Although 2013 will be relatively quiet compared to the intensity and chaos of 2012, there are many events that will occur impacting policy and elections in 2014, 2015 and 2016. For an overview of moments that are flying both over and under the radar in 2013, view the graphic below. To see what’s “on the radar”, check out the dates in Blue, and to see what’s “under the radar” see the dates in Red.
Voters will elect at least 62 newcomers to the 113th Congress tomorrow. There are currently 62 open seats as a result of retirements, resignations & lost primary elections. For a list of where we can guarantee a new face see below.
OPEN SEATS (62)
AZ 1 HOLE
AZ 5 OPEN Flake (R)
AZ 9 ADDED
AR 4 OPEN Ross (D)
CA 1 OPEN Herger (R)
CA 2 OPEN Woolsey (D)
CA 8 OPEN Lewis (R)
CA 21 HOLE
CA 26 OPEN Gallegly (R)
CA 29 HOLE
CA 41 HOLE
CA 47 HOLE
CA 51 OPEN Filner (D)
CT 5 OPEN Murphy (D)
FL 3 Lost primary Stearns (R)
FL 6 HOLE
FL 9 ADDED
FL 19 OPEN Mack (R)
FL 22 ADDED
GA 9 ADDED
HI 2 OPEN Hirono (D)
IL 12 OPEN Costello (D)
IL 13 OPEN Johnson (R)
IN 2 OPEN Donnelly (D)
IN 5 OPEN Pence (R)
IN 6 OPEN Burton (R)
KY 4 OPEN Davis (R) VAC
MA 4 OPEN Frank (D)
MI 5 OPEN Kildee (D)
MI 11 OPEN McCotter (R) VAC
MO 2 OPEN Akin (R)
MT/AL OPEN Rehberg (R)
NV 1 OPEN Berkley (D)
NV 4 ADDED
NJ 10 OPEN Payne (D) VAC
NM 1 OPEN Heinrich (D)
NY 6 OPEN Ackerman (D)
NY 8 OPEN Towns (D)
NC 9 OPEN Myrick (R)
NC 11 OPEN Shuler (D)
NC 13 OPEN Miller (D)
ND A/L OPEN Berg (R)
OH 2 Lost primary Schmitt (R)
OH 3 HOLE
OH 14 OPEN LaTourette (R)
OK 1 Lost primary Sullivan (R)
OK 2 OPEN Boren (D)
PA 4 OPEN Platts (R)
PA 17 Lost primary Holden (D)
SC 7 ADDED
TX 14 OPEN Paul (R)
TX 16 Lost primary Reyes (D)
TX 20 OPEN Gonzalez (D)
TX 25 ADDED
TX 33 ADDED
TX 34 ADDED
TX 36 ADDED
UT 2 ADDED
WA 1 OPEN Inslee (D) VAC
WA 6 OPEN Dicks (D)
WA 10 ADDED
WI 2 OPEN Baldwin (D)
Control of the U.S. Senate Remains Up In the Air
There are 33 U.S. Senate seats up in 2012 with 11 of those seats being an open seat contest (AZ, CT, AK, IN, ME, NE, NM, ND, TX, VA, & WI). At the start of this election cycle the conventional wisdom was that Republicans were in great position to capture the majority. To do so would require a net gain of four seats to get to 51 seats and thus clear control of the upper chamber. As time marched forward several events have made this task for Republicans much more difficult. Here are a few of the main hurdles that are hurting the GOP’s chances:
Clearly each side could wind up in the majority and the combination of victories in these ten states will decide if Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) will keep his title of Majority Leader or if he will be forced to hand that title over to a Republican. Stay tuned.
The deadline for Rep. Todd Akin to be removed from the Missouri ballot in his race for U.S. Senate, has now passed. Akin had until Sept. 25th to withdrawal from the race because Missouri’s absentee ballots became available Sept. 26th.
Nearly every political pundit or operative declared Akin’s chance of success as non-existent following his unfortunate remarks last August. But, polls show Sen. Claire McCaskill still vulnerable. Akin has garnered endorsements from U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint and former Presidential candidate Rick Santorum all within the last 24 hours.
Despite Akin’s comments, it should not be terribly surprising he’s still in the running at this point. Missouri has some deeply, socially conservative pockets, he won a very competitive primary, and it’s no secret that Akin is one of the most conservative members of Congress. Add to that Missourian’s disappointment of Pres. Obama and now Sen. Claire McCaskill and you still have a competitive race.
