Tag Archives: FiveThirtyEight

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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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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Illinois 2022 Candidate Filings Close

Illinois Congressional redistricting map; to see an interactive map, click here: FiveThirtyEight

By Jim Ellis

March 17, 2022 — Candidate filing in Illinois closed on Monday, and while the post-filing qualification process (most notably insufficient or invalid petition signatures) could disqualify some of those submitting documents, the candidate field for the delayed June 28 primary election is basically set.

Originally, the Illinois primary was scheduled for its typical calendar slot in March, but the legislature decided to delay the primary before redistricting began, incorrectly anticipating that they would have trouble completing the process. Instead, the Illinois Democratic political leadership produced and passed into law arguably the most gerrymandered map in the country.

Though Illinois is a strongly Democratic state, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) will seek a second term opposed by a surprisingly large Republican field. The most notable contenders, though none are likely to topple the governor in November, are state Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Louisville), Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, and venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D) is on the ballot for a second term and has drawn a field of eight Republican candidates, with the likely leader being attorney Kathy Salvi, wife of former US Senate nominee Al Salvi, a favorite of conservatives. Sen. Duckworth will be safe for re-election.

While the US House map is designed to produce 14 Democrat victories in the delegation’s 17 seats, adopting the maximum partisan map could make some of the majority party seats weak, thus creating some unexpected competition in the general election.

Incumbents with safe seats are:

  • Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Matteson)
  • Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago)
  • Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago)
  • Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago)
  • Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Schaumburg)
  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston)
  • Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Deerfield)
  • Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro)

The lineup features four open seats and two paired incumbent situations. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) is retiring after serving 15 terms in the House. The Democrat primary will determine his successor, and the fight is among 20 candidates, including former Chicago Workforce Partnership CEO Karin Norrington-Reaves, who Rep. Rush has endorsed; Jonathan Jackson, son of Rev. Jesse Jackson and brother of former Chicago US Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.; and state Sen. Jacqui Collins (D-Chicago).

The new 3rd District is a created open seat — one drawn through redistricting. This seat is 44 percent Hispanic and is designed as the city’s second Hispanic influenced district. The leading candidates for the seat, again to be decided in the Democrat primary, are state Sen. Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) and Chicago Alderman Gil Villegas.

The new 13th CD is also a created open seat, and one that stretches from Champaign through Decatur then Springfield and all the way into the Illinois side of the St. Louis suburbs. The district is also designed to elect a Democrat, but the general election could become at least somewhat competitive. Former Obama Administration official Nikki Budzinski appears to have the inside track to the party nomination, thus making her the favorite in the general election.

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North Carolina Races – Part II

Click on above image or here to go to FiveThirtyEight interactive redistricting map.


By Jim Ellis

March 9, 2022 — Today’s update is the second part of our look at the new North Carolina political map. In this edition, we examine the state’s 14 new US House districts.

Incumbents who look to be in strong position under the new map and won’t get much of a challenge are the following (the rating figure comes from the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization):

  • Rep. Deborah Ross (D-Raleigh; D+24)
  • Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville; R+29)
  • Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk; R+24)
  • Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro; D+9)
  • Rep. David Rouzer (R-Wilmington; R+16)
  • Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Union County; R+38)
  • Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-Lake Norman; R+43)
  • Rep. Alma Adams (D-Charlotte; D+25)

The state will feature four open seats in the 2022 election. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson) is retiring after serving what will be nine full terms, leaving his 1st District as an open seat. Rep. Butterfield complained that the original draw makes the seat less favorable for an African-American candidate to win. The new district increases the black population percentage by a point, to just over 41 percent. The total minority population registers almost 50 percent of the new 1st, with a 49.9 percent number.

Four Democrats filed for the seat, and the leading candidates appear to be state Sen. Don Davis (D-Snow Hill) and ex-state senator and 2020 US Senate candidate Erica Smith. Seven Republicans filed including 2020 nominee Sandy Smith, who held Rep. Butterfield to a 54-46 percent re-election victory, and Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson. FiveThirtyEight rates this seat as D+5, so we can expect the GOP to target this race.

Rep. David Price (D-Chapel Hill) is also retiring. He is completing 17 non-consecutive terms in the House, having lost his seat in the 1994 election after originally coming to the House in the 1986 vote. He returned to Congress in the 1996 election. Eight Democrats are vying for the party nomination and the seat in the May primary.

Since the new 4th is rated D+30, claiming the Democratic nomination is tantamount to winning the general election. The leading candidates appear to be state Sen. Valerie Foushee (D-Carrboro), Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, and country singer and 2014 congressional nominee Clay Aiken.

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Rep. Taylor Withdraws From Race

Former Texas Collin County Judge (Executive) Keith Self is now the new 3rd District Republican nominee after north Texas area Congressman Van Taylor (R-Plano) decided to withdraw from the runoff election resulting from Tuesday’s primary.

By Jim Ellis

March 4, 2022 — It was on a somewhat surprising note that north Texas area Congressman Van Taylor (R-Plano) was forced into a runoff from Tuesday’s primary election, but Wednesday’s related events proved astonishing.

Rep. Taylor has announced that he is withdrawing from the runoff, making public an extra-marital affair in which he engaged. Apparently, affair rumors began to surface late in the primary contest. Clearly knowing the story would become public, he admitted the indiscretion and immediately departed the race.

Under Texas election procedure, a candidate qualifying for a runoff election can decline to participate. The concession means the opponent automatically wins the party nomination. Thus, former Collin County Judge (Executive) Keith Self is the new 3rd District Republican nominee with an accompanying ticket to Washington, DC after the Nov. 8 election.

Taylor only secured 48.7 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary, meaning that a majority of Republican primary voters chose another candidate. This is never a good sign for any incumbent and the chief reason that most incumbents fail when forced to the secondary election. Adding the personal baggage obviously told Rep. Taylor that his re-election chances were irreparably diminished.

Self is a retired career West Point Academy Army officer who placed second in the primary with 27.1 percent, outlasting third-place finisher Suzanne Harp, a hard-charging businesswoman who proved to be surprisingly strong. The new congressional nominee presided over Collin County, an entity with now more than 1 million people, for three terms and chose to retire in 2018. In the congressional primary, he campaigned to Rep. Taylor’s right.

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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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