Giroux’s Gems: 2020 Election Coverage
Just the facts, none of the fluff

Greg Giroux headshot

Greg Giroux

Hi! I’m Greg Giroux, a senior reporter for Bloomberg Government and the co-host of the “Downballot Counts” podcast that includes a new “Giroux’s Gem” political statistic each week! Politico once called me “the ultimate numbers geek” – a badge of honor! I’ve always been a numbers guy, from memorizing baseball statistics as a kid to now calculating presidential election vote totals in all 435 congressional districts. My math SAT score was way higher than my verbal SAT score back in the day, so of course I became a writer.




Giroux’s Gem (from Oct. 5 podcast): 10

There have been just 10 Black U.S. senators in history. Mississippi Republican Hiram Revels became the first Black senator in 1870, when he was elected by the state legislature during the Reconstruction period. But it wasn’t until 1966, when Massachusetts Republican Edward Brooke was elected, that the first Black person came to the Senate by way of popular vote.

Click here for background on Black U.S. senators in history.

Lincoln Memorial

There are 3 Black senators currently serving: South Carolina Republican Tim Scott, New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker, and California Democrat Kamala Harris, who is the Democratic nominee for vice president and who would be the first Black person or woman to serve in that office.

Booker is favored to win re-election next month. Scott is up for re-election in 2022, when Harris’ seat also will be on the ballot. Harris would resign from the Senate if she’s elected vice president, though she could seek re-election to the Senate in 2022 if the Democratic ticket led by former Vice President Joe Biden loses to the Republican ticket topped by President Donald Trump.

Leading Black candidates for Senate seats this year include Jaime Harrison, a former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman who’s running a very close race against Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. No state has ever had two Black senators serving at the same time.

Michigan Republican John James, a businessman and Army veteran, is running competitively against Democratic Senator Gary Peters.

Georgia Democrat Raphael Warnock, an Atlanta pastor, is the party’s preferred candidate for the seat Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler is defending. That special election almost certainly will be decided in a January runoff.

Mississippi Democrat Mike Espy, a former congressman and agriculture secretary, is opposing Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith in a rematch of a 2018 race that Espy lost by 7 percentage points.

Louisiana Democrat Adrian Perkins, who’s the mayor of Shreveport, is opposing Republican Senator Bill Cassidy. Tennessee Democrat Marquita Bradshaw is the Democratic nominee for the seat of retiring Republican Lamar Alexander. Republicans are strongly favored to hold both seats.

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.




Giroux’s Gem: 2008 (from Sept. 28 podcast)

That was the most recent election year in which Democrats unseated more than two Republican senators.

Crowd

Following the losses that year of five Republican incumbents – Ted Stevens, Norm Coleman, John Sununu, Elizabeth Dole, and Gordon Smith – Democrats increased their Senate majority and put themselves in position to enact the Affordable Care Act.

The law’s early problems and unpopularity helped Republicans make gains in the Senate in 2010 and win control of the chamber in 2014, though the ACA is more firmly ensconced in law today. Democrats are making the ACA and its protections for those with preexisting health conditions front and center in their messaging as they seek to overturn the GOP majority in the Nov. 3 election.

Democrats need a net gain of three seats plus the presidency to win control of the Senate, and they surely need to unseat more than two Republican senators to accomplish that goal. The two most endangered Republican senators probably are Martha McSally in Arizona and Cory Gardner in Colorado, followed by Thom Tillis in North Carolina and Susan Collins in Maine. Democratic challengers are also running highly competitive campaigns to unseat Senators Joni Ernst in Iowa, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in Georgia, Steve Daines in Montana, Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, Dan Sullivan in Alaska, and John Cornyn in Texas.

Republicans are seeking to unseat Senators Doug Jones of Alabama and Gary Peters of Michigan.

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.




Giroux’s Gem: 1864 (from Sept. 21 podcast)

It was 1864 when a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court arose that was closer to a presidential election than the vacancy that was caused by the Sept. 18 death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg 46 days before the Nov. 3 election.

Committee on the Judiciary

Chief Justice Roger Taney died that year on Oct. 12, or 27 days before an election in which Abraham Lincoln was seeking re-election against George McClellan. Lincoln nominated Salmon Chase, his former treasury secretary, after the election – on December 6, 1864. Chase was confirmed by the Senate the same day.

