Oct. 24, 2017 — The 3rd Quarter Federal Election Commission US House disclosure reports are available, and they provide valuable clues as to which campaigns could become first-tier efforts next year. The Daily Kos Elections Page once again completed their quarterly analysis, which became the major source for this column.
Thirty-five incumbents and two challengers have already raised more than $1 million for the current election cycle. Another seven (six incumbents; one challenger) have crossed the $900,000 mark in current cycle receipts.
Most of the million-dollar incumbents are in projected competitive primary or general election campaigns.
Arizona two-term incumbent Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) is again raising and spending huge amounts in the early going. She has gathered $2.8 million, a great deal of which comes through expensive direct mail, hence her cash-on-hand total is $1.453 million. Her potential leading Democratic opponent, former 1st District Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) who has re-located to Tucson in order to challenge McSally, is showing only $269,000 on hand in comparison, but that is the largest amount among the five Democrats filing disclosure reports in this district.
Nov. 23, 2016 — The Associated Press yesterday projected California Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove/ Sacramento) the winner in the hotly contested CA-7 District campaign, even though there are approximately 43,000 ballots still left to count.
Rep. Bera has pushed his lead to 6,008 votes over Sacramento County Sheriff Doug Jones (R) at the end of the day’s counting. This means, with what will likely be just under 300,000 total votes cast in the district, that Jones would need approximately 57 percent of the outstanding ballots to overtake Bera. While not impossible, the projection appears legitimate considering that Jones has yet to lead this race.
The Bera victory means the Democrats are assured of at least 194 seats in the new Congress. Republicans are guaranteed of 239. The GOP looks to win the second of two Louisiana run-off elections, after wrapping up the first (District 3) on November 8th when two Republicans advanced to the general election run-off. The LA-4 contest is projected to go Republican on Dec. 10. Continue reading →
Nov. 18, 2016 — California’s two uncalled congressional races are still not complete because of a counting process moving at what feels like a glacial pace.
In Sacramento County’s 7th District, Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) is in a political overtime situation for the third consecutive election. The latest count finds the congressman garnering 119,448 votes (51.0 percent) as compared to Sheriff Scott Jones’ (R) 114,646 tallies (49.0 percent). Despite being 10 days beyond the election, an estimated 67,000+ District 7 ballots await tabulation.
With Bera leading here by 4,802 votes, and assuming the outstanding ballots estimate is correct, Jones would need to garner at least 53.5 percent of uncounted votes to overtake the incumbent. Since these ballots are mail-only, either from the regular mail, provisional, or overseas voting options, it is unlikely that the remaining tallies are from a particular set of precincts or region. This means it is difficult to gauge whether these votes are predominantly Democratic or Republican. Rather, the mailed votes are probably dispersed uniformly throughout the district.
The 7th CD is wholly contained within Sacramento County and occupies 49.54 percent of the local entity’s territory. Since the county election officials report that 136,644 ballots remain to be processed, simply taking half of the number allows us to arrive at the conclusion that approximately 67,000 ballots are destined for the 7th District.
Nov. 14, 2016 — While there were no significant weekend changes in the uncalled federal races — Michigan remains outstanding in the presidential race (Trump ahead 47.6 – 47.3 percent there), and and we still have two undecided California congressional campaigns (Rep. Ami Bera, D-CA-7, leads Sheriff Scott Jones 50.6 – 49.4 percent; Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA-49, has a 51.0 – 49.0 percent advantage over retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate) — we do have virtually complete state race results.
The legislatures and governors are an important influence at the federal level because in most instances these bodies and officials determine congressional redistricting. With live challenges in Alabama, North Carolina, and Virginia, and a possible re-draw of central Texas this coming year, it is not too early to monitor party strength in the newly elected state legislatures.
As we covered in the post-election report series, Republicans earned at least a net gain of two gubernatorial chairs. They converted governors’ mansions in Missouri (Eric Greitens), New Hampshire (Chris Sununu), and Vermont (Phil Scott), while potentially losing North Carolina (Attorney General Roy Cooper-D leading Gov. Pat McCrory-R, but the race is not officially called).
Nov. 10, 2016 — As outstanding and absentee votes continue to be tallied, more races are being decided. Yesterday’s biggest development was concluding the year long toss-up battle between New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) and Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) in what proved to be a laboriously slow counting process. With the election dust finally settling, we now see a victory for Gov. Hassan. From more than 707,000 votes cast, her unofficial victory margin appears to be just 716 votes.
Sen. Ayotte’s loss means the Republican majority margin will likely end at 52-48, since the Dec. 10 Louisiana run-off election will probably yield a John Kennedy (R) win. Kennedy, the four-term state treasurer, placed first on Tuesday night in a field of 24 candidates followed by Democrat Foster Campbell, a Louisiana public service commissioner and multiple-time statewide candidate.
