Delaware 53.1% 58.7% 5.6%
Florida 47.8% 47.9% 0.1%
Georgia 45.6% 49.5% 3.9%
Hawaii 61.0% 63.1% 2.1%
Idaho 27.5% 33.1% 5.6%
Illinois 55.8% 57.5% 1.7%
Indiana 37.8% 41.0% 3.2%
Iowa 41.7% 3.2% 3.0%
Kansas 36.0% 41.6% 5.6%
Kentucky 32.7% 36.1% 3.4%
Louisiana 38.4% 39.8% 1.4%
Maine 46.4% 52.5% 6.1%
Maryland 60.3% 65.4% 5.1%
Massachusetts 59.0% 65.1% 6.1%
Michigan 47.3% 50.6% 3.3%
Minnesota 46.4% 52.4% 6.0%
Mississippi 57.6% 40.1% -1.0%
Missouri 38.1% 41.4% 3.3%
Montana 35.7% 40.6% 4.9%
Nebraska 33.7% 39.2% 5.5%
Nevada 47.9% 50.1% 2.2%
New Hampshire 46.8% 52.7% 5.9%
New Jersey 55.5% 57.3% 1.8%
New Mexico 48.3% 54.3% 6.0%
New York 58.4% 60.4% 2.0%
North Carolina 46.2% 48.6% 2.4%
North Dakota 63.0% 27.2% 4.6%
Ohio 43.6% 45.2% 1.6%
Oklahoma 28.9% 32.3% 3.4%
Oregon 39.1% 50.1% 6.4%
Pennsylvania 47.8% 50.0% 2.2%
Rhode Island 54.4% 59.4% 5.0%
South Carolina 40.7% 43.4% 2.7%
South Dakota 31.7% 35.6% 3.9%
Tennessee 34.7% 37.5% 2.8%
Texas 43.2% 46.5% 3.3%
Utah 27.5% 37.7% 10.2%
Vermont 55.7% 65.5% 9.8%
Virginia 49.7% 54.1% 4.4%
Washington 52.5% 58.0% 5.5%
West Virginia 26.5% 29.7% 3.2%
Wisconsin 46.5% 49.4% 2.9%
Wyoming 21.6% 26.4% 4.8%

Performance Increase

STATE 2016 D 2020 D AVG GAIN
Utah 27.5% 37.7% 10.2%
Vermont 55.7% 65.5% 9.8%
Colorado 48.2% 55.4% 7.2%
Oregon 39.1% 50.1% 6.4%
Alaska 36.5% 42.8% 6.3%
Massachusetts 59.0% 65.1% 6.1%
Maine 46.4% 52.5% 6.1%
New Mexico 48.3% 54.3% 6.0%
Minnesota 46.4% 52.4% 6.0%
New Hampshire 46.8% 52.7% 5.9%
Idaho 27.5% 33.1% 5.6%
Kansas 36.0% 41.6% 5.6%
Delaware 53.1% 58.7% 5.6%
Nebraska 33.7% 39.2% 5.5%
Washington 52.5% 58.0% 5.5%
Maryland 60.3% 65.4% 5.1%
Rhode Island 54.4% 59.4% 5.0%
Montana 35.7% 40.6% 4.9%
Wyoming 21.6% 26.4% 4.8%
North Dakota 63.0% 27.2% 4.6%
Connecticut 54.6% 59.2% 4.6%
Virginia 49.7% 54.1% 4.4%
Arizona 45.1% 49.4% 4.3%
Georgia 45.6% 49.5% 3.9%
South Dakota 31.7% 35.6% 3.9%
Oklahoma 28.9% 32.3% 3.4%
Kentucky 32.7% 36.1% 3.4%
Michigan 47.3% 50.6% 3.3%
Texas 43.2% 46.5% 3.3%
Missouri 38.1% 41.4% 3.3%
Indiana 37.8% 41.0% 3.2%
West Virginia 26.5% 29.7% 3.2%
Iowa 41.7% 44.7% 3.0%
Wisconsin 46.5% 49.4% 2.9%
Tennessee 34.7% 37.5% 2.8%
South Carolina 40.7% 43.4% 2.7%
North Carolina 46.2% 48.6% 2.4%
Alabama 34.4% 36.6% 2.2%
Nevada 47.9% 50.1% 2.2%
Pennsylvania 47.8% 50.0% 2.2%
Hawaii 61.0% 63.1% 2.1%
New York 58.4% 60.4% 2.0%
California 61.7% 63.5% 1.8%
New Jersey 55.5% 57.3% 1.8%
Illinois 55.8% 57.5% 1.7%
Ohio 43.6% 45.2% 1.6%
Louisiana 38.4% 39.8% 1.4%
Arkansas 33.6% 34.8% 1.2%
Florida 47.8% 47.9% 0.1%
Mississippi 57.6% 40.1% -1.0%