5 things to watch in every state: Kansas

What’s the matter with Kansas, an academic once opined in a book read by political science undergraduates everywhere before talking about economic populism and how people in Kansas were, more or less, voting against their own interests over the course of about 300 pages.  I distinctly remember a conversation I had with a member of the U.S. House of Representatives’s staff member, in which he told me that portions of Washington, D.C. were “coon city.”  That economic anxiety, I tell you.

  1. U.S. House of Representatives, Kansas’s 3rd Congressional District: One of the strange things about the Donald Trump candidacy is that he is mainly drawing support from white non-college educated voters.  But in more affluent districts with more college-educated voters, it will likely tip for Hillary Clinton.  This is one of the districts that could potentially flip.  Sabato’s Crystal Ball has it listed as “lean Republican.”  Kevin Yoder, the current Congressman, has not faced a serious challenge during his time in Congress.  In 2014, Yoder was re-elected with 60% of the vote.  He won in 2012 defeating just a Libertarian challenger.  Recent polling has Yoder with about a 4 point lead in his re-election bid.  If he fails, it will just be another example of how Kansas is leading the change in the Republican Party.  Conservative hero Tim Huelskamp lost in his primary in the 1st Congressional District against a more moderate member of the party.  There were a number of primary upsets in the state legislature.  This followed from a closer than expected re-election campaign from Governor Sam Brownback in 2014.
  2. Kansas State Senate District 1: Republican incumbent Dennis Pyle won the election in 2012 by less than 400 votes.  There was not a third party spoiler on the ballot to help either party.  The Democrat Jerry Henry is running against incumbent Pyle in 2016.  I’m interested in seeing that Pyle could get defeated if Trump does worse than expected in Kansas.
  3. Kansas State Senate District 5: Republican Steve Fitzgerald upset Democratic incumbent Kelly Kultala by about 800 votes in 2012.  Kansas wasn’t very close in 2012, in terms of the Presidential vote and while it doesn’t seem to be a close race in 2016, Trump is not performing well in “red states” and as we know the Republican brand has been hurt by Brownback’s policies.  If it’s going to be closer in 2016 or if there is any more residual anger toward the Republican Party, Democrat Bill Hutton should be able to upset Steve Fitzgerald.
  4. Kansas State Senate District 25: There was a small coup in the Republican Party at the state legislature level earlier this year.  7 Conservative members of the State Senate lost their primary challenges to more moderate members of the party.  Turns out, Brownback’s tax cuts were economically damaging (who could ave seen that coming, except literally everybody) and you can cut taxes to the point where it’s no longer popular.  Republican Michael O’Donnell won election to the State Senate in 2012 by less than 300 votes over Democrat Tim Snow.  This was, also, with a Libertarian Party candidate on the ballot. O’Donnell did not seek re-election in 2016.  The Republican this year is Jim Price facing off Democratic opponent Lynn Rogers.  There is not a Libertarian Party candidate on the ballot this year, so the Democrats do not have that bit of good news for them. It could potentially be a very close district.
  5. Kansas State House of Representatives District 3 : Eight Republican incumbents were defeated in the primary by more moderate challengers for the State House of Representatives.  I wish I had more time to be able to write how Kansas is going to force a Republican revolution, at some point.  Democrat Monica Murnan is challenging Republican incumbent Chuck Smith.  Smith won election in 2014 by 114 votes over Democratic incumbent Julie Menghini.  Menghini had won in 2012 by 417 votes over a Republican challenger.  I would assume that 2016 will be a more Democratic election year than in 2014.  114 votes is not going to be enough of a firewall against better turnout.
  6. Kansas State House of Representatives District 56: Republican incumbent Lane Hemsley was able to upset the Democratic incumbent in 2014 by 40 votes.  Virgil Weigel, who was running for re-election in 2014, had won election in 2012 by just under 400 votes in 2012.  This is another situation where the Republican is trying to hold onto a small firewall of 40 votes from 2014 in what should be a more Democratic Presidential year.
  7. Kansas State House of Representatives District 88: It looks like this district is one of the districts that seem to change hands every 2 years.  Democrat Patricia Sloop was able to defeat the Republican incumbent Joseph Scapa in 2012 by 441 votes.  Sloop, in a rematch in 2014, was upset by Scapa by 28 votes.  That’s really close…28 out of 5,202 votes.  There will not be another rematch in 2016 between Sloop and Scapa in 2016, which is slightly disappointing.  The Democratic challenger in this district is Elizabeth Bishop.  She is trying to defeat Scapa in 2016.  Again, we have another election where the Republican incumbent is trying to hold onto a voter firewall.

