Gonzales

Election analysis from Nathan L. Gonzales

19 House Races Shift Toward Democrats
List of competitive seats grows amid shifts against president’s party

New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s race for re-election has switched from Solid Republican to Likely Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The midterm elections are still nearly a year and a half away, and the political dynamics could yet change, but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that history and the current environment are merging together for a potentially great set of elections for Democrats in November 2018. 

The president’s party has lost House seats in 18 of the last 20 midterm elections, and it’s lost an average of 33 seats in those 18 elections. Democrats need to gain 24 seats in order to take back the majority. 

Rating Change: Montana Special Creeps Closer to Tossup
Voters to decide Thursday who will replace Interior Secretary Zinke

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who won last year’s Democratic presidential primary in Montana, campaigned over the weekend with Democratic House candidate Rob Quist. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The special election for Montana’s at-large House seat hasn’t received as much as attention as the race in Georgia, but it’s a similar storyline: Democrats are doing better than expected and an upset is within the realm of possibility.

Less than a week before the Thursday, May 25, election, wealthy former software executive Greg Gianforte has a narrow advantage over his Democratic opponent, musician Rob Quist. But Quist recently crossed the $5 million fundraising threshold, giving him ample resources to deliver his message in the final days in a relatively cheap state for advertising. 

Lessons for Trump Detractors From a Loyalty Expert
Attacking president’s supporters best way to fracture his base

Behavioral scientist James Kane, left, says attacking President Donald Trump isn’t as effective as dividing his loyal following from the inside, in an interview with CQ Roll Call elections analyst Nathan L. Gonzales. (Screenshot)

You’ve probably never heard of James Kane, but elected officials, party strategists, and even some reporters could learn from his perspective as a behavioral scientist (instead of a partisan hack) about how to fracture President Donald Trump’s base and the future of the two parties. 

I rarely have time to sit in on other sessions at conferences where I’m speaking, but when I saw Kane’s session on loyalty on the agenda last year at an event in Phoenix during the tumultuous presidential race, I decided to attend. I’m glad I did.

Don’t Trust Politicians Who Say They Aren’t Running for President
Barack Obama is a good reason to not rule out Kirsten Gillibrand

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says she’s not running for president in 2020. Don’t rule that out, Nathan L. Gonzales writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand told a group of local reporters in New York that she is not running for president in 2020. But, of course, that means you shouldn’t take her off any list of potential presidential candidates.

The Empire State’s junior senator is among the dozen or so Democrats most often mentioned as potential challengers to President Donald Trump, but Gillibrand probably needs to win re-election in 2018 first in order to remain in that conversation.

GOP Retirement Creates Highly Vulnerable Open Seat
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen leaves behind a Florida district Hillary Clinton won by 20 points

GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida leaves behind a difficult seat for Republicans to defend. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Long-time GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s decision to not seek re-election next year leaves behind a difficult open seat for her party to defend.

The Florida congresswoman is one of 23 Republicans to represent districts where Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in the most recent presidential election.

The Important Connection Between Governors and Congress
A first look at the gubernatorial race ratings for 2017-18

South Dakota Rep. Krisit Noem is a candidate for governor in 2018 and leaves behind a safe Republican seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In Washington, it’s easy to ignore governors as distant rulers over far away lands. But now is a good time to start paying attention to what’s happening in state races.

Voters in 38 states (including nine of the 10 most populated) will elect a governor over the next two years, and the results have a direct connection to Capitol Hill. The large number of races give aspiring (or weary) members an opportunity to leave the House, and consequently, leave behind potentially vulnerable open seats. And governors in 28 of those states will have a role (specifically veto power) in the next round of redistricting, which will impact what party controls the House in the next decade. 

One Month Until Republicans’ Latest Round of Excuses
Special election for Montana seat moves from Solid Republican to Likely Republican

If Republicans struggle to hold Montana’s at-large district, where Republican Greg Gianforte, left, takes on Democrat Rob Quist in a May special election, it would be yet another indication of the effect President Donald Trump is having on Democratic enthusiasm, Gonzales writes. (Photos courtesy Greg for Montana, Rob Quist for Montana)

When it comes to special election results, Republicans always have an excuse, and their stumbles are never a national trend.

In Kansas, Republicans turned a 27-point victory for Donald Trump in 2016 into a recent 7-point special election victory for state Treasurer Ron Estes even though Democratic lawyer James Thompson had virtually no support from local or national Democrats.

Why Republicans Don’t Fear a Shutdown, But Should
HealthCare.gov rollout shifted attention back to White House before midterm elections

Republicans didn’t suffer at the ballot box because the rollout of HealthCare.gov was a disaster. They now don’t fear a shutdown — but they should, Nathan L. Gonzales writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For many Republicans, it’s a fairly simple calculation: There was a supposedly catastrophic government shutdown in 2013 and the GOP gained 13 House seats a year later. So what’s the big deal if the government shuts down again?

