Monthly Archives: February 2022

Oklahoma Sen. Inhofe to Resign

By Jim Ellis

Veteran Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) / Facebook

Feb. 28, 2022 — Veteran Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe (R), who turned 87 years old last November, is reportedly set to announce that he will leave the Senate at the end of this year. He was first elected in 1994 after serving four terms in the US House and six years as mayor of Tulsa prior to coming to Congress.

As of this writing, the senator is expected to sign an irrevocable resignation letter before March 1. If so, he will serve until the end of this year; a special election to replace him will be held concurrently with the 2022 election cycle. His resignation is unexpected, and the reason for his departure has not yet been publicized.

Under the Sooner State special election laws, if a vacancy in the Senate occurs in an even-numbered year, the seat is filled within the regular election schedule. An odd-numbered year vacancy has its own election formula. Oklahoma is one of 13 states that doesn’t fill a Senate vacancy through gubernatorial appointment.

The regular political schedule calls for a primary on June 28, an Aug. 23 runoff if no candidate receives majority support in the first vote, and the general election on Nov. 8. The candidate filing deadline is April 15.

The Inhofe resignation also means that both of the state’s Senate seats will be up for election this autumn since Sen. James Lankford (R) is in-cycle. The special election winner will serve the remaining four years of the Inhofe term and be eligible to run for a full six-year stint in 2026.

While the new Oklahoma Senate race brings the total number of federal statewide campaigns to 35, with Republicans now defending 21, this contest won’t likely alter the aggregate political picture. The GOP should remain safe in both of the Oklahoma general election contests.

The special Republican primary, however, will be a different story. Expect a crowded field and a tough primary campaign and likely runoff, with the eventual winner having an easy ride in the general election.

Already, rumors are flying as to who may run in the special. Names from Gov. Kevin Stitt and Lt. Gov. Mark Pinnell to US Reps. Kevin Hern (R-Tulsa) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville) to former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon and ex-US Attorney Trent Shore are already being mentioned.

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Democrats Score in Pennsylvania and North Carolina Redistricting

Click on above map or this link to see an interactive Pennsylvania redistricting map on: FiveThirtyEight

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 25, 2022 — Democrats notched major gains as courts in Pennsylvania and North Carolina Wednesday chose maps that will largely favor their party as we move toward the midterm elections in November.

The Pennsylvania State Supreme Court, to no one’s surprise, since they have consistently ruled as a partisan Democratic panel, adopted on a 4-3 vote a new congressional map that will cost sophomore Rep. Fred Keller (R-Middleburg) his current seat, but does give the Republicans a rather surprising chance to convert two seats in the eastern part of the state.

Though Reps. Susan Wild (D-Allentown) and Matt Cartwright (D-Moosic/Scranton) must still be regarded as clear favorites for re-election, they will again find themselves embroiled in highly competitive battles come November.

All other PA incumbents appear in strong shape for re-election. Additionally, the two open Democratic seats in the Pittsburgh area have been restored, both the downtown district from which Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pittsburgh) is retiring, now numbered 12, and the western Allegheny County 17th CD that Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) is vacating to run for the Senate.

The current Keller seat, labeled District 12, is a safe Republican district that stretches from just west of Harrisburg in Perry County all the way to the New York border. The population anchor is Lycoming County and the city of Williamsport, home of the Little League World Series. Keller won a 2019 special election after then-Rep. Tom Marino (R) resigned the seat to accept an offer in the private sector.

The new map splits the current 12th District into three seats, and places Rep. Keller’s home in veteran Rep. Glenn “G.T.” Thompson’s (R-Howard) 15th CD. Overlaying the current map over the new plan, Keller sees that 40 percent of his district lies within the confines of Rep. Thompson’s seat; but the congressman announced late Wednesday night that he will instead challenge Rep. Dan Meuser (R-Dallas) in the new 9th District. Approximately 34 percent of Keller’s current district moved to the new 9th with the new map, as compared to Meuser having more than 60 percent carryover territory.

Assuming Keller follows through, this will become the seventh intra-party pairing, and the fourth involving Republicans.