5 things to watch in every state: Iowa

I’m not going to lie, there are more than 5 elections, I am going to watch in this state.

  1. U.S. Presidential Election: Iowa voted for Barack Obama twice.  This state looks like the strongest swing state for Donald Trump, thus far.  How can that be?  This election cycle is mainly going to be decided on the turnout of the white non-college educated voters.  They are going for Trump and Iowa has a lot of them. Giving Trump a built in advantage in the state.  If you add that with the state not being that diverse, you get Iowa flipping back to Republicans after voting for Obama in the last two Presidential elections.  Iowa will give us an indication of how Clinton did with white non-college educated voters and give us a very good snapshot of the election.
  2. U.S. House of Representatives, Iowa’s 1st Congressional District: Bruce Braley was the Representative of the district and received 56.9% of the vote in 2012 in his re-election bid.  In 204, while he was busy losing the Iowa Senate race, his district flipped to a Republican, who won with 51% of the vote and about 6,500 more votes than the Democratic opponent. If we assume that the Presidential election is going to turn out more Democratic voters, then we might be able to assume the District flips back. If, on the other hand, Trump does better than expected in Iowa plus the incumbency advantage for Rod Blum, it may stay in Republican hands for this election and the forseeable future.
  3. U.S. House of Representatives, Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District: This district should probably be considered a safer Republican seat but if Iowa, somehow flips, and Trump does worse than what we’re currently expecting, then this seat might flip, too.  If Democrats want to take back the House, then this is probably a district that should be worth watching.  Republican Tom Latham was able to win re-election in the district in 2012 with 52% of the vote.  David Young who ran for the District as a Republican in 2014, won with 52% of the vote.  Young is running for re-election and has a Libertarian Party spoiler running against him, as well.  But Jim Mowrer, the Democrat, has to make up between 30-34 thousand votes to be able to put this one in play.  While it’s worth watching, I’m not sure it’s going to flip.
  4. Iowa State Senate, District 26: Now we’re on the State elections portion of the post.  This is my personal favorite, mainly because it cuts against the argument that your vote doesn’t count.  In 2012, Democrat Mary Jo Wilhelm was able to defeat Republican Merlin Bartz by 126 votes (there were 30,934 votes cast).  Wilhelm is running for re-election in 2016 against Republican Waylon Brown.  Is it going to be another nail biter?  I don’t know but I am excited to find out. If Democrats want to hold onto their majority in the State Senate, they need this seat.
  5. Iowa State Senate, District 28:Republican Michael Breitbach won the election for this seat in 2012 (a Democratic year) by 34 votes (29,700 votes cast) against Democratic challenger and not Arrested Development TV anchor John Beard.  This time around, he is facing Jan Heikes.  And trying to help her out is Libertarian Party candidate Troy Hagerman.  We get to watch whether or not the Libertarian Party can spoil another election for the Republican Party.  This will give Democrats a better chance of holding the State Senate if they are able to pick up this seat, so it’s well worth watching.
  6. Iowa State Senate, District 30: This one is on the Republican Party’s radar.  They have decided to target this seat as part of their State Legislature drive.  It’s not that hard to see why.  Democrat Jeff Danielson won the election in 2012 by less than 700 votes.  If Donalt Trump is able to do well in the state, that could easily flip.
  7. Iowa State House of Representatives, District 7: While Democrats hold the Senate in Iowa, Republicans hold the state House of Representatives by a comfortable margin.  While it doesn’t look like they can take the House, making inroads will be critical.  Democratic incumbent John Wittneben lost his re-election bid in 2012 by 44 votes to Republican Tedd Gassman.  This is kind of an odd turn of events, seeing as Democrats generally did better in the 2012 election, so you would think that Wittneben would have been able to win.  But in 2014, Gassman was able to win re-election by a much more comfortable margin, about 1,700 votes out of 11,531 votes cast.
  8. Iowa State House of Representatives, District 15: This is an even weirder district than District 7.  Republican incumbent Mark Brandenburg won re-election in 2012 over Democratic challenger George Warren Yaple by 400 votes.  Brandenburg did not run for re-election in 2014.  John Blue won the Republican primary by 1 vote in 2014.  Blue, then went on to lose to Democrat Charlie McConkey by 75 votes.  McConkey is running for re-election in 2016.  The Republican challenger is Bill Riley.  This will be an interesting election to watch. If only, because a Democrat was elected in 2014.  This might flip back in 2016, or it is proof that the district has become much more liberal from 2012 to 2014.
  9. Iowa State House of Representatives, District 30: One of my favorite district playbooks.  Joe Riding, the Democrat won the 2012 election for this district by 720 votes (16,808 votes cast).  Riding was defeated by Republican Zach Nunn by about 1,600 votes (13,056 votes cast) in 2014.  There will be a rematch between Riding and Nunn in 2016.  If it is a better year for Democrats in Iowa than 2014, then I think Riding has a shot to win the re-match.
  10. Iowa State House of Representatives, District 55:  Democrat Roger Thomas was re-elected in 2012 with 7,781 votes beating his Republican challenger, Michael Kilmesh by 226 votes.  In 2014, Thomas did not seek re-election.  Rick Edwards ran for the Democratic Party.  He lost by 27 votes to Republican Darrel Branhagen (11,897 votes cast). After a close primary Democrat Pat Ritter became the nominee for the Democratic Party in this district.  Ritter will try to defeat Republican nominee Michael Bergan, which will likely be a close election.

