Pres-by-LD, NH State Senate, NH State House: Now that we’ve finished calculating the 2016 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts, Daily Kos Elections is formally kicking off our project to crunch those same numbers for every state legislative district in the nation, which we call by the shorthand “pres-by-LD.”
This is a massive undertaking (there are 7,383 legislators in America), and as a bit of an amuse-bouche, we’ve already released results for both chambers in a couple of states: Virginia’s state House and Senate and Wisconsin’s Assembly and Senate. There’s a lot more data to come, so here’s how you can access it all:
- To keep track of which states we’ve published 2016 data for, we’ll be updating this chart continually. It also contains links to our detailed calculations for each chamber.
- We also have a Google Doc that contains just the topline results for every district, along with the names and parties of the legislators who sit in each seat (which come to us via Ballotpedia). Right now, it contains results from 2012 for (almost) every state, but we’ll be adding the 2016 results there, too.
- And for access to our district-level results for other statewide elections such as Senate or governor, check out our complete data set here.
We’ll officially get things moving with a visit to New Hampshire, which is home to by far the most state legislators in the nation. The GOP holds the New Hampshire Senate 14-10, while Team Red controls the state House 226-174 (any vacancies are assigned to the party that last held the seat). All lawmakers are elected to two-year terms. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s win last fall gave the GOP complete control of the state government for the first time since 2004, and they’ve already using it to try and pass anti-labor legislation, among other conservative priorities.
Hillary Clinton narrowly defeated Donald Trump 47.6-47.2 in the Granite State, but the GOP-drawn Senate map allowed Trump to carry 14 of the state’s 24 Senate seats. Republicans enjoyed a similar advantage four years ago, when Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each carried 12 seats, even though Obama won 52-47 statewide. But some of the ground shifted in 2016, as Clinton traded five Obama seats for three Romney districts.
Two Democrats represent Trump seats, while two Republicans hold Clinton districts. However, the two Democrats in Trump territory represent much redder turf than those two Republicans in Clinton seats. Democratic state Sen. Jeff Woodburn saw his SD-01, which includes New Hampshire’s most northern region, dramatically swing from 57-42 Obama to 50-45 Trump, though Woodburn won re-election by a healthy 55-45. Fellow Democrat Donna Soucy, whose SD-18 is based around Manchester, holds a seat that went from 51-48 Obama to 49-46 Trump; Soucy also won re-election 55-45.
By contrast, GOP state Sen. Andy Sanborn’s southern SD-09 swung from 51-48 Romney to 48-47 Clinton, and Sanborn won another term 54-46. Freshman Republican state Sen. Dan Innis, who originally planned to run for Congress in the 1st District, won an open seat even as Clinton narrowly carried the coastal SD-24. Innis’ district backed Clinton 47.82-47.78, a margin of 14 votes. Four years earlier, Romney narrowly won it 51-48. Innis himself won his first term 52-48.
New Hampshire Democrats lost control of the Senate in the 2010 GOP wave and have yet to win it back, and as we’ve alluded, the current map is not helpful. One way to illustrate the hurdles Team Blue faces is to sort each seat in each chamber by Trump’s margin of victory over Clinton and see how the seat in the middle—known as the median seat—voted. Because New Hampshire has an even number of seats in the Senate, we average the Clinton and Trump percentages for the middle two seats to come up with the median.
What do the results tell us? Even as Trump was losing New Hampshire 47.6-47.2, he won the median seat 49-46. That means that, under the current maps, even if Democrats carry all of the Clinton districts, they’d still need to win some light red seats to have a shot at a majority. The good news is that New Hampshire has plenty of swing voters, and if 2018 is a bleak year for Republicans nationally, several of the seats Trump won this time may not be so friendly for GOP incumbents.
The 400-member state House, meanwhile, is a complicated beast. To start with, the state isn’t actually divided into 400 microscopic seats: New Hampshire has 204 state House districts that elect anywhere between one and 11 members. To make things even more complicated, 43 of these seats are so-called “floterial districts” that overlap with other state House seats.
