Election News

Two New Alabama Senate Polls Muddy the Waters; Average Little Changed

December 11, 2017

Two new polls paint completely different pictures of tomorrow's Senate special election in Alabama. Fox News gives Democrat Doug Jones has a 10 point lead over Republican Roy Moore. The last poll showing Jones with this kind of lead was the last Fox News poll in mid November, which showed him up by 8 points. 

Most other recent polls have shown Moore in the lead. This morning's survey from Emerson College, gives Moore a 9 point margin, significantly higher than the 3 point margin they gave him about 10 days ago. Moore's 53% share of the vote is also a high-water mark for him among recent polling.

Looking at the average, these two new polls basically cancel each other out. Moore maintains an average lead of 3.3%.

This wide variation in these two releases highlights the challenge pollster have trying to model turnout. As Fox notes: "This race’s uniqueness is significant. It is impossible to know who will show up to vote in a special election to fill a seat in the middle of a term in an off-year. And it’s December, a time when people expect to be going to the shopping mall, not the voting booth." The Alabama Secretary of state estimates just a 20% turnout, vs. 62% in the November, 2016 election.



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Alabama Senate Election Tuesday; Latest Polls Favor Moore

December 10, 2017

The most recent polling in Alabama has become more consistent. It shows Republican Roy Moore with a mid-single digit lead over Democrat Doug Jones heading into Tuesday's long-awaited, high-stakes Senate election.

 

Will the polls prove accurate? The big question is whether turnout on Tuesday matches the pollsters' assumptions about who will actually vote. While this is always an issue, it is particularly challenging in this case - a special election that is not being held off-cycle in a state with no early voting. The Times Daily notes that "the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office last week said it estimates a 20 percent voter turnout on Tuesday. That’s higher than the August primary’s 15 percent and the GOP runoff’s 18 percent. Turnout for the 2016 General Election was 62 percent." 


House Updates: Michigan Special Election Set; Arizona's Franks Leaves Early

December 9, 2017

Michigan governor Rick Snyder has set November 6th, 2018 for a special election to fill the seat of Rep. John Conyers, who resigned earlier in the week. That date coincides with the midterm elections, meaning voters on that date will select a representative for the final two months of Conyer's term, as well as a representative for the two-year term beginning in January, 2019.

It also means that residents of the 13th district, which covers most of Detroit, will have no representation in Congress for nearly a year. The Republican governor's stated reasons for the delay are around cost, as well as giving both prospective candidates and voters ample time to prepare. We're sure it has nothing to do with this being a safe Democratic seat.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, Rep. Trent Franks resigned his seat Friday, a day after announcing his plan to resign on January 31, 2018. The accelerated timetable came after additional revelations around sexual harrassment became public. Gov. Doug Ducey is expected to set the date for a special election on Monday. This is a safe Republican seat. Update: The special election will be April 24, 2018.

The departures of Conyers and Franks means there are now three open seats in the House. A special election will be held on March 13th, 2018, to fill the vacancy in Pennsylvania's 18th district, formerly held by Republican Tim Murphy. That seat is rated as likely Republican.

With the departures, there are 239 Republicans, 193 Democrats in the House. 

 


Arizona Republican Rep.Trent Franks to Resign Early in 2018

December 7, 2017

Arizona Republican Trent Franks released a statement Thursday indicating he will leave Congress early in 2018. Franks noted in his statement that he is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for inquiring with two female staffers about whether they would be a surrogate for his child. 

Franks' resignation will be effective January 31, 2018.

 

Franks is in his 8th term representing Arizona's 8th congressional district, a safe Republican district just north of Phoenix. Donald Trump won the district by 21 points in 2016. 


Senator Al Franken to Resign; Initial Ratings for 2018 Minnesota Special Election

December 7, 2017

Minnesota Senator Al Franken (D) announced his intention to resign in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday morning. Many of his Democratic colleagues had called for his resignation on Wednesday, after additional allegations of sexual harrassment became public. The date of his Senate departure has not yet been announced. 

The state's Democratic governor, Mark Dayton, will appoint Franken's replacement. Speculation is centering around the state's Lt. Gov., Tina Smith. Regardless of who is picked, a special election will be held, coinciding with the midterm elections on November 6th, 2018. The winner of that election will serve the final two years of the six-year term. The next regularly scheduled election will be in November, 2020.

Both Minnesota Senate seats will now be contested in 2018. While Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar seems a safe bet for reelection, this seat may be competitive. Franken initially won this seat by just 300 votes over Republican Norm Coleman in 2008. Additionally, although Minnesota hasn't voted Republican since 1972 - the longest such streak across the 50 states - Hillary Clinton only won here by 1.5%. 

