— The Kansas Senate race is getting a lot of national buzz, but we still see the GOP as clearly favored to hold the seat.
— The chances of Republicans springing Senate upsets in New Hampshire and Virginia appear to be growing dimmer.
— Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D-CA) decision not to hold a special election for CA-50 makes it likelier for Republicans to hold the seat.
— Vermont is a sleeper Democratic gubernatorial target.
Big events of the year, including impeachment, don’t materially change the odds in races for president, Congress.
— Impeachment is an unusual occurrence marked by usual partisanship. It is hard to argue that it has dramatically altered perceptions of the president.
— Overall, our outlook for the races for president and for Congress are pretty similar to what they were at the start of the year.
As one shaky frontrunner endures, we’re reminded of another from the recent past.
— Biden’s endurance at the top of the Democratic race is reminiscent of Mitt Romney’s endurance in the 2012 Republican race.
— Despite considerable liabilities, Romney benefited — and Biden benefits — from splintered opposition and being the best fit for a significant bloc of party regulars.
— The Democratic field is far from perfect, but other fields that seemed weak have produced winning candidates.
Openings won’t match the volume of 2018, but Democrats may once again benefit more than Republicans.
— Of 28 open House seats, Republicans are defending 20 while Democrats are defending only eight.
— Of eight the Crystal Ball rates as competitive, Republicans are defending all but one.
— Open seats, along with pending redistricting in North Carolina, give Democrats a small buffer as they defend their majority.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton won Virginia by five points while winning the national popular vote by two (and losing the Electoral College). This was the most Democratic the state had voted for president, relative to the nation, since FDR was in the White House. The following year, Democrats held all three statewide offices by surprisingly large margins, and made an eye-popping gain of 15 net seats in the state House of Delegates, coming within a drawing in a tied race from forging a 50-50 tie in the body. Last year, Democrats netted three U.S. House seats and Sen. Tim Kaine (D) was reelected easily. And then on Tuesday night, Democrats netted what appears to be a half-dozen seats in the state House and two in the state Senate to win total control of state government in Richmond.
Looking ahead to next week’s elections in Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia; House ratings changes.
— Nationalized politics points to a Democratic edge in next week’s Virginia state legislative elections, and a Republican advantage in the Kentucky and Mississippi gubernatorial races.
— Yet, there remains uncertainty in all of those key contests as local factors test the durability of larger partisan trends.
— Unrelated to next week’s action, we have two House rating changes to announce, both benefiting Republicans. The pending CA-25 special election moves from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic following Rep. Katie Hill’s (D) decision to resign, and Rep. Conor Lamb (D, PA-17) moves from Safe Democratic to Likely Democratic.
— However, what appears to be a pending court-ordered congressional remap in North Carolina should benefit Democrats.
But will they next year?
— As the Democrats debate in Ohio, questions loom about how important the state will be in next year’s presidential election.
— Two key demographic indicators help explain why the state swung toward the Republicans in 2016 and why it seems likely to again vote to the right of the nation in 2020.
— The state remains competitive, but it’s far more important now to Republicans than Democrats.
If there’s a trial in the upper chamber, who might feel the heat?
— Nationalization is an increasingly important trend in American election outcomes. It’s hard to think of a more nationalizing issue than a presidential impeachment.
— Vulnerable members on both sides in the Senate will have a lot to consider if and when they have to cast a vote on convicting President Trump in a potential Senate impeachment trial.
— There are two Senate ratings changes this week, one benefiting each side. The most vulnerable senator, Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), moves from Toss-up to Leans Republican, while Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) moves from Leans Republican to Toss-up.
Trump is at least a small underdog in all the Clinton states, but trying to play offense is wise.
— We don’t really think President Trump can win New Mexico, where he campaigned earlier this week. But he’s wise to try to expand the map.
— While presidents who lose reelection historically don’t win states they didn’t carry in their earlier victories, presidents who win reelection typically do end up winning one or more states they lost previously, although there is one significant recent exception.
— However, the president seems to be at least a small underdog in every Hillary Clinton-won state. We’re moving New Hampshire from Toss-up to Leans Democratic in our Electoral College ratings.
The schedule advantages Biden’s rivals, although it’s unclear if they can capitalize; NC-9 fallout.
— Perhaps the biggest threat to Joe Biden is the nominating calendar.
— Biden is reliant on support from African Americans, but the electorates of the first two states, Iowa and New Hampshire, are almost entirely white.
— However, even if one or more of Biden’s rivals best him in the leadoff states, they may not necessarily have much appeal to the crucial African-American voting bloc themselves.