● Philadelphia, PA District Attorney: Criminal justice reformers scored a major victory on Tuesday when longtime civil rights attorney Larry Krasner won the Democratic primary for district attorney in Philadelphia, whose 1.5 million residents make it America's fifth-largest city. He earned 38 percent compared to just 20 percent for his nearest rival in a crowded field to succeed outgoing Democratic District Attorney Seth Williams, who will soon stand trial for corruption. Krasner is a defense attorney who supports Black Lives Matter and has promised to strike a blow against the practices that feed mass incarceration, never seek the death penalty, and abolish both civil asset forfeiture and stop-and-frisk programs that have been racially discriminatory and abusive.
This agenda is a marked turnaround from Philadelphia's recent history—indeed, the New York Times once called Democratic ex-District Attorney Lynne Abraham, who served from 1991 to 2010, "the deadliest D.A." in America. Krasner's win follows a string of major victories for criminal justice reformers in elections for prosecutors and law enforcement officers around the U.S. since 2016 in places like Chicago, Houston, and Phoenix that are home to millions of Americans. In contrast to many of those races though, Krasner didn't prevail by ousting a reactionary incumbent and his biggest rival Joe Khan was still quite progressive.
Krasner benefitted enormously from a late flood of $1.5 million in outside spending by billionaire progressive donor George Soros, who has poured millions into backing reformers in many recent key races around the country. However, police unions and many career prosecutors are not taking kindly to Krasner's victory, but it would take a monumental effort for the Republican candidate or an independent to defeat the Democratic nominee in a majority-nonwhite city that Hillary Clinton carried by 82-15 in 2016.
● AL-Sen, AL-Gov: On Wednesday, the final day that candidates were allowed to file for this Senate special election two Republicans, state Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and ex-state Rep. Perry Hooper Jr., each surprisingly announced that they would not run against appointed GOP Sen. Luther Strange in the August primary. Marsh, who is reportedly wealthy, previously sounded likely to go for it. Marsh even said in late April that he'd already decided whether he would run or not, but wasn't going to reveal his plans. Apparently, Marsh either changed his mind or he just enjoys messing with people, because he announced at the eleventh hour that he wouldn't run. Marsh did leave the door open to seeking the governorship next year, but he said that if Gov. Kay Ivey runs, he "think[s] I would be supportive."
Notably, Politico reported recently that the Senate Leadership Fund, which is close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has been "very openly digging up dirt on … Marsh's ties to unpopular ex-Gov. Robert Bentley," and the NRSC has also threatened to blacklist any consulting groups that work with Strange's opponents. While Marsh was defiant in the face of the blacklist threats, the Senate GOP leadership's pressure campaign may have been too much for him in the end.
Hooper, who was a finalist for the Senate appointment that ultimately went to Strange, had formed an exploratory committee in late April, but he endorsed Strange on Wednesday rather than run himself. Hooper didn't look like he'd be a particularly strong candidate, though. He lost renomination for his state House seat in 2002, and he lost the general election for the state Public Service Commission four years later.
Meanwhile, Strange is going up with his first TV ad. Strange may have learned his lesson from his hilariously-awful web ad, which used fake headlines from fake newspapers to argue he was an awesome attorney general: This time, the commercial mostly features headlines with real publications attached to them to make that same case. However, both spots feature a pseudo headline proclaiming that ex-GOP state House Speaker Mike Hubbard was "sentenced to 4 years."
That web spot also portrayed that successful prosecution as one of Strange's accomplishments, but as AL.com's Kyle Whitmire noted, Strange recused himself from that case because his campaign had business ties to the speaker. Whitmire wrote that Strange's recusal meant he wasn't supposed to have anything to do with the case against Hubbard, but "if he's now saying that wasn't the case, then maybe that's the sort of issue Hubbard might find useful on appeal." This time, the ad tries to get around that fact, since the narrator says that Strange's "corruption prosecution team convicted a corrupt House speaker." The rest of the ad ties Strange to Trump.