In 1956, Justice Sherman Minton announced his resignation from the Supreme Court on Sept. 7, 60 days before the Nov. 6 presidential election. Minton’s resignation became effective Oct. 15. President Dwight Eisenhower, then seeking re-election against Democrat Adlai Stevenson, made a temporary recess appointment of William Brennan to the Supreme Court because the Senate was not in session, and Brennan joined the court on Oct. 16. After Eisenhower was re-elected, the president formally nominated Brennan at the start of the next Congress in January 1957. Brennan was confirmed in March.

Campaigns and elections have changed a lot since the days of Lincoln and Eisenhower and so has the Supreme Court nomination process. Nomination fights have become partisan donnybrooks even when they’re not in presidential election years. In this polarized and highly charged partisan era, it’s hard to imagine another Supreme Court justice getting confirmed by a 96-3 vote as Ginsburg was in 1993. The Ginsburg vacancy comes in close proximity to a Nov. 3 election for which there is very high voter interest and in which some people already have voted.

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.




Giroux’s Gem: 86 (from Sept. 14 podcast)

There are 86 state legislative chambers holding elections on Nov. 3. That’s most of the 99 state legislative chambers in the nation – 49 states have bicameral bodies and Nebraska has a unicameral legislature. All told, there are 5,876 state legislative seats up for regularly scheduled elections, or 80% of the total, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Republicans dominate Democrats in control of state legislative chambers, 61 to 37, so they have more to lose in the election. Democrats are trying to overturn Republican majorities in one or both chambers in states including Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Most of those states also are closely contested in the presidential election. In Texas, a Democratic gain of nine seats in the state House would give them control of that chamber. In North Carolina, Democrats are seeking gains of six seats in the state House and five seats in the state Senate.

Click here for NCSL data on the current partisan composition of state legislative chambers.

The results of the state legislative elections are important not only because state legislatures shape policy but also because in most states, whoever controls the legislature will have a seat at the table for that politically important process of redrawing congressional and state legislative district lines starting in 2021.

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.




Giroux’s Gem: 65% (from Aug. 31 podcast)

That’s the national self-response rate for the 2020 U.S. Census as of Aug. 31. That number is in line with previous censuses but still leaves tens of millions of households and people for census takers to tally, an ongoing task that’s been complicated by the pandemic. An accurate count is vital because the once-per-decade population figures govern the reapportionment of U.S. House seats and the distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal aid among the states and localities.

Census taker

Among the states, Minnesota reported the highest self-response rate, at 74%, followed by Wisconsin and Washington state at 71% apiece. All three states also have high voter participation rates.

Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said Aug. 28 that more than 80% of households had been tallied and that the bureau had about 250,000 census takers on the ground, with more to start soon. But even with all of those people, it’s a gargantuan task to count more than 330 million people across 3.5 million square miles as accurately as possible. There are concerns of a possible undercount, particularly among harder-to-reach populations such as noncitizens and racial and ethnic minorities. The bureau must finish its counting by Sept. 30.

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.




Giroux’s Gem: 50 (from Aug. 24 podcast)

There are at least 50 House and Senate elections Nov. 3 where the major-party nominees are both women, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

Statue

That’s a record number of all-women congressional races, topping the previous high of 33 set in 2018, according to CAWP. The number may change as the final few states hold primaries.

The most competitive Senate elections with two women nominees are in Iowa, where Sen. Joni Ernst (R) is opposed by businesswoman Theresa Greenfield, and Maine, where Sen. Susan Collins (R) faces a serious challenger in state House Speaker Sara Gideon.

Wyoming, which in 1869 became the first territory or state to grant women the right to vote, is likely to elect former Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R) over Merav Ben-David (D) for the seat of retiring Sen. Mike Enzi (R).

Iowa, where a woman wasn’t elected to Congress until Ernst in 2014, also has woman-vs.-woman races in two of its four House districts. In the 1st District, Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D) is seeking a second term against Republican state Rep. Ashley Hinson. In the 2nd District, Democrat Rita Hart, a former state senator, and Republican state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks are vying to succeed retiring Rep. Dave Loebsack (D).

Other competitive districts with all-women House races include Oklahoma’s 5th District, where state Sen. Stephanie Bice won a Republican runoff Aug. 25 to face first-term Rep. Kendra Horn (D) in a Republican-leaning area in and around Oklahoma City.

CAWP’s compilation also includes four House contests – three in California and one in Washington state – where the November nominees are two Democratic women. Those states use a “Top 2” primary in which all candidates are listed on the same ballot and the two leading vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the general election.

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.




