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Daily Kos Elections presents our fully interactive visualizations of the 2014 federal elections (March 29, 2015, 05:45 PM)

2014 U.S. House, Overall Win Margin

Daily Kos Elections is pleased to present a comprehensive look back at the 2014 election results, illustrated with a broad range of fully interactive maps and data visualizations. The above map, for instance, shows the 2014 U.S. House results by overall winning margin between Democrats and Republicans, with Democrats in blue Republicans in red. Click on a district and you will find info about the winner of each district, the 2014 election results, and the 2012 presidential results as calculated by Daily Kos Elections. The full-screen versions of this and the House maps below also have a map legend.

Aside from uncontested seats, the largest winning margins for each party were Democrat Nydia Velázquez's 80 point win in New York's 7th district and Republican Mac Thornberry's 72 point win in Texas' 13th district. Arizona's 2nd district was the closest race of 2014, with Republican Martha McSally defeating incumbent Democrat Ron Barber by just 0.07 percent.

The interactive scatterplot below illustrates the very strong relationship between 2012 presidential and 2014 House performance. Hover over a dot and you will find the district winner and basic result stats, utilizing the two-party-only vote. Outliers to the top and left saw Democrats overperform, while those to the bottom and right saw Republicans do so.

2014 U.S. House Democratic Vote vs. Obama 2012

The non-interactive version also provides a line of best fit. There's very little variation around the best-fit line, as the two election outcomes were highly correlated. Presidential performance in 2012 was the single most informative predictor 2014 congressional outcomes.

Head below the fold to see more maps on the House as well as similar visualizations for the Senate.


Just how many elected officials are there in the United States? The answer is mind-blowing (March 29, 2015, 02:14 PM)

Freshmen members of the 114th Congress pose for a class photo (Jan. 2015)
These freshmen members of the 114th Congress are just the tip of the electoral iceberg
At a recent company retreat, a colleague and I were nerding out (as is our wont) and debating a question: Just how many elected officials are there in the United States in total? It's an easy question to start answering?you begin with the president and vice president (two), plus Congress (535), then move on to governors (another 50). And if you're a real elections junkie, you may be aware that there are around 7,000 state legislators nationwide.

But that barely scratches the surface. There are over 3,000 counties and more than 19,000 cities and towns ... and almost every one of those has some form of elected government, including county executives, county councils, mayors, and city councils. That still scarcely covers it, though, because that doesn't include things like judges, school boards, water boards, mosquito control boards (!)?hell, even coroner is an elected position in some places. And in Duxbury, Vermont, they actually elect, yes, the dog catcher.

Once you really start counting, the numbers get very big very quickly. And amazingly, someone actually has tried counting: government Prof. Jennifer Lawless, who assembled the remarkable table below in her 2012 book Becoming a Candidate:

Chart from Jennifer Lawless' book
Check out that number in the bottom right-hand corner: over half a million! That means more than one out of every thousand people in this country is an elected official of one sort or another. So there's a decent chance you personally know at least one?or maybe you even are one yourself?though as Lawless points out, most of these positions "pay only a token salary and meet on a limited basis," so the vast majority of these officials have other full-time jobs.

(Note: Lawless' number of "statewide elected offices" appears to contain a typo; it should probably be more like 1,000. That still doesn't affect the bottom-line number very much, though. Hardcore election junkies may also recall that Lawless once ran for office herself, losing a 2006 primary challenge to Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin in Rhode Island's 2nd District by a 62-38 margin.)

Hold on, though, because there's even more. One category Lawless leaves out (not unreasonably) are party officials, who in many states are often elected on primary ballots, alongside candidates for regular office. For instance, in Louisiana, voters elect representatives to the Democratic State Central Committee; New York has something similar called district leaders. How many of these folks are there? We haven't found a tally anywhere, but the answer is undoubtedly "a lot"?enough to swell that 500,000-plus figure by a fair bit, for sure.