5 things to watch in every state: Indiana

Oh, look, here’s a state that doesn’t really like extremism in a statewide manner, at least in Presidential election years, yet, somehow had their Governor be the Vice President to Donald Trump.

  1. U.S. Senate election: I feel dirty talking about this for too long.  I really don’t like Evan Bayh.  But I am a progressive and Bayh, at least will support a Democratic Senate Majority Leader, will likely be a vote for ending the filibuster, and will be a yes vote for most of the Democratic agenda (although he’ll lecture us all about how we’re doing it wrong, while doing the same things that he is criticizing other Democrats of doing).  But, this seat is seeming to be more winnable all the time.  That is important if Democrats are trying to take back the Senate.  Flipping Indiana will give Indiana two Democratic Senators.  Neither of which are terribly progressive.  But gives more credence to the idea of running moderates in more conservative seat to be able to win these seats. At any rate, I feel dirty rooting for Bayh because he will be touted in 2024, again, as a potential Vice President pick.
  2. Indiana Gubernatorial election: Before Mike Pence was selected by the Trump campaign to be his Vice Presidential nominee, there was speculation that Pence was going to be a private citizen in January.  Pence’s poll numbers in Indiana were not spectacular, by any measure.  The gubernatorial election was going to be a rematch between Pence and Democrat and mustache enthusiast John Gregg.  Gregg had only lost by 75,000 votes in 2012 to Pence.  After Pence was chosen as the Vice President nominee, Gregg got a different challenge in Indiana Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb stepping up as the Republican nominee.  In the polls in October of 2016, Gregg has been leading Holcomb.  It will be interesting how the elections hake out in 2016 for the Governor’s mansion, if only because we need more facial hair in politics.
  3. U.S. House of Representatives, Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District: In 2014, when I was highlighting races to watch, I found this Congressional District to be one of the ones that I thought could be had for the Democrats.  Then Ebola and the child migrant crisis happened and it never materialized. Some Democratic operatives are saying that the 9th Congressional District is the one that can be flipped more easily.  But I’m stubborn so I want to follow this race to the bitter end.  Jackie Walorksi was elected in 2012 by 4,000 votes over Democrat Brendan Mullen.  She won re-election in 2014 by 30,000 votes. Now either, it was a wave year or Walorksi had an incumbency advantage of 28,000 votes.  I’m not too sure that the incumbency advantage is really that large.  so I think it could be a lot closer in a Presidential election year, even if I think Joe Bock is a much stronger candidate than Lynn coleman.  And to be fair to the 9th district, Shelli Yoder is a much better candidate than Coleman.
  4. Indiana State Senate, District 30: Republican incumbent Scott Schneider won re-election in this district in 2012 by 900 votes.  He was almost the victim of a Libertarian Party spoiler candidate in F.C. Peterson who won 1,8880 votes in 2012.  Schneider is running for re-election against a new Democratic challenger, Pamela Hickman.  If Indiana has a chance of flipping from Republican to Democratic (which it definitely does, even if I don’t have the Presidential election listed here as one to watch), it’s possible that 2012 is a better year for Democrats than 2016.  If you add that in with a new found distaste for Pence and a Libertarian Presidential candidate who is running slightly stronger than in 2012, you have a nice little storm for Schneider to lose.
  5. Indiana House of Representatives, District 12: Surprisingly, there are a lot of elections in Indiana that I think are interesting and worth keeping a closer eye on.  This follows the traditional playbook of elections that I like to follow this cycle.  In 2012, a Democratic incumbent won re-election to their seat by a fair amount (in this case about 2,000 votes).  Then they lost in 2014 by a fairly small margin (421).  Then a Democrat runs in the district in 2016.  This time the Democrat is Maria Candelaria Reardon who is trying to win her seat back that she lost in 2014 to Bill Fine (whom she defeated in 2012).  Ahh.  It’s so delicious.
  6. Indiana House of Representatives, District 19: We have the same playbook as District 12.  Shelli VanDenburgh won re-election in 2012 by about 3,000 votes.  She lost in 2014 to Republican Julie Olthoff by 300 votes.  She is challenging her to a rematch in 2016.  This time, she has not only the Presidential election coatttails potentially helping her but also a Libertarian spoiler in Evan Demare to help her win back her seat.

