The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Daniel Donner, and Cara Zelaya, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
● Pres-by-CD: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to announce the completion of its project to calculate the results of the 2020 presidential election for each of the nation's new congressional districts that will be used for the first time in the November midterms. These results reflect how the previous election would have played out under the new districts created as a result of the decennial redistricting process.
Our chart features data for all 435 districts nationwide in a single, permanent location. In addition, it includes our 2020 presidential results for the predecessor districts to every new district, enabling users to see how the partisan lean of each district has shifted. (We discuss how we identify predecessor districts—a task that is not always straightforward—at length below our chart.)
We've also compiled a separate spreadsheet that shows how every county that makes up each congressional district performed, including counties that are split between multiple districts, and we've published spreadsheets detailing all of our calculations on a state-by-state basis so that you can check our work. In addition, we've uploaded all of the raw election data we've relied on and put together a piece explaining exactly how we calculate these figures.
These numbers are more important than ever for understanding U.S. elections. Due to increased political polarization and the decline of split-ticket voting, there's now a very strong correlation between how a given district votes in presidential races and how it votes for the House. We can see this most vividly in the long-term decline of so-called "crossover" districts, which support one party's candidate for president but the other's for House.
Following redistricting, just 14 Democratic-held seats would have voted for Donald Trump while only 15 Republican-held seats would have backed Joe Biden, as shown in this table. That total of 29 is the third-lowest in a century. The lowest figure in that timeframe came just prior to redistricting, when there were 16 crossover seats. The increase is to be expected, since both parties sought to redraw maps in ways favorable to them (albeit with Republicans doing so in more states and more aggressively), but the numbers are likely to shrink again following the midterms.
Armed with these district-level presidential results, then, we can identify which races are likely to be competitive, and we can predict the outcome of most House elections with a strong degree of confidence. In an era when the reliability of polling has seemed uncertain, this hard data offers an important alternative. Of course, it's not the be-all, end-all, which is precisely why Daily Kos Elections tracks campaign news so closely and shares it each day in our Morning Digest newsletter, but it's a critical component of all smart House election analysis.
There's so much more to be learned from this data, so we've compiled some of our initial observations in this introductory post. Among many other things, you can discover the nation's median district (Michigan's 8th, based around Flint), which seat was the most closely divided (Arizona's 6th in the Tucson area, which Biden won by around 300 votes), the bluest district, the reddest, and plenty more. And be sure to bookmark our chart!
● Daily Kos Elections just released a massive new data set that breaks down the results of the 2020 presidential election for every last one of the nation's new congressional districts, so we're dissecting what it all means with longtime DKE writer Stephen Wolf. Wolf explains why these numbers closely predict the outcome of most House elections, how they show the way in which the overall playing field has grown even more tilted toward Republicans, what the most evenly divided district in the country is, and much more.
Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also discuss the fallout from the huge Democratic upset in the special election for Alaska's lone House seat, which has Republicans pointing fingers at one another (but mostly at Sarah Palin); gawk at the Senate GOP's huge problems with money and candidate quality that's led to open feuding at the highest levels of the party; recap the Massachusetts primaries; and preview the final primaries of the year in New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
Please subscribe to The Downballot on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. You'll find a transcript of this week's episode right here by noon Eastern Time.
● FL-Sen, FL-Gov: We have two new Florida polls, and they each give the state's top Republican incumbents, Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Ron DeSantis, only small leads over their respective Democratic rivals, Val Demings and Charlie Crist. The bipartisan team of Fabrizio Ward and Impact Research's survey for the AARP has Rubio up 49-47, while the Republican firm Susquehanna Polling and Research gives him a similar 47-44 edge. The AARP poll, meanwhile, shows DeSantis ahead 50-47, which is also little different from his 47-43 advantage from Susquehanna.
While this pair of polls shows Demings and Crist running close to one another, there's a huge resource disparity between the two Democrats. Demings, writes NBC, has deployed $25 million on TV, digital, and radio ads, while Rubio and the NRSC have spent a combined $6.4 million. AdImpact relays that Demings has $1.6 million reserved for TV time through Election Day compared to only $484,000 for the senator, though both candidates have access to plenty more money: Rubio held a $15 million to $8.8 million cash-on-hand edge on Aug. 3, which is when the most recent financial reports are from.
