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Voting Rights Roundup: North Carolina Republicans plot even more new ways to rig elections (February 24, 2017, 04:08 PM)
? North Carolina: It seems that not a week goes by without North Carolina?s Republican legislators concocting new schemes to change election laws to their benefit and usurp power from newly elected Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. The GOP?s latest set of proposals would turn local elections into partisan contests for city councils, school boards, and even judges sitting on lower courts. Republicans hope that identify candidates by party will help them win downballot offices from Democrats in locales where the electorate otherwise leans Republican. Indeed, the state House has already approved these changes for judicial races, although the good news is that the measure passed with less than three-fifths support, meaning Cooper could successfully veto it if it also passes the Senate.Campaign Action
A separate effort would change the state Board of Education from an appointed body into an elected one. The governor currently chooses most of the board?s members, but the GOP?s bill would allow him to appoint only the board?s chairman, while the superintendent of public instruction and lieutenant governor (two Republican elected officials) would remain on the board.
Republicans also figured out a way to retain a hammerlock on the board?s 13 other members: elect one for each congressional district in the state. Since Republicans drew an extreme gerrymander (shown in the map at the top of this post) that guarantees them 10 of those seats in the House, this provision would almost certainly do the same for the board.
Unexpectedly, another proposal would move municipal elections from odd- to even-numbered years to increase turnout. That change could actually end up hurting Republican candidates, since races in even years often see higher turnout among Democratic-leaning demographics such as young voters and African-Americans.
Finally, several Republican lawmakers introduced a House bill to extend the length of the terms state legislators in both chamber serve from two years to four. Deviously, this proposed change would only take effect starting in 2022, meaning North Carolina would thenceforth elect its legislature only in midterm years. That could give Republicans a major leg up, since Democratic turnout tends to disproportionately drop in non-presidential elections. The measure would also impose a three-term limit for members of either chamber.
Changing the composition of the Board of Education and altering term lengths in this manner would require state constitutional amendments. Thanks to gerrymandering on the legislative level, Republicans just narrowly hold the three-fifths supermajorities needed to pass the measures, but any amendment would have to face voter approval, too. Unfortunately, legislators could time a referendum to coincide with the 2018 primary, when low turnout could result in a disproportionately Republican-leaning electorate.
Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 2/24 (February 24, 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
Morning Digest: Joe Biden stars in ad for Saturday's special election to save the Delaware Senate (February 24, 2017, 08:00 AM)
? DE State Senate: It's been a while, but we have an old fashioned Biden Alert! Former Vice President Joe Biden is campaigning hard in this Saturday's special election, where control of the Delaware state Senate is at stake. If the Republicans can win the 10th Senate District, which is located just south of Newark, they'll have an 11-10 majority in the chamber, and be able to block Democratic Gov. John Carney and Democrats in the state House from enacting their agenda. Delaware is one of just six states where Democrats control the state government, and Team Blue can't afford to give the GOP even more power nationally. SD-10 backed Obama 59-40 in 2012, and our preliminary numbers say it supported Hillary Clinton by a smaller 54-41 margin. However, Republican John Marino lost just 51-49 in 2014, and special election turnout is unpredictable.Campaign Action
Democrats have nominated former New Castle County Council President Stephanie Hansen, who served from 1996 to 2001 and is currently an environmental attorney. Hansen, who has been endorsed by Daily Kos, has decisively outraised and outspent Marino. From Jan. 27 to Feb. 17, Hansen dropped $167,000 to Marino's $65,000. A Democratic PAC, First State Strong, outspent its GOP counterpart by a massive $550,000 to $35,000.
Biden, who served as Delaware's U.S. senator from 1973 until he became vice president in 2009, has been campaigning for Hansen. Biden also stars in a Hansen ad, which features him telling a crowd, "This race is consequential. It's all about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, 'Honey, it's going to be O.K.' And this woman understands it in her gut." Biden also implores the viewer, "Don't ask yourself the morning after the election, 'Why didn't I vote?'" We'll find out Saturday if enough Democrats listened to Biden, or if the GOP can cost Team Blue control of the state government.
New York Democrats make noises about facing Bill de Blasio, but no one's in yet (February 23, 2017, 05:17 PM)
So what was that all about? On Wednesday, Politico published a piece saying that Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who would likely be the strongest possible challenger to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in this fall's Democratic primary, would not run for mayor after all?but then, later that afternoon, Jeffries himself tweeted that he would not make a "final decision about City Hall" until the spring.
What's really strange is that Politico actually quoted Jeffries himself, who said, "The stakes are so high in Washington, D.C., right now, and I want to be part of the effort to turn the situation around. It would be a dereliction of duty to abandon ship at the moment when times are tough." That seems pretty clear! The only way Jeffries could square this circle would be to claim that the "situation" will get turned around by springtime (and that he therefore wouldn't be derelict in his duties). Obviously, the situation won't improve until Jan. 20, 2021 at the earliest, so no dice.
