Dave Beaudoin

Dave Beaudoin is a project director at Ballotpedia and can be reached at

Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: Ninth Circuit panel limits nationwide injunction of Trump immigration rule

Today’s Brew highlights the latest court decision on the Trump administration’s immigration rule + Andrew Yang leads in Ballotpedia pageviews last week  
 The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Wednesday, August 21 Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Ninth Circuit panel limits nationwide injunction of Trump administration immigration rule
  2. Last week, Andrew Yang led in Ballotpedia pageviews for the first time since March
  3. Hawaii became a state 60 years ago today

Ninth Circuit panel limits nationwide injunction of Trump administration immigration rule

Last Friday, a panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a federal district court went too far when it granted a nationwide injunction against a new federal immigration rule.

What happened?

The Ninth Circuit upheld the injunction, which blocks enforcement of a rule, within the bounds of the Ninth Circuit (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) but held that the nationwide scope of the injunction was not supported by the record. The panel said that the district court did not explain why it believed a nationwide injunction was necessary in this case.

The panel consisted of Judges Wallace Tashima, Milan Smith, and Mark James Bennett. They were appointed to the 9th Circuit by Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump, respectively. 

How did we get here?

On July 24, Judge Jon Tigar, on United States District Court for the Northern District of California, issued a nationwide injunction blocking a Trump administration rule while court challenges to the rule moved forward.

The interim final rule, issued on July 16, aims to deny asylum to people who travel through another country and fail to file for asylum there before applying in the United States.

The agencies argued that immigration enforcement challenges on the southern border allowed them to issue the new asylum rule under the Administrative Procedure Act’s (APA) good cause exception to notice-and-comment procedures. The good cause exception allows agencies to issue rules without waiting for public comment if those procedures would be “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” The agencies also argued that they could skip notice-and-comment procedures because the rule involved a “foreign affairs function of the United States” and procedural delay could have negative international consequences.

Judge Tigar wrote that the agencies did not show that a public comment period would have undesirable international consequences and that the rule fails the arbitrary-or-capricious test. Under that test, judges invalidate rules that are an abuse of discretion or not in accordance with law.

What happens next?

The Ninth Circuit panel asked the district court to reconsider the reasons supporting a nationwide injunction and scheduled future arguments in the case for December 2019.

Learn more


Beyond the Headlines
In early August, Seattle held primary elections for seven of nine city council seats. Three incumbents are running for re-election, and all three advanced from the primary. Find out who supports these candidates in our latest episode of Beyond The Headlines.

Last week, Andrew Yang led in Ballotpedia pageviews for the first time since March

Each week, we report the number of pageviews received on Ballotpedia by 2020 presidential campaigns . These numbers show which candidates are getting our readers’ attention.

Andrew Yang’s campaign page on Ballotpedia received 5,656 pageviews for the week of August 11-17. Yang’s pageview figure represents 10.2% of the pageviews for all Democratic candidates during the week. Joe Biden had 8.2% of pageviews for the week, followed by Elizabeth Warren with 6.7%.

Of the 23 noteworthy Democratic candidates, all but seven had fewer Ballotpedia pageviews last week than the week before. The three largest week-over-week increases were Tom Steyer (13.30%), Wayne Messam (7.89%), and Andrew Yang (5.78%).


Learn more→

Hawaii became a state 60 years ago today

On this day 60 years ago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower admitted Hawaii as the 50th state to join the United States. Here are some quick facts about the state:

  • Democrats control both the state Senate (24-1) and the state House (46-5).
  • The state government is under a Democratic triplex, meaning the governor and attorney general are both Democratic. 
  • Hawaii does not have a secretary of state. It’s one of three states where the position doesn’t exist (Alaska and Utah are the other two).
  • No statewide ballot measures have been certified as of August 19 for the 2020 election. Twelve measures appeared on the statewide ballot between 2010 and 2018.
  • The State of Hawaii counts 137 islands in its chain, but only seven are inhabited.
  • Hawaii is the only state that grows coffee.

