The other day, I asked a House Democratic member who has been in D.C. for a few years, if he thought that Democrats would find themselves battling their own 'Tea Party' insurgency. Would the forces led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez soon be in open-warfare against leadership? He told me he wasn’t worried. First, he said, Speaker Pelosi’s skill as a leader and strategist were exemplary, far and above anything that former GOP Speakers John Boehner or Paul Ryan possessed. But, more important, he said, was Trump himself.
Here it is. Our first pass at the 2020 Electoral College ratings. These ratings take into consideration the 2016 and 2018 results as well as what we’ve learned about the political coalitions that currently make-up the Trump and Democratic bases. Obviously, what we don’t know — the political and economic climate in 2020, the Democratic nominee, the results of the Mueller investigation — are substantial. But, this is our best assessment of where things start today.
In keeping with our end-of-cycle tradition, we found 50 interesting things to tide you over during the holidays as we take a well-earned break. Happy Holidays!
1. While not all the election results have been certified yet, the U.S. Elections Project estimates that turnout in the 2018 mid-term election was 50.3 percent of eligible voters, making it the highest turnout in a midterm election since 1914 and the first time a majority of eligible voters cast ballots since women gained the right to vote.
I’m not going to mince words here. Early horse race polls are silly. Tracking ‘movement’ among a bunch of potential 2020 candidates a year of out from when voters go the polls is an utter waste of time. However, while the head-to-head numbers are irrelevant, it is useful to mine these early polls for what they can tell us about the priorities of voters at this early stage of the game.
Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander announced today that he will retire at the end of the 116th Congress, creating the first open seat of the 2020 election cycle. Alexander was elected to the seat in 2002 after serving two terms as Governor and a stint as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education under late President George H.W. Bush.
Not a day goes by when I don’t get asked who I think the Democratic nominee will be in 2020. My answer of "I don’t have any idea," is not always satisfying. But, it’s the only honest answer. There are simply too many unpredictable factors involved in the nomination process this time around to feel confident about any predictions this far out from the nomination. Here are five of those unpredictable factors:
The 116th Congress hasn't even been sworn in yet, and there's still no resolution in sight to one North Carolina race tainted by election fraud. But already, the 2020 battle for the House is shaping up to be highly competitive.
Just when it looked like the 2018 House outcome couldn't get any worse for Republicans than a 40-seat loss, a deepening absentee ballot fraud scam has cast into doubt an open North Carolina seat previously called for the GOP. The scandal is now a full-blown national news story and it's possible the state board of elections, which has refused to certify the race, could order a new election altogether.
For House Democrats, Election Day was the gift that has kept on giving. Democrat T.J. Cox's upset defeat of GOP Rep. David Valadao (CA-21) in California's Central Valley brings Democrats to an overall gain of 40 seats, at the very upper end of our forecast. With every race now decided (NC-09 is pending certification but looks certain to stay Republican), Democrats have won 235 seats to Republicans' 200.
Lost amid recounts in Florida, uncertainty in Georgia and a handful of uncalled House races is the special election run-off in Mississippi to fill the remainder of former Republican U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s term. Playing in the background, though, is a multi-million-dollar battle for the last Senate seat on the board this cycle. But, for all the television ads and back-and-forth accusations, the most important factor in this race will be turnout. And, there’s probably nothing harder to assess than who will show up for what amounts to a special election.