Category Archives: House

Outstanding House Races; Incumbents Who Are Gone

We have a couple lists for you today — House races that are still unresolved and incumbents who lost their re-election attempts.

Here’s the latest on the outstanding House races:

  • AZ-1: One that was in the balance late last night, but is no longer, AZ-1 was called late last night for former Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D), who will now return to the House after being out for one term. She defeats former Republican state Sen. Jonathan Paton. This is a pick-up for the Ds.
  • AZ-2: Republican Martha McSally has pulled into the lead over Rep. Ron Barber (D) by a scant 426 votes, down from almost 1,300 earlier in the day. More than 20,000 ballots remain to be counted, so this race is far from over. A McSally victory would be a huge upset for the Republicans.
  • AZ-9: The new seat awarded the state in reapportionment is also in political overtime. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has a 2,715-vote lead over Republican Vernon Parker, but there are more than 70,000 still outstanding. This is another race that could go either way.
  • CA-7: Rep. Dan Lungren (R) and challenger Ami Bera (D) are locked in a tight battle. Currently, Bera has a 184 vote lead, but more than 50,000 ballots still remain to be counted. This race can still go either way.
  • CA-36: Things appear to be confused in the Palm Desert region. The election officers are reporting 100% of the votes counted with Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R) trailing challenger Raul Ruiz by 4,557 votes. Only 162,247 ballots are showing as being cast, however, a number far smaller than the average number of votes per CD, which now typically gets close to, or exceeds, 300,000. The race has not been called, but Ruiz is claiming victory. Being down by almost 5,000 votes is obviously not good for Bono Mack. Though the race is not official yet, the clear trend is pointing to a Ruiz upset victory.
  • CA-52: Like California’s 7th District as noted above, more than 50,000 ballots also remain to be counted here. Of the votes tabulated so far, Democratic challenger Scott Peters has a 685-vote lead over Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) with more than 207,000 ballots already counted. This one could also go either way.
  • FL-18: Rep. Allen West (R) is down 2,456 votes, but provisional ballots remain and the congressman is asking for an investigation in Port St. Lucie for voting irregularities. Apparently, the West forces are claiming that many ballots were double-counted. We will continue to monitor this race, but the odds now clearly favor challenger Patrick Murphy (D), who has already declared victory.
  • NC-7: Another race that will likely be decided by a razor-thin margin features Rep. Mike McIntyre (D) and state Sen. David Rouzer (R) in southeast North Carolina. Currently, McIntyre leads by a scant 533 votes, but approximately 4,000 provisional votes remain uncounted, as do at least 500 military ballots. A total of 1,500 are from Rouzer’s home county of Johnston, a place he carried with a margin greater than 60% on Tuesday night.
  • UT-4: In yet another stunning display of political ability and acumen, Rep. Jim Matheson (D) again withstood another tough challenge, this time from budding national political star Mia Love (R), to win another term in the House. The margin is 2,646 votes and appears to be final. Reapportionment added a new seat in Utah and though this may be the state’s most marginal seat, it is likely that Pres. Barack Obama failed to even break 40%. Thus, Rep. Matheson had the opportunity of displaying yet another tenet in the art of political survival.

The following incumbents have officially lost their seats:

Senate:

  • MA: Sen. Scott Brown (R) to Elizabeth Warren (D)

House:

