● SD-Gov: Republicans have controlled South Dakota's governor's office in this conservative state since the 1978 elections, the longest gubernatorial winning streak in the country. Still, state Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton is hoping to break through, and he announced on Wednesday that he would seek the Democratic nomination.
Sutton has a very tough job ahead of him, but he does have an interesting background. Sutton was a well-known rodeo rider in college (in a 2013 profile at the Argus Leader, David Montgomery described him as "arguably the greatest rodeo rider the University of Wyoming had seen"), and he aimed to become a professional. However, just before graduation, Sutton was paralyzed after the horse he was riding threw him into a wall. Sutton instead became an investment banker, and while he remains in a wheelchair, he still is able to ride horses.
Sutton, a self-described "conservative Democrat," also does have one other noteworthy distinction. During the 2010 GOP wave, Sutton managed to win a conservative state Senate seat, and he's continued to hold it. (Sutton's grandfather also represented south central South Dakota in the legislature in the 1970s.) Sutton's seat backed Romney 66-33, and it's very likely that Trump did even better. However, Sutton won re-election 59.5-40.5 in 2012, and he had no GOP opposition in 2014 or 2016. Winning statewide is a far tougher proposition than winning one state Senate seat, but Sutton at least may be able to run a viable campaign if conditions are finally right for a Democratic win.
However, Sutton's task certainly won't be easy. Two well-known Republicans, Rep. Kristi Noem and Attorney General Marty Jackley, are competing here. Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether recently left the Democratic Party to become an independent, and he's been flirting with a run here. Team Blue has very little room for error, and if Huether gets in and vacuums up too many Democratic votes, Republicans won't have much to worry about next year.
● AL-Sen: Appointed Sen. Luther Strange has a new ad touting his NRA backing ahead of the Aug. 15 Republican special election primary that desperately tries to make fetch happen. Country-blues guitar plays in the background as Strange attends a shooting range and fires a suppressor-equipped handgun at the bull's eye of target practice sheets labelled with various way that Obama has supposedly attacked the conservative way of life, such as his "amnesty plan for illegal immigrants," his "attack on religious liberty," and his "attack on the 2nd Amendment." Meanwhile, a deep-voiced narrator repeatedly calls conservative "Big Luther Strange" a conservative who has fought for conservatism.
● OH-Sen: On Wednesday, wealthy investment banker Mike Gibbons became the second noteworthy Republican to join the race for Senate against Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2018. Gibbons is a first-time candidate, but his extensive history of donating hundreds of thousands to GOP candidates and his role as senior managing director of his Cleveland-area investment firm could give him the connections he needs to run a real race in this expensive state. Gibbons says he does not plan on self-funding, but didn't quite rule it out by stating "Now, if we need a few bucks here or there, I'd be happy to help."
Gibbons will face state Treasurer Josh Mandel in the primary next year. Mandel, who was the 2012 GOP nominee, is the favorite of the party's hard-right fringe, but has spurred some elite party members to look for an alternative, which could give Gibbons an opening. However, no well-known Republicans have stepped up to challenge Mandel, he's a prodigious fundraiser, and he recently garnered the backing of GOP Sen. Rob Portman. Combined with Mandel's existing name recognition from his three previous statewide campaigns, Gibbons certainly has his work cut out for himself.
● WV-Sen: GOP Rep. David McKinley's brief flirtation with a Senate run ended this week after he announced that he would stay out. Right now, fellow Rep. Evan Jenkins is the only notable Republican challenging Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, but the The State Journal writes that Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is "expected" to get in.
● FL-Gov: We can cross one Democrat off the list of prospective candidates for governor in 2018 after state Sen. Jeremy Ring announced he would run for chief financial officer instead. Ring didn't seem very likely to run for governor and hadn't generated much buzz since last November. His decision to stay out of the race leaves former Rep. Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and real estate company owner Chris King as the only noteworthy Democrats to have launched a gubernatorial campaign so far, although a handful of others are considering it.