5 things to watch in every state: Illinois

I was going to include the Illinois Senate Race on here.  but Senator Mark Kirk has faced heavy scrutiny for making a racist comment during the Illinois debate with Rep. Tammy Duckworth.  Kirk has also made some dumb comments about his service when running against a military vet.  That combined with the fact that the Presidential election plus Senate race should be much more favorable for the Democratic challenger.  There, now I talked about it, as well.

  1. U.S. House of Representatives, District 10: This is the third straight election between Bob Dold and Brad Schneider.  Brad Schneider, a Democrat, defeated Republican Bob Dold in 2012 by just over 3,000.  In 2014, the year a Republican was elected to both Governor and Senate in Illinois, Dold won back his seat by just under 5,000 votes.  So, if you believe that 2016 will be better for Democrats in Illinois (which I think is certainly possible) you may think that it’s possible that Dold will lose to Schneider in their third straight election.  On the one hand, I’m hoping for Dold to lose just so that they can face off again in 2018 .  But this is definitely one election that I am going to be watching on election night.  It might be one of the closest races in the country, if the past is any indication.
  2. U.S. House of Representatives, District 12: This district is not going to be as competitive as District 10, unless I’m mistaken.  But if Democrats want to take back the U.S. House of Representatives, this is a seat that almost becomes a must pick up for them.  Democrat William Enyart was the Representative of the district and got re-elected in 2012 winning by nearly 28,000 votes.  In 2014, Enyart lost to Republican Mike Bost by just under 23,000 votes.  C.J. Baricevic is the Democrat running this year to undseat Bost.  He is trying to run on a similar campaign to Bernie Sanders’s populism with conservative views on gun control. It’s certainly possible for Democrats to retake the seat but a swing of 23,000 votes might be too much barring a real wave election.
  3. Illinois State Senate District 23: Democrats control the State Senate in Springfield and don’t look likely to lose much ground in 2016 barring an unforseen collapse by the Democratic Party.  Democrat Tom Cullerton is running for re-election in this district.  He was initially elected in 2012 by winning by just 2,000 votes.  He is running by a different opponent in 2016 but 2,000 votes isn’t actually that many people.  If there is a district that could flip to Republican control, this has to be near the top of the list.
  4. Illinois State Senate District 31: This is another State Senate District that had the Democratic incumbent win election in 2012 by around 2,000 votes.  If Trump is able to do better in traditionally liberal states, it’s possible that this seat could flip, as well.
  5. Illinois House of Representatives District 79: Democrats hold control of the State House of Representatives and will not have the body flip to Republicans (not enough Republicans on the ballot).  But this was one of the closest elections in the country in 2012 and 2014 so it’s going to definitely be worth watching.  In 2012, Democrat Kate Cloonen won election to the state House by 91 votes.  91(!).  Cloonen in a rematch versus Republican Glenn Nixon in 2014, won re-election by 122 votes.  She won election and re-election by a total of 213 votes.  That’s insane.  Cloonen is not running against Nixon, again, in 2016, which is a shame but it will still be something worth watching.

5 things to watch in every state: Idaho

Oh, why did I decide to do this?

