Thursday, July 30, 2015

California Redistricting: What Could Have Happened

In late June of 2015, the marriage equality case was the Supreme Court case received the most attention. At the same time, the Supreme Court ruled that redistricting commissions (non elected people who are Democrats, Republicans and Independents) can draw redistricting maps. This works out well for Democrats because Republicans have recently drawn convoluted maps across the country including a map with 12-4 Republican districts in Ohio even though President Obama won Ohio in 2012. One district in Florida (drawn by Republicans) represents parts of Orlando and Jacksonville that are almost 200 miles away from each other. Also, if the Supreme Court ruled against the commission, Arizona which has a commission would have redrawn its map and given two seats to the Republicans. In California though, the Democrats would have had to do a mid decade redistricting.

My map shows what the Democrats could do if the Supreme Court ruled the commission unconstitutional and the Democrats performed mid decade redistricting. This map shores up many of their vulnerable incumbents who won close races in 2014. It is a 43-10 Democratic map. While the Democrats could try to draw a 45-8 map, that would cause them to create more convoluted lines and if "good Government groups" lobbied against a strong gerrymander, many Democrats  may decide to go for a map that does not have convoluted lines and mostly respects communities of interest while still increasing Democratic chances in four Republican held districts. Also, many Democratic incumbents will not want drastic changes in their district lines so I did not make major changes to Bay Area seats and many LA ones. I also followed the Voting Rights Act which requires districts to be drawn to elect Hispanic, African American and Asian representatives.

Overall, the map I drew aims to add four new Democratic seats without strongly violating communities of interest and having convoluted lines.

The current map is here and here

The current data is here:

Unless the district is listed below, there were no changes made.

New Map Data:

 (Northern California) 

New Data: (the new data is not as accurate for larger counties such as Los Angeles unless it is the 2008 election. Also, all percentages are based on the two party vote).

Sacramento Area: 

District 3: John Garamendi (D) Likely Democratic Purple
Political Data: (2012): Obama 56.5% (2008): Obama 57.1% (2010 Gubernatorial): Brown 54.4%
Demographics 18+: W 54%, AA 6%, Asian 11%, H 24%

The 3rd district becomes a point more Democratic by losing all of Sacramento County and gaining part of Democratic leaning West Sacramento. Garamendi has successfully held this district in 2014 and should continue to represent it.

District 6 Doris Matsui (D) Safe Democratic Teal
Political Data: (2012): Obama 62.9% (2008) Obama 62.9% (2010 Gubernatorial): Brown 63.3%
Demographics 18+: W 54%, AA 9%, Asian 12%, H 20%

The 6th district increases from 30% R to 37% R by adding the Citrus Heights area but remains safely Democratic.

District 7 Ami Bera (D) Likely Democratic Grey
Political Data: (2012): Obama 57.4% (2008): Obama 57.3%, (2010 Gubernatorial): Brown 56.9%
Demographics 18+: W 51%, AA 10%, Asian 18%, H 16%

The 7th district becomes more Democratic by removing the Citrus Heights area and adding southern Sacramento. The 2008 Obama percentage increases from 52.7% to 57.3%, meaning Rep. Bera would have won by nine points in 2014. With the higher Democratic percentages, after 2016, the 7th district will no longer hold the title of the district with the most expensive congressional race.

Central California

District 10 Jeff Denham (R) Safe Republican Pink
Political Data: (2012): Obama 43.4%, (2008): Obama 43.1%, (2010 Gubernatorial): Brown 37.8%
Demographics 18+: W 60%, AA 3%, Asian 12%, Hispanic 27%

The 10th district becomes more Republican at it loses  Democratic parts of Stanislaus County (Modesto) and gains heavily  Republican parts of Merced, Madera and Fresno Counties (including Clovis). Denham will have no trouble here.


District 16 Jim Costa (D) Likely Democratic Green
Political Data: (2012): Obama 61.2% (2008): Obama 60.9% (2010 Gubernatorial): Brown 56.2%
Demographics 18+: W 35%, AA 4%, H 52%, Asian 7%

The 16th district undergoes major changes. It loses all of Fresno, parts of Merced County and gains Democratic leaning Tracy in San Joaquin County, Democratic leaning parts of Stanislaus County, Gilroy in Santa Clara County, San Benito County and heavily Hispanic parts of Monterey County. The 16th district is rated as "Likely Democratic" because Costa had a close race in a similar district in 2014 but the addition of Tracy (it has higher turnout) and Monterey County should  help protect Costa. Also, there is a chance State Sen. Anthony Cannella (R) who represents a district with similar lines may run but the district he represents is more Republican, making  the 16th district easier for Democrats to win.

Sidenote: Merced County is split under this map and Section 5 of the VRA prevents that but in 2013, Section 5 was found unconstitutional so I chose to split Merced County.


District 20 Sam Farr (D) Safe Democratic Pink
Political Data: (2012) Obama 70.0%, (2008): Obama 70.4%, (2010 Gubernatorial): Brown 64.9%
Demographics 18+: W 47%, AA 3%, H 41%, Asian 6%

The 20th district undergoes a major change as it loses some heavily Hispanic parts of the Salinas Valley to the 16th district which has similar lines to SD-12. The 20th district then gains heavily Republican Kings County but remains strongly Democratic.

District 21 David Valadao (R) Tilt Democratic Dark Brown
Political Data: (2012) Obama 55.0%, (2008): Obama 54.8%, (2010 Gubernatorial): Brown 53.4%
Demographics 18+: W 22%, AA 5%, H 67%, Asian 4%

The current 21st district voted for President Obama but is represented by a Republican because the Republican has a strong base in Kings County which has high turnout. Also, many of the rural Hispanic voters (especially in Fresno County) are swing voters. The Kern County part votes strongly Democratic however. The new 21st district removes all of Kings and western Fresno Counties and instead adds heavily Hispanic parts of Tulare county where Rep. Valadao does not have a base. Without his base in the district, Valadao may attract a strong challenger such as Assm. Salas who represents Democratic parts of Kern County. Also, the real Obama 2012 percentage is probably close to 57% due to the heavily Hispanic parts of the Central Valley swinging further to Obama than the rest of the counties it represents did.

District 22 Kevin McCarthy (R) vs. Devin Nunes (R) Safe Republican Brown
Political Data: (2012) Obama 35.4%, (2008): Obama 35.4%, (2010 Gubernatorial): Obama 34.0%
Demographics 18+ W 62%, AA 3%, H 28%, Asian 4%

The 22nd district gains heavily Republican parts of San Luis Obispo County and parts of Tulare County. By being the Majority Leader, McCarthy should be safe from a primary challenge from Rep. Nunes. Nunes may run in the 21st district but probably would lose to Valadao in a primary.


District 23 Open Likely Democratic
Political Data: (2012) Obama 59.5% (2008) Obama 59.8%, (2010 Gubernatorial): Brown 55.3%
Demographics 18+: W 28%, AA 6%, H 55%, Asian 9%

This new district represents heavily Hispanic parts of Fresno (city) as well as western Fresno County. With the strong anchor of Fresno City and more straight ticket urban Democrats, Democrats should be extremely favored here. If Rep. Costa stays in the 16th, Assm. Perea or Assembly candidate Arambula may consider this seat.


Southern California: 

District 24 Open Likely Democratic Dark Purple
Political Data: (2012) Obama 58.3%, (2008) Obama 60.6%, (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 52.7%
Demographics 18+: W 62%, A 2%, H 30%, Asian 5%

The 24th district loses Republican parts of San Luis Obispo County and gains Ventura in Ventura County, increasing the Democratic percentage by a few points. With a competitive congressional race brewing here, this change should make the district much more Democratic.

District 25 Steve Knight (R) Likely Democratic Tan/Pink
Political Data: (2008) Obama 56.7%, (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 50.3%
Demographics 18+: W 49%, AA 9%, H 32%, Asian 8%

The 25th district loses heavily Republican Simi Valley and Santa Clarita and instead traverses the San Gabriel Mountains and gains Burbank and part of Glendale. This area has high turnout even during midterms and I find it hard to see Burbank/Glendale voters ticket splitting for Knight, an Antelope Valley Republican.

