Republican U.S. House candidates outperformed 2020’s presidential results in 327 districts last year

Welcome to the Tuesday, January 24, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Republican U.S. House candidates outperformed 2020’s presidential results in 327 districts last year
  2. Signatures submitted for Right to Repair initiative in Maine
  3. Florida creates new appellate court district

Republican U.S. House candidates outperformed 2020’s presidential results in 327 districts last year

Republicans in 327 congressional districts outperformed former President Donald Trump’s (R) 2020 vote totals in those same districts, meaning, compared to Trump, Republican House candidates either won by larger margins or lost by smaller margins last year.

Democratic House candidates outperformed Biden in 68 districts (16%).

In Texas’ 9th and 35th Districts, the 2022 House and 2020 presidential margins were identical.

Thirty-eight districts (9%) were excluded from this analysis because they were either uncontested or did not feature both major parties in 2022.

To calculate these results, we first found the margins of victory from all 397 U.S. House races with candidates from both major parties.

Next, since district lines have changed since 2020, we used data from Daily Kos to determine how many votes Joe Biden (D) and Trump would have received  if the 2020 election had been held with the new district boundaries in place.

We then compared the two margins of victory, checking to see whether the 2022 House margins were more Democratic or more Republican than the presidential margins in 2020. 

Republicans’ largest improvement was in Florida’s 26th District, where the House margin was 23.5 percentage points more Republican than the 2020 presidential margin. In both elections, voters supported the Republican candidate, but more so in 2022.

  • In 2020, Trump received more votes than Biden, 58.9 to 40.6% (R+18.3). 
  • In 2022, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R) defeated Christine Olivo (D) 70.9 to 29.1% (R+41.8)

Democrats’ largest improvement was in Alaska’s At-Large District, where the House margin was 20.1 percentage points more Democratic than the 2020 presidential margin. Since Alaska uses ranked-choice voting for the U.S. House, the 2022 margin is based on the results of the final tabulation.

  • In 2020, Trump received more votes than Biden, 53.1 to 43.0% (R+10.1).
  • In 2022, Rep. Mary Peltola (D) defeated Sarah Palin (R) 55.0 to 45.0% (D+10.0).

Nationwide, looking at all 397 districts included in this analysis, the average margin of victory in 2020 was D+5.7 in Biden’s favor. The average House margin was D+0.8, meaning margins became 4.9 percentage points more Republican in 2022.

In four of the five districts with the largest Republican improvements, Trump won in 2020, but Republican House candidates won by more in 2022. Rep. Mike Garcia (R) won California’s 27th District, which previously voted for Biden.

In three of the five districts with the largest Democratic improvements, Democratic House candidates won in districts that previously voted for Trump. In Hawaii’s 1st and Pennsylvania’s 2nd Districts, Democratic House candidates expanded on Biden’s margins.

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Signatures submitted for Right to Repair initiative in Maine

On Jan. 19, the Maine Right to Repair Coalition submitted more than 70,000 signatures for a ballot initiative to give car owners and independent repair facilities access to vehicle on-board diagnostic systems.

The initiative addresses diagnostic data transmitted wirelessly to vehicle manufacturers. According to the coalition, more than 90% of new cars can transmit real-time diagnostic and repair information wirelessly, but in a manner only available to vehicle manufacturers.

Tim Winkeler, CEO of VIP Tire Service and coalition member, said without the initiative, “these vehicles are gonna have to go back to the dealerships and independent repair shops won’t be able to work on cars. Consumers are at risk of being forced to take their car back to only the dealerships, and not have freedom of choice.”

The Maine initiative is similar to one decided in Massachusetts in 2020. Voters approved Question 1, which similarly requires that vehicle owners and repair facilities have access to wireless diagnostic data.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a group representing automakers, filed a lawsuit against Question 1, saying it “makes personal driving data available to third parties with no safeguards to protect core vehicle functions and consumers’ private information or physical safety.” The lawsuit is ongoing.

According to the Repair Association, an advocacy group in favor of right-to-repair policies, two states, Colorado and New York, have passed right-to-repair bills, while 10 states, not including Maine, have active legislation under consideration this year.

Initiatives in Maine require 67,682 valid signatures to appear before the Legislature. If lawmakers approve the initiative, it becomes law. If not, it will appear on the November 2023 ballot.

As of Jan. 23, five measures have been certified for the ballot in three states. That’s down from 10 certified this time in 2021 but up from the one in 2019.

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Florida creates new appellate court district

A new year brings many new things, and for some in Florida, that includes a new appellate court district. On Jan. 1, a law establishing the state’s Sixth District Court of Appeal located east of Tampa in Lakeland took effect. The Sixth District has jurisdiction over the Ninth, Tenth, and Twentieth Circuit Courts.

Appellate courts serve as an intermediate step between trial courts (where a case originates) and the state supreme court. After a trial court renders a decision, plaintiffs or defendants can file an appeal, which typically moves it to an appellate court for further review.

This is the first time Florida has added a new appellate court district since 1979.

The Florida Supreme Court requested the new appellate court in 2021, recommending that legislators redraw the state’s district court boundaries. A committee working on that recommendation said a new district would “provide adequate access to oral arguments and proceedings, foster public trust and confidence based on geography and demographic composition, and help attract a diverse group of well-qualified applicants for judicial vacancies.”

Legislators and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) enacted redrawn lines—which included the new Sixth District—in June of last year.

DeSantis appointed judges to fill each of the new court’s nine seats before its formation. Six of those judges were reassigned from other appellate districts. Three previously sat on circuit courts. 

Judge Meredith Sasso, previously of the Fifth District Court of Appeal, will serve as the new district’s chief judge. Former Gov. Rick Scott (R) first appointed Sasso to a judgeship in 2019.

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