Election Insights is a political analysis publication of the Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC). BIPAC is an independent, bipartisan organization, that is supported by several hundred of the nation’s leading businesses and trade associations. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the views of our organization.
Primary & Runoff Recap - CO, MD, NY, OK & UT
June 11, 2014
Primary Results in ME, NV, ND, SC & VA
By Briana Huxley
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor defeated by conservative challenger
VA-7: In a huge upset, Randolph-Macon economics Professor David Brat defeated GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, 56% to 44%. Turnout in the 7th district was low, around 12%. Though Brat was Cantor's most serious opponent in over a decade, Cantor was expected to easily defeat him on Tuesday, according to the polls. Brat faces Democratic nominee Jack Trammell, who is also a professor at Randolph-Macon College, in the general. This is a conservative district, but depending on the quality of the candidates, could become a race to watch.
The results for the remainder of Tuesday's primaries are below.
ME-2: Rep. Mike Michaud (D) is running for Governor, which set up competitive primaries for the Democrats and Republicans in the 2nd district. The Democratic primary was a fight between a progressive rising star, state Sen. Emily Cain and a socially conservative, pro-union candidate, state Sen. Troy Jackson. Cain had a slight edge going into the primary and won with over 70% of the vote. On the Republican side, Kevin Raye, a businessman-state Senator and former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin faced off for the nomination. Poliquin won with 56% of the vote. This blue collar district has a slight Democratic edge, but is still expected to be competitive in the general.
NV-3: Democratic National Committeewoman and political consultant Erin Bilbray (D) is now the official nominee to take on Rep. Joe Heck (R) in the general election. This will be Nevada's closest watched race in 2014, though Heck is currently favored.
NV-4: Assemblyman Cresent Hardy won the Republican nomination in the district. The 4th district has the potential to become competitive, if the political environment continues to trend in the Republican's favor, but for now Rep. Steven Horsford (D) is sitting comfortably.
At-large: Rep. Kevin Cramer (R) had no primary opposition and his at-large seat is safe in the general.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) was able to avoid a runoff yesterday, receiving over 50% of the vote. While he faced six challengers in the Republican primary, none of them were able to gain traction or raise the funds necessary to take on Graham. Graham is not expected to have a tough general election race.
There are no competitive primaries or general elections in the Congressional delegation.
Ed Gillespie, former Republican National Committee chairman and lobbyist, won the Republican Senate nomination this past Saturday at a party convention. Gillespie was the most credible Republican challenger to Sen. Mark Warner (D), though he still has a long way to go to make this race competitive. His fundraising numbers have been impressive, but polling still gives the advantage to Warner.
VA-8: With Rep. Jim Moran (D) retiring, seven Democrats were vying for the nomination in this safe Democrat seat. Don Beyer, a former Lieutenant Governor and car dealership owner, won the nomination with 46% of the vote. Beyer had been the frontrunner in the race since he entered and is favored to be the next Congressman from the 8th district.
VA 10: The nominees for the open seat due to Rep. Frank Wolf's (R) retirement were decided in March and April. State Delegate Barbara Comstock won the Republican nomination in a firehouse primary, beating back conservative firebrand, state Delegate Bob Marshall. Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust became the official Democratic nominee in March when he was the only candidate to file. This will be a competitive general election.
June 4, 2014
June 3rd Primary Results
By Bo Harmon
In perhaps the most watched race of the day, Senator Thad Cochran and tea-party challenger Chris McDaniel will advance to a run off because neither broke 50% of the primary vote and ended less than 1% away from each other in the final tally. The runoff was a completely unexpected scenario as a little known third candidate in the primary ended up with less than 2% of the vote, but it was enough to hold both Cochran and McDaniel under 50%. The runoff will be held June 24. The winner will face former Democratic Congressman Travis Childers in the general election.
All Incumbents won their primaries and are not expecting difficult general election challenges. Of note, in MS-4: Republican Congressman Steven Palazzo held off a primary challenge from former Democratic Congressman Gene Taylor who had represented the district for many years and switched parties to run for his old seat in the primary. Palazzo won 50-43 with other minor candidates taking the balance.
Joni Ernst overwhelmingly won the Republican nomination against a crowded field including former Reliant Energy CEO Mark Jacobs and US Attorney Matt Whitaker. Ernst took over 55% of the vote to Jacobs' 17% with the balance going to the remaining candidates. Clearing the 35% threshold means Ernst wins the nomination outright without having to go to a state nominating convention, which could have presented great uncertainty to the process. Ernst will now face Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley in the general election and the race is expected to be one of the most competitive of the cycle.
Congressmen Dave Loebsack and Steve King both won their primaries easily and do not face strong general election challenges.
IA-1: In the Bruce Braley held open seat, Democrat Pat Murphy won the nomination with 37% of the vote over Swati Dandekar and Cedar Rapids Congresswoman Monica Vernon. Murphy has served as Speaker of the Iowa legislature for many years. He will face Republican Rod Blum in the general election which has the potential of becoming competitive but has been a consistently Democratic district to date.
IA-3: In the Tom Latham open seat, Republicans Brad Zaun and Robert Cramer will advance to a district convention to determine the nomination as no candidate received over 35% of the vote. The eventual nominee will face Democrat Staci Appel in what is expected to be one of the most competitive elections of the cycle.
Steve Daines secured the Republican nomination for Senate to take on Democrat John Walsh who was appointed to the seat upon Max Baucus’ confirmation as Ambassador. Daines is the current at-large member of Congress. Daines has maintained a lead in most polls to date and Republicans consider this one of their most likely pick up opportunities.
In the open seat race for the state's sole Congressional seat, Republican Ryan Zinke will face Democrat John Lewis, a long time staffer to Sen. Baucus in the general election. The seat is expected to remain in Republican hands.
AL-6: In the six person primary to fill retiring Republican Spencer Bachus' seat, Republicans will face a runoff between Paul DeMarco and Gary Palmer in what is the most Republican district in one of the most Republican states in the country.
In California, the top two vote getters, regardless of party, advance to the general election.
CA-7: Rep. Ami Bera (D) and former Congressman and businessman Doug Ose (R) made it out of the primary, with 47 and 27 percent, respectively. This is a top race to watch going into the general.
CA-10: Rep. Denham (R), from the 10th district, will face bee farmer Michael Eggman (D) in the general election. This could be a race to watch as the general shapes up, but Denham starts out with an advantage.
CA-11: In the 11th district, Rep. Miller (D) is retiring, and the field quickly cleared for state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D). He advanced to the general, along with Republican Tue Phan though DeSaulnier is the easy favorite to win the general in this heavily Democratic seat.
CA-15: Eric Swalwell will face Republican Hugh Bussell who edged out a Democrat who was seeking to upset the incumbent Democrat. Swalwell is expected to retain the seat in the general election.
CA-17: Democrats have been dealing with a family feud in the 17th district, with former Obama administration official Ro Khanna (D) challenging sitting Rep. Mike Honda (D). Both advanced to the general, with Honda winning 49 percent of the vote and Khanna pulling in 26 percent. This could become a competitive race, but Honda currently has the advantage.
CA-21: Former Congressional aide Amanda Renteria (D) received 24 percent of the vote and will challenge Rep. David Valadao (R) in the general. Renteria is a top Democratic recruit and this will be a competitive general election race.
CA-25: The race to replace retiring Rep. McKeon (R) led to a competitive primary between three of the candidates, Lee Rogers (D), Tony Strickland (R) and Steve Knight (R). Strickland and Knight will advance to the general election, so the seat is assured to remain republican.
CA-26: Freshman Rep. Julia Brownley (D) will face off against Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R) in November. A member of the U.S. Navy Reserve and a former prosecutor, Gorell is a formidable challenger and could make this race competitive.
CA-31: The 31st district has been a top target for Democrats, especially after Rep. Miller (R) announced his retirement. With four Democrats on the ballot and two serious Republican contenders, Democrats were worried that once again, the Democrats' votes would be too split and the two Republicans would make it out of the primary. The general election will be Republican businessman Paul Chabot against Democrat Pete Aguilar in this Democratic-leaning district.
CA-33: The 33rd district had a whopping 18 candidates running to replacing outgoing Rep. Waxman (D) in this reliably safe Democratic seat. Former LA Controller Wendy Greuel (D) and state Sen. Ted Lieu (D) battled it out on the Democratic side while most Republican votes went to Elan Carr. Lieu and Carr will advance to the general election.
CA-35: State Sen. Norma Torres (D) and Christina Gagnier (D) won the top two spots in the 35th district to succeed Rep. Negrete McLeod (D). Torres is expected to easily win the general.
CA-36: In the 36th district, Assemblyman Brian Nestande (R) and Rep. Raul Ruiz (D) formalized their general election. Ruiz is vulnerable going into the general. This will be a race to watch.
CA-45: With Rep. Campbell's (R) retirement, the top two spots went to state Sen. Mimi Walters (R) and Democrat Drew Leavens. Walters is the favorite to become the next Congresswoman from the 45th district.
CA-52: In the 52nd district, former member of the San Diego City Council Carl DeMaio (R) became the official challenger to vulnerable Rep. Scott Peters (D). This will be a competitive general election.
NJ-3: Rep. Jon Runyan (R) is retiring, setting off a competitive Republican primary and general election. In the primary, former Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur beat former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan 60-40. MacArthur was leading Lonegan in the polls and is the best bet for Republicans to hold this seat. Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard (D) won the Democratic nomination with 84 percent of the vote.
NJ-12: Rush Holt's (D) retirement in this safe Democratic seat led to a four-way race in the Democratic primary. The two frontrunners were state Sen. Linda Greenstein and state Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. Coleman won with 43 percent of the vote and is expected to become the next Congresswoman in the Trenton area district.
Businessman and former state Republican Chair Allen Weh won the Republican nomination to take on Sen. Tom Udall (D). The Senate race is not expected to be competitive, and Tom Udall will keep his seat.
The nominees are officially set for the open U.S. Senate seat due to Sen. Johnson's (D) retirement. Former Gov. Mike Rounds won the Republican nomination, as expected. Rick Weiland is the Democratic nominee. South Dakota is one of the Republican's best chance at a pickup in 2014 and Rounds goes into the general election as the favorite.
All other incumbents easily won their primaries and none anticipate difficult general election battles.
May 21, 2014
Primary Results for GA, ID, AR, KY, PA and OR
By Bo Harmon
May 20 was a big day for primaries around the country. Here is a recap of some that took place.
Runoff: July 22
Senate: David Perdue and Jack Kingston advanced to a July 22 runoff. Vote percentages for all candidates were: David Perdue: 30%, Jack Kingston: 26%, Karen Handel: 22%, Phil Gingrey: 10%, Paul Broun: 10%. The eventual winner will face Michelle Nunn who secured the Democratic nomination with no real opposition. The general election may be competitive and is a top target of national Democrats.
House: With three House members running for Senate, there were three open seats in Georgia. In addition, Congressman Hank Johnson faced a tough primary challenge in his heavily Democratic district. All three open seats are in solidly Republican districts and are not expected to be competitive in the general election.
