On Monday, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill placing an amendment on the November ballot that would change the way the state conducts elections by eliminating Mississippi's version of the Electoral College, a key feature of the state's 1890 constitution that proponents openly announced was enacted "to secure to the State of Mississippi 'white supremacy.'"
The provision in question requires candidates for statewide offices such as governor or attorney general to win not only a majority of the vote but also a majority of the state House's 122 districts. If no candidate surpasses both thresholds, the members of the House choose the winner, and there's nothing to stop them from picking the person who lost the popular vote.
After Republicans took control of the legislature in 2011, they redrew their own districts to guarantee they'd never lose their grip on power. They did so by making sure a majority of districts would be heavily white and, therefore, heavily Republican. As a result, they not only gerrymandered the state House, they gerrymandered every statewide election, too. The effect was so pronounced that in last year's race for governor, Democrat Jim Hood would likely have had to win by 15 points just to have a shot at carrying 62 House districts.
This proposed amendment would no longer require candidates for statewide office to carry a majority of the state House districts, but there's a big catch: The new law would mandate a general election runoff for any contests in which no candidate earns a majority of the vote.
Georgia has had a very similar runoff law on the books for years, and it's consistently hurt Democratic candidates. In 2008, most notably, Democrat Jim Martin trailed in the first round of Georgia's 2008 Senate race by just 3 points yet lost his runoff by 15. In 2018, Democrat John Barrow went from a 0.4% deficit in the November contest for secretary of state to a 3.8% defeat the next month—not nearly as dramatic as what happened to Martin a decade before, but still a move in the wrong direction.
In fact, no Georgia Democrat has ever won a statewide runoff since Republicans revived the practice in 2005, knowing that Black voters—who disproportionately favor Democrats—tend to turn out at lower rates whenever there's a second round of voting. There's little reason to think such runoffs would operate differently in Mississippi, so even if this new amendment passes, it may offer little in the way of progress.
And what if it doesn't? Last year, a group of Black voters challenged this mini-Electoral College in federal court on the grounds that it violated the Constitution's guarantee of one person, one vote. While the judge who heard the case agreed, he put the suit on hold to give lawmakers time to correct the problem themselves. If they fail to, the judge said, he'd allow litigants to once more pursue their claims.
Please bookmark our litigation tracker for a complete compilation of the latest developments in every lawsuit regarding changes to election and voting procedures.
● Massachusetts: Massachusetts' Democratic-run Senate and House, which had each passed different bills to make voting easier and safer this year, have reached a compromise, which the House has already approved in an almost unanimous vote. The measure would require the secretary of state to send absentee ballot applications to all voters both for the state's Sept. 1 primary and the November general election.
The deal includes a number of other provisions that would:
- enable mail voting without an excuse in the primary (it's already allowed in November);
- implement early voting for the primary for the first time and expand it for the general election;
- count mail ballots for November that are postmarked by Election Day and received within three days afterward; and
- create an online portal for requesting mail ballots for the general election (and for the primaries if possible).
The bill now goes before the Senate. If it passes the upper chamber, it would need to be signed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker. Baker has not yet said whether he supports the legislation, though lawmakers could override a possible veto.
The deadline for federal candidates to file their quarterly fundraising reports, covering the period from April 1 to June 30, is midnight Eastern Time on July 15, but it's common for campaigns to leak their numbers early to generate some press. (Deadlines vary by state for gubernatorial contenders and often aren't quarterly.) We'll be posting numbers as we get them, and we'll be releasing our own House and Senate fundraising charts after the July 15 deadline.
While the coronavirus overshadowed the final weeks of March, the fundraising period that just concluded was the first full quarter to take place entirely during the pandemic. As a result, we'll soon have our first full picture of how our new reality has impacted bottom-line totals.
● GA-Sen-A: Jon Ossoff (D): $3.45 million raised, additional $450,000 self-funded
● FL-13: Anna Paulina Luna (R): $410,000 raised
● MI-08: Elissa Slotkin (D-inc): $1.4 million raised, $4.7 million cash-on-hand
● MN-01: Dan Feehan (D): $700,000 raised, $1.65 million cash-on-hand
● NJ-03: Andy Kim (D-inc): $1 million raised, $3.5 million cash-on-hand
● TX-23: Tony Gonzales (R): $400,000 raised
● AZ-Sen: The local GOP firm Data Orbital is out with its first survey of this contest, and it shows Democrat Mark Kelly leading Republican Sen. Martha McSally 48-41 as Joe Biden edges Donald Trump 45-44. In what passes for good news for McSally these days, this is her best performance in any poll we've seen since March.
