Initial 2020 House race ratings are here
Republicans are on the offense but also running against history

After losing a net of 40 House seats in last year’s midterms, Republicans have plenty of offensive opportunities in 2020. But winning back the majority will not be easy.

On paper, the path back to 218 may look simple for Team GOP because it winds through favorable territory. There are 31 Democrats who currently represent districts that President Donald Trump carried in 2016, and Republicans need to gain 18 or 19 seats to regain House control (depending on the outcome in North Carolina’s 9th District).

What race ratings really mean and how we create them
Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales

Each election cycle, race ratings are an integral part of the discussion about the fight for the House and Senate majorities. But where did they come from and how do they work? Elections analyst Nathan L. Gonzales goes behind the scenes to take a look at what does, and does not, go into rating a race. And he manages to weave in some Swedish metal.

The memorable and awkward moments of the State of the Union
Trump was a polarizing figure before the address and remains so after it

I did something dangerous Tuesday night. I watched the State of the Union and the Democratic response on my own, without Twitter as a crutch. I even watched the C-SPAN feed on my phone in order to avoid commentary from the networks and cable channels.

My goal was to avoid groupthink and try to formulate some coherent thoughts and analyses without being persuaded by my friends in the media. Here’s what stuck out to me.

How to steal the SOTU show in a few easy steps
If a 2020 presidential hopeful wanted to steal the show, silently walking out during the speech would be the way to do it

With at least a couple of dozen Democrats preparing to run for president in 2020, it will be hard for contenders to distinguish themselves in opposing President Donald Trump during and after the State of the Union speech. But there’s at least one surefire way to stand out from the pack.

Stand up and walk out.

Fewer members taking the leap to governor
Don’t expect a chunk of House seats to open up because of people wanting to run

Last cycle, nine members left Congress to try to become governor and five ended up winning the state’s top job. But this cycle will be a different story. While 38 states elected a governor in 2017 or 2018, just 14 states will elect a governor in the next two years. And fewer opportunities to move up will limit the exodus from the House.

Currently, there’s just one House member running for governor, and he doesn’t have to give up his seat to do it.

9 thoughts after a week at Disney World
Politics seems to be everywhere — or is it?

After a week at Disney World with four kids ages 10 and younger, I was ready to return to work. And there has been no shortage of news in the last few days. Here are some thoughts on happenings inside and outside the Orlando area.

Quit scapegoating third-party candidates. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has been in the presidential race for approximately 12 minutes and everyone already has his candidacy figured out. In close races, everything matters, so he could lower President Donald Trump’s threshold for victory in key states. But we also have to remember that elections aren’t a zero-sum game. There are some voters who won’t support a Republican or a Democrat, and will actively seek out another option as a political statement. Not all Libertarians are actually Republicans, and not all Green Party members are just Democrats.

Pennsylvania 12 special election: Is Marino’s seat at risk?
It’s a solid red seat, but nothing has come easy for the GOP the last two years

North Carolina’s 9th District was the clear front-runner to host the first congressional election of 2019 until Republican Tom Marino announced his resignation from Pennsylvania’s 12th District. The seat has a significant GOP lean to it, but Republicans seem to find new ways to make special elections closer and more competitive than they should be.

The four-term congressman said Thursday he would be leaving Jan. 23 for a job in the private sector. Marino was re-elected last November with 66 percent and just began his fifth term. 

First 2020 Senate race ratings are here
 

Ready or not, 2020 is here — at least politically.

While the presidential race will consume this cycle, don’t forget about the fight for Congress, where both majorities are likely to be at stake. And control of Capitol Hill will affect the ability of the president to get things done to start the next decade..

5 reasons why there’s still no end to the shutdown
They can’t end the standoff because Democrats and Republicans are trying to solve different problems

Nearly three weeks into the government shutdown, I’m not sure how this standoff ends, but I do know there are multiple reasons for how we got here.

What’s the problem? Democrats and Republicans can’t find a solution because they’re trying to solve two different problems. If you listen carefully, Democrats are trying to end the government shutdown while Republicans are trying to find money to build a wall.

Poll: Democrat Leads GOP Governor in Kentucky
Republican Matt Bevin is unpopular and trails potential challengers

A new poll of next year’s gubernatorial race in Kentucky shows Democrats in position to extend their nationwide winning streak beyond the 2018 midterms.