Sabato's Crystal Ball starts this race as 'Leans Democrat'. Inside Elections says 'Likely Democrat', while the Cook Political Report has it as Toss-up. These varied ratings will likely coalesce once we know who the governor appoints, whether that person is likely to run again in 2018, and who the Republican nominee will be. The pundit analyses can be read in their entirety by clicking the respective links in this paragraph.

We are working to update our Senate interactive map to reflect the addition of a 2nd 2018 election in Minnesota. 


If Al Franken Resigns Thursday, as Expected....

December 6, 2017

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (D) is expected to resign Thursday following the latest round of sexual harrassment allegations against the two-term Senator. If that does happen:

  • Minnesota's Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton will appoint a replacement. Some names being mentioned include Rep. Keith Ellison and Rep. Tim Walz, along with Lt. Gov. Tina Smith.
  • A special election will be held to coincide with the 2018 midterm elections. The winner of that election will serve the remainder of Franken's term, which is next up for election in 2020
  • According to Sabato's Crystal Ball, the race will start at 'Leans Democrat'

 

 This rating is likely due, at least in part, to the close result in the 2016 presidential election. Although Minnesota hasn't voted Republican since 1972 - the longest such streak across the 50 states - Hillary Clinton only won here by 1.5%.  

A special election means that both Minnesota seats will be contested in 2018. At this time, Sen. Amy Klobuchar looks 'safe' for the regularly scheduled election.

Democrats will now be forced to defend 26 of 34 seats contested in 2018. We'll be updating our 2018 interactive map in the days ahead to reflect the additional contest.


One Week Out, Three New Polls in Alabama Senate Race

December 5, 2017

Three new polls for the Alabama special election early this week have not added much clarity to the race. Roy Moore leads by 7% in a survey by Strategy Research, and by 3% in the latest Emerson College poll. On the other hand, Gravis Marketing gives Doug Jones a four-point lead.

The Strategy Research poll was taken Monday evening, after that day's endorsement of Moore by President Trump. It is not known how much of an impact this had on the result.

The overall average of recent polls gives Moore a lead of just under 3%.

The election to fill the Alabama Senate seat will take place on December 12th. Polls are open 7:00AM to 7:00PM local time.


John Conyers, Longest-Serving Current House Member, Announces Retirement

December 5, 2017

UPDATE: Conyers is leaving the House immediately. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will determine the date of a special election to fill the seat. It may well be Conyers vs. Conyers in the primary that precedes the election for this safe Democratic seat.

Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving current member of the U.S. House, announced his retirement Tuesday. From CNN:

"I am retiring today. And I want everyone to know how much I appreciate the support that...incredible, undiminished support I've received across the years of my supporters, not only in my district but across the country as well." 

Conyers faced allegations that he sexually harassed members of his staff.

It is unclear at the moment if 'retiring today' means resignation or that he is announcing his retirement at the end of this term (or something in-between).  In any case, he has endorsed his son, John Conyers III, to replace him.

Conyers is in his 27th term. Next in seniority is Alaska Republican Don Young, who has already announced that he is running in 2018. Here's a list of the 10 current House members with the longest seniority.


CBS News / YouGov Poll Shows Moore Up 6 in Alabama Senate Race

December 3, 2017

Republican Roy Moore leads Democrat Doug Jones by six points in the latest poll of the December 12th Alabama Senate special election. The poll, conducted by CBS News and YouGov, gives Moore 49% to 43% for Jones

This is the fifth poll of the race to be released over the past week or so. Moore has had a five or six point margin over Jones in all but one of those surveys. Averaging all five of these gives Moore a 3.8% lead a little more than a week ahead of the December 12th special election.


Rep. Sander Levin to Retire; Democrat is 2nd Most Senior Member from Michigan

December 2, 2017

Democratic Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan will not seek a 19th term in 2018. Levin, who is 86 years old, is in his 18th term. This makes him, at least for now, the 2nd most senior member of Michigan's congressional delegation, trailing only John Conyers, who is in his 27th term. 

Levin represents Michigan's 9th congressional district encompasses an area north of Detroit. It remains a Safe Democratic seat for now, per Sabato's Crystal Ball. However, it is worth noting that while Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney here by 15 points in 2012, Hillary Clinton's spread over Donald Trump was only 8 points in 2016. (Trump won Michigan overall by 0.2% in 2016, the closest margin of any state in that election.) It was the first time a Republican had won the state since George H.W. Bush in 1988.)

There are now 38 House members retiring or seeking another office in 2018. 



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