● GA-Gov: Democratic state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams seems to have finally picked a date for the much-anticipated launch of her likely candidacy for the open governor's office in 2018. Abrams will host a barbecue at 3 PM ET on Saturday where she is expected to announce her intentions; she previously filed paperwork to establish a campaign committee early in May while she explored a bid.
If Abrams does run, she'll join state Rep. Stacey Evans in the Democratic primary, where Abrams' status as potentially the only major black candidate and her solidly progressive record could make her a formidable contender for the nomination. Other prominent Democrats might run too, but few have expressed strong interest in a campaign.
● IA-Gov: SEIU Local 199's longtime president Cathy Glasson is the latest Iowa Democrat to take steps toward a gubernatorial campaign after she launched an exploratory committee on Wednesday. Glasson hasn't previously run for office before, but her union ties could give her the connections she needs to mount a serious campaign in a state where Democrats rely heavily on organized labor, particularly as Iowa Democrats are fuming over the Republican-dominated state government's recently passed law that limits collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions. As a career nurse whose union covers health-care workers, Glasson might also be able to capitalize on the backlash to Trump's health care bill.
Glasson joins a long list of Iowa Democrats who are already running or are considering a challenge against newly elevated GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds. State Sen. Nate Boulton, state Rep. Todd Prichard, former state party chair Andy McGuire, and a few other noteworthy Democrats have already joined the campaign, while well-connected businessman Fred Hubbell has already formed an exploratory committee, and former Tom Vilsack chief of staff John Norris is mulling it too.
● MD-Gov: On Wednesday, former NAACP president Ben Jealous launched his campaign for the Democratic nomination to take on GOP Gov. Larry Hogan in 2018. Jealous became the youngest-ever NAACP leader at age 35 back in 2008, and the organization under his leadership was a key backer of Maryland's successful effort to repeal the death penalty in 2013. Jealous has never held elective office before, but the outspoken progressive's record as a civil rights leader and his experience as an investor in start-up businesses could give him the connections needed for a strong Democratic primary campaign.
If elected, Jealous would be the first African American to become governor in state history, and that could prove to be a key asset in a state where African Americans might comprise more than four out of every ten voters in next year's primary. Maryland is no stranger to racially polarized voting in hotly contested Democratic primary campaigns. Although white Democrats bested black candidates in the heavily competitive 2006 and 2016 Senate primaries, black then-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown easily prevailed over two major white rivals for the 2014 gubernatorial nomination, and Jealous could similarly stand to benefit from facing a divided field of opponents.
Jealous might not be the only prominent black candidate in the primary, however, since Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker has previously said he was considering the race. Nonetheless, several other Maryland Democrats appear eager to challenge Hogan in 2018. Tech entrepreneur Alec Ross is already running, while Rep. John Delaney, well-connected attorney Jim Shea, and a handful of others have also previously said that they're thinking about it too.
● ME-Gov: Democrat Betsy Sweet, who is an activist and lobbyist for progressive causes, recently joined the contest to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Paul LePage in 2018. Sweet has been a longtime proponent of progressive stances on the environment and for the rights of women and people with disabilities. She currently manages a lobbying firm, which could give her the connections in state politics needed to wage a serious campaign.
Sweet said she will use Maine's public campaign finance system, which could help her get her message out in the primary but ultimately might hamper her if she has to compete with privately well-funded rivals in what could become a crowded Democratic nomination battle. Businessman Adam Cote has previously announced his campaign, while numerous prominent state legislators and state executive branch officials are thinking about running for Team Blue.
● MI-Gov: In an interview on Tuesday at the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce's Mackinac Policy Conference, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said that he's more likely than not to run for governor in 2018. The Democrat represents a highly populous suburban county northeast of Detroit whose relatively working-class electorate flipped hard from backing Obama by 51-47 to Trump by 54-42, but Hackel won his current term in a 69-31 landslide in the 2014 GOP wave election.
