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  • The Modern History of the Republican Presidential Primary, 1976-2012 By Geoffrey Skelley

    The presidential nomination process has a history of being fuzzy. For much of the nation’s political existence, starting in the 1830s, national party conventions selected nominees for the highest office in the land. At these events, the oft-used term “smoke-filled rooms” described the sometimes behind-the-scenes activity that led to the final selection of a nominee. Sometimes this person was an obvious, well-known national figure; other times, an unexpected, relative unknown captured the nomination.

  • Republicans 2016: White Evangelicals Dominate the Early Calendar By Geoffrey Skelley

    Based on the election calendar, white evangelical Christians are going to receive ample attention early in the 2016 Republican primary. Using exit poll data from the 2012 and 2008 GOP primaries, as well as data from the Census Bureau and the Public Religion Research Institute’s American Values Atlas to help estimate numbers for states with no exit polls, we found that about two-thirds (64%) of the total delegates in states with contests on or before March 8 will come from states with electorates that may be at least 50% white evangelical.

  • Democrats 2016: The Primary Map Still Favors Clinton By Geoffrey Skelley

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been under siege for months as additional revelations and developments regarding her use of a private email account continue to drip out. Last week, the Crystal Ball explored what might happen should Clinton drop out of the Democratic primary or, as the rumors swirl about the possibility, if Vice President Joe Biden enters the race.

    But if Clinton is scarred but undeterred by the email scandal heading into the Iowa caucuses, what we know so far about the primary and caucus schedule suggests that Clinton should still be a favorite, even if Biden does get into the race, though that development would undoubtedly muddy the waters.

  • Democrats 2016: Sanders Now Clinton's Chief Rival By Geoffrey Skelley

    “Inevitable.” That’s the word often used to describe Hillary Clinton and the 2016 Democratic nomination. Can anyone beat her? Anything’s possible, but the odds appear quite low. Still, her most threatening intraparty opposition could prove to be a man who isn’t even technically a Democrat (yet, anyway): independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-identified “democratic socialist.” We see him as a potential thorn in Clinton’s side, and to reflect that, we are moving Sanders to the top of the non-Clinton tier in our presidential rankings for Democrats.

  • Coattails and Correlation By Geoffrey Skelley

    Few political observers will be surprised that the correlation between presidential and Senate results has been increasing over the last few presidential election cycles. That is, during a presidential election year, the Senate race in state A has increasingly tended to have a similar outcome to the presidential result in state A . Other analysts have noted the growing relationship between the two variables, such as National Journal , which produced a great infographic examining the 2000 to 2012 elections.

  • The Era of Competition: How 2016 Could Set a Presidential Record By Geoffrey Skelley

    The United States is in the midst of an era of great competitiveness in presidential contests. Not once in the last seven presidential elections has a party won more than 55% or less than 45% of the two-party vote. In a recent article for Politico Magazine , the Crystal Ball team argued that fundamentals, recent history, and the nation’s marked political polarization portend a highly competitive 2016 tilt. If the indicators for 2016 play out close to expectations and induce a tight open-seat battle, it may become the eighth consecutive contest where neither major party garners more than 55% of the two-party vote, a new record.

  • Harry Reid & The Senate Survivors By Geoffrey Skelley

    If history is any indication, it would be hard to pick against Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) if he runs for another term next year. His races are often close, but he has shown a remarkable amount of resilience over the years, frustrating Republican attempts to dislodge him. In fact, by some measures Reid has had a tougher time retaining his seat than any of the longest-serving senators during the century-long era of popular Senate elections. He is, in many ways, the heartiest of the “Senate survivors.”

  • 14 From ’14: Quick Takes on the Midterm By Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley

    After going over the results from last week, we had a number of bite-sized observations to offer — 14, to be exact.

  • Exiting the House: The many paths to ending a career in Congress' lower chamber By Geoffrey Skelley

    Over the past 40 years, there have been many ways to leave the U.S. House of Representatives. Specifically, nine different methods. The main ones, beyond losing a primary or general election, are to retire or run for another office. But a member can also do one of the following: be appointed to another office, resign, be expelled, pass away or, in the rarest of instances, have the House vacate one’s seat.

  • Putting Their Eggs in the Wrong Midterm Basket By Geoffrey Skelley

    Barring significant changes in group voting habits, many commentators have argued that “The Coalition of the Ascendant” is positioned to give Democrats a notable edge in elections in the near future. There may be some truth to that supposition: The country is clearly getting more diverse, and nonwhite voters tend to vote strongly Democratic.

    A key cog in this coalition has been young voters -- often called Millennials -- who are more diverse than their elders. Exit poll data in 2012 suggest that young people were vital in securing President Barack Obama’s second term in the White House. He garnered 60% of the 18-to-29 vote (after winning 66% of it in 2008), by far the highest percentage Obama won among any age group. Estimating from exit poll data, all else equal, it’s possible that Obama would have narrowly lost the popular vote (and perhaps the Electoral College vote, too) had he won the same percentage among 18-to-29 year olds as he did among 30-to-44 year olds (52%). Continued strong support for Democratic presidential candidates in the future among younger voters could spell trouble for the GOP as generational replacement occurs (yes, that’s a euphemism).