Giroux’s Gem: 19 (from August 17, 2020 podcast)

The 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, received the needed 36th state for ratification 100 years ago when Tennessee gave its assent on August 18, 1920. Harry Burn, a 24-year-old Tennessee state representative, switched his vote to support women’s suffrage, swayed by a letter from his mother that Burn had in his suit pocket as the Tennessee legislature voted narrowly for ratification. For more about the Tennessee vote, click here.

Columns of building

The road to women’s suffrage was long and arduous; in U.S. history, women have gone longer without voting rights than with them. It was not until June 1919 that Congress finally adopted the women’s suffrage amendment.

After that, it took about 14 months for 36 states, or three-fourths of the 48 states then in the union, to ratify the amendment. Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan voted first, six days after Congress sent the amendment to the states. After Washington state’s ratification in March 1920, the amendment was stuck on 35 states for five months until Tennessee finally put it over the top.

For more about the state-by-state ratification of the 19th Amendment, click here.

Though women won the right to vote, gains were uneven. Some states adopted discriminatory voting practices. Native Americans didn’t win citizenship until 1924, and Jim Crow laws in the South disenfranchised Black people until the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

“An overwhelmingly racist American society in the South did not view the Nineteenth Amendment as decisive. There, and in other places, women of all races and religions continued to be repressed at the polls,” according to the 2019 book “Votes for Women!”

With 50 states now in the union, it takes 38 states to ratify a constitutional amendment. That’s very hard to do, as is getting a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress to send an amendment to the states for consideration. The U.S. has amended the Constitution just 17 times since the Bill of Rights in 1791, and just once in the last 49 years.

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.



Giroux’s Gem: 1952 (from July 27 podcast)

That was the last full year Democrats held both U.S. Senate seats in Arizona.

Democrats would accomplish that feat if Mark Kelly, a Navy veteran and former astronaut who’s married to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, defeats Sen. Martha McSally (R) in the Nov. 3 general election. Arizona has voted more Republican than Democratic in recent statewide elections, though it probably will be closely contested in the presidential election, and polls have consistently shown Kelly leading McSally in a race that will help determine whether Republicans keep their Senate majority.

Kelly raised more than $46 million and had more than $21 million in campaign cash on hand as of July 15, according to Federal Election Commission filings. McSally raised more than $30 million and had $11 million left to spend. The contest will be by far the most expensive Senate race in Arizona history.

Democrat Kyrsten Sinema holds Arizona’s other Senate seat after defeating McSally in the 2018 election. Sinema’s win was the first by an Arizona Democrat since Dennis DeConcini was re-elected in 1988, and the first by a non-incumbent Arizona Democrat since DeConcini was first elected in 1976. After losing to Sinema, McSally was appointed to the Senate seat formerly held by the late John McCain. McSally or Kelly will serve the remainder of the six-year term that McCain won in 2016 and expires at the end of 2022.

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.




Giroux’s Gem: 33.5 (from July 20 podcast)

Georgia Democrat John Lewis, the legendary civil rights leader who died July 17 at age 80, represented the Atlanta area in the U.S. House for 33.5 years and was the most senior Black legislator in the 116th Congress.

John Lewis

His nonviolent activism, which Lewis liked to call getting into “good trouble,” spanned more than six decades and included the Nashville sit-ins in 1960, when Lewis was a seminary student in Tennessee. He participated in the Freedom Rides in 1961 and addressed the March on Washington in 1963, when the 23-year-old Lewis led the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In 1965, Lewis suffered a fractured skull from Alabama troopers while marching with civil rights activists across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.

Lewis served on the Atlanta City Council and was first elected to Congress in 1986. He became a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee and was a longtime advocate of voting rights protections and establishing what became the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. Lewis was overwhelmingly re-elected to Congress every two years.

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.


Giroux’s Gem: 1988 (from July 13 podcast)

That was the last year Democrats won U.S. Senate elections in Maine and Texas.

Democrats in both states on July 14 nominated candidates to oppose longtime Republican incumbents who probably will face the toughest re-election campaigns of their careers.

In Maine, state House Speaker Sara Gideon easily won the Democratic primary and will oppose Sen. Susan Collins. In Texas, Air Force veteran MJ Hegar narrowly won a Democratic runoff and will go up against Sen. John Cornyn.

