Gonzales

Election analysis from Nathan L. Gonzales

10 Thoughts After the Alabama Senate Election
Republicans avoid one headache but the civil war isn’t over

Supporters of Democrat Doug Jones celebrate his victory over Republican Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate special election Tuesday night in Birmingham, Ala. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

One of the best parts about covering elections is that there is always a result. After all the prognosticating, projecting, discussing and arguing, there’s a winner. But determining the true meaning of victory and loss can be difficult.

There will be plenty of time to analyze the Alabama Senate special election (at least until the next special election on March 13 in Pennsylvania’s 18th District), but here are some initial postelection thoughts:

Ratings Change: Franken Steps Down Amid Allegations, Seat Starts Likely Democratic
Minnesota Senator resigns after colleagues call for his exit

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and his wife Franni, leave the Capitol on Thursday, after Franken announced on the Senate floor that he will resign his seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Al Franken’s resignation puts another Democratic seat into the 2018 mix, but it’s still unclear whether his departure provides Republicans with a legitimate takeover opportunity.

To handicap a race, it’s helpful to know where the contest will take place and who is running. In this case, we know the place is Minnesota, where, despite Donald Trump’s surge in the Midwest, Hillary Clinton narrowly prevailed in 2016, 46-45 percent, and where Republicans haven’t won a Senate race since Norm Coleman’s 2-point victory in 2002.

Ratings Update: Tennessee Senate Remains Solid R for Now
Democrats may still have uphill battle, even with Bredesen

Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen. (Courtesy the American Academy of Arts and Sciences)

Democrats made a big splash this week with the entry of former Gov. Phil Bredesen into the Tennessee Senate race, but the party still has an uphill battle in a state President Donald Trump won convincingly, and it’s not even clear Bredesen gives Democrats the best chance of winning.

On the surface, having a former two-term governor running for an open seat (GOP Sen. Bob Corker is not running for re-election) looks like a great takeover opportunity for Democrats, but there are some signs that the race should still be considered a long shot.

No One Is Afraid of a Government Shutdown
Democrats nor Republicans while White House seems to encourage it

A person walks across the Capitol Visitor Center on Oct. 7, 2013, the seventh day of the government shutdown. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Call me crazy, but I don’t think we’ll see a compromise before the looming budget deadline. Why? Because no one in Washington is particularly afraid of a government shutdown.

Democrats aren’t afraid of a government shutdown because Republicans are in control of the legislative and executive branches, and they believe the GOP will get blamed for the impasse.

Who Is Running the Mysterious PAC Supporting Roy Moore?
Treasurer Brooke Pendley is a hard person to find

Former judge Roy Moore is the Republican nominee in next week’s special election for the Alabama Senate seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Brooke Pendley is a self-described “fire-breathing young female conservative patriot” out “to save Judge Roy Moore” with a newly formed political action committee, but good luck trying to find her beyond the fundraising emails.

On Oct. 17, Pendley filed a statement of organization for Club for Conservatives PAC with the Federal Election Commission, listing herself as the treasurer. Over the course of less than three weeks, Pendley has sent out at least 10 fundraising emails.

The Battle for Orange County in the Fight for the House
A handful of competitive races could decide the majority

After coasting to re-election in previous years, California Rep. Ed Royce could be in for a competitive race this cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

YORBA LINDA, Calif. — Celina Estrada and Sam Zapata weren’t even born when Republican Ed Royce was first elected to Congress in 1992. Yet a year before the 2018 elections, the two students spent a recent evening knocking on doors in the hills of Orange County, California, to support the vulnerable congressman.

Royce hasn’t had a close race in years. In 2016, he won with 57 percent and outspent his Democratic opponent, $3.7 million to $77,000. This cycle, however, inspired to counteract the effects of a Donald Trump presidency, five of his Democratic challengers had over $100,000 in their campaign accounts at the end of September, and two of them are self-funders.

Rating Change: Alabama Senate Race Moves to Toss-Up
One month out, Moore allegations could cost GOP a Senate seat

Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore has been accused of sexual misconduct. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Roy Moore is testing a once-hypothetical question: What would it take for a Democrat to win a statewide race in Alabama?

Under normal circumstances, Alabama would elect a Republican to the Senate, even a candidate as polarizing as the former state Supreme Court chief justice. But the situation changed when The Washington Post reported allegations of Moore’s past sexual misconduct. This is no longer a normal election.

9 Thoughts After Democrats’ Big Wins in Virginia
As with early GOP victories, resist reading too much into Tuesday’s results

A supporter of Democrat Ralph Northam celebrates Tuesday at an election night rally in Fairfax, Va., as early projections pointed to a Northam victory in the Virginia gubernatorial election. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Everyone take a deep breath. We’re all starving for tangible election results and now we have them. But just as earlier Republican wins in congressional special elections this year are no guarantee the party will have a good 2018, losses on Tuesday night don’t necessarily tell us a Democratic wave in the House has developed.