That monstrous number, whatever it may be exactly, prompts some questions of its own, though. For starters, do we have too many elections and elected offices in this country? Surely jobs like judge and coroner should be appointed positions, but beyond that, do we really need so many overlapping layers of government?

But since there are so many opportunities to get elected to office, why do so many people insist on starting for the first time at the highest levels, like state legislature or Congress? Those (relatively) plum posts are just the tip of the elective iceberg and are thus very difficult to win. If you're considering running for office as a new candidate, there are literally hundreds of thousands of other ways to gain a foothold, build up your experience, and serve your community.

And for progressives in particular, especially if you live in a red area, this is how we build our power?not by sending our rookies to wage longshot bids for top-shelf positions but by bulking up our bench in every nook and cranny of the electoral world. Rep. Mike Honda, a vocal progressive this community supported in his re-election bid last year, started his career as a school board member, for instance. The next Mike Honda is waiting out there, and she may even be reading this post.

(A special "thank you" to Chris Galdieri for pointing me to Lawless' research.)


Daily Kos Elections weekly open thread: What races are you interested in? (March 27, 2015, 11:22 PM)


Junior Boys -- "In the Morning"


What Harry Reid's retirement means for Nevada Democrats (March 27, 2015, 12:05 PM)

Harry Reid
Departing Senate Leader Harry Reid
Despite spending the last few months saying he would run for re-election, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid announced on Friday that he would not be on the ballot in 2016. Nevada was already emerging as a major battleground for control of the Senate, and this move won't change that.

It's unclear if Reid's departure will help or hurt his party's chances at holding this seat. On the one hand, Reid has been quite unpopular for years, and the GOP was looking forward to portraying him as a creature of Washington who had lost touch with his home state. However, even Reid's enemies conceded that he was a very tough campaigner and that his seniority was an asset to the state. For better or for worse, the new Democratic nominee will have a very different profile than Reid.

Democrats have done well in the Silver State during the last two presidential elections, but neither party can take anything for granted in what is still a swing state. Reid has no obvious Democratic successor, but Team Blue has a few potential contenders. Rep. Dina Titus quickly announced that she would give "serious thought" toward running. Titus won a tough House race in 2008 and almost hung on during the 2010 GOP wave, so she can definitely make this competitive. (She returned to the House in a new seat in 2012.) But there are a few other Democrats worth keeping an eye on.

Former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto is close to Reid, and his support could make a real difference in a primary. Former Secretary of State Ross Miller may be interested, though he's had his eyes on the governorship for a while. Ross lost a 2014 race for attorney general, but his defeat was due more to poor Democratic turnout than anything he did wrong. Reid's son former Clark County Commissioner and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Rory Reid has also been mentioned, though his double-digit statewide defeat doesn't inspire much confidence. One name we can rule out is 2012 nominee Shelley Berkley, who very quickly said no to a comeback bid.

Several Republicans were already scouting out this contest even before Reid's announcement. Las Vegas Councilor Bob Beers has been running for a while, though he hasn't generated much excitement from national Republicans. State Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson has been preparing for a campaign, though his moderate reputation could be a liability in a primary. Former Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki has been talking about a bid, though he he's also interested in the governorship.

Some other names to keep an eye on are state Sen. Greg Brower; newly elected Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske; Heidi Gansert, a former chief of staff to popular Gov. Brian Sandoval; Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison; state Controller Ron Knecht; state Attorney General Adam Laxalt; and state Treasurer Dan Schwartz. Reps. Mark Amodei, Joe Heck, and Cresent Hardy ruled out bids against Reid, but they may be having second thoughts now. Heck in particular is a very tough campaigner, and national Republicans would love it if he changed his mind and ran. The GOP dream candidate is Sandoval, but he's thumbed his nose at the idea of serving in the Senate.