Though Maine has voted Democratic in seven consecutive presidential elections, the last Democrat who won a Senate election there was former Majority Leader George Mitchell 32 years ago. He didn’t seek re-election in 1994 and was succeeded by Republican Olympia Snowe, who served until 2013. Snowe was succeeded by Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democratic Party but is not a member. King was re-elected in 2018 without serious opposition from Democrats.

Maine’s other Senate seat was held by Republican Bill Cohen from 1979 to 1997 and since then by Collins, who will be sharing a ballot with President Donald Trump in a state he lost in the 2016 presidential election. Gideon raised and banked more campaign money than Collins through June 24.

In Texas, the last Democratic victor in a Senate race was Lloyd Bentsen, who was re-elected in 1988 at the same time he was the vice presidential nominee on the national Democratic ticket that lost Texas and the presidential election. Republicans have won every Senate election since, though Texas hosted a close race in 2018, when Sen. Ted Cruz (R) was re-elected by 3 percentage points over Democrat Beto O’Rourke.

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.

Giroux's Gem iPad




Giroux’s Gem: 13 (from June 29 podcast)

There are 13 former governors serving in the Senate.

Washington, D.C.

Four of them are seeking re-election in November: Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.).

“As a former governor, we have a real interest in making sure that there is a good, cooperative spirit between the federal government and state governments,” Rounds said on the Senate floor in March.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R), Tennessee’s governor from 1979 to 1987, is the only member of the club who’s leaving at the end of the year.

“I’m a recovering governor, so I keep having these outbursts of executive leadership that I try to impose on the Senate, which isn’t that easy,” Alexander, who’s retiring after three Senate terms, said at a medical innovation conference in 2015.

The other ex-governors in the Senate are Tom Carper (D-Del.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Jim Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), and Rick Scott (R-Fla.). Hassan and Hoeven are up for re-election in 2022.

One sitting governor and one former governor are seeking to join the Senate.

In Montana, Gov. Steve Bullock (D) is challenging Sen. Steve Daines (R). Montana votes strongly Republican in presidential elections but has split its tickets to vote Democratic for governor, including for Bullock in 2012 and 2016.

In Colorado, former Gov. John Hickenlooper won a Democratic primary June 30 and will oppose Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Hickenlooper previously ruled out running for the Senate, but Democratic leaders persuaded him to run not long after his presidential campaign faltered. They supported Hickenlooper over other Democrats in part because he won two statewide elections for governor in 2010 and 2014, both good Republican years.

“Downballot Counts” includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.



Giroux’s Gem: 123 (from June 22 podcast)

That’s the sum total of years of U.S. House service that will have been accumulated at the end of the 116th Congress by New York’s three retiring members of Congress plus Eliot Engel (D), the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman who faces a difficult re-election in a primary Tuesday.

American flag

Engel, who represents part of the Bronx and Westchester County and first came to Congress in 1989, is the co-dean of the New York House delegation along with Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, who represents an adjacent district and isn’t seeking re-election after 32 years of service. In the south Bronx, Democrat Jose Serrano is retiring after almost 31 years of service. Rep. Pete King, New York’s most senior Republican, is leaving after 28 years in the House.

So New York will see a new generation of officeholders in those three districts and possibly in Engel’s district. Engel is opposed by Jamaal Bowman, an educator who is almost three decades Engel’s junior. There are crowded Democratic candidate fields in Lowey’s district and in Serrano’s district, where the Democratic primaries are the deciding elections, while King’s mildly Republican district on Long Island is one to keep an eye on in the general election. Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney, a House member since 1993, and Yvette Clarke, in office since 2007, face rematches against the same primary challengers who ran serious campaigns against them in the 2018 primary.

“Downballot Counts” includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.



Giroux’s Gem: 56 (from June 15 podcast)

There are 56 black members of Congress in the 116th Congress, including 53 House members and three senators. That amounts to less than 11% of the total membership. There are also two black delegates in the House who have limited voting rights on the floor.

Capitol rotunda

The longest-serving black member of the 116th Congress is John Lewis (D-Ga.), the civil rights icon from Atlanta who’s been in the House since 1987. The highest-ranking black member of the 116th Congress is Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the House Majority Whip.

All are Democrats except for Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), who isn’t seeking re-election this year.

Black representation in Congress may increase in an election year influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement, which has spurred protests against police brutality and white supremacy and called for more social, economic, and political power for black people.