  • CA-15: Rep. Pete Stark (D), first elected in 1972, falls to fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell.
  • CA-30: Rep. Howard Berman (D) loses to fellow Rep. Brad Sherman (D) in one of the nation’s most expensive campaigns.
  • CA-35: Rep. Joe Baca (D), who left his home town of Rialto to run in this Ontario-based seat, loses to state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D)
  • CA-44: Rep. Laura Richardson (D) succumbs to her Democratic colleague, Rep. Janice Hahn.
  • FL-26: Scandal and the taint of scandal caused freshman David Rivera (R) to fall to Democratic challenger Joe Garcia.
  • IL-8: Rep. Joe Walsh (R), as was expected because of his poor draw in redistricting, loses to VA former Asst. Sec. Tammy Duckworth (D).
  • IL-10: By the slimmest of margins, Rep. Bob Dold (R) becomes another victim of redistricting circumstance. Tax accountant Brad Schneider (D) becomes the new congressman.
  • IL-11: Rep. Judy Biggert (R), who represented only 48% of this CD, falls hard to former Rep. Bill Foster, 42-58%.
  • IL-17: Rep. Bobby Schilling (R) was unseated by East Moline local official Cheri Bustos (D). Again, it was redistricting that became the overriding issue in this CD.
  • IA-3: In a paired incumbents situation, Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) loses after 16 years in the House to fellow Rep. Tom Latham (R).
  • KY-6: After barely surviving in the last election, this year Rep. Ben Chandler (D) does lose his re-match to attorney Andy Barr (R).
  • MD-6: Being redistricted deep into unfriendly territory in Montgomery County, Frederick Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R), now 86 years old, loses his seat to businessman John Delaney (D), an upset winner in the April Democratic primary.
  • MN-8: In another race that ended in an unsurprising fashion, former Rep. Rick Nolan, who left the House all the way back in 1980, now returns as a new freshman. He defeated freshman Rep. Chip Cravaack (R) in a very heavily Democratic district.
  • NH-1: Capping off a strongly Democratic night that foretold a New Hampshire sweep, Rep. Frank Guinta (R) failed to win re-election against the woman he beat two years ago, ex-Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D).
  • NH-2: In the more Democratic of New Hampshire’s two congressional districts, veteran Rep. Charlie Bass (R), who returned to the House in 2010 after being beaten four years earlier, loses as an incumbent for the second time. Lobbyist Ann McLane Kuster, who stumbled against Bass by just one point two years ago, comes back in 2012 to finish the job.
  • NY-18: In a tough race with a relative surprise ending, freshman Rep. Nan Hayworth (R) falls to Wall Street attorney Sean Maloney (D).
  • NY-24: A major upset winner in 2010, and facing an even more difficult district this time around, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, like Guinta from New Hampshire above, finds herself on the losing end of a close race, also in a re-match. Former Rep. Dan Maffei (D) will also return to the House.
  • NY-27: In a district that was made the most Republican of all 27 NY CDs, former Erie County Executive Chris Collins (R) unseated Rep. Kathy Hochul (D) to return the seat to the GOP column.
  • NC-8: Former congressional staff member Richard Hudson will now return to Washington as a member of the House, following his unseating of two-term Rep. Larry Kissell (D).
  • OH-16: In a paired incumbents situation due to Ohio losing two seats in the national reapportionment formula, Rep. Betty Sutton (D) loses to freshman Rep. Jim Renacci (R), after a hard-fought race.
  • PA-12: Originally, Rep. Mark Critz (D) was paired with fellow Democrat Jason Altmire. While he survived the Democratic primary against another incumbent congressman, he couldn’t withstand the GOP general election battle. Critz lost to businessman Keith Rothfus, who held Altmire to only a 51-49% victory in 2010.
  • TX-23: Another re-election casualty was freshman Quico Canseco (R), who lost his difficult district, both politically and geographically, to state Rep. Pete Gallego (D).

Who is David Curson?

David Curson

Technically, we will have a 436th member of Congress, at least for the short-term. In Michigan’s 11th District, Republican Kerry Bentivolio won the regular election and will replace McCotter’ in January. The seat became vacant when former Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R) resigned before the election. But Bentivolio won’t be the immediate successor. Because McCotter resigned well before the end of the term, Democratic United Auto Workers union staff member David Curson won a concurrent special election that was held in the previous 11th CD, not the one created through reapportionment for this ensuing decade. Though Bentivolio won the full term, he lost the special election to Curson. Dr. Syed Taj, the party’s nominee for the regular term did not run in the special election.

Curson’s election means he will immediately be sworn into Congress and participate in the lame duck session, serving in November and December. His term will end at the beginning of January when the new House is inducted, and Bentivolio will then take the oath of office. At that point, Curson’s short-lived congressional career will come to an end.

Obama and Senate Ds; House Rs

The question as to which of the two party’s polling methodology and turnout model projection was correct was answered in the this morning’s early hours, as the Democratic projections proved to be spot on.