This is going to be a very exciting race in a highly competitive state, and it's going to take a while for things to sort themselves out on both sides. Republicans will be excited at the prospect of an open seat, while Democrats will be glad they're playing defense in a presidential year. This race could definitely go either way, and we'll be watching all the developments here at Daily Kos Elections.

9:29 AM PT: That was quick: Reid has already endorsed Catherine Cortez Masto to succeed him.



Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 3/27 (March 27, 2015, 09:00 AM)

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7:40 AM PT (Jeff Singer): NV-Sen: In a major surprise, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid announced that he will not seek re-election in 2016. More soon.


Harry Reid will not seek re-election (March 27, 2015, 08:02 AM)

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) arrives to talk to the media, after a weekly Senate party caucus luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 24, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR4R0LE
Harry Reid, looking particularly badass
Shocking news to start the day:
Senator Harry Reid, the tough tactician who has led Senate Democrats since 2005, will not seek re-election next year, bringing an end to a three-decade congressional career that culminated with his push of President Obama?s ambitious agenda against fierce Republican resistance.

Mr. Reid, 75, who suffered serious eye and facial injuries in a Jan. 1 exercise accident at his Las Vegas home, said he had been contemplating retiring from the Senate for months. He said his decision was not attributable either to the accident or to his demotion to minority leader after Democrats lost the majority in November?s midterm elections.

?I understand this place,? Mr. Reid said. "I have quite a bit of power as minority leader."

More on this story as it develops, along with the implications for Democrats holding this seat in 2016.

You'll be missed, Harry.


Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Hoosier Republicans line up to replace Dan Coats (March 27, 2015, 08:00 AM)

Bread for the World gathering Lobby Day training at Georgetown University Conference Center, followed by Lobby Day on Capitol Hill. Lobby visit with Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN). Washington DC. June 10, 2014 © Rick Reinhard 2014 email rick@rickreinhard.com
Retiring Republican Sen. Dan Coats
Leading Off:

? IN-Sen: On Thursday, Republican Eric Holcomb, the chief of staff to retiring Sen. Dan Coats, became the first candidate to enter the race to succeed him. While a few House staffers have won their bosses' old seats, it's very rare for their Senate counterparts to pull it off. In fact, we can't think of any recent examples of anyone going straight from staffer to senator without a gubernatorial appointment. (As Smart Politics reminds us, Maine's Susan Collins used to work for her predecessor William Cohen, but she'd left his office several years before she was elected in his stead.) However, Holcomb has close ties to influential state Republicans, including former Gov. Mitch Daniels, and he should be able to easily raise the money he'll need to win here.

Holcomb shouldn't expect a clear field though. Tea party-flavored Rep. Marlin Stutzman has been talking about running while sources say his colleague Jackie Walorski is also thinking about it, and they're far from the only ones eying the seat. Rep. Susan Brooks, who represents Indianapolis' northern suburbs, recently confirmed that she's taking a look at this contest. Rep. Todd Young of Southern Indiana also announced on Thursday that he's considering a campaign, while Rep. Todd Rokita is reportedly mulling things over.

State Sen. Mike Delph is talking about joining in, and Howey Politics' Brian Howey tells us that Attorney General Greg Zoeller is being urged to run and great mentions state Sen. Jim Merritt, though it's unclear how interested either man is. House Speaker Brian Bosma didn't rule anything out, but he doesn't sound like he's chomping at the bit to get in.

Democrats don't have a huge bench here, but a few politicians are looking things over. Former Rep. Baron Hill has been publicly considering since Tuesday, and state Rep. Christina Hale recently expressed interest as well. The DSCC would love it if former Sen. Evan Bayh moved to reclaim his old seat, but his camp has only said that he's not presently running.