● HI-Sen: On Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono announced that she had been diagnosed with kidney cancer and would soon begin receiving treatment, saying that her doctor expects that the 69-year-old senator "will make a full recovery." Hirono is seeking a second term in 2018 and is unlikely to face any major opposition in either the primary or the general election in what is one of the country's most Democratic states.
● MO-Sen: A few days ago, the National Journal reported that GOP Rep. Ann Wagner was planning to announce her long awaited campaign against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in July. Wagner's chief of staff Christian Morgan pushed back a little on the report to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, though he only seems to have denied that Wagner is planning to announce she's in during July, not that she is planning to announce she's in. Morgan said that if there is a July kickoff it will be late in the month, and that it could be even later in the cycle.
● FL-Gov: Former Rep. Gwen Graham secured a major endorsement on Wednesday when Rep. John Lewis announced his support for her candidacy ahead of Florida's 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary. The Georgia congressman was a key leader in the 1960s civil rights movement alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. and was brutally beaten while marching for voting rights with King on Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama in 1965. Wednesday's endorsement comes on the sixtieth anniversary of King's "Give Us the Ballot" speech demanding equal voting rights, and Lewis' statement calls Graham a progressive who will "get things done."
Lewis' support could help Graham considerably as the former congresswoman seeks to defend the moderate voting record she attained while representing a conservative district in the Florida panhandle as she now campaigns before a more progressive and racially diverse statewide primary electorate. This endorsement could also particularly aid her with winning over black primary voters, especially since Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is the only prominent African-American candidate running and comes from her same geographic base. In addition to Gillum, Graham also faces wealthy real estate company owner Chris King in the primary, while a handful of other major candidates like affluent trial attorney John Morgan are still considering running.
● KS-Gov: Kansas Democrats are set for their first gubernatorial primary in 20 years after former state Agriculture Secretary Josh Svaty announced his candidacy for 2018 on Tuesday. Svaty was appointed to the state cabinet in 2009 under Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson and subsequently served as a senior advisor for the regional EPA office. However, Svaty could run into trouble in the primary over his record of opposing abortion rights from his time representing an overwhelmingly conservative rural state House seat. He defended this history by stating "it is what it is" and "I believe I am right down the middle on this issue," which is unlikely to assuage the concerns of more liberal statewide primary voters even if it might be an asset in a general election.
Svaty will face former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer in next year's primary, while state House Minority Leader Jim Ward has previously expressed his interest in a potential bid as well. Although this deeply conservative state has been one of the most Republican in the nation for generations, Democrats are optimistic that they might be able to pull off an upset next year after universally despised term-limited GOP Gov. Sam Brownback's disastrous budgetary policies have badly tarnished the Republican brand in scores of races in recent years.
● NJ-Gov: With weeks to go before the June 6 GOP primary, frontrunner Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is going negative on Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli in a new TV spot. The narrator labels her opponent as "high tax Jack Ciattarelli," arguing that he says "jack it up" to all sorts of taxes, while Guadagno offers a "real tax cut." There is no word on the size of the buy. (Hat-tip Zach Cohen.)
● NM-Gov: In an unsurprising development, Democratic New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced on Tuesday that he would not run for governor in 2018 and planned on seeking re-election next year. Considered a rising star in the party, Balderas had previously been considering a gubernatorial bid, but the 43-year-old can likely afford to wait for future opportunities rather than take on a tough primary battle against Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham. His decision to stay out of the race leaves Lujan Grisham as the undoubted frontrunner thanks to her existing name recognition, robust fundraising, and key endorsements from EMILY's List and top state Democrats like former longtime Sen. Jeff Bingaman.
Of course, there's still a year to go until the primary, and the outcome isn't inevitable. Former Univision executive Jeff Apodaca, whose father Jerry Apodaca served as governor from 1975 to 1979, jumped into the race earlier in May, while a few other prominent Democrats expressed interest late last year. Wealthy state Sen. Joe Cervantes told New Mexico political blogger Joe Monahan back in March that he was "all in" and would announce his candidacy in April, but Monahan notes that Cervantes still hasn't formally jumped into the race yet, which could be a sign that he's getting cold feet.