As they predicted, Pres. Barack Obama was re-elected with what could be as many as 332 Electoral Votes, should he carry still-outstanding Florida. The absentee ballots will determine the winner at a later date, but the outcome from what was formerly challenger Mitt Romney’s most important state is now irrelevant in determining the victor.

The race was as close as forecast, with the president taking the popular vote, preliminarily, by some 2.5 million ballots, an approximate margin of 51.1 percent. The individual core states of Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and Ohio were just as close as the national popular vote but, in the end, the president captured at least two of the four places, and possibly three, that Romney was virtually forced to win.

As has been the case since 2006, inclusive, the Senate races ended in a run. And, as in two of the three immediately previous elections, it was the Democrats who scored big. Despite having to defend 23 of 33 Senate seats, the Democrats will fare no worse than breaking even and quite possibly will see a net gain of two seats. Both Montana and North Dakota remain outstanding at this writing, going to political overtime. In the Big Sky Country, it will be the final counting plus the absentee ballots in both states that will determine the winner. But, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester (MT) and former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (ND) lead in both races. If the two hold their leads, the final Senate margin will increase to 55D-45R.

At the beginning of the election cycle, considering Republicans needed to win only 14 of 33 Senate races to capture the majority, such an outcome was only remotely considered. Again, the polling proved to be spot on, and did correctly forecast the Democratic surge at the end for all of the competitive races. Only in Arizona (senator-elect Jeff Flake) and Nevada (Sen. Dean Heller) did the Republican candidates prevail.

In the House, Republicans held their majority but Democrats cut into their advantage. With 12 races remaining uncalled, the Republicans have 232 seats compared to the Democrats’ 191. Since the LA-3 contest ended in two Republican candidates headed to a post-election run-off (Dec. 1 – Reps. Charles Boustany and Jeff Landry), the minimum GOP number for the ensuing Congress will be 233. Of the remaining 11 races, they have the pre-absentee ballot counting edge in only two, so if trends hold constant in all results, the party division will be 235R-200D, or a gain of seven seats for the Democrats.

Most of the outstanding elections are in Arizona and California, and they are razor-thin. The margins are as follows:

  • AZ-1: The result here could mark the return of former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D). She has a 6,716 vote margin over former state Sen. Jonathan Paton (R). About 1% of the total vote remains to be counted before absentee ballot tabulation.
  • AZ-2: In a real surprise, Republican challenger Martha McSally has a very slight 386 vote lead over just-elected Rep. Ron Barber (D) in the Tucson region seat. This is the former district of ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D). Barber, her former staff member, won a similar district in a June special election. Absentee ballots will be the determining factor here.
  • AZ-9: The absentees will help decide this marginal race, too, as former state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D) has a small 2,101 vote edge over Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker (R). This race never veered from a small Sinema lead all night.
  • CA-7: Challenger Ami Bera (D) leads Rep. Dan Lungren (R) by just 184 votes, but thousands of absentee ballots remain.
  • CA-26: Democrat Julia Brownley has a 7,099 vote lead over state Sen. Tony Strickland (R), but again the thousands of absentee ballots will make the final call.
  • CA-36: Challenger Raul Ruiz (D) leads Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R) by 3,451 votes, but only 57.4% of total universe of ballots has been counted. There could be as many as 50,000 ballots left here and in CA-7.
  • CA-52: Absentees will also determine the winner in this San Diego district, as challenger Scott Peters (D) leads Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) by just 685 votes.
  • FL-18: Freshman Rep. Allen West (R) finds himself trailing newcomer Patrick Murphy by 2,456 votes, and absentees will also determine the final victor here, too.
  • LA-3: As mentioned above, the 3rd District race will move to a Dec. 1 run-off election between two Republican incumbents. Rep. Charles Boustany has a 45-30% lead over Rep. Jeff Landry heading to a secondary election that is sure to produce a Republican winner.
  • MI-1: Freshman Rep. Dan Benishek (R) is holding a small 2,297 vote advantage over former state Rep. Gary McDowell (D). The absentee ballots could still change the outcome here, as well.
  • NC-7: Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre is holding a mere 378 vote lead over state Sen. David Rouzer (R), with thousands of absentee ballots remaining.