GA-1: Jack Kingston's open seat, centered in Savannah, had a field of six candidates and State Senator Buddy Carter and physician Bob Johnson will advance to a runoff. The general election is not expected to be competitive.
GA-4: Congressman Hank Johnson barely held off primary challenger DeKalb County Sheriff Tom Brown. Brown outraised Johnson financially, but ultimately came up short. This is a solidly Democratic district and not competitive in the general election.
GA-10: In Paul Broun's open seat, covering much of the east-central portion of the state, six candidates vied for the nomination with Mike Collins and Jody Hice headed to a runoff. Jody Hice is an evangelical preacher and radio talk show host who focused his campaign on social issues while local trucking company operator Mike Collins is the son of former Congressman Mac Collins. The general election is not expected to be competitive.
GA-11: Congressman Gingrey's suburban Atlanta district also had six people on the ballot with former Congressman Bob Barr and State Representative Barry Loudermilk advancing to the runoff. Loudermilk ran as a champion of tea party values while former member of Congress Bob Barr pointed to his record of conservative activism as reason to return to Congress. The general election is not expected to be competitive.
GA-12: Democrat John Barrow is one of the last remaining Blue Dog Democrats in the Congress and will face Augusta businessman Rick Allen who won a crowded Republican primary with over 50% of the vote. This top Republican target district went for Romney by 12 points.
All other Congressional incumbents won their primaries and none are expected to be competitive in the general election.
Senate: Republican Leader Mitch McConnell easily beat tea party challenger Matt Bevin in the GOP primary. Bevin was championed by conservative groups around the country but McConnell's superior fundraising and organizational capacity left him little to worry about. Democrats see this seat as a pick up opportunity with their nominee Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Current polling has the race very close despite the outsized Republican performance in Kentucky at the Presidential level.
House: All house Incumbents won their primaries and none are expected to be competitive in the general election.
Senate: Incumbent Jim Risch won his primary and the seat is not expected to be competitive in the general election.
House: In the second district, Congressman Mike Simpson easily defeated tea party financed challenger Bryan Smith. The general election is not expected to be competitive.
Senate: Nominations were formalized for incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor and Republican challenger, Congressman Tom Cotton. Neither faced primary opposition. The general election between the two will be among the most closely watched in the country and is a key component to Republican attempts to retake Senate control.
AR-2: Retiring Congressman Tim Griffin's seat is expected to now go to Little Rock banker French Hill who won the Republican primary in this solidly GOP seat.
AR-4: In the race to fill Tom Cotton's open seat, State Senator Bruce Westerman beat young businessman Tommy Moll in the Republican primary. He will face former FEMA director James Lee Witt in the general election. The seat is solidly Republican, but Witt's high profile makes this a seat to keep an eye on.
Incumbents Steve Womack and Rick Crawford both won their primaries and do not expect difficult reelection battles in the general election.
Senate: In the Republican Primary, physician Monica Wehby defeated State Rep Jason Conger and a handful of minor candidates to win the nomination to challenge Democratic Incumbent Sen. Jeff Merkley. Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon, has run close with Merkley in recent polling.
House: All Oregon incumbents won their primaries and none are expected to have difficult reelection fights in the general election.
PA-6: In the race to replace retiring Rep Jim Gerlach, nominations were formalized for Republican Ryan Costello and Democrat Manan Trivedi. Costello is a business-oriented County Commissioner and Trivedi is a physician and Iraq War veteran who ran twice previously against Gerlach. Neither faced primary opposition and though the district leans Republican, Trivedi is an experienced candidate with a strong biography that could make the seat competitive.
PA-8: Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick will face Democratic challenger Kevin Strouse who defeated Shaughnessy Naughton in the Democratic primary 53-46 and presents a potentially serious challenge to Fitzpatrick in this suburban Philadelphia district though Fitzpatrick has consistently outperformed other Republicans in the district.
PA-9: Congressman Bill Shuster easily held off tea party oriented challenger Art Halvorson who partly self-funded a challenge to the incumbent. Shuster is not expected to have a significant general election challenge.
PA-13: In one of the most interesting races of the day, State Rep. Brendan Boyle handily won the Democratic nomination in this heavily Democratic open seat vacated by Allyson Schwartz. With four compelling and talented candidates, each with very different appeals and paths to victory, Boyle gathered almost 55% of the vote. He will face Republican Carson Adcock in the general election though it is not expected to be competitive.
All other Pennsylvania incumbents won their primaries and are not expecting difficult re-election fights.
May 7, 2014
Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio Primary Recap
By Briana Huxley
Primary season is upon us, with eleven states holding their primaries in May. Yesterday, Indiana, North Carolina and Ohio kicked us off, with the results below.
U.S. Senate: In one of the most closely watched races on Tuesday, state Assembly Speaker Thom Tillis (R) garnered more than 40% of the vote in the GOP Senate primary and was thus able to avoid a runoff. There were eight candidates in the GOP primary, with physician Greg Brannon and Pastor Mark Harris being the two strongest challengers, both from Tillis' right. Polls show Tillis in a very close race with incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagan in November.
U.S. House: There were several North Carolina Congressional races to watch, especially in the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th and 12th Districts. In the 2nd District, Rep. Ellmers (R) easily beat her primary challenger, Frank Roche, but it was the Democratic primary that gained all of the attention. Three candidates were running; "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken, former state commerce secretary Keith Crisco and mental health counselor Toni Morris. Aiken had a strong name ID going into the primary, but Crisco outspent Aiken, leading to a competitive primary. Aiken currently leads by 369 votes, with 41% of the vote. There is no declared winner yet. This will be an uphill climb for Democrats; Romney took the district with 58 percent of the vote in 2012.
One of the most vulnerable incumbents in the first round of primaries was Rep. Walter Jones (R - NC 3). Challenged by former Bush administration official Taylor Griffin in the primary, Jones had his toughest race to date. Griffin had the backing of establishment Republicans, but his background as a Bush staffer and lobbyist had some questioning whether he could win over this libertarian leaning district. In the end, Jones was able to hold on to his seat, beating Griffin, 51 percent to 45 percent. The general is not expected to be competitive.
With Rep. Coble (R) retiring, the open seat in NC 6 will go into a runoff, as expected. Frontrunner Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr. made it into the Republican runoff, along with Baptist Pastor Mark Walker. Whoever wins the GOP runoff is the favorite for the general election. Romney won the 6th district with 58 percent of the vote in 2012. In NC 12, state Rep. Alma Adams (D) narrowly avoided a runoff, winning just over 40% of the vote in both the special and regular primaries. Rep. Watt (D) resigned from this safe Democratic seat earlier this year.
In the 7th district, former state Sen. David Rouzer beat out former state Sen. Woody White, 53 percent to 40 percent in the Republican primary. This is a conservative seat, with Rouzer now favored to win the general. The seat is being vacated by Blue Dog Rep. Mike McIntyre (D) and is considered one of the Republicans' best chances for a pickup.
In Ohio, the field is now set for the two most competitive races in the Buckeye state for 2014 - the 6th and 14th districts. In the 6th district, Rep. Bill Johnson (R) will face former state Rep. Jennifer Garrison (D). In the 14th district, freshman Rep. David Joyce (R) survived his primary challenge from Matt Lynch. This was Joyce's first primary election. He was appointed to the general election ballot after Rep. LaTourette (R) retired after winning the primary nod in 2012. Attorney Michael Wager is now the official Democratic challenger. Both of these races are on the DCCC's radar and could shape up into competitive general election races. Speaker John Boehner (R) also easily survived a primary challenge from JD Winteregg, taking 69 percent of the vote.
Indiana has been relatively quiet in 2014. There were no major primary challengers to incumbents.Of the nine congressional seats, only Rep. Walorski's (R - IN 2) is shaping up to be a competitive race. Walorski won the open seat in 2012 by fewer than 4,000 votes. Joe Bock, a University of Notre Dame professor, won the Democratic primary. This is a race that could become competitive, but Walorski has the upper hand for now.
April 16, 2014
2014 Primaries: Turnout to Impact the November Ballot
By Ashley Cox and Mary Beth Hart
More and more, voters believe the only thing that matters is whether or not a candidate is a Democrat or a Republican. Some even see it as a game of R's versus D's-with the Republican team leading the U.S. House with 240 players to the Democrat's 192, while the Democrats lead the U.S. Senate by four seats over the Republicans. In a game like this, voters are distracted from a candidate's platform on important issues and instead base their decisions on party ties. A primary election does not change the score of the game, but it does determine the caliber of the party's player come November. As primary elections continue, it's time to shift focus away from partisanship and toward the important issues affecting our nation and our economy.
It is time to get involved in the primary and become educated on primary candidate platforms. By doing this, voters will be able to shape the general election ballot. Let's make the primaries PRIMARY.
Primary election turnout has historically been lower than general election turnout-despite the fact that primary results directly determine the general election ballot. Average voter turnout in the 2012 statewide primaries slumped to the lowest level since presidential primaries proliferated in 1972. Based on the 41 states which held statewide primaries in both parties, turnout was 17.3%, a 40-point underdog to the nearly 60% turnout in the actual presidential elections1. In order for the November ballot to accurately represent the voice of a candidate's district, voter turnout must be strong in the primary election.
Low primary turnout means that less of the electorate has shaped the general election ballot.
Primary election voters tend to be more radical voters who support their candidate regardless of electability in the general election2. In recent years, U.S. House and Senate primary election candidates who were considered more ideologically-extreme, defeated well-established and comparatively moderate candidates. For example, in 2012 Tea Party candidates, Richard Mourdock (IN), Sharron Angle (NV), and Ken Buck (CO) all who triumphed in primary elections over more mainstream candidates, proved unpalatable to the general electorate in November and were not elected to office.
Primary election participation is especially pertinent to ensure the best viable candidate in each party is on the ballot for the general election.
Primary election voters determine the caliber of candidates for November's ballot while general election voters tend to vote along party lines. Furthermore, because approximately 60% of congressional districts are not swing districts3, a dominant party's primary candidate who makes it to the November ballot will most likely be elected. These primary elections are especially competitive in the advantaged party of constituencies in which one party has a clear advantage in terms of voter loyalties.
It's time to make the primary election the important election. Learn about the primary elections in your district and educate yourself on your primary candidate's platform. Together, we can shape the November ballot and bring the focus back to electing candidates based on their stance on the issues important to our success.
- "National Primary Turnout Hits New Record Low." Bipartisan Policy Center, 10 Oct. 2012.
- Gerber, Elisabeth R. "Primary Election Systems and Representation." Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization, Vol. 14, No. 2 (1998): 304-24.
- Hirano, Shigeo, James M. Snyder, and Michael M. Ting. "Distributive Politics with Primaries." The Journal of Politics 71.04 (2009): 1467-480.
April 9, 2014
The Rising Cost Per Vote
By Bo Harmon and Briana Huxley
The cost of elections is increasing. Swing districts and voters are decreasing. Billions of dollars are being spent to target a smaller and smaller number of voters.
The 2014 elections are projected to be the most expensive midterms to date. Each election cycle, the cost of elections increases substantially. In 1998, candidates, parties and outside groups spent $1.6 billion total on Congressional races. By 2012, that figure more than doubled to $3.7 billion and is expected to rise again in 2014.