LA Metropolitan Area

District 26 Julia Brownley (D) Likely Democratic
Political Data: (2008) Obama 57.7% (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 49.5%
Demographics 18+: W 48%, AA 2%, H 39%, Asian 8%

The 26th district's partisanship stays stable as it loses Thousand Oaks and gains Simi Valley and Democratic leaning parts of the San Fernando Valley west of the 22. Brownley may want more Democratic votes but she won in 2014, a horrible year for Democrats against the Republican "dream" candidate. The district will only continue to trend Democratic as the Hispanic population increases. Brownley can continue to send her weekly fundraising emails.

District 28 Adam Schiff (D) Safe Democratic Pink Gray (representing Beverly Hills)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 75.6% (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 70.6%
Demographics 18+: W 60%, AA 3%, H 20%, Asian 14%

The 28th district loses most of Burbank/Glendale and goes as far west as the 405 in the Westside. Schiff should be safe from a primary challenge but when he retires, I expect a major Westside battle for this seat.

District 29 Tony Cardenas (D) Safe Democratic Green/Gray (representing San Fernando Valley)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 75.9% (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 72.6%
Demographics 18+: W 22%, AA 4%, H 63%, Asian 9%

A few minor changes. None of them should affect Cardenas.

District 30 Brad Sherman (D) Safe Democratic Orange/Pink (representing San Fernando Valley)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 62.9%, (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 55.1%
Demographics 18+: W 55%, AA 4%, H 26%, Asian 13%

Sherman helps the team out by gaining Republican leaning Santa Clarita. Sherman however should be safe with his San Fernando Valley base anchoring his district.

District 31 Pete Aguilar (D) Likely Democratic Light Yellow (representing San Bernardino)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 58.3%, (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 54.4%
Demographics 18+: W 34%, AA 11%, H 46%, Asian 8%

The 31st district mostly remains the same. It still leans Democratic and should continue to trend Democratic as the Hispanic population grows. Aguilar won here in 2014 so as long as two Republicans and another Democrat challenge him at the same time, he should be safe.

LA County 
District 33 Ted Lieu (D) Safe Democratic (Blue, representing LA Coast)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 63.0%, (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 53.8%
Demographics 18+: W 73%, AA 3%, H 11%, Asian 11%

If one Democrat is not happy with the map, Lieu might be that Democrat. The 33rd district loses all of the Westisde east of the 405 and gains Thousand Oaks which narrowly leans Republican. At the same time, the 33rd district gains all of Westchester. Seeing how Lieu won by 16 points in 2014, a Republican year, he should be safe but may have to campaign a little bit in Republican years.

District 35 Norma Torres (D) Safe Democratic Purple (representing San Bernardino County)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 65.9%, (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 62.9%
Demographics 18+: W 20%, AA 7%, H 64%, Asian 8%

Besides a few minor changes, the district remains similar. Torres should be safe.

District 36 Raul Ruiz (D) Likely Democratic Orange (representing Riverside County)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 53.8%, (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 48.8%
Demographics 18+: W 48%, AA 5%, H 41%, Asian 4%

Ruiz's district becomes two points more Democratic as it loses part of Hemet and gains part of Moreno Valley. I decided not to trade more of Hemet and Moreno Valley in order to prevent the 41st from being too convoluted. Anyway, Ruiz won by 8 points in 2014, a Republican year against a strong candidate (Assm. Nestande) showing that Ruiz is popular. Also, Brown in 2014 overperformed Obama in 2012, the only district where he did so in the Inland Empire, showing the 36th is trending Democratic very quickly.

District 37 Karen Bass (D) Safe Democratic Light Blue (representing Central LA)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 87.2%, (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 84.1%
Demographics 18+: W 26%, AA 26%, H 35%, Asian 10%

There are a few small changes but Bass's district remains one of the most Democratic in California and the country.

District 38 Linda Sanchez (D) Safe Democratic Turquoise (representing southeast LA County)
Political Data (2008) Obama 63.3% (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 60.6%
Demographics 18+: W 22%, AA 3%, H 57%, Asian 17%

The 38th district gains heavily Hispanic precincts in La Habra and a few near Long Beach. Otherwise, it does not change and remains heavily Hispanic and Democratic.

Orange County/Inland Empire
District 39 Ed Royce (R) Safe Republican Light Tan (representing Orange County)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 44.2%, (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 34.2%
Demographics 18+: W 54%, AA 2%, H 18%, Asian 23%

The 39th district becomes more Republican. It loses Democratic leaning Buena Park and southern Fullerton. It gains heavily Republican parts of southern Orange County. Royce should not have major problems.

District 41 Mark Takano (D) Safe Democratic Grey (representing Inland Empire)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 58.5%, (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 54.6%
Demographics 18+: W 33%, AA 8%, H 50%, Asian 7%

The 41st district becomes a point more Republican as it loses part of Moreno Valley to the 36th but the 58.5% Obama number should be enough to protect Takano.

District  42 Ken Calvert (R) Safe Republican Green (representing Inland Empire)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 43.9%, (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 37.5%
Demographics 18+: W 53%, AA 5%, H 30%, Asian 9%

The 42nd district gains part of Hemet and loses heavily Hispanic parts of Corona. It remains Republican by representing conservative parts of southern Riverside County.

District 43 Maxine Waters (D) Safe Democratic Light Pink (representing South LA area)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 75.6%, (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 71.8%
Demographics 18+: W 17%, AA 23%, H 42%, Asian 15%

The 43rd district gains a few Republican leaning precincts in Torrance to strengthen the 33rd but remains strongly Democratic.

District 44 Open (Nanette Barragan (D) vs. Isadore Hall (D)) Safe Democratic Dark Pink (representing Compton)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 81.7% (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 80.3%
Demographics 18+: W 11%, AA 17%, H  63%, Asian 7%

The 44th district becomes a point more Republican by gaining marginal precincts in Long Beach to shore up the 47th district.

District 45 John Campbell (R)? Leans Democratic Light Blue (representing Orange County)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 56.6% (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 46.1%
Demographics 18+: W 45%, AA 2%, H 30%, Asian 21%

The 45th district is the 2nd Democratic district in Orange County. It is a combination of Rohrabacher and Campbell's seats. It represents half of heavily Hispanic Santa Ana, Democratic leaning parts of Costa Mesa, Democratic leaning Irvine and Laguna Beach. Some may argue that this seat leans Republican due to Brown receiving 46% here in 2010. Part of that can be attributed to Whitman performing extremely well with high income voters (it is unknown but likely that Brown won this district in 2014). The major ticket splitters in Orange County are the Vietnamese voters mainly located in Garden Grove and Westminister  which are in the Republican 48th district. The Asian voters in Irvine and the  Hispanic voters in Santa Ana are less likely to ticket split, therefore preventing a scenario similar to SD-34 where the Vietnamese voters overwhelmingly supported Janet Nguyen (R) even though many of them backed President Obama in 2012 as shown by data from Garden Grove, a heavily Vietnamese community in SD-34 but not in the 45th district. Former Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang could be a strong fit for this district. Also, with Democrats winning narrowly Democratic leaning districts with high  numbers of upscale White voters in CA-26 and CA-52, it shows that these voters who voted Republican in the early 2000s are open to voting for Democrats on a congressional as well as Presidential level.

District 46 Open Safe Democratic Brown (representing Central Orange County)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 58.7% (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 53.6%
Demographics 18+ W 25%, AA 2%, H 56%, Asian 15%

The 46th district becomes more Republican as it loses part of heavily Democratic Santa Ana and gains less Democratic southern Fullerton and Buena Park. While Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D) may not run for House because she is running for Senate (even after he "wha wha wha wha" moment where she "mimicked" Native Americans). Lou Correa (D) has expressed interest in this seat. The 15% Asian population is primarily Vietnamese but it is not large enough to make an impact even with ticket splitting as the 2010 race showed.

District 47 Alan Lowenthal (D) Likely Democratic Light Grey (representing Long Beach)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 58.9% (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 49.8%
Demographics 18+: W 50%, AA 8%, H 26%, Asian 13%

The 47th district loses Garden Grove and gains most of Huntington and Newport Beaches which are Republican. At  the same time, the 47th district gains some heavily Hispanic areas in western Long Beach. The Orange County portion of the district is Republican but the addition of the Hispanic precincts in Long Beach should help counterbalance it. Also, Lowenthal won the 47th district in 2014 by 12 points, showing he can win this district even in a Republican year.