The situation puts many Republican leaders in D.C. in a tough spot after demanding Akin drop out of the race and refused to provide any monetary support. The question now remains whether Republicans will ignore (or conveniently forget) the comments Akin made and support his campaign for the larger effort of gaining a majority in the Senate.
Rep. Akin win Senate GOP nomination in Missouri
Rep. Clay defeats Rep. Carnahan in MO1
Rep. Peters defeats Rep. Clarke in MI14
Two longest serving members of the House advance
No surprises in Kansas, but state legislature poised to move right
Washington Gubernatorial race is one to watch
Where are the voters?
The Missouri GOP’s path to a November victory over incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) may have just become more difficult by nominating Rep. Todd Akin (R) over two other strong contenders. The first term Senator is one of the toughest campaigners around and has connected well in the past with voters not only around the two major metropolitan cores, but also in the more rural parts of the state. Of the three leading Republicans, Akin was clearly the most conservative of the group and polling showed he would be the weaker challenger against McCaskill. Despite this, Akin will be a slight favorite to move this Missouri Senate seat to the Republican column.
While Akin was not ignored in the primary (unlike Deb Fischer in Nebraska), much of the harder hitting messages were focused between John Brunner (R) and Sarah Steelman (R). Brunner is a successful businessman who spent over eight million of his own money in this contest. Steelman was endorsed by Sara Palin (R) and was strongly supported by trial lawyers for her past support as a state legislator. Akin was able to distance himself from Steelman in the area around his old congressional district by a two-to-one margin and outpaced Brunner in areas outside the major metro areas where Brunner ran a heavy TV ad campaign.
Results for the Missouri Senate GOP nomination (with 99.9% reporting):
Due to Missouri losing one congressional seat, Reps. Lacy Clay (D) and Russ Carnahan (D) were paired against each other after Carnahan was essentially the incumbent left without a district forcing him to make a difficult choice in where to run. As is typically the case in a member versus member contest, these two started out as longtime friends with deep family connections that turned sour during the primary. In the end, 70% of the old district remained with Clay in the new district and Clay cruised to an easy victory by a 63.2% to 33.9% margin. President Obama (D) won MO-01 by over 80%, making Clay an overwhelming favorite to win in November.
Of the six states with an incumbent running for re-election, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) may be the most vulnerable and will face off against Dave Spence, who won the GOP nomination in a four candidate field with nearly 60% of the vote. Missouri is competitive at the Presidential, Gubernatorial and U.S. Senate level and thus is a state to closely watch the rest of this cycle.
December 13, 1955 and January 3, 1965 mark the dates that Rep. John Dingell (D-MI12) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI13) began their service in the U.S. House respectively. The two longest serving members of the House easily survived their contests despite many rumblings following redistricting that they were now vulnerable. Both will be heavy favorites to return for another term.
In the other member versus member contest of the night, Rep. Gary Peters (D) defeated Rep. Hansen Clarke (D) by over 10,000 votes. Peters, who is white, will likely be joining Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN9) as the only white members of congress representing a majority black district (Detroit).
Following his short and unsuccessful presidential bid, Rep. Thad McCotter (R-MI11) committed one of the bigger “oops” moments this year when he failed to submit enough valid signatures to be placed on the ballot and was forced to drop out of his re-election race, thus creating an open seat that is potentially winnable by Democrats. The Democrat nominee will be physician Syed Taj (D) and the Republican nominee will be reindeer rancher Kerry Bentivolio (R). Bentivolio, supported by the Tea Party, defeated write-in candidate and state senator Nancy Cassis setting this matchup to be much more competitive than anyone would have imagined just a few weeks ago.
Normally the Senate contest deserves top billing, especially this election cycle when so much of the goal is to “fix” the Senate. Two-term incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) will face off against Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R), who won the GOP nomination with 54.2%. Hoekstra has been heavily criticized for running some of the most racially insensitive and offensive TV ads this cycle, thus alienating much of the necessary middle ground needed to be competitive in Michigan . Stabenow is favored to return for a third term.
Kansas is not competitive at the presidential level (McCain won with 57% in 2008), does not have a U.S. Senate seat up in 2012 and its state legislature is overwhelmingly Republican. All four of the House seats are held by Republicans and all four were uncontested in the primary with two members (Huelskamp in the 1st district and Yoder in the 3rd district) running unopposed in the fall.
However, there is always a story to be told on election night and Kansas has a good one. Kansas was the last state to complete redistricting as a result of a feud between moderate and conservative Republicans. With new lines and support from Gov. Sam Brownback (R), conservatives defeated a number of moderate Republicans and will likely have enough numbers in the next state legislature to move Kansas significantly to the political right. It also appears that the unofficial leader of the state’s moderates was defeated in his primary.