Analysis of all these and other results and trends coming later today.

Election Day Rundown

Eleven national polls were reported at this closing of the election period, and they’re all over the map. Six give Pres. Barack Obama a national lead of one to four points, three have the race tied and two show Republican Mitt Romney with a slight one point edge. The campaign, still, on Election Day, is too close to call.

All of the earliest-closing states are key for tonight. Polls begin to close at 6 pm in parts of Indiana and Kentucky and 7 pm EST in the remaining regions of these two states and Vermont, South Carolina, Georgia, and all-important Virginia and Florida (except for the western panhandle, which is in the Central time zone; normally, results are withheld from release until the entire state closes). Excluding Vermont, Romney needs to sweep these states, and most particularly Florida. Should he fall in the Sunshine State, then the predicted late night election result will conclude early, because he simply cannot compensate elsewhere for failing to capture its 29 Electoral Votes.

With Ohio, which appears to be the decider of this election, continuing to teeter, Virginia becomes that much more important for Romney. Though he could theoretically win the Electoral College vote without either the Buckeye State or Old Dominion, it is clear that he must carry one of the two. Practically, looking at the final trends in other swing states such as Nevada and Iowa, it is becoming apparent that both Ohio and Virginia need to go Romney in order for him to win.

Thirty minutes after the first wave of states close at 7 pm, North Carolina, West Virginia and Ohio itself will conclude their election period. Romney must carry both NC and WV, and then we concentrate on the Ohio trend for the rest of the evening.

At 8 pm Eastern, about half of the states will be closed, including everything in the central and eastern portion of the country with the exception of swing state Iowa, which doesn’t close until 10 pm EST.

In the 9 pm EST belt, look at the critical secondary swing states of Wisconsin and Colorado. At that point, with the exception of Nevada, which now looks to be trending definitively toward the president, the election-determining states will be closed and their early trends will have already been released in most of the country.

It is likely to be a long night, and though it is generally a bad sign for an incumbent to have the polling numbers of Obama — that is, still not having a clear winning spread on the morning of Election Day and the late trends favoring the challenger — the race is far from over.

Democrats appear poised to keep control of the Senate. In the early reporting zone, look to the Indiana race between Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN-2) and state Treasurer Richard Mourdock. The Republicans need to hold the open seat (Sen. Richard Lugar was defeated in the Republican primary), but trends are clearly favoring a Donnelly upset. Without Indiana, it will be extremely difficult for the GOP to have a realistic chance of capturing the four Democratic seats they need to wrest control away from their opposition. Republican losses in Maine and Massachusetts in the 8 pm hour will seal their fate.

In the House, watch two seats as the polls close at 7 pm. The southwestern IN-8 district of freshman Rep. Larry Bucshon is marginally in play. Bucshon winning early will be a good sign for Republicans. Rep. Donnelly’s open 2nd CD should go Republican in the person of former state Rep. Jackie Walorski. A Democratic victory in either would likely spell doom to the GOP hopes of gaining congressional seats, but still won’t put the majority in danger.

Kentucky, also a 7 pm closer as noted above, is the fastest vote counter of all the states. Here, watch the 6th District re-match campaign between Rep. Ben Chandler (D) and challenger Andy Barr (R). This was the second-closest election in 2010 and figures to be competitive again. If their quick count doesn’t show a Chandler victory, then the Democrats could be in for a longer night than expected in the House races.

Just a thought: you might want to print out this post and keep it handy so you can check off items above as the evening moves on.

It’s been quite a ride throughout the 2012 election cycle and, even as voting is now well underway, the final result is not yet clear.

Predicting the Presidential Outcome

At long last the election is finally here, but we still can’t predict the presidential outcome with any confidence. Recognizing that there have been many conflicting national polling factors present for the past several weeks, now at the end of the campaign it appears that all of the major pollsters are projecting just about the same final national popular vote result – a virtual tie.

Seven polls were released on Thursday through Saturday, and four of them (Ipsos/Reuters, Rasmussen Reports, UPI/C-Voter, and Zogby for the Washington Times) produced a high-40s deadlock between Pres. Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Two (Purple Strategies and Public Policy Polling) forecast a one-point lead for Obama. One, the ABC/Washington Post poll, showed Romney with that same single-point advantage. Simply put, the national election doesn’t get any closer.