Republicans still have no noteworthy candidate to speak of for what is shaping up to be a difficult effort to succeed unpopular term-limited GOP Gov. Susana Martinez in this blue-leaning state. Rep. Steve Pearce and Lt. Gov. John Sanchez have both expressed interest, but both have also fared terribly in general elections when they have previously run for statewide office. Additionally, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and state Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn have refused to rule it out. If none of those candidates runs, Monahan reports that unnamed Republican insiders say that term-limited Public Regulation Commissioner Pat Lyons might be persuaded to go for it, though Lyons hasn't expressed his interest publicly yet.
● PA-Gov: Wealthy Pittsburgh businessman Paul Mango announced on Monday that he will seek the Republican gubernatorial nomination to take on Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in 2018. A former Army paratrooper who hasn't previously run for elected office, Mango is expected to self-fund a substantial part of his campaign. He joins rich state Sen. Scott Wagner in the Republican primary, while state House Speaker Mike Turzai recently confirmed he was also considering the race.
● VA-Gov: Via Politico's Kevin Robillard, we have a rarity in American politics: a campaign ad airing on TV in a language other than English or Spanish. GOP primary frontrunner Ed Gillespie's campaign has added Korean subtitles to his recent spot focusing on tax cuts, and he's also out with a version with Spanish subtitles; the campaign's release says that both are airing on TV.
There have been a few instances of American political ads airing on the radio in a language other than English or Spanish (and obviously, without subtitles.) In 2016, Arizona Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick recorded some ads in Navajo, which she speaks, for her unsuccessful 2016 Senate bid. Also last year, Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman's campaign did a Ukrainian radio ad for his successful re-election campaign.
● AL-02: Earlier this month, Alabama state Rep. Barry Moore set up a campaign with the FEC for a GOP primary bid against Rep. Martha Roby, and he announced he was in on Wednesday. As we've noted before, Roby upset local conservatives in this Montgomery-based seat in October when she announced that she wouldn't vote for Trump after the Access Hollywood tape was released. Upset Trump fans organized a write-in campaign against Roby: The incumbent only won her uncompetitive re-election campaign 49-41 over an unheralded Democrat as Trump was carrying Alabama's 2nd District 65-33, with the rest of the vote going to write-ins.
However, while Roby may be weak, it's unclear if Moore has what it takes to beat her. In 2014, Moore was charged with lying to a grand jury in a corruption investigation aimed at then-Speaker Mike Hubbard. Moore was found not-guilty on all counts later that year, but recordings played during the trial seemed to show him passing along a threat from Hubbard to politicians in the town of Enterprise to kill an agreement with the state unless one of them dropped his primary campaign against Moore. After Hubbard was convicted the next year, Moore lost the race to succeed his ally as speaker.
● FL-27: The Miami Herald reports that Front Porch Strategies has conducted a poll of hypothetical primary and general election match ups for Public Concepts, a Republican consulting firm that has previously done work for Lt. Gov. Carlos López-Cantera. Unsurprisingly, the poll finds the lieutenant governor way out in front in a potential GOP primary, with 57 percent to just 13 percent for former Miami-Dade County School Board member Raquel Regalado and 3 percent for Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro. Barreiro is the only noteworthy Republican to have formally joined the race so far, but López-Cantera, Regalado, and a whole host of other Republicans are considering the race.
The survey also shows López-Cantera leading Democratic state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez 41-34 in a hypothetical general election even though this heavily Cuban-American Miami district favored Hillary Clinton by 59-39 in 2016 and GOP Sen. Marco Rubio reportedly still lost it 49-48 as he was winning re-election 52-44 statewide in 2016. However, it's extremely early to be looking at the general election when the lieutenant governor, who has run several high-profile campaigns in recent years, almost certainly starts off with a substantial advantage in name recognition over many of his rivals in both parties. It's entirely possible that this consulting firm simply released these numbers in order to entice a potential client into running.