  1. Presidential election: Nearly a quarter of Idaho’s population are members of the Mormon Church.  Even though, there has been some backslide with elected Mormon officials deciding to support Donald Trump, Trump has been polling particularly poorly with members of the Mormon faith.  His abrasive personality, his personal life, and his willingness for religious persecution has many Mormons rethinking their traditionally Conservative views.  Enter Evan McMullin, a Mormon from Utah and a graduate from Brigham Young University.  McMullin has been polling well in Utah being able to place a strong third all the way to first depending on the poll.  The attractiveness of McMullin depends on people holding firm to their convictions and possibly more adversarial stories coming out about Trump’s personal life.  I believe there is more coming.  Because of the potential appeal of McMullin, it’ not out of the question that his second strongest showing will be in this state. I’m very interested in watching how McMullin performs in this state and how far Trump can fall in another state that should be an easy win for him.
  2. Idaho State Senate District 5: In Idaho,unlike many other states, state Senators serve two year terms and are not subject to term limits.  Because of this, we have better data of how State Senators will perform in each election.  In this district, the Democratic incumbent Dan Schmidt is running for re-election.  He was re-elected in 2012 with 51% of the vote.  He won re-election by just over 400 votes. In 2014, he was elected again by a slim margin.  This time by just less than 700 votes.  In Idaho and heavily Conservative states, I’m interested in seeing if Presidential election years are more Conservative because people are excited to cast their votes for President.  Especially in Idaho, what I’m interested in, is if Mitt Romney had unusually high appeal in the state, while as we mentioned Trump will likely do a lot worse.  McMullin gives Republicans an opportunity to not regret their vote for PResident and show up for downballot races.
  3. Idaho State Senate District 15: Well so much for my Romney theory…this district elected Republican Fred Martin by just under 800 votes in 2012.  In 2014, Martin was re-elected by just under 2,000 votes. If Republicans do significantly worse in this district because of Trump’s low appeal, this is a seat that could potentially flip (I wouldn’t count on it).  But I think this is also oa good test for Evan McMullin.
  4. Idaho State Senate District 29: Democrat Roy Lacey was elected in this district by just over 1,300 votes in 2012. In 2014, Republicans were able to make up about 100 votes into Lacey’s margin.  This could be a safe district for Democrats but if it’s possible that Idaho Republicans is going to turn out for the President, this could be one that flips the district.
  5. HJR5: There’s a slight fight over this Constitutional Amendment between the Idaho Governor and the Idaho Secretary of State with the Idaho Attorney General.  All three of these officials are Republicans. Wasden, from my understanding, is not one of the more “conservative”:Republicans that have sprung in the last 6 years.  Again, this is based on what could be a flawed understanding, is what could be considered an “establishment” Republican.  He defeated a challenger in 2014 and referenced the 2014 elections again, when asked in 2016 if he would endorse Trump:

“In many ways, this election cycle is similar to the one we had here in Idaho two years ago, when I suggested there was a fight taking place for the heart and soul of the Idaho Republican Party. This time, however, the fight is on a grander scale, one not just for the heart and soul of the national Republican Party but for the soul of the nation as a whole.”

Otter has been a supporter of Trump and will not back away from this statement.  In some ways, this might be a battle for Idaho Republican supremacy going forward.

5 things to watch in every state: Hawaii

Even though a great new hero of the left who is totally standing up to the corruption of the DNC out of the goodness of her heart and not at all out of political expedience is running for re-election, there’s not a whole lot happening in Hawai’i that’s really interesting electorally speaking.  But I decided to do this goal. So here we are.

  1. Amendment 1: Seriously, there’s not a lot of interesting elections happening in the state.  This Amendment would change the Constitution to require the value for civil jury trials in common law to be increased from $5,000 to $10,000.  I read this ballot measure like 10 times.  The only organized opposition to the Amendment is State Farm.  I’m assuming other insurance companies are also not a fan of the law.  But I really want to see what happens to it.  I don’t know. I have a weird obsession with things.
  2. U.S. House of Representatives, Hawai’i’s 2nd Congressional District: Oh look, it’s some portion of the left’s new hero, Tulsi Gabbard.  She’s running for re-election.  I am rooting for her to crush her opponent.  Mainly because her opponent Angela Aulani Kaaihue has made so many racist remarks and weird questionable remarks that the Republican and Democratic Party have disowned her.  While campaigning, she has said that she is healthy and cancer free while also running for Mark Takai’s seat who died of cancer. I don’t know. But she’s registered as running as a Democrat, too, so both sides.
  3. Hawaii House of Representatives, District 31: This is interesting to watch because the Democratic candidate Aaron Ling Johanson has switched his political party from Republican to Democrat.  Johanson won the 2012 election with 65.2% of the vote as a Republican and 71.8% of the vote in 2014 as a Republican.  Can Johanson win as a Democrat in the district?  I don’t see why not.
  4. Hawaii House of Representatives, District 43: This is one of the few districts in Hawaii represented by a Republican.  So, of course, it’s going to be a tough election for the Republican Andria Tuploa.  Tupoloa was elected to the House in 2014 with 2,828 votes, 738 more than the Democratic incumbent. Staceylnn K.M. Eli defeated Karen Leinani Awana in the Democratic primary.  Eli might have a shot at retaking the seat.
  5. Hawaii House of Representatives District 47: Ahh another republican running for re-election.  Feki Pouha is running for re-election.  Pouha received 2,996 votes in 2014 defeating Democratic Kent Fonoimoana by 180 votes.  2014 was significantly more of a Republican year than 2012 or 2016 should be.  But Pouha did better in 2012 than 2014.  So I’m not sure how Sean Quinlan would do in 2016 to defeat Pouha but I’m interested in watching.

