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Commentary By Kyle Kondik

Most Recent Releases

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July 18, 2019

2020 Redistricting: An Early Look By Kyle Kondik

GOP retains edge, but perhaps not as sharp of one as it had following 2010.


— The Supreme Court’s recent decision to stay out of adjudicating gerrymandering doesn’t necessarily change anything because the court had never put limits on partisan redistricting in the first place.

— Republicans are still slated to control the drawing of many more districts than Democrats following the 2020 census, although there are reasons to believe their power will not be as great as it was following the last census.

— How aggressively majority parties in a number of small-to-medium-sized states target incumbents of the minority party following 2020 may help tell us whether the Supreme Court’s decision will lead to more aggressive gerrymanders.

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June 26, 2019

Presidential Primary Debate History: Lessons for 2020 By Kyle Kondik

Candidate showdowns go back many decades, but have only recently become part of the nomination fabric.


— There have been nearly 200 presidential primary debates since 1948.

— Almost all of them have been held in the last four decades.

— Although Democrats have a record-breaking primary field, they do not appear likely to break the record for the number of candidates appearing on a stage at once, 11, set by Republicans last cycle.

— No incumbent president has participated in a primary debate, and Donald Trump seems likely to continue that trend.

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June 20, 2019

Senate 2020: The Primary Challengers By Kyle Kondik

No incumbents lost in 2014, 2016, or 2018. Who might be vulnerable in 2020?


— The postwar renomination rate for Senate incumbents is 96%. That’s a little bit lower than the rate in the House.

— However, no senators have lost renomination in 13 of the last 19 elections. So recent history does not necessarily suggest that there will be even a single Senate primary loser.

— A few senators appear to face challenges that could threaten them.

— Primary upsets could change the general election odds in some key races.

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June 13, 2019


The last time this current crop of senators, Class II, was up for election, in 2014, no senators lost their primaries. This represented a change from the previous two cycles, which featured significant primary upheaval, particularly on the Republican side.

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June 6, 2019

The Shadow of 1998 By Kyle Kondik

Revisiting and reassessing the GOP’s poor showing and the role of impeachment in the result.


— The 1998 election has invariably come up a lot as House Democrats consider whether to impeach President Donald Trump.

— That’s because Republicans had high expectations for that election but ended up flopping.

— While impeachment probably did hurt the Republicans in some districts, it may have been that Clinton’s popularity in a time of peace and prosperity would have insulated Democrats from big losses even if the GOP had held off on impeachment.

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May 30, 2019

House 2020: Incumbents Hardly Ever Lose Primaries By Kyle Kondik

A week before Rep. Joe Crowley decisively lost his primary last year, I tweeted about Crowley’s potential vulnerability, with the caveat that “I have little idea if Rep. Joe Crowley (D, NY-14) is actually seriously threatened by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in his primary next week.” A member of Crowley’s staff sent me an email that quoted this question I raised and said, “He's not. Not at all.”

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May 23, 2019

Notes on the State of the Senate By Kyle Kondik

GOP remains favored to hold the majority overall.


— Senate retirements are not having a dramatic effect on the partisan odds in any race so far.

— Democrats have missed on some Senate recruits, and that may (or may not) matter in the long run.

— Alabama and Colorado remain the likeliest states to flip, with the Democratic-held Yellowhammer State the likeliest of all.

— Arizona is the purest Toss-up.

— Republicans remain favored overall.

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May 9, 2019

Notes on the State of the House By Kyle Kondik

The Democrats' generic ballot edge endures, at least for now, but they shouldn’t get their hopes up on redistricting.


— While it’s very early in the cycle and these polls are not predictive so far in advance, the House generic ballot polling right now looks very similar to what we saw this time two years ago.

— Republicans almost certainly will need to lead on the generic ballot to retake the House, but perhaps they won’t need as big of a lead as we’ve seen in the past because of the nature of partisan voting in a presidential year and their abundance of targets in districts President Trump can or will carry.

— If new House maps are created in Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, and Ohio because of various court orders, Democrats would benefit on balance. But it may very well be that no maps end up being changed.

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May 2, 2019

Assessing Electability: Like Nailing Jell-O To A Wall By Kyle Kondik

Democrats are trying to figure out who is the best to beat Trump. It’s a difficult task.


— Trump’s victory in 2016 presents a great counter-argument to the idea that campaign professionals and pundits can confidently determine in advance who is electable to the presidency and who is not.

— Many presidents beyond Trump have seemed unelectable at various points of their ultimately successful campaigns.

— As Democrats consider who has the best chance against Trump, they will have to sort through different kinds of electability arguments, any one of which may be right (or wrong), and only one of which will actually be tested.

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April 25, 2019

Biden Would be Arguably the Most Experienced New President Ever By Kyle Kondik

He will run as the president who needs no training. But he may be the candidate who cannot be trained.