With another funding deadline on the horizon, selective memory loss could have negative consequences for the Republican Party if there is another government shutdown.

8 Things I Think I Think After the Georgia Special Primary
There’s never just one takeaway

The June runoff between Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel in Georgia’s 6th District is rated a toss-up by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. (Photos by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

My family sat down for dinner at a nice Amish family’s house in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday night, less than two hours before the polls closed in Georgia’s 6th District. And Jon Ossoff’s name didn’t come up once. That’s not surprising, but it is what happens when special elections collide with Spring Break.

The most-watched special election of the cycle (until the next one) ended with the young Georgia Democrat finishing first with 48 percent, in the all-party primary but short of the what he needed to win former Republican Rep. Tom Price’s seat outright. Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel finished second with almost 20 percent and both candidates move on to the June 20 runoff.

There’s More Than One Takeaway From the Kansas Special Election
‘11 things I think I think’

Kansas Treasurer Ron Estes pulled out a 53-46 percent victory to keep the 4th District in Republican hands. (Courtesy Ron Estes for Congress Facebook Page)

After a few months in the electoral desert, we finally have election results to digest from a competitive race, albeit an unexpected one.

State Treasurer Ron Estes pulled out a 53-46 percent win to keep Kansas’ 4th District in Republican hands. The 7-point victory margin is shocking considering Donald Trump carried the Wichita-based seat by 27 points in last year’s presidential race.

Red Alert: GOP Chances Slide in Two Special Elections
Georgia’s 6th and Kansas’ 4th move in Democrats’ direction

Democrat Jon Ossoff, right, raised an eye-catching $8.3 million in the first quarter for his campaign for Georgia’s 6th District open seat. (Courtesy Jon Ossoff for Congress Facebook page)

Republicans might be riding high after Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the Supreme Court, but reality could come crashing down on the GOP in two upcoming special elections. 

On April 18, voters will go to the polls in Georgia’s 6th District, vacated by Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Donald Trump narrowly carried the district over Hillary Clinton in the suburban Atlanta seat last fall, but it’s a traditionally Republican seat.

The Bipartisan Effort to Make Senate History
Lack of Senate retirements could be unprecedented

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein appears more likely to run for a fifth full term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For all of the moaning and groaning about Washington being dysfunctional, members of Congress aren’t exactly tripping over each other to get out of town.

So far, all of the Republican and Democratic senators up for re-election this cycle seem intent on seeking another term. And if that trend continues, it would be historic. 

The 2010 Election: Not Just About Health Care
Majority of midterm voters cited the economy as most important issue

President Donald Trump’s effort to repeal the 2010 health care law went down in flames last week, boosting Democratic optimism. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

When it comes to projecting election results, history can be a guide, but no two cycles are the same.

From the women’s marches to town hall protests, Democrats were feeling emboldened about the next elections even before Republicans fumbled their attempt to repeal the 2010 health care law. Democratic optimism grew (as well as media comparisons to a certain previous midterm election involving health care) as polling revealed that the GOP alternative was less popular than the health care status quo.

Club for Growth to Air TV Ad Against Handel in Georgia Special
Outside group has endorsed Bob Gray in race to replace Tom Price

Karen Handel has been the Republican front-runner in the special election to replace former Georgia Rep. Tom Price. (Courtesy Karen Handel for Congress)

Club for Growth Action is poised to air a television ad against early Republican front-runner Karen Handel beginning Wednesday in Georgia’s 6th District special election, according to a release first obtained by Roll Call and Inside Elections.

It’s a $250,000 ad buy on Atlanta cable, according to a Club source, and is scheduled to run through the initial April 18 election. If none of the 18 candidates receives a majority of the vote in the jungle primary, the top two finishers, regardless of party, will move on to a June 20 runoff. The conservative outside group endorsed one of Handel’s 10 GOP opponents, businessman Bob Gray, on March 14.

Walz’s Governor Run Creates Vulnerable Open Seat for Democrats
But Minnesota DFL may still have a chance to hold on

Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz is vacating his 1st District in order to run for governor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It could be a rough round of midterm elections for Republicans next year but Democratic-Farmer-Labor Rep. Tim Walz gave them a little gift by vacating Minnesota’s 1st District in order to run for governor.

The six-term congressman won re-election narrowly, 50.3-49.6 percent, last fall in a race that received little national attention. But Donald Trump simultaneously carried the rural district, 53-38 percent over Hillary Clinton and nearly dragged Walz’s GOP opponent across the finish line.