But New Hampshire’s districts are still very tiny (if the U.S. House had as many seats per person as New Hampshire’s, it would have something like 96,000 members), and tons of candidates run every cycle, so it’s pretty hard for state representatives to establish enough personal popularity to hold on when things go wrong for their party. It’s also only a part-time body that pays peanuts, so plenty of fairly random people get elected when it’s their party on the upswing, and it’s not uncommon for some of them to resign to do other things, so there’s a lot of turnover.
Now, to the numbers. Even though Trump narrowly lost the state, 218 House members represent seats that backed him, while 184 hold Clinton districts. Twenty-eight Democrats represent Trump seats, while 36 Republicans are in Clinton constituencies. And as with the Senate, the median seat in the House backed Trump 49-45. Control of the chamber has bounced around quite a bit over the last decade: Democrats won it in 2006, lost it in 2010, took it back in 2012, and lost it two years later. If there’s a backlash against Trump in 2018, New Hampshire House Republicans probably won’t be immune.
Finally, we have one small bit of housekeeping for our results by congressional district. A few towns, all located in the 2nd Congressional District, have released updated vote totals, mostly for third-party candidates. Our calculations from the 2nd District change from 48.7-46.3 Clinton to 48.6-46.2 Clinton; the 1st District remains 48.2-46.6 Trump.
• PA-Sen, PA-07: Evidently all of those wealthy donors begging him to run for Senate haven’t quite been enough: Over the weekend, a spokesperson for GOP Rep. Pat Meehan indicated his boss would not challenge Democratic Sen. Bob Casey next year, saying the congressman believes that “at this time, our region is best served by him remaining in the House of Representatives.” Given that Meehan sits on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, that’s actually a legit claim, but note the “at this time” bit—that would seem to leave some wiggle room, so we’re not quite crossing him off the list yet.
• UT-Sen: Has anyone ever served as governor of one state before running for senator of another? Has anyone ever done that after waging two failed presidential campaigns in between? And has anyone done all this while declaring that corporations are people, that 47 percent of the country will never take personal responsibility for their lives, and that, above all else, the trees in one particular state are the right height? We know what you’re thinking: The only person who even could do all these marvelous things is one Willard Mitt Romney, but will he? You’re in luck, because the answer is maybe!
Utah Republicans have for some time been leering like vultures at Sen. Orrin Hatch, who promised not to seek a 999th term next year but lately has been wavering on that commitment. And lo and behold, Romney has now revealed himself as one of those hovering scavengers, saying of a possible Senate bid, “I don’t have any predictions on what I might do. I’m not going to open a door and I’m not going to close a door. All doors are open.”
Of course, Romney spent a good chunk of the 2015-16 presidential election cycle teasing us with the possibility that he might make a third bid for the White House and never really ruling it out. Then again, the Deseret News makes it sound that Romney himself brought up the Senate race, who recently gave an interview before a ceremony commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Salt Lake City Olympic games (which Romney would call a celebration of “sport“). Come on it, Mitt, you can do it—let those dogs out!
P.S. Actually, at least one guy has been governor of one state and senator from another. Sam Houston served as Tennessee’s chief executive in the late 1820s and became Texas’ senator after it gained statehood in the 1840s. But in between that, Houston served as president of the Republic of Texas, a post Mitt Romney has yet to run for.
• IL-Gov: Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos is one of the many Democrats who has been flirting with a bid against GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner next year. On Saturday, Bustos said she would decide within the next 30 days what she will do. Bustos’ House seat, which is located along the Iowa border, violently swung from 58-41 Obama to 47.4-46.6 Trump, and House Democrats would almost certainly prefer it if Bustos decided to stay in D.C.