District 48 Vacant Dana Rohrabacher (R)? Safe Republican Orange/Brown (representing Orange County)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 45.9% (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 39.9%
Demographics 18+: W 42%,  AA 2%, H 23%, Asian 31%

Do not be fooled by the high percentage of minorities in the 48th district. This district is solidly Republican by combining heavily Republican parts of Fullerton with heavily Republican parts of Huntington Beach and heavily Vietnamese Garden Grove. Rohrabacher would probably prefer to run here instead of the 47th which has much of his current territory. The 48th district is much more Republican than the 47th and does not have an incumbent.

District 49 Darrell Issa (R) Safe Republican Brown (representing North County)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 47.6%, (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 37.6%
Demographics 18+: W 65%, AA 3%, H 22%, Asian 8%

Issa's district becomes a few points more Republican. The former car thief will be safe.

San Diego:

District 50 Duncan Hunter Jr. (R) Safe Republican (light blue)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 40.3%,(2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 33.7%
Demographics 18+: W 63%, AA 2%, H 26%, Asian 6%

A few minor tweaks but the district remains one of the most Republican in California.

District 51 Juan Vargas (D) Safe Democratic (brown)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 65.1%, (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 62.0%
Demographics 18+: W 20%, AA 7%, H 62%, Asian 9%

A few tweaks here too. The district remains heavily Hispanic and Democratic.

District 52 Scott Peters (D) Safe Democratic (green)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 60.8%, (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 50.3%
Demographics 18+: W 65%, AA 3%, H 12%, Asian 17%

The 52nd district becomes more Democratic as it loses Republican leaning areas in northern San Diego and gains neighborhoods near Downtown. These changes would meant that Peters would have won in 2014 by double digits. He should be fine with the 60.8% Obama numbers and this should deter major Republican challengers.

District 53 Susan Davis (D) Safe Democratic (white)
Political Data: (2008) Obama 61.6% (2010 Gubernatorial) Brown 55.5%
Demographics 18+: W 46%, AA 8%, H 29%, Asian 14%

The district becomes a few points more Republican but should remain strongly Democratic and safe for Rep. Davis.




Friday, July 17, 2015

Florida Redistricting from the Democratic Perspective

Earlier in July, Democrats got exciting news! The Florida congressional map the Republicans drew was ruled unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court, meaning that the legislature would have to redraw the districts. The specific districts are the 5th, 10th, 13th, 14th, 20-22 and 25-27. The 5th district needs to be redrawn because it has a tendril from Jacksonville traveling nearly 200 miles south to Orlando. The 14th and 13th district because the 14th represents Tampa but goes into Pinellas County to keep heavily African American areas out of the swing 13th district. 20-22 because of how Hendry County (rural southern Florida) is split and how 21-22 need to be north/south instead of east/west. 25 because of Hendry County, 26-27 because the city of Homestead should not be split. In 2010, 63% of Florida's voters passed the "Fair Districts Amendment" that would force the legislature to not consider partisanship when redrawing lines. They should have passed a measure similar to California's where they have a commission with Democrats and Republicans who need to draw a map together. That would  prevent any underlying partisan agenda. The 2012 map had that though as shown by packing Democrats into the 5th and 14th districts but my redraw will attempt to redraw the map fairly and represent communities of interest (communities with similar issues, demographics and proximity) as much as possible. This is similar to the California model which has compact districts following the VRA, representing communities of interest and having many competitive districts.

I know this map is hypothetical because as history shows, Republicans will try to prevent Democratic gains in Florida as much as possible. This map though is what the Democrats should propose as a map that follows all the rules of the Florida Supreme Court's requirements and is not a gerrymander (I will post a Florida gerrymander soon but that is an entirely different diary and much more hypothetical). 

Florida's current map (before the changes): https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/FL

The map: (with Gainesville in 5th district)

Data (with Gainesville in 5th distict)




(all data on this map is either from Dave's Redistricting App or from Stephen Wolf, an editor for Daily Kos Elections). 

Notes: the 2012 Presidential data was calculated by county and trends were extrapolated from 2008 data so the 2012 data may not be 100% accurate for large counties such as Miami Dade. 

Florida's 1st District: Jeff Miller (R) Safe R (blue)
No change, moving along now. Democrats will win Utah before they win this district.

(with Gainesville option)

The Gainesville option is when the 5th district is redrawn "east to west" by combining Gainesville which is the west and creating an African American 18+ that is higher than 50% of the district's Democratic vote to give them a majority in the primary. Gainesville is west but it is also south (the Supreme Court asked the legislature to not draw south) but Gainesville is closer to Jacksonville, is more of a community of interest and a district combining both would be more compact. At the same time, the court may require a district to Tallahassee in order to ensure that an African American is elected to the House.

Florida's 2nd District Gwen Graham (D) Tilt Democratic (Green)

(18+ population) 68% W, 24% AA, 5% H
Obama 47.8%, McCain 52.2%
Obama 47.3%, Romney 52.7%

Graham will undoubtedly face a tough race in this district that President Obama lost both times. I expect a vary narrow win for her however due to how she was able to win this district in 2014 when Democrats across the country were losing. She was one of the two Democrats to defeat a Republican incumbent in 2014.


Florida's 3rd District Ted Yoho (R) Safe Republican

(18+ population) 785 W, 13% AA, 6% H
Obama 33.4%, McCain 66.6%
Obama 32.1%, Romney 67.9%

Undoubtedly one of the biggest winners here, Yoho maintains most of his current district and remains safe from any Democratic challenge and most likely safe from a primary challenge.


Florida's 4th District Ander Crenshaw (R) Safe Republican

18+ population 81% W, 9% AA, 6% H
Obama 34.7%, McCain 65.3%
Obama 32.9%, Romney 67.1%

Still heavily Republican, still representing suburban Jacksonville. Crenshaw should have no worries.


Florida' 5th District Corrine Brown (D) Safe Democratic

(18+ population) 53% W, 33% AA, 8% H
Obama 62.7%, McCain 37.3%
Obama 61.3%, Romney 38.7%

This district represents parts of Jacksonville and Gainesville with high African American populations. The change in district territory may prompt a primary challenger. Without having run a competitive race in nearly 20 years and only $22,000 in the bank account, Brown is in a tight spot. The district though will likely have an African American majority in the Democratic primary which may be what the commission requires to elect an African American Democrat.


Florida's 11th District Rich Nugent (R) Safe Republican

(18+ population) 84% W, 6% AA, 8% H
Obama 43.4%, McCain 56.6%
Obama 40.4%, Romney 59.6%

(without Gainesville option)



Data (without Gainesville option)



Florida's 2nd District: Vacant (Ted Yoho (R)?) Safe R
(18+ population) W 80%, AA 12%, H 4%
Obama 34.1%, McCain 65.9%
Obama 33.4%, Romney 66.6%

The 2nd district becomes more Republican with the removal of Tallahassee and the addition of Republican rural counties in the central northern part of Florida. While these counties may be less Republican downballot, long gone are the days when Democrats could win a 34% Obama district. Gwen Graham (D) is the incumbent but she will not run here without her Tallahassee base. A Republican will succeed her. 

+1 Republican. 

Florida's 3rd District: Ted Yoho (R)? Safe R
(18+ population) W 72%, AA 14%, H 8%
Obama 45.1%, McCain 54.9%
Obama 42.5%, Romney 57.5%

The 3rd district drops from 61% to 57% Romney with the addition of all of heavily Democratic Gainesville. At the same time, the district represents heavily Republican Jacksonville suburbs in Clay and St. Johns County with no history of electing Democrats. Rep. Yoho can say "yahoo" because he is not losing to a Democrat in this 57% Romney district (but he should watch out for a primary). 

Florida's 4th District Ander Crenshaw (R) Safe R
(18+ population) W 78%, AA 10%, H 6%
Obama 36.1%, McCain 63.9%
Obama 34.6%, Romney 65.4%

The 4th district loses heavily Republican precincts in Clay County and exchanges them for more heavily Republican precincts in St. Johns County (and a few Democratic precincts in St. Augustine). While I feel bad for my Democratic relatives in St. Augustine, this district will remain safely Republican. 

