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Commentary By Kyle Kondik

Most Recent Releases

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October 14, 2021

Five Questions About Virginia’s Tight Gubernatorial Race By Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

Breaking down 2021’s marquee race with less than 3 weeks to go.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— In the closely-watched Virginia gubernatorial race, Glenn Youngkin (R) is keeping it close with Terry McAuliffe (D), in part because he now enjoys some of the advantages that Democrats enjoyed in Virginia during Donald Trump’s presidency.

— Though the McAuliffe campaign has worked relentlessly to tie Youngkin to Trump, an unpopular figure in the commonwealth who has endorsed Youngkin several times, President Biden’s weakened approval ratings weigh on Democrats. Congressional Democrats’ lack of action on big-item legislation, specifically on infrastructure and social spending, also seems to be dampening enthusiasm among their rank-and-file voters.

— The down-ballot races will probably be linked closely with the top of the ticket, with the state House of Delegates up for grabs in addition to the other statewide offices.

— While early voting is down a good deal compared to last year’s presidential race, as expected, it is hard to draw firm conclusions from these totals because the lion’s share of Virginians have traditionally voted on Election Day, aside from last year during the pandemic.

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September 2, 2021

Redistricting in America, Part Seven: The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic By Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

Democrats seek more from a region they already dominate.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Democrats already control the vast majority of seats along the eastern seaboard from Virginia to Maine.

— New York offers Democrats their greatest gerrymandering upside of any state, but it is not guaranteed that they will maximize their holdings there.

— Virginia’s unproven new commission system makes redistricting there a mystery, although Republicans could re-take control of the state’s congressional delegation through a combination of redistricting fortune and strong electoral performance.

— Republicans in New Hampshire and Democrats in Maryland face notable gerrymandering decisions.

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August 26, 2021

Redistricting in America, Part Six: The Great Lakes By Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

Democrats will try to wring a bit more out of Illinois, while divided government, judges, and new redistricting methods cloud the outlook elsewhere.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— This week, we’re looking at redistricting in seven Midwest/Great Lakes states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

— The highly competitive region was a collective nailbiter for president, and Republicans hold an overall House edge there, though not as large as earlier last decade.

— Illinois is really the only large state where Democrats clearly should have unfettered gerrymandering power, but with a 13-5 edge already and one seat needing to be eliminated, they don’t have a ton of room to grow. But Democrats also will try to solidify some of the seats they already have.

— Divided government in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin could very well mean courts have to get involved, while Michigan and Ohio are implementing new redistricting systems.

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August 19, 2021

Redistricting in America, Part Five: The Interior West/Heartland By Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

And a look at the overall political environment.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— For all of the focus on redistricting, the overall political environment matters for House elections too, and President Biden has shown some signs of weakness in recent weeks.

— As we continue our redistricting series, we analyze several small-to-medium-sized states in the Interior West and Heartland.

— One of the overall things to watch in the region is the degree to which Republicans are aggressive in redistricting, even in a state — Iowa — known for a nonpartisan system.

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August 12, 2021

Redistricting in America, Part Four: The West Coast and Southwest By Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

What will commissions (and Democrats) draw out West?

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Independent redistricting commissions are most common out West.

— Democrats currently dominate the House delegations from the West Coast and Southwest, and that is likely to continue.

— However, Republicans may be able to make up a little ground, thanks in part to California losing a seat and Oregon gaining one.

— Democrats can gerrymander Nevada and New Mexico, but it will be difficult for them to squeeze an additional seat out of these small states.

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August 5, 2021

Redistricting in America, Part Three: The Republicans’ Southern Prizes By Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

The GOP gerrymandering possibilities in FL, GA, NC, and TX

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Democrats tried but failed to get a seat at the redistricting table in four large Southern states in the 2018 and 2020 cycles: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas.

— The consequences for redistricting are vitally important. It’s easy to imagine Republicans squeezing a half-dozen extra seats out of just these four states in 2022, and that may be just a floor on their potential gains.

— However, Republicans could also overreach, and court battles appear likely in all of these states.

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July 29, 2021

Redistricting in America, Part Two: The Dark Red Greater South By Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

The Outlook in AL, AR, KY, LA, MS, OK, SC, TN, & WV

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Republicans dominate redistricting in a number of small-to-medium-sized states in the Deep South and Greater Appalachia.

— The GOP also already holds the lion’s share of seats in these states, but they may be able to squeeze a bit more out of them.

— Democrats are hoping the courts could help them salvage an extra seat or two out of these states, while Republicans may aggressively target, most notably, Rep. Jim Cooper (D, TN-5) in Nashville.

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July 22, 2021

Redistricting in America, Part One: Gerrymandering Potency Raises the Stakes for the 2020s By Kyle Kondik

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— While partisan gerrymandering is nothing new in American politics, it has become easier to find examples of states where gerrymanders are consistently effective and harder to find examples of “dummymanders” — gerrymanders that fail.

— Republicans control the drawing of more districts in this round of decennial redistricting than Democrats do.

— Democrats arguably would be better off if no states had bipartisan/independent redistricting commissions.

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June 24, 2021

The States: Recent Candidate Decisions Could Lead to More One-Party Rule By Kyle Kondik

A look at who controls statewide executive offices across the country.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Currently, one party controls all of the statewide elected executive offices in 36 of the 50 states.

— Candidate decisions by down-ballot executive officeholders in Florida and Missouri could make Republican statewide sweeps easier in those states, and Democrats may have opportunities to sweep more states on their side.

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June 17, 2021

The New York City Mayoral Primary By Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

Breaking down the political geography of the nation’s largest city as voters digest a crowded and sometimes crazy campaign.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— New York City’s mayors have struggled in their recent efforts to win higher office, but they often become national figures anyway on account of their high-profile position.

— Ranked-choice voting as well as the many twists and turns of the race makes it difficult to predict a winner in next week’s Democratic primary.

— Republicans can win mayoral elections in New York, but the Democratic primary may very well end up being tantamount to election.

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May 27, 2021

The Senate: Sununu’s Vital Choice By Kyle Kondik

The New Hampshire governor’s decision looms large over the 2022 map.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Even as Senate elections become more and more about a state’s presidential partisanship, the individual decisions of candidates matter a lot. There are a number of important candidate choices that helped define recent Senate cycles.

— Gov. Chris Sununu’s (R-NH) decision as to whether he will challenge Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) could be the most important candidate choice of the 2022 cycle.

— While Republicans will target vulnerable Democrats in states that are more competitive at the presidential level than New Hampshire, they very well may struggle to produce a candidate in those states as proven as Sununu.

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May 20, 2021

The House: Democrats Would Have a Tough Slog Even Without Redistricting By Kyle Kondik

Our hypothetical ratings of House 2022 if no district lines changed.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— The reapportionment of House seats and pending redistricting has prevented us from releasing U.S. House ratings so far this cycle.

— While Republicans stand to gain from this process, they would be favored to win the House even if the district lines were not changing.

— Rating the House races based on the current lines shows many more Democratic seats in the Toss-up column than Republican ones. These hypothetical ratings are guided by developments in the 2022 campaign so far as well as the normal tendency for the president’s party to lose ground in the House in midterms.

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April 22, 2021

Checking in on Biden’s Approval Rating as Hundred Days’ Mark Nears By Kyle Kondik

Steady on average, but individual pollsters vary greatly.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Joe Biden’s approval rating has been steady and positive, though many other presidents had better early numbers.

— The “honeymoons” of past presidents may have been stronger because of a less partisanized and polarized electorate.

— Individual national pollsters disagree on Biden’s approval rating.

— Some pollsters who were overly bullish on Biden in the national popular vote last year are a little bearish on him now.

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April 15, 2021

The Mini-Midterms: Five Takeaways from Six Decades of House Special Elections By Kyle Kondik

Races often break against president’s party; winners rarely lose next election.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— There have been nearly 300 U.S. House special elections since the mid-1950s.

— These elections more often flipped against the party that holds the White House — just like what often happens to the president’s party in midterm House elections — but the president’s party has scored some noteworthy wins, too, which can cloud the predictive value of special elections.

— Special election winners rarely lose their next election, but it does happen.

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March 25, 2021

The House: Unclear Lines, Clear Expectations By Kyle Kondik

Redistricting delays cloud the seat-by-seat picture, but midterm history suggests a Republican edge.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Delays in the redistricting process mean that we won’t be releasing Crystal Ball House district ratings for the foreseeable future.

— However, midterm history along with GOP advantages in redistricting make the Republicans clear, though not certain, favorites to win the House next year.

— Recent midterm history helps illustrate some of the Democratic vulnerabilities if this cycle breaks against the White House, as it did in the past four midterms.

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January 20, 2021

As Biden Takes Office, Trump’s Shadow is Inescapable – at Least for Now By Kyle Kondik

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Even as a new president is inaugurated today, the outgoing president looms large.

— As Senate Republicans ponder how to vote in the Trump impeachment trial, they may be incentivized to move the party past Trump as they seek to recapture power in Washington next year.

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January 14, 2021

The Objectors Versus the Rejecters By Kyle Kondik

Analyzing how House Republicans voted in last week’s Electoral College disputes.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Roughly two-thirds of House Republicans backed at least one of two objections to a state’s presidential results last week. And a clear majority backed both.

— Generally speaking, members who backed both objections come from more Republican-leaning districts than those who opposed both.

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December 10, 2020

How the States Voted Relative to the Nation By Kyle Kondik

Republicans retain an edge in the Electoral College.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Joe Biden did better than Hillary Clinton in the lion’s share of states.

— However, when one takes into account how the states voted relative to the nation, Republicans retain an edge in the Electoral College.

— Despite voting for Biden, key battleground states such as Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin all became more Republican relative to the national voting. Biden did solidify a number of the Clinton-won states, though, most notably Minnesota and New Hampshire.

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November 19, 2020

Senate 2022: An Early Look By Kyle Kondik

Democrats may ultimately have a better shot to win the Senate than the House in two years, although winning either will be challenging.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Democrats may have a better chance of winning the Senate in 2022 than holding the House, even if Democrats lose both Georgia special elections in January.

— The president’s party often struggles in midterms, which gives the GOP a generic advantage in the battle for Congress.

— The Republicans’ three most vulnerable Senate seats may all be open in 2022.

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November 12, 2020

Notes on the State of the 2020 Election By Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

Biden’s thin margins in the decisive states; third party vote declines; Senate aligns more closely with presidential partisanship; Republicans demonstrate down-ballot crossover appeal.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Joe Biden is on track to exceed Barack Obama’s 2012 popular vote margin, but his victory in the key states is even narrower than Donald Trump’s in 2016.

— Less than 2% of the national vote went to candidates other than Biden and Trump, a significant change from 2016.

— Assuming nothing changes, as many as 94 of 100 senators in the next Congress will share the same party as the state’s presidential winner.

— The ability to generate crossover support helped Republicans perform surprisingly well in both Senate and House races.