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Swing State Project

Wow: South Dakota GOP will declare 'state of emergency' to repeal voter-approved ethics reform law (January 23, 2017, 07:12 PM)

South Dakota voters in 2016 passed Measure 22, a ballot initiative that implemented a package of ethics and campaign finance reforms. Almost immediately afterward, the Republicans who dominate South Dakota?s state government plotted to nullify the statute. On Monday, Republicans are set to begin passing House Bill 1069, which would effectively eviscerate the voter-approved ethics reform law. Especially galling is how lawmakers are using a mechanism reserved for declaring literal states of emergency so that the repeal measure would take effect immediately.

Measure 22 had placed strict limits on lobbying, created an ethics commission, and established a first-in-the-nation public campaign finance system that gives each voter a voucher to donate to their preferred candidates. These reforms passed by a 52-48 margin even as Donald Trump won a 62-32 landslide, indicating that they have bipartisan support from the voters. Nonetheless, Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard claims voters were ?hoodwinked? into passing the initiative, and he pledged to sign a repeal bill.

This Republican effort to nullify a voter-approved reform law is nothing short of an attack on democracy itself. Sadly, this is part of a pattern of Republicans in state after state refusing to adhere to laws and norms that limit their power. There?s a lesson here for reformers: If you?re going to use ballot measures to circumvent hostile legislators, make sure your reform doesn?t merely add new statutes to the books?which can easily be overturned?but instead amends the state constitution if possible.


Virginia's House is the most important legislature up this year, and Clinton won a majority of seats (January 23, 2017, 01:45 PM)

While most state legislatures aren?t up for election until 2018, all 100 members of Virginia?s House of Delegates will go before voters this November. Here at Daily Kos Elections, we?ve been hard at work calculating the results of the 2016 presidential election for each seat, and the numbers are both very revealing?and, potentially, very promising.

Here?s the good news: Hillary Clinton carried the Old Dominion 50-45 last fall, and she also won 51 of the 100 seats in the state House, despite the fact that Republicans drew these very lines to benefit themselves during the last round of redistricting. What?s more, even though Barack Obama won a similar 51-47 victory four years ago, he only carried 47 state House seats, so recent trends are in Democrats? favor. (To let you drill down further, Stephen Wolf has created an interactive map to show which seats are represented by which party, and who won each seat in the presidential race.)

However?and it?s a big however?despite how seemingly blue their own map is, Republicans currently hold a huge 66 to 34 majority in the chamber (there?s one vacant Democratic seat in a safely blue district). It?ll be very challenging for Democrats to overcome that gap this year, but in this age of Trump, the party simply has to try its hardest to win as many seats as it can, and there are a lot of potential targets for Team Blue.

In fact, no fewer that 17 Republicans sit in seats that backed Clinton last year. The Republican in the bluest seat is James LeMunyon, who represents HD-67, a Northern Virginia district that Clinton carried 60-34; in 2012, Obama won it by a considerably smaller 54-45 margin, which shows how hostile voters there were to Trump?a pattern we?ve seen in other well-educated suburbs.

But other seats moved in the opposite direction. At the far end of this batch of Republican-held seats Clinton won, Hampton Roads Del. Robert Bloxom Jr. sits in the closest district: His HD-100 voted for Clinton 49-47, a drop from Obama's 55-44 win here. But at least Democrats don?t have to worry too much about playing defense: All 34 Democrats sit in Clinton seats, and even the closest?Del. Roz Tyler?s HD-75 in southern Virginia?still went for Clinton by a comfortable 57-41 margin (four years ago, Obama took it 62-37).


Major redistricting win: Court strikes down Alabama maps for packing black voters into too few seats (January 23, 2017, 11:26 AM)

Late on Friday, a three-judge federal court ruled that a dozen state legislative districts in Alabama violated the constitution and instructed the legislature to redraw them?an order that could ultimately affect many more districts that neighbor the illegally drawn seats. Republican lawmakers, who control the legislature, had intentionally packed black voters into a handful of majority-black districts in order to dilute their influence in adjacent seats.

The court found that the the GOP?s scheme violated the Voting Rights Act, which requires that states create districts where communities of color can elect representatives of their choice. But, said the court, lawmakers could not comply with the law by arbitrarily setting a threshold for a minimum black population per district; instead, they must determine the proportion of black voters needed to elect their preferred legislators on a case-by-case basis?and that proportion is almost invariably lower than the higher bar that Republicans had used.

This same three-judge panel had originally upheld these maps in 2013 before the Supreme Court overturned that ruling in 2015, sending it back to the lower court for reconsiderator. If Republican legislators appeal Friday?s ruling, the case could go back before the Supreme Court again, where swing Justice Anthony Kennedy would hopefully side with the court?s four liberals once again and finally set down a national precedent that would define the rules governing the permissible use of race in redistricting.

Whatever the Supreme Court decides, though, Alabama remains implacably Republican, and even if they?re barred from engaging in impermissible racial gerrymandering, white Republicans would continue to dominate the legislature. Nonetheless, this ruling could have major implications for other similar map that Republicans have instituted across much of the South.

As we have previously demonstrated, nearly every Southern state could have drawn another congressional district to elect the candidate of choice of black and Hispanic voters, Alabama included. Similarly, Republican legislators in many Southern states intentionally drew legislative district maps that limited the power of black and Hispanic voters, and consequently Democrats.

