The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
● Election Night: At long last, Election Day is upon us! Daily Kos Elections will be liveblogging the results of all of the key downballot races starting at 6 PM ET, while our Daily Kos colleagues will be covering the presidential returns in a parallel liveblog. You can also follow us on Twitter for blow-by-blow coverage.
To help you navigate what will be an action-packed night, we've assembled a number of guides you'll want to bookmark and keep handy in tabs:
- Our famous poll closing times map is back! You can find it at the top of this post and also at this link, where we have versions keyed to every U.S. time zone (as well as a version to aid colorblind folks). This is the map used by Nancy Pelosi and the Obama campaign, so print yours out and tape it up stat!
- Our biennial hour-by-hour guide to all of the key Senate, House, and gubernatorial races.
- Our seminal county benchmarks, which help you track statewide results as they come in so that you can get a sense if your preferred candidate is on a path to winning.
- Guides to every important presidential swing state, Senate race, and House race.
- A guide to the demographics and name pronunciation for every major party candidate in the most competitive races for Senate, House, and governor.
- A guide to every single legislative chamber that could change hands (as well as those where important supermajorities could be won or broken), plus our comprehensive cheat-sheet of all the key races in the top chambers.
- A guide to all of the races that could impact redistricting next year, including state supreme courts.
- A guide to every major ballot measure that could affect voting rights, election procedures, and redistricting.
- And a guide to all of the other interesting ballot measures on a huge variety of topics, including health care, education, taxes, criminal justice, civil rights, and more.
Finally, if you haven't yet, you still have time to submit your guesses for our election prediction contest, generously sponsored by Green's Babka! This year, the top three winners will each receive a $50 gift card to purchase whatever babka you desire from Green's.
We'll see you later tonight!
Race Ratings Changes
We're issuing two final ratings changes to a pair of House races:
● FL-13 (Likely D to Safe D): While Florida's 13th District, located in the St. Petersburg area, swung away from Democrats in 2016, it shifted back in 2018, and polls suggest Joe Biden is on track to perform well in regions of Florida like this one. With that backdrop, Republicans never tried to seriously help their candidate, Anna Paulina Luna, in her bid to unseat Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist. A lone independent survey from late October had Crist up 55-39.
● MN-07 (Tossup to Lean R): It looks like Rep. Collin Peterson's luck may have finally run out. The conservative Democrat has long managed to distance himself from his party, allowing him to repeatedly win re-election in Minnesota's rural 7th District for three decades. But his home turf shifted far to the right in 2016, with Trump winning 62-31, by far the reddest seat held by a Democrat.
Even if those trends abate somewhat this year, Republicans have, for the first time, spent millions of dollars to convince voters that they should stop splitting their tickets and instead support the GOP candidate, former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach. We haven't seen any recent public polling, but Peterson only narrowly defeated the same penniless opponent in both 2016 and again in 2018, despite the midterm blue wave. Fischbach is stronger and far better financed. Peterson may yet hang on, but it would surprise us if he did.
● Polls: We’ll miss you, massive piles of Senate polls. See you in 2022, friend.
- AL-Sen: Morning Consult: Tommy Tuberville (R): 51, Doug Jones (D-inc): 39 (Sept.: 52-34 Tuberville)
- AZ-Sen: Data Orbital (R): Mark Kelly (D): 47, Martha McSally (R-inc): 46 (46-45 Biden) (mid-Oct.: 48-42 Kelly)
- AZ-Sen: Ipsos for Reuters: Kelly (D): 53, McSally (R-inc): 44 (50-47 Biden) (late Oct.: 51-44 Kelly)
- AZ-Sen: Marist College for NBC: Kelly (D): 52, McSally (R-inc): 46 (48-48 presidential tie) (July: 53-41 Kelly)