Good news actually exists for both candidates in these final surveys. First, bringing the candidates back into a tie is positive for the president, who had been starting to drop behind. On the other hand, and an argument in Romney’s favor, an incumbent tied going into the election is rarely a good sign, because challengers typically under-poll to at least a small degree.

On the state front, Ohio still appears to be the deciding factor. There are some favorable indications that Romney will win close victories in North Carolina and Florida, which are his top priority conversion states. He also is trending upward in Virginia, but the all-important Buckeye State remains a mystery. The president has a slight edge in several polls, but not in others.

Looking at the secondary states, though Nevada and possibly Iowa look to remain in the president’s column, Romney is getting strong positive signs from Colorado. Should he be successful in taking Virginia and Ohio, Colorado would clinch a victory for the challenger.

Polling

There has been a great deal of analyses done about the myriad of polls conducted over the past months, and the conflicting nature between the ones that have projected the 2012 vote using a turnout model based upon 2008 voting patterns. Many have said that using such base data explains the polling discrepancies because the 2012 electorate is much different than that of four years ago. Therefore, using the 2008 model may skew too heavily Democratic.

Mike Barbera, a Washington lobbyist and guest columnist for our reports, has studied this situation, and offers the following perspective: Given all available evidence, the idea that the 2012 electorate will be as Democratic as 2008 is implausible – and the notion that it will be even more Democratic is to be completely rejected.

The 2008 election cycle featured the following:

  • A highly motivated Democratic base, enthused by the historic candidacy of Barack Obama and still seething with animus toward George W. Bush
  • A dispirited Republican base (although the Palin vice presidential selection remedied this to a certain degree)
  • A historically-unpopular outgoing Republican president
  • A huge funding disparity, which allowed the Obama campaign to dramatically outspend the McCain forces on the airwaves and in the get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts
  • An economic meltdown a month before Election Day

That is a recipe for what a great Democratic year looks like – and indeed the Democrats in 2008 had a great year. They elected a president as well as super-majorities in both the House and Senate.

To put it mildly, 2012 looks nothing like 2008. By any measure, Republican enthusiasm is much higher than in 2008. Obama’s favorability ratings are significantly lower than they were in 2008. His job approval ratings are dismal. Romney and his GOP allies are at financial parity with the Obama campaign and the Democrats – so the Republican GOTV efforts are vastly improved from the threadbare McCain operation of 2008. Romney is doing very well among independents – John McCain lost them by a substantial margin.

Early Voting

States are reporting the number of ballots already returned through the various early voting processes. While all of the partisan numbers, i.e. the ballots returned from registered Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated voters, are better for Romney and the Republicans than the ratios from four years ago, it is unclear if they are a precursor to a Romney victory performance.

The Romney camp compares the current early voting trends to that of 2008 GOP nominee John McCain and illustrates what they believe is their candidate’s improvement over his showing. While there seems no doubt that the already returned ballots will yield better results for the Republican, as the Obama campaign points out, Romney must exceed the president’s vote total, not just that of McCain, and in every state but Colorado (that releases early voting partisan registration data) more Democratic ballots have been returned than Republican. All totaled, almost 30 million people have already voted in this election.

The Senate

Democratic trends in the statewide contests are better than for Republicans. It now appears likely that the Democrats will retain control of the Senate and do so with about the same level of strength they currently maintain: a seat up or down from the current 53D-47R margin.

The House

While the Senate races appear to be trending Democratic, the Republicans are pulling away in the House. The GOP majority is secure, and their original majority margin, based upon 242 seats, could even increase by as many as three or four seats when analyzing the final individual race trends.

Conclusion

This election is very close, and could be following one of two election models. The first would be that of 1980, where Ronald Reagan was running close to incumbent President Jimmy Carter, only to catch a wave at the very end and go onto a major landslide victory. The second potential precursor is the 2004 election, where a relatively unpopular incumbent President, George W. Bush, won a close victory that basically came down to the state of Ohio becoming the deciding factor. Determining the actual result is now merely hours away.