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The Political Report – 11/3/21

“Virginia voters chose Republican Glenn Youngkin as their next governor, dramatic reversal for a state that had appeared solidly Democratic in recent years and a significant loss for President Biden and the party’s establishment,” the Washington Post reports.

“Youngkin is now a bright new star for the GOP — a basketball-playing business tycoon who navigated the trickiest path in politics, appealing to moderate voters while still bringing out the most enthusiastic followers of Trump.”

“In a shocker, the contest, once seen as a shoo-in for Gov. Phil Murphy, remained too close to call Wednesday, with results so far showing the Democratic governor and Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli less than 1 percentage point apart,” NJ.com reports.

“Eric Adams, a former New York City police captain whose attention-grabbing persona and keen focus on racial justice fueled a decades-long career in public life, was elected on Tuesday as the 110th mayor of New York, and the second Black mayor in the city’s history,” the New York Times reports.

Jonathan Bernstein: “You’re going to hear plenty of explanations, but if you actually want to know what happened, it’s pretty straightforward. This is the 11th out of the last 12 times that the president’s party lost the Virginia gubernatorial election — the numbers in New Jersey are similar — and with President Joe Biden currently at 43% approval measured by public opinion polls, the result was pretty much what one would expect.”

“If Biden is at 43% or lower a year from now, the chances are very good that Republicans will win big in the midterms. Of course, the next question is why Biden’s popularity has slumped, but the bulk of that is surely about the latest pandemic wave and a mediocre economic quarter. Sure, other things may have mattered on the margins, both for Biden’s popularity and the Virginia and New Jersey elections, and the margins can be extremely important when it comes to winning and losing. But the big picture isn’t very complicated. Republicans are doing well because there’s an incumbent Democrat president, and he’s not very popular right now.”

Geoffrey Skelley: “One inescapable fact about this election is that it took place in an environment that was favorable to Republicans. There’s no better indicator of that than President Biden’s poor approval rating, which stood at about 43% coming into Election Day in FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker.”

Former President Donald Trump is gloating over Glenn Youngkin’s (R) likely win in the Virginia governor’s race, The Hill reports.

Said Trump: “It is looking like Terry McAuliffe’s campaign against a certain person named ‘Trump’ has very much helped Glenn Youngkin. All McAuliffe did was talk Trump, Trump, Trump and he lost!” 

He added: “I guess people running for office as Democrats won’t be doing that too much longer. I didn’t even have to go rally for Youngkin, because McAuliffe did it for me. Thank you to the MAGA voters for turning out big!”

Washington Post: “Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin and Trump repeatedly spoke by phone over the course of the campaign, according to people familiar with the conversations who were not authorized to speak publicly, allowing the two men to go the length of the contest without saying negative things about each other or clashing on strategy.”

Aaron Blake: “Not to make everything about Trump, but the GOP’s ability to distance itself from him — and Democrats’ ability or inability to tie Republicans to him — matters in upcoming elections, especially with Trump out of office.”

“Youngkin provided a road map for the GOP when Trump isn’t front-of-mind for most people. Whether Trump will stay so out-of-mind ahead of the 2024 election is a very relevant question.”

“What also matters is whether Republicans can actually put forward candidates like Youngkin and perhaps Ciattarelli who can effectively craft their own brand. That’s especially true given how much some top GOP Senate candidates have tied themselves to Trump in the service of winning primaries — and how much Republicans might nominate candidates more extreme and with more baggage than Youngkin because they have Trump’s backing.”

“Minneapolis voters on Tuesday soundly rejected a proposal to replace the Minneapolis Police Department, crushing the hopes of supporters that outrage over the killing of George Floyd would translate into one of the nation’s most far reaching experiments in transforming public safety,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

“New York voters appeared to reject three ballot proposals that would have implemented reforms favored by elected Democrats, including same-day voter registration and a measure that would have allowed anyone to cast an absentee ballot,” the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports.

“Curtis Sliwa (R) brought a special guest with him to vote on Tuesday: Gizmo, one of the 17 cats he lives with in a studio apartment,” the New York Times reports.

“But Gizmo was denied entry to the polling site, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and Mr. Sliwa, the Republican nominee for mayor, was irate.”

“More problems soon followed, and Mr. Sliwa openly quarreled with election officials, shouting: ‘Arrest me!’ when they asked him to take off a red jacket with his name on it — an apparent violation of electioneering rules.”

IOWA REDISTRICTING. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds still hasn’t put her signature on the new congressional and legislative maps proposed by the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency, which both chambers of Iowa’s Republican-controlled legislature passed by almost unanimous votes last week, but it’s not too early to analyze the new congressional boundaries. Under this map, just like with the current one, Donald Trump carried the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Districts by small margins while overwhelmingly winning the 4th District in western Iowa.

The new map essentially means that the 1st and 2nd Districts would trade numbers. Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson unsurprisingly confirmed Friday that she’d run for the new 2nd District, which is home to over 85% of her current 1st District. Democratic state Sen. Liz Mathis, who announced her bid against Hinson before the new map was released, likewise announced that she’d be continuing her campaign against Hinson. The new 2nd District, which is located in the northeast corner of the state, supported Trump 51.3-46.9, which makes it a tick redder than his 50.8-47.4 showing in the current 1st.

