Pres-by-CD: It’s time to pop the champagne: Our project to calculate the 2016 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts nationwide concludes in North Carolina, the 50th state we’ve hit. You can find our complete data set for all 435 congressional districts here, which is the link you’ll want to bookmark for future use.
Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton 50.5-46.8 in North Carolina, a small improvement for the GOP from Mitt Romney’s 50.5-48.5 win over Barack Obama four years earlier, though still a surprise given what polls had shown. After the 2010 census, the GOP drew a congressional map designed to make 10 of North Carolina’s 13 seats safe for Team Red, while throwing as many Democrats as possible into the three remaining blue seats.
However, a federal court struck that map down in 2016 for illegally using race as the primary consideration for creating two of those three Democratic seats. The GOP responded by drawing up a completely different map, but one that still maintained the GOP’s 10-to-three advantage. (Note also that our 2012 numbers for North Carolina, adjusted retroactively for redistricting, come from the state rather than from us, so any comparisons between 2012 and 2016 aren’t perfectly apples-to-apples.)
The Republican map worked its magic once again in 2016, with Trump easily carrying 10 seats, and Clinton overwhelmingly winning the remaining three. The closest seat in the state was the 13th in the Greensboro area, which Trump won by “just” a 53-44 margin. However, Romney won it 53-47, so this district isn’t getting any friendlier for Team Blue. The 13th is represented by Republican Ted Budd, a gun shop owner and first-time candidate who won a very crowded primary last year with the help of the anti-tax group the Club for Growth. But while this seat isn’t particularly amenable to Democrats, if there’s a blue wave in the near future, a far-right candidate like Budd might at least need to watch his back.
The only other seat to back Trump by single-digits was the 2nd east of Raleigh, which he carried 53-44. The silver lining for Democrats is that Romney won the 2nd by a larger 56.5-43.5 even as he did worse statewide than Trump, so this seat did move a bit to the left. Still, Republican Rep. George Holding is very wealthy and won’t be an easy target.
And with that, we go to the credits for this project. Daily Kos Elections would like to thank the following people, whose help made this project immeasurably easier:
We’re grateful to everyone for their assistance.
And this wouldn’t be 2017 without a post-credit sequence. We’ll now be changing course and calculating the 2016 presidential results by state legislative district for all 50 states as part of our “Pres-by-LD” project. We unofficially kicked things off last week with a look at the Virginia state House and state Senate, as well was the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate. We’ll have more information about our newest project very soon.
• AZ-Sen: While Jeff Flake is one of the few Senate Republicans Democrats can target next year, there hasn’t been much talk about who Team Blue will field against him. Politico reports that Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is the most obvious candidate, but no one’s sure what she’ll do. Sinema flirted with a 2016 bid against John McCain and never quite ruled it out, even after fellow Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick jumped in.
If Sinema does run for the Senate, Democrats should at least have to worry less about defending her House seat than they would have in the past. In 2012, Obama only carried her Tempe 9th District 51-47, and Sinema briefly flirted with leaving it behind in 2014 to run for the safer 7th District. However, this area did not like Trump at all, and Clinton carried the 9th by a solid 55-38 margin.
• MI-Sen: Donald Trump narrowly carried Michigan last year, and the GOP would love to target Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in 2018. Until now, no notable Republicans have made any noises about running, but MIRS reports that longtime Rep. Fred Upton is considering. (The article is paywalled, and Kyle Melinn of MIRS graciously made this report available to us.) Upton’s spokesperson didn’t deny the report, saying that the congressman “has heard from a lot of folks that he has the right vision and know-how that would serve the state well.”
Upton is a well-connected member who serves as chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and he’d likely be able to raise serious money if he got in. However, Upton has served since 1987, so he’d have a tough time portraying Stabenow as the source of all D.C.’s problems. GOP primary voters might also prefer someone who is less of an insider and more tea party flavored than Upton. Indeed, in the 2010 primary, Upton was challenged from the right by ex-state Rep. Jack Hoogendyk and held to just a 57-43 win. However, Upton won a stronger 67-33 against Hoogendyk in their 2012 rematch, and he faced no serous intra-party opposition in 2014 or 2016.
If Upton runs, he’d give Democrats a chance to flip his Kalamazoo seat. However, while Romney only carried the 6th District 50-49, Trump won it 51-43, so it could still be a tough nut to crack.