In eastern Pennsylvania, the adopted map attempts to make Rep. Cartwright’s 8th District a bit more Democratic, but it comes at the potential expense of District 7’s Rep. Wild, who won re-election in the last cycle with only a 52-48 percent spread over businesswoman and former Lehigh County Commissioner Lisa Scheller (R). According to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, the new 7th rates as a R+4, which is down from the EVEN rating the seat held under the current map.

On the other hand, Dave’s Redistricting App records the Democratic percentage at 50.1 for the new PA-7 compared to the Republican 47.4. Rep. Cartwright sees his 8th District hold a 49.7 – 47.6 percent split in favor of the Democrats, but the FiveThirtyEight rating is R+8. Even what appears to be a fairly lofty figure to overcome, however, is still a tick down from the R+9 in the current district that Cartwright carried 52-48 percent in 2020.
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Redistricting After-Effects

Click the map above or this link to go to an interactive version: Dave’s Redistricting App

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 24, 2022 — As more states complete their redistricting process and additional data becomes available, we are beginning to catch a glimpse of each party’s path to either keeping or re-claiming the House majority in the coming midterm election.

The FiveThirtyEight statistical organization along with the Dave’s Redistricting App operation are the two data groups that are charting each district as the states complete their decennial task of drawing new congressional district boundaries.

At this point, we have usable projection data from the two organizations in 350 of the nation’s 435 congressional districts, meaning newly completed maps in all but eight states. (FiveThirtyEight has not yet analyzed the new North Carolina map because the court has not yet given final approval, but Dave’s App has calculated based upon the version now before the judicial panel.) As an aside, several of the outstanding states are large, including Florida (28 congressional districts), Ohio (15 CDs: map was complete but rejected before the state Supreme Court), and Pennsylvania (17 CDs).

At this point we can see, after analyzing each of the 350 completed districts, that redistricting in and of itself will return only a narrow advantage to one party or the other. Considering the still incomplete outstanding states, it is unclear which political entity may earn a slight advantage once the entire process is finalized. Currently, newly created maps are complete (or pending court approval) in 42 states, including five of the six at-large domains whose single-state districts are included in the aforementioned aggregate number.

The FiveThirtyEight projections and Dave’s Redistricting App agree on party advantage in 344 of the completed districts even though they used different mathematical formulas and election complexion to arrive at their conclusions. Therefore, the assigned D or R-plus ratings from FiveThirtyEight consistently align with Dave’s numerical projections for Democratic and Republican strength in each of the 344 CDs.

Of the six districts where the two organizations disagree over party advantage, in each of the half-dozen CDs, the FiveThirtyEight data has projected a stronger Republican number. Three of the six lie in the state of Michigan.

The conflicting districts are:

STATE-DIST MEMBER FiveThirtyEight DAVE R DAVE D
CO-8 NEW SEAT            R+3 46.91% 48.24%
MI-7 SLOTKIN, ELISSA            R+4 47.75% 49.18%
MI-8 KILDEE, DAN            R+1 46.05% 50.84%
MI-10 CREATED SEAT            R+6 47.82% 49.44%
TX-15 CREATED SEAT            EVEN 46.73% 51.02%
VA-2 LURIA, ELAINE            R+6 48.35% 49.58%

(Note: a “New Seat” is one drawn in a state that was awarded an extra seat, or two in the case of Texas, through national reapportionment. A “created seat” is a new open district that came as a result of the redistricting process.)

Totaling the 344 districts where FiveThirtyEight and the Dave’s App are in agreement as to party advantage, the Democrats would gain 12 Republican, new, or created districts; while the GOP would gain 10 Democratic, new, or created seats.

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North Carolina Redistricting II

2022 North Carolina Congressional Redistricting Map (click on image or here to go to interactive map: Dave’s Redistricting App)

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 23 2022 — Both houses of the North Carolina state legislature have now passed a new congressional map to replace the original version that the state Supreme Court previously rejected.