- AZ-Sen: Morning Consult: Kelly (D): 48, McSally (R-inc): 44 (48-46 Biden) (late Oct.: 48-44 Kelly)
- AZ-Sen: Siena College for the New York Times: Kelly (D): 50, McSally (R-inc): 43 (49-43 Biden) (early Oct.: 50-39 Kelly)
- AZ-Sen: SSRS for CNN: Kelly (D): 52, McSally (R-inc): 45 (50-46 Biden) (July: 50-43 Kelly)
- AZ-Sen: Y2 Analytics (R) for the Salt Lake Tribune: Kelly (D): 51, McSally (R-inc): 47 (50-47 Biden)
- CO-Sen: Keating–OnSight–Melanson (D): John Hickenlooper (D): 53, Cory Gardner (R-inc): 42 (53-41 Biden) (mid-Oct.: 51-41 Hickenlooper)
- CO-Sen: Morning Consult: Hickenlooper (D): 52, Gardner (R-inc): 44 (54-41 Biden) (late Oct.: 50-42 Hickenlooper)
- GA-Sen-A: Landmark Communications (R) for WSB-TV: David Perdue (R-inc): 49, Jon Ossoff (D): 47, Shane Hazel (L): 3 (50-46 Trump) (late Oct.: 47-47 tie)
- GA-Sen-A: Morning Consult: Ossoff (D): 47, Perdue (R-inc): 46 (49-46 Biden) (late Oct.: 46-44 Perdue)
- GA-Sen-B: Landmark Communications (R) for WSB-TV: Raphael Warnock (D): 38, Kelly Loeffler (R-inc): 27, Doug Collins (R): 24, Matt Lieberman (D): 5 (50-46 Trump) (late Oct.: Warnock: 37, Loeffler: 25, Collins: 23)
- IA-Sen: Civiqs (D) for Daily Kos: Theresa Greenfield (D): 50, Joni Ernst (R-inc): 47 (49-48 Biden) (early Oct.: 49-46 Greenfield)
- IA-Sen: InsiderAdvantage (R) for the Center for American Greatness: Ernst (R-inc): 51, Greenfield (D): 45 (48-46 Trump) (mid-Oct.: 48-43 Greenfield)
- IA-Sen: Public Policy Polling (D): Greenfield (D): 48, Ernst (R-inc): 47 (49-48 Biden) (Aug.: 48-45 Greenfield)
- IA-Sen: Selzer and Co. for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom Iowa: Ernst (R-inc): 46, Greenfield (D): 42 (48-41 Trump) (Sept.: 45-42 Greenfield)
- KY-Sen: Morning Consult: Mitch McConnell (R-inc): 51, Amy McGrath (D): 40 (Sept.: 52-37 McConnell)
- MI-Sen: EPIC-MRA for Wood-TV: Gary Peters (D-inc): 47, John James (R): 42 (48-41 Biden) (mid-Oct.: 45-39 Peters)
- MI-Sen: Ipsos for Reuters: Peters (D-inc): 51, James (R): 44 (53-43 Biden) (late Oct.: 50-44 Peters)
- MI-Sen: Mitchell Research (R) for MIRS: Peters (D-inc): 50, James (R): 45 (52-45 Biden) (late Oct.: 52-43 Peters)
- MI-Sen: Morning Consult: Peters (D-inc): 49, James (R): 43 (52-45 Biden) (late Oct.: 48-42 Peters)
- MI-Sen: Research Co.: Peters (D-inc): 52, James (R): 37 (50-43 Biden)
- MI-Sen: RMG Research for PoliticalIQ: Peters (D-inc): 50, James (R): 41 (51-44 Biden)
- MI-Sen: SSRS for CNN: Peters (D-inc): 52, James (R): 40 (53-41 Biden) (July: 54-38 Peters)
- MN-Sen: Public Policy Polling (D): Tina Smith (D-inc): 51, Jason Lewis (R): 42 (54-43 Biden) (Sept.: 49-41 Smith)
- MN-Sen: Research Co.: Smith (D-inc): 50, Lewis (R): 39 (52-43 Biden)
- NC-Sen: Ipsos for Reuters: Cal Cunningham (D): 48, Thom Tillis (R-inc): 46 (49-48 Biden) (late Oct.: 48-47 Cunningham)
- NC-Sen: Meeting Street Insights (R) for Carolina Partnership for Reform: Cunningham (D): 47, Tillis (R-inc): 43 (48-45 Biden) (May: 46-44 Cunningham)
- NC-Sen: Morning Consult: Cunningham (D): 47, Tillis (R-inc): 43 (49-48 Biden) (late Oct.: 48-42 Cunningham)
- NC-Sen: SSRS for CNN: Cunningham (D): 47, Tillis (R-inc): 44, Bray (L): 2, Hayes (C): 2 (51-45 Biden) (Sept.: 47-46 Cunningham)
- NM-Sen: Research and Polling Inc. for the Albuquerque Journal: Ben Ray Luján (D): 52, Mark Ronchetti (R): 44 (54-42 Biden) (Sept.: 49-40 Luján)
- SC-Sen: Morning Consult: Lindsey Graham (R-inc): 46, Jaime Harrison (D): 44 (51-45 Trump) (late Oct.: 47-45 Harrison)
- TX-Sen: Morning Consult: John Cornyn (R-inc): 47, MJ Hegar (D): 43 (48-48 presidential tie) (late Oct.: 46-41 Cornyn)
- MO-Gov: Remington Research (R) for the Missouri Scout: Mike Parson (R-inc): 50, Nicole Galloway (D): 44 (50-45 Trump) (mid-Oct.: 51-43 Parson)
- NC-Gov: Meeting Street Insights (R) for Carolina Partnership for Reform: Roy Cooper (D-inc): 51, Dan Forest (R): 43 (48-45 Biden) (May: 55-37 Cooper)
- NC-Gov: SSRS for CNN: Cooper (D-inc): 52, Forest (R): 42 (51-45 Biden) (Sept.: 53-44 Cooper)
● NM-02: Believe it or not, we only have late polls from one competitive House contest. Research and Polling Inc.’s new survey for the Albuquerque Journal finds Republican Yvette Herrell with a small 48-46 lead over freshman Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, which is a shift to the right from the 47-45 edge it gave Torres Small in September.
