Category Archives: House

Redistricting-Forced
Contested Pairings

By Jim Ellis

March 25, 2022 — Redistricting has largely been responsible for six sets of congressional pairings — that is where two incumbents are forced to compete against each other in one new district. Each party sees three intra-party pairings, with the first being decided in West Virginia on May 10.

New polling was released in the Mountain State contest, which features Reps. David McKinley (R-Wheeling) and Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) battling in a new northern 2nd District. West Virginia lost its third district in national reapportionment, and even though the GOP controls the redistricting pen, the party obviously had to absorb the lost seat since all three current House members are Republicans.

Rep. Mooney, being in the middle district of the original three, always the least advantageous geographical position, had his district split between the northern and southern seat. All but one percent of Rep. McKinley’s current 1st District is contained in new District 2, while just 49 percent of Rep. Mooney’s current 2nd carries over to the new 2nd. All of Rep. Carol Miller’s (R-Huntington) current 3rd District is fully contained within the new 1st as well as 51 percent of Rep. Mooney’s current WV-2.

Two early 2022 surveys, in January from Public Opinion Strategies and February from WPA Intelligence, found similar leads of 45-32 percent and 43-28 percent for Rep. Mooney. This week, however, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce released their North Star Opinion Research survey (March 13-15; 400 WV-2 likely voters) and their results found Rep. McKinley rebounding to record a 38-33 percent edge. With polling showing a tightening of the race, we can expect a close finish in what should be regarded as a toss-up campaign.

Georgia

The Georgia Democrat pairing between Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Suwanee) and Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) in the new Atlanta suburban 7th CD looks to be leaning toward the latter woman even though she sees a very low constituent carryover factor from her current 6th District.

This race will likely be decided on May 24, but since Georgia is a runoff state, there is always the mathematical possibility that the minor candidates could force a secondary election because their combined vote could be enough to keep both major contenders from reaching the 50 percent plateau.

An early January Data for Progress survey found Rep. McBath holding a nine point lead, 40-31 percent, despite the fact that only 12 percent of the new 7th comes from Rep. McBath’s 6th, as compared to 57 percent of the new population base who currently live in Rep. Bourdeaux’s district. On the other hand, McBath is much stronger with the regional Democratic base voter than is Bourdeaux.

Michigan

Two other paired contests are even tighter. Though the Michigan Democratic pairing between Reps. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) and Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township) won’t be decided until the Aug. 2 Democratic primary, two recently released surveys already detect a dead heat.

Lake Research Partners released data from their Feb. 15-20 survey that found the two Democratic members tied with 36 percent support apiece. Earlier in the month, Target Insyght found an almost identical conclusion from their ballot test question, with Reps. Stevens and Levin tied at 41 percent. In January, Impact Research released their study that posted Rep. Stevens to a seven-point advantage, 42-35 percent.

In this situation, Rep. Stevens sees a 45 percent carryover factor from her current 11th District, while Rep. Levin will have only 25 percent of his current 9th District constituency in the new 11th.

In Congressman Levin’s favor, however, is home base status. The Bloomfield Township region, which provided the base vote for his father, Sander Levin, whose career in the House lasted 36 years, and his uncle, the late Sen. Carl Levin who served his own 36 years in Congress, is fully intact within the new 11th. Conversely, Stevens’ home precincts within the Rochester Hills area are not included in the new 11th. This likely gives Levin the advantage of having the more driven supporters, which matters greatly in a lower turnout primary election.

Illinois

Turning to Illinois, in a race that will be settled in the June 28 primary, Reps. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) and freshman Marie Newman (D-La Grange) also appear locked in a tight battle for political survival in the western Chicago suburbs. Unlike all the other paired districts that are safe for the winning paired member, the IL-6 CD could become a general election battleground.

In the new 6th, Rep. Newman sees more of her constituents comprising the new district, as just over 41 percent of her current 3rd District voters will be present in the new 6th. This number compares favorably to Rep. Casten’s constituent carryover factor of just 23.5 percent coming from the current 6th. Like in the aforementioned Michigan pairing, one member’s home base is within the district, in this case Casten’s, while the other, Newman’s La Grange region, is not.

Also, as in two of the other pairings, we see an early cycle even split between the two candidates. According to a Victoria Research Feb. 10-15 survey, the two House members were tied at 37 percent apiece.

No polling data is available for the other two pairings — the Illinois Republican battle between Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) and Mary Miller (R-Oakland) in the new 15th CD, and Michigan Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) and Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) in their state’s new District 4.

Davis has the advantage with the establishment Republicans while Rep. Miller, with former President Trump’s endorsement, is the ideological base vote favorite.

Despite running more than $200,000 in ads for the upcoming primary, Michigan Rep. Upton still says he has not yet committed to running again. He has until the April 19 candidate filing deadline to make a final decision. Upton has the geographical advantage in the new 4th (64 percent carryover to 25 percent), but Huizenga has the Trump endorsement and is stronger with the ideological base.


