Tag Archives: SCOTUS

McCarthy’s Win Even Closer

By Jim Ellis — Jan. 9, 2023

House

Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt)

Speaker: A Dive Into the Numbers — The internal US House voting process that elected California’s Kevin McCarthy as Speaker Friday night on the 15th roll call was arguably even closer than the final 216-212-6 tally suggested. 

The two closest congressional elections, those of Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and John Duarte (R-CA), both would have affected the Speaker race outcome had the pair not won their tight November electoral contests. 

Though Boebert supported other members on the first 13 roll calls, her “present” vote on the last two helped make the difference in McCarthy’s marathon campaign for the Speakership. Rep. Boebert won her western Colorado re-election campaign with only a 546-vote margin. Duarte was victorious with a similar 564 vote spread in central California. Combined, the aggregate 1,110 vote victories ultimately provided what McCarthy needed to finally reach majority support.

In all, 25 November US House races were decided by less than 10,000 votes apiece. Of those, Republicans won 15 and Democrats 10. In 15 of these 25 elections, we saw the winning candidate flip the district from the previous party’s representation to his or her own. 

It is likely that most, if not all, of these 25 closest 2022 contests will become targeted races in the 2024 election cycle. Throughout the long election cycle, we will be paying particular attention to the 10 districts where the electorate voted opposite of the prognosticators’ pre-election calculation.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization, for example, rated all 435 House districts using past election trends, voter registration, and other statistics to formulate a point spread favoring a nominee of one party or the other.

The following 10 members over-performed their party’s projection and won a close contest in a seat that was expected to favor the opposite party’s nominee:

  • Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA-3; R+11)
  • Rep. David Valadao (R-CA; D+10)
  • Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY; D+10)
  • Rep. John Duarte (R-CA-13; D+7)
  • Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY-17; D+7)
  • Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA; R+4)
  • Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-CO-8; R+3)
  • Rep. Wiley Nickel (D-NC; R+3)
  • Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR; D+3)
  • Rep. Brandon Williams (R-NY; D+2)

Redistricting may very well be back on the table for the 2024 congressional cycle, however. Irrespective of the US Supreme Court deciding the Alabama racial gerrymandering and the North Carolina partisan gerrymandering and legal jurisdiction cases before the end of June, we can expect redraws occurring in certain states.

The legislatures will likely redraw interim court-mandated maps in New York, North Carolina, and Ohio. Based upon a recent federal three-judge court ruling, South Carolina has been ordered to produce a new congressional map by March 31. The impending SCOTUS rulings could force Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, and North Carolina (if not already done so by the time the high court rules) to change their maps.

The redraws would potentially help Republicans in Illinois and North Carolina, and Democrats in Alabama, Louisiana, New York, and South Carolina. The Ohio situation is unclear, at least for now.

With impending map changes coming in the aforementioned states, and possibly several more depending upon just how far-reaching the future SCOTUS decisions prove, we could again see a large number of seats falling into the competitive realm. This, in addition to the aforementioned 25 close likely targets from the previous election cycle. 

Those members are listed in their entirety below:

North Carolina Redistricting Again Front and Center: A Deeper Dive

North Carolina Congressional District Plan Court-Ordered in 2022, used for the 2022 election (click on map to go to the state’s interactive map)


By Jim Ellis — Friday, Dec. 9, 2022

Redistricting

North Carolina: Redistricting Under Scrutiny — During the past decade, no state has been forced to draw more redistricting maps than the Tar Heel State of North Carolina. Since the 2010 census, the Republican legislature and the Democratic state Supreme Court have gone back and forth over what is a partisan gerrymander or a legal district.

The North Carolina partisan gerrymandering case was heard before the US Supreme Court on Wednesday, and it is a potential landmark case — but some North Carolina state political sources suggest the arguments may go by the proverbial wayside. The high court will rule before the end of June, but before such a decision is rendered the new North Carolina legislature may draft updated redistricting plans for the US House, state Senate, and state House of Representatives. Since the current set of court maps are only interim plans, the legislature can replace them with permanent draws at any time. 

One of the Republicans’ more important victories in the November election was winning a majority on the North Carolina state Supreme Court. Now, with five Republican justices and two Democrats, many in the legislature believe the time will be right to craft new redistricting maps, plans they believe will this time pass legal muster through a different and more favorable state Supreme Court. 

