Tag Archives: FiveThirtyEight

Rep. Bobby Rush to Retire

US Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago)

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 6, 2022 — From Illinois Black Panther Party co-founder to 30-year member of Congress, US Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) after the first of the year announced that he will not seek a 16th term next year. Rush becomes the 24th Democrat to leave the House either for retirement or seeking another elective office. A 25th Democratic seat, that of the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), will be filled next week (Jan. 11) in a special election.

Bobby Rush co-founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968, but left for the Democratic Party in 1974. He was elected to the Chicago City Council in 1983, and then to the US House in the 1992 election. In addition to his civil rights activism and background, his claim to national fame was defeating then-state Sen. Barack Obama in the Democratic congressional primary of 2000.

Obama, of course, would go onto win the US Senate election in 2004, and the presidency in 2008. Interestingly, former President Obama is not the only recent president who lost a race for the House of Representatives. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also failed to win a district contest.

Illinois’ 1st District is heavily Democratic, even in its new form that meanders farther away from its south Chicago population anchor. The new 1st stretches all the way to the city of Wilmington, some 60 miles from the traditional heart of IL-1.

Likely anticipating that Rush would retire, seven Democrats had previously announced their 2022 candidacies, but none are elected officials. With the incumbent retirement now official, we can expect a number of Chicago Democratic politicians to enter the open race. As many as 11 sitting state and local officials are being mentioned as possible candidates in addition to Lt. Gov. Julianna Stratton.

Regardless of who files before the March 14 candidate declaration deadline, the June 28 Democratic primary winner will easily claim the seat in November. While the new 1st is a bit more Republican than Rep. Rush’s current CD, the new district is still overwhelmingly Democratic and majority minority under the Democratic legislature’s gerrymandered map. According to the FiveThirtyEight statistical site, the new 1st is a D+41, down from the current 1st District rating of D+47.

Of the 24 Democratic incumbents not seeking re-election, 17 are retiring and seven are seeking another office, from US Senate and governor to state attorney general and big city mayor.

Continue reading

Michigan’s Anti-Incumbent Map

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 5, 2022 — One of the biggest complaints most commonly aired about redistricting is that it favors incumbents, but such is not the case with the recently completed Wolverine State congressional map. In fact, the members of the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission appear to have gone out of their way to upend the state’s sitting federal office holders.

The current 14-seat map features seven Democrats and seven Republicans with two of the seats converting from Republican to Democrat in the 2018 election. Michigan loses a seat in reapportionment, and it became apparent from the start that the Republicans would absorb the loss because a great deal of the population growth deficit was coming from the middle section of the lower peninsula.

That proved to be the case, but the cut was a bit different than expected. Considering the population deficit and Michigan’s geography, i.e., being surrounded by lakes, Canada, and other states, the most logical district for collapse appeared to be Rep. John Moolenaar’s (R-Midland) 4th District because it sat in the middle of the area that the population change clearly affected.

While the Moolenaar district was certainly altered in a significant manner, it was the western district of Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) that was broken into small pieces.

While true that Moolenaar was technically paired with Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flushing/Flint) because his home city of Midland was placed in the new 8th District, a new safe Republican 2nd CD that contains much of the current Moolenaar district lies available for him to the west. While Rep. Kildee sees his home Flint/Flushing area remaining intact, he finds himself in a more competitive seat and may be facing a challenge from former congressman, attorney general, state appellate judge, and ex-US Senate and gubernatorial GOP nominee Bill Schuette in a seat that can now conceivably elect a Republican.

Continue reading

Arizona’s Competitive Map

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 4, 2022 — The Grand Canyon State of Arizona was one of the places to complete the redistricting process toward the end of 2021 when the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission members approved a new congressional plan. The new district boundaries will create one of the most competitive US House maps in the country.

The current 5D-4R map could easily swing from 6D-3R all the way to 3D-6R depending upon the political winds in any given election year. Among the current incumbents, Reps. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona), David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills), and Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix) all see more competitive new seats.

The commission members also changed the district numbers, making voter history comparisons a bit more confusing. They did provide political data that summarizes certain past elections for each new seat, however. The data chart covers 10 statewide race results from 2016 through 2020.