House redistribution statistics can be found on the Daily Kos Elections website.

Alaska Special Election Set

By Jim Ellis

Alaska’s At-Large Congressman, the late Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon)

March 24, 2022 — Decisions have been made about the special election calendar to replace the late at-large Alaska Congressman Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon).

Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) has set June 11 as the special primary election day, and the vote will be conducted through the mail. Alaska’s new top-four jungle primary system will be in play, meaning that four competitors will advance into the special general election, regardless of party affiliation.

The special general will be run concurrently with the Aug. 16 regular primary election, meaning candidates will be placed separately on the ballot for both the special election and the regular full term.

If no candidate receives majority support in the Aug. 16 special election, the Ranked Choice Voting System will take effect. Voters would rank their choices from first to four just for the special general. Since no one would have received 50 percent, the last-place finisher is eliminated and the ballots that ranked the last place finisher as their first choice are located, and only their second choices are then added to the total. This process continues until one of the candidates reaches 50 percent.

This means that voters will rank the four finalists for the special general and then vote for one of the regular primary candidates for the Nov. 8 election during the same voting process on Aug. 16, or the date on which they choose to vote early.

Since Alaska’s at-large House seat has not been open since the 1973 special election when Rep. Young was originally elected, a large special election field will form. Already, Nick Begich III, grandson of Rep. Young’s first Democratic opponent back in 1972, then-Congressman Nick Begich (D) who perished in a plane crash shortly before the regular general election, is in the field but as a Republican. He had announced against Young in the Republican primary before the congressman’s death.

Also saying he will run both in the special and regular elections, as did Begich, is Anchorage City Assemblyman Chris Constant (D).

The Democratic/Independent 2020 US Senate nominee who raised and spent over $19.5 million to unsuccessfully challenge GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan, surgeon Al Gross, publicly said that he, too, plans to enter the open seat campaign. Dr. Gross begins the race with a reported $200,000 (approximate) in remaining campaign funds, obviously a big advantage.

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House Candidates File in Two Competitive States

By Jim Ellis

Candidate filings have closed in both Nevada and Iowa.

March 23, 2022 — Though both are only four-district congressional states, Iowa and Nevada will both host a large number of highly competitive US House races this year, and now the candidates have filed.

The Senate races in both states are already well defined and will come to a head in the general election. In Iowa, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) is on the ballot for an eighth term having been first elected in 1980, and it is clear that he will face former US Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D) in the general election.

In Nevada, first-term Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) defends her seat most likely against former Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R), but he must first deflect a credible Republican primary challenge from businessman and disabled Afghan War veteran Sam Brown.

The Hawkeye State House races feature only one safe member, freshman Randy Feenstra (R-Hull/Sioux City). The other three races will again host tight campaigns as they did in 2020, which of course includes Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) six-vote victory.

In the new 1st District, Miller-Meeks will again campaign in a district not much different than the 2nd District that she carried by the slimmest of margins in the last election. She won’t again face former state Sen. Rita Hart (D), however. Despite coming agonizingly close to victory in 2020, Hart declined to seek a re-match this year. Democrats only filed one candidate, so state Rep. Christina Bohannan (D-Iowa City) and incumbent Miller-Meeks will compete in a venue that is likely to yield another close finish.

Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids), who knocked off then-Rep. Finkenauer in what was Iowa’s 1st District, finds herself in a slightly more Republican 2nd District. Like in the new 1st CD, the Democrats filed only one candidate. In this seat, the Democrat nominee will be state Sen. Liz Mathis (D-Hiawatha) a former news anchor at the same television station where Hinson also reported the news. The new 2nd rates as R+6 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization.

In the Des Moines-anchored 3rd CD, Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines) has won two plurality victories and looks to face another difficult re-election campaign in a seat that rates R+2. State Sen. Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant) looks to be the strongest Republican of the three GOP contenders and is the favorite to win the nomination. This will become a top national Republican conversion opportunity.

Not previously mentioned as a potential candidate against Nevada Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) in a new 1st District that is much more Republican, former 4th District Congressman Cresent Hardy (R) filed at the deadline on Friday to officially enter the race.

Rep. Titus has expressed displeasure at the configuration of her new district that FiveThirtyEight calculates went from a current D+22 rating to a D+4 under the new plan. Dave’s Redistricting App finds the average 1st CD Democratic vote at 52.6 percent and the Republican percentage at 42.3 percent. This is considerably better than the seat where Titus averaged 62.1 percent in the five elections conducted during the previous decade.

As many as four other Republicans may qualify for the primary ballot, but Hardy appears to be the most formidable of the contenders. The new 1st District contest, in a CD that encompasses part of Las Vegas before moving south to include the cities of Henderson and Boulder City, will become competitive in the fall but is still an uphill battle for any Republican nominee.

Frequent candidate Danny Tarkanian (R), who last year was elected to the Douglas County Commission after a long string of electoral defeats, is again running for Congress. This will be his fourth quest for the US House in a third different district, on top of two Senate races. Previously, he lost a pair of campaigns in the 3rd CD and one in the 4th District.