• MA-Gov: Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey ruled out a 2018 bid against GOP Gov. Charlie Baker a long time ago, but Politico reports that some Bay State Democrats hope she’ll reconsider. Healey already has made a name for herself suing the Trump administration, and she memorably tweeted last week, “I don’t wake up every day looking for a way to sue Donald Trump. But we are 10 days in and I’ve filed three cases already.” If Healey ran and won, she would become the first openly LGBT non-incumbent to be elected governor of any state. (Oregon Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, who is bisexual, became governor in 2015 after the incumbent resigned, and was elected to the post in her own right last year.)
While Healey has given no indication that she’s considering, her team didn’t completely close the door on a gubernatorial bid. A Healey political advisor told Politico, “The Attorney General loves her job and believes the work of protecting people’s rights and upholding the law is more important than ever. She ran for office to serve as the people’s lawyer, she has delivered on that promise and it should surprise no one she’s moved quickly to be a first line of defense for progress in the Trump era.” That’s not a no.
However, Baker will be very tough to beat in 2018. The governor continues to post strong approval ratings, and he led Healey 43-25 in a hypothetical poll back in September. Healey would also need to forgo re-election as attorney general if she jumped in, and she may just prefer to wait for Baker to retire or for one of the two U.S. senators to leave rather than give up her job for a risky bid next year. Ex-state budget chief Jay Gonzalez is already seeking the Democratic nod, while Newton Mayor Setti Warren is raising money for his likely campaign.
• MN-Gov: Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan, who surprised us a little while back by suggesting he might run for governor, now says he expects to take “several months” to make up his mind. Nolan originally said he “lean[s] more toward” staying in the House, but he now says that his trial balloon has received “quite a positive response,” so it sounds like he’s warming up to the idea. A gubernatorial bid would, however, leave House Democrats badly in the lurch: Nolan’s rural Iron Range seat swung heavily toward Trump last year, and it would be very hard to hold it if he doesn’t seek re-election.
• VA-Gov: One-term ex-Rep. Tom Perriello’s entry into Virginia’s Democratic primary for governor in early January was quite the surprise, and the fundraising haul he’s claiming for his first month on the trail is a bit unexpected, too. Perriello says he’s already taken in $1.1 million, a pretty sizable sum for a guy who’s been out of politics for six years.
However, as the Washington Post notes, Virginia has absolutely no caps on how much state candidates can raise—insane, huh?—and Perriello declined to disclose how many people have donated to his campaign or who’s given to him. In fact, he won’t have to reveal that information until his first campaign finance report is due on April 17. Perriello’s opponent for the Democratic nomination, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, reported raising $1.6 million in the second half of 2016 and has $2.5 million on hand. Northam has also said he raised another $300,000 in the first week of January.
But now Perriello has a chance to catch up: Northam, as an elected official, is forbidden by state law from fundraising while the legislature is in session, which runs from Jan. 11 to Feb. 25; Perriello, who recently concluded a gig as a special ambassador to Africa, can keep cranking. Of course, there’s much more to running an effective campaign than just money, and Northam’s had a two-year head start to garner endorsements and forge alliances. As the race heats up, we’ll see how that translates into actual support in the polls.
• NJ-05: After Republican incumbent Scott Garrett spent years pissing off the House leadership and powerful business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, national Republicans decided to leave him to fend for himself rather than divert millions to rescue the difficult member. Democrats smelled blood and spent heavily here last year, and Garrett ended up losing to Democrat Josh Gottheimer 51-47 even as Trump was narrowly carrying this North Jersey seat 49-48. However, it’s very unlikely that the GOP will bypass this district next year, and Gottheimer is undoubtedly preparing for a tough race.
Last year, Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi expressed interest in challenging Gottheimer in 2018. The Observer name-drops two more GOP members of the Assembly, Robert Auth and Parker Space, as potential candidates, though neither man seems to have publicly expressed interest yet. The entire state Assembly is up for re-election this fall, and all of these three members appear ready to run again, which could give Gottheimer an almost year-long head start over his competition. Garrett himself hasn’t ruled out trying to regain his seat.
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.