This isn’t an easy race for Kennedy, however. Often, after one party wins a national election an emotional let down can occur in a quick subsequent vote, and a lack of enthusiasm allows the losing party to rebound. Additionally, we merely have to retreat to October 2015 to find the last time the Democrats won a Louisiana statewide election (governor’s campaign: John Bel Edwards-D defeated Sen. David Vitter-R).
Oct. 7, 2016 — Competitive action is occurring in several California House districts, but new data has just emerged suggesting that two House incumbents are headed for a tough finish.
Back in 2014, the race between Sacramento County Congressman Ami Bera (D) and former US Rep. Doug Ose (R) became the most expensive race in the country as the two candidates combined for $10 million in spending, not counting independent expenditures.
Now facing Sacramento County Sheriff Doug Jones (R), a new Public Opinion Strategies poll (Oct. 1-3; 400 likely CA-7 voters) is forcing this contest up the National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) challenger target list. According to the new POS data, Jones has taken a 47-42 percent lead over the two-term incumbent suggesting that the candidates will be making a mad dash for the political finish line in the campaign’s closing weeks.
March 22, 2016 — The California candidate filing deadline occurred at the end of last week, and several races in both the June primary and general election look interesting.
To review, California uses the top-two, jungle primary system, where all candidates appear together on the June 7 ballot, and then the first two finishers advance to the general election regardless of political party affiliation. It is likely that this system contributes to the large number of congressional candidates coming forth this year.
In the Senate race, while Democrats hope to qualify two of their own for the general election, namely Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46), voters will have to find the pair through a mass of 32 other candidates in order for them to secure advancement. Six Democrats, 17 Republicans, and 11 Independents will be in the June Senate race. Attorney General Harris is favored to win the seat in November.
In the congressional races, only two of the 49 incumbents seeking re-election failed to draw an opponent. Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA-14) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-40) are the only unopposed members for both the primary and general elections.
Feb. 15, 2016 — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released its early primary and secondary target lists for the 2016 campaign, which is a rather curious grouping. It is already clear that the House Democratic leadership sees no path to the majority in this election, at least during this campaign period.
With the Republican advantage at 247 (once former Speaker John Boehner’s western Ohio seat is filled in special election) to 188, the Democrats would need a net gain of 30 seats just to obtain a one-seat majority. The fact that their primary and secondary target list includes only 24 races suggests that they are nowhere close to putting enough seats in play to seriously challenge the Republican leadership structure.
On the primary list of 16 candidates, two seats are already under Democratic control, CA-24, the Santa Barbara seat of the retiring Rep. Lois Capps, and the FL-18 district of Rep. Patrick Murphy who is running for the Senate. Therefore, what they believe are prime opportunity races number just 14.
Nov. 18, 2015 — Democratic Sacramento Congressman Ami Bera is no stranger to close elections, and it appears he’s headed toward another in 2016.
Three years ago, Dr. Bera defeated then-Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA-3) in a 52-48 percent win, a spread of just under 9,200 votes. His first re-election was even closer, a 1,455-vote margin against former Rep. Doug Ose (R-CA-3) who was attempting a political comeback. In both instances, Bera trailed in the Election Day vote but his strength among the early and absentee ballots, which, in California usually accounts for about half of the vote, brought him the victories.
Now, his presumptive opponent will be Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones (R) who officially announced his challenge to Rep. Bera as the week began. Expect this to again be a highly competitive campaign in a congressional district that hosted the most expensive 2014 campaign in the United States. The two candidates combined to spend over $9 million, and there was an additional $13 million expended from outside organizations. This, in a media market that ranks as the 20th largest in the country.
The 7th District is fully contained within Sacramento County, encompassing the eastern and southern portions of the region. In effect, this district claims virtually the entire county except for the city of Sacramento and the small delta agricultural area. It combines the Sacramento suburban area along with rich agricultural lands and contains the cities of Folsom and Elk Grove.
The two outstanding California House races are now finished. Both Democratic incumbents Ami Bera (D-CA-7) and Jim Costa (D-CA-16) have officially pulled out close victories.
Despite the Republicans chalking up their largest majority since the 1928 election, the Bera and Costa wins mean the Democrats actually gain one seat in the lopsided California delegation. This result was made possible because of five other very close wins in San Diego (Rep. Scott Peters over GOP challenger Carl DeMaio), Ventura County (freshman Rep. Julia Brownley barely surviving against Assemblyman Jeff Gorell), and San Bernardino (the open Republican seat where Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D) scored a tight 51-49 percent win over GOP candidate Paul Chabot).