Florida's 5th District Gwen Graham (D) vs. Corrine Brown (D) Tossup between two Democrats
(18+ population) W 47.2% AA 42.4% H 6.0%
Obama 64.5%, McCain 35.5%
Obama 63.9%, Romney 36.1%

While an ideal Democratic proposal would not link Tallahassee and Jacksonville, the court's decision required "east to west" so if the Democrats chose that interpretation, they would draw this district. The new 5th district loses the snake to Orlando and Gainesville and instead gains a snake through some rural counties to Tallahassee. It is impossible to draw an African American pluarity seat so I opted for a minority majority seat. Rep. Brown represents Jacksonville and Rep. Graham represents Tallahassee and they will likely primary each other. Brown has fought against dismantling her gerrymandered district and netting an extra Democratic seat in Orlando. Also, Graham could run for Governor in 2018 and she won a swing district in 2014, the worst possible year for Democrats showing she has the skills to win statewide. So I am obviously supporting Graham. Most of the Democratic primary (roughly 60%-66%) should be African American, potentially making it difficult for Graham but Brown has only raised $22,000 and Graham won a difficult race in 2014 (Brown has not won a competitive race in over 20 years) so Graham has a chance. Furthermore, another African American candidate could see Brown's weakness and run, creating an easier path for Graham. 

Florida's 6th District Vacant Tossup/Tilt Democratic
(18+ population) W 76%, AA 11%, H 10%
Obama 53.2%, McCain 46.8%
Obama 49.9%, Romney 50.1%

The 6th district loses heavily Republican Putnam and St. Johns Counties and gains Democratic leaning Deltona in Volusia County and Democratic Sanford in Seminole County. These changes bring Romney's margin from 16.4% to 0.2%, making it the closest district in Florida in the 2012 Presidential election. Both Flagler and Volusia Counties in the district are swing counties, supporting Obama in 2008 narrowly and Romney in 2012 narrowly. The district also better represents communities of interest because the old district combined Jacksonville suburbs with Daytona Beach nearly 100 miles away while the new one combines Orlando suburbs only 30 miles away from Daytona. The representative for the old 6th district (58% Romney) is freshman Ron DeSantis (R) who is running for Senate. A potential Democratic candidate for the 6th district is young Daytona Beach mayor Derrick Henry (D) who represents the largest city in the district and the center of Volusia County, one of the closest counties in Florida. The Republicans may nominate one of the many legislators from Flagler and Volusia Counties. Expect both parties to heavily invest in this district. In the end, I expect a very narrow Democratic win because it will be a Presidential year and the Democrats won 48% of the House vote here in 2012 even though neither district was contested by Democrats. This district could flip in 2018.

+0 Democrats (1 Gainesville)



Tampa/Orlando

Florida's 7th District John Mica (R) Safe Republican
(18+ population) W 73%, AA 8%, H 14%
Obama 45.8%, McCain 54.2%
Obama 44.2%, Romney 55.8%

Rep. Mica's district trades Democratic Sanford for Republican Lake County. Life is good for him, 

Florida's 8th District Bill Posey (R) Safe Republican
No change. 

Florida's 9th District Vacant (Darren Soto (D)?) 
W 44%, AA 9%, H 41%
Obama 60.5%, McCain 39.5%
Obama 61.7%, Romney 38.3%
With current Rep. Alan Grayson (D) running for Senate and making life harder for fellow Senate candidate Rep. Patrick Murphy (D), there will be a primary here. Soto as a legislator who ran previously has a strong shot. 

Florida 10th District Rep. Daniel Webster (R) vs. Val Demmings (D)?) Safe Democratic
(18+ population) 51% W, 24% AA, 18% Hispanic
Obama 59.6%, McCain 40.4%
Obama 59.4%, Romney 40.6%

The new 10th district unites the heavily African American neighborhoods in Orlando with nearby Orange County neighborhoods instead of Jacksonville neighborhoods more than 100 miles away from Orlando. As a result, the 10th now voted 59% for Obama. Rep. Webster can either run here and get demolished by 2012 candidate and former Orlando Police Chief Val Demmings (D) (she lost by 4 points in 2012 in Webster's 54-46 Romney district, running ahead of President Obama showing she is a strong candidate) or Webster can run in the 7th which contains a small percentage of his current district and get demolished by the entrenched Rep, Mica. Life is not good for Webster. 

+1 Democrats (2 Gainesville)

Florida's 11th District Rich Nugent (R) Safe Republican
(18+ population) W 86%, AA 5%, H 7%
Obama 42.5%, McCain 57.5%
Obama 39.6%, Romney 60.4%

Other than a few adjustments in Republican Marion County, the 11th does not change. It remains safely Republican. 

Florida's 12th District Gus Bilrakis (R) Safe Republican
(18+ population) W 83%, AA 3%, H 9%
Obama 47.9%, McCain 52.1%
Obama 46.6%, Romney 53.4%

Other than a few minor adjustments in southern Pinellas and easternn Pasco Counties, the district does not change and remains heavily Republican downballot. 

Florida's 13th District Vacant Likely Democratic
(18+ population) W 78%, AA 11%, H 7%
Obama 56.3%, McCain 43.7%
Obama 55.0%, Romney 45.0%

Originally, the old 13th District voted for President Obama by 2 points in 2012 and represented all of southern Pinellas County except for some heavily African American neighborhoods in St. Petersburg which were placed in the 14th district representing Hillsborough. This violated communities of interest and partisan intent so the 13th gained the heavily African American neighborhoods. Rep. David Jolly (R) bailed and is running in the Republican Senate primary which seems to get new candidates each minute. Former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) suggested he may run for the 13th. He won Pinellas County by 11 points in his 2014 Gubernatorial bid so he has a strong chance to win. 

+1 Democrats

Florida's 14th District Kathy Castor (D) Safe Democratic 
(18+ population) 49% W, 19% AA, 26% Hispanic
Obama 61.7%, McCain 38.3%
Obama 61.5%, Romney 38.5%

The district is entirely within Hillsborough County,  representing communities of interest with Tampa and its close in suburbs. The 14th remains safely Democratic. 

Florida's 15th District Dennis Ross (R) Safe Republican
18+ population 71% W, 12% AA, 14% H
Obama 44.4%, McCain 55.6%
Obama 44.1%, Romney 55.9%

The district makes a few small adjustments but remains Republican and safe for Ross. 

Florida's 16th District Vern Buchanan (R) Safe Republican 
18+ population 80% W, 6% AA, 12% H
Obama 48.5%, McCain 51.5%
Obama 45.7%, Romney 54.3%

The district extends into Hillsborough County in order to prevent the 17th District from violating communities of interest and representing part of Hillsborough County. The district shifts 0.5% more Democratic and while the district saw competitive races in the late 2000s, Buchanan appears entrenched and should be safe. 

Florida's 17th District Tom Rooney (R) Safe Republican
18+ population 76% W, 7% AA, 14% H
Obama 44.3%, McCain 55.7%
Obama 41.9%, Romney 58.1%

The district swaps rural Hendry County for part of coastal Lee County and remains strongly Republican. 

Florida's 18th District Vacant Tossup
No Change

This district voted narrowly for Romney in 2012 and narrowly for President Obama in 2008. Rep. Murphy (D) won here in 2014 by 20 points however showing that voters here will side with a Democrat who brings the right message. The race is still developing.

South Florida



Florida's 19th District Curt Clawson (R) Safe Republican
18+ population 78% W, 6% AA, 14% H
Obama 43.3%, McCain 56.7%
Obama 40.0%, Romney 60.0%

Very minor changes here. The 19th lost a few Collier County precincts and gained a few in Lee. It still remains heavily Republican. 

Florida's  20th District Alcee Hastings (D) Safe Democratic
18+ population 30% W, 47% AA, 19% H
Obama 81.5%, McCain 18.5%
Obama 80.9%, Romney 19.1%

A few small changes but still remains majority African American and heavily Democratic. Moving along...


Florida's 21st District Ted Deutch (D)? Safe Democratic

18+ population W 68%, AA 10%, H 17%
Obama 58.4%, McCain 41.6%
Obama 58.0%, Romney 42.0%

The district loses all of Broward County and gains Palm Beach coastline, becoming a few points more Republican but remains Democratic.


