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Commentary By Kyle Kondik

Most Recent Releases

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January 5, 2023

The Political Profile of McCarthy’s Detractors Most from uncompetitive districts By Kyle Kondik

Most from uncompetitive districts; recent primary results helped build the anti-McCarthy coalition

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

-- This article is being published following the adjournment of the House on the afternoon of Wednesday, Jan. 4 after the body failed to elect a speaker on 6 roll call votes held Tuesday and Wednesday. The House was scheduled to return at 8 p.m. eastern on Wednesday.

-- The 21 Republicans who did not vote for Kevin McCarthy on every roll call generally, but not exclusively, come from uncompetitive districts. They almost all appear to have at least some connection to the House Freedom Caucus, the group of hardline conservatives.

-- Some recent choices by GOP electorates helped strengthen what would become this anti-McCarthy coalition.

-- The longer this goes on, the more need there may be for a creative solution, like we saw in Pennsylvania’s state House speaker election on Tuesday.

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December 15, 2022

The Electoral College in the 21st Century By Kyle Kondik

A brief history of a competitive era.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— The United States is in an extremely competitive era of presidential elections.

— In the 6 elections this century, the popular vote margin has been less than 5 points in all but 1 of them.

— Many of the states have been consistent in their presidential voting since 2000, although there have been key shifts that have altered the roster of most competitive swing states.

— Relative to the nation, much of the West has become more Democratic over the past 2 decades, along with some other pockets of the country, while many states in the Northeast, Midwest, and Greater South have become more Republican.

— The most competitive states in 2020 may be the most competitive in 2024: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in the Great Lakes region and Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and North Carolina in the Sun Belt.

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December 1, 2022

The New Crossover Members of the House By Kyle Kondik

Republicans win majority by cutting deeper into hostile turf; number of split districts remains low historically.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Republicans won a slim House majority at least in part by winning more victories in districts that Joe Biden carried than Democrats did in districts carried by Donald Trump.

— There are currently slated to be 18 Republicans in Biden seats and just 5 Democrats in Trump seats.

— Democrats used to win more crossover districts, but Republicans have now won more in 6 of the last 7 elections as the overall number of crossover districts has generally declined.

— It is common for the opposition party in Congress to add to their roster of crossover districts in a midterm, and that’s exactly what happened in 2022, despite Republicans having a disappointing election overall.

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November 17, 2022

Georgia’s Runoff is the Opening Battle of the 2024 Senate Cycle By Kyle Kondik

Democrats need a buffer as they face a daunting map.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— The looming Georgia Senate runoff is both the final race of 2022 and the first race of 2024, a Senate cycle in which Democrats are playing a lot of defense.

— The Democrats could run the Senate more smoothly if they can get a “real” majority of 51.

— But the primary importance of the runoff is electoral: Democrats could really use an extra buffer seat as they try to hang on in a couple of years.

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October 6, 2022

The 2022 Ad Wars By Kyle Kondik

What we learned watching more than 300 campaign ads released in the second half of September.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— To get a flavor of the 2022 ad messages from both sides, we watched nearly 350 campaign ads that came out in the second half of September.

— Abortion dominates Democratic messaging, while Republicans are much less likely to mention it. Crime has become a huge focus for Republicans, with Democrats trying to inoculate themselves by featuring law enforcement officers in their ads.

— Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are frequently cited in Republican attack ads, but other politicians make cameos in ads not directly related to their states/districts.

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September 29, 2022

Following the Money: What Outside Spending Tells Us About the Race for the House By Kyle Kondik

Plus 6 rating changes.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— The spending decisions by big outside House groups can inform us about the most competitive House races.

— So far, outside groups have spent money in 57 House districts. The lion’s share of those districts that have seen spending are held by Democrats, indicating that Democrats are playing significantly more defense than Republicans.

— The vast majority of the districts we rate as the most competitive — those in the Toss-up or Leans categories — have seen at least some outside spending so far.

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September 1, 2022

Senate Rating Changes: Arizona, Pennsylvania to Leans Democratic By Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

Overall race for control a Toss-up.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— We are moving the Senate races in Arizona and Pennsylvania from Toss-up to Leans Democratic on account of candidate weaknesses for Republicans in both states and what appears to be a not-as-bleak environment for Democrats.

— The overall race for the Senate remains a Toss-up, with 49 seats at least leaning to each party and a couple of Toss-ups overall, Georgia and Nevada.

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August 25, 2022

Notes on the State of Politics By Kyle Kondik

NY rating changes after impressive Democratic special election win; OH-SEN to Leans Republican.

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August 18, 2022

The Gubernatorial Races: Look to the West By Kyle Kondik

The most question marks about 2022 lie west of the Mississippi; rating changes in MD, NY, OR.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— The 5 governorships we see as Toss-ups are all located west of the eastern time zone: Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, Wisconsin, and — now — Oregon.

— The large number of incumbents running this year may limit the number of governorships that change hands.

— Democrats continue to have the 2 clearest pickups, the open seats in Maryland and Massachusetts. However, Democrats also are defending 4 of the 5 Toss-ups.