Washington is one of three states to hold a top two open primary where all the candidates, regardless of party, are placed on the ballot and the two candidates receiving the most votes advance to the General Election. California and Louisiana are the other two states with a similar process. Unlike California where a number of contests resulted in two members of the same party advancing to the General Election, all November races in Washington at the congressional and statewide levels will feature a Democrat versus a Republican.
Without question, the top contest in Washington is the open seat contest for Governor. In a state where the Republican brand is generally terrible, Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) is a good match to the average Washington voter and is seen as likable and is not out of touch on issues that Republicans often are in this state. Former Rep. Jay Inslee (D) advanced as well and with just over 51% of the ballots counted (the remaining will arrive by mail in the next few days) lead all nine candidates representing four parties with nearly 47%. In the cycle where there is only eleven gubernatorial contests, this race is one of the top ones to keep an eye on in November.
The congressional district that is most likely to be competitive in the fall is the open seat contest for the First District that Rep. Inslee stepped away from to run for Governor. Since Inslee resigned his seat, two elections will be held in WA1 – one to fill out the remaining term to the 112the Congress and the second for the election to the 113th Congress beginning in January. Essentially the winner gets a two month advantage on seniority for the next Congress. Both contests will feature previous candidate John Koster (R) against Suzan DelBene (D), who dropped considerable resources of her own to finance her primary campaign. On the ballot to serve in the 113th Congress, Koster was the only Republican and leads the way over six other candidates with 44%. In 2008, GOP candidate for Governor Dino Rossi won this district with 50.3% while Obama carried with 56.3%.
Nearly one-third (9 of 26) of the incumbents involved in these contests are serving in their first full term. Freshmen (or those in their first full term like Rep. Critz) are often easier targets in the redistricting process to end up with less favorable districts. They have less seniority, less power and often not as strong of relationships. Even though three of the nine incumbents are in states where the new lines are drawn by Independent Redistricting Commissions, do not be lulled into believing that “Independent” means blind to who the incumbents are and absent the partisan politics involved in playing cartographer that occurs when state legislatures draw the lines.
Another motive often at play by those drawing the lines is to eliminate incumbents who are not as well thought of as others in their delegation (OH-09) or force the retirement of someone who should step aside (IL-16). Redistricting is a game of power, control and self-interest for elected officials. For House members, it is often a game of self-preservation that results in many members hiring others to lobby on their behalf to protect their district lines and, therefore, their chances to stay in Congress. Can you think of any other issue where a member would hire outside help to show up at the statehouse?
Due to the new top two primary system in California, the incumbents paired against each other in CA-30 and CA-44 faced each other in the Primary Election where they were the top vote getters and thus advanced to face each other again in the General Election. Twice the fun, twice the pain. Louisiana holds their Primary Election on November 6 (the same date as the General Election in the other 49 states) and if no candidate crosses the 50% mark, they will hold a Runoff Election on December 1.
Here are the 13 incumbent versus incumbent pairings in 2012:
August will feature the four remaining incumbent versus incumbent primary contests before the November elections. While each one of these contests will likely headline the election on that date, the Arizona battle between Reps. Quayle (R) and Schweikert (R) may be the most competitive, expensive and watched battle on the entire list. The award for “being left without a chair” clearly goes to Rep. Carnahan (D) in MO-01 who was on the wrong side of a deal cut by Missouri State Senate Democrats to complete redistricting. We will cover each of these contests in future editions of Election Insights.
Click on the state to read previous Election Insights articles on primary races already conducted involving incumbent versus incumbent: California, Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
In 2012, there will be 11 states holding an election for Governor. Paying attention to these 11 winners will be important because odds are high that you will see future U.S. Senators, cabinet members and even names that will eventually appear on the ticket for president/vice-president.
In a few weeks I will go over the top gubernatorial contests this year and give you the likelihood that Republicans improve/Democrats gain on control of the highest state office (currently 29 Republican, 20 Democrat and 1 Independent).
States holding races for governor in 2012 – DE, IN, MO, MT, NH, NC, ND, UT, VT, WA and WV
Now that you are done shaking your head at the headline above, let me explain. Mitt Romney (R) has secured 52.8% of the delegates necessary to secure the Republican nomination while President Obama (D) has secured 50.5% of the delegates necessary to secure the Democrat nomination. All this points out is that to secure the nomination under the new rules of the game that it simply takes a lot longer, regardless if you are in a contested battle or an unopposed incumbent, to secure a party nomination for president. While the nomination for the president is clearly a given, the nomination for the Republicans is now a one person delegate count race for Romney.
