The passage of Labor Day brings with it the symbolic “kickoff” of more than just the 2018 football season. It also kicks off the stretch run of the election campaign season, as we are now less than 10 weeks from Election Day. What’s more—within a week of this piece landing on your screen, we will be done with the primary election season (excluding Louisiana, of course, which has preserved its unique electoral system by declaring the federal Election Day in November as their “primary” election).
With that in mind, it’s time to take our first look, now that the November field has largely been set, at the states which will be the most likely to occupy your attention come Election Night.
Before we do so, though, there are a few caveats. First of all, this is not to imply that these are the only states worthy of your attention come November. This is just an exercise in letting the election enthusiast with a national perspective know, on balance, which states have the largest array of competitive races. Some of the most intriguing individual races on deck for Election Night 2018 are not being held in states that made the top 10 here.
It is also not meant to be exclusionary. Even states that, by our metric, scored a perfect zero still have an array of competitive state legislative races, or local elections, worthy of your attention if you live there. Any election matters, of course, if it is in your backyard. So even the state that, by this metric, comes in 50th place across the country should be on the radar of the residents in that state. The fact that the state’s election docket might not intrigue someone 1,500 miles away does nothing to change that.
Last, but not least, let’s lay out the criteria. The list of “places to watch” was crafted by utilizing a point system that takes into account our Daily Kos Elections race ratings for 2018. For statewide elections (U.S. Senate/governor), a tossup race was awarded 10 points, a race “leaning” to one party was awarded 6 points, and a race viewed as “likely” to be won by a party was awarded 3 points. For U.S. House races, races with those designations were awarded 4 points (tossup), 2 points (leaning), or a single point (likely). As an added piece of the criteria, and a nod to a series of races that we obviously find important here at DKE, state legislatures that were within range of flipping to the out-party were also taken into consideration, with legislative houses within 5 percent (in terms of total seats) of flipping being awarded 5 points, and those within 10 percent of flipping being awarded 2 points.
Before we delve into the top 10, let’s look at the ones that just missed the cut.