In New York’s Democratic primary on June 23, educator Jamaal Bowman may unseat Rep. Eliot Engel, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, in the strongly Democratic 16th District in parts of Westchester County and the Bronx. Mondaire Jones, a lawyer and former Justice Department aide in the Obama administration, is a leading Democratic candidate to succeed retiring Rep. Nita Lowey (D) in the 17th District, which also includes parts of Westchester.

In New York’s 15th District in the south Bronx, New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres and state Assemblyman Michael Blake are among the Democratic candidates seeking the seat of retiring Rep. José E. Serrano (D).

In New York’s 2nd District on Long Island, Democratic officials are backing Jackie Gordon, an Army veteran and educator, for the seat of retiring Rep. Pete King (R).

Ahead of Kentucky’s Democratic Senate primary on June 23, state Rep. Charles Booker won endorsements from progressive leaders and newspaper editorials in his campaign to upset Amy McGrath, the well-funded endorsed candidate of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The Democratic nominee will face Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Kentucky has never had a black member of Congress.

Prominent black Republican candidates include John James, a businessman and military veteran seeking to defeat Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Wesley Hunt, an Iraq War veteran who’s the party’s nominee against Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D) in Texas’ 7th District in metropolitan Houston.

“Downballot Counts” includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.



Giroux’s Gem: 7,383 (from June 8 podcast)


There are 7,383 seats in the 50 state legislatures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. About 80% of those seats are up for election in November.

Casting vote

Republicans hold 52% of all state legislative seats compared with 47% for Democrats, and the GOP controls 59 state legislative chambers compared with 39 for Democrats, NCSL data show. Nebraska has a unicameral legislature that’s technically nonpartisan.

State legislative elections in November carry outsized significance because governors and state legislatures in most states will oversee the process of redrawing congressional and state legislative district lines starting next year.

On the June 8 episode of the BGOV’s “Downballot Counts” podcast, Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee president Jessica Post identified which Republican-controlled legislatures her organization is targeting — and which Democratic-held legislatures will be the most difficult for her party to maintain.

“Downballot Counts” includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.



Giroux’s Gem: 4 (from June 1 podcast)


In the 2018 election, four House members were defeated for re-election in the primaries: Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), and Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.). Ayanna Pressley, who defeated Capuano, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who unseated Joe Crowley, were elected in November and serve in the current 116th Congress.

Vote Here sign

In 2017, Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) was defeated by Roy Moore in a special primary runoff election after he was appointed to succeed Republican Jeff Sessions, who became President Donald Trump’s attorney general. Moore then lost to Democrat Doug Jones, who is seeking a full term in November against the winner of a Republican runoff July 14 between Sessions and former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville.

Two House members have been denied renomination thus far in the 2020 election. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) was ousted by lawyer Marie Newman in March, and Steve King (R-Iowa) fell to state Sen. Randy Feenstra in a June 2 primary.

House members facing serious intraparty competition in upcoming elections include Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) in a June 13 convention, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) in a June 23 primary, and Steve Watkins (R-Kan.) in a Aug. 4 primary.

Click here for my list of all members of Congress since 1968 who were defeated for renomination.In the 2018 election, four House members were defeated for re-election in the primaries: Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), and Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.).

“Downballot Counts” includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.



Giroux’s Gem: 476 (from May 18 podcast)


That was the record number of women who ran for the U.S. House in the 2018 election, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.

Woman at podium speaking to an audience

The 2020 election will set a new high watermark. CAWP identified 490 women – 295 Democrats and 195 Republicans – who filed to run for the House this year as of May 13, with the number to rise after all candidate filing periods conclude.

“Seeing us break the record this cycle when we still have a number of states left to file is a good sign, a good indicator, that 2018 wasn’t just a blip,” Kelly Dittmar, a CAWP scholar and political scientist at Rutgers University–Camden, said on Bloomberg Government’s “Downballot Counts” podcast May 18.

Republicans shattered their record of 133 women who sought House seats in 2010. Democrats are on pace to top their record of 356 set in 2018, when 120 Republican women ran. After a dominant showing for Democrats in the 2018 House elections, Democratic women now outnumber Republican women by 88 to 13 in the House.

“Is that encouragement of getting Republican women on a primary ballot translating into getting them to the general election and getting them to win? That’s going to be a big question for this cycle,” Dittmar said.

“Downballot Counts” includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.



Giroux’s Gem: 101 (from May 11 podcast)


There are 101 women presently serving in the U.S. House, less than one-fourth of the membership.

Giroux's Gem 101

The all-time high of 102, set at the start of the current 116th Congress, was reduced with the resignation of Katie Hill (D-Calif.) last November.