If this occurs as described, and new maps are enacted – remember, in North Carolina, the governor has no veto power over redistricting legislation – it is possible that the action could render as moot the case before SCOTUS. If so, the issue of whether the Constitution views state legislatures as solely independent when handling redistricting could well go unanswered.

The North Carolina state Supreme Court rejected the Republican legislature’s plan again last year. Under that draw, which the court deemed a partisan gerrymander, the Republicans could have won 10 of the state’s 14 congressional districts. North Carolina was one of the states that earned a new seat in national reapportionment. Therefore, a 10-4 split would have meant a net gain of three Republican seats when compared to the previous court map upon which the 13-member NC congressional delegation had last run.

Instead, under the state Supreme Court’s draw, the new Tar Heel State delegation features seven Democrats and seven Republicans. The map awarded the new 14th District to the Charlotte area as a safe D+11 seat according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization calculation. State Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte), who was originally a 2022 candidate for the US Senate, won the new district with an easy 58-42 percent victory.

The other seat to go Democratic was the created open 13th CD, located in the south Raleigh suburbs that stretched to include the Democratic city of Fayetteville. The court balanced the district by adding Republican Johnston County. FiveThirtyEight rated this seat R+3, but Democratic state Sen. Wiley Nickel (D-Raleigh) defeated Republican Bo Hines by a 51.6 – 48.4 percent margin.

The other major affected area that changed between the original Republican map and the state Supreme Court’s draw was the Greensboro-anchored seat of Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro). Under the Republican plan, this district would have favored a Republican candidate, and Rep. Manning would have had a difficult run for re-election. The Court altered this seat, too, thus giving Rep. Manning an even better district than the one to which she was originally elected — a 6th District seat now rated as D+9.

If the congressional map is in fact re-drawn early in the new state legislative session, we can expect these geographic areas again to be the most affected. If the Republican legislative leaders make a move to finalize permanent redistricting maps, then it might be some time before the issue of independent state legislatures relating to redistricting again comes before the high court. 

Or, if SCOTUS still issues a ruling on the North Carolina case irrespective as to what the legislature does, it could force even further changes in what may again be a new Tar Heel State congressional map.

Sen. Warnock Wins Re-Election; Florida Sen. Scott to Seek Re-Election; Nebraska Gov. Ricketts to Apply for Senate Appointment; SCOTUS Hears Redistricting Case Today

Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) wins re-election. | Facebook photo

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022

Senate

Georgia: Sen. Warnock Wins Re-Election — As predicted, Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) defeated GOP former professional football player Herschel Walker (R) last night in the Senate runoff, but the approximate 51-49 percent contest split was much closer than many prognosticators expected. The Warnock win gives the Democrats a 51-49 majority in the Senate, a net gain of one seat from the present 50-50 makeup. The outright majority will give the party at least one more vote than the Republicans on every Senate committee, and make it easier for the leadership to confirm administration appointments, including federal judges.

Turnout is one of the bigger stories, as the projected 3.6 million people voting in the runoff election is actually 200,000-plus individuals greater than those voting in the regular Senate contest back on Nov. 8. It is unprecedented for a runoff to draw more voters than a regular election, but such has apparently happened in this Peach State election.

Yesterday’s secondary election was necessitated under Georgia election law because neither Warnock nor Walker received majority support in November. Unlike in most states, an absolute majority is required to win a Georgia general election.

Sen. Warnock has now secured a full six-years in the Senate after winning the 2020 special election to fill the balance of then-Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R) final term. Sen. Isakson resigned at the end of 2019 due to health reasons and then later passed away. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) then appointed businesswoman Kelly Loeffler (R) to fill the post until the 2020 special election of which Rev. Warnock won in that cycle’s subsequent runoff.

Florida: Sen. Rick Scott (R) to Seek Re-Election — Quelling political speculation that he would run for president in 2024, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) early this week made clear his intentions for the next election. Saying in a response to a question from radio host and national commentator Hugh Hewitt, Sen. Scott said, “I have no plans to run for president and I have a 100 percent plan to run for the US Senate [in 2024]. I’m running for re-election for senator from the great state of Florida.”