Counterintuitively, while election spending increases each cycle, there are fewer swing seats and competitive races taking place. According to the Cook Political Report Partisan Voter Index, there were 164 swing seats in the House in 1998. By 2013, that had dropped to 90. Even fewer, maybe 20-30, are actually competitive.
It isn't just the reduced number of competitive seats, there are fewer and fewer swing voters available to be persuaded in the competitive elections that DO exist. BIPAC uses a formula to determine the number of true swing voters in a given state or district. Over the last eight years, we take the lowest performance of ANY Republican and the lowest performance of ANY Democratic candidate and assign that low-water mark as a partisan baseline. We estimate the number of votes likely to be cast in 2014 and subtract the percentage that is base Republican and base Democratic and are left with the number of real swing votes in a state. You can see from the chart below that a very small number of votes are actually at play in the most competitive Senate races. In several states, the swing voters represent less than 20% of expected turnout. Only 13% of expected voters in NC are swing, 12% in GA, 18% in AK and 12% in CO. More money may be pouring into races, but there are increasingly fewer voters to persuade.
|STATE||EXPECTED TURNOUT||GOP BASE VOTE||DEM BASE VOTE||Votes needed to WIN||SWING VOTERS|
March 12, 2014
Republican David Jolly Wins Florida 13 Special Election
By Bo Harmon
In a race that polls had neck and neck through Election Day, David Jolly was declared the winner of the special election in Florida's 13th district to replace deceased Congressman Bill Young. Republican David Jolly won by approximately 3500 votes out of over 183,000 votes cast against former state CFO and 2010 Gubernatorial candidate Democrat Alex Sink. Unofficial results had the final tally at 48.5% for Jolly and 46.5% for Sink with the balance for the Libertarian candidate.
Going into Election Day, 125,000 votes had already been cast through early or absentee voting in the Tampa-area district, with Republicans casting 4600 more than Democrats (though WHO the votes were for is obviously not known). This mirrored the registration percentages in the district which has 37% registered Republicans, 35% Democrats and 24% Independents. It was a district that Obama carried narrowly in both 2008 and 2012.
More than any shift in the balance of power in the House, the race represented a first test of messaging and tactics in a swing area for both parties. Both parties invested heavily to test advertising themes and hoped to gain momentum heading into the summer campaign season. Over $5 million was spent on behalf of Jolly while almost $4 million was spent to support Sink.
Ultimately, the campaign does little to change the dynamics of Congress for the remainder of the year and there will likely be a rematch in the general election in November with wider turnout. It is impossible to predict at this point which candidate benefits. With a virtual tie going into Election Day in both polling and, more importantly, early votes cast, the "on the ground" turnout efforts made the difference.
March 5, 2014
A Shifting Political Landscape
By Bo Harmon and Briana Huxley
The political landscape has shifted pretty dramatically in just the last two months. Since January 1, numerous additional retirements have been announced and several candidates have picked up significant new challengers. There are now 38 House retirements, including several of the Congress' longest-serving members, many in districts that will not be competitive in a general election. While some of these districts have heirs apparent, many do not and it is in these primaries where votes will really count.
Many of the House retirements or resignations over the last eight weeks have come in strongly Democratic-leaning districts. Some races already have likely replacements lined up, including long-serving members, George Miller (CA-31) and John Dingell (MI-12) (State Senator Mark DeSaulnier the likely replacement in California and Rep. Dingell's wife, Debbie Dingell, in Michigan). Most open seats already have crowded, competitive primaries. These include Rob Andrews (NJ-1), Mel Watt (NC-12), Rush Holt (NJ-12), Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4), Jim Moran (VA-8), Gloria Negrete McLeod (CA-35), Ed Pastor (AZ-7), and Henry Waxman (CA-33). In NJ-1, state Sen. Donald Norcross has gathered support from Rep. Andrews, along with other top ranking state Democrats, but faces a primary challenge from Mayor Frank Minor. Both NC-12 and NJ-12 have a large field of Democratic candidates, including several state representatives and senators. Expect both primaries to be competitive.
In McCarthy's open seat, Democrats seem to be rallying around Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, though others are still considering getting into the race, including Nassau Legislative Minority Leader Kevin Abrahams. Moran's open seat in Virginia is another district with an extremely crowded primary. The early frontrunner is former Lieutenant Governor and car dealership owner Don Beyer. The race for McLeod's open seat is just shaping up, but state Senator Norma Torres has already announced her bid. Pastor's open seat in Arizona has gained several candidates, and it is even rumored that Congresswoman Sinema (AZ-9) may switch to the solidly Democratic 7th seat to run in 2014. In CA-33, two frontrunners have emerged from the crowded race: former Los Angeles Controller Wendy Greuel and state Senator Ted Lieu.
In addition, there have been a handful of recently announced retirements (and one resignation) in solidly Republican districts including Trey Radel (FL-19), Cory Gardner (CO-4) and Buck McKeon (CA-25). Radel's Florida seat will be filled by special election, where several candidates have announced, including state Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto. The race to replace Gardner, who is running for Senate, is still in the early stages, though Ken Buck who was running for Senate, has dropped his bid and will now run for Gardner's seat. McKeon is retiring from Congress and former state Sen. Tony Strickland (R) is running for his seat in this Republican-favored district.
In the Senate, a few races have changed dramatically over the past few weeks. Senator Pat Roberts' challenge from physician and Tea Party candidate Milton Wolf became more competitive than expected, though the race remains in Roberts' favor. The Mississippi Senate race is one of the most competitive Republican primaries to watch in 2014. Additionally, Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner's (R) announcement that he will challenge Sen. Udall (D) made that race suddenly competitive. The Virginia Senate race is one that also may move into the competitive category as Republican Ed Gillespie's campaign continues to take shape.
While the broad strokes remain the same - the Republicans have a reasonable shot at taking the Senate majority and are expected to hold the House or possibly extend their majority - the details of who will be sitting in Congress have been shaken up over the past 8 weeks. This shifting political landscape presents a number of crowded and competitive primaries.
February 19, 2014
2014's Most Important Primaries
By Bo Harmon
With a handful of exceptions, the most competitive and consequential primaries are in the Republican Party this cycle. The Democrats have cleared the field for their chosen nominee in their most competitive Senate races without an incumbent. In South Dakota, Michigan, Montana, Georgia, West Virginia, Iowa, and Kentucky, none of the Democrats face a competitive primary. Additionally, no Senate Democratic incumbents face significant primary opposition, except in Hawaii where Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is challenging Senator Brian Schatz. Several of the challenger and open seat Republican races have significant primaries as well.
Let's take a look at the most consequential primaries of 2014.
Republican Senate Primaries:
Iowa: This primary has become a 3 way race between state Senator Joni Ernst, former Reliant Energy CEO Mark Jacobs, and US Attorney and former University of Iowa football star Matt Whitaker. There are several additional candidates with niche followings who could have a big impact here though. If no candidate receives at least 35% of the vote in the primary, the nomination is determined by convention and delegates are allowed to select anyone they choose, not being limited to the top vote getters or even candidates who ran in the primary.
Georgia: With eight names on the ballot and a conceivable path to victory for several of the candidates, this primary is one of the toughest in the country. Three sitting members of Congress are running - Jack Kingston, Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey each have geographic voter and fundraising foundations. Former Reebok and Dollar General CEO David Perdue (cousin of former Governor Sonny Perdue) has personal resources and the mantle of political outsider to boost his chances. Former Secretary of State Karen Handel is the only woman in the field and only candidate to have run and won statewide.
Alaska: Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell faces former DNR Director Dan Sullivan for the right to take on Democrat Senator Mark Begich. Sullivan has jumped to an impressive fundraising lead but Treadwell maintains name ID advantage from serving in statewide office and current polls show the primary to be a dead heat. 2010 Tea Party nominee Joe Miller is also running but has raised little money and has done himself few favors with the voters since upsetting Lisa Murkowski in the primary in that year. To complicate matters further, a wholly separate Dan Sullivan currently serves as mayor of Fairbanks, the state's second largest city, and is also on the ballot, running for Lt. Governor.
House Democrat Primaries:
IA-1: In the open seat to replace Bruce Braley who is running for Senate, we see a seat that is likely to remain in Democratic hands in the general election. In the Democratic primary, former state Senator Swati Dandekar is running in addition to veteran state Rep. Pat Murphy and Cedar Rapids Councilwoman Monica Vernon. The winner is likely to take on Republican state Rep. Walt Rogers in the general election.
CA-33: Henry Waxman's announced retirement opens this Los Angeles area seat for the first time in generations. State Senator Ted Lieu and former Los Angeles Controller Wendy Gruel have jumped to the early lead in this heavily Democratic seat. Lieu is expected to receive the state Democratic Party's endorsement at their March 9th Convention. Gruel has been endorsed by Emily's List, former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and AG Kamala Harris. Local businessman Bill Bloomfield, who won 46% of the vote as an Independent against Waxman in 2012, has announced he will not run again.
House Republican Primaries:
MI-3: Congressman Justin Amash, a Tea Party hero, is being challenged by businessman Brian Ellis in this Grand Rapids district. Amash has opposed Boehner for Speaker and been very publically vocal in his criticism of the Republican establishment for not going far enough to support Tea Party ideals.
ID-2: Congressman Mike Simpson is being challenged by Tea Party candidate and lawyer Bryan Smith in the Republican primary. Smith has criticized Simpson for not reflecting the conservative values of the district and for his positions, such as voting to end the government shutdown.
TN-4: Scandal plagued Rep. Scott DesJarlais is being challenged in the primary by former insurance agent and state Senator Jim Tracy. Tracy is currently leading DesJarlais in fundraising.
GA-10: The 10th district is solidly Republican and the competitive election will be the GOP primary. There are several candidates already in the race, including evangelical minister and Tea Party talk show host Jody Hice, businessman Mike Collins, former state Rep. Donna Sheldon, Columbia County GOP Chair Brian Slowinksi, attorney Gary Gerrard, and businessman Stephen Simpson. There are no clear frontrunners right now, but watch out for Hice, Sheldon, and Collins who are all running well.
IA-3: The 3rd district is a crossover district that voted for a Republican Congressman in 2012, but went to President Obama by 4 pts. It is the most competitive district in Iowa. The Democratic frontrunner appears to be state Senator Staci Appel, who had entered the race before Latham announced his retirement. On the Republican side, there are several candidates including frontrunners former Chief of Staff to Sen. Grassley, David Young, state Senator Brad Zaun and Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz. Like in the Senate race, Republicans will hold a nominating convention if no candidate receives more than 35% of the vote in the primary. With the large number of candidates in the GOP primary, it may be hard to avoid the convention, making it more likely that Iowa Republicans could choose a more ideologue, conservative candidate that may struggle in the general election. Right now this race is a tossup.
ME-02: This is an open seat, with Democratic Rep. Michaud running for Governor. The district leans Democratic, but has a credible Republican candidate, former state Senate President and businessman Kevin Raye. Raye currently leads the polls in the primary and general. He has a primary challenger, former treasurer Bruce Poliquin. The frontrunners on the Democratic side are state Sen. Emily Cain and state Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson.
