Gonzales

Election analysis from Nathan L. Gonzales

What can we learn from the North Carolina redo election?
September vote could signal whether rough GOP seas have calmed since November

Republican state Sen. Dan Bishop’s campaign in North Carolina’s 9th District redo race could be a barometer for the GOP’s fate in 2020 campaigns, Gonzales writes. (Courtesy Bishop for Congress)

By now, most journalists, handicappers, and party operatives are trained to restrain themselves when applying special election results to future general election forecasts.

But the redo election in North Carolina’s 9th District provides a unique opportunity to learn about the present political environment and how it’s changed since November.

Enzi retirement likely to spur competitive Wyoming primary, but for which seat?
If Cheney runs, battle may be for her House seat in country’s most Republican state

Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, talks with Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., during a ceremony to unveil a bust of her father in the Capitol Visitor Center's Emancipation Hall in 2015. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Michael B. Enzi’s decision not to seek a fifth term is causing more than a handful of his fellow Wyoming Republicans to evaluate their political ambitions. 

Only seven men (and zero women) have represented the Equality State in the Senate in the last 50 years, and this is Wyoming’s first open Senate seat in more than 20 years. Statewide office as a Republican in Wyoming is as close to a lifetime appointment as it gets in electoral politics these days.

Stop grading 2020 candidate recruitment, particularly this far from Election Day
Victories by past recruitment ‘failures’ should make parties and press more cautious

The decision by former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams not to run for Senate was branded a Democratic recruitment failure by Republicans, but the state remains competitive, Gonzales writes. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images file photo)

Gloating about and reporting on candidate recruitment has become commonplace in the election process. But too often, the grading and grandstanding is premature — and even completely wrong.

This cycle, Republicans are crowing after former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams declined to run for the Senate and freshman Rep. Cindy Axne decided to forgo a Senate run in Iowa. But their decisions don’t change the national dynamic (the GOP majority is still at risk) or the local dynamic (both of those races are still competitive). History tells us we have a long way to go before November 2020.

Republicans have a post-Trump identity crisis on the horizon
What will it mean to be a Republican once the president leaves office?

Being a Republican has increasingly come to mean being with President Donald Trump, Gonzales writes, but it’s far from clear what the party will look like after he leaves office and if it will turn to Vice President Mike Pence for leadership. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans are enjoying their ride in the White House and basking in the glow of a divided Democratic presidential field, but a monumental identity crisis is looming for the GOP.

Whether you think President Donald Trump won’t be president in two months, two years or six years, Republicans are going to have a difficult time moving on to the next chapter.

Rating change: Loebsack’s retirement in Iowa expands House playing field
Race for open seat in 2nd District is now a Toss-up

Rep. David Loebsack, D-Iowa, will not be seeking an eighth term next year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

No one really gave Cornell College professor Dave Loebsack a chance of knocking off Republican Rep. Jim Leach in 2006. But the Democrat won that race, and more than a dozen years later, he’s announced that his current seventh term in Congress will be his last.

Democrats now have to defend a competitive open seat that wasn’t previously on the list of vulnerable districts.

How to survive and thrive in Iowa — words of wisdom from former staffers
Gephardt 2004 alums recall lessons from the road long traveled

Richard A. Gephardt rallies union workers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in January 2004 as he campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination. He dropped out after a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

With less than 10 months to go before the Iowa caucuses, hundreds of Democrats have descended on the Hawkeye State to organize and energize voters. Only one candidate will finish first on Feb. 3 — and ultimately, there will be only one presidential nominee — but the experience can be invaluable to younger staff and could help the party in future years.

In 2004, Missouri Democrat Richard A. Gephardt was the early favorite as a neighboring congressman who narrowly won the 1988 presidential caucuses. Gephardt finished fourth, but his Iowa team was an impressive compilation of young talent who went on to help Democrats take back the White House, Senate, House and state legislatures around the country.

How Gephardt’s 2004 Iowa team boosted the Democratic Party
‘Stay classy,’ campaign veterans advise 2020 pack

Staffers of Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, D-Mo., hand out signs and stickers for his presidential campaign at the 2003 Democratic National Committee winter meeting. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Nearly 15 years ago, Bill Burton was driving Dick Gephardt around Iowa in an electric blue Saturn Vue named “Sue” with David Plouffe and John Lapp along for the ride.

The Missouri congressman’s 2004 presidential hopes eventually ended with a fourth-place finish in the state’s Democratic caucuses, but Gephardt’s Iowa campaign team would go on to boost Democrats at the state and federal level, and even elect a president four years later.