Speculation is also surfacing that outgoing US Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) may challenge Sen. Scott. In a response to a reporter’s inquiry, Rep. Murphy didn’t close the door on such an option and pointed out that Florida is still not as “red” as the electorate voted in the 2022 election. Of the 11 Republican in-cycle seats for 2024, the Florida campaign could be the most competitive, but even here Sen. Scott must be rated a heavy early favorite for re-election.

Nebraska: Gov. Ricketts Will Apply for Senate Appointment — Nebraska junior Sen. Ben Sasse (R) has now set Jan. 8, 2023, as the date he will officially resign his elected position in order to become president of the University of Florida. Governor-elect Jim Pillen (R), who will appoint a replacement for Sen. Sasse, has asked individuals who want to be considered for the Senate appointment to apply before Dec. 23. One person who confirmed he will apply is outgoing Gov. Pete Ricketts (R).

In the open Republican gubernatorial primary back in May, Gov. Ricketts became actively involved and endorsed Pillen, a University of Nebraska Regent, over eight other Republican candidates including Trump endorsed businessman and rancher Charles Herbster. Pillen would win the Republican primary with four percentage-point margin and claimed the general election with just under 60 percent of the vote.

Though others will apply for the soon-to-be vacant Senate position, Gov. Ricketts is viewed as the clear favorite for the early January appointment. The new senator then will stand for election in 2024 to fill the unexpired portion of Sen. Sasse’s final term. The seat is next in-cycle for a full six-year term in 2026.

States

North Carolina: SCOTUS Hears Redistricting Case Today — The North Carolina partisan gerrymandering case that contains challenges to judicial authority over the redistricting process is before the US Supreme Court later today. North Carolina is challenging, among other points in the lawsuit, whether judges have the power to invalidate redistricting maps, since the US Constitution specifically gives re-mapping power to the state legislatures. While it is doubtful that the judicial panel will rule against judicial power, the legitimacy of the redistricting commissions that several states have adopted could be in question.

Along with the previously heard Alabama racial gerrymandering case, the Supreme Court is apparently prepared to issue landmark rulings on Voting Rights Act interpretation for the first time in decades. The rulings should end the inconsistent interpretations we have seen coming from various state judicial systems. Rulings on both the Alabama and North Carolina cases will be issued before the end of next June.

Sen. Warnock Jumps to Significant Lead, Kemp & Abrams Tied in Georgia; Incumbent Rep. Lee Trailing in NV-3

By Jim Ellis — July 1, 2022

Senate

Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and Republican challenger Herschel Walker

Georgia: Sen. Warnock Jumps to Significant Lead — The new Georgia Quinnipiac poll (June 23-27; 1,497 registered Georgia voters; live interview) finds Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) claiming a 54-44 percent lead over Republican Herschel Walker, the most lopsided pro-Democratic ballot test to date. The previous polling from December to mid-April (six polls) had given Walker a slight edge.

Sen. Warnock carries a positive 49:39 percent job approval rating in contrast to President Biden’s upside-down 33:60 percent approval rating. Walker scores rather poorly on honesty, 39:43 percent honest to dishonest, and is not perceived to have particularly good leadership skills, 37:43 percent. As point of reference, the same polling sample finds Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and former state House Minority Leader and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams (D) tied at 48 percent.

However, the study could be an anomaly.

Though polls have been moving toward Sen. Warnock, the Q-Poll takes a giant leap, so it is possible that this survey is an outlier. Democrats support Warnock, 97-2 percent; Republicans are for Walker in a 93-7 percent clip.

The Independent sector is where we may be detecting a significant skew. This group, on virtually every question but the Biden job approval query moves significantly toward the Democratic position and/or candidate, and in a greater degree than one would expect from people who self-identify as “independents” (62-33 percent for Warnock).

While this particular poll may well skew toward Sen. Warnock, it is probable that we will soon see other data yielding a much closer ballot test. The Georgia Senate race is one that is far from over.

Missouri: Independent Joins Race — Answering former Sen. John Danforth’s (R) call for a new candidate in the Senate race, former US Attorney John Wood announced his plans to enter the contest as an Independent. He claims this is a move to potentially stop former Gov. Eric Greitens from prevailing in the general election should he win the Republican nomination. In reality, however, by splitting the vote in such a manner — if Wood were to become a top-tier candidate — would likely elect the Democratic nominee.

Wood says that if elected, he would support Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for Majority Leader and would presumably caucus with the Republicans. To qualify for the ballot in Missouri, an Independent candidate must submit 10,000 valid registered voters’ signatures by an Aug. 1 deadline.

