Skip links

Notes on state of pol

Sabato's Crystal Ball

Notes on the State of Politics: May 15, 2024

In Maryland, Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) comfortably defeated Rep. David Trone (D, MD-6). Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) appears on an easy path to the Senate, though there was a hotly-contested Republican primary to replace him. Gov. Phil Scott (R-VT) announced he'd run for a fifth term, and starts out a heavy favorite in his blue state.

J. Miles Coleman and Kyle Kondik

Notes on the State of Politics: Oct. 4, 2023

Dear Readers: This is the latest edition of Notes on the State of Politics, which features short updates on elections and politics. — The Editors The McCarthy fallout On one side of the Capitol yesterday, now-Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-CA) became the Senate’s newest member. Appointed to replace the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who died last week, Butler took office as Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) made good on his pledge to appoint a Black woman in the event Feinstein’s seat opened up. It remains to be seen if Butler will simply serve as a placeholder or actually run for the seat in her own right next year — the filing deadline is in early December, and the field already includes several big names. On most days, Butler’s historic appointment — she is only the third Black woman to serve in the chamber — may have been the main story on the Hill. But members of the House had other plans: The biggest story of the day actually involved one of Butler’s Bakersfield-area constituents. In a move that made history, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R, FL-1), who is perhaps best described as a nihilist conservative, put forward a motion to vacate the

J. Miles Coleman

Notes on the State of Politics: Sept. 26, 2023

Dear Readers: This is the latest edition of Notes on the State of Politics, which features short updates on elections and politics. — The Editors New Jersey Senate: Gold bars, cash in envelopes — and a primary challenge In 1999, then-former Gov. Edwin Edwards (D-LA), who had spent a not-insignificant chunk of his 16 years as governor in and out of court, quipped, “People say I’ve had brushes with the law. That’s not true. I’ve had brushes with overzealous prosecutors.” At the time, Edwards was being accused of taking part in a bribery scheme involving riverboat casino licenses — he was later found guilty and served nearly a decade in jail. At a press conference yesterday, it was New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez (D) who found himself in the hot seat. On Friday, the three-term senator, who is running for reelection next year, was indicted on federal corruption charges. During a search of his home, federal agents found roughly $500,000 in cash stuffed in envelopes along with gold bars and other luxury items that the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office alleges were bribes the senator took in exchange to help Egyptian interests. Menendez, like Edwards, is no stranger to the courtroom: A year before his

J. Miles Coleman

Notes on the State of Politics: Sept. 13, 2023

Dear Readers: This is the latest edition of Notes on the State of Politics, which features short updates on elections and politics. — The Editors Repeat candidates possible in key Senate races A few months ago, we noted that one theme in this cycle’s House races has been the presence of repeat candidates running in key races: candidates who were unsuccessful in the recent past taking another crack at running. Since then, that trend has held up. One example, from just earlier this week, came in North Carolina — Republican pastor Mark Harris announced his campaign to succeed Rep. Dan Bishop (R, NC-8), who is vacating his Piedmont-area House seat to run for state Attorney General. In 2018, Harris, as the GOP nominee in a competitive race, found his campaign at the center of a ballot fraud operation. After litigation, a rare “re-do” election took place the following year, which Bishop won. In any case, this got us thinking: the “repeat” dynamic is one that has hardly been confined to the House. Looking to next year’s Senate contests, several challengers across key states may be familiar to voters. Earlier this year, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) identified what he

Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

Notes on the State of Politics: Aug. 31, 2023

Dear Readers: Before we begin today, we wanted to share an offer from our friend Taegan Goddard, who runs Political Wire. Crystal Ball readers can get 20% off a site membership using this link. We highly recommend the site as a place to catch up on the latest political news. Today’s Crystal Ball features the latest edition of Notes on the State of Politics, with a couple of shorter items: Kyle Kondik argues that his home state of Ohio shouldn’t be looked at as a key presidential battleground despite what amounted to a big Democratic victory in a recent statewide ballot issue, and Carah Ong Whaley sounds an alarm about the threat that a newly-emerging campaign tool, Generative AI, poses amidst a campaign landscape already littered with disinformation. — The Editors Don’t expect Ohio to be a 2024 battleground In the aftermath of Ohio voters strongly rejecting an effort by state Republicans to make it harder for voters to amend the state constitution, there has been a little bit of buzz about Ohio potentially returning to the 2024 presidential battlefield. Back in 2016, I wrote a book about Ohio’s longstanding bellwether status titled The Bellwether. For decades prior to that

Kyle Kondik and Carah Ong Whaley

Notes on the State of Politics: July 13, 2023

Dear Readers: This is the latest edition of Notes on the State of Politics, which features short updates on elections and politics. Today, we’re taking a quick look at gubernatorial races in Washington and New Hampshire, as well as a flood of losing 2022 House candidates seeking redemption in 2024. — The Editors Table 1: Crystal Ball gubernatorial rating change Governor Old Rating New Rating WA Open (Inslee, D) Safe Democratic Likely Democratic Governors: Washington state and (possibly) New Hampshire getting more competitive? Last week, former Rep. Dave Reichert (R, WA-8) entered Washington state’s open-seat gubernatorial contest. Reichert, who represented the suburban Seattle 8th District for several terms, gives Republicans a strong name in a state that Joe Biden carried by a 58%-39% margin in 2020 and is expected to easily carry again. Under Washington state’s open primary system, all candidates run on the same primary ballot and the top two candidates, regardless of party, advance to a general election. With three-term Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee stepping aside, the two strongest candidates vying to replace him have been a pair of sitting statewide Democrats: state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and state Land Commissioner Hilary Franz. With Reichert in the race,

J. Miles Coleman and Kyle Kondik

Notes on the State of Politics: June 7, 2023

Dear Readers: This is the latest edition of Notes on the State of Politics, which features short updates on elections and politics. — The Editors New Hampshire and Democrats’ search for a gubernatorial target Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH) did something a little unusual for a Republican these days — he decided against launching a presidential campaign. This comes amidst a flood of other Republicans jumping into the presidential race over the past couple of weeks, including Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), former Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), former Vice President Mike Pence, and Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND). Sununu, a critic of former President Donald Trump, said that he will instead devote his presidential campaigning toward seeing that Trump loses the primary. The four-term governor has not indicated whether he plans to seek reelection to what would be a fifth, two-year term. Only Sununu and John Lynch, a Democrat who served from 2005 to 2013, have been elected to the governorship four times in modern history. Sununu’s decision looms large over the 2023-2024 gubernatorial battlefield. If Sununu, who posted clear victories in 2018, 2020, and 2022 after an initial 2-point win in 2016, runs again, he would start as a favorite, owing to his

Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

Notes on the State of Politics: May 2, 2023

Biden may pass on New Hampshire test While it would not rank that high on the all-time list of ways in which the Donald Trump experience did not correspond with history, Trump’s electoral performance in 2020 was unusual in that he lost reelection despite a very strong showing in his own party’s presidential primary process. Despite challenges from former Gov. William Weld (R-MA) and former Rep. Joe Walsh (R, IL-8), a pair of decently-credentialed although hardly big-name rivals, Trump dominated the primary season, winning in aggregate 94% of the votes cast. That included getting 84.4% of the vote in the New Hampshire primary, the traditional first-in-the-nation primary. As Table 1 makes clear, Trump’s Granite State showing looked a lot more like the performances turned in by incumbents who would be reelected later that election year than the showings of those who either declined to seek or lost reelection. Table 1: Incumbent presidential performance in New Hampshire primary, 1952-2020 Sources: CQ Press for results prior to 1972; New Hampshire Public Radio for results from 1972-present. Note that both Harry Truman in 1952 and Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 turned in weak performances in New Hampshire prior to their eventual decisions to retire, and that Gerald