VA-10: Republican Congressman Frank Wolf is retiring, setting off a competitive race in the 10th district primary and general elections. The frontrunner on the Republican side is state Delegate Barbara Comstock. She will face several candidates, including social conservative state Delegate Bob Marshall in the firehouse primary.
IL-13: Freshman Rep. Rodney Davis is being challenged in the primary and general election. He won in 2012 with less than 1% of the vote. This is a swing district that went to President Obama in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. Davis faces Former Miss America Erika Harold in the GOP primary.
January 22, 2014
Retirement Fever Hits Washington
By Bo Harmon
An outbreak of retirement fever has struck Washington. So far 8 US Senators have announced retirement (though no more Senate retirements are expected). On the House side, there are 30 members who will not be running for their old seat and more are expected over the coming months. Of those 30, 16 are retiring and 14 are running for other office. Out of 435 seats, 30 retirements may not seem like a lot, but it is a matter of WHO is retiring that should be concerning to the business community. The wave of retirements from centrist-oriented consensus builders started in 2012 and unfortunately continues this election cycle. 2012 saw Senate retirements from consensus builders such as Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Jim Webb (D-VA).
One of the most striking similarities of all the retirement announcements this year is that they come largely from members who were the most likely to seek compromise and reach across the aisle to get things done. In the Senate, Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Max Baucus (D-MT), and Tim Johnson (D-SD) regularly sat on bi-partisan boards or study committees tasked with finding consensus on issues as varied as immigration, the budget, debt ceiling, and entitlement reform. Similarly in the House, consensus-builders such as Jim Matheson (D-UT 4), Mike McIntyre (D-NC 7), Jon Runyan (R-NJ 3), Tom Latham (R-IA 3), Frank Wolf (R-VA 10), and Jim Gerlach (R-PA 6) are all going to be missing from the Chamber next year. Jo Bonner (R-AL 1), Spencer Bachus (R-AL 6), Bill Owens (D-NY 21), Howard Coble (R-NC 6), Buck McKeon (R-CA 25), and John Campbell (R-CA 45) were all consensus builders as well. None are running for other office, they are all just leaving Washington.
In an era of hyper partisanship and gridlock, these members were at the forefront of maintaining the civility and functionality of Congress. While every one of these members have individual reasons for retiring from Congress, one of the things heard most frequently in off the record conversations is that they are fed up with the inability of Congress to work together and the partisan gridlock that is so frustrating to Americans outside of the beltway as well. All in all, 2012 saw 10 Senate retirements and 25 House retirements (additional House members ran for other offices) and in almost every single case, the retiring member has been replaced by someone less likely to reach across the aisle, someone MORE partisan than the member who retired.
While campaign consultants and ideologues may cheer the decline of bipartisan cooperation, it is bad news for the business community and we have seen the results. No formal budget for three years, constant threats to default on US debt, wholesale abandonment of issues such as tax reform, immigration reform, patent reform, intellectual property protections, etc. It is the very people who left Congress in 2012 and are leaving at the end of 2014 that gave even a glimmer of hope to such things.
January 8, 2014
What to Expect From Congress in an Election Year
By Bo Harmon
There are a number of legislative items that members of both parties acknowledge need to be addressed. Implementation of ObamaCare. Immigration reform. Tax code and entitlement reform. A long term solution to the debt ceiling crisis. Privacy security. Patent reform. Trade. With all of these issues, the public increasingly frustrated with gridlock in Washington, and an election coming up where Congress will want to be able to talk about their accomplishments, we should expect to see some major legislative action in 2014, right? Wrong. Well, mostly wrong. There is actually a glimmer of hope that 2014 will produce more than 2013. Though, that's a bit like saying "we scored zero points last game and expect to do better than that this time."
The reason that Congress hasn't accomplished much since 2010 is the same reason we don't expect to see much more in 2014. With the House in the hands of Republicans and the Senate and White House controlled by Democrats, and each side increasingly responsive to the most ideological polarizing parts of their base, they disagree on how to proceed. Both sides understand the things that need to be addressed, but there is zero consensus on how to do it.
The ObamaCare debate is a prime example. Not a single Republican in either chamber voted for original passage though many key features of the legislation were included in previous GOP health care reform bills. Once Republicans took the House in 2010, GOP leadership took the position that repeal of the legislation in total was the only option and have refused to offer or support tweaks or fixes to problems. The Republicans believe "it's not possible to 'fix' something fundamentally incompatible with our ideology." Politically, they also believe if the legislation fails they will benefit and thus have little political incentive to improve the law. From their perspective, it is BETTER politically to have as many things go wrong with ObamaCare as possible.
This same standoff occurs on issue after issue - taxes, immigration, entitlement reform, etc. But, it is a new year and in our optimistic resolutions, we see some possibility of federal action on a handful of bills. There was a small bright spot in December when a two year budget compromise passed that would avoid the possibility of a shutdown and eliminated some of the most irrational sequester cuts. This rare bipartisan effort was criticized by many however as small ball for not addressing bigger, long term issues. Even still, it was the best that could be achieved in the current gridlock environment.
The environment is also different than it was in 2013. At that time, Democrats were emboldened by the President's popularity and felt little need to compromise, believing they had received a mandate from the 2012 elections to do as they wanted. With the President's approval ratings significantly lower now, the confidence to act as boldly is similarly evaporating. Conversely, Republicans spent 2013 in fear of retribution from the Tea Party. Now, Boehner in the House and McConnell in the Senate have openly broken ranks with the Tea Party and seem almost eager to act in ways that show consensus.
The budget deal and the changed political environment provide the foundation for some compromise legislation to take place on issues that need to be addressed. Small, incremental changes to a handful of issues is possible, likely driven by the middle. We may see some movement on immigration, trade, patent reform, etc; even if more contentious things like tax reform remain unlikely. This is where the business community can lead the way.
While many would like to see more comprehensive solutions and small, incremental changes to immigration or ObamaCare implementation may not be at the top of your industry agenda, we are dealing with a situation where NOTHING has been getting done and we need to make an effort to support and reward even baby steps at basic government functionality. Only then will members of Congress have the political courage to attempt larger, more comprehensive changes and take a look at issues that ARE at the forefront of your industry agenda. It is a shame that we have reached this point where expectations for our Congressional "leaders" is so low but they have demonstrated over the last three years that nothing else can be expected from divided government driven by ideological extremes. We can and should work to change THAT dynamic as well, but for the immediate legislative year, we must play the cards we have been dealt and those have been shown to bear very meager return, but there is hope. Happy New Year!
December 4, 2013
2014 Senate Landscape
By Bo Harmon
With 2013 coming to a close, the attention now turns to 2014 and the Senate midterm elections. Currently controlled by the Democrats, 2014 presents an opportunity for the Republican Party to change control of the chamber, given the high number of Democratic seats up for re-election. The current Senate is split with 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans, and two Independents who caucus with the Democrats, essentially 55-45. There are 35 races in 2014 and Republicans must win 6 seats total (in addition to defending all current seats) to win the majority.
Republicans are optimistic of their chances because 7 of the Democratic seats up in 2014 are in states that voted for Romney in 2012, including Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Three of these Senators have announced retirement making them open seats - Baucus (D-MT), Johnson (D-SD), and Rockefeller (D-WV). This leaves challenger races for Republicans in Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Additional open Democratic held seats are in the Obama carried states of Iowa and Michigan and there are 2 Republican retirements but both in the Romney carried states of Georgia and Nebraska. In total, there are the 7 Democratic held seats in Romney won states and 2 additional open seats in Iowa and Michigan that Republicans see as the most likely pick up opportunities.
The Democrats may be on the defensive this cycle, but Republicans will face their own challenges going into 2014. Democrats are eying challenges in the open seat in Georgia and possible challenges in Obama won states like Maine, as well as in Kentucky against Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. Furthermore, the 2 Republican open sets, Georgia and Nebraska, will have Republican primaries where out of the mainstream candidates could turn the seats Democratic. This is similar to Indiana, Missouri, and Nevada in 2012 where Republicans felt confident of their opportunities prior to the general election.
While the election landscape for 2014 looks to benefit Republicans, there are several factors at play. The current congressional and political parties' favorability is dismal, and with a year out from the election, there is still a lot that can happen. Right now, Republicans are poised to gain seats in the Senate; though winning a net gain of 6 seats is still an uphill battle.
Among the most competitive seats:
Alaska - Currently represented by Democrat Mark Begich, the state voted for Romney with 55% of the vote and has a Republican Governor and other Senator. The Republican primary is between Lt. Governor Mark Treadwell, Dan Sullivan, and tea party candidate Joe Miller. Current polling has Begich running near even against either Treadwell or Sullivan but with a substantial lead against Miller.
Arkansas - Currently represented by Democrat Mark Pryor, the state voted for Romney with 61% of the vote. Congressman Tom Cotton has cleared the primary for the Republican nomination and polls show the two running neck and neck. Arkansas has a history of voting Republican for President, but electing Democrats to other offices, as the election of Pryor has demonstrated as well as current Democratic Governor Mike Beebe.
Georgia - Currently held by Republican Saxby Chambliss who has announced his retirement, this will be an open seat in a state carried by Romney with 53% of the vote. Democrats have cleared the primary field for Michelle Nunn, daughter of long time, highly respected Senator Sam Nunn. Republicans have an extremely crowded 8 person primary with 6 "legitimate" candidates with polling showing no clear front runner at this point. A bloody and highly unpredictable Republican primary and a strong Democratic candidate both make this a race to watch.
Iowa - Currently held by retiring Democrat Tom Harkin, Iowa voted for Obama with 52% of the vote. Like Arkansas, Iowa has a history of voting across party lines regularly with a long time Republican Governor and a very conservative Republican as one Senator and a liberal Democrat as the other. Democrats have cleared the primary field for Congressman Bruce Braley while Republicans face a crowded primary with at least 5 candidates, each positioning themselves in different ways. An unusual Republican nominating process could lead to any number of outcomes which could make this race highly competitive or make it likely to remain in Democratic hands depending on the GOP nominee.
Kentucky - Represented by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, Democrats see this as an opportunity to "take down the leader" even though the state voted for Romney with 61% of the vote. The highly polarizing McConnell faces a primary challenge from a tea party backed candidate and a general election opponent in Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes who has cleared the primary field and is raising money from across the country as Democrats look for an opportunity to be on offense. Current polling has the general election very close.
Louisiana - Democrat Mary Landrieu is running for reelection in this state which gave Romney 58% of the vote. Republicans have two candidates running, Congressman Bill Cassidy, who is backed by the NRSC, and tea party backed Rob Maness. Louisiana's unique "jungle primary" system where all candidates run on the same primary ballot, regardless of party, gives Landrieu the opportunity to win the election outright if she garners over 50% of the vote at that point, while the Republican vote would be split between Cassidy and Maness. If she does not exceed 50%, she would go to a runoff with the next highest vote getter - a runoff which would work in the way a general election typically would. In a runoff scenario, current polling has her with a small lead over either challenger.