● KS-Sen: Rep. Roger Marshall is running a TV spot against former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach ahead of the Aug. 4 Republican primary. The ad argues that Marshall will give Team Red their best chance to hold this seat, while Kobach could lose this race and usher in a dystopian America with a Democratic-run Senate.
● NC-Sen, NC-Gov: East Carolina University's newest poll of its home state shows the Senate race tied 41-41 between Republican incumbent Thom Tillis and Democrat Cal Cunningham, while Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper leads Republican Dan Forest 49-38; this sample also favors Joe Biden 45-44. In May, ECU found Tillis and Cooper up 41-40 and 51-36, respectively.
● Senate: CNBC has released a trio of Senate polls from the Democratic firm Change Research:
- AZ-Sen: Mark Kelly (D): 53, Martha McSally (R-inc): 44 (51-44 Biden) (Sept.: 47-45 Kelly)
- MI-Sen: Gary Peters (D-inc): 49, John James (R): 42 (48-43 Biden) (May: 48-43 Peters)
- NC-Sen: Cal Cunningham (D): 51, Thom Tillis (R-inc): 41 (51-44 Biden)
● MA-04: Three previously unheralded candidates running in the September Democratic primary have reported bringing in serious money during the second quarter of the year.
The most eye-popping number so far comes from former Wall Street regulator Ihssane Leckey, who told Politico that she hauled in $710,000 for the quarter and had $714,000 in the bank. Leckey began running in the primary for this safely blue seat back in May of last year against Rep. Joe Kennedy III, who had not yet launched his Senate bid, and she'd only raised a grand total of $97,000 from donors through the end of March.
Two contenders who only launched their campaigns in the last few months also say that they brought in large amounts during the quarter. Businessman Chris Zannetos reports hauling in $638,000 and having just over $500,000 on-hand, while public health expert Natalia Linos says she raised $200,000 in a little over a month. Zannetos did not report raising any money during the first quarter of the year, while Linos only launched her campaign in May.
Three other Democratic candidates also unveiled their quarterly hauls on Wednesday. Newton City Councilor Jake Auchincloss took in $288,000 and had $1.16 million on-hand; Auchincloss' campaign said that these totals only include money that can be used in the primary. City Year co-founder Alan Khazei, meanwhile, raised $544,000 and had $1.15 million on-hand. Jesse Mermell, a former head of the Alliance for Business Leadership, hauled in $269,000 and had $422,000 to spend.
● New York: Election officials in New York were required by law to wait until July 1 to start counting absentee ballots cast in the state's June 23 primary, the day after the deadline for them to arrive, but some jurisdictions will wait even longer.
The New York City Board of Elections said on Tuesday that it won't start tallying absentee votes, which make up the vast majority of all ballots cast, until next week, with Staten Island commencing on Monday and the other four boroughs on Wednesday. It's not clear how long the tally will take, though one election law expert estimated it would not be complete for another two to three weeks.
Meanwhile, the count has already begun in Suffolk County on Long Island, but officials likewise say it will take "[m]ore than two weeks" to finish canvassing mail ballots. Neighboring Nassau County has also started counting ballots and says it will be done "by the end of next week." It's likely that other counties face similar situations.
In all, we're tracking 10 uncalled contests across the state, though many more races, including at the legislative level, also have yet to be finalized. We'll bring you the results as soon as we learn them.
● Governor-by-LD, Senate-by-LD: Daily Kos Elections is out with new data for New Mexico, which was crunched for us by elections analyst Bill Coningsby, of the 2018 gubernatorial and U.S. Senate results by state Senate, state House, and congressional district.
We'll start with a look at the Senate, which is only on the ballot in presidential cycles and where Democrats enjoy a 26-16 majority. Four years ago, Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump 48-40 statewide, while the Libertarian Party nominee, former Republican Gov. Gary Johnson, took 9% of the vote: Clinton carried 27 Senate districts to Trump's 15, while Johnson took none. Two years later, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham beat Republican Steve Pearce 57-43 in the race for governor, which allowed her to win all the Clinton seats and two more. (We'll discuss the results of the three-way U.S. Senate race at the very end.)
There are a total of three Republicans in Clinton/Lujan Grisham seats, while just one Democrat, state Sen. John Arthur Smith, hails from a Trump/Pearce constituency. Smith, though, won't be representing this seat much longer, since he was one of five conservative Senate Democrats to lose renomination last month.
Each party holds one of the two Trump/Lujan Grisham. The Democrat, state Sen. Clemente Sanchez, was another conservative who lost in June, while Republican incumbent Gary Baca was renominated without any opposition.