Kyle Kondik

What to Watch for in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — In one of the biggest elections of the calendar year, a Democratic-aligned justice appears favored in next week’s Wisconsin state Supreme Court election. But that was also true in 2019, when a Republican-aligned justice pulled an upset. — Democrats often underperform in such races in Milwaukee, so that is a key place to watch. — Judicial voting patterns largely reflect voting in partisan races, but there are some key differences. Next week’s Wisconsin Supreme Court race Next week, Badger State voters will head to the polls to weigh in on what has been billed as the most important judicial election of the year. If Democratic-aligned Judge Janet Protasiewicz prevails, liberals will assume a 4-3 majority on the state’s highest court. If voters send Daniel Kelly, a former justice who is effectively the GOP nominee in the contest, back to the body, conservatives will retain control. From what we can tell, Protasiewicz is a favorite, although given the marginal nature of Wisconsin, we wouldn’t rule out a Kelly win. One indicator has been fundraising. Given the stakes, the race has been expensive: the two sides have combined to spend at least $26 million. Protasiewicz has

J. Miles Coleman

Notes on the State of Politics: March 1, 2023

Dear Readers: This is the latest edition of Notes on the State of Politics, which features short updates on elections and politics. — The Editors How likely is an Electoral College tie? The 2020 election came fairly close to ending in an Electoral College tie. While Joe Biden won the national popular vote by about 4.5 points, his margins in several key states were much narrower. Specifically, Biden’s 3 closest wins were by 11,779 votes (or .24 percentage points) in Georgia, 10,457 in Arizona (.31 points), and 20,682 (.63 points) in Wisconsin. Had these states voted for Donald Trump and everything else had been the same, the Electoral College would have produced a 269-269 tie, leaving both candidates short of the magic number of 270 electoral votes. If this ever happens, the U.S. House of Representatives would have to decide the election — we’ll have more about how this would work in tomorrow’s Crystal Ball. But before we do that, we wanted to look at whether there are plausible paths to 269-269 in 2024. Changes to the electoral vote allocations as a result of the 2020 census have altered the overall math slightly. Using the new allocation based on the 2020

Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

Notes on the State of Politics: February 22, 2023

Dear Readers: Tonight’s event with Bill Kristol and David Ramadan has been postponed, although we are hoping to reschedule it for some time in the spring. — The Editors KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — In Virginia, Democrats have held the Richmond-area 4th District with state Sen. Jennifer McClellan. Her nearly 50-point win represented a notable overperformance. — The most important judicial race of this year will be in the closely-divided state of Wisconsin, where control of the state Supreme Court is on the line. — In last night’s judicial primary, Democratic-aligned candidates took 54% of the two-way vote in Wisconsin. This could bode well for liberal judge Janet Protasiewicz, who will face conservative Daniel Kelly in April, although there have been surprises in past state Supreme Court elections. Last night’s Virginia and Wisconsin results Last night, in what was probably the most widely followed election night so far this year, Democrats overperformed in several special elections across the country. With the 2022 general election out of the way, last night almost seemed like a return to form: After the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in summer 2022, Democrats routinely overperformed President Joe Biden’s margins in a string of congressional elections

J. Miles Coleman

Notes on the State of Politics: Sept. 28, 2022

Dear Readers: This is the latest edition of Notes on the State of Politics, which features short updates on elections and politics. — The Editors Table 1: Crystal Ball gubernatorial rating changes Governor Old Rating New Rating Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) Leans Democratic Likely Democratic PA Open (Wolf, D) Leans Democratic Likely Democratic Michigan and Pennsylvania to Likely Democratic With just under 6 weeks to go until Election Day 2022, Democrats’ prospects of holding 2 Great Lakes region governorships are improving. We are moving the contests in Michigan and Pennsylvania from Leans Democratic to Likely Democratic — both races feature proven Democratic candidates running against controversial and underfunded Republicans. We’ll start in Pennsylvania, where the gap in candidate quality between the major-party nominees is one of the biggest of any statewide contest this cycle. With Gov. Tom Wolf (D-PA) term-limited, Democrats fielded, perhaps, their strongest possible nominee in state Attorney General Josh Shapiro. In 2016, Shapiro got enough crossover support from Donald Trump’s voters to hold the state’s open Attorney General contest for Democrats. In 2020, as Republicans flipped the state Auditor and Treasurer offices, Shapiro outperformed Joe Biden by a few points (Pennsylvania elects most of its statewide row officers in presidential years). In