5 things to watch in every state: Georgia

This is potentially a swing state for Hillary Clinton.  But there are some other things worth watching, as well.  I know that This American Life would want me to talk about Amendment 3. But they did a better job than I ever could to cover the issue.

  1. Presidential election: As I mentioned that this is a potential swing state for Hillary Clinton.  The reason being is that demographics in the state are slowly changing in favor of Democrats.  Trump has a small lead in the state according to the polls I looked at with HuffPost Pollster.  So while, it’s possible that Clinton wins the state, it would take another scandal for Trump to fall below his projections to swing it to Clinton.  I’m not dismissing it but a closer than expected race in Georgia only fuels the fire of the accelerant that is Trump’s campaign to the impending Democratic demographic dominance.
  2. Georgia State Senate, District 43: this State Senate District was held by Democrat Ronald Ramsey.  He was unopposed in both 2012 and 2014.  Ramsey resigned from his seat in 2015 to become a judge in the DeKalb County traffic court.  The special election had to go to a runoff election and Republican Janice Frey Van Ness was able to win the election by 84 votes.  There were 7,646 total votes cast in the runoff election.  To put this in perspective, when Ramsey ran unopposed in 2012, he received 59,411 votes. With more votes, it seems like it might be able to swing back to the Democrats.  Tonya Anderson who lost the runoff election is running for a rematch against Frey Van Ness on November 8th.
  3. Georgia House of Representatives, District 138: Democrats can’t take back the House of Representatives unless something really strange happens. But we can still look at a few of the elections that are happening the state House of Representatives.  Republican Mike Cheokas won re-election to the Georgia House of Representatives with 8,101 votes this was 108 votes more than the Democratic challenger Kevin Brown.  In 2014, in a rematch, Cheokas was able to win by 448 votes.  Luckily for those in District 138,  Brown is not running for a third straight election against Cheokas.  The Democratic challenger is Bill McGowan.  If we think that Clinton has a shot to win the state, it would take shifting some of the districts in the state.  Why not a district that was only separated by 108 votes in 2012?
  4. Georgia House of Representatives, District 105: This is another House district that could flip with a potential shift in the state from Republican to Democratic or with depressed Republican turnout.  Republican Joyce Chandler was elected to the House with 10,561 votes, 554 more votes than her Democratic challenger, Renita Hamilton.  As we’ve seen with almost every state legislature election, there was a rematch in 2014.  Hamilton lost again to Chandler, this time by less than 800 votes.  This time around, the Democratic challenger is Donna McLeod.  If the state continues its leftward drift, about 600 votes should be doable…right?
  5. Georgia House of Representatives, District 80: This is the opposite of a number of districts I want to watch.  Mike Jacobs was re-elected without opposition in 2012.  He received 16,041 votes.  He ran without opposition in 2014, as well.  He was appointed to the DeKalb county State Court in May of 2015.  The special election to replace him advanced to a runoff where Democrat Taylor Bennett was elected with 2,715 votes over Republican J. Max Davis (2,263) votes.  Republican Megan Hanson is trying to unseat Bennett on November 8th.  It will most likely flip.  But it will be fun to watch s the votes come in if Bennett can hold onto a seat that would normally be more conservative.

5 things to watch in Florida

It looks like Florida is going to potentially replace Ohio as the swing state that everyone cares about.  But thanks to Donald Trump accelerating the impending demographic apocalypse for the Republican Party (please note, I’m not a demographic absolutist that it’s going to swing everything for the Democratic Party).

