Tag Archives: Indiana

Santorum Exits: What Else Changes?

The surprisingly abrupt suspension of former Sen. Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign will affect more than just the national political contest. While Santorum’s decision effectively crowns Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential nominee, several other political contests will also change because of yesterday’s developments.

Looking ahead to contested Republican primaries where a Santorum candidacy would either positively or negatively affect the turnout model in places that vote for president and Congress together, many candidates will now have to re-adjust their own political campaign efforts. The lack of having an active presidential race will clearly alter the voter participation rates in their particular races.

One such contest that comes to mind is the upcoming Indiana Senate campaign where six-term Sen. Richard Lugar is facing state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in what is becoming a contentious and hard-fought Republican primary election. Polling shows the race to be within single digits but, among self-identified Republicans, Lugar is clearly in trouble. Under Indiana law, the primary election is open so Independents and Democrats can choose to vote in the Republican primary. Lugar runs stronger with Democrats and Independents so inclined to vote Republican, but it is difficult to gauge at this point in time the overall size of such a pool of voters.

It is probably a bit too early to predict with any certainty just how Santorum’s exit from the presidential campaign will change the Lugar-Mourdock race. One school of thought suggests that the senator might actually benefit because Santorum’s absence now gives the most conservative voter less of a reason to vote. On the other hand, the lower overall turnout will make those most motivated to visit the polls all the more important and influential. The more intense voter tends to support the non-incumbent in these types of electoral situations, thus Lugar’s position becomes tenuous since Mourdock, as the lone GOP challenger, is solely benefiting from all of the anti-incumbent sentiment.

Another race where the lack of a Santorum presidential challenge could make a difference is in the Texas Senate race. There, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who should be the overwhelming favorite to win the nomination outright on May 29, could find his chances of being forced into a July 31 run-off increasing as the rate of turnout drops. Texas has notoriously low primary election participation rates so, as in Indiana, the more motivated voters generate greater influence within a smaller pool. Thus, conservative challenger Ted Cruz, the state’s former solicitor general, could benefit from this development.

Cruz’s only chance to wrest the nomination away from Dewhurst is to force him into a run-off election by holding him below 50 percent in the primary. With eight other candidates on the ballot, including former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert, and former NFL and Southern Methodist University football star Craig James, a lower turnout might make the run-off scenario more plausible.

Many congressional races will be effected, too. With contested Republican primary campaigns in action throughout North Carolina – GOP nomination challenges to Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC-3) and Howard Coble (R-NC-6) and crowded open seat races in the 9th (Rep. Sue Myrick), 11th (Rep. Heath Shuler), and 13th CD’s (Rep. Brad Miller) along with Republican challenger primaries for the right to face incumbents Mike McIntyre (D-NC-7) and Larry Kissell (D-NC-8) in the general election – the new turnout model could greatly alter all Tar Heel State political outcomes.

The same can be said for the California House races, particularly as the state institutes its new primary system that allows the top two finishers in every campaign, regardless of political party affiliation, to advance to the general election. With Republican voter turnout percentages, now without an active presidential race on their side, probably falling into line with Democratic participation rates, several campaigns – such as Rep. Gary Miller’s 31st District election and the newly created open 41st (Riverside County) and 47th (Long Beach area) districts – will likely change direction. Which way they will move is still unclear.

Much more analysis will come for all of these campaigns as we get closer to their respective election dates. It is clear, however, that politics in a macro sense will drastically change as a result of Santorum conceding the presidential nomination to Romney.

Romney’s Reality and Other Struggling GOP Candidates

Now that the dust has settled and the final results have been recorded from the Tuesday night vote, it is clear that Mitt Romney slightly underperformed on the aggregate delegate count. With his win in Hawaii and the sweep of American Samoa’s nine delegates somewhat off-setting his third-place finishes in Mississippi and Alabama, Romney looks to have secured approximately 42 delegate votes on the evening. This is four to five short of his projected bare minimum pace necessary to secure 1,144 delegates before the Republican National Convention begins. Since he will more than likely continue to fare poorly in the remaining southern states of Louisiana (March 24), North Carolina (May 8), Arkansas (May 22), and Texas (May 29) the Midwestern trio of states – Illinois (March 20), Wisconsin (April 3), and Indiana (May 8) – are must-win landslides if he is to maintain his victory chances.

In other races, several Republican incumbents claimed renomination on Tuesday night with uninspiring percentages against weak opposition. Reps. Jo Bonner (R-AL-1), House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL-6) and freshman Alan Nunnelee (R-MS-1) all won their primary elections outright, but with percentages between 55 and 60 percent. This is hardly a normal result since such efforts against under-funded opponents usually find the incumbent exceeding 75 percent. Tuesday’s congressional vote, coupled with the defeat of Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH-2) and former Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH-15) last week in the Ohio primaries, could be an early indication that voters’ anti-incumbent sentiments, so prominent since the 2006 election, have yet to subside.