● NY-19: Business consultant Sue Sullivan became the latest Democrat to join the race against first-term Republican Rep. John Faso in the Hudson Valley-based 19th District, which flipped to Trump by 51-44 after backing Obama 52-46 in 2012. Sullivan is making her first run for office, so it's unclear if she has the campaign skills needed to wage what could be a tough race. However, her business connections and past as a hospital executive could prove to be both fundraising assets and help serve to contrast with Faso's recent vote in favor of the House GOP's Dickensian health care bill.
Faso won his first term in a hard-fought 2016 race against well-funded Democrat Zephyr Teachout by a surprisingly comfortable 54-46 spread, but a handful of other Democrats have already joined the 2018 race, including businessman Brian Flynn and former Gov. Andrew Cuomo aide Gareth Rhodes, while attorney Antonio Delgado previously formed an exploratory committee.
● OH-01: Democrats haven't seriously targeted Ohio GOP Rep. Steve Chabot since his Cincinnati-based 1st District was drawn to be more conservative at the begining of the decade. However, while Trump won 51-45 here, this area could be competitive in a good Democratic year, and national Democrats may have a candidate in mind. The Cincinnati Enquirer's Jason Williams reports that the DCCC is trying to recruit Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune.
Williams also says that when the commissioner was asked, "Portune, an archenemy of silence, clammed up," which seems like a good indication that he's at least considering. Portune is one of three members of the commission, whose members are elected countywide: A little more than 70 percent of this seat is in Hamilton County, with the balance in conservative Warren County.
Portune is a former Cincinnati city councilor, and in 2000, he became the first Democrat to win a seat on the Hamilton County Commission in 36 years. Portune has been looking for a promotion for the past few years. In the 2014 gubernatorial race, after party establishment favorite Ed FitzGerald drew bad headlines when his original running mate dropped out due to tax problems, Portune pitched himself as a FitzGerald alternative. Portune actually entered the race in late December, but he never seemed very serious about running, and he dropped out about a month into his campaign. (FitzGerald's campaign ended up imploding in the fall.) Early this year, Portune expressed interest in a (presumably longer) gubernatorial bid, but he's shown no sign that he's seriously preparing even as several serious Democrats have announced.
Despite Portune's unspectacular 2014 bid, Williams predicts that if he challenges Chabot, the race would "draw national attention. Outside money would flow in for both candidates." Williams also argues that Portune's "West Side roots and reputation for being fiscally responsible have helped him garner his fair share of crossover support from conservatives over the years." However, even if Portune does get in, he may have a competitive primary. In late March, state Rep. Alicia Reece expressed interest in running here, and high-level Democrats like Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings reportedly were interested in her potential bid. However, there don't appear to have been any developments since then.
● OH-16: While GOP state Sen. Frank LaRose expressed interest in running for this open seat a few months ago, he announced on Wednesday that he would run for secretary of state instead. So far, the only notable Republican running to succeed gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci is state Rep. Christina Hagan, though others are considering. Trump won this seat, which stretches around the Cleveland, Akron, and Canton area, by a 56-39 margin.
● SC-05: Ex-state Rep. Ralph Norman appears to have won the GOP primary runoff to succeed Mick Mulvaney in South Carolina's 5th Congressional District, but there will be an automatic recount. As of Wednesday, Norman holds a 50.3-49.7 lead over state House Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope, a margin of 200 votes. State law requires an automatic recount for contests with a margin of less than 1 percent, and Pope has not yet conceded, but he doesn't sound incredibly optimistic. If Norman's lead holds, he'll face Democrat Archie Parnell in the June 20 general election for this Rock Hill-area seat, which backed Trump 57-39.