The new 1st District in southeastern Iowa, meanwhile, is home to a similar proportion of Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ current 2nd District, so it would be somewhat surprising if she didn’t run for re-election here. However, Miller-Meeks’ Wapello County home was shifted to the new 3rd District, and the congresswoman hasn’t ruled out running there instead. She said Friday, “I will be evaluating the new districts to determine my next step, which I will be announcing shortly.”

Trump won the new 1st District 50.5-47.6, which is a little more than a point smaller than his 51.1-47.1 performance in the current 2nd. That shift to the left could make all the difference for Miller-Meeks, who won her 2020 race by all of 6 votes.

The new 3rd District, which is home to Des Moines, went for Trump 49.3-48.9, which makes it a little redder than his 49.1-49.0 showing in the current 3rd. Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne, who also represents about 85% of this new seat, has not yet announced her 2022 plans, and her team said Friday she was still “weighing options in the third district including running for Congress or running for governor.”

There’s not likely to be much drama in the new 4th District, though, which gave Trump a 62-36 win that wasn’t much different from his 63-36 victory in the current version of the seat. GOP Rep. Randy Feenstra represents just over 80% of the new seat, and there’s no indication that any notable Republicans are considering taking him on in a primary.

COLORADO REDISTRICTING. As expected, the Colorado Supreme Court has approved the new map adopted by the state’s independent congressional redistricting commission in September. Under the 2018 amendments that created the commission and its separate legislative counterpart, the court is required to assess any maps to ensure they adhere to criteria laid out in the state constitution and accept input from interested parties. The justices concluded that the map’s challengers did not meet the constitution’s high standard of review: whether commissioners engaged in an “abuse of discretion.”

Those challengers included Latino voting rights advocates, who argued that the state constitution provided greater protections for racial and language minority groups than specified in the Voting Rights Act. The court, however, agreed with the commissioners, ruling that language in the constitution does not afford such groups additional protections. The justices also rejected complaints from Democrats that the commission failed to properly prioritize the creation of competitive districts.

The end result is a map that could easily result in equal representation for Republicans and Democrats, despite the fact that the state voted for Joe Biden by a comfortable 55-42 margin last year. That’s because the new 8th District, based in the Denver suburbs, would have gone for Biden 51-46 and in fact would have voted for Donald Trump 46-45 in 2016. The map also makes the 7th, another Denver-area seat, several points redder, taking it from 60-37 Biden to 56-42 Biden—and Hillary Clinton would have carried it just 47-44. In a tough year for Democrats, then, Republicans could wind up with a 5-3 majority.

Conversely, the Republican seat that Democrats were most eager to target—the 3rd District, held by conspiracy theorist Lauren Boebert—would shift a couple points to the right, from 52-46 Trump to 53-45 Trump. That very likely puts it out of reach for Democrats, at least for 2022 if not beyond.

Thanks to Colorado’s 2018 amendments, the legislature and governor no longer play a role in redistricting, meaning that the new congressional map is now law. The state Supreme Court is also reviewing the commission’s legislative proposals, but they’ll likely pass muster for the same reasons. While it’s possible that these maps could face further legal challenges through normal lawsuits, the Supreme Court’s interpretation of state law regarding the Voting Rights Act probably forecloses what would have been the most potent avenue of attack.

NORTH CAROLINA REDISTRICTING. A committee in North Carolina’s Republican-run state Senate passed the GOP’s new congressional redistricting proposal in a party-line vote on Monday. The map would enshrine gerrymandered districts that would give Republicans 10 seats in the state’s House delegation to just four for Democrats, and possibly even give the GOP an 11-3 advantage.

Most notably, the plan would split the Piedmont Triad (the region in the north-central part of the state made up of the cities of Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point) between three different districts, despite the fact that Republicans had to reunite that very same area after state courts blocked the GOP’s previous map in 2019. Under North Carolina law, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper would not be able to veto any maps passed by Republicans.

TEXAS GOVERNOR. YouGov’s new survey for the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation and Rice University gives Republican Gov. Greg Abbott a tiny 43-42 edge against 2018 Senate nominee Beto O’Rourke, who has not yet announced his plans, in a hypothetical general election. Back in June, a Public Opinion Strategies internal for Abbott showed the incumbent ahead 52-42.

YouGov also tests a scenario where actor Matthew McConaughey runs as an independent and finds Abbott defeating O’Rourke by a slightly larger 40-37 spread as 9% goes to McConaughey. The self-described “aggressively centrist” Oscar winner has spent the year flirting with a bid, though he’s declined to say which party, if any, he’d run with.

YouGov also takes a look at the GOP primary, and it finds Abbott in strong shape to win renomination. This portion of the survey, which sampled 405 Republican voters, has the governor defeating former Florida Rep. Allen West 64-13, with another 5% going to ex-state Sen. Don Huffines.

