Gonzales

Election analysis from Nathan L. Gonzales

Club for Growth to Air TV Ad Against Handel in Georgia Special
Outside group has endorsed Bob Gray in race to replace Tom Price

Karen Handel has been the Republican front-runner in the special election to replace former Georgia Rep. Tom Price. (Courtesy Karen Handel for Congress)

Club for Growth Action is poised to air a television ad against early Republican front-runner Karen Handel beginning Wednesday in Georgia’s 6th District special election, according to a release first obtained by Roll Call and Inside Elections.

It’s a $250,000 ad buy on Atlanta cable, according to a Club source, and is scheduled to run through the initial April 18 election. If none of the 18 candidates receives a majority of the vote in the jungle primary, the top two finishers, regardless of party, will move on to a June 20 runoff. The conservative outside group endorsed one of Handel’s 10 GOP opponents, businessman Bob Gray, on March 14.

Walz’s Governor Run Creates Vulnerable Open Seat for Democrats
But Minnesota DFL may still have a chance to hold on

Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz is vacating his 1st District in order to run for governor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It could be a rough round of midterm elections for Republicans next year but Democratic-Farmer-Labor Rep. Tim Walz gave them a little gift by vacating Minnesota’s 1st District in order to run for governor.

The six-term congressman won re-election narrowly, 50.3-49.6 percent, last fall in a race that received little national attention. But Donald Trump simultaneously carried the rural district, 53-38 percent over Hillary Clinton and nearly dragged Walz’s GOP opponent across the finish line.

What I Learned About Polling From a Georgia House Survey
IVR technology no longer limited by number of candidates on the ballot

An automated survey showed Democrat Jon Ossoff leading the pack in the race to replace former Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price. (Photo by Dustin Chambers, Courtesy Jon Ossoff for Congress)

I was initially skeptical of a recently released poll in the special election for Georgia’s 6th District, not because it utilized Interactive Voice Response, or IVR, technology or because it was conducted by a GOP-friendly firm or because a Democratic candidate was leading in a Republican-leaning district. But it only gave respondents the option to choose from less than half of the candidates, proving the limits of automated polling, or so I thought.

The March 15-16 automated survey conducted by Clout Research for zpolitics showed Democrat Jon Ossoff leading with 41 percent followed by two Republicans: former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel and wealthy businessman Bob Gray, who had 16 percent each. Former state Sen. Judson Hill and three other Republicans combined for nearly 17 percent while former Democratic state Sen. Ron Slotin received 3 percent.

Looking for Clues From a 2005 Special Election in Ohio
Instead of comparing Democratic enthusiasm to tea party, go further back in time

Democrat Paul Hackett narrowly lost a special election in a heavily Republican district in Ohio in 2005. (Mike Simons/Getty Images file photo)

Are Democrats in the early stages of their own tea party movement? It’s one of the biggest outstanding questions at this point in the cycle. But as we collectively look at the past for prologue, I don’t understand why our memories only go back eight years.

There was a time, not too long ago, when Democrats were out of the White House and in the minority in both chambers of Congress, and a demoralizing presidential election loss helped jump-start a movement back to the majority.

Should This Georgia Candidate Be in the Barn Jacket Hall of Fame?
Republican unleashes outerwear, zoo animals, and sexist undertones in first ad

Former Georgia state Sen. Dan Moody is one of 11 Republicans running in the 6th District special election. (Screenshot)

Did one candidate unleash the most potent campaign weapon of all time?

Former state Sen. Dan Moody is one of 11 Republicans running in the special election in Georgia’s 6th District to replace former GOP Rep. Tom Price, now the Health & Human Services secretary. Moody’s first television ad attempted to break through the clutter with a combination of live donkeys and elephants, with the candidate cleaning up manure behind them.

A Conversation With Democratic Strategist Kelly Ward
Ex-DCCC executive director looks back on 2016 election

Nathan L. Gonzales, elections analyst at Roll Call and publisher of Inside Elections, sits down with former DCCC executive director Kelly Ward. (Screenshot)

While the race for the 2018 midterms has effectively kicked off (Inside Elections and Roll Call have released initial race ratings for both the House and Senate), some of us are also still analyzing the 2016 election results.

I recently sat down with Kelly Ward, the former executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, to get her take on how November went for the party and specifically for House Democrats. In December, she announced she was leaving the group for a new Democratic redistricting effort. 

House Republicans Shouldn’t Get Too Comfortable in Majority
Number of competitive races could balloon before Election Day

More Republican seats could become legitimate takeover targets for Democrats in reaction to a polarizing and unpopular President Donald Trump, Nathan L. Gonzales writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republican gerrymandering has put the House majority out of reach for Democrats, we’re told. But even though the initial playing field of competitive races is probably too small for the GOP to fall into the minority, Republicans shouldn’t get too comfortable. The playing field could expand dramatically over the next 20 months.

Inside Elections (formerly The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report) rated 43 House races as competitive in its initial 2018 ratings. That total includes 28 seats held by Republicans and 15 seats held by Democrats.