Florida's 22nd District Lois Frankel (D)? Safe Democratic

18+ population W 68%, AA 10%, H 18%
Obama 62.7%, McCain 37.3%
Obama 59.3%, Romney 40.7%

This district gains the more Jewish parts of Broward County. It remains strongly Democratic.


Florida's 23rd District Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) Safe Democratic

No changes.

Florida's 24th District Frederica Wilson (D) Safe Democratic

No changes, Frederica Wilson will continue to delight the capitol with her hats.


South Florida zoomed in


Florida's 25th District Mario Diaz Barlet (R) Safe Republican

18+ population W 24%, AA 5%, H 68%
Obama 43.6%, McCain 56.4%
Obama 44.5%, Romney 55.5%
There are very minor changes as it loses Hendry County for VRA reasons. The Democrats will not dismantle the string to heavily Republican Collier County in order to keep swingy FL-18 within Palm Beach County.

Florida's 26th District Carlos Cueblo (R) Lean Democratic

18+ population W 20%, AA 11%, H 66%
Obama 54.3%, McCain 45.7%
Obama 57.3%, Romney 42.7%

This district becomes more Democratic as it gains areas with non Cuban Hispanics and consolidates communities of interest by representing neighborhoods below Highway 90 instead of simply splitting Democratic and Republican ones with the 27th. With these changes, the 2008 Obama percentage increases from 49.5% to 54.3%. I wanted to add more heavily Cuban areas around University Park into the 27th which would increase the Democratic percentage to 56% but that would increase teh 27th district to 80% Hispanic which could generate a lawsuit for packing. My goal was to keep the 26th district at 65% Hispanic or higher. Democrats won this district in 2012 and lost it in 2014 but with these changes, this already swingy district is now more Democratic and should elect one.


+3 Democrats (4 for Gainesville)

Florida's 27th District Illeana Ros Lehtinen (R) Safe Republican
18+ population 17% W, 3% AA, 78% H
Obama 44.7%, McCain 55.3%
Obama 48.6%, Romney 51.4%

Rather than waiting for entrenched and moderate Lehtinen to retire, the 27th district becomes more Republican and combines more communities of interest within the Miami area. This is Lehtinen's district for as long as she wants.


Overall, the Democrats will gain 1-3 seats under the new map, depending on how FL-18 and FL-6 vote. If the court upholds the Gainesville option, then the number increases to 2-4 seats. This could give the Democrats as many as 14 seats or as few as 11, depending how 2016 is. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Final Election Predictions + 2014 Election Night Guide

One more dawn, one more day, one day more!

Here are my final election predictions. After an extremely rocky road to the Election day with polls showing 10 tossups according to RCP, this is going to be an exciting night! The Democrats are looking to lose some House seats (I predict eight) and gain three Governorships. The Senate is too close to call and we may not know the final outcome until January.

Reps will automatically pick up Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia. Arkansas looks increasingly likely to go red too. The other seats however will be explained in the post.

Also, I will be including county baselines with the two party vote. The baselines were calculated using the Obama 2012 numbers as well as numbers from a recent statewide race that one of the candidates on the ballot ran in before 2014. This statewide race is factored in to look at regional trends while Obama 2012 looks at recent trends. Also, click on the maps for the full picture.

Here is a Google doc with a detailed baseline breakdown, keep this handy during election night:
https://docs.google.com/a/usc.edu/spreadsheets/d/1qnT5zDXyZwGhJKYL3Dl6oomua5aJ_XI1QubxxwOTjMw/edit#gid=36061957

Alaska:
Alaska does not report by county. My only note though is that the first votes in Alaska usually lean Republican because the rural areas report late. The rural areas have a large Native American population and Begich has been aggressively courting their vote. While I am not as optimistic here, they can help narrow the race.

Prediction: Sullivan +1

Colorado:
Jefferson Jefferson Jefferson, if you want to know the final result in Colorado, look at Jefferson County (also known as JeffCo). It is a suburban Denver County with a leaning Democratic north and leaning Republican south. The baselines have Udall at 49.9% there in the two party vote. Other important counties to watch are Arapahoe (Udall needs to win it by 3.6% or more) and Larimer County (Udall is at 49.4% in the two party vote). These three counties will decide the election, especially Jefferson. Watch these three counties only, period.

I predict that Udall squeaks by here, this may go to a recount. The reason is that polling always underestimates Dems in Colorado and with the race tightening a bit; Udall has a good chance to pull it out. Udall by 0.5-1.

(Baselines are Obama 2012 and Udall 2008)



Map legend:
Dark Red = Republican by 10 or more points
Light Red = Republican by 0%-9.9%
Light Blue = Democratic by 0%-9.9%
Dark Blue = Democratic by 10 or more points

Georgia:
Polls have shown an extremely tight race expected to go into runoff. Watch Gwinnett and Cobb Counties. If Nunn gets 47% of the vote in those counties, she has a great chance at entering the runoff. These counties were once Republican strongholds but Hispanic and African American growth have made them less Republican like the rest of Georgia. Also, Nunn should perform well in south Georgia due to her Father’s popularity with voters there. Look at Decatur County as a barometer for the runoff, if she breaks 50% there, she will probably break 50% statewide, if not, then she will be in a runoff.

Prediction is that this race goes to runoff. Nunn leads by 1 on November 4th.
In the Gubernatorial race, Deal leads by 2, also goes to runoff.

The baselines include the 2012 Presidential election and the 2010 Gubernatorial election because the Democratic candidate had rural strength.



Iowa:
There are no baselines for this race because neither candidate has run statewide. Due to historical trends though, Braley needs a strong margin out of Polk County (10 or more points) and needs his margin in Johnston County to be 30 points or more. Overall prediction is that Braley barely pulls it out thanks to the ground game and the history of Dems getting underestimated in Iowa polls (the RCP average had Obama up by 2 and he won by 6).

Prediction: Braley by 1.

Kansas:
To win, Orman needs to run up the score in the eastern Kansas urban areas. He needs to win Leavenworth County by more than 30 points. Counties Orman must win include Sedgwick (Wichita) and Johnson (Kansas City suburbs). If Orman loses both of them, he is done. If he wins one, he will probably lose and if he wins both, he is in good shape.

Prediction: Roberts by 1, I see Kansas coming home to the Republicans.

Kentucky:
For Grimes to win, she must run up numbers in Jefferson County (Louisville) to offset rural Republican margins. Democrats have collapsed in rural Kentucky so she needs urban margins. A winning Grimes electorate will have her winning Jefferson County by 61.7% or more of the two party vote. Important bellwethers to watch include Pike County (Grimes 50.3%) and Lyon (Grimes 50.1%) Pike County is in coal country and will show how well Grimes is performing among the coal country voters.

Grimes has been sinking in recent polls. A Marist poll shows her down by nine and while I do not expect her to lose by that much, I do not see her winning this and this is hard for me to say because I am a major supporter. I predict McConnell wins by 5.

(Baselines are Obama 2012, Grimes 2011 and McConnell 2008)



Louisiana:
More detailed explanation on Louisiana baselines + close counties here: http://racesandredistricting.blogspot.com/2014/10/louisiana-county-benchmarks.html
The final prediction is a runoff. I will release a final prediction for the runoff a few days before it after seeing polling and the November 4th election results.

New Hampshire:
Shaheen has led in most polls here (and New Hampshire underestimated Dems in 2012,) plus Scott Brown (R) has reinforced his narrative as a carpetbagger by thinking Sullivan County was in northern New Hampshire. The county to watch is Rockingham, if Shaheen can win it or lose it by less than five, Brown should drive his truck back to Massachusetts.

Prediction: Shaheen by 3.

North Carolina:
Many Democrats are optimistic about North Carolina. The early votes show Democrats have much higher turnout than 2010 plus polling shows Hagan with a narrow lead which is important because unlike other states, Democrats are not severely underestimated in polling. For Hagan to win, she needs to turnout the urban Democratic counties and hit these marks in them (Mecklenburg 61%, Orange 70%, Guilford 59%) The two major bellwether counties are New Hanover and Nash so if Hagan wins those, expect a good night for her.


I predict Hagan wins by 3.
(Hagan 2008 and Obama 2012)



Overall, the Senate range could be anywhere from Republicans gaining four seats to eight seats. The playing field is wide open and the Senate appears to be a coin flip, especially with new polls on Sunday and Monday confirming that.