FLORIDA TWENTIETH CD. The Democratic firm Expedition Strategies, working on behalf of the group Pro-Israel America, has released the first, and likely only, Democratic primary poll we’ve seen since July, but it finds no favorite heading into the elecction today:

  • Businesswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick: 15
  • Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness: 14
  • Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief: 13
  • State Sen. Perry Thurston: 10
  • State Rep. Bobby DuBose: 6
  • State Rep. Omari Hardy: 5

A 27% plurality of respondents are undecided in a contest where only a simple plurality is needed to prevail. Hardy has attracted attention in this contest for his opposition to U.S. military aid to Israel, but Pro-Israel America has not endorsed anyone or otherwise gotten involved in this race.

EMILY’s List on Friday endorsed Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief, a development that came days before the crowded special election Democratic primary. Inside Elections’ Jacob Rubashkin, though, says that EMILY has been “heavily involved” with her bid for months, including in mid-July when it helped “overhaul her campaign team.”

OKLAHOMA REDISTRICTING. Republican lawmakers in Oklahoma have released a new draft congressional map that, as expected, would make the state’s only competitive seat safely red by shattering the Oklahoma City area and dividing it between three districts. Under the old map, 92% of Oklahoma County is contained in the 5th and just 8% in the 4th; the new proposal would place a full third of the county—a portion that voted 54-43 for Joe Biden and includes its most heavily Latino precincts—into the 3rd and 4th Districts.

As a result, the 5th District, which voted for Donald Trump by a 51-46 margin last year, would instead have gone for Trump 58-39 according to Dave’s Redistricting App. This gerrymander would insulate Republican Rep. Stephanie Bice from future challenges after she unseated Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn in a close 52-48 contest in 2020.

OHIO REDISTRICTING. Ohio’s Republican-dominated redistricting commission has, as expected, missed its Oct. 31 deadline to draft a new congressional map, kicking the process back to the state legislature. That development came a month after lawmakers missed their own Sept. 30 deadline to come up with a new map, which punted the task to the commission in the first place. Now Republicans will be able to adopt new districts with less support from Democrats than would have been necessary previously, or even none at all.

ARKANSAS REDISTRICTING. The state Board of Apportionment, which consists of Arkansas’ Republican governor, secretary of state, and attorney general, has released initial draft maps for the state House and Senate. The board plans to vote on the maps on Nov. 29, and you can find detailed maps and population summary data here.

ARIZONA REDISTRICTING. Arizona’s independent redistricting commission has unanimously voted to adopt draft maps for Congress and the state legislature (both the state Senate and House use the same district lines), setting off a 30-day period for public comments. Commissioners plan to give final approval to new maps by Dec. 22 after incorporating public feedback over the next several weeks. You can find data files for the new maps here, and we have also uploaded the congressional map to Dave’s Redistricting App, which has partisan and racial statistics.

The new congressional map in particular scrambles both the district numbers and the partisan composition of several districts when compared to the current map (one of several criteria requires commissioners to consider competitiveness). Three Democrats would see their seats shift to the right and become much more competitive or even GOP-leaning, while two Republicans would see their districts move considerably to the left to become much more swingy. While the map preserves the current two Latino-majority seats held by Democratic Reps. Raúl Grijalva and Ruben Gallego, it would make it harder for Native American voters, who are a solidly Democratic constituency, to elect their preferred candidates in one district.

Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran’s 1st District in the northeastern part of the state would be renumbered the 2nd District and lurch to the right from backing Joe Biden 50-48 last year under the current lines to supporting Donald Trump 53-45 according to DRA. O’Halleran would likely start at a significant disadvantage if he chooses to seek re-election next year after he won just 52-48 in 2020, a margin of only 3 points after rounding. The new 2nd District’s eligible voter population would also be 21% Native American, making it one of the most heavily Native districts in the country, but unlike the current 1st District where Native voters have a chance to elect their chosen candidates — Democrats — the new 2nd makes that much more difficult.

Elsewhere in the state, retiring Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick’s Tucson-based 2nd District would be renumbered the 6th District and shift from 55-45 Biden to just 51-47 Biden. Fellow Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton’s suburban Phoenix-based 9th District would get renumbered the 4th and move from 61-37 Biden to a much narrower 53-45 Biden.

On the flip side, Republican Rep. David Schweikert’s 6th District in the northern Phoenix suburbs would become the new 1st District and swing from 51-47 Trump to 50-48 Biden. Schweikert faced a hotly contested 2020 election and only won by 52-48, meaning he could be very vulnerable in another Democratic-leaning year. Lastly, Republican Rep. Debbie Lesko’s 8th District in Phoenix’s northwestern suburbs keeps the current district number but zooms leftward from 57-41 Trump to just 50-48 Trump. Meanwhile, Republican Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs would continue to hold safely red seats.

Thus, Republicans would have a chance to win a 7-2 majority in a favorable year, but Democrats could be able to win a 6-3 advantage if Arizona and the Phoenix suburbs in particular continue to trend blue.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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