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Alaska Rep. Young’s Passing Yields Chaotic Special Election Process

By Jim Ellis

Alaska’s At-Large Congressman, the late Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon)

March 22, 2022 — On Friday, the Dean of the House of Representatives, Alaska’s At-Large Congressman Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), passed away in an airplane flying back to his home state. The congressman, who was first elected in a 1973 special election, served in the House for 49 consecutive years, or just 14 years less than the time Alaska has been a state.

The congressman’s full and colorful national political career even began in an unusual way. As a sitting state legislator, he ran for Congress in 1972, opposite at-large Rep. Nick Begich (D). Less than a month before the election, however, Rep. Begich and then House Majority Leader Hale Boggs (D-LA) went down in a plane crash on a tour through the Last Frontier. With Boggs legally declared as missing, though it was imminently clear that all perished in the crash, he still defeated Young in the 1972 regular election.

Upon certification of Rep. Begich’s death, Don Young then won the succeeding special election in early 1973. He would never lose again. Coming full circle, Rep. Young’s 2022 opponent would likely have been Nick Begich III (D), the late congressman’s grandson.

While best wishes and remembrances for and about the congressional icon are coming from throughout the country, a potentially chaotic replacement process lies before the state’s governor to direct, and then for those who choose to become candidates.

Under Alaska law, a special election must be conducted to fill an electoral vacancy no less than 60 and no more than 90 days after the position is officially vacated. In this case, Young passed away on March 18. Therefore, at least the initial election must occur during the period between May 17 and June 16.

Because the state is changing its election procedure, much is unclear. An Alaska Department of Law spokesperson stated in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News that the agency personnel will review the applying statutes and prepare an advisory report for Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R).

In 2020, Alaska voters passed an initiative to change the state’s primary system. Thus, the state will now use a jungle primary format. Three other states, California, Louisiana, and Washington have jungle primaries, but in all of those places the top two finishers advance into the general election or post-election runoff. Louisiana holds its jungle primary concurrently with the regular general election so that a leading candidate with a percentage greater than 50 is elected outright.

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Pennsylvania Candidate Filings Close

Click on image to go to FiveThirtyEight.com’s interactive redistricting map.


By Jim Ellis

March 18, 2022 — Pennsylvania’s candidate filing period closed late Tuesday, yielding official May 17 primary candidates for the Keystone State’s federal and state offices. A total of 11 contenders are competing in the Republican gubernatorial primary, while Attorney General Josh Shapiro is unopposed on the Democratic side. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

The Senate race is also a crowded affair, with seven Republicans compared to five candidates in the Democrat primary. The Senate contest is also open because Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is not seeking a third term. A total of 66 Democrat, Republican, and some minor party candidates filed for the congressional races. The state’s Independent and minor party filing deadline does not conclude until Aug. 1.

Among the Republican gubernatorial candidates are two former US House members, Lou Barletta and Melissa Hart, two state senators, Doug Mastriano (R-Fayetteville) and Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte), former US Attorney Bill McSwain, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, and former Delaware County Commissioner Dave White. Shapiro will begin the general election campaign as the favorite, if for no other reason than seeing the eventual Republican nominee having to fight through a tough crowded primary.

The Senate race features primaries on both sides. The Democrats are in basically a two-way affair between Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who leads in all polls and fundraising, and US Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh). Both Democrats are from western Pennsylvania, but Fetterman should have the advantage in the vote-rich southeastern PA region considering his statewide ties, thus making him the favorite for the party nomination.

Two candidates on the Republican side have been spending heavily to attempt to separate themselves from the rest of the field, and they look to have succeeded. Former hedge fund CEO David McCormick is leading in the latest two statewide surveys over television doctor Mehmet Oz. Former US Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands and 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Jeff Bartos are the trailing candidates.

The Pennsylvania Senate general election will be one of the most important in the nation, and the results will go a long way toward determining which party will control the majority in the next Congress.

In the congressional races, Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia), Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Swarthmore), Dan Meuser (R-Dallas), Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster), John Joyce (R-Hollidaysburg/Altoona), Guy Reschenthaler (R-Peters Township), Glenn Thompson (R-Howard/State College), and Mike Kelly (R-Butler) all should have easy rides to re-election. Rep. Reschenthaler has no Republican or Democratic opposition post-filing. Rep. Joyce faces only one minor Republican opponent.

Rep. Fred Keller’s (R-Middleburg) safe Republican 12th District was eliminated because Pennsylvania lost a seat in national reapportionment. He originally was going to challenge Rep. Meuser in the 9th District Republican primary, but later decided to retire.

Pennsylvania hosts four major congressional races: two open seats and two top challenger efforts against vulnerable Democratic incumbents.

Rep. Lamb’s open 17th District, which sits west of Pittsburgh and stretches to the Ohio border, has a rating of D+1 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization; this is the type of seat that Republicans must convert if they are to win the majority in November.

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