The three major Gubernatorial races I will be watching are the Florida and Wisconsin Gubernatorial races, both because I dislike Scott and Walker and will be extremely happy if they lose.

Florida:
Florida always has extremely close elections and this one will be no exception. For Charlie Crist (D) to win, he must perform well in the I-4 Corridor, a formerly swingy area that is trending Democratic. He must win Hillsborough County by at least five points (Alex Sink (D) who ran for Governor in 2010 lost it by four). Another I-4 county to watch include Orange County which is Democratic but has bad midterm turnout. Crist must win by at least 15 points there. The most populous and important county to watch in Florida is Miami Dade County. Crist needs to win by at least 19 points there and he can do that by winning that important Hispanic vote.

Prediction: Crist by 2.

(Note: Crist may overperform the baselines in counties around Tallahassee thanks to residual Democratic strength there but the change should not be enough to impact any of the other major county baselines. The baselines btw are from the 2010 gubernatorial election and the 2012 Presidential election).




Michigan:
Rick Snyder (R) has seen his lead evaporate and is in a close reelection contest with Mark Schauer (D). In order for Schauer to win, he needs to win Wayne County (Detroit) by at least 40 points and win Oakland County which is a big bellwether. He also needs to win or come within 3 points in Macomb County.

Prediction: Snyder by 1, the Peters coattails may not be enough.

Wisconsin:
Most polls show this race within one point. Burke has run a solid campaign attacking Walker for job losses instead of the union debacle. The major counties to watch here are Dane and Milwaukee which have a large Democratic base. The anti Walker vote should be high there (Burke needs to win Milwaukee by 30 points to offset Walker’s overperformance in rural Wisconsin as predicted by the baselines,) and Burke needs to win Dane County by 41 points. A good bellwether county is Racine County, it leans slightly Republican but if Burke can keep the margin within one point or win it, she will be the next Governor.

Prediction: recount, Burke +0.3
Baselines are from the 2012 recall and the 2012 Presidential election.





Monday, October 20, 2014

Louisiana County Benchmarks

This post is first in an installment continuing to Election Day looking at competitive Senate/Gubernatorial races and examining the dynamics and county benchmarks in each state.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) is no stranger to competitive races. She has been in the Senate since 1996 but has consistently faced close elections. She won by a few points in 1996, back when Louisiana voted Democratic at both a federal and statewide level. In 2002 however, she did not get 50% in the first election and due to Louisiana's jungle primary rules (all candidates regardless of party run in a primary on Election Day and if no candidate gets 50% of the vote, there is a runoff in December). Most polls show her opponent Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) from Baton Rouge with a slight lead but turnout in Louisiana is unpredictable in runoffs so it could easily shift.

These percentages show the percentage that Landrieu needs in order to avoid a runoff and in the runoff avoid losing the seat. The vote totals are the 2010 vote totals in the Vitter/Melancon race and turnout was uniformly increased by 10%. The results were calculated using the Landrieu 2008 results (to factor in regional strengths that Landrieu has including in the New Orleans suburbs and Cajun counties in southern Louisiana) and the 2012 Presidential results (to show how current political trends have affected Louisiana voting patterns).

Here is a map of the benchmarks:


Dark Blue = Landrieu 55%+
Light Blue = Landrieu 50%-54%
Light Red = Landrieu 45%-49%
Dark Red = Landrieu 44%-

New Orleans Metropolitan Area:
This area is the most Democratic part of Louisiana. New Orleans is the major Democratic area while the suburban Parishes St. Tammany and Jefferson are strongly Republican in national elections. St. Tammany frequently votes Republican in statewide elections too, it has a strong evangelical population and is fast growing. Jefferson County is more of a swing county in close statewide elections. Landrieu won it in 2008. It has a large African American population and the white voters are not as uniformly Republican as they are throughout the rest of the South. The Landrieu family is from the New Orleans family and Landrieu will need to win over enough suburban white voters to win Jefferson County and statewide. The baselines show the importance, if Landrieu loses Jefferson County in the runoff, then she will not be Senator.

Baselines:



Baton Rogue Metropolitan Area:
This is the 2nd most Democratic part of Louisiana. Despite being historically Republican (East Baton Rouge Parish voted Republican in 2003 when Louisiana elected a Democratic Governor,) East Baton Rouge Parish now leans Democratic. There is a large African American population there while the suburbs are evangelical and conservative. The suburban Parishes are Ascension and Livingston. Ascension formerly was a Republican leaning county (Bush in 2000 won it by 10,) but now it is heavily Republican with Romney winning 66% there. Livingston is even more Republican, Romney won more than 80% of the vote there. The problem for Landrieu though is despite Baton Rouge's Democratic trend, Cassidy's base is in Baton Rouge. Landrieu will need a large margin out of East Baton Rouge Parish in order to offset Republican margins from Livingston and Ascension Parishes.

Baselines: (possibly 1-2 points lower because the baselines do not factor in Cassidy)



Southern Louisiana:
There are two divides in rural Louisiana. The northern part of the state has rural southerners similar to Arkansas and Mississippi who vote heavily Republican. The southern part though is different with Catholic French descendants and this area is called the Cajun Country. While in 2012 it voted heavily Republican (Cameron County voted 87% for Romney,) it is open to voting for statewide Democrats, especially Cajun ones. Cameron County in 2008 voted for Landrieu but even if she wins, it is highly unlikely that Cameron County will support her. The Cajun voters kept Louisiana competitive after many southern states started voting Republican but they have trended Republican recently too. Winning coalitions for Democrats years back would be winning enough African Americans and Cajuns. Landrieu's coalition now is more likely to be focused around urban areas instead of the Cajuns but they will still play an influential role. Landrieu's family has strong ties to Louisiana and the Cajuns which will help her.

Baselines:


Northern Louisiana:
"The further north you go the further south you get" is what they say about Florida, they meant the same about Louisiana. The northern part of Louisiana is the most culturally southern part with few Cajuns and mostly evangelical Protestants. The politics here are closer to Mississippi than they are to the rest of Louisiana. Former Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) won here after voters did not want to support Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) due to his race but Landrieu and Cassidy are both white. The opening for Landrieu here though is in Caddo Parish (Sherveport) which is trending Democratic and turning out the African American voters in the counties surrounding it. The voting here is extremely racially polarized but Landrieu has traditionally made inroads in the counties around Sherveport (except Bossier which is heavily Republican) so she must win those. Also, Concordia Parish is a good Parish to watch as the bellwether.

Baselines:


So when you are watching Louisiana on election night, watch Jefferson Parish (Landrieu may overperform the baselines there because it is trending Democratic,) is East Baton Rouge offsetting Republican margins in Ascension and Livingston Parishes, is Landrieu keeping Republican margins low in Republican leaning southern Louisiana Parishes such as St. Martin and Calcaiseu and most importantly, is she hitting 50% in Jefferson and Concordia Parishes?

Below is the full baseline list:




Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Senate Outlook 2014: Tossup in the Works

The Senate has been very competitive and conventional wisdom by inside the beltway pundits has suggested that Republicans have a narrow advantage. 2014 was supposed to be the year that Republicans nominated moderates so they could take the Senate unlike in 2010 and 2012 when they nominated far right candidates (we will never forget Todd Akin with his legitimate rape comment and Christine O'Donnell who ran an ad saying she's not a witch).  Many Republicans however have shown extremist views such as in Iowa where Joni Ernst (R) believes that federal agents promoting the ACA should be arrested and in North Carolina where State Senate President Thom Tillis (R) lost his lead with Sen. Hagan (D) due to his extremism in the legislature.

Thanks to these extremist candidates and an Independent candidate in Kansas, Democrats have a stronger chance at keeping the Senate. If I had written a Senate outlook in March of 2014, I would have probably stated that the Republicans would take back the Senate, thanks to the anti ACA numbers in the polls. The anti ACA movement has died down a bit and there is no major issue uniting the Republicans this year unlike 2010 which was about ACA and the economy. About the economy actually; the U.S. under President Obama has gained nearly 10 million new jobs over the last four years so Republicans cannot use the economy as a major issue. They may be able to attack him on foreign policy but they need to offer solutions and show the voters how foreign policy affects them personally. Still, midterm turnout is generally low for Democrats so my assessment is that Democrats have a very slightly better chance of keeping the Senate but not by much. Even if Democrats do lose the Senate, they will retake it in 2016 with winnable Republican seats up in Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida. Anyway, here are the races:



Safe D = Dark blue
Likely D = Blue
Lean D = Bright blue
Tilt D = Pale Blue
Pure Tossup = Purple
Tilt R = Pale Red
Lean R = Orange
Safe R = Red

Safe D

Delaware:
Sen. Chris Coons (D) faced Christine O'Donnell (R) in 2010 who told voters she was not a witch. This seat however is not bewitched, Coons should win easily.

