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Commentary By Kyle Kondik

Most Recent Releases

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March 8, 2018

House 2018: 26 Ratings Changes, All in Favor of Democrats By Kyle Kondik

Republicans are very much in danger of losing a district that supported President Trump by 20 points less than a year and a half ago.

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February 22, 2018

Rating the New Pennsylvania House Map By Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley

A few weeks ago, we plotted a potential seat-by-seat Democratic path to a narrow House majority. That included a Democratic target of netting three additional seats from Pennsylvania, and the state’s new House map drawn by the Democratic-majority state Supreme Court should make it easier to meet or even exceed that benchmark.

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February 8, 2018

Senate 2018: Republicans Still Have Plenty of Targets By Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley

The victory by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in a special election in December did provide Democrats a potential path to a Senate majority, albeit a narrow one. The Democrats need to defend all 26 of the 34 seats they currently hold,[1] and then flip two of the eight Republican-held seats. Those would most likely be Arizona, an open seat, and Nevada, where Sen. Dean Heller (R) is seeking a second term.

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February 1, 2018

The Districts That Will Determine The Next House Majority By Kyle Kondik

Charting out the Democrats’ path to 218 seats, district by district

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January 18, 2018

Open Season in the House By Kyle Kondik


— So far there are 46 House seats where an incumbent won’t be running for reelection in November. That is already above the postwar average, and more open seats are likely.

— The current list of retirees includes 31 Republicans and 15 Democrats. Wave years sometimes but not always feature such a disparity between parties.

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January 11, 2018

The Governors: Judge 2018 by the Big States By Kyle Kondik

Democrats should end the year with more governorships than they hold now. One reasonable way to measure Democrats’ success is whether they get into the 20s — they have 16 governorships now, so that would mean a gain of four or more.

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December 7, 2017

Franken Out? How We’d Rate a Minnesota Senate Special By Kyle Kondik

As of Wednesday night, it appeared as though Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) was poised to announce his resignation from the Senate on Thursday morning. Franken has faced several credible accusations of groping women and making unwanted sexual advances, and on Wednesday, the dam finally broke and a slew of his Democratic Senate colleagues began asking for his resignation.

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November 30, 2017

House 2018: Less Than a Year Out, Race for Control Is a Coin Flip By Kyle Kondik

In the aftermath of the 2014 midterm election, when the party that didn’t hold the White House (the Republicans) gained ground in the House for the 36th time in 39 midterms since the Civil War, I wrote the following in the Center for Politics’ postmortem on the election, The Surge: Practically speaking, though, House Democrats might have to root for the other party in the 2016 presidential race. Why? Because given what we know about midterm elections almost always going against the president’s party in the House, perhaps the next best chance for the Democrats to win the House will be in 2018 — if a Republican is in the White House.

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November 16, 2017

Alabama Senate: Jones Now Narrowly Favored By Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley

It’s amazing to write, and there’s time for our outlook to change, but here goes: A Democrat is now a narrow favorite to win a Senate special election in Alabama. We’re changing our rating of the Dec. 12 special election from Likely Republican all the way to Leans Democratic.

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November 9, 2017

Democratic Domination in the Old Dominion By Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley

Tuesday represented the best non-presidential election night Democrats have had since 2006. They swept the statewide ticket in Virginia for the second election in a row, and they picked up the New Jersey governorship. They also won a crucial, majority-making state Senate election in Washington state, so they won complete control of state government in two states (New Jersey and Washington).

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November 2, 2017

Signs and Portents By Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley

In an off-year long on election commentary but short on actual elections, the two main events on a Spartan political calendar are now upon us: New Jersey and Virginia will elect new governors next week, and the stakes are high, particularly for Democrats.

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October 26, 2017

Primary Colors in Red By Kyle Kondik

If President Trump actively campaigned against incumbents of his own party in primaries next year, it would be an unusual political occurrence. But it would not be without precedent. In fact, he wouldn’t even be the first ideologically flexible, wealthy New Yorker who occupied the Oval Office to do so.

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October 5, 2017

The Republican Senate Edge By Kyle Kondik

The U.S. Senate is a curious, unique legislative body for a lot of reasons. It has arcane rules, such as the filibuster, which limits the passage of most legislative items unless 60 members vote yes. Representation in the Senate is not based on population; instead, each state gets two and only two senators, meaning that California (the most populous state) and Wyoming (the least populous) have equal say in the Senate. Each get 2% of the Senate’s membership — two out of 100 senators — even though California has 12% of the nation’s people while Wyoming only has 0.2%. And unlike the House, where the entire membership is on the ballot every two years, only a third of the Senate’s membership is on the ballot each federal election cycle.

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September 28, 2017

When the Out Party Runs Out of Luck By Kyle Kondik

The dominant theme in next year’s Senate elections is the confluence of two competing forces: The huge number of seats the Democrats are defending versus the usual boost that the non-presidential party, in this case the Democrats, enjoys in midterm elections.

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August 31, 2017

The Politics Of Disasters By Kyle Kondik and Geoffery Skelley

Throughout the first 200-plus days of Donald Trump’s presidency, it’s been common for analysts to say he is struggling through sub-40% approval ratings despite not having to reckon with a major non-scandal crisis. Whether that was true before last weekend is debatable -- do North Korea’s provocations count? -- but it’s almost certainly not true now after Hurricane Harvey struck Houston and southeast Texas.

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August 24, 2017

Senate 2018: Republican Edge Runs Up Against Trump, History By Kyle Kondik

Ever since Donald Trump won the presidency, 2018’s race for the Senate seemed to pit two powerful, competing forces against one another: the Republicans’ long and enticing list of Democratic targets, several of which are in some of Trump’s best states, versus the longstanding tendency of the president’s party to struggle to make gains in midterm elections.

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August 17, 2017

Governors 2017-2018: The Democrats’ Complicated Path to Big Gains By Kyle Kondik

A couple of weeks ago, Crystal Ball senior columnist Alan Abramowitz unveiled a model for predicting party change in next year’s gubernatorial elections. The results were rosy for Democrats: The model suggested Democrats should gain somewhere between six to nine governorships depending on the Democratic lead in House generic ballot polling. The Democratic advantage is in large part simply because: 1.) There is a Republican in the White House, and the presidential party often loses ground in midterm elections up and down the ballot; and 2.) Republicans are defending 26 of the 36 governorships up for election next year, meaning that they have a lot of ground to defend while the Democrats have relatively little.

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July 27, 2017

House 2018: How Big Is The Playing Field? by Kyle Kondik

If Democrats do have a chance to win the House next year, it might be because they translated a currently big field of announced candidates into credible opportunities to flip not just some of the top seats on their list of targets, but also some seats that, on paper, might not seem like they should be competitive. If that’s what happens — a big if at such an early point in the cycle despite President Trump’s unpopularity and the usual midterm trends that favor the party that does not hold the White House — it would mirror what happened when the Democrats last won the House from Republican control in 2006.

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July 20, 2017

For House Republicans, Past Performance Is No Guarantee of Future Results By Kyle Kondik

As they dig their trenches to try to withstand what may (or may not be) a Democratic wave, Republicans may take heart in the performance of their current incumbents last year as a buffer against a potentially challenging environment next year.

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June 22, 2017

Working-Class Republicanism By Kyle Kondik

A new book tells the story of a president who made his name as an entertainer and a Democrat before moving to the Republican Party and then launching a bid for the presidency. This candidate won his party’s presidential nomination despite objections from some party stalwarts that he was unelectable in the fall. He then captured the presidency in part because he was able to perform better than Republicans typically do in some traditionally white, working-class areas in key states.