  1. Presidential election: The Presidential election in Florida will become the ultimate swing state.  The electoral vote grab of 29 votes is extremely important for both the Democratic and the Republican Party.  Even though Florida is becoming less white and younger, it still remains a swing state as a number of transplants are moderates and trending conservatives.  The story to watch in Florida that could influence the election is the number of Puerto Rican migrants who have moved to Florida.  They could end up tipping the state and the election toward Clinton. According to Steve Schale who worked for Barack Obama, 2.5 million Floridians have already voted and the Republican Party probably has about a 10,000 vote lead.  We’ll know more after Halloween weekend (the weekend before Halloween)
  2. US Senate election: This election is getting a lot more press than it probably should because of the weird communication that the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has largely decided to give up on the race (multiple times).  Marco Rubio is running for re-election against the Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy.  Rubio was elected in 2010 (an actual wave election) with less than 50% of the vote because Charlie Crist switched parties and split the Democratic vote. Rubio jumped into the race late with a politically craven way of getting back into the election.  I say this as someone who likes Rubio (for the most part).  He has often been described as the most ambitious person political staffers have ever met. At any rate, the Florida Democratic Party and their bench is such a sad joke.  The two candidates who competed in the Florida Democratic primary were Patrick Murphy who basically got elected because he ran against an insane loon in Allen West and Alan Grayson, who by most accounts is not a good human.  There are lots of scandals coming out about Murphy, who I should note, was recruited personally by Joe Biden and the DSCC.  But he has not managed to put Rubio away.  In fact, he trails by quite a bit.  I don’t think Murphy is going to be able to win Florida barring a giant upset or Rubio running closer to Trump’s numbers than anything else.
  3. U.S. House of Representatives, Florida’s 13th Congressional District: Oh look, Charlie Crist found another office that he could run for.  I’m telling you the Florida Democratic Party and their bench is just terrible. In the few polls that have been made public, he has been polling pretty close to winning or winning against David Jolly, the Republican incumbent. This district has been moving more Democratic over the election cycle but incumbency has its own advantages.  Also, Crist isn’t the most popular guy in Florida.  As much as I don’t want to pay attention to Crist’s political career, I can’t take my eyes off of it.
  4. U.S. House of Representatives, Florida’s 26th Congressional District: Have I mentioned how terrible the Democratic Party’s bench is in Florida?  Garcia was potentially involved in a scandal back in 2014 and lost his bid for re-election because of it. And of course, it’s going to be brought up and just hammered home prior to election day.  Of course, in that same article, there are Washington insiders who think that Trump at the top of the ticket would flip the swing district away from fairly moderate Carlos Curbelo.  Like most scandal-ridden candidates, I’m excited to watch what happens.
  5. Florida Amendment 2: Florida is having another try at legalizing medical marijuana.  In 2014, 57.65% of voters voted in favor of medical marijuana but 60% is needed to be able to pass a Constitutional Amendment in Florida.  Have they done enough work to get it passed in 2016?  I believe a more Democratic electorate will give it a better shot of passing.

5 things to watch in every state: Delaware

Oh look another election that is mostly going to be focused on state elections and smaller elections:

  1. Delaware House of Representatives, District 9: Democratic member of the Delaware House, Rebecca Walker did not have opposition in either the primary or the general election in 2012 so it’s hard to compare how she would have done in a Presidential election year.  In 2014, Republican Kevin Hensley was elected to the House of Representatives with 3,290 votes which was 340 more votes than Democratic candidate Jason Hortiz.  There were 152 votes given to independent Douglas Campbell.  That’s not a lot of wiggle room for Hensley to work with.  In a Presidential election year, you might expect a Democratic challenger to be able to win the seat.  It’s definitely worth watching, just to have a baseline for the district.
  2. Delaware House of Representatives, District 10: Dennis Williams was re-elected in 2012 with 52.1% of the votes which gave him a 449 vote advantage over the Republican challenger.  Williams then lost in the 2014 Democratic primary by 126 votes.  There were 1,262 votes in the Democratic primary.  Williams lost to Sean Matthews.  Matthews then won the election in 2014 by 654 votes.  So he improved by a few hundred votes which may mean that he knew what he was doing.  He is running for re-election against Judith Travis who he previously defeated in 2014.
  3. Delaware House of Representatives, District 11: It looks like I’m just going in order of the House of Representatives districts.  In 2012, Republican incumbent Jeffrey Spiegelman received 4,337 votes to win re-election.  He won the district by 210 votes over Democratic challenger Lynne Newlin.  In a rematch in 2014, Spiegelman was able to win re-election with 3,347 votes which was 1,400 more votes than Newlin. Even in a year that would have been better for Republicans , that is an impressive rebound.  It makes the potential of a fall even more entertaining.  He is not running for the third straight time against Newlin but rather against Democratic nominee David Neilson.
  4. Delaware House of Representatives, District 29: Democrat William Charles Paradee won election to the Delaware House of Representatives in 2012 with 5,183 votes defeating Republican incumbent Lincoln Willis by 800 votes.  Paradee won re-election in 2014 with 3,332 votes defeating Peter Kramer who received 2,471 votes.  The margin was much greater in 2014 than 2012. The reason that this is important is that in 2016, there is a potential spoiler who may tip the seat back to the Republicans.  Paradee is facing off against a new Republican challenger, Janice Gallagher.  Ruth James is running as the Green Party candidate.  If James can tip enough votes, she could potentially tip it back to Republicans.  Based on 2014, I don’t think there will be a small enough margin for her to do so.
  5. Delaware House of Representatives, District 41: It’s a set up for one of my favorite type of districts to watch in 2016.  The set up is that a Democrat wins the 2012 election by a small margin (69 in this case).  Then he gets defeated in in 2014 by a fairly small margin (270, in this case) and then a new Democrat runs for election against the incumbent in 2016.  Richard Collins is the Republican in this scenario.  S. Bradley Connor is the new Democrat running for office in 2016.