J. Miles Coleman

Notes on the State of the Primaries: Sept. 21, 2022

Dear Readers: Please join us, virtually, for a couple of special Center for Politics events this week. Today (Wednesday, Sept. 21) from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Peter Prindiville, a non-resident fellow at the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, will discuss their new book, The Constitution in Jeopardy: An Unprecedented Effort to Rewrite Our Fundamental Law and What We Can Do About It. The discussion will be streamed here. On Friday, Sept. 23 from noon to 1:30 p.m., the Center for Politics will honor the service of U.S. Capitol Police Officers and D.C. Metropolitan Police Officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 with the presentation of the Center’s first annual “Defender of Democracy” awards. This year’s inaugural award recipients will be Private First Class Harry A. Dunn, Officer Caroline Edwards, Officer Michael Fanone, Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, Officer Eugene Goodman, Officer Daniel Hodges, Officer Howard Liebengood (posthumously), Officer Jeffrey Smith (posthumously), and Private First Class Brian Sicknick (posthumously). Following the ceremony, the officers and widows of the fallen officers will participate in a special panel discussion about the events of Jan. 6, 2021. The ceremony and discussion will be streamed here. With the 2022

J. Miles Coleman

Notes on the State of the Primaries: Sept. 14, 2022

Dear Readers: In the latest edition of our new “Politics is Everything” podcast, Crystal Ball Managing Editor Kyle Kondik talked to Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a Washington Post columnist, about the mixed signals in this year’s election and some of the advantages Republicans retain despite some recent setbacks. “Politics is Everything” is available on all major podcast platforms. This is the latest edition of Notes on the State of Politics, which features short updates on elections and politics. Tuesday night was the last regular primary night of the year, and we have updates on races in both New Hampshire and Rhode Island. — The Editors Table 1: Crystal Ball House rating change Member/District Old Rating New Rating Chris Pappas (D, NH-1) Toss-up Leans Democratic New England contests close out the 2022 primary season In recapping the final primary night of 2022, we’ll start with the state that also may host the final primary of 2023 (which could — gasp — be a presidential primary): New Hampshire. Granite State Republicans appear to have made life a little easier for first-term Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. Don Bolduc, a conservative retired general who cast himself as a pro-Donald Trump outsider

J. Miles Coleman

Notes on the State of Politics: Sept. 7, 2022

Dear Readers: This is the latest edition of Notes on the State of Politics, which features short updates on elections and politics. — The Editors Table 1: Crystal Ball House rating changes District Old Rating New Rating Mary Peltola (D, AK-AL) Safe Republican Toss-up MI-3 Open (Meijer, R) Toss-up Leans Democratic Kim Schrier (D, WA-8) Toss-up Leans Democratic Table 2: Crystal Ball Gubernatorial rating change Governor Old Rating New Rating MA Open (Baker, R) Likely Democratic Safe Democratic What’s going on in the House? With the football season getting underway and the political season producing some strange outcomes — a Democrat won a House race in Alaska, huh? — we are reminded of the famous clip of Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi: “What the hell’s going on out here?” Rep.-elect Mary Peltola’s (D, AK-AL) victory in Alaska’s ranked-choice special House election, which was finalized last week after an Aug. 16 election, has contributed to a fog of war that has descended over the House battlefield. The basics are still bad for Democrats: President Joe Biden’s (D) approval rating, perhaps the best catch-all of the political environment, is still stuck in the low 40s, albeit after having improved from the

Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman