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Commentary By Kyle Kondik

Most Recent Releases

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April 27, 2023

How the Other Half Votes: Manchin and Tester’s Challenge By Kyle Kondik

Democratic Senate coalitions in red presidential states Montana and West Virginia.


— Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Jon Tester (D-MT) are outliers in Congress — no other Senate or House member holds a state/district that is more hostile to his or her party at the presidential level than this pair.

— Montana and especially West Virginia are deeply Republican at the presidential level, and while Manchin and Tester have clearly run way ahead of Democratic presidential performance in recent years, changes at the presidential level are reflected in their own coalitions.

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April 13, 2023

How the Other Half Votes: The Southwest By Kyle Kondik

Why Texas still leans Republican, and comparing Arizona versus Nevada.


— We’re continuing our series of looking at how the most vote-rich counties in a state vote versus those that make up the rest of the state by moving to the Southwest.

— The region contains the key swing states of Arizona and Nevada, both of which are dominated by a single county that casts well north of half the statewide vote.

— Both the top and bottom halves of Texas have moved toward the Democrats from 2012-2020, but the top half just is not blue enough at the moment.

— Colorado and New Mexico have moved out of the swing state category, pushed by top-half shifts.

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April 6, 2023

How the Other Half Votes: The East By Kyle Kondik

The presidential trends from Pennsylvania to Florida.


— After looking at the Midwest last week, we’re comparing the presidential voting trajectory of the bigger counties versus the rest of the state in a number of eastern states.

— Georgia had exactly opposite top and bottom halves in 2020, with a very Republican (but stable) bottom half and Democratic-trending top half driven by changes in Atlanta.

— North Carolina and Pennsylvania are mirror images on opposite sides of the political divide.

— Florida’s turn toward the Republicans has been a bit more pronounced in its top half of bigger counties compared to its bottom half, making it an outlier among the states we’ve studied.

— South Carolina’s status as a red state is much more about its top half than its bottom half.

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March 30, 2023

How the Other Half Votes By Kyle Kondik

The competing halves of states in the Midwest.


— This piece analyzes recent presidential voting patterns in the Midwest by comparing the big counties that cast roughly half the statewide vote with the smaller counties that cast the rest of the statewide vote.

— In Illinois and Minnesota, more than half of the statewide vote comes from dominant metro areas, and improvements in those areas from 2012 to 2020 allowed Democrats to maintain their strong position in both states.

— The smaller-county halves of Iowa and Ohio have zoomed right, pushing them out of the roster of competitive states.

— The bottom hasn’t dropped out for Democrats in nearly the same way in Michigan and Wisconsin.

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March 9, 2023

The Republican Presidential Primary: Still Early, but Maybe Getting Late By Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

The field remains unformed, but if DeSantis is the real deal, there’s not much room for other challengers to Trump.


— The calendar year before the presidential primary voting begins is often defined by winnowing, as contenders emerge and then fade.

— But Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are taking up so much oxygen that we may already have the top contenders, with everyone else who runs essentially an afterthought.

— DeSantis is polling well for a non-candidate, but we need to see how he actually performs before assuming that his support is solid.

— If another candidate supplants DeSantis (or Trump), or at least vaults into their stratosphere, don’t necessarily assume it will be someone who is currently well-known now or has a lot of formal political experience.

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March 2, 2023

Republicans Retain Edge in Electoral College Tie By Kyle Kondik

GOP controls bare majority of House delegations and should continue to in the next Congress.


— If no candidate receives a majority of Electoral College votes, the U.S. House of Representatives elected in the 2024 election would decide the presidency.

— Republicans are very likely to continue to control enough House delegations to select the GOP nominee as the winner, meaning that 269 is effectively the winning Electoral College number for Republicans, while it’s 270 for Democrats.

— Republicans currently control 26 of the 50 House delegations, the bare majority to win in the House if the Electoral College does not produce a majority winner.

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February 23, 2023

Initial House Ratings: Battle for Majority Starts as a Toss-up By Kyle Kondik

CA/NY vital for Democratic comeback; new maps in NC/OH could give Republicans a buffer.


— The overall battle for House control in 2024 starts as a Toss-up.

— Relatively similar numbers of Democratic and Republican seats start in the most competitive Toss-up and Leans categories, although Republicans start with a few more targets in large part because of the likelihood that they will benefit from redistricting in North Carolina and Ohio.

— Big blue states California and New York, where Republicans have made key gains over the past couple of cycles, loom large as Democrats plot a path back to the House majority.

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February 9, 2023

The State of Biden’s Next Campaign By Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

The president has little real opposition in his own party but remains dependent on weaknesses across the aisle.


— President Biden’s successful State of the Union address suggested he’s full speed ahead on running for a second term.

— Despite polls showing that even many Democrats would prefer Biden not to run again, he has no real opposition within his own party — and the State of the Union is unlikely to help generate any.

— Biden’s best friend is weakness within the Republican Party, which was on display once again on Tuesday night.

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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


-- 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.


— 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.


— 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.


— 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.


— 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.


— 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.


— 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.


— 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.


— 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.


— 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.