Democrats nominated women in special elections May 12 in Hill’s district and in a vacant Wisconsin district formerly held by Sean Duffy (R). Christy Smith lost to Republican Mike Garcia in California and Tricia Zunker was defeated by Republican Tom Tiffany in Wisconsin.

There are 88 Democratic women and 13 Republican women in the House, a big partisan shift toward Democrats and away from Republicans compared with the 64 Democratic women and 23 Republican women in the House in the 115th Congress, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Republican officials recruited more women to run for Congress in the 2020 election.

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.



Giroux’s Gem: 69 (from May 4 podcast)


Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.), who announced April 28 he was joining the Libertarian Party and running for president, is the first member of the House in more than 69 years to formally affiliate with a recognized political party other than the Democrats or the Republicans. Amash was first elected to Congress in 2010 as a Republican and became an independent in July 2019.

“It’s an important step for our young party, and I’m honored to be a part of it,” Amash wrote on Twitter May 2 after Bloomberg Government noted the House Clerk’s office had updated its website to reflect his new Libertarian affiliation.

The last third-party House member was Vito Marcantonio of New York, who served from 1935 to 1937 and again from 1939 to 1951. He was originally elected in 1934 as a progressive Republican, lost re-election in 1936, and then was elected in 1938 under the banner of the far-left American Labor Party and won five more elections.

In an infamous 1950 Senate race in California, future Republican President Richard Nixon unfavorably compared Democratic opponent Helen Gahagan Douglas to Marcantonio.  According to Greg Mitchell’s 1998 book “Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady,” a Nixon campaign flyer referred to Marcantonio as a “notorious Communist party-liner” and noted the “great number of times which Mrs. Douglas voted in agreement with him.” Nixon won the election.

Marcantonio was defeated for re-election in 1950 and left Congress at the end of his term in January 1951.

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.


Giroux’s Gem: 2011 (from April 27 podcast)


It’s been almost nine years since Republicans won a special U.S. House election for a congressional seat vacated by a Democrat. In September 2011, Republican Bob Turner upset Democrat David Weprin in a New York City district that Democrat Anthony Weiner vacated with his resignation.

Republicans are trying to win a Democratic-held seat in a May 12 special election in California’s 25th District, a politically competitive area that includes Santa Clarita, Palmdale, Simi Valley and other communities in parts of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. Democrat Katie Hill resigned from Congress last November for personal reasons.

The special election pits Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith against Republican Mike Garcia, a former Navy fighter pilot. California’s 25^th^ District voted by 50%-44% for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and by 51%-49% for Democrat Gavin Newsom in the 2018 governor’s election, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Government. In the all-candidate, single-ballot primary in March, six Democrats led by Smith won 51% of the vote, and six Republicans led by Garcia won 49%. Hill unseated Rep. Steve Knight (R) in the 2018 general election.

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.



Giroux’s Gem: $71.6 million (from April 20 podcast)


That’s the total campaign cash-on-hand as of March 31 for the 29 U.S. House Democrats seeking re-election in November from congressional districts President Donald Trump won in the 2016 election, according to a Bloomberg Government analysis of campaign-finance reports filed last week with the Federal Election Commission. That’s an average of $2.47 million for the 29 Democrats.

Giroux's Gems $71.6 thumbnail

Republicans, seeking a net gain of almost 20 seats to overturn the Democratic majority, are seeking to unseat most of the Democrats from districts the president carried.

The best funded Democrat in this group is two-term Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, who ended March with $7.9 million in his campaign account. Among the 21 freshmen in this bloc, the most cash-rich are Elissa Slotkin of Michigan ($3.7 million), Max Rose of New York ($3.3 million), Abigail Spanberger of Virginia ($3.1 million), and Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico ($2.95 million)

Incumbents almost always outraise challengers, and all 29 Democrats had more campaign funds banked than their best-financed Republican challengers – in many cases, significantly more. Slotkin has more than nine times as much in her campaign account as her leading Republican opponent. Jared Golden of Maine, Haley Stevens of Michigan, Mikie Sherill of New Jersey, Antonio Delgado of New York, and Spanberger are among Trump-district Democrats with more than a 10 to 1 cash advantage. Angie Craig of Minnesota had more than 20 times as much as her best-funded Republican opponent.

For more:

Vulnerable House Democrats Dominate First-Quarter Race for Cash

Democratic Challengers Dominate Fundraising in Key Senate Races

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.