While his geographic base and electoral history could make Hackel a formidable general election candidate, his self-described "fiscally conservative" ideology and long record of working with Republicans present some serious flaws for Democratic primary voters. Unfortunately for Democrats, Hackel didn't rule out an independent bid, which could majorly complicate the party's chances of regaining the governor's office after the calamitous tenure of unpopular term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. However, Hackel says he "would probably run [as a Democrat]" if he does join the race.
Hackel almost certainly wouldn't have a clear path to the nomination in any event. Former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer has been running for months and appears to be the frontrunner, while former Detroit Health Commissioner Abdul El-Sayed is also running more of a longshot bid, but it's still early in the primary campaign. University of Michigan Regent Mark Bernstein, who is a wealthy and prominent attorney, has said he's considering a campaign, as has affluent and well-known attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who was the disastrous 1998 Democratic nominee.
● NJ-Gov: Phil Murphy released his closing ad ahead of the June 6 Democratic primary, which features him speaking directly to the camera interspersed with footage of a diverse group of Americans. Murphy says he'll fight to protect people with pre-existing conditions, promote a cleaner environment, safeguard a woman's right to choose, and oppose cutting health care and education to favor billionaires. He finishes by promising to "make New Jersey where we draw the line against Donald Trump."
● NM-Gov: A few weeks ago, GOP state Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn's team didn't rule out the possibility that he would run to replace termed-out GOP Gov. Susana Martinez. Dunn himself has confirmed that he's interested, telling NM Politics' Heath Haussamen that he may run for governor. GOP Rep. Steve Pearce has also been flirting with a bid, and Dunn said that if Pearce leaves the House, he might run for his conservative seat. Dunn also expressed interest in running for re-election, or for nothing at all, and said he plans to make his decision for 2018 by mid-July.
Several Democrats are already running, and local political blogger Joe Monahan reports that businessman and foreign affairs expert Joshua Cooper Ramo has been considering joining the primary. However, Ramo sounds like he would have a tough time. While his father is a longtime TV health reporter and heart specialist, and his mother comes from what Monahan calls "a once prominent business family," Ramo himself left New Mexico as a teenager and hasn't come back. Ramo is a member of the Starbucks board of directors and also a vice chairman of Henry Kissinger's consulting group, which may not be an asset in a primary.
● VA-Gov: Democrat Tom Perriello's latest ad in the swiftly approaching June 13 gubernatorial primary once again features footage of President Obama singing his praises while campaigning for the former congressman in his unsuccessful 2010 re-election bid. Perriello then talks to the camera to burnish his progressive bona fides by saying he's running for governor to tackle economic inequality, raise wages, end the student-debt crisis, and combat climate change.
● AZ-07, AZ-Gov: Sophomore Rep. Ruben Gallego has been a reliably Democratic vote in his safely blue Phoenix seat, and he's attracted attention for speaking out against Trump. However, Gallego may face a noteworthy opponent in next year's primary. State Sen. Catherine Miranda has been publicly coy about her 2018 plans, noting that GOP Gov. Doug Ducey is up for re-election, as is the state's Republican school superintendent. However, The Arizona Republic's Elvia Diaz reports that there are rumors that Miranda is considering challenging Gallego, rumors Miranda has seemed to fan on social media.
Miranda endorsed Ducey during the 2014 general election, and Diaz speculates that Ducey's allies could help finance a bid against Gallego. And while Miranda's past support for Ducey would almost certainly be a liability with voters, some local Phoenix Democratic power players may not care. In the 2014 primary for this open seat, Gallego beat a candidate backed by some influential members of the Latino political establishment by a 48-36 margin, and Diaz argues that they could try to get their revenge in 2018. Miranda would almost certainly be the clear underdog if she challenged Gallego, but she may have the support to run a credible campaign.
● CA-21: Last cycle, Democratic attorney Emilio Huerta, the son of legendary labor organizer Dolores Huerta, lost to GOP Rep. David Valadao 57-43 as Clinton was winning this Central Valley seat 55-40. Huerta announced on Tuesday that he would run again, though it wouldn't be a surprise if local and national Democrats searched for a new contender.