• WV-Sen: Over the weekend, CNN reported that unnamed sources told them that GOP Rep. Evan Jenkins had committed to challenging Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin next year. The Washington Examiner, also citing unnamed sources, recently reported that Jenkins is the preferred candidate of the NRSC. For his part, Jenkins’ team claims that, while he is “seriously considering,” he hasn’t made a final decision. GOP Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also hasn’t ruled out a bid, and Manchin probably wouldn’t mind if the two duked it out in a primary. However, Morrisey also flirted with a gubernatorial bid for 2016 but ended up deferring to then-state Senate President Bill Cole, and the same thing could happen here if Jenkins is really in.
• KS-Gov: Next year’s race to succeed termed-out GOP Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is only slowly coming together. So far, no notable candidates from either party have jumped in. Ex-GOP state Rep. and non-profit head Ed O’Malley has formed an exploratory committee, but he’s been out of office for 10 years and probably won’t be intimidating anyone. The Wichita Eagle takes a detailed look at the many Republicans who could run here. A few Democrats are also considering getting in: While a Democratic win is tough in a state this red, Brownback’s massive tax cuts have severely damaged the state economy and left him with a horrible approval rating, and Team Blue may have an opening in 2018.
On the GOP side, three statewide figures have been mentioned as possible contenders. The most infamous potential candidate is Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an ally of Donald Trump. Among many other things, Kobach is notorious for conducting mass purges of Kansas’ voter rolls and trying to implement onerous proof-of-citizenship requirements. Kobach’s spokesperson acknowledged that he’s “considering the gubernatorial race along with many other possibilities.” Kobach has also been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Topeka-based 2nd District, which is being vacated by retiring GOP Rep. Lynn Jenkins; it’s unclear if this is one of the “many other possibilities” that Kobach is considering.
Attorney General Derek Schmidt says he plans to run for something in 2018, and added that he hasn’t ruled out seeking the governorship. Schmidt could also seek a third term or run Congress in the 2nd District, though he doesn’t appear to have said anything about a possible House bid. The Eagle says that, unlike Kobach, Schmidt has focused on far-less partisan causes while in office like fighting human trafficking. That could help Schmidt in a general election, but fire-breathing GOP voters may prefer someone more like Kobach in a primary.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer is also a potential gubernatorial candidate, and all his office would say is that he “has not even considered.” (Yeah, sure.) Colyer was Brownback’s running mate in 2010 and 2014, and he may be the easiest Republican to tie to the outgoing governor. In early 2015, a grand jury began looking into three loans from the wealthy Colyer to Brownback’s campaign that added up to $1.5 million: The U.S. attorney announced that there would be no charges a few months later, but it’s possible this matter could come up again on the campaign trail.
There are a few other Republicans who could get in. State Senate President Susan Wagle put out a statement saying she was focused on her current job, which rules nothing out. The Eagle also says that Rep. Kevin Yoder is “considering his options,” though there’s no other information. Sen. Jerry Moran was also name-dropped, but there’s no sign that he’s interested.
Kansas has a small Democratic bench, but two local politicians are considering. Ex-state House Minority Leader Paul Davis was Team Blue’s nominee in 2014 and lost to Brownback 50-46, and he says he’s talking “with a variety of people” about what he’ll do next year. Davis added that he’ll wait until the end of the legislative session, which is set to conclude May 15, before deciding. Davis has also been mentioned as a possible candidate for the 2nd Congressional District, which he carried 51-45 against Brownback, though he also doesn’t seem to have said anything about that race.
Ex-Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, who served until 2015, also is considering a gubernatorial run. Brewer says he’s had meetings about a possible bid for the Democratic nod, though he says he doesn’t have a timeline for when he’ll decide. If he wins, Brewer will become Kansas’ first African-American governor.
Finally, one notable independent is making noises about getting in. Greg Orman, who lost the 2014 Senate race to GOP Sen. Pat Roberts 53-43, said he hasn’t decided on anything, but believes there’s an opening for an independent. Orman became the de facto Democratic Senate candidate in 2014 after Team Blue’s nominee dropped out and if Orman runs for governor, there’s a good chance he’ll disproportionately hurt the Democratic candidate.
• MA-Gov: On Monday, ex-state budget chief Jay Gonzalez became the first Democrat to announce that he’d challenge GOP Gov. Charlie Baker next year. Gonzalez immediately tied Baker, whom polls show is popular in Massachusetts, to Trump, who is decidedly not popular in Massachusetts, arguing that the governor has not done enough to stand up to the White House.
Gonzalez is likely to face opposition in the Democratic primary. While Newton Mayor Setti Warren hasn’t announced he’s in, he’s been fundraising ahead of a likely bid; ex-state Sen. and Cape Air chief executive Dan Wolf and Rep. Seth Moulton also haven’t ruled out getting in. While Massachusetts is a reliably blue state in presidential races, Republicans have done well in gubernatorial contests, and the well-funded Baker won’t be easy to beat. However, local Democrats are hoping that they can effectively link Baker to Trump, or at least argue that the governor isn’t doing enough to fight him.
