Special Election

Our offbeat debrief of the off-year elections: Trump ‘always makes it about him’
Political Theater, Episode 102

President Donald Trump concludes a rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pa., on May 20. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It is tempting to read into the 2019 campaign results, so-called off-year elections, for signs of what’s to come in next year’s big political brouhaha. Political prognosticators beware!

But while we don’t want to look too much into what happened in high-profile gubernatorial and special elections that President Donald Trump campaigned in, there are a few key data points to consider, particularly a growing rural-suburban partisan divide that showed up in places as disparate as Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky and Virginia. 

Kamala Harris endorses Christy Smith in race to replace Katie Hill
Smith is consolidating support among California Democratic leaders

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., is endorsing Assemblywoman Christy Smith in the 25th District race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris has taken sides in the race to replace former California Democratic Rep. Katie Hill, endorsing Assemblywoman Christy Smith in the special election.

“In the State Assembly, Christy has been an effective leader and a fearless voice for the people she represents,” Harris said in a statement shared first with CQ Roll Call. “I know Christy will do the same in Congress — working to enact tougher gun safety laws, combat the climate crisis, fully fund public schools, invest more in emergency response and public safety, lower the cost of prescription drug prices and build an economy that works for everyone.”

Special California election to replace Katie Hill set for March 3
Vote on same day as presidential primary could hurt GOP effort to take back seat

Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., resigned earlier this month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has set the special election date to replace former Democratic Rep. Katie Hill, likely complicating the Republican effort to flip the 25th District.

Newsom set the special election primary for March 3, the same date as the Golden State’s presidential and congressional primaries. Candidates from both parties run on the same ballot. For the special election, if one candidate garners more than 50 percent of the vote, he or she wins the race outright. If no one gets above 50 percent, the top two would advance to a May 12 election.

States in the East with outsize roles in the 2020 elections
Pennsylvania remains a presidential battleground, while Collins bid in Maine will be closely watched

Maine Sen. Susan Collins is a Republican running in a state that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016, but she has a strong personal brand that will help her if she seeks another term as expected in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If there’s an abiding lesson from 2016, it’s that national public opinion in the presidential race is not as important as the votes of individual states. Republican Donald Trump won by taking 304 electoral votes to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s 227, even as Clinton beat him by 2.9 million votes and 2.1 percentage points nationally.

In 2020, Democrats will be looking to recapture states Trump won that went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. And many of those states will also be prime battlegrounds in the fight for control of the Senate, where Democrats need a net gain of four seats to take a majority (three if they win the White House and the vice president can break 50-50 ties), while Republicans need a net gain of 19 seats to retake the House.

States in the South with outsize roles in the 2020 elections
Florida, Georgia and North Carolina among key states to watch

Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist is one of several incumbents facing competitive races in Florida, a perennial battleground in the presidential race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

 

 

Republicans need to study the lessons of 2018 and 2019 before racing to 2020
Last week‘s election results show the GOP still has a lot of work to do for next year

The Nov. 5 elections showed that the president will be an asset in certain areas, particularly in red states, but in other places, he simply won’t, Winston writes. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

OPINION — Whenever there is a special election or an off-year one, you can count on both parties to react in a familiar fashion. They focus on the bright spots and dismiss losses by telling us, “Don’t read too much into it.”

Last Tuesday’s elections were a mixed bag for Republicans with some positive gains, but overall, they pointed to some key challenges for next year. Races in traditionally red states like Mississippi went generally well for the most part, as to be expected. Republicans can point to certain local races in upstate New York and New Jersey where there were some noteworthy gains. Notably, while the GOP lost the Kentucky governor’s race by a slim margin, it swept the other five statewide offices, four of them with margins of more than 10 points, and elected a Republican African American attorney general.

Moneyball, meet politics: Could VAR settle arguments about candidate strength?
Vote Above Replacement puts Klobuchar atop presidential field, Collins way above other senators

Maine Republican Susan Collins, center, outranks the entire Senate on Inside Elections’ Vote Above Replacement statistic, while Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, right, ranks highest among Democratic presidential contenders. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the era of data and metrics and models in political analysis, at least one question still remains: How do we quantify the strength of individual candidates?

Arguing over whether a candidate or incumbent is good or bad is an age-old tradition in the political media and among party operatives. Typically, candidate strength is measured by fundraising or the margin of a win or loss. But that can fail to account for the particular election cycle or the possibility that any candidate running on a particular party’s line in a particular year or state would do just as well.

Mark Sanford ends his primary challenge to President Trump
Two other Republicans are still challenging Trump for the nomination

Former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford ended his presidential bid Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford ended his bid for the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday — just two months after his campaign began. 

“I am suspending my race for the Presidency because impeachment has made my goal of making the debt, deficit and spending issue a part of this presidential debate impossible right now,” Sanford said in a statement. He made the announcement at a news conference at the New Hampshire Statehouse. 

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings is running for late husband’s House seat
Maryland Democrat will undergo a preventative double mastectomy on Friday

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, center, participates in a swearing-in ceremony with her husband, the late Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in January. Rockeymoore Cummings announced Monday she will run for her husband’s seat. (Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the widow of the late Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, is running for the Democratic nomination to replace him in Maryland’s 7th District.

Rockeymoore Cummings resigned Monday night as chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party before announcing her candidacy on MSNBC ahead of a formal campaign kickoff Tuesday in Baltimore. Elijah Cummings was chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee when he died last month.

Watch: Shelby endorses Sessions for return to Senate
“I believe he will be a formidable candidate,” Shelby said

Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby get off the Senate subway in 2014. Shelby endorsed Sessions for a potential 2020 Senate bid on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Sen. Richard C. Shelby endorsed his former Alabama Senate colleague for an expected 2020 Senate bid. “I believe he will be a formidable candidate,” Shelby said Thursday.

About a year ago, Jeff Sessions was forced out of his role as attorney general by President Donald Trump. Prior to that, Sessions served in the Senate for about two decades. He was first elected in 1996.