In the two weeks before the primary and the runoff, this contest turned into an intense but familiar battle between tea party groups, who backed Norman, and the more business-friendly organizations behind Pope. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ran ads for Pope, while the anti-tax Club for Growth aired spots assailing Pope as a "backdoor" supporter of Obamacare. Norman also had the support of ex-Sen. Jim DeMint, who was recently fired as head of the Heritage Foundation; former Gov.-turned U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley; and North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, the head of the nihilistic Freedom Caucus. If Norman gets the GOP nomination, he'll have a strong chance to avenge his 2006 defeat to then-Rep. John Spratt, who beat him 57-43 during that year's Democratic wave.
● Special Elections: On Tuesday night, Republican Kay Kirkpatrick, a retired orthopedic surgeon, easily defeated Democratic attorney Christine Triebsch by a 57-43 margin in a special election for Georgia's 32nd State Senate District, which happens to be located almost entirely within Georgia's 6th Congressional District. (Republican Judson Hill vacated the seat to run in the House special election, finishing a distant 5th in last month's primary.) While you might think Republicans, who have good reason to fret about the June 20 runoff in the 6th, are breathing a sigh of relief, a closer look at the numbers in the 32nd should only worry them.
For starters, in the primary, which took place on the same day as the congressional primary, the five Republican candidates on the ballot combined for 60 percent of the vote while the three Democrats took 40 percent. (As with the race for the 6th, all candidates ran together on a single ballot, with the top two vote-getters advancing.) This means that the GOP saw its overall margin slip from 20 points to just 14, a drop of 6 points. Needless to say, a similar shift in the 6th District would be lights out for Republican Karen Handel.
It's also worth noting that Triebsch took 43 percent despite raising just $5,000; Kirkpatrick, meanwhile, brought in a hefty $300,000. As it happens, Democrat Jon Ossoff won 42 percent within the confines of the 32nd District while spending millions of dollars, so Triebsch actually did a tinch better despite running a shoestring campaign. This suggests a GOP fade in the month since the primaries.
Kirkpatrick did manage to match the 14-point margin racked up by Donald Trump, who won here 54-40, but she fell far short of Mitt Romney's massive 67-31 victory. And that leads us to the final interesting observation about this race: Of all the legislative and congressional special elections held since Trump won last November that have pitted a Republican against a Democrat, this is the first to take place in a seat where Hillary Clinton performed better than Barack Obama—yet Kirkpatrick couldn't gain any headway on Trump.
That's a big deal because it had been reasonable to wonder whether voters in districts that had shifted to the right last year were just reverting to form. At the same time, it made sense to ask whether voters in seats that had moved to the left would do the same thing, particularly once Trump was no longer at the top of the ticket. That, however, didn't happen.
While this is just one data point, it's a key one, because it shows that Democrats can hope to hang on the gains they made in areas like Georgia's 32nd Senate District. If that same pattern holds true for Georgia's 6th Congressional District, which is similar—but less Republican—turf, then that'll be good news for Ossoff.
● St. Petersburg, FL Mayor: On behalf of Florida Politics, St. Pete Polls is out with a survey of this year's non-partisan race, and the results are not optimistic for Democratic Mayor Rick Kriseman. Ex-Mayor Rick Baker, a Republican who announced last week that he would try to regain his old office, leads Kriseman 46-33 among registered voters. In late January, Baker led 47-37 in what was then a hypothetical matchup. According to this poll, Kriseman posts a positive 46-36 favorable rating, but Baker has a stronger 59-27 score.
We've had issues with St. Pete Polls in the past, most recently in a Democratic House primary around Orlando last year where even they believed their Hispanic sample size was "too small," noting that just 13 percent of their respondents were Hispanic even though member of this group made up around 23 percent of the electorate in past primaries. However, we don't have any other pollster's numbers to go off of here, and we may never get them. The primary will be Aug. 29, and if no one takes a majority, the general election will take place in November.