Michigan - With Democrat Carl Levin retiring, an open seat in this state carried by Obama with 54% of the vote represents another pick up opportunity for Republicans. Primaries in both parties have been cleared, leaving Republican Terri Lynn Land facing Democratic Congressman Gary Peters. Land won her election as Secretary of State by a greater margin than any Republican winner in Michigan history and is willing to partially self-fund the campaign. Current polling shows Peters with a 1-5 point lead a year out from the election.
Montana - Retiring Democrat Max Baucus represents this state carried by Romney with 55%, creating an open seat Republicans hope to pick up. Congressman Steve Daines has cleared the GOP primary field and will face either current Democratic Lt. Governor John Walsh or former Lt. Governor John Bohlinger. Polls currently show Daines with a substantial lead over either possible challenger.
North Carolina - Democratic Senator Kay Hagan is running for reelection in a state that was one of the closest in the last two Presidential elections. Republican State House Speaker Thom Tillis is facing tea party backed Dr. Greg Brannon and two others in a GOP primary. Polling shows a neck and neck race for Hagan whichever opponent she faces.
South Dakota - South Dakota is another open seat in a state carried by Romney with 58% of the vote. Democrat Tim Johnson is retiring, setting up a race between Democrat Rick Weiland and former Republican Governor Mike Rounds, who faces a tea party backed challenger, Dr. Annette Bosworth, in the primary. Polling shows a substantial lead for Rounds to turn this seat Republican.
West Virginia - The third Democratic held open seat in a state carried by Romney with 62% of the vote comes as Jay Rockefeller retires, leaving a race between Republican Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito and Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. Despite heaving supporting Romney for President, West Virginia has two Democratic U.S. Senators and a Democratic Governor, showing a strong ability to cross party lines in elections. Even still, current polling shows Capito with a commanding lead.
November 20, 2013
The Government Shutdown and the 2014 Elections
By Bo Harmon
Many have wondered what the impact of the government shutdown will be on the 2014 elections. Historically, such issues burn brightly in the media spotlight and quickly fade from voter's minds as more pressing, long term issues such as jobs, taxes, healthcare, education, etc. come to the fore. This is especially true when such an incident happens more than a year from the election. There are important landscape shifts that took place as a result of the shutdown, which are difficult to quantify in polls, but will likely play a large role in the 2014 elections. Chief among these are long term reputational damage to Washington, further fueling anti-incumbent sentiment and a more open war within the Republican party between the strongly anti-government faction and the pro-growth, pro-stability faction. The business community has begun to recognize the need to mobilize on behalf of pro-growth, pro-stability candidates where they are challenged by fervently anti-government candidates.
In terms of which party is held responsible for the government shutdown, the landscape has shifted quickly. Initial polling data indicated large majorities found Republicans in Congress to be primarily responsible. In the subsequent weeks however, voter's views of responsibility for the shutdown have shifted. In Virginia, a state particularly affected by the shutdown because of the large number of federal employees and contractors in the DC suburbs, exit polls from November 5th's Gubernatorial election showed that voters split almost evenly between holding Republicans in Congress and President Obama as primarily responsible for the shutdown. Voters who indicated that the shutdown directly affected their household (1/3 of all voters in Virginia) voted for the Democrat McAuliffe by a 56-37 margin. Voters not directly affected by the shutdown supported Cuccinelli 50-43. This would lead one to believe that being impacted by the shutdown trended against Republicans, but these voters are overwhelmingly concentrated in the Northern Virginia suburbs which has historically trended Democrat by such margins, so it is difficult to say that the shutdown extended Democratic margins beyond their normal parameters.
Who is More to Blame for the Government Shutdown?
Did the Shutdown Affect Anyone in Your Household?
Similarly, voters tended to break along predictable patterns in terms of which candidate they supported based on who they held primarily responsible, indicating that Republicans tend to blame Obama and vote for the Republican candidate and Democrats tend to blame Republicans for the shutdown and support the Democratic candidate. All of this contributes to the sense that, as an issue driving voting patterns, the shutdown and responsibility for it had faded to traditional partisan differences within a few weeks of being resolved, making it even less likely that it will play a role as a vote motivator in the 2014 elections for most voters.
While the effect of the shutdown on voting behavior may be minimal, there are more subtle changes that likely WILL impact the elections in significant ways.
Gallup reported large drops in approval ratings of Congress from September to October, dropping from 20% overall to 11%. The all-time low in the history of the poll is only 10%, reached in February and August of 2012. The abysmal view of Congress in general by the public, fueled in this case by the shutdown, contributes to a "pox on both their houses" mentality which puts incumbent members of both parties at risk and increases the appeal of "outsider" candidates in challenger or open seat races. If Congress continues the partisan gridlock and issues such as the government shutdown, possible debt default, the sequester, and other signs of an inability to handle basic functions of government continue, voters may move towards a "throw them all out" mentality and place more Congressional seats in the competitive category, but without a partisan tinge to the result.
The other primary result of the shutdown on the 2014 elections is being played out within the Republican Party as "anti-government" factions battle "pro-growth" factions. Terms such as "tea party" and "establishment" are becoming less useful because they denote ideology and the battle within the GOP isn't really an ideological one. It is one of priorities. Some Republicans see their role primarily as disrupting and reducing a dysfunctional federal government that has gotten too big and too intrusive and they want to stop that at any cost. Others see their role as providing a stable, functional government that can be pared back and shaped to be more effective and responsive. Often these priorities are able to work in concert. The shutdown pitted them head to head. The business community has quickly come to realize that disrupting the business environment with non-targeted sequester cuts, government shutdowns that could last a couple of days or a few weeks, and enormous uncertainty on possible government debt default is the result of actions taken by the "anti-government" faction within the Republican Party and is as dangerous to the economic climate as anti-competitive policies from the far left.
As a result, the business community has quickly begun to mobilize to support "pro-growth" candidates in primaries. The first test was a special election runoff in Alabama's First Congressional District pitting business friendly candidate Bradley Byrne against fervent anti-government candidate Dean Young. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were deployed on Byrne's behalf through contributions and independent expenditures in the final weeks of the election by the business community in Alabama and around the country. Byrne won 52-48, but almost certainly would have been defeated without the last minute push by the business community. The tough win has served as a bellwether that with more planning and better coordination, the business community can be even more effective in producing general election candidates that won't threaten the foundations of the economy and business climate.
While the shutdown will not likely push many voters from one candidate to another by itself, it may have a huge impact on which candidates emerge from primaries and the overall number of competitive seats if voters conclude that ALL of Congress needs a makeover.
November 13, 2013
House Crossover Districts: Part 4 of 4
By Briana Huxley
Today we finish our 4 part series in which BIPAC analyzes the upcoming 2014 House crossover districts. House crossover districts are the congressional districts where the U.S. Representative and the presidential candidate voted for by that district are of opposite parties. There are currently 26 House crossover districts or 26 House members whose district voted for the presidential candidate of the opposite party. There are 15 incumbent Republicans serving in districts President Obama won and 9 incumbent Democrats serving in districts Mitt Romney won. This series analyzes the incumbents, the districts and potential challengers as the political landscape for 2014 continues to evolve and take shape.
To see the full list of House crossover districts visit the BIPAC portal here.
Mike Coffman (R, CO 6)
First elected in 2008, Rep. Coffman won the 2012 election with his smallest margin yet, not even receiving 50% of the vote. This was in part due to redistricting, which made his district more competitive in the 2012 elections. He also was hit hard for some more controversial statements and issue positions, but was able to effectively campaign against his opponent, Joe Miklosi (D), by labeling him as a tax supporter and outsider candidate. Coffman already has a Democratic opponent, former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D). Romanoff ran unsuccessfully against Senator Bennet in the Democratic primary in 2010. Both have raised a substantial amount of money so far, over a million each.
Frank LoBiondo (R, NJ 2)
Rep. LoBiondo is currently serving in his tenth term in the House. While President Obama won this district by a safe margin, LoBiondo cruised to reelection in 2012, with almost 60% of the vote. Known for being a more moderate member, he has not won less that 59% of the vote every election. The district leans slightly Democrat, and LoBiondo has a potentially formidable challenge for 2014, Bill Hughes Jr. (D), former federal prosecutor and son of former Congressman William Hughes.
Michael Grimm (R, NY 11)
Currently the only House Republican that represents New York City, Rep. Grimm first came to Congress after unseating freshman Rep. Michael McMahon (D) in 2010. Since then, he has come to be known of one of the more liberal members of the Republican Party. He faced ethics violation accusations leading up to the 2012 elections, but ran against a weak opponent and gained support for his handling of Hurricane Sandy. New York City Councilman Domenic Recchia (D) has already announced his candidacy for 2014, giving Grimm a stronger opponent than 2012.
Dave Reichert (R, WA 8)
Rep. Reichert sits in a slightly Republican district, but has been a target of Democratic operatives since he was first elected in 2004. In 2012 he won by his largest margin yet, 19 points. Reichert serves on the powerful Ways and Means Committee and is a smart district voter; he has been known to join with Democrats on environmental, labor and social issues, making him a hard target. No credible challengers have lined up yet to take him on.
Patrick Murphy (D, FL 18)
Freshman Rep. Murphy unseated tea party favorite Allen West (R) in 2012 by less than a point. The race was the most expensive in the 2012 cycle and had one of the closest margins, with less than 2,000 votes deciding the winner. Murphy, a Republican turned Democrat, was able to capitalize on West's controversial style to beat the incumbent. Murphy has portrayed himself as a moderate Democrat and has impressive fundraising numbers to date. There are several announced and potential challengers for 2014.
Mike McIntyre (D, NC 7)
Rep. McIntyre is currently in his 9th term and is one of the few remaining Blue Dogs left in the House. In 2012 he faced his toughest reelection yet, beating challenger David Rouzer (R) by 654 votes. Redistricting had made the 7th district more Republican heavy and cut out most of McIntyre's home county. McIntyre serves on the Agriculture and Armed Services committees, both of which are important to the 7th district, helping his reelection efforts. Former state Sen. Rouzer has announced his plans to run again, setting up what could be another extremely competitive race.
Jim Matheson (D, UT 4)
In another close race from 2012, Rep. Matheson beat challenger, Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love (R), by less than 800 votes. A Blue Dog Democrat, Matheson is known for his fiscally conservative views and his business friendly policies. Nonetheless, Republicans continue to target his seat, as he is the only Democrat in the Utah delegation, one of the reddest states in the United States. Matheson has been targeted by his own party as well; he received a primary challenge in 2010 by Democrats that did not support his centrist positions. Love has already announced she is running again, setting up a potential rematch.
November 6, 2013
Virginia and New Jersey Election Overview
By Bo Harmon
|Ken Cuccinelli (R) 45.5%||Terry McAuliffe (D) 48%|
|EW Jackson (R) 44.6%||Ralph Northam (D) 55%|
Attorney General: (Likely Recount)
|Mark Obershain (R) 50%||Mark Herring (D) 50%|
|Chris Christie (R) 60.5%||Barbara Buono (D) 38%|
Referendum to Increase Minimum Wage from $7.25 to $8.25/hour:
|Yes 61%||No 39%|
Alabama-1 Special Election Runoff Primary:
|Bradley Byrne 52%||Dean Young 48%|
- Swing Voters Aren't Dead
- Candidates Matter
The pro-growth community can have a huge impact.