We don't know how much DeSantis and Crist have spent on advertising, but there's no question that the governor will dwarf his Democratic foe. DeSantis and his allied campaign committee had $129 million available on Aug. 26, while Crist's side had access to only $3.2 million.
● NH-Sen: The week-old White Mountain PAC, which has spent over $4.6 million to aid state Senate President Chuck Morse ahead of Tuesday's Republican primary, is now attacking retired Army Brig. General Donald Bolduc as a surefire general election loser with "crazy ideas." The narrator also makes sure to remind viewers that "Bolduc even accused Gov. [Chris] Sununu of being a Chinese communist sympathizer and a supporter of terrorism."
● PA-Sen: The conservative American Leadership Action has dropped $500,000 on a cable and digital ad campaign in the Philadelphia area attacking Democrat John Fetterman for a 2013 incident from his time as mayor of Braddock where he chased down a Black jogger named Christopher Miyares whom he wrongly suspected was involved in a nearby shooting. The spot includes a news report where Miyares recounts that Fetterman "pulled a shotgun and aimed it at my chest," something the candidate says he didn’t do.
This story attracted renewed attention last year during Fetterman's campaign for the Democratic nod. The candidate put out a statement where he denied knowing Miyares' race or gender when the incident occurred and arguing, "I made a split-second decision to intervene for the safety and protection of my community, and intercepted the person to stop them from going any further until the first responders could arrive … I had my shotgun, but it was never pointed at the individual, and there wasn't even a round chambered." Fetterman also admitted he'd made a mistake, though he has not apologized.
Miyares, for his part, wrote in April of last year, "Even with everything I said, it is inhumane to believe one mistake should define a man's life … I hope he gets to be a Senator." Fetterman's intra-party rivals, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta and Rep, Conor Lamb, brought the story up during the primary, but they never ran any TV ads about it.
● WA-Sen: The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling finds Democratic Sen. Patty Murray leading Republican Tiffany Smiley 48-39, which is a small drop from her 51-40 edge in early June. Smiley, though, got some dispiriting news in early August when Murray outpaced her 52-34 in Washington's top-two primary; altogether, the senator and four minor Democrats scored 55% of the vote, while Smiley and four other Republicans grabbed 41%.
● KY-Gov: Former Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft on Wednesday launched her long anticipated 2023 bid against Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. The new candidate has never run for office before, but Craft and her husband, coal billionaire Joe Craft, have together been some of the GOP's most influential donors. The couple, along with another wealthy CEO, last month co-purchased the Kentucky State Fair's grand prize country ham for a record $5 million, and there's no question Kelly Craft can self-fund plenty if she chooses to.
Craft joins a May 2023 primary that already includes state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, state Auditor Mike Harmon, state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, and state Rep. Savannah Maddox. Cameron himself greeted Craft's entry into the race with an opening TV spot that touted his endorsement from Craft's old boss, Donald Trump.
● MI-Gov, MI-AG, MI-SoS: The Glengariff Group, once again surveying for The Detroit News and WDIV-TV, gives Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer a 48-35 advantage over Republican Tudor Dixon, which is an improvement from Whitmer's already strong 51-40 edge in July.
Whitmer has also led in every survey we've seen in the intervening time, though reliable firms disagree on how far ahead she is. A mid-August poll for AARP from the GOP firm Fabrizio Ward and the Democratic group Impact Research showed things the closest, though the pair still had Whitmer up 51-46; numbers from later in the month from the Democratic company Blueprint Polling and the nonpartisan firm EPIC-MRA showed the governor winning 51-39 and 50-39, respectively.
Glengariff also finds two other statewide Democratic incumbents, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, ahead of their far-right Republican rivals, though by notably different margins. Nessel outpaces Matt DePerno 40-34, while Benson fends off Kristina Karamo 43-32.
● MN-Gov: SurveyUSA's new poll for KSTP-TV shows Democratic Gov. Tim Walz posting a huge 51-33 advantage over Republican Scott Jensen in a race that has seen little attention from other pollsters.
Back in May, just before Jensen won the all-important party endorsement, this firm showed Walz leading by a considerably smaller 44-39. We've seen just two surveys since then: The Democratic group Change Research had the governor up only 42-40 in its early June poll for the MinnPost, while a mid-July Jensen internal from Cygnal showed Walz ahead 50-46.