● Pres-by-LD: Daily Kos Elections' project to calculate the 2016 presidential results for every state legislative seat in the nation hits Iowa, which swung very sharply against the Democrats: Barack Obama carried the state 52-46 in 2012, but Donald Trump won it 52-42 last year, a shift of 16 points. As a result, Republicans also took full control of Iowa's state government for the first time since the mid-1990s. You can find our master list of states here, which we'll be updating as we add new data sets. You can also find all our data from 2016 and past cycles here.
While Iowa Republicans flipped the state House and the governorship during the 2010 GOP wave, Democrats managed to narrowly maintain control of the state Senate for the next six years. However, while Team Blue held on to their slim 26-24 Senate majority even through the awful 2014 cycle, Trump's 52-42 victory was just too much. Republicans jumped out to a huge 29-20 advantage (state Sen. David Johnson left the GOP before the election over Trump and remains an independent) and also netted two state House seats to expand their majority in the lower chamber to 59-41. In all, Trump carried 33 of the state's 50 Senate seats and 65 of 100 House districts. Four years before, it was Obama who won 33 Senate seats, and he also carried 61 state House seats.
Predictably, Hawkeye State Republicans immediately set to work using their new powers to pass a deeply conservative agenda, including a voter ID bill, restrictions on abortion, and legislation aimed at weakening organized labor. And Trump's huge success, as well as Republican Joni Ernst's 52-44 victory in 2014's U.S. Senate race, give Team Red strong reason to be optimistic that they'll remain in control of Iowa for a while to come.
However, if a backlash against Trump next year gives local Democrats a chance to capitalize, they'll have a big opening, at least in the state House. Next year, the entire lower chamber and half of the state Senate is up; as we'll explain below, the 2018 Senate map is very daunting for Democrats, but the state House is more reasonable. Democrats also have a chance to retake the governor's office from Republican Kim Reynolds, who is set to be elevated from lieutenant governor to governor once GOP Gov. Terry Branstad is confirmed as Trump's ambassador to China.
While the GOP was able to gerrymander their districts to lock in majorities in states like Georgia, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, it's a different story in Iowa. In the Hawkeye State, both legislative and congressional maps are drawn by a nonpartisan agency of professional legislative staff and sent to the legislature for approval. If the legislature rejects three of the commission's maps, it's then given the chance to draw its own districts, but the Democratic Senate and GOP House approved the commission's initial proposals without any fuss in 2011.
You would expect (or at least hope) that a process like this would lead to less distorted outcomes than when lawmakers draft their own maps for pure partisan gain, and indeed, that appears to be the case. One way to visualize how much these lines do, or don't, favor one party is to sort each seat in each chamber by Clinton's margin of victory over Trump and see how the seat in the middle—known as the median seat—voted. Because both chambers have an even number of seats, we average the two middle seats to come up with the median point in the chamber.
In the state Senate, the median seat backed Trump 54-40, a bit to the right of his 52-42 statewide win, but not dramatically so. Meanwhile, in the state House, the median seat backed Trump 53-41, not too different from his statewide margin of victory. Similarly, four years earlier, when Obama won Iowa 52-46, he carried 2012's median Senate seat 53-46 and the median House seat 51-47—again, similar to his statewide margin.
But just because these maps aren't partisan gerrymanders doesn't mean they're good news for Democrats: If the 2018 electorate still supports Trump, Team Blue is going to have a very challenging time winning control of either chamber. At the same time, Obama's performance shows that a swing to the left would put plenty of seats in play.
As we mentioned above, only half of the state Senate goes before voters next year: Even-numbered seats are up in presidential cycles, while odd-numbered seats are up in midterm years. Unfortunately for Team Blue, the huge losses they took last year will make it extremely tough to cobble together a Senate majority in just one cycle. Trump's landslide helped Republicans win 19 of the 25 Senate seats that were up for election, so if Democrats want to take a narrow majority next year, they'll need to win 20 of the 25 seats that will be on the ballot. Democrats hold 13 of those seats, while David Johnson, the aforementioned Republican-turned-independent, is also up.
