Gonzales

Election analysis from Nathan L. Gonzales

Rating Change: Chris Collins’ Arrest Puts Seat in Play
Inside Elections is shifting the rating from Solid to Likely Republican

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., was reportedly arrested on Wednesday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If Rep. Chris Collins continues to run for re-election, he would do so while facing charges of insider trading and lying to the F.B.I. But just because a member of Congress is indicted, doesn’t mean they can’t win.

GOP Rep. Michael Grimm of New York and Democratic Rep. William J. Jefferson of Louisiana are two recent examples of incumbents who won re-election in the face of significant legal problems.

Congress Isn’t Perfect but the Politicians Aren’t Always to Blame
Fixing the Hill is easier said than done

Politicians aren’t always to blame for the dysfunction in Congress and the perceived solutions are more complicated than many realize, Gonzales writes. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After 30 years of covering Congress, David Hawkings has a good idea of how Capitol Hill works — or more important, how it doesn’t — and he laid out five key reasons why Congress is broken.

But whether it’s money, maps, media, mingling or masochism, there are no easy solutions. Nor are they entirely the responsibility of the politicians to address.

Ratings Change: Races for 2 GOP Seats Shift to Toss-Ups
Texas’ Pete Sessions and Kentucky’s Andy Barr face strong Democratic challengers

Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, faces Democrat Colin Allred in his bid for a 12th term representing the Dallas area. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In 2010, Texas Rep. Pete Sessions led Republicans to a historic 63-seat gain in the House and a new GOP majority as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Now, he’s at significant risk of losing his own seat.

Sessions represents the Dallas-area 32nd District, which Hillary Clinton carried by 2 points in 2016. It’s the type of suburban, college-educated area that has been revolting against President Donald Trump since he took office. But for much of the cycle, Sessions benefitted from a fundraising advantage and a competitive Democratic primary, which was only decided in a May runoff.

Democratic Candidates Should Be Bolder on Gun Control, Poll Finds
“The center has shifted on this issue,” gun control advocate says

Students march to the Capitol on Pennsylvania Avenue to call on Congress to act on gun violence prevention during a national walkout on April 20 to mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Gun control has been a third rail of Democratic campaigns, but a new poll suggests that Democratic candidates should embrace a bolder approach to restrictions on guns, even in general elections.

Up to this point, Democrats have been decidedly defensive on guns. The most famous instances of Democratic candidates using guns in television ads include West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III shooting the so-called cap-and-trade bill, former Georgia Rep. John Barrow talking about his granddaddy’s pistol and Missouri Senate candidate Jason Kander assembling a rifle blindfolded. The ads were meant to reassure voters that Democrats didn’t want to take away their guns.

Support for Roe is Up, But Other Abortion Polling Divided and Steady
71 percent think 1973 decision should stand

Two men argue over abortion at the Families Belong Together protest outside of the White House Saturday June 30, 2018. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

While recent polling from NBC News/Wall Street Journal showed an uptick in support for Roe v. Wade, other survey data on abortion reflects a remarkably consistent and nuanced approach from Americans on the choice issue that stretches across decades.

The recent survey of 900 registered voters, conducted July 15-18, showed 71 percent believe the 1973 decision, which established a woman’s legal right to an abortion, should be kept in place while 23 percent believe the ruling should be overturned.

I Met 12 Democratic Candidates in Two Days and Lived to Write About It
None of them are talking about Trump or Pelosi

A demonstrator holds a sign at a news conference last week to announce the launch of the Medicare for All Caucus. Health care is a key component of the Democrats’ messaging this fall, Gonzales writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

I swore I’d never do it again.

In October, I interviewed 16 Democratic House candidates in two days. As much as I enjoy having face-to-face conversations with people running for the offices we cover, it might have been too many in a row.

GOP Senate Candidate Returns Contributions From Conservative PAC
FEC has questions for Club for Conservatives PAC

The Federal Election Commission sent a letter to Club for Conservatives PAC last month with questions about its previously filed reports. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

Rep. Marsha Blackburn is locked in a competitive and expensive race for Senate. But the Tennessee Republican’s campaign decided to return a sizable contribution from a political action committee that’s facing scrutiny from campaign finance regulators.

“Club for Conservatives PAC did not meet our standards for transparency,” Blackburn campaign spokeswoman Abbi Sigler said. 

Ratings Change: Two Top Senate Races Shift Out of Toss-Up
North Dakota Moves to Tilts Republican, West Virginia Moves to Tilts Democratic

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp has seen her state shift further to the right since her narrow win in 2012, Gonzales writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When it comes to political handicapping, the easiest thing to do would be to put all of the most competitive contests into the Toss-up category and declare them too close to call. Or to argue that because Donald Trump was elected president against the projections, it’s not worth rating any races at all.