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 3/26 (March 26, 2015, 09:00 AM)

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Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: A Rubio-less Florida Senate race starts out as a tossup (March 26, 2015, 08:00 AM)

Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy
Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy at a 2014 campaign appearance with The Big Dog.
Leading Off:

? FL-Sen: On Monday, Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy announced that he would run for Senate, whether or not Republican incumbent Marco Rubio seeks a second term. On Wednesday, Murphy earned two pieces of good news: He picked up a major endorsement from ex-Gov. Charlie Crist, and he also got welcome polling numbers from Public Policy Polling, which surveyed the Sunshine State's 2016 Senate contest for the first time. Here's how Murphy fares against a battery of possible opponents:

? Rubio 48, Murphy 41

? Atwater 41, Murphy 39

? Bondi 45, Murphy 41

? Lopez-Cantera 34, Murphy 41

? West 39, Murphy 41

While Rubio understandably starts with a lead, an open seat race would begin as a tossup. Rubio posts a positive 45-40 approval rating which, while not fantastic, is nothing to sneeze at in a time when Congress is so universally despised. Still, Murphy has to be happy that he's holding the incumbent below 50 at the outset.

Rubio has not announced his 2016 plans, but he looks very likely to seek the presidency rather than seek a second term. Rubio has pledged not to campaign for both offices at once and it's not hard to see why. It's difficult enough to run for either the White House or for re-election in a swing state, and doing both at once would be a superhuman task. While the NRSC might be relieved if Rubio decides to put his presidential ambitions on hold, his fellow Republicans are already positioning themselves to run to succeed him.

State Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera have both met with national Republicans about potentially running, and at least in the early going, Atwater posts better numbers, though that's due to his greater name recognition. As for Attorney General Pam Bondi, while she hasn't formally ruled out a Senate run, she seems to have her eyes on the governorship in 2018. Finally, PPP tested former Rep. Allen West, whom Murphy narrowly unseated in 2012; if they took a rematch statewide, things would be similarly tight. But while Democrats would love it if the incendiary West made a comeback, it's not going to happen. West recently moved to Texas and told Politico's Jake Sherman on Wednesday that he's staying in the Lone Star State and won't be "chasing political office like some egomaniacal politician."

Head below the fold for more on this Florida Senate race.


New PPP poll shows Florida's Senate race a tossup if Rubio runs for president (March 25, 2015, 01:14 PM)

Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy
On Monday, Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy announced that he would run for Senate, whether or not Republican incumbent Marco Rubio seeks a second term. On Wednesday, Murphy earned two pieces of good news: He picked up a major endorsement from ex-Gov. Charlie Crist, and he also got welcome polling numbers from Public Policy Polling, which surveyed the Sunshine State's 2016 Senate contest for the first time. Here's how Murphy fares against a battery of possible GOP opponents:
? Rubio 48, Murphy 41

? Atwater 41, Murphy 39

? Bondi 45, Murphy 41

? Lopez-Cantera 34, Murphy 41

? West 39, Murphy 41

While Rubio understandably starts with a lead, an open seat race would begin as a tossup. Rubio posts a positive 45-40 approval rating which, while not fantastic, is nothing to sneeze at in a time when Congress is so universally despised. Still, Murphy has to be happy that he's holding the incumbent below 50 at the outset.

Rubio has not announced his 2016 plans, but he looks very likely to seek the presidency rather than run for re-election. Rubio has pledged not to campaign for both offices at once and it's not hard to see why. It's difficult enough to run for either the White House or for re-election in a swing state, and doing both at once would be a superhuman task. While the NRSC might be relieved if Rubio decides to put his presidential ambitions on hold, his fellow Republicans are already positioning themselves to run to succeed him.

State Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera have both met with national Republicans about potentially running, and at least in the early going, Atwater posts better numbers, though that's due to his greater name recognition. As for Attorney General Pam Bondi, while she hasn't formally ruled out a Senate run, she seems to have her eyes on the governorship in 2018. Finally, PPP tested former Rep. Allen West, whom Murphy narrowly unseated in 2012; if they took a rematch statewide, things would be similarly tight. But while Democrats would love it if the incendiary West made a comeback, his recent move to Texas means they shouldn't bother hoping.

Head below the fold for more on this Florida Senate race.


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