Hawaii:
After a bruising Democratic Primary, Sen. Brian Schatz (D) should have no trouble winning the general.

Illinois:
Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D) will win easily and hopefully provide coattails to Gov. Pat Quinn (D) who is facing a tough reelection.

Massachusetts:
Sen. Ed Markey (D) will have no trouble winning here.

New Jersey:
Sen. Cory Booker (D) is a rising star and that star will not fall this year.

New Mexico:
Despite being a Republican held seat in 2008, this Senate seat should stay in Democratic hands now that New Mexico has shifted to be a strongly Democratic state. Sen. Tom Udall (D) will have a 2nd term.

Oregon:
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) may have faced a competitive challenge from physician Monica Wehby (R) but she's faced issues including problems with her ex boyfriend (she stalked him and harassed his employees) and then plagiarized Republican economic plans, Merkley should win this race easily.

Rhode Island:
Jack Reed (D) will have no trouble winning reelection.

Virginia:
Sen. Mark Warner (D) was supposed to face a strong challenge from former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie (R). Virginia is a Democratic leaning swing state so Republicans should at least run a competitive race? Nope, Warner is extremely personally popular (he won by 30 points in 2008 against former Gov. Jim Gilmore (R)). While Warner's margin will not be as large (the RCP average has him at 13 points,) he will still win easily.

Likely D

Minnesota
Sen. Al Franken (D) had a tough election in 2008 and faced a recount that continued into July of 2009. This year though, polls show him with about a 10 point lead so he should win reelection without any difficulties.

Lean D

Michigan:
This seat used to be a tossup but Michigan showed its true colors and is shifting toward Rep. Gary Peters (D). Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) was nearly tied with Peters early in the year when Obamacare was in the news. The race now has shifted back to Peters with leads in the high single digits. One mistake Land made was running an ad with the message that she would protect women based on the fact that she was one. This ad inspired responses such as this one. Also, the NRSC is pulling out of Michigan, suggesting that Republicans think they will lose. This race may be in the Likely Democratic column next week.

New Hampshire:
Scott Brown (R) was heralded by the inside the beltway pundits as the strongest candidate in New Hampshire and the one that would take down Sen. Shaheen (D). New Hampshire is historically a bellwether state (voting strongly Democratic in 2008 and 2012 and strongly Republican in 2010,) Republicans do not seem to have much luck there this year. Shaheen is consistently posting high single digit leads in reputable polls. Also, the carpetbagging issue is not helping Brown either.

North Carolina:
Infusion after infusion of cash from Republican Super PACs has hit Incumbent Kay Hagan (D) but is she far behind in the polls? Nope, since September 2nd, not a single poll has shown Hagan behind her opponent. Hagan has been successful so far because her Republican opponent, Thom Tillis (R) represents the unpopular North Carolina Legislature. While President Obama is unpopular in North Carolina, the Legislature is more unpopular.  ratings. Also, many Republicans believe that Hagan is driftwood from 2008. She is not because she won in rural counties in east NC that are traditional Dem areas that Obama lost. This is enough to shift the race into Lean Democratic for now but it could easily shift back to Tilt D.


Tilt D

Colorado: This is another race which is over hyped by the establishment. Originally, Cory Gardner (R), a representative of a conservative exurban and rural congressional district, was the Republican savior candidate. People keep saying he is an amazing contender but I have yet to see what makes him such a strong candidate. All Gardner has done since he stepped into the race is flip flop and stumble over the personhood issue (Colorado has a ballot initiative deciding whether a fetus is a person or not). With women's issues at the forefront this year with the Hobby Lobby ruling, Gardner needs to be careful. He should also take note that the 2010 Republican losing Senatorial candidate, Ken Buck (R) said he should be elected because he doesn't wear high heels. Gardner also released an ad saying one may like Udall but that does not mean one should vote for him. This may seem to be a strong attack according to pundits but the pundits need to look at North Dakota Senate in 2012. Republicans tried the exact same attack on Heidi Heitkamp (D) which failed. A PPP poll came out showing Gardner with a 2 point lead and while PPP is almost always right, the poll also shows the President with a 35% approval rating. With the President having an approval rating in the low-mid 40s nationally and Colorado has mirrored the national average, 35% seems a bit low so the sample may have skewed more conservative. If the poll showed the President with a low mid 40s approval in Colorado, this poll probably would be an accurate picture of the Senate race. Plus, Colorado polls always underestimate the Democratic performance. In 2010, Dem Gov. Hickenlooper was supposed to win by 4 points and U.S. Senator Michael Bennett (D) led in only one poll since Sept. 14th but Hickenlooper won by 14 and Bennett won by 2.


Lean I:

Kansas:
Senator Pat Roberts (R) was originally a shoo in for reelection but Kansas Republicans have faced a backlash. Kansas' Republicans are divided between a conservative and moderate wing and Gov. Sam Brownback (R) offended the moderate wing. He's down in the polls and appears so desperate that he released an ad attacking his opponent for going to a strip club. The unpopularity of Republicans seems to be hurting Roberts, who also is under fire for claiming his Kansas home was a laz-boy place. Also, Greg Orman (I) is an Independent candidate and former Democrat who persuaded Chad Taylor (D) to drop out of the race (even though the Secretary of State found the relative of a Republican campaign staffer to sue Taylor,) and Orman is ahead in every single poll but one since August and led in a Marist poll by 10, shifting this race to Lean Independent. Roberts does not appear to be recovering so Orman should be able to win this. Orman though has stated he will caucus with whatever party is in the majority. If he is a tiebreaker though, history suggests he will go with the Democrats because of his views and the fact that the Democrat dropped out of the race.

Pure Tossup

Arkansas:
This seat has bounced back between Tilt R, Tilt D and Tossup but if the election were held today, the Republican would have a very minor edge but not quite enough for Tilt R (thanks to a poll from Suffolk which does not have a Democratic bias showing Pryor leading by 2 points). Pryor is from a political family and in 2008 faced no opposition. Arkansas has changed as Republican gained all congressional seats and the Legislature. In February, Obamacare was extremely unpopular and Pryor was being tied to it. In July though, Pryor seems to have regained his footing. While Arkansas may vote Republican nationally (supporting Romney with 61%,) it is open to voting for Democrats locally if those Democrats connect with the voters. Pryor's style is folksy and resembles Arkansas while Cotton went to Harvard and may appear too wooden and East Coast for Arkansas. Also, Pryor has been campaigning on a minimum wage increase, an important issue in Arkansas which will be on the ballot this year. Cotton got into hot water on income inequality issues by recently comparing food stamp recipients to drug addicts and voting against farm bill funding and the only pediatric hospital in Arkansas. While Arkansas is socially conservative, many voters here agree with Democrats on economic issues.

Iowa: Longtime Senator Tom Harkin (D) is retiring and Rep. Bruce Braley (D) is running against Joni Ernst (R). Ernst is most famous for being 2014's version of Sue Lowden (she was a Nevada Senatorial candidate suggesting that people should trade chickens for healthcare,) and ran an ad about castrating pigs.  However, in the last few weeks, polls have shifted and shown Ernst has taken a narrow lead. There is no explanation for the leading shifting suddenly to Ernst after polls in August and early September showed Braley leading. In the first week of October though, three polls have been released, one showing Ernst ahead by two, one showing them tied and another showing Braley leading by one point. This shows the race as basically a complete tie. It may shift toward Braley. Democrats have booked extra airtime for late October so it is possible Braley might pull a Joe Sestak and start spending heavily in the very end and win over voters (but hopefully unlike Sestak, Braley will win). Also, the polls showing Braley behind show the undecideds and Democratic leaning voters, suggesting that Braley may need to consolidate his base. One way to do that is add a more personal tone to his ads and his newest ad on bipartisanship does that to an extent. Also, Democrats are underpolled in Iowa. The RCP final average had Obama winning by two points and he won by six.