Aside from taking back the House majority, Democrats also gained seven governorships around the country. And the party could pick up two more next year with wins in Kentucky and Mississippi, while re-electing Gov. John Bel Edwards in Louisiana.

Why We’re Not Releasing 2020 Race Ratings Yet
Relax people, enjoy the holidays

I love elections, particularly congressional races, but I’m just not in a hurry to jump to 2020. And I’m completely fine with holding off on releasing our race ratings until next year.

House Primaries on the Horizon for Democrats in 2020
Illinois’ Dan Lipinski is most likely to face intraparty challenge

We already know the Democratic presidential primary is going to be crowded and crazy as a few dozen candidates battle for the right to take on President Donald Trump.

But at least a handful of 2020 House primaries are also on the horizon for Democrats as the party fights over ideology and loyalty. And there’s still plenty of time for more intraparty races to take shape.

Are White Evangelicals the Saviors of the GOP?
Key voting group has remained virtually unchanged in its political preferences

Amid all the talk about shifting demographics and political changes over the last decade, one key voting group has remained virtually unchanged: white evangelicals.

According to one evangelical leader, a record number of white evangelicals voted in the 2018 midterms after an inspired turnout effort.

Expect Record Turnout in 2020
No reason to think Trump won’t continue to drive voters to the polls on both sides

With the 2018 elections coming to an end, it’s clear that voters set a modern record for turnout in a midterm. And there’s no reason to believe voters won’t set another record two years from now.

According to the United States Election Project, turnout this year was nearly 50 percent of the voting-eligible population, the highest for a midterm in more than a century.

Five Thoughts After the Mississippi Senate Race
Lots of fighting and money spent, little change

Even though it looks like California will be counting votes until Christmas, I’m ready to close the book on the 2018 midterm elections now that the Mississippi special Senate election is over. Yes, I know there are runoffs in Georgia and Louisiana for state races, but the marquee matchups are complete.

Here are some thoughts before we turn all our attention to 2020.

Rating Change: Mississippi Senate Race No Longer Solid Republican
Hyde-Smith remains the favorite but some uncertainty has crept into the contest

Democrats are not on the cusp of winning a Senate seat in Mississippi. But if we learned anything over the last two years, it’s that Republicans find new ways to make special elections more close and exciting than they should be.

First of all, go read Stu Rothenberg’s column on the race and the dynamic. He does a good job of laying out the electoral challenge in front of former Democratic Rep. Mike Espy, even if appointed GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is not a stellar candidate.

Midterms Were a Buffet Election for Democrats, Republicans
Each side can pick what it liked best from the results — and ignore warning signs

When I was a kid in small-town Oregon, my family would occasionally go to King’s Table, and my sister and I would get free rein at the buffet.

I became famous in my own family for my condiment salad — an impressive collection of bacon bits, croutons, shredded cheese, sunflower seeds and plenty of ranch dressing. Essentially, my strategy involved choosing what looked and tasted good and avoiding anything of nutritional value.

It’s Not Too Early to Start Looking at the 2020 Senate Map
The fight for the Senate should once again be a prime battle.

The votes haven’t all been counted in the 2018 Senate elections, but we know the size of the incoming majority will be critical, because the 2020 Senate map offers limited initial takeover opportunities for both parties.

Of course, it’s too early to tell what the presidential race will look like, how voters will feel about the economy and direction of the country, and whether they’ll believe more Democrats are needed in Washington.

Confessions of an Elections Analyst
Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales — an authoritative look at where things stand for 2018

Nathan L. Gonzales knows exactly what’s going to happen on Election Day. Sort of. Maybe. Kinda. Maybe not.

After nearly two years of analyzing data and polling trends from hundreds of races, Roll Call’s elections analyst thinks he has a pretty good sense of where things could go on November 6th and beyond, but after the 2016 election it’s impossible to rule anything out.

25 Race Ratings Changes Less Than a Week Before Midterms
Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales — an authoritative look at where things stand for 2018

After two years of analyzing and prognosticating, it's finally almost here: Nov. 6, Election Day. Roll Call elections analyst Nathan L. Gonzales takes you through where the House and Senate battlegrounds have landed with a video debrief on the most recent ratings changes, listed in full here: 

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