The incumbent’s campaign quickly responded with a Strategies 360 internal that had her narrowly ahead of Herrell 47-46. The sample also found Donald Trump ahead 51-45 in a southern New Mexico seat he took 50-39 four years ago.
● Independent Expenditures: Our final roundup of independent expenditures made by the "Big Four" House groups (the DCCC, House Majority PAC, NRCC, and Congressional Leadership Fund) is here! During the time spanning Oct. 26 through Nov. 1, these organizations spent an additional $95 million in House races across the country, with Democrats outpacing Republicans $52 million to $43 million. Altogether, the DCCC and HMP have enjoyed a $223 million to $214 million spending edge over their GOP counterparts.
The seat that attracted the most new expenditures over the last week was California's 25th District, where Republican Rep. Mike Garcia faces a rematch with Democrat Christy Smith months after beating her in a May special election. A little less than $4.4 million was spent here during those seven days, with Democrats outpacing the GOP by a narrow $2.3 million to $2 million. Not far behind was another Republican-held district, New York's open 2nd District on Long Island: A total of $4.2 million was spent, with just over half coming from Republicans.
There are several other contests we'll highlight. We got our first serious outside spending of the whole cycle over the last week in Illinois' 17th District, where HMP spent a total of $1 million to defend DCCC chair Cheri Bustos while CLF dropped $480,000 to unseat her. By contrast, while CLF became the first of the big four to air ads in Pennsylvania's 17th District during this time, it only ended up spending $150,000 against Rep. Conor Lamb.
Altogether, the seat that attracted the most big four spending from July onwards was the aforementioned California's 25th District with $16.7 million: $8.4 million from Republicans and $8.3 million from Democrats. (This does not include spending from the special election.)
Just behind were two seats in New York held by freshmen Democrats. A total of $16.2 million was spent upstate in the 22nd District, with Republicans expending $10.6 million to defeat Rep. Anthony Brindisi and $5.6 million coming from Democratic groups. As we wrote last week, though, Republicans needed to spend heavily in large part because former Rep. Claudia Tenney has been so badly outraised that her allies have had to step in and handle many of the basic functions that her campaign should be doing instead.
The 11th District on Staten Island, meanwhile, received a total of $16.1 million in big four spending, with Democrats using $9.4 million to help Rep. Max Rose and Republicans dropping $6.7 million to defeat him.
The seat that attracted the most total spending from HMP and the DCCC was California's 48th in Orange County, with these groups using $9.5 million to help freshman Rep. Harley Rouda compared to $2.6 million from the GOP; New York's 11th and California's 25th were second and third, respectively.
The aforementioned New York's 22nd earned the most spending from the NRCC and CLF. Not far behind was New Mexico's 2nd, where the GOP spent $9.4 million against freshman Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small compared to $6.3 million from Democrats. In third was Florida's 26th District, a Miami-area seat held by freshman Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, where the GOP outspent the Democrats $9 million to $6.2 million.
We also want to take stock of a few other contests. While Politico reported in September that Republicans had privately written off being able to hold onto Texas' open 23rd District, neither side ever stopped spending in the contest to succeed GOP Rep. Will Hurd: Altogether, national Democrats dropped $5.3 million to aid Gina Ortiz Jones, while the GOP used $4.2 million to help Tony Gonzales.
Over in the neighboring 21st District, the DCCC and HMP used $3.8 million against freshman Rep. Chip Roy while the CLF and NRCC spent nothing. Team Red isn't abandoning Roy at all, though, because the radical anti-tax Club for Growth has deployed a total of $6.3 million to help him fend off Democrat Wendy Davis. It's a comparable situation in Arizona's 6th where the Club has used $2.3 million to boost Rep. David Schweikert compared to just $305,000 from the CLF, while Democrats have spent $3.9 million against him.
● AK State Senate, State House: While Alaska Republicans are in a good position to retake control of the state House, which is currently run by a coalition of Democrats, independents, and breakaway Republicans, they need to worry about a similar alliance taking over the state Senate.