However, this district has been a massive source of frustration for Democrats since it was first drawn for 2012. That year, Democratic Rep. Jim Costa decided to run in the safer Fresno-based 16th District despite previously representing three-fourths of the redrawn 21st. Then, Democratic state Sen. Michael Rubio dropped his bid for what was an open seat, and establishment Democrats turned to Blong Xiong, a Fresno councilman whose constituency was outside the 21st District. However, a very weak Democrat named John Hernandez beat Xiong, then proceeded to run a disorganized race against Valadao, a local state assemblyman. Valadao beat Hernandez 58-42 even as Obama won the seat 55-44, making Valadao the only non-incumbent Republican to win an Obama seat nationally that year.
Two years later, national Democrats rallied around former congressional staffer Amanda Renteria, who raised a credible amount of money and defeated Hernandez in the primary. However, Democratic turnout tends to disproportionately plunge in the Central Valley when there isn't a presidential race on the ballot. The 2014 GOP wave only made things worse, and Valadao defeated Renteria 58-42.
In 2016, Democrats hoped that a formidable candidate and presidential turnout could finally drag down Valadao. Huerta was not a strong fundraiser, but he was considerably stronger than Fowler City Councilor Daniel Parra. Valadao recognized this and even ran ads late in the primary that "attacked" Parra in a way that would actually make him look more appealing to Democratic voters. Huerta ended up narrowly winning the primary, and national Democrats ran commercials late in the race tying Valadao to Trump, but it was far from enough.
Democrats will want to target this seat again in 2018, and Valadao may have made a huge mistake when he voted for Trumpcare. However, weak midterm Democratic turnout could once again frustrate Team Blue here. Maybe Trump will drive furious Democrats to the polls in 2018, or midterm voters will be angry enough with him to take their wrath out on Valadao. But after three very disappointing cycles, Democrats know that taking down the incumbent is going to be a very tough job.
● CO-06: A few weeks ago, Democrat Levi Tillemann, a clean-energy expert who served in Obama's Department of Energy, formed an exploratory committee ahead of a possible campaign against GOP Rep. Mike Coffman. Tillemann tells the Colorado Statesman that he expects to decide on a bid for this suburban Denver seat by the end of June. Two other Democrats, veteran Jason Crow and attorney David Aarestad, are already running for this 50-41 Clinton seat.
● FL-27: This week, Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell formed an exploratory committee ahead of a possible bid for the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Russell says he "need[s] to do that next step, to see if this is the right decision to move forward and serve," though he didn't tell the Miami Herald when he expects to make his final decision.
As the paper notes, Russell had little political experience before his 2015 bid for the city commission, and he didn't even vote in city elections for a decade. However, Russell "emerged from out of nowhere as a dark horse" and gained the support of powerful Miami politicians and won a competitive contest. A few other Democrats are already running, most notability state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez.
● GA-06: Democrat Jon Ossoff debuted a new TV spot that highlights his work as a national security aide. He speaks directly to the camera to bemoan the attack ads that call him weak on terrorism by telling how he was given top-secret clearance to work with the military to "expose ISIS atrocities" and "strengthen our national defense." Meanwhile, the NRCC calls Ossoff a national security risk who wants to enable terrorism because his "liberal party bosses" allowed 10,000 Syrian refugees to come to America and Ossoff supports the Iran nuclear deal.
● MN-01, MN-Gov: While Democratic Rep. Tim Walz's decision to run for governor makes this southern Minnesota seat, which swung from 50-48 Obama 53-38 Trump, an especially temping GOP target, businessman and two time nominee Jim Hagedorn has the field to himself so far. However, a number of Republicans have talked about getting in, and two reaffirmed their interest recently. Back in March, state Rep. Nels Pierson sounded open to a bid, and he recently told the Post-Bulletin's Heather Carlson that he was considering. State Sen. Carla Nelson also reiterated that she was still considering, though she also expressed interest in running for governor for the first time.