Rep. O’Halleran’s 1st District, which stretches throughout most of eastern Arizona, is now labeled #2 and becomes much more Republican despite adding Native American population. In fact, the historical average is majority Republican, at 53.6 percent. The FiveThirtyEight statistical projection rates the new 2nd as the fourth most Republican district in the state at R+15.

Under the previous map, FiveThirtyEight rated the O’Halleran seat at R+8. Rep. O’Halleran, though acknowledging he will have a more difficult re-election battle, has already announced that he will run in the new 2nd.

Prior to the map release, two-term GOP state Rep. Walt Blackman, a Bronze Star Medal recipient for combat in Iraq and the first African American Republican to be elected to the state House, announced for the congressional seat, and now appears to be in even stronger political position opposite Rep. O’Halleran.

Rep. Schweikert’s 6th District electorate that includes the Scottsdale area, returned him for a sixth term with only a 52-48 percent margin in a CD that FiveThirtyEight rated R+13. The new 1st District has a 51.3 percent Republican average vote. The FiveThirtyEight rating for the new confines is R+7, meaning that Schweikert can again expect a competitive general election challenge.

Continue reading

Redistricting:
California & New Jersey Maps

Click on map of California above for detailed view

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 3, 2022 — The California and New Jersey redistricting commissions are completing the last steps of passing what look to be the final congressional plans for each state. The cursory analysis suggests that Democrats may gain a seat in California with Republicans doing likewise in the Garden State.


California

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission members approved and sent toward final adoption a new 52-district congressional map that could give the Democrats even more seats in the delegation, though we will see several more competitive districts come into play. California lost one seat in reapportionment and Democrats are taking the loss of one of their Los Angeles County seats, but look to be replacing it, and then some, in other parts of the Golden State.

The 47th and 40th Districts of retiring members Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Downey) were combined to construct a new 42nd CD, which is heavily Democratic. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), who is leaving the House to enter the campaign for mayor of Los Angeles, sees her 37th District, which was on the chopping block in the first draft map, restored almost intact.

Major change is occurring in the Central Valley. Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock) sees his 10th District going from an R1 rating according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical analysis organization to R17. Therefore, it is unlikely he will run in his new designated 5th District.

Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) may leave what is a new 13th District at D7 and move to the downtown Fresno seat, now labeled District 21. This seat has much of resigning Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-Tulare) territory but is rated a D16. Rep. Costa choosing the 21st might allow Rep. Harder to drop down into new District 13, which would be a much more favorable partisan situation but takes him away from his geographical base.

Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita), who won his 2020 election by just a 333-vote margin, sees his designated district, now numbered 27, become at least three points more Democratic. This endangers even further his re-election chances. The 538 organization rated his current 25th CD as a D5. The new 27th becomes a D8.

Several Republicans have proven they can win these D-plus single digit type seats, however. In addition to Rep. Garcia’s two victories in current CD-25, Rep. David Valadao’s (R-Hanford/Bakersfield) 21st district is rated a D9. His new seat, designated District 22, goes to a D10. Another option for him would be to also run in District 13 (D7), which contains some of his current territory. Rep. Young Kim (R-La Habra) won a 39th District that FiveThirtyEight rated as a D6. Her new 45th CD is calculated at D5.

We could possibly see a district swap operation between Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) due to geography, and between Reps. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County) and Katie Porter (D-Irvine) for partisan reasons.

Rep. Steel’s district moves from a R2 to a D6, while Rep. Porter’s adjacent CD shifts in the opposite direction, going from a D6 all the way to a R4. The problem can be solved for both members by them simply switching districts. This would mean Rep. Porter would run in the new coastal 47th with Rep. Steel going to the inland new 40th.

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) gets a solid Democratic district, but its new positioning is unfavorable to him from a geographic perspective. Garamendi’s new 8th District moves closer to the San Francisco Bay Area making him vulnerable to a challenge from a Bay Area Democratic state or local official. It is likely this new Vallejo-anchored CD would produce a double Democratic general election under the state’s top two jungle primary system.

Several members see their districts downgraded from a partisan perspective. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove/Sacramento) goes from R15 to R8 in a new 3rd District that stretches into southern California along the Nevada border.