Virginia is the quintessential swing state. It supported George Bush twice, then Barack Obama twice. It has alternated between Republican and Democratic Governors and Senators. New Jersey is not a swing state. It has gone Democratic in every Presidential election of the last 30 years. But it is New Jersey where a Republican was just reelected Governor by land slide margins and Virginia that went Democratic. In short, there are a LOT of New Jersey voters who voted for Barack Obama and Chris Christie and Virginia voters who voted for Mitt Romney and Terry McAuliffe. This tells us two things primarily - first, that candidates matter and secondly, that despite partisan polarization in Washington, swing voters aren't dead and are readily willing to switch between parties.
To be fair, both Chris Christie in New Jersey and Ken Cuccinelli are both extraordinary candidates in some ways. Christie pulls many more crossover votes than an average candidate and as a result, drew a fairly weak opponent. Conversely, Cuccinelli proved more polarizing than other Republicans of similar ideology, so each is a bit of an outlier in terms of crossover potential. That each ARE outliers, however, demonstrates just how wide the political center is when presented with extraordinary candidates.
For all of the partisan divide in Congress and the rancor between the parties in DC, the election results yesterday tell us that there are many Americans who still vote for individual candidates and issues, not parties. While the lesson is likely to be lost (sadly) on the DC political class, it is good news for the business community because it means that on the issues, we have the opportunity to build consensus across party lines and to work with both parties to find ways to promote economic growth and expand business opportunity and grow jobs.
The results are stark. Candidates matter and campaigns matter.
In Virginia, Cuccinelli underperformed Romney and dramatically underperformed his immediate GOP predecessor Bob McDonnell. He underperformed Republican Attorney General candidate Mark Obenshain who has a similar ideological profile, but a different approach, style and temperament.
|Vote Percentage||Raw Vote Total|
This fall off was particularly pronounced in the vote rich counties of DC suburbs and exurbs of Northern Virginia.
Prince William County:
Most telling about the nature of campaigns and the difference a higher profile race can make and how effective the McAuliffe (a deeply flawed candidate himself) campaign's efforts were to define Cuccinelli as an extremist candidate is that Cuccinelli dramatically underperformed HIMSELF from his 2009 election as Attorney General. In that race, he received 1,124,137 votes or 57.5%. For Governor, he received only 1,008,554 for 45.5%.
New Jersey offers a mirror image. Obama won New Jersey with 58% and 57% in 2012 and 2008 respectively. Governor Chris Christie was elected in 2009 with only a plurality 48% of the vote over scandal plagued incumbent John Corzine. Yesterday, he walked away with 61% of the vote. Again, looking at vote percentages at the county level is revealing.
All of this simply illustrates what Washington has had such a hard time understanding: that voters are not wedded to parties the way politicians are, with a few exceptions. They are willing to switch between parties to support candidates that reflect their interests. Again, this is GREAT news for the business community. Not because Chris Christie or Terry McAuliffe will do a better job of promoting free enterprise in their states (though both are expected to be pretty friendly to business growth), but because voters have demonstrated they are readily willing to break from partisan ideology to follow their own interests. BIPAC firmly believes that what is good for growing jobs and the economy is good for most Americans.
The results also demonstrate how important candidates and campaigns are. Good candidates with good campaigns can and will win in the most unlikely places. Voters showed in Virginia and New Jersey last night that a new way is possible.
(Note: For this analysis, Obama/Romney results are a partisan benchmark. According to exit polling, Obama drew 92% of Democratic votes, Romney drew 93% of Republican votes and Independents split evenly 50-50. Thus, Romney and Obama provide an excellent barometer to evaluate over or under performance by a candidate based on a standard partisan behavior.)
October 16, 2013
House Crossover Districts: Part 3 of 4
By Briana Huxley
Today we continue our 4 part series in which BIPAC will analyze the upcoming 2014 House crossover districts. House crossover districts are the congressional districts where the U.S. Representative and the presidential candidate voted for by that district are of opposite parties. There are currently 26 House crossover districts or 26 House members whose district voted for the presidential candidate of the opposite party. There are 15 incumbent Republicans serving in districts President Obama won and 9 incumbent Democrats serving in districts Mitt Romney won. This series will analyze the incumbents, the districts and potential challengers as the political landscape for 2014 continues to evolve and take shape.
To see the full list of House crossover districts visit the BIPAC portal here.
Jeff Denham (R, CA-10)
Rep. Denham is currently serving in his second term and besides his agriculture and military background, is known around town for a very specific issue - making sure federal office space is being used efficiently. Denham ran in the newly created 10th district in 2012, which leaned more Democratic than Denham's old district, giving Democrats hope at switching the seat. All together, about $12 million dollars was spent on the race, showing how significant it was to both parties. Expect the same in 2014, especially since recent polls show that Denham may be facing backlash for the government shutdown. Right now, Denham's most formidable opponent appears to be beekeeper and farmer Michael Eggman (D). Eggman has been part of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) effort, Jumpstart, which supports promising candidates for 2014.
Bill Young (R, FL-13)
Last week, Rep. Young, the longest serving Republican congressman in the House, announced he will not be seeking re-election in 2014. The moderate Republican with a seat on the Appropriations Committee would have been a tough competitor in 2014, but his retirement gives the Democrats a much better chance at the seat that went to President Obama in 2008 and 2012. Several potential candidates from both parties are now being mentioned for the seat. Young's 2012 challenger Jessica Ehrlich (D) had already announced her candidacy. Expect this to be a major focus for both parties in 2014.
John Kline (R, MN-2)
2012 was one of Rep. Kline's most competitive elections. He was running in a more competitive district after redistricting and faced a credible challenger, Mike Obermueller (Democratic-Farmer-Labor). However, Kline was able to draw on his reputation for working in a bipartisan manner and experience as Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee to beat Obermueller by over 8 pts. Kline already has challengers for 2014, including Obermueller, who is running again. Kline will be hard to beat, especially with his fundraising numbers; he already has over a million in the bank.
Scott Rigell (R, VA-2)
Currently in his second term, Rep. Rigell is known in Virginia for his pragmatic positions. The 2nd district leans more Republican after redistricting and has a large military presence. Because of this, Rigell has made sure to cater his positions, such as speaking out on sequestration. Due to his more centrist approach, Rigell will be seeing challengers from both sides in 2014. He already has a primary challenger, Kevin Meynardie (R) and on the Democratic side, retired naval officer and former Pentagon official Suzanne Patrick (D) has announced.
Ron Barber (D, AZ-2)
Rep. Barber was first elected to congress in the special election to succeed his boss, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D). In 2012, Barber won a full term to the 2nd district, beating Retired U.S. Air Force combat pilot Martha McSally (R) by less than one point. The 2nd district was drawn more Democratic after redistricting and Barber asserted himself as an independent voice in the House, voting with Republicans on issues important to the 2nd district, such as border control. McSally has already announced she will be running again in 2014, setting up what could be another competitive race.
Nick Rahall (D, WV-3)
Rep. Rahall has served in the U.S. House since 1977. While Rahall has easily won most of his elections, his margins of victory have gotten smaller as West Virginia becomes more conservative. In 2012, the moderate Democrat had to run against an unpopular President Obama in the state, but was able to prevail with strong fundraising numbers and support of the coal industry. Rahall already has a challenger for 2013, state Sen. Evan Jenkins (R). Jenkins was a Democrat, but switched parties to run against Rahall.
Massachusetts 5th Congressional District Special Election (October 16th, 2013)
Yesterday was the primary election for the Massachusetts' 5th special election. Former Congressman Ed Markey (D) was elected to the Senate in June to fill the remainder of John Kerry's (D) term after he resigned to be Secretary of State, setting off a special election for Markey's House seat. To read more on the results, visit the BIPAC Blog.
New Jersey Senate Special Election (October 17th, 2013)
Check out the BIPAC Blog tomorrow for the New Jersey Senate Special Election results. Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) and Steve Lonegan (R) are running to fill the remainder of Sen. Lautenberg's (D) term after he passed away in June.
September 25, 2013
Alabama 1st Congressional District Special Election
By Briana Huxley
Yesterday was Alabama's primary for the First Congressional District special election. Jo Bonner (R) resigned in August to take a position as Vice Chancellor of the University of Alabama System, setting off a special election for his seat. To read more on the results, visit the BIPAC Blog.
September 19, 2013
House Crossover Districts: Part 2 of 4
By Kelly McDonough, and Briana Huxley
Contributions provided by Mike Mullen
Today we continue our four part series in which BIPAC will analyze the upcoming 2014 House Crossover districts. House Crossover districts are the congressional districts where the U.S. Representative and the presidential candidate voted for by that district are of opposite parties. There are currently 26 House Crossover districts or 26 House members whose district voted for the presidential candidate of the opposite party. There are 15 incumbent Republicans serving in districts President Obama won and nine incumbent Democrats serving in districts Mitt Romney won. This series will analyze the incumbents, the districts and potential challengers as the political landscape for 2014 continues to evolve and take shape.
To see the full list of House Crossover districts visit the Political Analysis page of the BIPAC portal here.
David Valadao (R, CA 21)
Valadao is a House freshman, elected in 2012, who beat his opponent by double digits. He ran in an open seat created when former 21st District Congressman Jim Coston (D) ran in the newly created 16th District. The 21st District is known for its farming and agriculture, especially dairy, and Valadao has a solid background in dairy farming, as a managing partner of Valadao Dairy, which he started with his brothers. Valadao ran ahead of Obama in this district by four points in 2012, and Democrats blame their loss on a weak 2012 candidate who faced fundraising and debt issues. So far no credible opponents for 2014 have surfaced.
Tom Latham (R, IA 3)
Latham was first elected to Congress in 1995, representing the 5th Congressional District. Redistricting put in him the more competitive 4th District in 2012. Instead, he decided to run in the 3rd District, beating Democratic incumbent Leonard Boswell. Latham sits on the House Appropriations Committee, which aided him in 2012; he is the only Iowan on the committee. Latham's 2014 opponents have already popped up, including former State Senator and businesswoman Staci Appel (D) and former factory worker Gabriel De La Cerda (D). This is a district to watch because of the importance of Iowa to presidential elections, as the Iowa caucuses provide the first indicators of which candidate might win the nomination of their party.
Jon Runyan (R, NJ 3)
Runyan, first elected in 2011, is a former football player for the Philadelphia Eagles. He ran ahead of Obama by four points in 2012 in a district that has both blue collar union families and middle/upper class suburban families. The district also has a large military and veteran presence, which Runyan has appealed to in the past years, voting against defense budget cuts and serving on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. There are no declared opponents for 2014 yet.