— If Joe Biden wins the presidency, he will bring with him nearly a half-century of elected officeholding experience, giving him perhaps the fullest resume of public service possessed by any new president ever.

— It may be that Democrats are more open to a very experienced candidate than Republicans were in 2016, when they selected a presidential nominee, Donald Trump, with no elected or military experience.

— Biden has a very long record to defend, a burden that other, much less experienced candidates do not have. He also will have to show that he has learned from past mistakes and can run a disciplined, strong campaign.

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April 18, 2019

Trump’s Primary Goal: Avoiding a New Hampshire Hiccup By Kyle Kondik


— President Trump remains a huge favorite to win renomination as the Republican presidential nominee, although he will have at least some opposition.

— The New Hampshire primary has historically tested the strength of presidential incumbents.

— In the primary’s modern history, incumbents who won easy victories went on to renomination and reelection, while those who struggled lost in the fall or didn’t run again.

— That said, we’re only talking about a dozen total contests, so don’t make any strong predictions based on the president’s New Hampshire showing. But depending on the circumstances, Trump’s eventual performance may provide some clues for the general election.

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April 11, 2019

The Democratic Nomination: It Doesn’t Have to be a Long Slog By Kyle Kondik

The size of the Democratic field, combined with the party’s proportional allocation of delegates and other factors, raises the possibility of a very long nomination process that may not be decided until the convention.

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March 21, 2019

This Century’s Electoral College Trends By Kyle Kondik

It has become common to describe our home state of Virginia as a state that is “trending Democratic.” That’s an observation we agree with — we used that exact term a few weeks ago in our initial Electoral College ratings. But what are we really saying when we use a term like that?

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February 28, 2019

The 2020 Electoral College: Our First Look By Kyle Kondik

— Our initial Electoral College ratings reflect a 2020 presidential election that starts as a Toss-up.

— We start with 248 electoral votes at least leaning Republican, 244 at least leaning Democratic, and 46 votes in the Toss-up category.

— The omissions from the initial Toss-up category that readers may find most surprising are Florida and Michigan.

— Much of the electoral map is easy to allocate far in advance: About 70% of the total electoral votes come from states and districts that have voted for the same party in at least the last five presidential elections.

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February 14, 2019

Democrats Hope For A Nationalized Virginia Election This Fall By Kyle Kondik

Richmond chaos could threaten state legislative takeover but big-picture trends still favor team blue.

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January 24, 2019

2020 Electoral College: Why the Republicans’ Magic Number is Probably 269, Not 270 By Kyle Kondik

Despite Democratic takeover, Republicans still hold an edge if the House has to pick the president


— There is at least one plausible Electoral College scenario that produces a 269-269 tie, which would throw the presidential election to the House of Representatives elected in 2020.

— If the House decides the presidency, you might think that Democrats would have the advantage, given their new majority. But it’s the Republicans that hold — and are likely to maintain — the advantage.

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December 13, 2018

Senate 2020: Republican Exposure on Paper, But Not Necessarily in Practice By Kyle Kondik

In the 2018 cycle, the big story was that the Democrats faced a historically difficult map of Senate races. They had to defend 26 of the 35 seats being contested, including Democratic incumbents in several dark red states. Ultimately, Democrats won 24 of the 35 races, nearly 70% of those on the ballot. But Republicans netted two seats overall, boosting their majority from 51 seats to 53 seats when the new Senate convenes next month. Democrats will hold 47 seats, a total that includes independent Sens. Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

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December 6, 2018

Governors 2019-2020: Democrats Try to Hold the Line in Red-State Battles By Kyle Kondik


— Following the 2018 election, Republicans now control 27 governorships to the Democrats’ 23, but a majority of the American public will live in states governed by Democrats starting next year.

— The 14 governorships at stake over the next two years feature some intriguing contests that will be held on mostly GOP-leaning turf.

— The most endangered governorship for either side is the open seat in Montana, which Democrats are defending.

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November 29, 2018

House 2020: The New Crossover Districts By Kyle Kondik

As of Wednesday afternoon, Democrats appeared likely to hold a 235-200 majority to start the next House, or a net gain of 40 seats, a handful more than it seemed like they had won in the immediate aftermath of the election. A lot of that has to do with the laborious and long vote count in California, where Democrats do better in the votes that are counted later in the process (there’s nothing new or unusual about this, by the way, so please look for conspiracies elsewhere). Earlier this week, engineer T.J. Cox (D) took the lead over Rep. David Valadao (R, CA-21), and as of this point Cox appears to be in the driver’s seat to win.

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November 1, 2018

Five Days To Go: Where We’re Leaning in the House, Senate, and Governors By Kyle Kondik


— Our final picks are coming Monday. In the meantime, our longstanding overall assessment — Democrats favored in House, Republicans bigger favorites in Senate — remains in place.

— Four ratings changes in the House.