Gonzales

Election analysis from Nathan L. Gonzales

The Important Connection Between Governors and Congress
A first look at the gubernatorial race ratings for 2017-18

South Dakota Rep. Krisit Noem is a candidate for governor in 2018 and leaves behind a safe Republican seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In Washington, it’s easy to ignore governors as distant rulers over far away lands. But now is a good time to start paying attention to what’s happening in state races.

Voters in 38 states (including nine of the 10 most populated) will elect a governor over the next two years, and the results have a direct connection to Capitol Hill. The large number of races give aspiring (or weary) members an opportunity to leave the House, and consequently, leave behind potentially vulnerable open seats. And governors in 28 of those states will have a role (specifically veto power) in the next round of redistricting, which will impact what party controls the House in the next decade. 

One Month Until Republicans’ Latest Round of Excuses
Special election for Montana seat moves from Solid Republican to Likely Republican

If Republicans struggle to hold Montana’s at-large district, where Republican Greg Gianforte, left, takes on Democrat Rob Quist in a May special election, it would be yet another indication of the effect President Donald Trump is having on Democratic enthusiasm, Gonzales writes. (Photos courtesy Greg for Montana, Rob Quist for Montana)

When it comes to special election results, Republicans always have an excuse, and their stumbles are never a national trend.

In Kansas, Republicans turned a 27-point victory for Donald Trump in 2016 into a recent 7-point special election victory for state Treasurer Ron Estes even though Democratic lawyer James Thompson had virtually no support from local or national Democrats.

Why Republicans Don’t Fear a Shutdown, But Should
HealthCare.gov rollout shifted attention back to White House before midterm elections

Republicans didn’t suffer at the ballot box because the rollout of HealthCare.gov was a disaster. They now don’t fear a shutdown — but they should, Nathan L. Gonzales writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For many Republicans, it’s a fairly simple calculation: There was a supposedly catastrophic government shutdown in 2013 and the GOP gained 13 House seats a year later. So what’s the big deal if the government shuts down again?

With another funding deadline on the horizon, selective memory loss could have negative consequences for the Republican Party if there is another government shutdown.

8 Things I Think I Think After the Georgia Special Primary
There’s never just one takeaway

The June runoff between Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel in Georgia’s 6th District is rated a toss-up by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. (Photos by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

My family sat down for dinner at a nice Amish family’s house in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday night, less than two hours before the polls closed in Georgia’s 6th District. And Jon Ossoff’s name didn’t come up once. That’s not surprising, but it is what happens when special elections collide with Spring Break.

The most-watched special election of the cycle (until the next one) ended with the young Georgia Democrat finishing first with 48 percent, in the all-party primary but short of the what he needed to win former Republican Rep. Tom Price’s seat outright. Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel finished second with almost 20 percent and both candidates move on to the June 20 runoff.

There’s More Than One Takeaway From the Kansas Special Election
‘11 things I think I think’

Kansas Treasurer Ron Estes pulled out a 53-46 percent victory to keep the 4th District in Republican hands. (Courtesy Ron Estes for Congress Facebook Page)

After a few months in the electoral desert, we finally have election results to digest from a competitive race, albeit an unexpected one.

State Treasurer Ron Estes pulled out a 53-46 percent win to keep Kansas’ 4th District in Republican hands. The 7-point victory margin is shocking considering Donald Trump carried the Wichita-based seat by 27 points in last year’s presidential race.

Red Alert: GOP Chances Slide in Two Special Elections
Georgia’s 6th and Kansas’ 4th move in Democrats’ direction

Democrat Jon Ossoff, right, raised an eye-catching $8.3 million in the first quarter for his campaign for Georgia’s 6th District open seat. (Courtesy Jon Ossoff for Congress Facebook page)

Republicans might be riding high after Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the Supreme Court, but reality could come crashing down on the GOP in two upcoming special elections. 

On April 18, voters will go to the polls in Georgia’s 6th District, vacated by Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Donald Trump narrowly carried the district over Hillary Clinton in the suburban Atlanta seat last fall, but it’s a traditionally Republican seat.

The Bipartisan Effort to Make Senate History
Lack of Senate retirements could be unprecedented

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein appears more likely to run for a fifth full term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For all of the moaning and groaning about Washington being dysfunctional, members of Congress aren’t exactly tripping over each other to get out of town.

So far, all of the Republican and Democratic senators up for re-election this cycle seem intent on seeking another term. And if that trend continues, it would be historic. 

The 2010 Election: Not Just About Health Care
Majority of midterm voters cited the economy as most important issue

President Donald Trump’s effort to repeal the 2010 health care law went down in flames last week, boosting Democratic optimism. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

When it comes to projecting election results, history can be a guide, but no two cycles are the same.

From the women’s marches to town hall protests, Democrats were feeling emboldened about the next elections even before Republicans fumbled their attempt to repeal the 2010 health care law. Democratic optimism grew (as well as media comparisons to a certain previous midterm election involving health care) as polling revealed that the GOP alternative was less popular than the health care status quo.

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.