Peter King (R, NY 2)
King has been in Congress since 1993 and is known for his moderate to conservative views and his strong support for the U.S. military. The 2nd District has not voted in favor of a Republican presidential candidate since George H.W. Bush in 1992, with landslide Democratic wins in '96, '00, and '08. This is a northeast district near the largest city in the country, so it should not be surprising that it supports Democratic presidential candidates, though King ran ahead of Obama by more than ten points. Although he has announced his intention to run for president in 2016, he is still gearing up for reelection in 2014. No Democratic candidates have emerged thus far.
John Barrow (D, GA 12)
Barrow won this district in 2012, which he first won in 2004, by a margin of 7.4% while Mitt Romney won this district by 11.8%. Barrow is a member of the dwindling group of Blue Dogs left in the House. The Blue Dogs are Democrats in the House known for their more conservative stances on issues like taxes and fiscal policy. Barrow's seat has already been targeted by the NRCC. Georgia's 12th District has voted for the Republican nominee for President not only in 2012, but for the past three presidential elections. After redistricting, the 12th District became even more Republican and Barrow was expected to face an uphill battle. However, issues with the Republican candidate's campaign worked in Barrow's favor, and he was able to pull through a win. Barrow already has competition in 2014, including businessman Rick Allen (R) and House Republican aide John Stone (R). This race will come down to the quality of the candidates and turnout.
Pete Gallego (D, TX 23)
The 23rd Congressional District is a true swing district, evenly split among Democrats and Republicans. In 2012, Gallego, a former Texas state representative, beat incumbent Rep. Francisoco Canseco (R) by 4.7%. A moderate Democrat, he was able to identify with the issues of the district and used his reputation for working effectively in a majority Republican legislature. The 23rd District has the largest border with Mexico of any U.S. district and has a massive oil industry, putting security, immigration and energy issues on the forefront of any campaign here. Gallego already has challengers in 2014, including businessman and former CIA operative Will Hurd (R) and physician Robert Lowry (R).
September 11, 2013
2013 Election Updates
By Kelly McDonough and Briana Huxley
There are several state and federal elections taking place in 2013, due to off year and special elections. Below is a quick recap of each of the elections taking place and where you can find additional resources.
For up to date information on special elections, visit our Federal Special Elections page on the portal.
New Jersey Senate
Sen. Lautenberg (D) passed away earlier this year, leaving a vacancy in the U.S. Senate. Several well -known New Jersey politicians ran in the Democratic primary, including Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Rep. Frank Pallone, Rep. Rush Holt and State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. Booker (D) sailed to victory and will be facing Steven Lonegan (R) in the general election on October 16th. Booker is expected to win easily. For more information on the candidates and election, visit BIPAC's New Jersey state deployment partner's website, at njprosperity.org.
Alabama 1st District
Rep. Jo Bonner (R) resigned in August to take a position as Vice Chancellor of the University of Alabama System, leaving a vacancy in Alabama's 1st District. The primary for this very Republican seat is September 24th. The 1st District went to Romney (R) in 2012 with 62% of the vote. As such, the Republican primary will be where all the competition is, and the winner is expected to easily beat the Democratic nominee in the general. Eight Republican candidates qualified for the primary. Frontrunners include former state Sen. Bradley Byrne, Orange Beach businessman Dean Young, conservative columnist Quin Hillyer and state Rep. Chad Fincher. Alabama requires that a candidate must receive more than 50% of the vote in a primary in order to advance to the general. In such a crowded primary, it is likely to go to a runoff, held on November 5th. December 17th would then be the general.
Massachusetts 5th District
Massachusetts' congressional delegation has seen a lot of movement in the past few months, with former Sen. Kerry (D) leaving the Senate to become Secretary of State, and then former Rep. Markey (D) winning the special election to replace him, leaving Markey's seat in the 5th District vacant. The primary election for his seat is October 15th, and the general is December 10th. This is a safe Democratic seat. Currently there are 5 Democrats vying for the nomination: state Sens. Will Brownsberger, Katherine Clark and Karen Spilka, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian and state Rep. Carl Sciortino.
New Jersey's governor, lieutenant governor, state assembly and state senate are all up for re-election in 2013. The most high profile race in the state, for governor, has been a snoozer, with Gov. Chris Christie (R) consistently besting Democratic opponent state Sen. Barbara Buono (D) in the polls. What remains to be seen is if Republican legislative candidates can ride Christie's coattails enough to win back control of the legislature. Right now it is looking unlikely and Christie's popularity is not enough to rub off on the rest of Republican Party. To learn more about all of the candidates in New Jersey's elections, visit our candidate database.
Virginia is one of the most watched states in the nation right now, mostly because political pundits view Virginia's off year gubernatorial race as a predictor of future statewide elections. Currently, the 2 candidates for governor, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) and businessman Terry McAuliffe (D), are running a close race, with McAuliffe ahead by a few points. The lieutenant governor race in Virginia is also important, since the lieutenant governor is the tie breaking vote in the state Senate, which currently splits control 20 R and 20 D, and is not up for election until 2015. The lieutenant governor is elected separately from the governor, so the top 2 offices in the state could be held by opposing parties. BIPAC's Virginia state deployment partner, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, is actively involved in the 2013 elections. Their grassroots program, the Virginia Prosperity Project, has abundant resources including candidate questionnaire videos, GOTV graphics and election blogs for the business community in the Commonwealth. For more information, you can visit our Virginia Resource and Information center on the portal, or visit Virginiap2.com.
Virginia Candidate Questionnaire Video Series:
The Virginia Prosperity Project has interviewed each statewide candidate seeking office in 2013. From these video interviews, they provide the voters with direct access to the candidates through a digital platform.
Each week they will strategically roll out candidate videos by issue topic to help inform the business community on the candidates' positions on that topic. In conjunction, VirginiaP2 will promote that week's topic through social media, blog posts, press releases and other forms of media. There will be a focus on the key issues to not only inform the voter on where the candidates stand on the issues but to educate voters on the facts about that issue currently. The videos will also have live surveys available for employers and employees to share their point of view instantly on a related question. VirginiaP2 will also conduct polling on the related issue to offer a prospective of the general public.
Click here to view the first of the video responses, centered on the state of Virginia's business climate, with pointed responses from Ken Cuccinelli, Terry McAuliffe, E.W. Jackson and Ralph Northam.
|Gov. Ken Cuccinelli||Gov. Terry McAuliffe|
August 28, 2013
Stakes in the States: 2014 Most Vulnerable Governors
By Kelly McDonough and Briana Huxley
There are 36 states with governor's races in 2014. The current party breakdown for governorships is 30 Republican and 20 Democratic. There are currently six open seats in AR, AZ, NE, MD, MA and TX meaning there are 30 governors running for re-election. Despite Republicans having a ten seat advantage, several current Republican governors won election in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and nine Republican governors are up in states that Obama won in 2012. As such, Republican governors are now running for re-election in states that are far more moderate than they've governed, leaving them more vulnerable than their Democratic counterparts. Below is a list of the top four most vulnerable Republicans and top four most vulnerable Democrats running for re-election in 2014. We've provided an overview as to why they are at risk and listed the most recent race ratings from several top political analysts as well as those from BIPAC.
Top Four Vulnerable Republicans
Gov. Rick Snyder (MI)
BIPAC: Toss Up
Rothenberg: Pure Toss Up
Cook: Toss Up
Sabato's Crystal Ball: Toss Up; changed from Leans Republican
538/NYT Apr. 8: Net Job Approval -8
Snyder's approval ratings dropped drastically after signing Michigan's "right-to-work" law last December. While it has improved in the past few months, it has not fully recovered. His recent decisions regarding Detroit's bankruptcy have helped him with approval ratings, but his support for expanding Medicaid is now costing him with Republicans. This is a state that Obama won in 2008 and 2012.
Gov. Paul LePage (ME)
BIPAC: Toss Up/Lean D
Rothenberg: Toss Up/Tilt Democrat
Cook: Toss Up, has this highlighted as a potential retirement
Sabato's Crystal Ball: Leans Dem/Indy; changed from Toss Up on 8/8/13
538/NYT Apr. 8: Net Job Approval -12
LePage has faced attacks from both sides of the aisle during his time in office, most recently with his own party over Maine's budget, supporting a government shutdown over the legislature's bipartisan agreement. The potential three-way race shaping up could help him again if he runs in 2014, just as it did in 2010.
Gov. Rick Scott (FL)
BIPAC: Toss Up
Rothenberg: Pure Toss Up
Cook: Toss Up, has this highlighted as a potential retirement
Sabato's Crystal Ball: Toss Up
538/NYT Apr. 8: Net Job Approval -20
Rick Scott, one of the more vulnerable governors in the country, could see a primary challenge from his own party. His approval ratings have been improving a bit recently, with Florida's economy regaining some strength and his reversal to support Medicaid expansion in Florida (though he was unable to win legislative support for it).
Gov. Tom Corbett (PA)
BIPAC: Toss Up/Lean D
Rothenberg: Toss Up/Tilt Democrat
Cook: Toss Up
Sabato's Crystal Ball: Leans Democratic; changed from Toss Up
538/NYT Apr. 8: Net Job Approval -14
Corbett has a lot working against him for 2014. He has yet to get his "big three" campaign promises passed, including transportation funding, liquor privatization and public employee pension reform. Pennsylvania's unemployment rate is also often above that of the national average, and Corbett has been highly criticized for his handling of the Penn State scandal when he was attorney general.
Top Four Vulnerable Democrats
Gov. Dan Malloy (CT)
BIPAC: Lean D
Rothenberg: Lean Democrat
Cook: Lean D
Sabato's Crystal Ball: Toss Up; changed from Leans Democratic on 6/20/13
538/NYT Apr. 8: Net Job Approval +6
Malloy faced a large drop in approval ratings when he signed the largest tax hike in Connecticut's history, during his first year as governor. Connecticut has also been ranked the worst state for economic growth the past two years. Malloy has gained some popularity of late, due to his support of gun control legislation in the state. This may not however, be enough to offset the lack of support for his economic policies.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee (RI)
BIPAC: Lean D
Rothenberg: Democrat Favored
Cook: Toss Up
Sabato's Crystal Ball: Toss Up; changed from Likely Democratic on 6/20/13
538/NYT Apr. 8: Net Job Approval -40
Chafee's biggest problem for re-election is Rhode Island's economy. For July 2013, it was ranked third in the nation, with an unemployment rate of 8.9 and was rated the second worst state for business by CNBC in 2013. Chafee has recently switched parties, from Independent to Democrat, which could help his chances at winning re-election.
Gov. Pat Quinn (IL)
BIPAC: Lean D
Rothenberg: Lean Democrat
Cook: Toss Up, has this highlighted as a potential retirement
Sabato's Crystal Ball: Leans Democratic; changed from Likely Democratic on 6/20/13
538/NYT Apr. 8: Net Job Approval -24
Quinn's approval ratings are so low it is very possible he will face a primary challenger, which is where he will be most vulnerable in the deep blue state. Like several of the governors on this list, Quinn's unpopularity has a lot to do with the economy. Illinois has faced major budget problems under Quinn, including a $100 billion pension crisis; the worst faced by any US state. Quinn has halted payments for state lawmakers until they pass pension reform and is now being sued by members of his own party for the pay freeze.