Democrats had to win the governorship in Virginia, and they did. After coming up short in every House special election this year in districts President Donald Trump carried last fall, Democrats didn’t have an excuse to lose a state that Hillary Clinton won by more than 5 points. And Ralph Northam responded with a resounding victory for Democrats. That being said, the win maintains the status quo considering Virginia already has a Democratic governor.

Rating Change: LoBiondo Retirement Makes GOP Seat More Vulnerable
South Jersey race moves from Solid Republican to Leans Republican

The retirement of New Jersey Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo may give Democrats a better chance to pick up the Garden State’s 2nd District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo’s retirement gives Democrats a better opportunity to win New Jersey’s 2nd District. 

Democrats have had their eye on the South Jersey seat for years, particularly after President Barack Obama won the seat by 8 points in 2012. But the party has struggled to find a credible candidate against the congressman, considering his close ties to organized labor.

Members Face Tough Odds in Races for Governor
Competitive primary, general elections await nine representatives running

Hawaii Rep. Colleen Hanabusa would be a heavy favorite to win her state’s governor’s race if she gets past the Democratic primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There’s been plenty of media attention on the twelve members who have decided to call it quits and retire from the House, and another eight members are seeking a promotion to the Senate. But nine additional members are forgoing likely re-elections for uncertain and challenging races to become their state’s governor.

Many of them have to navigate crowded and competitive primaries (including knocking off an incumbent in one state), and the precedent for members getting elected governor isn’t great.

Please Don’t Call It a Push Poll: Transgender Edition
Survey either measures public opinion or it doesn’t

Virginia state House candidate Danica Roem complained about a “push poll” run against her last month. (Courtesy Danica Roem for Delegate/Facebook)

Danica Roem and Bob Marshall are facing off in an unusually high-profile race for the Virginia House of Delegates — Roem, a transgender Democrat, is challenging Marshall, a conservative Republican. The race reached a new level in the final weeks when allegations of a so-called push poll came to light.

My longtime colleague Stuart Rothenberg jokes that there are some columns that need to be written over and over again. The debate over push polls is one of those topics.

I Interviewed 16 House Candidates in Two Days and Survived
Five takeaways from Democratic hopefuls

Anthony Brindisi is seeking the Democratic nomination in New York’s 22nd District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

I’ve interviewed at least 1,000 congressional candidates over the last 16 years, but never 16 candidates in two days.

More than 100 Democratic candidates running for the House descended on the nation’s capital a few weeks ago for candidate training hosted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. My Inside Elections colleague Leah Askarinam and I interviewed eight candidates each day.

Rating Change: Virginia Governor’s Race Moves to Tilts Democratic
It will not be easy for Democrats to explain away a loss here

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, left, and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July. Northam faces Republican Ed Gillespie in the race to succeed McAuliffe. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats have been racking up special election victories in state legislatures around the country, and millions of people have been hitting the streets and packing town halls in protest of President Donald Trump. But they are still looking for their first signature victory since the former reality television host took over the Oval Office.

It was easy for Democrats to explain away special election losses in Kansas, Montana, South Carolina and even Georgia’s 6th District, considering voters there favored Trump in 2016. But the stakes are much higher in next week’s gubernatorial race in Virginia, which Hillary Clinton won by more than 5 points.

Rating Change: Democratic Challenger Puts Utah Seat in Play
Rep. Mia Love facing competitive race with Salt Lake County mayor’s entry

Utah Rep. Mia Love faces a competitive re-election contest next year. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

It’s not hard to see Democratic takeover opportunities in districts where Hillary Clinton prevailed or President Donald Trump won narrowly last fall, but Democrats have expanded the map with at least a couple of recruits who should make Republicans work to defend some deeper red territory next year.

Former Kansas state Rep. Paul Davis, for example, announced his candidacy in August, giving Democrats a credible candidate in the Sunflower State’s 2nd District, which Trump carried by 18 points, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections. Davis, a former state House minority leader, carried the district in his 2014 gubernatorial bid, and when he entered the congressional race for retiring Rep. Lynn Jenkins’ open seat, we changed the rating from Likely Republican to Leans Republican.

Rating Change: New Hampshire Open Seat Moves to Toss-Up
Shea-Porter was already considered vulnerable in 1st District

New Hampshire Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, right, will not seek a fifth term next year.(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter’s retirement leaves an already competitive seat more vulnerable for her party as an open one, considering President Donald Trump carried New Hampshire’s 1st District 48 percent to 46 percent last fall.

“I felt the tug of family at our reunion on Independence Day, and I have continued to feel it,” Shea-Porter said in a statement Friday.