50 Open Seats in Congress

Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC-11) yesterday became the 34th sitting House member to announce he won’t seek re-election in the fall, just two days after he said he wouldn’t run in North Carolina’s newly open gubernatorial race. With Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton already jumping into the governor’s campaign to replace outgoing incumbent Bev Perdue as the Democratic nominee, there is some speculation that the state’s number two position might be a suitable political landing spot for the three-term congressman and former NFL football player. Mr. Shuler, however, gave no indication that he would immediately jump into another political contest.

Speculation has been rampant that he would retire ever since the North Carolina redistricting map was passed into law and the US Justice Department granted pre-clearance. With a good chunk of his Asheville Democratic base being transferred to Rep. Patrick McHenry’s (R) 10th District, Shuler was actually left with the most Republican-voting congressional district in the state.

Considering his dim prospects for re-election and the fact that he had raised campaign contributions from only two individuals during the entire fourth quarter of 2011, his announcement yesterday seemed anti-climactic.

Along with Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN-5), who earlier in the week said he would not seek a 16th term, the Shuler announcement means that 50 seats are transforming into open races during the current election cycle. One CD, that of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ-8) is vacant due to her resignation. A special election will be held June 12 to determine her replacement for the balance of the term. The others will be filled during the regular election.

Of the 34 members leaving the House at the end of this 112th Congress, 19 are opting for retirement while 15 seek different offices. Eleven of the latter 15 are running for the Senate; two for governor; one for president; and one for mayor of San Diego. Three members, Reps. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA-18), John Olver (D-MA-1), and Steve Austria (R-OH-7), find themselves in post-redistricting predicaments paired with another incumbent of their own party, hence the decision to retire. Since they were placed in a district with another incumbent, no open seat results in these three situations.

Reapportionment and redistricting have created an additional 19 open seats. The grand total of seats featuring no incumbent in 2012 is already 50, a very high number at this point in the election cycle. Of those open seats, nine are from California and six hail from Texas.

The open seats will also drastically change the complexion of the House. Even if no other member decides not to seek re-election, or none are defeated during the succeeding 2012 campaign – an unlikely outcome – a majority of the new House of Representatives will feature men and women who have served three terms or less. In fact, at least 225 members of the 113th Congress will have seniority of no more than six years. Even without the institution of universal term limits, the House is experiencing a rate of turnover that hasn’t been seen in more than a century.

Indiana’s Rep. Burton to Retire

Rep. Dan Burton (R), a 15-term congressman, announced that he will not seek re-election later this year, thus avoiding a difficult primary contest that he was not guaranteed of winning. Mr. Burton won his last two primaries with small pluralities of the vote and would have had serious trouble had Indiana employed a run-off electoral system.

Former Rep. David McIntosh (D-IN-2), who left the House in 2000 to run unsuccessfully as the Republican gubernatorial nominee, already is in the race. And former US Attorney Susan Brooks is an announced candidate, as is ex-Marion County Coroner John McGoff, who is making his third run for the seat. The eventual Republican nominee will be the heavy favorite to win in November. The Indiana primary is May 8. Candidate filing closes Feb. 21.

Mr. Burton becomes the 33rd member to announce he won’t seek re-election to the House (19D-14R). Eighteen members are opting to retire from politics, while 15 are running for a different office. Adding the new seats created by reapportionment and redistricting, 49 seats are already open for the 2012 election.

State-by-State House Race Review

With several more states completing their redistricting maps, it is again a good time to take an updated look at the competitive campaigns where district boundaries have been adopted. The first 12 states are covered below. The remaining dozen will be in Wednesday’s report. If the Texas court map is released this week, that analysis will be included, too.

As of now, the aggregate partisan swing pertaining to the states that have completed their maps is negligible. The remaining 14 multi-district states where the process has either not begun or isn’t complete, as well as the new Texas map, could favor the Democrats by the tune of 10 to 12 seats.

Alabama

All incumbents received winnable districts. Rep. Mike Rogers’ (R-AL-3) district was greatly improved from his perspective. The Alabama map still awaits Justice Department pre-clearance. Assuming it is granted, no partisan change is expected here.

Arkansas

The new lines most greatly affect the 1st and 4th districts. Freshman GOP Rep. Rick Crawford faces a difficult test in the new 1st District, which was made more Democratic. The retirement of Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR-4) makes the new 4th CD highly competitive in an open seat situation and is a GOP conversion opportunity. The swing will fall between R+1 and D+1.