Rep. Jerry McNerney’s (D-Stockton) 9th CD goes from D14 to D8, again according to the 538 analysis. Rep. Ken Calvert’s (R-Corona) designated CD, numbered 41, drops from his current R13 to R7. Rep. Mike Levin’s (D-San Juan Capistrano) 49th CD recedes two points from D7 to D5.


New Jersey

Click on map of New Jersey above to see detailed view

It appears that the New Jersey Redistricting Commission comprised of six Democratic elected officials, six similar Republicans, and a state Supreme Court selected tie-breaking member, have also agreed upon a new congressional map. New Jersey’s representation level remained constant with 12 seats, so it was a matter of adjusting the current districts.

It is evident that the rumor suggesting the commission would adopt a map that drastically weakened Rep. Tom Malinowski’s (D-Rocky Hill) seat in order to strengthen three other Democratic districts, those of Reps. Andy Kim (D-Bordentown), Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair/Morristown) proved true.

It further appears that Rep. Albio Sires’ (D-West New York) retirement did not change the commissioners’ outlook as to which district to weaken. Sires’ 8th District returns virtually intact, another indication that Sen. Bob Menendez’s son, Robert J. Menendez (D), will likely be the retiring congressman’s successor. The latter Menendez currently serves on the NY/NJ Port Commission.

While the NJ Democrats are securing three of their more politically marginal districts, Districts 3, 5, and 11, Republicans appeared poised, probably in the person of state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Edison) who held Malinowski to a 51-49 percent win in 2020, to convert the new 7th CD.

More research will be done on the likely-to-be-adopted California and New Jersey congressional maps when detailed district descriptions become available. It looks like several incumbent members will have decisions before them about where to run in California, while the focus of the New Jersey competitive action will center around the District 7 Malinowski-Kean re-match.

Virginia Map Released

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 13, 2021 — The Virginia congressional redistricting map was just published and it contains some surprises. Unexpectedly, the overall plan features more competitive districts than the current map, and the state’s three female members each drew more difficult political situations. All eight males would have safe seats.

Because the Virginia Redistricting Commission members failed to produce a new congressional map by the stated deadline, the Supreme Court of Virginia was forced to assume map drawing responsibilities. The court hired two special masters, a Democrat and a Republican, to collaborate and produce a new federal map.

The 11-district plan enhances the political competition in two seats when compared to vote totals typically yielded from the current map and creates a new open seat that sets the scene for a highly contested Democratic primary. The districts of Reps. Elaine Luria (D-Norfolk) and Jennifer Wexton (D-Leesburg) clearly become more competitive, while Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen) has no reasonable place to run.

Instead of placing the new 7th District in the central part of the state beginning in Henrico County where Rep. Spanberger resides, the seat is transferred to Northern Virginia and will occupy all of Prince William and Stafford counties along with the cities of Manassas, Manassas Park, and Fredericksburg in addition to a small piece of southeastern Fairfax County. The FiveThirtyEight statistical organization rates the new 7th as D+14.

Immediately, two Democratic candidates who this year ran statewide — gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Carroll Foy and Hala Ayala, the lieutenant governor nominee — both expressed interest in running for the new seat. Both women are former state delegates. Though the new Prince William-anchored district is numbered seven, none of Spanberger’s current constituents reside here.

First District Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Montross) loses the Northern Virginia region he currently represents and sees his district move west. It picks up the western part of Henrico County and pairs him with Rep. Spanberger. With the statistics projecting the new 1st as R+16, it appears any Wittman-Spanberger campaign would end badly for the Democratic congresswoman.

The remaining parts of the Spanberger constituency have gone to Rep. Donald McEachin’s (D-Richmond) 4th District, and Rep. Wexton’s 10th CD. Such would force Rep. Spanberger to challenge a sitting Democratic incumbent if she were to choose to run in one of these seats. In no situation does Rep. Spanberger have a reasonable victory path.

Continue reading

Youngkin Catapults to Lead In Virginia Gubernatorial Race

Glenn Youngkin, Virginia Republican governor candidate

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 1, 2021 — A surprising polling turn of events came to light late last week as Fox News released a new Virginia survey that shows Republican Glenn Youngkin (R) holding an eight-point lead in the race for governor, his largest of any poll throughout the campaign. The surprise comes in a result that reverses last week’s Fox poll that found former Gov. Terry McAuliffe holding a five-point advantage.