But that’s not particularly helpful to people looking for some direction and distinctions in congressional elections.

Nathan’s 10 One-Liners After Tuesday: Winter Has Come for Democrats
What’s running through my head the night of a stunning New York upset

New York Rep. Joseph Crowley’s defeat Tuesday shows Democrats are not immune to anti-establishment sentiment that Republicans have faced for years, Gonzales writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There’s plenty to digest from Tuesday’s primaries in New York, Maryland, Utah and beyond, but here are a few initial thoughts encapsulated in some run-on sentences.

North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger’s primary loss last month wasn’t a surprise (considering his narrow win in 2016), and his fellow GOP Rep. Mark Sanford’s primary loss in South Carolina two weeks ago wasn’t stunning (considering his personal issues and reputation for opposing President Donald Trump).

Elections, Retirements Could Ransack GOP Baseball Roster
Turnover in the Democratic lineup not expected to be as dramatic

Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois and Ryan A. Costello of Pennsylvania confer during the 2016 Congressional Baseball Game. Costello is retiring this year while Davis faces a competitive re-election race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The cold reality of the midterm elections could force Republicans into a completely different roster for next year’s Congressional Baseball Game. Due to retirements and competitive re-election races, over a third of the 36-member GOP team may not be returning in 2019, including more than half of last year’s starting lineup.

Three of the Republicans’ first six batters from 2017 are playing in their last game because they aren’t seeking re-election, including leadoff hitter Ryan A. Costello of Pennsylvania.

After Montana, Senate Matchups Nearly Set for November Battles
Biggest question marks in Arizona and Wisconsin

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., is likely to face state Auditor Matt Rosendale or former district judge Russ Fagg in November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After a year and half of wondering which senators might retire, if the parties would land star recruits, and how messy primaries would play out, the matchups in nearly all of the most competitive Senate races will be set after the votes are counted in Montana on Tuesday.

Republicans in Big Sky Country are likely to select either state Auditor Matt Rosendale or former district judge Russ Fagg to take on Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, leaving just a couple of unknowns on the broader Senate map, five months before Election Day.

3 Ways Nancy Pelosi Won’t Be Speaker Next Year
GOP could well lose the boogeywoman who keeps its base energized

There are at least three scenarios in which House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi won’t become speaker again, Gonzales writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Nancy Pelosi is a drug that Republicans just can’t quit, and the GOP hopes that the threat of her becoming speaker of the House again will awaken any potentially apathetic base voters. While that might work for Republicans for yet another cycle, it might be the last cycle with their favorite boogeywoman, considering there are at least three scenarios in which the California Democrat won’t regain the leadership mantle.

Given the presence of a polarizing President Donald Trump in the White House and historical midterm trends, falling short of a majority in November would be a catastrophe for Democrats.

Rating Changes in 19 House Races, All Toward Democrats
In total, 68 GOP-held seats are now rated competitive

New Mexico Democrat Xochitl Torres Small is running for the seat GOP Rep. Steve Pearce is vacating to run for governor. The 2nd District race is now rated Leans Republican. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Despite forecasts of a blue tsunami, it’s still not guaranteed that Democrats will win back the House majority. But the playing field of competitive House races is expanding and shifting to almost exclusively Republican territory.

After the latest round of changes, Inside Elections now has 68 Republican seats rated as vulnerable compared to just 10 vulnerable Democratic seats. And there are at least a couple dozen more GOP-held seats that could develop into competitive races in the months ahead.

DCCC Makes Initial TV Reservations for Fall Fight
Committee is the last of four biggest House-focused groups to make initial buy

DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., right, and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., conduct a news conference at the Capitol in February. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reserved more than $12.6 million in broadcast television ad time for the last month of the fall campaigns, according to a source familiar with the committee’s independent expenditure buy.

More ad reservations are certainly to come, considering the DCCC spent more than $66 million on TV ads during the 2016 cycle, in addition to an ongoing, seven-figure digital buy, according to the same source.

Ratings Change: 5 GOP Open House Seats Shift Toward Democrats
Recent Republican struggles in special elections don’t augur well for party in fall

The race for retiring Michigan Rep. Dave Trott’s 11th District seat is now a Toss-up. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s dangerous to extrapolate too much from any single special election, but the trend is clear across nearly all of the special contests over the past year: Democrats are over-performing and Republicans are struggling to hold open seats.

The over-performance by Democratic candidates hasn’t been limited by geography, considering they have done better than expected in Montana, Kansas, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Arizona, even if they’ve fallen short in all but one of those races.