● NY-19: Last year, it took Democrats a year to find a viable contender for what was an open seat, but this cycle, Team Blue is just swimming in candidates and potential candidates. The latest Democrat who has expressed interest in challenging GOP Rep. John Faso is teacher Jeff Beals, a former CIA intelligence officer and diplomat whom Hudson Valley One's Dante Kanter says "played a central role in setting up Iraq's parliament and in mediating the drafting of its constitution throughout 2005."
In recent years, Beals has been active in the Woodstock Democratic Committee, and he worked for on the foreign policy team for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Beals filed with the FEC a few weeks ago, though his website says he's only “exploring a run.” This Hudson Valley seat swung from 52-46 Obama to 51-44 Trump.
● NY-22, NY-Gov: Richard Hanna, a Republican who frequently criticized his own party from the left, retired from the House last year and was succeeded by the very conservative Claudia Tenney. Hanna made it very clear during the campaign that he did not want Tenney replacing him, and on Tuesday, he told WIBX that he's considering running for his old upstate New York seat… as an independent. Hanna also shot down some old rumors that he was interested in running for governor as a Republican, instead declaring "the Republican party would never support me," and "I didn't leave the Republican party, it left me."
There is zero love lost between Hanna and Tenney. Back in 2014, Tenney challenged him in the GOP primary and lost just 53-46 despite being badly outspent. Tenney announced that she would seek a rematch the next year, and Hanna ended up retiring while insisting Tenney was not a factor in his decision.
This seat, which includes Utica and Binghamton, swung heavily to the right in 2016. While Romney won only 49.2-48.8 here, Trump carried New York's 22nd District 55-39. Democrats made a serious effort to win this district last year, and Tenney was not helped by her horrible fundraising. Tenney defeated Democrat Kim Myers 46-41, however, with 12 percent going to wealthy independent Martin Babinec, who ran as a centrist but said he'd caucus with the GOP if elected.
Hanna is wealthy and if he runs and is willing to do some self-funding, he can put up a fight. However, his chances in a general would almost certainly depend on what Democratic-leaning voters do. Right now, at least one Democrat, Binghamton University computer science professor Patrick Madden, is running, so it's unlikely that Hanna would have a clear shot at Tenney in a general election.
● PA-17: Last cycle, this Scranton-area seat dramatically swung from 55-43 Obama to 53-43 Trump, but Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright beat a perennial GOP candidate 54-46. Team Red doesn't want to let Cartwright off so easy next year, and on Tuesday, former JP Morgan managing director John Chrin jumped in.
Chrin may have the wealth and connections to run a serious campaign, but he does have one big potential drawback. As the Morning Call notes, Chrin lives in the very affluent community of Short Hills, which just happens to be in New Jersey. However, Chrin does own a house in his hometown of Fountain Hill, which is just outside the 17th District (but on the correct side of the state line).
● SC-05: Democratic nominee Archie Parnell has released a new internal poll from Anzalone Liszt Grove ahead of the June 20 special election against Republican Ralph Norman. The survey, which was in the field prior to May 25 and demographically mirrored 2014 midterm election voters, finds Norman beating Parnell 50-40. The Rock Hill-area 5th District favored Trump 57-39, so Norman is actually underperforming Trump by a considerable 8-point margin if this survey is accurate. It finds the race noticeably closer than the one other publicly released poll of the race that we have, which was a GOP-affiliated Victory Enterprises poll from last week that placed Norman ahead by a larger 53-36. With so few polls, however, it's difficult to say who is closer to the truth.
Parnell reportedly narrowed his deficit by 6 points since his March survey, and he argues that his latest numbers show the race has potential. However, national groups from both parties have shown practically zero interest in this race so far in a sign that they don't view it as competitive. Nevertheless, given how Democrats have frequently substantially outperformed the presidential result in special elections throughout 2017, an unexpectedly closer showing for Parnell wouldn't be implausible.