Learn more→


Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: 23 statewide ballot measures have been certified for 2019

Today’s Brew highlights state-by-state voting patterns in presidential elections + recent initiative activity summarized in our State Ballot Measure Monthly newsletter  
 The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Monday, August 19, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. 23 statewide ballot measures have been certified for 2019
  2. Ohio voters have backed the winning presidential candidate 93% of the time since 1900
  3. Quiz: How many 2020 House races has Ballotpedia designated as battleground elections?

23 statewide ballot measures have been certified for 2019 

From July 15 to August 14, only one statewide ballot measure was certified for 2019. The Washington Secretary of State certified a veto referendum that will go before voters on November 5 to determine whether the state can use affirmative action in public employment, education, and contracting.

The number of 2019 statewide ballot measures is 23—in eight states—and the number of 2020 measures is 38. 

By the second Tuesday in August two years ago, 27 measures had been certified for the 2017 ballot. No more measures were added to the ballot that year. This was the fewest number of statewide ballot measures since 1947. 

At this point in the year before even-year elections from 2012 through 2018, an average of 42 measures were certified for the next even-numbered year.  

Here are highlights of ballot measure activity in the past month: 

  • The Utah Supreme Court upheld the legislative alteration of Utah’s 2018 medical marijuana initiative. This alteration removed the provision of the initiative that allowed patients to grow their own marijuana, reduced the number of privately-run dispensaries, and required dispensaries to employ pharmacists to recommend dosages. This alteration was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor in December 2018 during a special session called by the governor.
  • Petitioners submitted signatures for a veto referendum petition against 2019 Colorado legislation joining the state into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). The NPVIC is an interstate compact to award member states’ presidential electors to the winner of the national popular vote. The NPVIC would go into effect if states representing at least 270 electoral college votes adopt the legislation.

Learn more about stories like this in our State Ballot Measure Monthly newsletter. Our latest edition came out last week—read it by clicking the link below.

Learn more


 Quarterly Presidential News Briefing

Ohio voters have backed the winning presidential candidate 93% of the time since 1900

Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, wrote a book in early 2016 called, “The Bellweather: Why Ohio Picks the President.”

Ohio voters have selected the winning presidential candidate in 28 of 30 election cycles since 1900. The state has the highest accuracy of any state—93%—in backing the winner of the presidential election. 

The two elections during this period where Ohio voted for the candidate who lost the presidential election was 1960, when the state voted for Richard Nixon (R) instead of winning candidate John F. Kennedy (D) 53.3-46.7%, and 1944, when Ohio voted for Thomas E. Dewey (R) over Franklin D. Roosevelt (D), 50.2-49.8%.

Most states have participated in all 30 presidential elections during this time; however, five states and the District of Columbia didn’t participate in their first election until after 1900. Those states are Oklahoma (1908), Arizona (1912), New Mexico (1912), Alaska (1960), Hawaii (1960), and Washington, D.C. (1964).

Washington, D.C., has backed the winning presidential candidate in only 43% of elections—the lowest percentage of all jurisdictions. Voters there have supported the winning candidate in six out of the 14 elections in which it has participated since 1964.

Some states have voted for the same party for president more than 80% of the time. Here are the states that voted for the Democratic presidential candidate five or fewer times since 1900:

  • Alaska—1
  • Indiana—5
  • Kansas—5
  • North Dakota—5
  • South Dakota—3

Here are the states that voted for the Republican presidential candidate five or fewer times since 1900:

  • Hawaii—2
  • Washington, D.C.—0

Third-party candidates won at least one state in four presidential elections since 1900. 

  • 1912, Progressive Party candidate Theodore Roosevelt won six states.
  • 1924, Progressive Party candidate Robert M. La Follette Sr. won Wisconsin. 
  • 1948, States’ Rights Democratic Party candidate J. Strom Thurmond won four southern states. 
  • 1968, American Independent Party candidate George Wallace won five southern states.