With counting of absentee ballots just about complete, some 15 days after the election itself, Rep. Bera has now increased the lead he just took to 1,432 votes, a number that the national and local news media deems insurmountable for former Rep. Doug Ose (R) to overcome based upon the number of ballots still remaining to be counted.
In Fresno, the race is even closer with only a few more ballots left to count in Democratic strongholds. Rep. Costa, like Bera in Sacramento, trailing for most of the post-election period has now assumed an Continue reading >
Now that the 2014 election is finally ending, speculation begins to build around the next in-cycle group of seats.
With Gov. Sean Parnell (R) conceding defeat to Independent Bill Walker in Alaska and the two outstanding California congressional races likely soon ending in razor-thin wins for representatives Ami Bera (D-CA-7) and Jim Costa (D-CA-16), the 2014 cycle will conclude on Dec. 6 when the Louisiana run-offs are decided. Then, we can look forward to almost non-stop coverage of the impending presidential race in addition to frequent US Senate analyses.
Since Republicans will have a majority of either 53 or 54 seats depending upon whether Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) or Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) wins the Louisiana campaign, the GOP will likely be forced to defend 24 of 34 states up for election in two years. Therefore, Democrats will have ample opportunity to reclaim their lost advantage, which is the storyline we can expect to hear from the major media outlets.
With this backdrop, some senators are already drawing speculation about potential opponents. Illinois is likely at the top of the Democrats’ target list since the state votes heavily with their party, particularly in presidential years. Sen. Mark Kirk (R) started the ball rolling early this week by stating unequivocally that he intends to seek Continue reading >
As has been the case during this entire week, covering the 13 various campaigns went to political overtime – that is post-election ballot counting, or voting, that could alter the final outcome – has been the dominant political subject.
So far, Democrats have been the beneficiaries of the late counting, winning four of the races and appear headed for three more wins. Republicans claimed one state, and are well positioned for a second win. The GOP then looks to sweep the three Louisiana campaigns that are in post-election run-offs scheduled for Dec. 6.
With most political overtime races trending toward the Democrats, Tuesday’s fortunes looked more favorably upon Republicans.
AZ-2: In Arizona’s 2nd District, it appears that challenger Martha McSally (R), who lost a bitterly close campaign two years ago, will win an even tighter battle this year.
The final count nears and McSally is clinging to a bare 133-vote lead, but it may be enough to unseat Rep. Ron Barber (D). All of the ballots are now tabulated with the exception of about 200 in Pima County. Since this entity is divided among three congressional districts (59 percent of the county is in District 2), it is likely that only between 110-120 of those votes are from the undecided CD. Even if Barber were to attract 60 percent of this number, he would still fall between 100 and 110 votes short of victory.
While it now appears evident that McSally will lead after all of the votes are tabulated and recorded, the closeness of the finish means that an automatic recount will be conducted. Rarely do recounts change the candidates’ finish order, but only a 100-vote spread of more than 215,000 cast ballots does suggest that eligibility challenges to individual voters could exceed that margin. Still, with Republicans in a strong House majority, the body itself must seat all of its members, and McSally’s chances of becoming the ultimate victor here are now Continue reading >
With states allowing a greater volume of absentee balloting, elections take much longer to call. Several remain in abeyance, waiting either for final votes to arrive or an arbitrary date for which to begin counting. Many of these races are in California, where hundreds of thousands of mail ballots remain uncounted.
In the Senate, aside from the Louisiana run-off now scheduled for Dec. 6, Alaska and Virginia are not yet officially called but the outcome in both cases is clear.
In the Last Frontier, it’s just a matter of time before GOP nominee Dan Sullivan is declared the winner. Waiting to count the votes from the state’s vast outlying areas, incumbent Sen. Mark Begich (D) would have to attract almost two-thirds of the remaining ballots. With a Sullivan lead over 8,000 votes, Begich trailing for the last few weeks in polling, and the very real Republican wave that we witnessed last night, it is a sure bet that we can add this incumbent to the list of defeated Democratic senators. Continue reading >
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released the first of their “Frontline” incumbents, those that will get the most attention from the party as they build for re-election. All are either freshmen from competitive districts, won a tough open seat, or defeated a Republican incumbent in 2012.
Rep. Ron Barber (AZ-02) – Barber, who won a special election to replace resigned Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D), had a closer than expected general election against former Air Force pilot Martha McSally (R) winning just 50.4 to 49.6 percent. McSally is likely to return in 2014, and with a more favorable turnout model could conceivably score an upset. The fact that Mitt Romney won the seat 50-48 percent bodes well for the challenger, but it didn’t pull her through last November.
Rep. John Barrow (GA-12) – Rep. Barrow drew a second-tier opponent in what should have been a first-tier GOP conversion opportunity. With a projected lower African-American turnout for 2014, Continue reading >