California

The California Independent Redistricting Commission created a highly competitive map that could produce contested campaigns in as many as 23 of the 53 districts. The change in the state’s election law also adds a new twist to California campaigns. Now, the top two finishers in the June qualifying election advance to the November general regardless of party affiliation.

Among incumbents, Rep. David Dreier (R-CA-26) whose home was placed in new District 32, faces the most difficult re-election situation. He won’t run in CA-32 against Rep. Grace Napolitano (D) because the seat so heavily favors the Democrats. He could run in District 31, assuming Rep. Jerry Lewis (R) does not seek re-election there, or District 26 if Rep. Elton Gallegly (R) decides to challenge Rep. Buck McKeon (R) in the new 25th District. Neither scenario is positive for Dreier.

Several members are paired. The most notable are Reps. Howard Berman (D) and Brad Sherman (D) in the new Los Angeles County 30th District, and Reps. Ed Royce (R) and Gary Miller (R) in the new 39th District (Orange County). Should Gallegly and McKeon square-off in the new 25th, then another incumbent pairing will result.

With members still deciding where, or if, to run in 2012, the California situation is still unclear. It appears the statewide swing can go all the way from +3 Democrat to +3 Republican. After only seeing one incumbent of either party lose during the entire last decade, the new congressional redistricting map will make the Golden State one of the more hotly contested states in the country.

Colorado

The new court-produced map changes the competition factor. The plan makes the 4th District of freshman Rep. Cory Gardner (R) more Republican, but endangers sophomore Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO-6). The western slope 3rd District remains in the swing category. The partisan swing could go from even to D+2.

Georgia

The state gained one seat in reapportionment, and Republicans adding that seat to their column is a certainty. Rep. John Barrow (D-GA-12) will face a more competitive re-election contest, but the large African-American percentage is his greatest asset and may be enough to save him. The swing could go from R+1 to R+2. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10) was given a relatively safe Republican seat, but a much different one than his current district. A primary challenge here is a possibility. Like Alabama, Georgia awaits Department of Justice pre-clearance.

Idaho

The redistricting commission made only cosmetic changes in the state’s two congressional districts. Both Republican incumbents have winnable districts.

Illinois

This is the Democrats’ best state. The partisan swing could be as many as a D+4. Reps. Bob Dold (R-IL-10), Judy Biggert (R-IL-13), and Bobby Schilling (R-IL-17) all have difficult re-election challenges. Reps. Joe Walsh (R-IL-8) and Randy Hultgren (R-IL-14) are paired in the new 14th CD. Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-11) and Don Manzullo (R-IL-16) are paired in the new 16th.

Indiana

Republicans drew the Hooiser State map and are attempting to increase their 6-3 delegation advantage to 7-2. They might be successful, since 2nd District Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) decided to forego re-election in a more difficult seat and is running for the Senate. Though the 2nd District is more Republican, it is still competitive as President Obama scored 49 percent even within the new boundaries. By making IN-2 more Republican, the 8th District of freshman Rep. Larry Bucshon (R) becomes more competitive. The map improved, from a Republican perspective, freshman Rep. Todd Young’s (R) 9th District. The swing could go from R+1 to D+1.

Iowa

The new four-district map largely displaces all five current House incumbents. The loss of a seat in reapportionment causes the pairing of Reps. Leonard Boswell (D-IA-3) and Tom Latham (R-IA-4) in the very different and marginal new 3rd District. This race will be a toss-up all the way to Election Day. The new western Iowa 4th District is also competitive. Rep. Steve King (R) faces Christie Vilsack (D), the wife of former governor and current US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The swing could go from R+1 to D+1.

Louisiana

Reapportionment costs the state one district and even though Republicans control the entire process, they will lose a seat. The new map pairs veteran Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA-7) and freshman Jeff Landry (R-LA-3) in the new 3rd District. Boustany is favored. All of the other incumbents should be safe. With the GOP taking the reapportionment hit, the partisan swing becomes D+1 by default.

Maine

Another two-district state where little change will occur. After an attempt to make the 1st District more Republican, the final plan protects the state’s two Democrats, Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1) and Mike Michaud (D-ME-2). No change is expected here.

Maryland

The Democrats, in full control of the redistricting process, made the Republicans pay. The resulting plan will very likely increase their 6D-2R delegation split to 7D-1R. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s (R) 6th District goes from 57 percent McCain, based upon the 2008 presidential contest, to 62 percent Obama, thus becoming a likely Democratic conversion district. All other incumbents, including freshman GOP Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD-1), get safe seats. The partisan swing is D+1.

More state reports on Wednesday …