Democrats Delight in Delaware Special Election
Party hopes turnout boost in legislative race marks beginning of a trend

Democrat Stephanie Hansen’s victory in Delaware last week kept the state Senate in Democratic hands. (Courtesy Hansen for Senate)

From the women’s marches to town hall protests, Democrats are starting to feel emboldened about their prospects in the midterms. A recent special election for the state Senate in Delaware only added to Democratic optimism, but the realities surrounding the race are more sobering.

Democrat Stephanie Hansen, a former New Castle County Council president, scored a 58 percent to 41 percent victory over Republican realtor John Marino last weekend. The win was described as “critical” by Daily Kos Elections, considering control of the Delaware state Senate was hanging in the balance. Democrats were specifically encouraged by a boost in turnout, particularly for a special election in February. 

Mama Bear’s Unlikely Run (and Win) for Mayor
Campaign lessons from a famous family in children’s literature

“The Berenstain Bears and Mama for Mayor!” offers some political wisdom for political candidates. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As an elections analyst, it can be hard to stop thinking about politics even when I get home for the day. Sometimes, I see political themes in my kids’ books even when they aren’t political books. And a few nights ago at bedtime, one of my sons brought me “Mama for Mayor” from the famous Berenstain Bears series, and I critiqued her campaign page by page.

The book (and journey) begins with an innocent car ride through Bear Country, but the family’s life is drastically changed when they hit a hole and a bump in the road.

Fight for the House Centers on Five States
More than one-third of targeted districts reside in a handful of states

DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján is tasked with leading House Democrats back to the majority, including picking up handfuls of seats in a few key states. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Both parties haven’t wasted any time unveiling their House target lists for next year’s midterm elections, and a few states have emerged as early battlegrounds. 

At the end of January, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released an ambitious list of 59 Republican-held districts, followed by the National Republican Congressional Committee’s ambitious list of 36 Democratic-held districts just more than a week later.

Jason Kander May Have Made a Big Mistake
Missouri Democrat hits national stage with potential long-term consequences

Jason Kander’s recent association with national Democratic super PAC could complicate his chances in future elections in Missouri, Gonzales writes. (Courtesy Jason Kander Facebook page)

Missouri Democrat Jason Kander came close to getting elected to the Senate after he burst onto the scene last year with a memorable campaign ad and a strong challenge to GOP incumbent Roy Blunt. Now Kander is widely viewed as a rising star in the Democratic Party, but his postelection choices may complicate future bids for higher office.

Last year, Kander gained national attention for his ad, “Background Checks,” in which he reassembled a rifle blindfolded. It was one of the most memorable ads of the cycle, if not recent campaign history.

At DGA, Pearson Quietly Pulling Democrats Back to Prominence
Executive Director is a leading strategist in party’s redistricting effort

Elisabeth Pearson, Executive Director, Democratic Governors Association (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic lawmakers probably wouldn’t recognize Elisabeth Pearson if she walked into their Capitol Hill office, but they might be owing her their jobs before too long. 

As executive director of the Democratic Governors Association and a leading strategist in the party’s redistricting efforts, Pearson’s success will determine how long members stay in Washington.

The Senate Revolution in North Dakota Will Not Be Televised
Radio rises in importance in top-tier Senate race

North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer is the first name mentioned among Republicans who could challenge Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in 2018. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer’s commitment to radio town halls should keep him connected to his constituents, but it could also help lay the groundwork to challenge a Democratic senator in a top-tier race.

The North Dakota congressman held the most town halls (164) among members of Congress in 2016, and 412 since August 2013, when LegiStorm started tracking them. But as Alex Gangitano explained in Roll Call, Cramer’s methods are a little unconventional because he conducts most of his town halls over the radio.

Congressional Republicans Should Be Afraid of Steve Bannon
Senior White House adviser has no love for the GOP

Steve Bannon, right, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, could pose a threat to some GOP lawmakers, Nathan L. Gonzales writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s no secret that Steve Bannon wants to oversee the demise of the mainstream media, but President Donald Trump’s senior adviser probably wouldn’t mind incapacitating the Republican Party in order to remake it into his own image as well. 

Bannon (and Trump, for that matter) recently referred to the media, as “the opposition party.” That’s a cause congressional Republicans could get behind, but a series of emails last year could foreshadow a big problem for GOP incumbents, particularly those who disagree with the president or his administration.

Three Trump Campaign Aides Who Could Get Elected to Congress
Candidates trying to leverage presidential connection to upset victories

Mike Pompeo’s departure from Congress for a new job as CIA director gives Alan Cobb, a Trump campaign official, a shot at the 4th District seat in Kansas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

During the campaign, there probably weren’t enough full-throated Donald Trump supporters on Capitol Hill to fill a minivan. But two Trump campaign aides could get elected in House special elections later this year, while another adviser may challenge a Republican senator in a primary next year.

Their candidacies will test the popularity and allure of Trump at the local level (since each of them would start their races as underdogs against establishment candidates) and indicate how interested the new president is in interjecting himself into local fights.