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: 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, 2020 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, 2020 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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