The new plan now undergoes judicial review as early as tomorrow before final enactment. The legislators agreed upon a plan to meet the pre-determined judicial schedule. The districts must be set to meet an impending March 4 candidate filing deadline for the March 8 primary that was initially postponed to May 17. Any further redistricting delays will likely move the primary once more, this time to June 7.

The high court struck the plan because the justices determined the map was a political gerrymander and, on the original map, that Democrats were under-represented.

The previous map would likely have produced 10 Republican victories as opposed to four Democratic wins. The current division in 8R-5D. The state gained a new seat in national reapportionment, thus increasing the Tar Heel state delegation to 14 members.

The proposed map is certainly more competitive. Preliminary analysis suggests that the Republican nominee would be favored in six of the seats and the Democrats four, with an additional four being cast into a highly marginal category.

The legislature also restored the previous numbers to the districts, making statistical comparisons easier to understand. The members receiving what should be favorable districts are: Reps. Deborah Ross (D-Raleigh; District 2), Greg Murphy (R-Greenville; District 3), Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk; District 5), Richard Hudson (R-Concord; District 8), Dan Bishop (R-Union County; District 9), Patrick McHenry (R-Lake Norman; District 10), Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville/Asheville; District 11), and Alma Adams (D-Charlotte; District 12).

Democrats would then be favored in open District 1 (Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson) retiring) and open District 4 (Rep. David Price (D-Chapel Hill) retiring).

Incumbents relegated to highly competitive seats are Reps. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro; District 6) and David Rouzer (R-Wilmington; District 7). The Dave’s Redistricting App statistical organization rates the Manning 6th District as a seat having a voting pattern that divides the two parties by less than one percentage point: 49.44 percent for Republicans and 49.18 percent for Democrats. The Rouzer District 7 breaks similarly: 49.39 percent for the Democrats and 49.04 percent for Republicans.

According to the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization that has not yet scored the new plan, the previous Manning 6th District rated as a D+21 and the Rouzer 7th CD, an identical partisan spread of R+21. Therefore, these two districts going to an even rating clearly changes the entire map’s outlook, and obviously so for this pair of incumbents.

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Minnesota Rep. Hagedorn, 59, Dies After Battle With Kidney Cancer

By Jim Ellis

The late Minnesota US Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Blue Earth/Rochester)

Feb. 22, 2022 — After a long battle with kidney cancer, Minnesota US Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Blue Earth/Rochester) passed away at the age of 59 on Friday, the third sitting House member to die in office during the current congressional session. Reps. Ron Wright (R-TX) and Alcee Hastings (D-FL) passed away earlier in the year. Additionally, Rep-Elect Luke Letlow (R-LA) died of COVID in late 2020, just before he would have taken office in January of 2021.

The Hagedorn death creates a vacancy in the Minnesota delegation. Gov. Tim Walz (D), who previously represented the now vacant 1st District that stretches the width of Minnesota’s southern border, will call a special election to fill the remainder of the current term.

Under the state’s election law, the special primary will be May 24, 11 weeks prior to the special general, which will run concurrent with the regular 2022 primary election on Aug. 9. The eventual winner will serve the balance of Hagedorn’s final term.

The current 1st District is politically marginal in congressional elections and has flipped back and forth between the two parties after Democrat Tim Penny won the seat in 1982, becoming the first member of his party to represent the district since 1893. Penny, former Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R) and Walz each would represent the district for six terms apiece until Hagedorn was elected.

Conversely, the 1st runs considerably stronger for Republicans at the top of the ticket. Former President Trump carried the seat both in 2016 and 2020. He posted a 53-38 percent margin in his initial election, and a 54-44% spread in his ultimately unsuccessful re-election effort.

Rep. Hagedorn’s two victories, however, were close contests. In his first victorious election, after failing in three previous attempts, the result was a tight 50.1 – 49.7 percent in a 2018 open-seat campaign against former defense department official Dan Feehan. The congressman then scored a 48.6 – 45.5 percent re-election victory again over Feehan.

A special election in this district could well be a strong precursor test for the 2022 midterms since both parties will field strong candidates, heavily contest the outcome, and the winner will likely claim the seat with only a small victory spread.

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