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Rating change: Loebsack’s retirement in Iowa expands House playing field
Race for open seat in 2nd District is now a Toss-up

Rep. David Loebsack, D-Iowa, will not be seeking an eighth term next year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

No one really gave Cornell College professor Dave Loebsack a chance of knocking off Republican Rep. Jim Leach in 2006. But the Democrat won that race, and more than a dozen years later, he’s announced that his current seventh term in Congress will be his last.

Democrats now have to defend a competitive open seat that wasn’t previously on the list of vulnerable districts.

How to survive and thrive in Iowa — words of wisdom from former staffers
Gephardt 2004 alums recall lessons from the road long traveled

Richard A. Gephardt rallies union workers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in January 2004 as he campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination. He dropped out after a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

With less than 10 months to go before the Iowa caucuses, hundreds of Democrats have descended on the Hawkeye State to organize and energize voters. Only one candidate will finish first on Feb. 3 — and ultimately, there will be only one presidential nominee — but the experience can be invaluable to younger staff and could help the party in future years.

In 2004, Missouri Democrat Richard A. Gephardt was the early favorite as a neighboring congressman who narrowly won the 1988 presidential caucuses. Gephardt finished fourth, but his Iowa team was an impressive compilation of young talent who went on to help Democrats take back the White House, Senate, House and state legislatures around the country.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin endorses GOP Sen. Susan Collins for 2020
Cross-party endorsement is rare, but two voted together to support Kavanaugh

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., is endorsing Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, for re-election next year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III endorsed Republican Sen. Susan Collins’ 2020 re-election bid Thursday, saying he would go to Maine to campaign for her if she asked.

“I would go up and campaign for Susan Collins,” the West Virginia senator said in an interview taped for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers”  that will air Friday. “For America to lose someone like Susan Collins would be an absolute shame. I feel that strongly about this lady.”

How Gephardt’s 2004 Iowa team boosted the Democratic Party
‘Stay classy,’ campaign veterans advise 2020 pack

Staffers of Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, D-Mo., hand out signs and stickers for his presidential campaign at the 2003 Democratic National Committee winter meeting. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Nearly 15 years ago, Bill Burton was driving Dick Gephardt around Iowa in an electric blue Saturn Vue named “Sue” with David Plouffe and John Lapp along for the ride.

The Missouri congressman’s 2004 presidential hopes eventually ended with a fourth-place finish in the state’s Democratic caucuses, but Gephardt’s Iowa campaign team would go on to boost Democrats at the state and federal level, and even elect a president four years later.

‘Bathroom bill’ sponsor’s ad in NC-09 special election calls Democrats ‘just plain crazy’
Dan Bishop is one of 10 GOP candidates in a special election, called after a ballot harvesting scheme tainted results

The great seal of North Carolina is seen outside the state legislature building in Raleigh, N.C., on Monday, May 9, 2016. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

State Sen. Dan Bishop, once a sponsor of North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” and now a candidate for the open 9th District House seat, is tying the race’s lone Democrat to “left-wing radicals” and “socialists” in his first campaign video.

Bishop is one of 10 Republicans competing in the GOP primary for the chance to face Democrat Dan McCready in a special election, which was called after a ballot harvesting scheme tainted a November victory for Republican Mark Harris.

The case for primaries: Arizona edition
Mark Kelly may have avoided an intraparty fight, but that may hurt more than help

Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly, here with his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in 2018, appears to have avoided a primary in his bid for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats breathed a sigh of relief this week when Rep. Ruben Gallego decided not to run for the Senate, likely avoiding a primary in the run-up to a competitive general election in Arizona. That’s because “bitter,” “bloody,” and “bruising” seem to be the most commonly used adjectives to describe primaries these days, even though they can serve an important purpose.

Gallego’s decision all but paved the way for retired astronaut Mark Kelly to win the Democratic nomination and focus on challenging appointed Republican Sen. Martha McSally. But while Kelly has had a public profile as a gun control advocate alongside his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, he’s never been a candidate for office, and it’s still unclear how he’ll perform.

When it comes to younger voters, watch the margin of victory
Republicans haven’t carried 18-to-29-year-olds in an election cycle since 1994

Louisiana Republican John Kennedy, then a candidate for U.S. Senate, greets fans at a tailgate party before an Alabama-LSU football game in Baton Rouge, La., in 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There’s really no question Democrats are going to win younger voters in 2020. But what matters for them is the size of their margin of victory. 

Republicans haven’t carried 18-to-29-year-olds in an election cycle since 1994, when exit polling showed them besting Democrats in this age group, 51 percent to 49 percent. They broke even with Democrats among younger voters in the 1998 midterms, but it’s been at least 30 years since Republicans carried 18-to-29-year-olds in a presidential cycle.

Latest fundraising numbers from Beto O’Rourke and others are ridiculous
Texas Democrat raised more in 24 hours than earlier top candidates did in an entire cycle

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke reported raising $6.1 million within 24 hours after announcing his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When covering campaigns on a day-to-day basis, it can be easy to lose perspective, particularly when it comes to money. Million-dollar figures are thrown around without much thought. But the amounts of money being raised by candidates right now, particularly Democrats, are absurd.

I glanced back at competitive races nearly 20 years ago for some context, and the comparisons between a day of presidential fundraising and entire, top-tier congressional contests are staggering.

Race ratings: Wisconsin among 3 initial presidential toss-ups
First look at 2020 presidential map gives Democrats a slight edge

Supporters of candidate Donald Trump try to block a Bernie Sanders sign as they listen to Trump speak in Janesville, Wis., on March 29, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

I don’t believe in accidents when it comes to politicians and parties, particularly when it comes to choosing a city for a national convention. The Democrats’ selection of Milwaukee for their 2020 convention makes sense considering Hillary Clinton was their first presidential nominee to lose Wisconsin since 1984.

And, according to a new Inside Elections metric we’re calling “Baseline,” the Badger State is the most competitive state in the country.

From silent to millennial, generations of the Democratic presidential field
The growing primary roster now ranges in age from 37 to 77

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, represent the range of generations making up the 2020 Democratic presidential field. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Say this for the Democrats, they are multigenerational. 

Their presidential field continued to swell as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who affiliates with Democrats, announced he was running and promptly raised millions of dollars to show his campaign apparatus was doing just fine.