Gov. Hickenlooper (CO)
BIPAC: Likely D
Rothenberg: Democrat Favored
Cook: Solid D
Sabato's Crystal Ball: Leans Democratic; changed from Safe Democratic on 6/20/13
538/NYT Apr. 8: Net Job Approval +33
Hickenlooper could be potentially vulnerable for two main noneconomic reasons- his recent stances on the death penalty and gun control legislation. A Quinnipiac survey found that his handling on both issues, granting temporary reprieve to a man on death row, and supporting gun control legislation, went against public opinion in Colorado. Whether or not these will be enough to make Hickenlooper a one term governor has yet to be seen.
August 21, 2013
Congressional Caucuses: What's the Point?
By Kelly McDonough
Given the difficulty Congress has faced in passing substantive legislation this year, it's a wonder that congressional caucuses don't play a more prominent role in providing opportunities for members to reach across the aisle and also build relationships within their own party. Only 22 bills were signed into law before the 113th Congress left for recess, the fewest number at this time of any Congress in history. Caucuses are the individual issue task forces of the United States Congress and it's within these groups that ideally, many policy challenges are addressed.
Officially, a congressional caucus is a structured, yet informal group of United States Senators and Representatives who meet to pursue common legislative objectives concerning a shared interest. They are certified working groups of the United States Congress. They date back to colonial times, but were often thought of as corrupt, back-room meetings filled with tobacco smoke and whiskey. It wasn't until the mid-20th century that the caucuses we view today began to take shape, and in the last 20 years the number of active caucuses has sky rocketed.
There are over 200 caucuses existing in Congress at any given time. The exact number registered with the Committee on House Administration for the 113th Congress is 238. But just because a caucus hasn't registered, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It could simply be dormant due to a chair or co-chair having lost reelection or retiring from Congress completely.
Although caucuses exist in both the House and the Senate, the majority of caucuses exist in the House. The primary reason being that Senate offices have much larger staffing operations they can dedicate to issues and legislation. Members of the House, however, have fewer resources, and as a result rely on the help of caucuses to share information, compile research and produce reports on particular issues.
There are several types of caucuses. A few examples are:
Party/Ideological: Blue Dog Coalition, Liberty Caucus, Senate Democratic Caucus, House Republican Caucus
Demographic: Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Caucus on Women's Issues
Industry Groups: Congressional Automotive Caucus, Congressional Caucus on Wild Salmon
International: Congressional Caucus on Vietnam, US-Mexico Friendship Caucus
What strikes me as interesting is that despite having over 200 working groups for members of Congress to join, in addition to the committee and subcommittee groups already in place, the legislative process is still stagnant. Of course the gridlock can be blamed on leadership, intentional party strategy and other political motives. But if you can't come together over rock-n-roll, bourbon, bikes or peanuts - all of which have registered caucuses - what can you come together on?
August 14, 2013
Why Leave the Campaigning to the Politicians?
By Darrell Shull
"Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters." - Abraham Lincoln
Money alone can't win elections. If it could, Linda McMahon ($50 million spent) would be a U.S. Senator today and Meg Whitman ($160 million spent) would be Governor of California. Winning campaigns are fueled by people and savvy campaigns rely on volunteers for their victories.
No doubt campaign contributions are important - a fully-funded campaign treasury is necessary. But a well-utilized volunteer base provides direct connections between the candidate and the people who actually vote. President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign had no shortage of money, but most importantly was awash in volunteer labor with more than 700,000 volunteer "shifts" working in the battleground states in the final four days of the campaign.
Your options for volunteering aren't limited to national high-profile campaigns, or even to candidate campaigns. According to BallotPedia, there are 133 issue initiatives filed in various states for 2013. Statewide and local races in Virginia and New Jersey are underway, special elections and local races are happening all over the country. Each and every one of these campaigns will benefit from the expertise you can provide. Perhaps you want to help your political party in their efforts, in which case your county central committee might be a good place to start.
What's in it for me?
The U.S. State Department Bureau of International Information Programs published "Youth Votes!" after the 2012 elections. Volunteers from all major parties provided quotes about their experience which explain some of the benefits of volunteering:
"In my experience, elections are not won by money, candidates or actions supported by them; elections are won by the hard work of volunteers engaging people in local communities. The stakes are just too high to stay home and be complacent. The success of my country depends on my candidate. My candidate depends on people like me."
"Talking to people was very personal and gave me a lot of insight into their thinking and the political process itself. The most important thing I learned was that while I had made up my mind on my presidential candidate for years, most people are completely undecided right up to the end."
"More important, campaign interactions compel me to constantly consider where I stand, who I stand with, and why I stand where I do on many of the most pressing issues facing our nation and the increasingly interdependent international system to which it belongs."
What can I do?
Candidates and campaigns need help with fundraising, get out the vote activities, social networking - but also with the everyday needs that come along with running a small (or large) organization. What is your expertise? If you are an air conditioning repairman you might find ways to make the campaign office more comfortable in the warm weeks of August and September. If you are a caterer you can organize the food for evening phone banks. There are legal limits on the use of corporate resources in campaigns (see the Resources section below for more information), but no limit on how you can use your time. And you can spend your own money to benefit the campaign - on federal campaigns (U.S. House and Senate, Presidential) you can spend up to $1,000 (more for a married couple) per candidate hosting fundraisers at your house or travelling on behalf of a candidate without any reporting requirements (check in your own state for any restrictions which may apply to state or local campaign activity).
Most campaigns, unfortunately, don't have a good plan in place for how to accept or utilize volunteers. They may have a phone bank operation planned or a door-to-door drive on the books, but there are so many facets of campaign activities which can benefit from your efforts. In many cases, even the job of managing volunteers and volunteer projects falls to a volunteer - if you know how to manage people and/or projects that might be a very valuable role for you to play. You should be prepared to face an overworked and underpaid campaign manager who doesn't yet know how to best use your time in the campaign - don't let that deter you from helping him or her see how you can add value. Campaign managers come and go, but every successful candidate remembers the key volunteers who were there when they were needed.
How else can you help your supported candidates or cause? Make a contribution - either directly or through your company or association Political Action Committee. Don't fret if you can only give a few dollars - the number of donors is often just as important as the total amount raised. Help recruit more volunteers by talking to your co-workers, friends, and neighbors. Help keep the campaigns honest by being a fact checker on campaign literature or candidate debates. But most importantly help keep democracy alive by being an active part of the campaign process. Volunteer - then drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know about your experience.
Want to volunteer or make in-kind contributions to candidates or causes? State and federal laws and regulations control how your own financial resources can be used in support of your volunteer activities. The Federal Election Commission and most states provide guidance on what you can and can't do. Listed below are recently available guides for federal campaigns as well as state campaigns in the two biggest "off-year" elections of 2013 - please note that the quality of officially-provided information varies widely from state to state.
Have questions regarding local campaigns and initiatives? The best place to start is by contacting your local elections office. You can find the address and phone numbers at www.ezvote.org.
New Jersey Senate: Special Primary Election Recap
Yesterday, New Jersey held a special primary election for the U.S. Senate seat that became vacant when Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) passed away in June. The race yielded the two official nominees who will face each other in the special general election held October 16th. For a full recap of the race, check out the BIPAC blog.
August 7, 2013
Stakes in the States: Recall Elections
By Briana Huxley
What is a recall election? It is a procedure that allows citizens to remove and replace an elected official before the end of their term. Recalls can be used to rid the office of a corrupt or incompetent leader, for partisan politics, or removing officials for a policy position. It is estimated that a majority, three-fourths, of recall elections are at city council or school board level, though there have been increasing instances of recalls at the state level. Nineteen states (AK, AZ, CA, CO, GA, ID, IL, KS, LA, MI, MN, MT, NV, NJ, ND, OR, RI, WA and WI) and the District of Columbia currently allow recalls of state officials. In the past three years, several states have seen state elected officials face recalls, including WI, AZ, MI and currently, CO.
State Level Recalls since 2010 (according to National Conference of State Legislatures)
- 2011 Wisconsin: Nine state senators faced recall elections regarding the budget bill proposed by Governor Walker (R). Sens. Robert Cowles (R), Alberta Darling (R), Dave Hansen (D), Sheila Harsdorf (R), Jim Holperin (D), Luther Olsen (R) and Robert Wirch (D) survived recall attempts. Senators Randy Hopper (R) and Dan Kapanke (R) were recalled.
- 2011 Arizona: Senate President Russell Pearce (R) was recalled over his sponsorship of AZ's immigration law.
- 2011 Michigan: State Representative Paul Scott (R) was recalled for supporting Gov. Snyder's budget and angering teachers unions.
- 2012 Wisconsin: Gov. Walker and four state senators faced recalls over collective bargaining issues. Gov. Scott Walker, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) and Senator Terry Moulton (R) survived recall attempts. Senator Van Wanggaard (R) was recalled. Senator Pam Galloway (R) resigned before her recall election, a recall was still held for her seat.
- 2013 Colorado: State Senate President John Morse (D) and Senator Angela Giron (D) face recall elections on September 10 for their support of gun control legislation.
In the first ever recall elections of state lawmakers in Colorado, two Democratic senators in Colorado are facing recalls due to their vote on stricter gun control measures, State Senate President John Morse of El Paso County and Senator Angela Giron of Pueblo County. After the Secretary of State deemed there were enough signatures for a recall, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) set the recall election date for September 10, 2013.
The gun control bills causing such uproar in CO, passed in the 2013 legislative session by the Democratically-controlled CO state legislature, were the first such bills passed in over ten years. This is a hot topic issue in a state that is well known for the Columbine High School and Aurora shootings, but is also known for its bipartisan passion of hunting and sport shooting.
A group behind the recall, the Basic Freedom Defense Fund (501 (c)(4) non-profit), was set up in February in response to the passed gun legislation. The founding members say the main issue is about legislators not listening to their constituents. Originally, four Democrats were targeted to be recalled, including Sen. Evie Hudak (D) of Westminster and Rep. Mike McLachlan (D) of Durango but only the recall attempts for Sens. Morse and Giron gained enough signatures. Former Colorado Springs City Councilman Bernie Herpin (R) is challenging Morse and former police officer Georgia Rivera (R) of Pueblo is challenging Giron.
Money has been pouring into the elections, with Giron and Morse raising nearly a quarter million dollars, and receiving thousands of dollars from Colorado liberal groups. Recall supporters have been sending their funds to the Basic Freedom Defense, and the NRA has helped with mailers and phone banks. According to El Paso and Pueblo county clerks, the elections will cost somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000.
Even if the recall attempts are successful, Democrats will still hold the majority in the Senate, 18-17. However, supporters of the recall still hope this will send messages to legislators in CO and across the country.
Breaking it Down: Dysfunctional State Parties
State political parties are integral to the national landscape. They have a hand in candidate recruitment, election efforts and educating voters on issues. But many parties at the state level are in disarray and inept, for reasons such as financial and personality issues, leaving them unable to do their jobs. This is a key reason why strong political involvement from the business community is important, even on the local level. You can no longer rely on parties to advocate on your behalf.
Click here to see 7 of the most dysfunctional state parties, compiled by Roll Call.