Louisiana:
 Senator Landrieu (D) may be from a political family (her brother Mitch is mayor of New Orleans) and has survived close elections in 2002 and 2008 but this may be her last year. Polling shows this race to be close. One potential negative for Landrieu is the jungle primary system. All candidates run in one election on election day and if no one gets 50%, there is a runoff in December. While conventional wisdom suggests runoffs have lower turnout rates, especially for Dems, turnout during the 2002 Senate runoff where Landrieu was expected to lose (she won) was only down by 1%. Also, Landrieu is running close because she is supported by voters who support Republicans nationally but personally like Landrieu and her moderate views. Landrieu though does have support from oil companies which are powerful in Louisiana and could help her campaign immensely. What is keeping Landrieu in the running though is that her opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) has made a few stumbles on the campaign trail.


Tilt R

Alaska
Sen. Mark Begich (D) is running a strong campaign as a moderate in a state President Obama lost by 13 points. In order to win, Begich needs a strong margin among Native American voters who generally have low turnout rates as well as keeping his strength in the Anchorage area (he's a former mayor). Dan Sullivan (R) has been leading a few polls however. Alaska seems to have a problem of having polls that underestimate Republicans at a first glance. This helped Stevens in 2008 and Murkowski in 2004. What the difference in those races were that they favored incumbents. Alaska seems to have support for incumbents and one fact analysts tend to forget was that in 2010, Joe Miller (R) was in the lead but Lisa Murkowski (R) came from behind in the general election to win, even though Miller was more conservative than her. Also, President Obama lost Alaska in 2012 by only 13 points, (he lost 2008 by 20) and polls were predicting a loss closer to 20 points. This suggests that Alaska's underpolling favors incumbents, not necessarily Republicans but since most Alaska incumbents are Republicans, the underpolling favors them. Also, Native Americans in Alaska usually favor Republicans and they are hard to poll but Begich has worked aggressively to court them so there is a strong likelihood they will support him. Remember, if a Democrat seems to be tying Murkowski in the polls in 2016, the chances of Democrats winning it are very small because Alaska polls underestimate incumbents. Still, Sullivan's lead puts this race in the Tilt R category for now.

Georgia:
This race has been close for awhile. Republican David Perdue (R) is the strongest candidate the Republicans could find unlike some of his primary opponents (who believed that evolution was a lie and that Todd Akin's rape comments were partially right). Perdue is less conservative though. This means that daughter of Senator Sam Nunn (D), Michelle Nunn (D) the Democratic candidate does not have a major chance to win this seat. Nunn though has an extensive registration program looking at registering African Americans and has the ability to reach out to conservative rural white voters. Nunn's goal is to win 30% of Georgia white voters which can be done by appealing to southern rural white voters in Georgia that voted for Sam Nunn and upper middle class white voters in the Atlanta area who used to be strongly Republican but are turned off by the Republicans' shift to the right. Polls continue to show Nunn in the high 20s with white voters and enough undecideds to get her to 30%. What the polls do not say is where those undecided white voters are located. Also, Nunn's campaign is undergoing a large registration operation among African American voters so it is possible they will have a higher percentage in the electorate and Nunn can win with white support in the high 20s. While polls throughout September showed Perdue with a small lead, he recently released an ad linking Michelle Nunn's organization, Points of Light to terrorism. The ad has been criticized and even one of the Bushes criticized the ad. This could change the trajectory of the race. Also, David Perdue said he is proud of outsourcing (let's ask Mitt Romney how comments like that help win votes). The only problem though is that if no candidate gets 50%, there is a runoff and Democratic turnout tends to drop in runoffs in Georgia. This runoff is in January, after a possible runoff for the competitive Gubernatorial race. Nunn has been spending heavily on November turnout, suggesting they feel pessimistic about the runoff turnout and believe the only way to win is by increasing November turnout.

Kentucky:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) has maintained a consistent small lead throughout the summer. Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Grimes (D) has run a strong campaign in a state that President Obama lost by 24 points. This race would have been Lean R if I wrote it in late September.  However, this race barely makes it in the Tilt R category thanks to two new polls. The first is from the Melman group which showed Grimes ahead by 2 points. Melman famously predicted the Democrats' wins in North Dakota and Nevada Senate races in 2012 and 2010 respectively despite other polling firms showing Republicans in the lead. Also, SurveyUSA which does not have a reputation for any Democratic bias showed Grimes ahead by 2 points (they showed McConnell ahead by four points in late August in line with most pollsters at the time). This shows that Grimes may be winning traditionally Democratic voters in eastern Kentucky who usually back Republicans in federal races but Democrats must win in order to win statewide.

Lean R

South Dakota:
Sen. Tim Johnson (D) retired and Democrats nominated Daschle aid Rick Weiland (D). Republicans however got one of their strongest candidates in former Gov. Mike Rounds (R). Also, former Republican Larry Pressler (I) is running as an Independent and getting about 25% of the vote. Polls show that Pressler is actually taking more votes away from Weiland than Rounds surprisingly. Weiland though has been attacking Pressler as a conservative in order to win back Democrats. Rounds also has been facing trouble from the EB-5 scandal. Also, a super PAC supporting campaign finance reform (yes they exist) just announced they are spending 1 milllon on behalf of Rick Weiland. A poll was released showing Rounds with 35, Pressler with 32 and Weiland with 28. Pressler is an Independent with little funds so he could easily lose because Independents tend to fizzle (at least unless there's no Democrat or Republican on the ticket like in Kansas). The support would likely go to Weiland because Pressler tends to align with the Democrats (he endorsed President Obama in 208 and 2012). Also, on October 8th, the DSCC just announced a $1 million ad buy in South Dakota. $1 million goes a long way in a small state such as South Dakota and that $1 million could be used in competitive races such as Iowa and Arkansas but the DSCC clearly sees something in South Dakota. Therefore, this race is at Lean Republican for now but if more polls show a close race, it will move to Tilt R or even Tossup.

Safe R

Alabama:
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) will not have any trouble here.

Idaho:
There are rumors Governor Butch Otter (R) may have a closer than expected reelection but all Senator Jim Risch (R) should worry about whether his margin is closer to 20% or 40%.

Maine:
Democrats are expected to takeover the Maine Governorship.  Sen. Susan Collins (R) fans however have taken over Maine.

Montana:
Democrats won the Senate and Governorship here in 2012 but this time, they lost their main candidate after a plagiarism scandal and will be unable to win. Also, former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) was supposed to run for the seat but declined.

Nebraska:
This seat may not be a 20 point win for Republicans but it will be still be a solid win.

Oklahoma:
Despite calling global warming one of the biggest hoaxes on American people, poll numbers showing Sen. James Inhofe (R) in the lead are not a hoax.

Oklahoma 2:
Tom Coburn (R) is leaving, another Republican is replacing him.

South Carolina:
Lindsey Graham (R) loves to talk about the embassy attack in Benghazi (but not about the 13 embassy attacks that occurred while George W. Bush was President,) and will have six more years to mention it.

South Carolina 2:
Tim Scott (R) should win his special election to Senate.

Tennessee:
Lamar Alexander (R) got above 60% even in 2008, the most Democratic year since I was born, nothing to see here...

Texas:
John Cornyn (R) is facing David Alameel (D) who may not be a weak candidate but is no Wendy Davis (and while I even see Davis doing better than most pundits predict, she will not win).

West Virginia:
Sen. Jay Rockeller IV (D) vacated this seat and despite nominating Sec. of State Natalie Tennett (D), Democrats will lose a Senate seat in West Virginia for the first time in decades. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) is extremely popular and does not have the baggage that McConnell does in neighboring Kentucky.

Wyoming:
There may have been some drama when Senator Michael Enzi (R) would face a Liz Cheney (R) but after some misshaps, she dropped out of the primary and Enzi can win easily in heavily red Wyoming.

Overall, the Senate battle will be extremely close either way. By looking at the poll numbers though and the fundamentals, it seems that Democrats have an extremely narrow advantage. They will have to win at least one of the Pure Tossups in order to win (assuming they hold all the Democratic Leaning states and Orman caucuses with them). It could easily shift direction though and it is possible Republicans will sweep all three pure tossups.