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August 4, 2022

Reassessing the Race for the Senate By Kyle Kondik

GOP challengers mirror Trump in lack of experience; for Democrats, experience means a record.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— In an election where Republicans are banking on the environment while Democrats are banking on differences in candidate quality, Republicans are relying on a very inexperienced group of candidates.

— Compared to 2014, the last time Republicans flipped the Senate, the party’s non-incumbent candidates are incredibly green.

— Democrats, meanwhile, are running a number of incumbents and current officeholders in competitive races, although holding office, in many instances, comes with a voting record that opponents can exploit.

— The quality of candidates on the Republican side is such an issue that we think the race for the Senate majority is basically a Toss-up.

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July 28, 2022

House Rating Changes: More Movement Toward Republicans By Kyle Kondik

10 changes, all but 1 in favor of GOP.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— We are making 10 House rating changes, 9 of which benefit Republicans.

— Our overall best guess at the net change in the House — a GOP gain somewhere in the 20s — remains unchanged.

— We don’t see a huge impact, so far, from the Supreme Court’s landmark abortion opinion.

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June 30, 2022

Notes on the State of the Primaries By Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

Before we get to our takeaways from yesterday’s primaries, a quick pit stop in the Ocean State is in order.

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June 23, 2022

Notes on the State of Politics By Kyle Kondik

House rating changes in Virginia, California, and Alaska

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June 9, 2022

How the House Landscape Changed: A mild decline in competitive seats, and a spike in safe Republican ones by Kyle Kondik

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

-- The new House landscape is fairly similar to the old one.

-- However, there is a notable increase in the number of super-safe Republican seats -- and a modest decline in the overall number of competitive districts.

-- New Hampshire, the final state to complete redistricting, kept its old map basically intact, which means the state should feature a couple of competitive races.

-- Now that redistricting appears to be complete for 2022, we have brought back our traditional House rating tables, which are available at the bottom of this article and at our Crystal Ball House page.

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May 26, 2022

Redistricting: The Overall Picture, Plus a Look at NY and MO By Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

Median House seat will still sit a couple of points to the right of the nation

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— With the national House map nearly complete, it appears that the overall map still leans toward Republicans.

— However, this GOP bias is not nearly as strong as it was a decade ago.

— We rate and analyze the new Missouri and New York congressional maps.

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May 12, 2022

The Kinds of Seats that Flip in Midterms By Kyle Kondik

Looking back on past recent waves to assess Republicans’ potential in November.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— While increasingly salient issues like abortion could change the political environment, Republicans still appear on track for a strong showing in the U.S. House.

— Recent midterms have hollowed out the presidential party’s holdings of districts where the president either did the same or worse than he did nationally or only a little better.

— Republicans likely will have trouble winning districts where Joe Biden won more than 55% of the vote, but that still leaves them dozens of Democratic-held targets below that mark as redistricting is finalized.

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May 5, 2022

How Abortion Might Motivate or Persuade Voters in the Midterms By Kyle Kondik, Larry Schack, and Mick McWilliams

Project Home Fire data reveal partisan attitudes on abortion.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— The end of Roe vs. Wade could potentially give Democrats a better chance to motivate their own voters and/or persuade Republican-leaning swing voters.

— Public opinion on abortion is nuanced, although more are likelier to take the pro-abortion rights side on a couple of key questions.

— It’s unclear whether abortion opinions would outweigh the public’s opinions about other issues where Democrats are vulnerable.

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April 21, 2022

Notes on the State of the Senate By Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

The overall picture for November, and the looming primaries in May.

The small stuff versus the big stuff

There is a push and pull in the race for control of the U.S. Senate between the big picture electoral environment, which clearly benefits Republicans, and the day-to-day developments on the campaign trail, which do not always clearly benefit Republicans.

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April 14, 2022

Trump-District House Democrats Could Become Extinct This November By Kyle Kondik

How redistricting has altered the number of “crossover” districts.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— The number of “crossover” districts — those won by different parties for president and House — has generally been declining over time.

— Under the current congressional district lines, there were only 16 crossover districts in 2020, with Republicans winning 9 Biden-won seats and Democrats winning 7 Trump-won seats.

— Based on the new district lines, and with a few states still outstanding, there are currently 16 incumbents running in districts that their party did not win for president: 11 Republicans in Biden seats and 5 Democrats in Trump seats.

— The Democrats may not hold a single Trump district next year, and the Republicans very well could hold many more Biden-won seats.

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April 7, 2022

Sarah Palin’s Surprising and Possibly Historic Run for the House By Kyle Kondik

How a victory would set her apart from other unsuccessful postwar VP candidates.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin surprised the political world when she announced a run to replace the late Don Young in Alaska’s at-large U.S. House seat.

— It’s not unusual for VP losers to subsequently win elected office, although in recent decades that has meant simply winning reelection to the job they held prior to being named to a presidential ticket.

— If Palin wins, she will set an obscure historical marker for unsuccessful postwar VP nominees.