While we'll need to wait and see if other pollsters confirm SurveyUSA's read on the race, there's no question that the incumbent is far ahead in the money contest. Walz had close to $5 million on-hand in late July compared to only about $500,000 for Jensen, and while the RGA has so far avoided airing ads here, Minnesota Morning Take says that Walz's allies at Alliance for a Better Minnesota have spent $800,000 here per week. The Democratic ads have largely gone after Jensen's opposition to abortion rights, including a spot using footage of him saying, "I would try to ban abortion."
Jensen is hoping to turn things around with what his campaign says is a "nearly seven-figure advertisement buy for the month of September," which opens with an ad where he argues he couldn't try to ban abortion. The former physician is shown holding a baby as he opens, "I've delivered over 500 babies in my career. Abortion is divisive, and Tim Walz is weaponizing the issue." Rather than say what his own position is, though, Jensen argues, "In Minnesota, it's a protected constitutional right, and no governor can change that. And I'm not running to do that."
The Minnesota Reformer's J. Patrick Coolican, however, notes that this very much isn't true, explaining, "It's a protected right according to a judicial precedent, Doe v. Gomez. It is not written in the Minnesota Constitution." He continues, "The Minnesota Supreme Court could overturn the precedent. The governor gets to appoint Supreme Court justices." Coolican added, "(This is not the main thing: I know he's a doctor, so he knows what he's doing, but that's never how I held our babies.)"
● RI-Gov: Former CVS executive Helena Foulkes is going up with her inaugural negative TV ad against both Gov. Dan McKee and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, who are her two main rivals in next Tuesday's Democratic primary, while a pro-Gorbea group is launching the first anti-Foulkes spot of the race. The developments come about two weeks after McKee and Gorbea began airing commercials against one another while ignoring Foulkes and the rest of the field.
We'll start with the Foulkes piece, which echoes Gorbea by saying that McKee is "mired in an FBI investigation of a contract awarded to his cronies." As we've written before, federal authorities are probing McKee's administration over a since-canceled education consulting contract with a business called the ILO Group; the governor used Tuesday's debate to deny that he'd been subpoenaed, though he refused to comment if any members of his administration had been.
Foulkes' ad then moves on to faulting Gorbea and says she "refuses responsibility for a voting fiasco even though she's the state's chief election officer. Instead, she blames the vendor, who she hired." A few days ago, the Rhode Island Board of Elections announced that there were "errors on Spanish language ballots" on voting machines in several communities, where the names of contenders in a number of Democratic primaries "were displayed incorrectly." The problem affected as many as 55 votes, the Board said, adding that those ballots wouldn't be counted. Gorbea says her office had supplied the correct names to the vendor, which they've used for years.
Gorbea's allies at the Latino Victory Fund, meanwhile, are spending $120,000 on a buy that opens by asking whether Foulkes or McKee is worse. Foulkes, the narrator declares, "got $29 million as a New York CEO, then laid off over 1,000 workers, calling them 'low-hanging fruit.'" The commercial also blasts Foulkes for donating to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014 before it connects McKee to the FBI investigation. The ad only briefly mentions Gorbea at the end.
● NH-02: Politico relays that the Democratic group Democrats Serve has now spent $570,000 on ads designed to motivate Republicans to nominate former Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns on Tuesday, which is considerably more than the $94,000 price tag the outlet reported last week.
● NY-10: Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou said Tuesday that she would not continue her campaign as the nominee of the Working Families Party, an announcement that came two weeks after she lost a close Democratic primary to attorney Dan Goldman.
● MA-Gov: Former state Rep. Geoff Diehl, a Trump-backed candidate who has called the 2020 election "rigged," defeated wealthy businessman Chris Doughty 55-45 in the primary to succeed their fellow Republican, retiring Gov. Charlie Baker. Diehl lost the 2018 Senate race to Elizabeth Warren 60-34, and he'll again be the underdog this fall against Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey.
● MA-SoS: Seven-term Secretary of State Bill Galvin turned back Boston NAACP head Tanisha Sullivan 62-38 in the Democratic primary, and he should have no trouble winning re-election once again in this dark blue state.
● Suffolk County, MA District Attorney: Appointed incumbent Kevin Hayden defeated Boston City Councilmember Ricardo Arroyo 54-46 in the Democratic primary for a full four-year term, and he'll face no Republican opposition in the fall. Arroyo had been campaigning as a criminal justice reformer, but he lost several influential endorsements last week over a 2005 sexual assault allegation.