Ben Ray Luján to announce New Mexico Senate run Monday
Santa Fe congressman is the No. 4 Democrat in the House

Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., will announce Monday that he is running for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 11:44 a.m. | Rep. Ben Ray Luján plans to run for the Senate in New Mexico and is set to officially announce his candidacy Monday, according to two sources familiar with the Democrat’s decision.

The seat opened after Democratic incumbent Tom Udall announced Monday he would not seek re-election.

The case for primaries: Arizona edition
Mark Kelly may have avoided an intraparty fight, but that may hurt more than help

Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly, here with his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in 2018, appears to have avoided a primary in his bid for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats breathed a sigh of relief this week when Rep. Ruben Gallego decided not to run for the Senate, likely avoiding a primary in the run-up to a competitive general election in Arizona. That’s because “bitter,” “bloody,” and “bruising” seem to be the most commonly used adjectives to describe primaries these days, even though they can serve an important purpose.

Gallego’s decision all but paved the way for retired astronaut Mark Kelly to win the Democratic nomination and focus on challenging appointed Republican Sen. Martha McSally. But while Kelly has had a public profile as a gun control advocate alongside his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, he’s never been a candidate for office, and it’s still unclear how he’ll perform.

When it comes to younger voters, watch the margin of victory
Republicans haven’t carried 18-to-29-year-olds in an election cycle since 1994

Louisiana Republican John Kennedy, then a candidate for U.S. Senate, greets fans at a tailgate party before an Alabama-LSU football game in Baton Rouge, La., in 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There’s really no question Democrats are going to win younger voters in 2020. But what matters for them is the size of their margin of victory. 

Republicans haven’t carried 18-to-29-year-olds in an election cycle since 1994, when exit polling showed them besting Democrats in this age group, 51 percent to 49 percent. They broke even with Democrats among younger voters in the 1998 midterms, but it’s been at least 30 years since Republicans carried 18-to-29-year-olds in a presidential cycle.

Latest fundraising numbers from Beto O’Rourke and others are ridiculous
Texas Democrat raised more in 24 hours than earlier top candidates did in an entire cycle

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke reported raising $6.1 million within 24 hours after announcing his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When covering campaigns on a day-to-day basis, it can be easy to lose perspective, particularly when it comes to money. Million-dollar figures are thrown around without much thought. But the amounts of money being raised by candidates right now, particularly Democrats, are absurd.

I glanced back at competitive races nearly 20 years ago for some context, and the comparisons between a day of presidential fundraising and entire, top-tier congressional contests are staggering.

Race ratings: Wisconsin among 3 initial presidential toss-ups
First look at 2020 presidential map gives Democrats a slight edge

Supporters of candidate Donald Trump try to block a Bernie Sanders sign as they listen to Trump speak in Janesville, Wis., on March 29, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

I don’t believe in accidents when it comes to politicians and parties, particularly when it comes to choosing a city for a national convention. The Democrats’ selection of Milwaukee for their 2020 convention makes sense considering Hillary Clinton was their first presidential nominee to lose Wisconsin since 1984.

And, according to a new Inside Elections metric we’re calling “Baseline,” the Badger State is the most competitive state in the country.

Initial 2020 House race ratings are here
Republicans are on the offense but also running against history

Reps. Max Rose of New York, second from left, and Joe Cunnigham of South Carolina, second from right, here with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy at the State of the Union, are among 31 Democrats holding seats the president carried in 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After losing a net of 40 House seats in last year’s midterms, Republicans have plenty of offensive opportunities in 2020. But winning back the majority will not be easy.

On paper, the path back to 218 may look simple for Team GOP because it winds through favorable territory. There are 31 Democrats who currently represent districts that President Donald Trump carried in 2016, and Republicans need to gain 18 or 19 seats to regain House control (depending on the outcome in North Carolina’s 9th District).

The memorable and awkward moments of the State of the Union
Trump was a polarizing figure before the address and remains so after it

Lawmakers applaud in the House chamber Tuesday night during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

I did something dangerous Tuesday night. I watched the State of the Union and the Democratic response on my own, without Twitter as a crutch. I even watched the C-SPAN feed on my phone in order to avoid commentary from the networks and cable channels.

My goal was to avoid groupthink and try to formulate some coherent thoughts and analyses without being persuaded by my friends in the media. Here’s what stuck out to me.

How to steal the SOTU show in a few easy steps
If a 2020 presidential hopeful wanted to steal the show, silently walking out during the speech would be the way to do it

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., listen during the Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee William P. Barr on Jan. 15. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With at least a couple of dozen Democrats preparing to run for president in 2020, it will be hard for contenders to distinguish themselves in opposing President Donald Trump during and after the State of the Union speech. But there’s at least one surefire way to stand out from the pack.

Stand up and walk out.