Maine

States in the East with outsized roles in the 2020 elections
Pennsylvania remains a presidential battleground, while Collins bid in Maine will be closely watched

Maine Sen. Susan Collins is a Republican running in a state that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016, but she has a strong personal brand that will help her if she seeks another term as expected in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If there’s an abiding lesson from 2016, it’s that national public opinion in the presidential race is not as important as the votes of individual states. Republican Donald Trump won by taking 304 electoral votes to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s 227, even as Clinton beat him by 2.9 million votes and 2.1 percentage points nationally.

In 2020, Democrats will be looking to recapture states Trump won that went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. And many of those states will also be prime battlegrounds in the fight for control of the Senate, where Democrats need a net gain of four seats to take a majority (three if they win the White House and the vice president can break 50-50 ties), while Republicans need a net gain of 19 seats to retake the House.

Democrats protest, but Senate confirms Steven Menashi to federal appeals court
Nominee for Second Circuit described as ‘bottom crawler’ by Democratic leader

Steven J. Menashi was confirmed to the federal bench on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The man Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer described as a “bottom crawler” was confirmed Thursday to a lifetime appointment on the federal appeals court based in his home state of New York.

Schumer and other Democrats have opposed many of President Donald Trump’s nominees to be federal judges that have been called up for votes by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. But the opposition to Steven J. Menashi has been more voracious than for most.

Campaigns look to capitalize on first impeachment hearings
Both parties used different strategies on the campaign trail

Campaigns sought to capitalize on national attention on Wednesday’s impeachment hearing that featured testimony by senior diplomats William Taylor, center, and George Kent, right. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Loath to waste a national spotlight, campaigns on Wednesday sought to take advantage of the first public impeachment hearing in two decades, though groups pushing Republicans seemed more willing to urge angry voters to contribute as the hearing unfolded while Democrats were more low-key.

War rooms for the Democratic and Republican national committees each issued dueling fact checks as the House Intelligence panel began public hearings into whether President Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense by withholding military aid while pressing Ukraine to investigate a chief political opponent. But the similarities between the parties’ approaches stopped there.

Some Democrats see political system overhaul as winning 2020 issue
Bill to revamp campaign finance and voting passed House early, then stalled in Senate

Rep. Max Rose, D-N.Y., talks with the media after votes on Capitol Hill in September. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If Rep. Max Rose’s voters expected the freshman lawmaker from Staten Island, New York, to quiet down this election cycle about a major overhaul of the nation’s political system, they were mistaken.

It was a centerpiece of the Democrat’s campaign-trail mantra in 2018. And now, as one of the most vulnerable incumbents in Congress, he’s not stopping. Neither are many of his similarly situated colleagues.

Moneyball, meet politics: Could VAR settle arguments about candidate strength?
Vote Above Replacement puts Klobuchar atop presidential field, Collins way above other senators

Maine Republican Susan Collins, center, outranks the entire Senate on Inside Elections’ Vote Above Replacement statistic, while Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, right, ranks highest among Democratic presidential contenders. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the era of data and metrics and models in political analysis, at least one question still remains: How do we quantify the strength of individual candidates?

Arguing over whether a candidate or incumbent is good or bad is an age-old tradition in the political media and among party operatives. Typically, candidate strength is measured by fundraising or the margin of a win or loss. But that can fail to account for the particular election cycle or the possibility that any candidate running on a particular party’s line in a particular year or state would do just as well.

Trump judicial pick blows off Democrats’ questions on Ukraine
An appeals court nominee has ignored a request from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, but still advances

Steven J. Menashi during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on  September 11, 2019. He refused to answer questions on Ukraine, but his nomination was advanced to the Senate floor anyway.  (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

An appeals court nominee has ignored a request from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to say whether he played a role in White House events now at the heart of the accelerating House impeachment probe — and Republicans haven’t let that halt his move through the confirmation process.

The committee voted 12-10 along party lines Thursday to advance the nomination of Steven Menashi, who works in the White House counsel’s office. President Donald Trump picked him for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit based in New York.

Republicans push for whistleblower's identity, but not naming names — yet
President and his son encourage media to out the whistleblower, while lawyers caution liability

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., at a campaign rally Monday with President Donald Trump in Kentucky called for the media to expose the identity of the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the impeachment inquiry. (Bryan Woolston/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump and his congressional allies have created an uneasy tension on Capitol Hill around a push to out the whistleblower whose report launched the House impeachment inquiry, in the days since a right-wing outlet reported a name and work history without direct confirmation.

Trump, at the White House on Sunday, discussed the details of the report but didn’t mention the name and twice added: “I don’t know if that’s true or not.” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, mentioned a resume item at a Republican press conference Friday and on Fox News on Tuesday but didn’t say the name.

A year out, here's four scenarios for 2020 elections
How voters feel about economy, impeachment will decide which party rules in 2021

Sign from a rally in September staged by a coalition of progressive activist groups, including MoveOn.org, at the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After Donald Trump’s surprise victory in 2016, there’s a saturating fear of projecting elections. Nearly three years into his presidency, and with one year left in his first term, there are multiple potential outcomes for the 2020 elections. But the scenarios aren’t created equal and don’t have the same chance of taking place, and they will have a profound impact on policy in the future.

Even though predicting anything to do with Trump might seem like a risk because of how typically damaging stories don’t seem to impact his standing, the president is a historically unpopular figure whose job approval rating has been static for months. More voters have disapproved than approved of his job performance since about a week after he was inaugurated, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average, and his approval rating has been between 41 and 44 percent for most of the past year and a half.

The 10 most vulnerable senators in 2020: Republicans play defense
2 GOP senators must win in states that went for Hillary Clinton in ’16

Alabama Democrat Doug Jones is the most vulnerable senator seeking reelection in 2020, but the top 10 list is dominated by Republicans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Although most competitive Senate races in 2020 involve Republicans defending their seats, it’s a Democratic senator who tops the list of the most vulnerable incumbents in the chamber one year out from Election Day.

Alabama’s Doug Jones is running for a full Senate term after winning a special election in 2017, and he faces the difficult task of overcoming the partisan dynamics of a deeply Republican state. Michigan Sen. Gary Peters is the other Democrat running in a state that President Donald Trump won in 2016, but he is further down the list, since Trump won the Wolverine State by a much smaller margin.

Meet the two Democrats who broke with their party on impeachment
Collin Peterson and Jeff Van Drew represent districts Trump carried by very different margins

Minnesota Rep. Collin C. Peterson was one of just two Democrats who voted against Democrats’ impeachment resolution in the House on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two Democrats in competitive districts broke with their party on Thursday’s impeachment resolution in the House — a reminder of how complicated the politics of impeachment may be in seats in conservative parts of the country that Democrats want to hold in 2020.

Minnesota’s Collin C. Peterson and New Jersey’s Jeff Van Drew were the only two House Democrats to vote against the resolution, which lays out procedures that will govern the public portion of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. It was adopted 232-196 without any Republican support.