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COMMENTARY BY LARRY J. SABATO

  • Stepping Up: How Governors Who Have Succeeded to the Top Job Have Performed Over the Years by Geoffrey Skelley

    On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) moved to end debate on the nomination of Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA) as the next U.S. ambassador to China. While the exact timeline is uncertain — Democrats could try to stall the appointment — Branstad’s confirmation for the diplomatic post is expected very soon. Upon becoming ambassador, Branstad will resign the Hawkeye State governorship and hand the reins over to Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), who will become Iowa’s first woman governor. Once she takes office, Reynolds is expected to run for a full term in 2018 as a gubernatorial incumbent, albeit a “successor incumbent” rather than an elected one.

  • How Midterms Do (and Do Not) Differ From Presidential Elections By Geoffrey Skelley and Kyle Kondik

    With politicos everywhere turning their eyes to the still-distant 2018 midterm election, we thought it would be useful to review some of the basic differences and similarities between the electorates in presidential and midterm cycles. Basically, midterm electorates are smaller, older, and less diverse than presidential ones, but the demographic voting patterns and divisions that we see in midterms are quite similar to presidential contests. What follows is a look at the similarities and differences between the two kinds of national electorates. For the most part, this analysis is based on exit poll data: We used the national exit poll data for the presidential race in presidential years and the national exit poll data for the national House vote in midterm years.

  • 2018 House: The Ground Moving Under Their Feet By Kyle Kondik

    Election years are separate but also connected. Assuming he is confirmed by the Senate to be the next secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price (R, GA-6) will be vacating his suburban Atlanta seat sometime soon. He would be replaced by the winner of a special election, which could be held as soon as this spring. All candidates from all parties will compete in a single “jungle primary,” and barring anyone winning a majority of the vote, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election.

  • The End of the Beginning By Larry J. Sabato

    Tomorrow marks the start of the brave new world of President Donald J. Trump. But today marks the end of the Obama-to-Trump transition. They, and we, survived the interregnum, more or less — and it was not guaranteed and is worth celebrating.

  • 2017: At the Dawn of the Age of Trump By Larry J. Sabato

    It’s already clear that the very strange political year of 2016 is bleeding over into the New Year. How could it be otherwise? President-elect Donald Trump, loved and hated by about equal numbers of Americans, continues to ignore or break with convention in a wide variety of areas. Just as the normal rules didn’t apply to him in the campaign, they may not apply to him in office either.

  • Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa By Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik, and Geoffrey Skelley

    Well, what can we say — we blew it.

  • Our Final 2016 Picks By Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik, and Geoffrey Skelley

    After a nearly two-year campaign — kicked off in December 2014 by Jeb Bush (remember him?) — we’ve come to it at last. Election Day is less than 24 hours away.

  • Is Clinton Slipping? By Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik, and Geoffrey Skelley

    Hillary Clinton has picked an awful time to hit one of the rough patches that has plagued her throughout the campaign. Now with just days to go until Election Day, there’s added uncertainty about the outcome. But while she may not be on the brink of an Electoral College win the size of Barack Obama’s in 2008 or even 2012, her position as the clear frontrunner in this race endures.

  • The State of Play With a Dozen Days to Go by Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik, and Geoffrey Skelley

    Another week has passed in the presidential race and it appears that Donald Trump is not making up much if any ground on Hillary Clinton. Last month, we coined the term “Fortress Obama” to describe an outer and inner ring of defenses Clinton had against Trump as she sought to recreate Barack Obama’s Electoral College majority. The outer ring consisted of states like Florida, Iowa, Nevada, and Ohio — states that Obama won twice but that are vulnerable to Trump — as well as North Carolina, which Obama carried only in 2008. These are states that Trump needs but that Clinton could probably do without. Then there’s the inner ring, states like Colorado, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin, none of which Clinton can afford to lose if Trump were to completely knock down the outer ring.

  • With 19 Days to Go, Clinton’s Lead Is Bigger Than Ever by Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik, and Geoffrey Skelley

    The mist is lifting from the map of the United States and the moment of clarity for the 2016 general election campaign has arrived. Yes, there is still uncertainty about some states in the Electoral College. But nearly all of it comes in states that Mitt Romney won in 2012 or a couple of Barack Obama states that Hillary Clinton doesn’t need to win.