5 things to watch in every state: Connecticut

This is not going to be interesting for anyone, probably.  Remember that time Donald Trump spent time in Connecticut because he thought he could flip it? That was fun.

  1. Connecticut State Senate District 7:  The incumbent Republican John Kissel won re-election in 2012 by less than 500 votes.  In 2014, a much more Conservative year, in general, gave Kissel 69.5% of the vote.  He received essentially the same amount of votes in 2014 (22,160) as he did in 2012 (22,182).  The big difference is that the Democratic vote share declined from 21,674 votes to 9,704 votes.  So what happened in 2014?  Should we just assume that the normal turnout for the district is going to be 2014? Or 2012?  That’s what I’m interested in watching.
  2. Connecticut State Senate District 13: Democratic incumbent Dante Barolomeo was elected in a Presidential election year (2012) when he won by less than 300 votes over the Republican incumbent Len Suzio.  In a rematch in 2014, he won by a little more than 300 votes.  Why did Bartolomeo improve in a more conservative year overall for the electorate?  I’m sure that people with better data analysis than me could figure this out and get paid quite a bit to come up with their theories. but my guess is that Barolomeo added a “T” to his name, or so it appears on Ballotpedia.  Suzio and Bartolomeo are headed for a third straight election on November 8th.  How boring.
  3. Connecticut State Senate District 24: HAHA so there’s another Michael McLachlan in Colorado.  Ballotpedia mixed them up on their site.  ANYWAY, the Connecticut McLachlan won re-election to the State Senate in 2012 receiving 51.7% of the vote winning the election by 1,200 votes.  He ran for re-election in 2014 where he was not opposed by a Democrat.  He received 86% of the vote in 2014.  He is challenged by Democrat Kenneth Gucker for November 8th.  If the turnout ends up being closer to 2012 than 2014 plus a general lean for the electorate to being more Democratic, this could be an upset for McLachlan.  Even though, I was initially interested in the election based on faulty information, I think that it will still be an interesting election to watch.
  4. Connecticut State House of Representatives District 38: Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Ritter won re-election to the State House of Representatives in this district with 61% of the vote by over 2,400 votes.  In 2014, Ritter did not run for re-election.  The Democratic nominee was Marc Balestracci.  Balestracci received 48.2% of the vote and 4,199 votes.  221 votes were given to Green Party candidate Billy Gene Collins.  The Republican nominee Kathleen M. McCarty received 4,289 votes.  If there were not a green party challenger or Balestracci was able to win over just half of the Green Party’s candidate’s votes, he would have won the election. Undeterred from being a spoiler, the Green Party nominated Lauren Shaw for 2016.  The Democratic Party nominated Sharon Palmer to run against the incumbent Kathleen McCarty.  Without a third party spoiler, I would think that Palmer could win.  Based on Presidential turnout, it seems more likely to me that Palmer will win.
  5. Connecticut State House of Representatives District 41: In 2012, there were 9,339 votes cast in the district. 4,951 votes were cast for the Democratic incumbent Elissa Wright.  4,388 were cast for the Republican candidate Harry Watson.  In 2014, there was 7,201 votes cast in the district.  Democrat Elissa Wright received 3,581 votes.  The Republican candidate Aundre Bumgardner received 39 more votes, getting a total of 3620 votes.  The turnout significantly decreased and Wright barely lost. Bumgardner is running for re-election against a new challenger Joe de la Cruz.  De la Cruz should be able to win since 2014 was so close but maybe the incumbent advantage will be too much to overcome.