• MN-Gov: GOP Rep. Tom Emmer narrowly lost the 2010 gubernatorial race before he was elected to the House, and he sounded interested in trying again next year. Back in November, Emmer’s chief of staff said he would think about it over the next few weeks, but if Emmer made any plans, he kept them to himself. However, at the beginning of January, Emmer signed on to serve as a NRCC deputy, which probably isn’t something he would have done if he was interested in running for governor.
That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s decided he won’t go for it, though: Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz originally signed on to serve as finance chair for the DCCC for the 2014 cycle, only to quit in late February and unsuccessfully run for governor. Still, with a multitude of Minnesota Republicans eyeing this post, it seems unlikely that Emmer is just procrastinating on a decision.
• GA-06: This week, Republican businessman Bob Gray, who serves on the council of the Atlanta suburb of Johns Creek, announced that he would run in the likely special election to succeed Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Tom Price. Gray reportedly has the ability to self-fund, and he’s already portraying himself as an ardent Trump ally.
Believe it or not, the only other declared Republican candidate is state Sen. Judson Hill. However, several other potential GOP contenders appear to be waiting for Price to be confirmed before jumping in. On the Democratic side, former congressional staffer and investigative filmmaker Jon Ossoff, as well as two former state legislators, are in. While Romney easily won 61-38 in this suburban Atlanta seat, Trump only won here 48-47. Assuming Price leaves for the cabinet, all the candidates will run on one ballot; in the likely event that no one takes a majority, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, will advance to a runoff. At the very least, Gray’s campaign makes it less likely that the Democratic vote will be so split that two Republicans slip through to the runoff.
• NY-21: Ever since Democratic incumbent Bill Owens decided to retire in 2014, nothing has gone right for Democrats in this rural seat, which includes the North County along the Vermont border. Republican Elise Stefanik defeated Democrat Aaron Woolf, a documentary maker from Brooklyn, by a wide 55-34 margin during the 2014 GOP wave. Two years later, Stefanik defeated retired Army Col. Mike Derrick 65-30; it didn’t help that this seat dramatically swung from 52-46 Obama to 54-40 Trump.
It’s unclear if Stefanik will be a serious Democratic target in 2018, though notably, when the DCCC released their initial target list (See our House item), they left this seat off even as they were including some very red districts. Patrick Nelson, who worked on the last two unsuccessful Democratic campaigns, has announced he’s in; Nelson also served as a Bernie Sanders delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention and worked for Assemblyman Phil Steck.
Nelson says he’s hoping to have some primary competition so Democrats can shape their message for the region, but Team Blue doesn’t have much of a bench here. In fact, according to a classic 2009 Swing State Project post, Owens was the only Democrat to represent parts of this seat since the 1890s, and a few counties hadn’t had a Democratic congressman since the 1850s. Insanely, before Owens won in 2009, Franklin County had a Whig congressman more recently than a Democratic one! According to Warren County Democratic Chairwoman Lynne Boecher, “a lot” of Democrats are talking about getting in, and she says that Wolfe and Derrick are “both are still looking at their options.”
• House: The DCCC has released their initial 2018 target list, and you can’t say it’s not ambitious. They list all 23 GOP-held seats that Clinton carried and 10 seats that Trump narrowly won, as well as several decidedly long-shot targets.
One of the big eyebrow-raisers is GOP Rep. Martha Roby, whose Montgomery seat backed Trump by a solid 65-33 margin. Roby only beat her little-known Democratic foe 49-41, but that was because a write-in campaign launched by conservatives angry over her perceived abandonment of Trump collected most of the remaining votes. There are also some other very unlikely targets like North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson, whose 8th District backed Trump 56-41; New York Rep. Chris Collins, whose 27th District supported Trump 60-35, and Ohio Rep. Bob Gibbs, whose 7th District went for Trump 63-33. Of course, it’s the very beginning of the cycle, and races will come on and off the target list based on who runs and the national climate.
• Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso reports in on a game of musical chairs taking place in Iowa:
Iowa HD-89: This is an open Democratic seat in Davenport. The seat is vacant because incumbent Jim Lykam won a special election to the state Senate at the end of the year. Democrats have nominated Monica Kurth, a retired community college instructor, while Republicans went with Mike Gonzales, who lost to Lykam 73-25 in last month’s Senate special election. This seat went 63-36 for Obama in 2012.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, and James Lambert.
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