House

FL-2: Close Poll in Paired Race — The new northern Florida’s 2nd District is rated R+16 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization. A new Sachs Media poll (June 20-23; 400 likely FL-2 general election voters), however, finds Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Panama City) leading Rep. Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee) by only a 43-40 percent margin. Perhaps the most troubling segment for Rep. Dunn is the unaffiliated voters who are breaking for Lawson by a 42-18 percent margin.

NV-3: Rep. Lee Trailing in New Survey — The Tarrance Group, polling for the April Becker (R) campaign (June 20-23; 400 likely NV-3 general election voters), posts their client and Republican challenger to a 46-44 percent edge over incumbent Rep. Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas). Likely most troubling for the Lee campaign is her deficit among Hispanic voters who comprise almost 19 percent of the 3rd District of Nevada’s population. Within this segment, Becker leads the congresswoman 48-42 percent. President Biden’s job approval rating here is a poor 37 percent.

OK-2: Runoff Set — With enough votes counted, it is now clear that the Republican runoff to replace Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville) will feature state Rep. Avery Frix (R-Muskogee), who finished first with just 14.7 percent among the crowded field, and former state Sen. John Brecheen, who was close behind with 13.8 percent support. The two just eclipsed Muskogee Police Chief Johnny Teehee (13.0 percent) and Oklahoma Republican Party chairman John Bennett (11.3 percent). The runoff winner is a lock to win the general election in a R+55 rated seat according the the 538 data group.

Redistricting

Louisiana: Supreme Court Stays Ruling — The federal judge’s ruling that disqualified the new Louisiana congressional map because it did not draw a second black district has been stayed. The United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) took the action to at least temporarily block the ruling from taking effect. The conclusion will mean the legislature’s map will return at least for the 2022 election.

The courts, either through this case or the Alabama Voting Rights case that the SCOTUS has already scheduled for hearing, will likely determine how the Voting Rights Act is to be interpreted moving forward. This could mean that the Louisiana map and many others will be re-drawn for the 2024 election and beyond.

SCOTUS: Arizona Ruling Upholds Initiative

July 1, 2015 — The US Supreme Court released their long-awaited ruling on the Arizona redistricting case on Tuesday. In a common 5-4 decision, the high court allowed the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) to stand and, as a result, similar commissions in other multi-district states (California, New Jersey, Washington) have affirmed legitimacy. The practical result is that congressional districts in these aforementioned places will stay intact for the remainder of the decade.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority. Her final two sections illuminate the crux of the ruling (see below), that the initiative process allowing the voters to decide legislative issues is the major tenet of this case and not just the Arizona redistricting circumstance.

The Arizona Legislature brought the suit, and the SCOTUS decision affirmed that the body had legal standing to bring such action. Their argument was that the US Constitution gave exclusive power to the state legislature to redistrict post reapportionment.
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NJ Senate Poll; SCOTUS’ Arizona Ruling

New Jersey

Immediately upon New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) scheduling the special Senate election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), both Quinnipiac University and Rutgers-Eagleton went into the field to measure the Garden State electorate. Both pollsters produced a similar conclusion — Newark Mayor Cory Booker is opening up a wide lead in the Democratic primary — but their samples sizes of less than 350 respondents were unacceptably low in a larger population state.

Now, Rasmussen Reports (June 12-13; 1,000 likely New Jersey voters) confirms that Booker does indeed have a huge lead derived from a much larger survey sample. Though the methodology does not specifically identify how many people (but undoubtedly larger than 350 individuals and presumably likely Democratic primary voters) were asked to choose among Mayor Booker, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ-12), and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, the results were almost identical to what Quinnipiac and Rutgers-Eagleton originally found.

According to RR, Booker would command support from 54 percent of the Democratic voters, followed by Holt with 11 percent, and Pallone at 8 percent. Oliver trailed the pack registering just 5 percent preference.

For the special general election, tested among all 1,000 respondents, Booker leads former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan (R) 50-33 percent.

The special primary is scheduled for Aug. 13, followed by the deciding vote on Oct. 16. The winner will serve the balance of Sen. Lautenberg’s final term, and is eligible to stand for election to a full six-year stint during the regular 2014 election.

Arizona

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court released its ruling on the Arizona v. The Arizona  Continue reading >