Of those 13 Democrats, five represent Trump seats, all of which backed Obama in 2012. The Trumpiest seat in the bunch is held by Democratic state Sen. Tod Bowman, whose Dubuque-area SD-29 swung from 52-47 Obama to 58-37 Trump. Johnson's old party will also have a chance to take revenge on him next cycle. His SD-01, located in the state's northwest corner, went from 63-36 Romney all the way to 71-25 Trump. Johnson recently said he hasn't decided if he'll seek re-election.
Of the 11 Senate Republicans up next year, only one represents a seat that Clinton carried, though Roby Smith's Davenport-area SD-47 still saw a small swing to the right, going from 51-48 Obama to 47.1-46.5 Clinton. And only one more Republican who's up in 2018 even represents a seat that Obama had carried: Southeastern Iowa's SD-41, represented by Mark Chelgren, went from 53-45 Obama to 57-38 Trump. Chelgren made national news earlier this year after NBC reported that the business degree Chelgren claimed to have was actually a training certificate from his time working at Sizzler when he was 19. (Admittedly, this is still more impressive than a degree from Trump University.)
It will be tough enough for Democrats to protect all 13 of their seats and capture those two Obama seats, and it would be even more work to take the additional five districts they'd need for a majority without Johnson's help. Even if you look at just the Romney numbers, the math is horrible. Of the seven Republicans up next year in Romney districts, Romney's fifth-best seat, SD-09, backed him 57-42. As for the Trump numbers, SD-09 supported The Donald 69-27. Democrats may be able to make gains next year, but retaking the Senate will almost certainly require two solid cycles in a row.
It's not all bad news, though, since, as we noted above, the entire 100-person House is up every two years. The GOP currently holds a 59-41 majority, with Daily Kos Elections assigning any vacant seats to the party that last held them. (GOP state Rep. Greg Forristall recently died; at 62-37 Romney and 66-30 Trump, his HD-22 probably isn't going anywhere in a special election.)
Ten Democrats hold Trump seats, while four Republicans represent Clinton turf. The reddest Democratic-held district is HD-82 in southeast Iowa, which swung from a small 50-48 Obama win to 58-37 Trump; however, Democratic state Rep. Curt Hanson faced no opposition last year despite his tight 2014 re-election. Not far behind is Todd Prichard, who recently announced that he would run for governor. Prichard's HD-52 went from 56-43 Obama to 57-38 Trump, the fourth-largest swing towards Trump in the chamber; Prichard still won re-election 54-46. The other eight Trump-district Democrats also represent seats that had backed Obama in 2012.
The bluest GOP-held seat is HD-43 in the Des Moines-area, which went from 51-48 Obama to 53-41 Clinton, making it one of the very few seats in either chamber that swung towards Clinton. How few? Clinton's margin of victory was stronger than Obama's in only 15 state House seats and five Senate seats. Despite the swing, Republican state Rep. Chris Hagenow won re-election 52-48 last cycle in HD-43.
But if 2018 looks a whole lot more like 2012 than 2016, Democrats will have plenty of targets. Just one Democrat, HD-40's John Forbes, represents a Romney seat. This Des Moines-area district was one of just two state House seats and two Senate seats to go from Romney to Clinton, swinging from a narrow 49.5-49.3 Romney to 50-43 Clinton; Forbes won re-election 57-43. By contrast, 21 Republicans hold Obama seats, 17 of which backed Trump. Of course, even if Iowa swings left, Democrats aren't assured of anything. In 2012, even as Obama was carrying 61 House seats, Republicans still won a 53-47 majority, with 18 Republicans taking Obama districts to just four Democrats prevailing in Romney turf.
Finally, one small bit of housekeeping. In early February, we learned that Dallas County had failed to report 5,842 votes in its tallies, a whopping 13 percent of the county's total. We recently acquired Dallas' updated precinct-by-precinct report, which you can find here. We've also updated our calculations for Iowa's 3rd Congressional District, which is home to Dallas County, but Trump's margin of victory barely moved at all there.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, and James Lambert.