We'll turn to the House, which is up every two years and where Democrats hold a 46-24 majority. Clinton took 45 seats to Trump's 25, and just like in the upper chamber, Lujan Grisham carried all the Clinton districts plus an additional two. Both Trump/Lujan Grisham seats are in GOP hands, while one Democrat represents a Trump/Pearce constituency.
Clinton and Lujan Grisham also carried the same two congressional seats, while Trump and Pearce each took the 2nd District. However, while Pearce was the 2nd District's congressman when he ran for governor, his 53-47 victory there was a bit weaker than Trump's 50-40 showing two years before. That underperformance on his home turf may have had serious implications for Pearce's party in 2018, since Democrat Xochitl Torres Small won the seat 51-49.
Finally, we'll take a look at the contest for U.S. Senate. Democratic incumbent Martin Heinrich beat Republican Mich Rich 54-31, while Johnson, who was once again running as a Libertarian, took 15% statewide. Heinrich beat Rich in 33 of the 42 Senate seats and 56 of the 70 House districts, and he even carried all three U.S. House seats. Johnson didn't end up winning a single district on any of these maps, though he beat Rich to earn second place in four Senate seats and 10 House districts.
P.S. You can find our master list of statewide election results by congressional and legislative district here, which we'll be updating as we add new states. Additionally, you can find all our data from 2018 and past cycles here.
● CO-Sen: Former Gov. John Hickenlooper, the favorite of national Democrats, held off former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff by a 60-40 margin to secure his party's nomination. Hickenlooper will now face Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who is the most vulnerable Republican seeking re-election this year thanks to Colorado's leftward trend.
The day after the primary ended, Hickenlooper's allies at End Citizens United released a survey from Public Policy Polling taken on Monday and Tuesday that gave him a 51-40 lead over Gardner; the sample also favored Joe Biden 56-39. Daily Kos Elections rates this race as Lean Democratic.
● OK-05: Because no candidate took a majority of the vote in the Republican primary, this contest will head to an Aug. 25 runoff between self-funding businesswoman Terry Neese and state Sen. Stephanie Bice. With all votes reporting, Neese led Bice 36-25, with businessman David Hill in third with 19. (We regret to inform you that Shelli Landon, who ran this … remarkable TV ad, took only about 1% of the vote.)
The runoff between Neese and Bice could be quite negative if the last few days of round one are any indication. While the anti-tax Club for Growth never endorsed anyone, it spent over $340,000 on anti-Bice ads late in the campaign. The winner will take on freshman Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn in this red-leaning district based in the Oklahoma City area. We rate this race a Tossup.
● OK Ballot: Oklahoma voters narrowly passed a ballot measure to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, by a 50.5 to 49.5 margin, a difference of about 6,500 votes. The expansion, which comes a decade after Obamacare became law, would extend Medicaid coverage to approximately 200,000 state residents. Oklahoma is now the fifth state to expand Medicaid at the ballot box but the first to do so by amending the state constitution. Supporters chose this route to prevent the Republican-run state legislature, which has long opposed any expansion, from repealing or undermining it.
● UT-Gov: With 401,000 votes counted, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox held a 37-34 lead on former Gov. Jon Huntsman in the Republican primary, though more votes remain to be tallied. Former state House Speaker Greg Hughes was a distant third with 21%. The winner will be the overwhelming favorite against Democrat Chris Peterson in the fall. We rate this open-seat race to succeed retiring Republican Gov. Gary Herbert as Safe Republican.
● UT-01: With 91,000 votes counted, businessman Blake Moore held a tiny 32.2 to 29.6 lead on Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson in the Republican primary, a margin of 576 votes. Former state Agriculture Commissioner Kerry Gibson was further back with 23%, though more votes remain to be counted.
This seat, covering Ogden and northern Utah, became open after Republican Rep. Rob Bishop decided to retire. Bishop later signed on as gubernatorial candidate's Thomas Wright's running mate, but their ticket is currently taking just 8% of the vote statewide. The winner of the GOP nomination to succeed Bishop will be a lock to hold this district in November. We rate the contest Safe Republican.
● UT-04: The AP has called the Republican primary for former NFL defensive back Burgess Owens, who played for the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders in the 1970s and '80s and more recently has become a frequent guest on Fox News. With 78,000 votes counted, Burgess held a wide 44-24 lead on state Rep. Kim Coleman. He'll now face freshman Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams for this red-leaning seat in the Salt Lake City area. We rate this race a Tossup.
● UT-AG: With 388,000 votes counted, incumbent Attorney General Sean Reyes held a 54-46 lead over Utah County Attorney David Leavitt in the Republican primary, with more votes left to be counted. The winner will face Democrat Greg Skordas in November.
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