The GOP currently enjoys a 13-7 edge in the upper chamber, and there's little question that more Republicans will hold seats after Tuesday's elections than Democrats. Team Blue, though, is trying to flip the seats held by John Coghill and Senate President Cathy Giessel, who each lost their primaries back in August. If they succeed in taking either, it would make it easier for Democrats to reach out to Republicans dissatisfied with their own leadership.
And it does seem like they may have some takers. The Anchorage Daily News' James Brooks reports that Democrats hope that as many as four Republican senators would join them in a coalition. Each of these Republicans—state Sens. Click Bishop, Bert Stedman, Gary Stevens, and Natasha von Imhof—told the paper that it was too early for them to decide on anything, with Stevens saying that he wanted the Republican majority to try to come up with a working agreement to run the chamber after the election.
Brooks writes, though, that those negotiations may be difficult. Three other Republican senators have come out in opposition to the legislature's "binding caucus rule," which Brooks describes as "a set of voluntary rules that require members of a majority to vote together on specific items, including the budget." However, Stedman and Bishop say that they won't join the Republican majority unless these rules remain in place, with Brooks writing that they "see them as critical for organization and negotiation on the budget."
Over in the 40-member House, though, Republicans are favored, though not at all assured, to regain control of the chamber they lost right after the 2016 election. Five Republicans currently sit with the 15 Democrats and two independents, but two of them were defeated in primaries in August. Republican leaders also beat state Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, who isn't part of any alliance, in her primary and also took back another seat that was held by Gary Knopp, a coalition member who died a month before the primary.
While Republicans didn't defeat their other three renegade members in August, it may not matter. Two of them, Steve Thompson and Bart LeBon, were renominated, but they said last month, "We're Republicans and we want to form a Republican majority. That's our hope and objective." The third Republican member of the coalition on the ballot, state Rep. Louise Stutes, said last month she was staying "noncommittal," though she joined Thompson and LeBon in sponsoring a joint fundraiser for Republican House candidates.
Assuming Thompson and LeBon keep their word, no seats changed hands this week, and no one else jumped ship, that would leave Republican state House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt with at least 22 seats in the 40-person chamber, which would allow him to become speaker no matter what Stutes does. However, there's still dissension in the ranks that could complicate things even if Team Red has a good election night.
State Rep. David Eastman, a conservative who never joined the Majority Caucus but has nevertheless been a huge pain for party leaders, is opposed to the binding caucus and recently said that he'd be reluctant to join the GOP caucus if it remained a requirement. Eastman even went so far to predict that there was only a "52%" chance that there would be an all-GOP ruling majority, though he added, "Ask me tomorrow and you might get a different answer." The more moderate Stutes agreed that coalition building could be difficult for Pruitt and his allies, saying, "We have our moderates and then we have our far-right and our far-left, and none of those groups add up to 21."
Tuesday's election results could also make things more complicated in more ways than one. Pruitt, whom Democrats are targeting for defeat, acknowledged that things would get rough if he ended up as one of just 21 Republicans in the majority coalition. "I think 21 is hard," Pruitt told Brooks, adding, "Has it been done? Yes, but it's tough." Brooks also notes that, even if no members leave the caucus, a single dissenter or absent member could create problems for the Republicans.
Democratic state Sen. Bill Wielechowski also notes that bipartisan coalitions may be more likely in either chamber if Measure 2, which would create America's first "top-four" primary system, wins a majority of the vote.
This referendum would require all the candidates for congressional, legislative, and statewide races to face off on one primary ballot, where contenders would have the option to identify themselves with a party label or be listed as "undeclared" or "nonpartisan." The top four vote-getters would advance to the general election, where voters would be able to rank their choices using instant-runoff voting. This new rule, as Wielechowski points out, would reduce the influence of each party and could make it easier for members to form coalitions and still keep their seats.
With so many factors in play, it could take a while before we know who is in control of either chamber. Indeed, just two years ago it looked like Republicans had taken control of the House from a different bipartisan alliance, but they simply could not find a candidate for speaker who could command a majority. The deadlock lasted through February of 2017, a full third of the way through the legislature's 90-day session, when a new coalition finally formed.
● Special Elections: In addition to the thousands of regularly scheduled legislative races that are on the ballot on Nov. 3, around a dozen special elections are also on tap. We've cataloged those races by the 2016 and 2012 presidential results in each district in a spreadsheet here. Many of the races are taking place in safe seats (including three that are uncontested); however, a few races offer some intrigue.
The twin special elections for state Assembly and state Senate in New Jersey’s 25th Legislative District along with Oregon’s 10th State Senate District are places where the last two presidential elections saw close results, and offer opportunities for Democrats to flip.
You can check out more details on those races and more here.