● Special Elections: Via Johnny Longtorso:
South Carolina HD-84: Republicans held this one. Ronnie Young defeated Democrat Jennifer Lariscey by a 58-38 margin, with Constitution Party candidate Lance Weaver pulling in the remaining 4 percent. This district went 64-35 for Mitt Romney in 2012 and Trump won it 65-31.
● Deaths: You might not be familiar with Sergio Bendixen's name unless you closely follow the polling business, but Bendixen, who died last Friday at age 68, was a pioneer not just in polling Hispanics but in Hispanic behind-the-scenes participation in national politics. Bendixen is best known for being one of the first to use multilingual polling to reach Spanish-speakers who might be missed by English-language phone polling, which he used primarily in polling Florida but also at the national level for Democratic campaigns and in Latin American countries.
Bendixen also had a long track record of punditry on Spanish-language networks and campaign consulting; he rose to prominence organizing south Florida for Jimmy Carter in 1976, managed several unsuccessful Democratic primary campaigns, such as Alan Cranston’s bid in 1984, and made Spanish-language ads for Barack Obama's 2008 campaign.
● Pres-by-LD: Daily Kos Elections' project to calculate the 2016 presidential results for every state legislative seat in the nation ventures to Ohio, a traditionally swingy state that took a hard right turn in 2016 and where the GOP dominates the state government. 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 of our calculations from 2016 and past cycles here.
Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton 52-44 in Ohio last year, a huge improvement for the GOP from Barack Obama's 51-48 win over Mitt Romney four years before. The GOP holds a massive 66-33 majority in the state House (one Democratic-held seat is vacant, and Daily Kos Elections assigns open seats to the party that last held them), and an even-stronger 24 to nine edge in the state Senate. The entire state House is up every two years, while half of the Senate was up in 2016 and the remaining seats will be up in 2018.
The GOP briefly lost control of the state House in 2008, but they won it back in the 2010 GOP wave. Team Red soon got to draw a map that would protect their majorities, and they made the most of their opportunity by narrowly winning three-fifths veto-proof majorities in 2012 despite Democratic House candidates winning more votes statewide that year. Even as Romney was narrowly losing the state in 2012, he still carried 19 of the 33 Senate seats and 60 of the 99 state House districts. Unsurprisingly, Trump did even better, taking 23 Senate districts and 66 House seats.
We'll start with a look at the state House, where Trump flipped 13 Obama seats while surrendering seven Romney seats to Clinton. Trump dramatically improved on Romney's performance in many predominantly white working class areas, including the traditionally Democratic Mahoning Valley around Youngstown, and there were some massive swings to the right in several House seats. The biggest swing towards Trump was in HD-90, a GOP-held seat which is located along the Kentucky border. While Romney won the seat 52-46 and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown managed to narrowly carry it during his 51-45 statewide win in 2012, Trump took the seat 69-28. Trump improved on Romney's performance by at least a 10-point margin in 53 additional seats.
By contrast, Clinton improved on Obama in only 21 state House districts. Her biggest improvement over Obama was in HD-27 in the Cincinnati area, which swung from 61-38 Romney to 50-44 Trump. However, Republican state Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr. had no trouble winning re-election 64-36. Clinton improved on Obama by at least a 10-point margin in four other seats.
Last year, seven Democrats won in Trump seats while an equal number of Republicans won in Clinton districts. Of those seven Democrats, six represent seats that Obama had carried four years before. The one exception is Jack Cera, whose HD-96 runs along the West Virginia border. Romney carried the seat just 50-47, but Trump took it 66-30. However, Cera won re-election last year without any GOP opposition; Cera also holds the Trumpiest seat of any Democrat in the chamber. All six Democrats in Obama/Trump seats each survived some massive swings. The seat that swung the least was HD-75 east of Akron, which still drastically flipped from 55-43 Obama to 50-45 Trump.