Giroux’s Gem: 11 (from April 13 podcast)


Eleven states are holding elections for governor this year.

Republicans are defending governorships in seven of the states – Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia.

The states lean Republican except for Vermont, where Gov. Phil Scott has been a popular moderate Republican in Sen. Bernie Sanders’ home state, and New Hampshire, where Gov. Chris Sununu was re-elected 53%-46% in 2018.

In Missouri, Republican Mike Parson is seeking election as governor in his own right after elevating to the position from lieutenant governor in 2018. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is seeking re-election as a Republican after winning the office in 2016 as a Democrat. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is the only Republican governor not seeking re-election this year.

Democrats are the defending party in governor’s elections in Delaware, Montana, North Carolina, and Washington.

In Montana, Gov. Steve Bullock is term-limited after eight years and is seeking a Senate seat in a state that voted for President Donald Trump by 20 percentage points in the 2016 election. In North Carolina, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is opposed by Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest in a state that probably will also have competitive elections for Senate and president.

Republicans presently hold 26 of the 50 governorships. In most states, governors presiding in 2021 and 2022 will sign into law or veto maps that redraw congressional and state legislative boundary lines.

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections and other downballot contests, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.



Giroux’s Gem: 38 (from April 6 podcast)


That’s the number of states that hold elections for state Supreme Court.

Thirty-five of those states have Supreme Court elections this year, according to Ballotpedia. Most of them are in November, coinciding with the presidential general election.

Wisconsin held a Supreme Court election April 7 in which Jill Karofsky, a Dane County (Madison) judge backed by Democrats and liberal groups, unseated Justice Daniel Kelly, who was supported by President Donald Trump and Republican organizations.

Supreme Court elections in Wisconsin and some other states are nominally nonpartisan elections, and political parties and outside interest groups often identify preferred candidates and intervene in the elections with millions of dollars in campaign spending.

“Historically, state supreme court elections, which 38 states use as part of their system for choosing high court judges, have seen vastly more spending in presidential cycles, and big-money races are already underway (or all but guaranteed) in a handful of battleground states,” according to a December 2019 report from the Brennan Center for Justice and the National Institute on Money in Politics.

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections and other downballot contests, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.



Giroux’s Gem: 328.2 million (from March 30 podcast)


The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the U.S. population was 328.2 million as of July 1, 2019. The U.S. is the world’s third most-populous country, after China and India.

Census 2020

According to county population estimates the Census Bureau released last week, three of four counties with at least 50,000 people were more populous in 2019 compared with 2010, while three of four counties with fewer than 10,000 people shrank in population during the period.

The most populous county is Los Angeles County, California, home to more than 10 million people – more than the population in 40 states. Fast-growing Texas accounted for eight of the 12 counties that had the largest net population gain in the year ended July 1, 2019, Census Bureau estimates show.

The Census Bureau is conducting the once-per-decade, official headcount of the U.S. population and will release official national and state totals by Dec. 31. The national Census Day is April 1, 2020.

The official population figures will govern the reapportionment of the 435 House seats. States with above-average population growth in the 2010s will gain seats at the expense of states that grew more slowly or lost population during the decade. The reapportionment will also determine the number of electoral votes for each state in the 2024 and 2028 presidential elections, for a state’s electoral vote allocation is the sum of its U.S. senators and House members.

In early 2021, the Census Bureau will provide detailed population data to the states so that state governments or redistricting commissions can begin the process of redrawing political boundary lines.

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.



Giroux’s Gem: 57.2 million (from March 23 podcast)


In the 2016 election, about 57.2 million voters cast their ballots early, absentee, or by mail. That was about 40% of the total electorate and more than twice as many voters who cast ballots in that fashion in the 2004 election, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Sixteen states in 2016 had a majority of ballots cast via early, absentee, or mail ballots, EAC data show.

The coronavirus pandemic has fueled calls to facilitate more voting by mail and extending early-voting and absentee-voting periods. Many states with primaries in March, April, and early May have postponed them for weeks or months. A coronavirus economic stimulus package released March 25 included $400 million in election assistance for states but didn’t create a national requirement for voting by mail, as some Democrats proposed.

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.



Giroux’s Gem: 37 (from March 16 podcast)


That’s how long an Illinois Democrat with the surname Lipinski has represented Illinois in Congress. Democrat Bill Lipinski held the Chicago-area 3rd District from 1983 to 2005, when he was succeeded by his son, Democrat Dan Lipinski.