Should courts start striking down these other maps or imposing new restrictions during the upcoming round of redistricting following the 2020 census, Democrats could gain several congressional districts and many more legislative seats. Such rulings could even potentially tip the balance of power in more closely divided state legislatures like in North Carolina and Virginia, where the Supreme Court is about to decide two other major racial gerrymandering cases.


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 1/23 (January 23, 2017, 09:00 AM)

Welcome to the Daily Kos Elections Live Digest, your liveblog of all of today's campaign news.

Please note: This is a 2016 and 2020 Democratic presidential primary-free zone


Daily Kos Elections weekly open thread: What races are you interested in? (January 20, 2017, 06:00 PM)

 David Bowie ? ?This Is Not America (Remix)?


This map shows the 71 House Democrats who have said they won't attend Trump's inauguration ceremony (January 20, 2017, 10:25 AM)

So far, 71 of the 194 Democratic members of the House have announced they will not attend Donald Trump?s inauguration ceremony on Friday, while the remaining 123 are either attending or have not made their intentions clear. As shown above, we?ve mapped out the districts of who is and isn?t going, with each district equally sized so that compact urban districts don?t get overshadowed (you can see a larger version here).

Below the fold we have even mapped the presidential election results by congressional district for all of the members who won?t attend, and only a few of them hold swing districts. If you?re looking for profiles in political courage or cowardice, this would be one place to start.


Daily Kos Elections Open Thread 1/20 (January 20, 2017, 09:00 AM)

The Daily Kos Elections will be back on Monday.


Morning Digest: Georgia Democrat Jason Carter considers a second bid for governor (January 20, 2017, 08:00 AM)

Leading off

? GA-Gov: A number of politicians have been mulling a run to succeed termed-out Georgia GOP Gov. Nathan Deal, and we can add a familiar name to the list. Ex-state Sen. Jason Carter, a Democrat who lost to Deal 53-45 in 2014, recently said that "Trump's victory certainly makes it more likely for me to run." Carter, who is a grandson of Jimmy Carter, raised a credible amount of cash during his last bid and probably did about as well as any Democrat could have done during the GOP wave. (Democrat Michelle Nunn, a heavily touted candidate and strong fundraiser, lost her Senate race that year by the exact same margin.)

So far, the only other Democrat we've heard is interested in a 2018 gubernatorial bid is state Senate Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. While Abrams hasn't said much publicly about her plans, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently wrote that she was "all but certain to run." Abrams would start out less-well known than Carter if both ran, but she could have an edge if race plays a role in the primary. Abrams is African-American while Carter is white, and in recent years, black voters have made up a larger proportion of the Democratic primary electorate: In the 2016 presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, 51 percent of voters were black and 38 percent white, according to exit polls.


Will Dianne Feinstein run for a fifth term in 2018? She's not quite ready to say (January 19, 2017, 01:43 PM)

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has always been taciturn about her re-election plans, and this cycle she's been no different. In a new interview with Scott Shafer of KQED, a local public radio station, Feinstein was very cagey about her plans for 2018:

Q: You have a big decision to make next year about whether to run for re-election. There are a lot of younger Democrats in California itching to run for your seat, as you know. What would you say to them?

A: Well ?

Q: And have you made up your mind about it?

A: No ? I will, but I haven't right at the moment. And what I've said is, as long as I feel I can get things done?and I can?then I think I benefit the people of my state, as opposed to someone new coming in. And that's?I realize?is in anyone's mind?is different, but this is ? you asked me what I think. And if I can produce?and I can produce?and I can continue to produce, then I will continue to produce. If I believe I can't, either by health or any other way, I won't. But as long as I believe I can, I will. That pretty clear?

Q: That's clear. And to me, it sounds like you're ready to run for re-election.

A: Well, that's sort of true.

Q: And, you'll make it formal next year?

A: I'll make it formal at an appropriate time.

Feinstein is 83 years old, making her the oldest member of the Senate, and she's served in office since 1992. She also recently was outfitted for a pacemaker, and her husband was diagnosed with lung cancer last year. All this has led a lot of California Democrats to wonder?and some to hope?that she'll retire next year.

Feinstein obviously isn't ready to say just yet, though she's been raising money and has two more fundraisers scheduled for March. No doubt plenty of ambitious Golden State politicians would clamber into the race to succeed Feinstein if she calls it quits, but we'll only know what her plans are when it suits her to tell us?and no sooner.


Georgia Democrat Jason Carter considers a second bid for governor (January 19, 2017, 11:45 AM)

A number of politicians have been mulling a run to succeed termed-out Georgia GOP Gov. Nathan Deal, and we can add a familiar name to the list. Ex-state Sen. Jason Carter, a Democrat who lost to Deal 53-45 in 2014recently said that ?Trump?s victory certainly makes it more likely for me to run.? Carter, who is a grandson of Jimmy Carter, raised a credible amount of cash during his last bid and probably did about as well as any Democrat could have done during the GOP wave. (Democrat Michelle Nunn, a heavily touted candidate and strong fundraiser, lost her Senate race that year by the exact same margin.)

So far, the only other Democrat we?ve heard is interested in a 2018 gubernatorial bid is state Senate Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. While Abrams hasn?t said much publicly about her plans, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently wrote that she was ?all but certain to run.? Abrams would start out less-well known than Carter if both ran, but she could have an edge if race plays a role in the primary. Abrams is African-American while Carter is white, and in recent years, black voters have made up a larger proportion of the Democratic primary electorate: In the 2016 presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, 51 percent of voters were black and 38 percent white, according to exit polls.


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