Gonzales

Election analysis from Nathan L. Gonzales

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

Lawmakers applaud in the House chamber Tuesday night during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., listen during the Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee William P. Barr on Jan. 15. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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

Louisiana Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham is currently the only member running for governor and he doesn’t have to give up his seat to do it. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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?

During a recent trip to Disney World, U.S. politics seemed to be far from people’s minds, Gonzales observed. (Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images file photo)

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

Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., is saying goodbye to the House for a job in the private sector. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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. 

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

Members of the Association of Flight Attendants participate in the National Air Traffic Controllers Association rally to “Stop the Shutdown” in front of the Capitol on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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.

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

Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., narrowly beat back a primary challenge earlier this year. He’s unlikely to go unchallenged in the next cycle, Gonzales writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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

President Donald Trump attended a worship service at the International Church of Las Vegas in October 2016. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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

Midterm turnout was nearly 50 percent of the voting-eligible population, the highest for a midterm in more than a century. Above, voters stand in line to cast their ballots on Nov. 6 at the Old Stone School polling location in Hillsboro, Va. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., won the special election runoff Tuesday night, becoming the first woman elected to Congress from Mississippi. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., faces former Democratic Rep. Mike Espy in the Nov. 27 special election runoff in Mississippi. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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

Sen.-elect Mike Braun, R-Ind., Sen.-elect Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Sen.-elect Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Sen.-elect Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Sen.-elect Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., pose for a group photo in McConnell’s office in the Capitol on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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.

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., is up for re-election in 2020 in a state carried by both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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.

Let Beto O’Rourke Keep His Money
Claims that Texas Democrat’s fundraising is robbing from other candidates are exaggerated

Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke’s campaign for Senate is helping Democrats in many indirect ways, Gonzales writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

I’m old enough to remember when some Democrats and reporters suggested that Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke donate his Senate campaign money to other candidates and causes.

But the latest Quinnipiac University survey found the congressman within 5 points of Republican incumbent Ted Cruz, clearing him, it would seem, to just spend it on his own race. It was ridiculous to suggest he give away his hard-earned cash in the first place.