One of those seven Democrats on Trump turf is John Boccieri, who won a competitive U.S. House seat in 2008 but lost in the 2010 GOP wave. Boccieri spent years eyeing a comeback, and in 2015, he was appointed to the open HD-59 around Youngstown. Last year, HD-59 swung from 51-47 Obama to 57-39 Trump, but Boccieri won 58-42.
Turning to those seven Republicans in Clinton seats: Romney won all of their seats in 2012, but by very narrow margins in each. The Republican with the most pro-Clinton seat is Mike Duffey, who represents a Columbus-area seat. HD-21 went from 51-48 Romney to 54-41 Clinton, but Duffey won re-election 59-41. Seven additional Republicans hold Obama/Trump seats, while the aforementioned Jack Cera is the one Democrat to hold a Romney district.
It's very clear that, if Democrats want any shot at winning a majority under this map in 2018 or 2020, they'll need a lot of things to go right. One way to visualize this is to briefly look at Sherrod Brown's 51-45 win over Republican Josh Mandel in the 2012 Senate race. Brown's 6-point statewide win was just large enough to allow him to carry 50 of the 99 House seats—a bare majority. Another way to illustrate how much punishment the GOP majority can withstand is to sort each seat by Clinton's margin of victory over Trump and see how the seat in the middle—known as the median seat—voted. The median seat backed Trump 55-39, about 8 points to the right of his 52-44 statewide win.
The good news for Buckeye State Democrats is that Ohio's unusual redistricting process could give Democrats the chance to draw the legislative lines after the 2020 Census, or at least prevent the GOP from implementing another gerrymander. In 2015, voters approved a law that modifies Ohio's legislative redistricting commission. Starting with the next round of redistricting, a commission consisting of the governor, the secretary of state, the state auditor, two members appointed by Democratic legislative leaders, and two members appointed by GOP legislative leaders will draw Ohio's legislative districts. It takes two votes from the minority party to pass a map for the whole decade… but there's a catch.
There's nothing stopping the majority of the commission from just passing a map for four years; at the end of those four years, it only takes a simple majority to pass another map. In other words, anyone who wants to gerrymander the state legislature just needs to pass two or three maps over the decade instead of one. The 2015 reform also ostensibly bans maps that favor or disfavor a particular party overall, while the proportion of districts that lean toward each party should reflect the parties' share of the statewide vote. However, it's unclear just how effective these new provisions will be against more subtle partisan gerrymanders.
Right now, the GOP controls the governorship and holds the secretary of state and auditor posts. However, all three incumbents will be termed out in 2018. If Democrats can win just two of these three statewide posts next year, at the very least, Team Blue will be able to stop the GOP from having control over the whole process for four years.
Turning to the state Senate, where the GOP's 24 to nine majority looks even safer than their strong House edge, Trump won 23 seats, swapping six Obama seats for just two Romney districts. Two Senate Democrats hold Trump seats. Last year, Democratic state Rep. Sean O'Brien won an open seat 56-44, even as his SD-32, located in the northwest corner of the state, flipped from 58-40 Obama to 54-42 Trump. Democratic state Sen. Joseph Schiavoni, who is currently running for governor, was not up for re-election last year; his Youngstown-area SD-33 went from 58-41 Obama to 53-43 Trump.
Three Republicans hold Clinton seats. Two of those districts had backed Romney in 2012, and both of those Romney/Clinton districts were up in 2016. The one GOP-held Obama/Clinton seat in the chamber is the Columbus-area SD-03, which is represented by Kevin Bacon (who has probably already heard his share of six degrees of separation jokes). This district, which will next be up in 2018, went from 55-44 Obama to 53-42 Clinton. An additional four Republicans hold Obama/Trump seats, four of which are up in 2018.
Not surprisingly, the state Senate map is also brutal for Democrats. Trump carried the median seat 55-40, which is about the same as his performance in the median House seat. In 2012, Brown carried 17 of the 33 seats, again a very bare majority. The GOP has held the state Senate since the 1984 elections, but if 2018 goes well and gives Democrats the chance to stop Team Red from drawing another map, that could finally change.
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.