And while we wait for Jeffries to figure himself out, another notable Democrat is now publicly suggesting he might run. City Councilman Dan Garodnick, who is term-limited, says he is "exploring my options," which presumably means either a mayoral bid or, perhaps, a run at City Comptroller Scott Stringer. Garodnick intended to run for comptroller in 2013 but got shoved out when Stringer dropped down from that year's race for mayor. It's also possible (though unlikely) Stringer himself could challenge de Blasio, giving Garodnick a clearer shot at a the comptroller's office.
Garodnick is more of a second-tier candidate, though, and while he could likely raise a lot of money from developers, de Blasio's relationship with labor unions is still very strong, and his support in the African American community remains high. For him to be unseated, it'd probably take a candidate with a higher profile, like Jeffries or Stringer. But time is quickly running out to put together a serious campaign, so it's possible that despite all his many, many stumbles, de Blasio could emerge without a major primary opponent.
And barring an intra-party fight, it's unlikely that de Blasio could fail to win a second term. While Republican developer Paul Massey outraised de Blasio in the last six months of 2016 ($1.6 million to $1 million), he's almost entirely unknown and has already proven to be an awkward candidate on the trail. But New York did elect Republican mayors five times from 1993 through 2009 (Rudy Giuliani twice, then Mike Bloomberg thrice, though he later ran as an independent), so if latent hostility toward de Blasio really coalesces, perhaps Massey or another Republican could put a scare into the mayor.
Luther Strange finally admits it: He was investigating the governor who appointed him to the Senate (February 23, 2017, 04:52 PM)
So Luther Strange, Alabama?s new Republican senator, has finally admitted it: He was investigating Gov. Robert Bentley all along?even as he sought and received a coveted appointment to the Senate from the very man he was investigating. And making Strange look even worse, he repeatedly tried to conceal the fact of his investigation in his capacity as state attorney general. But the jig is now up, and Strange could pay a serious price.
So just how did we get here? Shortly before Election Day, Strange asked the state legislature to halt its own impeachment investigation into Gov. Robert Bentley, who has been accused of using state resources to cover up an affair with a staffer, because the attorney general?s office, which Strange then ran, was conducting its own investigation. Lawmakers complied.
But once the prospect of a Senate vacancy emerged with Donald Trump?s victory, Strange started suggesting he might not actually be looking into the governor?s behavior after all. Bentley, of course, would get to name a replacement for Sen. Jeff Sessions (who was recently confirmed as U.S. attorney general), and Strange tried to make the obvious conflict of interest?seeking an appointment from the very man he was investigating?smell less reeky by pretending there was none.
Despite the transparent scumminess, Bentley went ahead and tapped Strange anyway, but Strange?s meager charade was soon exposed by Steve Marshall, the man who succeeded him as state attorney general, who quickly confirmed his office was indeed probing Bentley.
Strange then finally confessed this week that, despite all his games, he knew he was accepting a Senate appointment from the guy he was supposed to be investigating. Strange admitted to a local news station that as attorney general, ?Our office ... has been conducting related investigations going back to ... the governor.?
You don?t say! In fact, Strange had refused to. In late December, when Strange belatedly insisted that he never actually said he was investigating the governor, he claimed he had only asked the legislature to suspend its impeachment proceedings because there were "some common players involved." Well, Strange has now acknowledged that one of those ?common players involved? is Bentley himself!
Strange doesn?t need to face primary voters until June of next year, and he may be able to ride this all out despite his best efforts to the contrary. But the GOP legislature may finally take action against Bentley before the session ends in May. If Bentley gets impeached, it will be much harder for Strange to avoid becoming collateral damage.
These 21 congressional districts flipped to Donald Trump after backing Barack Obama in 2012 (February 23, 2017, 11:00 AM)
Daily Kos Elections recently completed calculating the 2016 presidential election results by congressional district. With ticket-splitting rates at historic lows, and presidential results highly correlated with congressional results, these numbers serve as a strong predictor of future House election outcomes. As Democrats seek to gain the 24 seats they need for a majority and defend the 194 they currently hold, these 21 districts that flipped to Donald Trump after supporting President Obama in 2012 could become increasingly difficult for Team Blue to win in upcoming elections.
As shown on the map above (see here for a larger image), Nevada?s 3rd is the only one of these districts that isn?t located in the Northeast or Midwest, which were two regions where Trump performed considerably better than recent Republican nominees. Most of these seats are heavily white, disproportionately rural, and have much lower rates of adults holding college degrees than the national average. Those three demographics became much redder in 2016 compared to 2012, even as college-educated white voters voted more Democratic.