Cityscape

That’s how long an Illinois Democrat with the surname Lipinski has represented Illinois in Congress. Democrat Bill Lipinski held the Chicago-area 3rd District from 1983 to 2005, when he was succeeded by his son, Democrat Dan Lipinski.

That streak is coming to an end next January, following Dan Lipinski’s defeat in the March 17 Democratic primary to Marie Newman, a former advertising executive who ran as a more progressive candidate. It was a rematch of a 2018 primary that Lipinski won narrowly.

For more: Liberals Win With Lipinski Loss in House As Sanders Stumbles

Lipinski’s departure will thin the House Democratic Caucus of one of its least liberal members. He opposes abortion and is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition of Democrats who emphasize fiscal restraint. Lipinski is a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and chairman of its Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee.

“Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections, includes a Giroux’s Gem on each weekly episode. Click here to listen.



Giroux’s Gem: 28


That was the percentage-point margin of victory for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election in Alabama, where Sen. Doug Jones (D) is seeking re-election in November and will be sharing a ballot with Trump and the Democratic presidential nominee.

Giroux's Gem 28 table

To win again, Jones will need significant crossover support in a state where Trump won about 1.32 million votes in 2016 (62%) compared with about 730,000 (34%) for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Amid a time of more  straight-ticket voting, Jones is among just 11 senators from states the opposite political party carried in the 2016 presidential election. Nine of them are Democrats; Jones and Gary Peters (Mich.) are the only two from states Trump won in 2016 who are up for re-election in November. The other seven Democrats were elected or re-elected in the November 2018 election.

The two Republican senators from states Trump lost in 2016, Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado, have competitive re-election campaigns in November.

Alabama Republicans will choose an opponent for Jones starting in a March 3 primary. A runoff election March 31 is likely.

There’s a Giroux’s Gem in every episode of Downballot Counts, Bloomberg Government’s weekly podcast analyzing the 2020 House and Senate elections.



Giroux’s Gem: 30

That’s the number of Democrats that are currently in the House of Representatives from districts that President Donald Trump carried in the 2016 election.

All of but one of them are currently seeking re-election in November: Dave Loebsack of Iowa’s 2nd District is the only retiree in this group.

Whether Democrats can keep the majority they wrested from the Republicans in the 2018 election will depend in large part on how these Trump-district Democrats perform in the November election. Most of them were first elected in 2018 to districts previously held by Republicans. They’ve been raising large sums of campaign funds to gird themselves for serious re-election opposition from Republicans.

Giroux's Gem 30 table



Giroux’s Gem: 89


That’s the number of U.S. senators representing states that were carried by their party in the most recent presidential election.

Image for Giroux's gem 89

Put another way, 89% of the Senate’s members are either Republicans from states President Donald Trump won in the 2016 election or Democrats from states Trump lost.

That number is an all-time high and “another gauge of increasingly nationalized, president-centered electoral politics,” according to political scientist Gary Jacobson. It’s an increase from 76 in 2009-2010, 61 in 1999-2000, and 47 in 1989-1990, Jacobson’s data show. In those days there was more ticket-splitting in states that would opt for a presidential nominee of one party and for a senator from the opposite party.

Of the 53 Republican senators in the current 116th Congress, 51 are from states that Trump won. Of the 47 senators who are Democrats or caucus with them, 38 are from states that backed Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.



The Significance of 113


That’s the number of U.S. House districts in the five states holding the first congressional primaries of the 2020 election on March 3 (“Super Tuesday”).

Image for Giroux's gem 113

The states are California (53 districts), Texas (36), North Carolina (13), Alabama (7), and Arkansas (4). The 113 districts account for 26% of the 435 districts nationwide.

Contests on the March 3 ballot include the first-round vote in a special election in California’s 25th District, where Katie Hill (D) resigned last November. No candidate is likely to win a majority of the vote needed to win, and the top two finishers would compete in a special general election on May 12.

In Texas, six House Republicans aren’t seeking re-election. They include Will Hurd, one of just three Republicans in the House from districts President Donald Trump didn’t win in the 2016 election.

North Carolina has a new congressional map under which Democrats may net two seats in November.

Alabama, North Carolina and Texas also have Senate elections worth watching.

Listen to the first episode of “Downballot Counts,” Bloomberg Government’s podcast analyzing the 2020 U.S. House and Senate elections. Each weekly episode will include a Giroux’s Gem number of the week. Click here.



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