The Fox News poll (Oct. 24-27; 1,212 registered Virginia voters; 1,015 individuals identified as likely VA gubernatorial election voters, live interview) finds Youngkin claiming a 53-45 percent advantage within the likely voter segment. When looking at the entire registered voter sample, however, the Youngkin edge shrinks to 48-47 percent.

The previous Fox poll (Oct. 10-13; 1,004 registered Virginia voters; 726 individuals identified as likely VA gubernatorial election voters, live interview) gave McAuliffe a 51-46 percent margin. Within the entire sample, the McAuliffe advantage leapt to a double-digit eleven point lead at 52-41 percent.

Though Fox News has a well-known right-of-center orientation, their polling operation does not. The Fox Polls are conducted jointly through a Democratic survey research firm and a Republican polling organization. Beacon Research is the Democratic firm, formerly known as Anderson Robbins Research, while the Republican entity is Shaw & Company Research. The two have been collaborating on the Fox polls for 10 years, since 2011.

According to the FiveThirtyEight research organization that ranks polling firms, Fox News is scored with an A rating, but has a Democratic bias factor of 1.8 percentage points. Therefore, despite Fox News’ reputation, their polling arm has trended more Democratic over the joint partnership’s long history.

That being said, this particular poll appears to have a Republican skew. Looking at the likely voters, 46 percent identified themselves as solid or leaning Republican, while 42 percent responded Democratic. This ratio is contrary to recent Virginia voter history.

The Commonwealth does not register voters by political party, so people can float between the two major political organizations. The move toward the Republicans in this poll could be the centrist, or independent voter, moving to the right for this particular election. Regardless, it is probable that Youngkin’s eight-point margin among likely voters is at least somewhat inflated.

A further problem for McAuliffe is his standing among committed voters. In both the current survey and the previous Fox study that found him leading by five points, his committed support remained constant at 44 percent. Seeing no movement on this question suggests that McAuliffe is lacking momentum in the closing days.

Continue reading

New Hampshire Senate:
Toss-up Results

By Jim Ellis

New Hampshire first-term incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D)

Oct. 25, 2021 — Only needing to gain a net one seat to claim the Senate majority, Republicans face a frustrating in-cycle map that yields few 2022 Democratic targets. One of those scarce opportunities, however, lies in the Granite State of New Hampshire.

Arguably, the New Hampshire race is the party’s best conversion opportunity and becomes a Republican prerequisite toward building a winning coalition of states. The latest University of New Hampshire poll, released late last week, suggests the GOP is well positioned to compete in the “Live Free or Die” region of New England.

The regular UNH Granite State poll (Oct. 14-18; 1,061 New Hampshire panel members, 979 likely New Hampshire voters, online) tested first-term incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) against several potential Republican opponents … and she falls into an early toss-up result against all.

First, a word about the UNH polling operation. Several years ago it was among the most inaccurate of pollsters, largely because they utilized long sampling periods sometimes lasting three weeks, and small respondent universes. They have improved since that time, though their online format chosen for this poll is typically not optimal.

The FiveThirtyEight statistical organization, in their latest pollster rankings, rates the UNH operation as their 112th best pollster, with a B- rating. They assign a 2.4 percent Democratic bias factor to the organization’s polling results over 122 tested surveys.

That being said, yesterday’s survey release finds Gov. Chris Sununu (R) again leading Sen. Hassan in a hypothetical ballot test pairing. There is no doubt Republican leaders are trying to persuade Gov. Sununu to run, but so far he has not committed to the race. He has the opportunity of running for a fourth gubernatorial term – New Hampshire has two-year terms for their governors – or pursing opportunities in the private sector.

This poll finds the Sununu advantage at three percentage points, 45-42 percent, which is of course in toss-up range, but seeing an incumbent well below 50 percent does not bode well for Sen. Hassan.

UNH also tested the senator against the woman she defeated by a tenth of a percentage point in 2016, or just over 1,000 votes statewide, former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R). The new poll virtually replays that result, posting Sen. Hassan to a bare 44-43 percent edge.

Continue reading