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Commentary by Rhodes Cook

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February 17, 2022

The “Big Sort” Continues, with Trump as a Driving Force By Rhodes Cook

Number of blowout counties spiked in 2016, endured in 2020.

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— More than 20% of the nation’s counties gave 80% or more of its 2-party presidential votes to either Donald Trump or Joe Biden.

— Trump won the vast majority of these counties, but because Biden’s blowout counties are much more populous, he got many more votes out of his “super landslide” counties than Trump got out of his.

— Trump’s blowouts were concentrated in white, rural counties in the Greater South, Interior West, and Great Plains, while Biden’s were in a smattering of big cities, college towns, and smaller counties with large percentages of heavily Democratic nonwhite voters.

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July 29, 2020

States of Play: Pennsylvania By Rhodes Cook

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— In 2016, Donald Trump inspired higher Republican turnout in Pennsylvania, while Hillary Clinton couldn’t offset her losses in the non-metro parts of the state.

— Voter registration trends in Pennsylvania are mirroring the 2016 picture — all of the counties in Philadelphia’s suburban collar are Democratic by registration while Republicans have flipped some working class counties.

— With the third party vote projected to be down from 2020, former Gov. Bill Weld’s (R-MA) relative strength as a Republican protest presidential candidate in this month’s Pennsylvania Republican primary may be a warning sign for Trump.

— Joe Biden, who frequently talks up his working class Scranton background, gives Democrats a good chance to move the state back into the blue column, but it’ll hardly be an automatic shift.

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January 30, 2020

Take Two: Can Sanders Broaden His Base? By Rhodes Cook

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Unlike in 2016, Bernie Sanders has a real chance to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

— However, he likely will have to broaden his base of support to do so.

— Namely, better showings in big urban and suburban areas are important, particularly as the field narrows.

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July 12, 2018

Registering by Party: Where the Democrats and Republicans Are Ahead By Rhodes Cook

This is not the best of times for the Democratic Party. No White House; no Senate; no House of Representatives; and a clear minority of governorships and state legislatures in their possession. Yet the Democrats approach this fall’s midterm elections with an advantage in one key aspect of the political process — their strength in states where voters register by party.

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March 1, 2018

Donald Trump’s Short Congressional Coattails By Rhodes Cook

-- Although Donald Trump is remaking the Republican Party in his image, he had among the shortest coattails of any presidential winner going back to Dwight Eisenhower. In 2016, Trump ran ahead of just 24 of 241 Republican House winners and only five of 22 Republican Senate winners.

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January 26, 2017

The 2016 Presidential Vote: A Look Down In The Weeds by Rhodes Cook

If Hillary Clinton had won the presidency -- and she took the popular vote by nearly 3 million -- the narrative of the 2016 election would be far different. Rather than the storyline being Donald’s Trump triumph in the heartland, with its beleaguered blue-collar workers, the emphasis now would be on the Democrats’ ongoing success in metro America, with its large share of the nation’s growing minority population. The conventional wisdom would surely be that the Democrats were likely to control the White House for years to come.

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May 17, 2016

High Primary Turnouts: Any Clues for the Fall? By Rhodes Cook

No matter what one thinks of this often surreal presidential primary campaign, it has been a hit at the ballot box.

Republicans have already smashed their record of 20.8 million ballots, set in 2008. Through the May 10 contests, the 2016 GOP primary turnout stands at 26.1 million and counting.

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May 29, 2014

Barack Obama and Bill Clinton: Complementary Strengths By Rhodes Cook

The Democrats can use all the assets they can find as they approach a midterm election that grows increasingly challenging. The polls are daunting. The electoral map for both the Senate and House is unfavorable. And history is rarely kind to the president’s party in midterm voting.

But the Democrats have two significant assets in the form of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, the president and former president who have thrown themselves into the 2014 campaign with gusto.

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October 5, 2012

When The Whole Map Was In Play By Rhodes Cook

Throughout this year’s presidential campaign, the competitive portion of the electoral map has been limited to about 12 or 13 states. There are the nine that flipped from Republican George W. Bush in 2004 to Democrat Barack Obama in 2008, plus four or so others -- Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin come quickly to mind -- that voted Democratic the last two presidential elections but narrowly so in 2004.

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December 8, 2011

2012 Republican Race: The Field May Not Be Closed By Rhodes Cook

Conventional wisdom is that the Republican presidential field is set, and that it is much too late for a new candidate to enter the race.

In years past, that would be absolutely correct. Over the last few decades, dozens of primaries and caucuses have been shoe-horned into the opening weeks of the election year, with the tendency on the Republican side for the front-running candidate to score a quick knockout.

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October 14, 2011

Primary Madness: A Calendar We Can Believe In By Rhodes Cook

At long last, the 2012 Republican presidential nominating calendar is coming into focus. But it is not all that GOP schedule makers wanted. Rather than a February start in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, Florida's recent decision to hold its primary Jan. 31 has moved all the other early-voting states forward a month.

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May 27, 2011

Will Obama Need To Find His Inner "Wilson"? By Rhodes Cook

Take a poll of political pundits about next year's presidential election, and most at this point would probably predict that President Barack Obama would win reelection, but with a reduced margin from 2008 in both the popular and electoral vote. Yet if that actually happens, it would be an historical rarity of the first order.

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April 29, 2011

2012 Presidential Nominating Process: It's Time for The States By Rhodes Cook

The two major parties have done their job in terms of setting the parameters for the 2012 presidential nominating process. Now, it is time for the states to fill in the blanks. And what they do in that regard over the next few months could go a long way in determining who wins next year's Republican presidential nomination.

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April 1, 2011

Congressional Redistricting: Is Creating “Safe” Districts a Dying Art? By Rhodes Cook

When it comes to congressional redistricting, the nation’s most populous state is in a class by itself. About a decade ago, the Democratic state legislature passed what would prove to be one of the most perfect “status quo” congressional district maps imaginable. It was designed to create a large cadre of safe seats for both parties, and it did just that.

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February 3, 2011

Obama and Reelection: One Term or Two? By Rhodes Cook

When it comes to presidents and reelection, two things seem clear. If they appear to be in control of events, they win. If events seem to be controlling them, they lose.

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September 9, 2010

A Troubling Indicator for Both Parties? By Rhodes Cook

Virtually every leading political indicator points to a midterm election this November that could range anywhere from difficult to disastrous for Democrats.

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June 24, 2010

For House Democrats: More Favorable Terrain Than '94 By Rhodes Cook

When the Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives in 1994, one of their main problems was the political terrain on which they had to fight. While many political observers find the present electoral environment to be eerily similar with that of 1994, not nearly as many House Democrats are as exposed as they were then.

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April 30, 2010

Midterms Past: The '66 Parallel By Rhodes Cook

For months now, this election has been compared to that of 1994, when Republicans scored huge gains and won both houses of Congress. It is a decent model. But given the recent passage of health care reform – something that did not happen in ’94 – this might be a good occasion to look at another midterm election for instruction, that of 1966.

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March 26, 2010

Hamstrung By Health Care? By Rhodes Cook

Each party in the last two decades has benefited from “big wave” elections to win control of the House of Representatives – the Republicans in 1994, the Democrats in 2006 and 2008, when they turned a distinct minority in the House into a solid majority.

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March 5, 2010

2010 Primaries: Gauging Anti-Incumbent Sentiment By Rhodes Cook

The 2010 primary season is under way, which at the congressional and gubernatorial levels is often no more than a quiet backwater in America’s electoral process. In recent years, only a few such incumbents have lost their bids for renomination, and only a handful more have had to break a sweat.