Trump did very well in many of these districts, even capturing five that President Obama had carried by more than 10 points, while Trump himself won seven of these Obama seats by double digits. Democrats might be fortunate that they only hold nine of these 21 districts, simply because it limits their exposure. Team Blue prevailed by just single-digit margins in six of these races, and three Democrats even hold seats that Trump won by more than 10 points. Accordingly, these nine Democrats could be especially vulnerable in 2018 if downballot voting aligns more strongly with the presidential outcome.
You can find a chart of all 21 districts that flipped from Obama to Trump below. Be sure to check out our previous maps and analysis of the presidential and congressional results for all the districts, and also our Congress guide spreadsheet, which compiles those results along with demographics and member information for every seat.
These 15 congressional districts flipped to Hillary Clinton after backing Mitt Romney in 2012 (February 23, 2017, 10:00 AM)
Daily Kos Elections recently completed calculating the 2016 presidential election results by congressional district. With ticket-splitting rates at historic lows, and presidential results highly correlated with congressional results, these numbers serve as a strong predictor of future House election outcomes. Consequently, the 15 districts that flipped from voting for Mitt Romney in 2012 to supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016 could become ripe targets for Democrats in upcoming elections if voters there continue to oppose Donald Trump.
As shown on the map above (see here for a larger image), these districts are almost all located in relatively suburban areas, predominantly in Sun Belt states like California and Texas, with just a few in the Midwest and Northeast. Nearly all of these districts have a very high share of college degree-holders, significant Latino populations, or both. Those two demographics were acutely hostile to Trump, with college-educated white voters in particular swinging sharply Democratic even as whites without a degree lurched toward Republicans in 2016.
Unfortunately for House Democrats, Trump?s unpopularity in these districts wasn?t enough to help them win a single one of them, even though Team Blue heavily targeted a handful of these seats in 2016. Nonetheless, Trump lost six of these districts by 5 to 10 points. The Republican incumbents who sit in these seats could find themselves in greater peril in 2018 or 2020, especially if Trump?s rule remains unpopular.
You can find a chart of all 15 districts that flipped from Romney to Clinton below. Be sure to check out our previous maps and analysis of the presidential and congressional results for all the districts, and also our Congress guide spreadsheet, which compiles those results along with demographics and member information for every seat.
Clinton's largest margin of victory in these districts came in Virginia's 10th, located in the D.C. suburbs. She prevailed there by 10 percent, which was an 11-point reversal from Obama?s 1-point loss in 2012. Democrats tried very hard to unseat Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock, but she managed a 53-47 win.
Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 2/23 (February 23, 2017, 09:01 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
Morning Digest: GOP poll gives Tammy Baldwin an early double-digit lead in Wisconsin Senate race (February 23, 2017, 08:00 AM)
? WI-Sen: The GOP pollster Magellan Strategies, on behalf of a group called "Committee to Defend the President" (wonder what their political leanings are?) is out with the first poll of next year's Wisconsin Senate race, and they give Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin a big early lead. Baldwin defeats Milwaukee County Sheriff, prominent Trump supporter, and very nominal Democrat David Clarke 49-35 in a hypothetical general election where Clarke is identified as the GOP candidate.Campaign Action
Magellan says that while the poll was in the field, Rep. Sean Duffy announced he wouldn't run; in any case, Duffy trails 49-36. As fellow Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold learned the hard way last cycle, early leads often don't survive the campaign, but it's still better to be ahead at the beginning of the race than behind.
The poll gives Clarke a 23-20 favorable rating, and the memo argues he has some room to grow once he gets his name out. However, Baldwin has a 49-35 approval rating, quite a good score for a GOP poll. Clarke himself hasn't ruled out challenging Baldwin as a Republican, though he hasn't shown any sign he's seriously considering. However, a recent PPP survey gave Clarke a horrible 31-62 approval rating in Milwaukee County, and if he can't get a job with Trump, he could decide that running statewide next year is a lot easier than trying to win re-election. A number of other Republicans are eyeing this seat.
GOP poll gives Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin a 14-point lead over Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke (February 22, 2017, 03:24 PM)
The GOP pollster Magellan Strategies, on behalf of a group called ?Committee to Defend the President? (wonder what their political leanings are?) is out with the first poll of next year?s Wisconsin Senate race, and they give Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin an early lead. Baldwin defeats Milwaukee County Sheriff and very nominal Democrat David Clarke 49-35. Magellan says that while the poll was in the field, Rep. Sean Duffy announced he wouldn?t run; in any case, Duffy trails 49-36.
The poll gives Clarke a 23-20 favorable rating, and argues he has some room to grow once he gets his name out. However, Baldwin has a 49-35 approval rating, quite a good score for a GOP poll. Clarke himself hasn?t ruled out challenging Baldwin, though he hasn?t shown any sign he?s seriously considering. However, a recent PPP survey gave Clarke a horrible 31-62 approval rating in Milwaukee County, and if he can?t get a job with Trump, he could decide that running statewide next year is a lot easier than trying to win re-election.
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