Rick Santorum (R) scored a decisive victory in Louisiana last Saturday (49% to 27% for Romney), but the race for delegates was hardly effected following the 34th of 56 contests. This near insurmountable delegate lead for Romney is clear in the table below where Santorum needs to win over 70% of the remaining delegates to win the nomination and both Newt Gingrich (R) and Ron Paul (R) need well over 80%.
Estimated GOP delegate count:
Let’s take a look at some other interesting questions/issues to consider over the next few weeks as we are about to turn the calendar to April:
Freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R) defeated twenty year veteran Rep. Don Manzullo (R) in a primary battle that provided for some clear contrast in age and experience between the two incumbents by a 56% to 44% margin. Kinzinger is widely viewed as a young rising star in congress and the temperature of the race was turned up in recent days as various members in the Republican House leadership contributed to both candidates and raised the eyebrows of many in the GOP caucus.
His strong performance in this primary will only strengthen his solid reputation on the campaign trail. Following redistricting, the new IL-16 contained 44.1% of Manzullo’s old IL-16 compared to 30.9% of Kinzinger’s old IL-11 district. Predictably, the old part of each incumbent’s district went strongly for the familiar candidate, but in the 25% of the district that neither candidate ran in back in 2010, Kinzinger was able to win a commanding percentage to overcome Manzullo’s advantage of a larger starting base of familiar voters. Kinzinger is currently unopposed to win re-election in the general election.
In another high profile primary battle in Illinois, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D) faced a challenge that never materialized as competitive from former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D). Jackson won handily by a 71% to 29% margin in IL-2. Halvorson was defeated after serving just one term in 2010 by Kinzinger.
The IL-10 Democrat primary battle to face GOP incumbent Bob Dold also received considerable attention. Many organizations with more liberal leanings were backing Ilya Sheyman, who was unsuccessful against the candidate who was a better match to other Democrats in the district, Brad Schneider.
With Democrats firmly in control of the redistricting process in Illinois, several GOP freshmen will face much tougher battles in November. The likely gains made simply through redrawing lines will provide Democrats with more gains here than any other state. Reps. Walsh (IL-8), Dold (IL-10) and Schilling (IL17) all are sitting in new districts that President Obama won with at least 60% of the vote in 2008 while Reps. Kinzinger and Hultgren are in districts that Obama won.
Incumbents Bobby Rush (D-IL1), Dan Lipinski (D-IL3), Danny Davis (D-IL7), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL9), and Tim Johnson (R-IL13) all received more than two-thirds of the votes in their contested primaries.
Through the four states that have held congressional primaries, incumbents running against challenger candidates (and not other incumbents) have now won 41 of 42 contests (97.6%). Despite this high early re-election rate, the next Senate and House will have another large freshman class as a result of open seats created by retirements, redistricting and other factors. There will be at least 53 freshmen in the House and at least 10 more in the Senate when January rolls around. Here’s an early look at how the next freshman class compares to past elections:
With candidate filing not yet closed in several states and 46 states still to hold their primaries, the 2012 election is guaranteed to produce a larger class than the last redistricting cycle of 2002.
2012 congressional incumbent vs. incumbent matchups:
Democrat incumbents facing each other in the PRIMARY (7):
The action and battlegrounds are almost always in the states and redistricting is a perfect example of this. State Legislatures, Governors and Redistricting Commissions are drawing boundary lines and finding creative ways to pass their maps. A few more states (IN, MO and OK) have recently succeeded in this attempt while a couple have had bitter fights seeing the legislative process break down and fail to approve new maps (CO, MS and NV).
As I will point out in the comments regarding Louisiana below, keeping an eye on the Voting Rights Act (VRA) states when you have opposite party control converging for approval (Democrat White House/Department of Justice vs. states with Republican controlled redistricting process) could provide for some interesting fireworks. The VRA applies statewide in seven states that Republicans have complete control over the redistricting process (AK, AL, GA, LA, NC, SC, TX). Pay very close attention to Texas. The VRA applies to some counties or townships in two additional states that Republicans have complete control over the redistricting process (FL and MI).
Here are many of the top redistricting updates since my last update:
Current status on the congressional redistricting process:
Current status on the state legislative redistricting process
We expect the steady flow redistricting updates to continue as several states are deep in their legislative process, commissions are beginning their work and challenges are starting to emerge. We will continue to update you on the states we have already highlighted and will present new states in the coming weeks.
> Check out our maps detailing redistricting control in each state.
There is a time for politics and a time for governing. The time for politics is over the time for governing is upon us.