Learn more→


Quiz: How many 2020 House races has Ballotpedia designated as battleground elections?

Last week, Ballotpedia announced our preliminary assessments of which Senate and House races would be battleground elections for 2020. Battlegrounds are elections that we expect to have a meaningful effect on the balance of power in government or to be particularly competitive or compelling.

In 2020, all 435 seats in the U.S. House are up for election. Of those, how many House races has Ballotpedia designated as battlegrounds? Is it: 

A.  38 
B.  56 
C.  73 
D.  91 


Weekly Presidential News Briefing – August 16, 2019

The highlights from our daily briefings in a new weekly format so you can stay up-to-date on the 2020 election with one weekly email.

Ballotpedia's Weekly Presidential News Briefing

Every weekday, Ballotpedia tracks the events that matter in the 2020 presidential election. 

Now, we’re bringing you the highlights from our daily briefings in a new weekly format so you can stay up-to-date on the 2020 election with one weekly email.

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Here’s the latest from the campaign trail.

Candidates by the Numbers


There are nine new candidates running since last week, including two Democrats, three Republicans, and one Green. In total, 816 individuals are currently filed with the FEC to run for president.

Notable Quotes of the Week

“Seniors are the likeliest to actually cast ballots, with two-thirds of them voting in the 2018 midterms compared with 53% of the overall voting-age population. While the electorate in presidential years skews younger than in midterm ones, no Democratic presidential candidate has won seniors since Al Gore in 2000, and for the past five presidential-election cycles, every Republican nominee has won a larger share of seniors than his predecessor.”

– Michelle HackmanThe Wall Street Journal

“There are a whole set of unspoken assumptions at play when we call a particular candidate ‘electable.’ … What nobody suggests is that electability might be a function of getting your own party’s voters excited and engaged. That’s despite the fact that we’ve seen one election after another in recent decades in which a candidate who excited his party defeated a candidate whose own voters were lukewarm about their nominee. Barack Obama was not electable by any of the standards we’re applying to the 2020 candidates, but he won twice, and by substantial margins. Donald Trump was not remotely electable, but he won, too.

– Paul WaldmanThe Washington Post

Week in Review

John Hickenlooper exits 2020 presidential race

John Hickenlooper suspended his presidential campaign Thursday. In a video announcement, Hickenlooper hinted at his next steps.

“People want to know what comes next for me. I’ve heard from so many Coloradans who want me to run for the United States Senate. They remind me how much is at stake for our country. And our state. I intend to give that some serious thought,” he said.

Hickenlooper is the fourth notable Democratic candidate to leave the presidential race, following former state Sen. Richard Ojeda, Rep. Eric Swalwell, and former Sen. Mike Gravel.

Other candidates have shrugged off questions about their status in the race:

  • Even if he does not qualify for the third primary debate, Bill de Blasio said he would remain in the presidential race. “I’m going to look at all the pieces and look, again, six months until anyone votes,” de Blasio said.

  • John Delaney said that he plans to remain in the race until at least the Iowa caucuses, whether or not he qualifies for any more debates.

  • Beto O’Rourke said he was focused only on his presidential campaign. “I will not in any scenario run for the United States Senate,” O’Rourke said Thursday.

Steyer reaches donor threshold for September and October debates

Tom Steyer announced Tuesday that he had reached the donor threshold for the September and October Democratic presidential primary debates with 130,000 individual contributors. With three qualifying polls, he is also one short of the polling threshold.

Three other candidates are also on the bubble. Julián Castro and Tulsi Gabbard have also met the fundraising threshold. Castro is missing one poll and Gabbard three. Kirsten Gillibrand has one qualifying poll but has not crossed the fundraising threshold.

Steve Bullock criticized the debate criteria after Steyer, who entered the race on July 9, spent more than $10 million on Facebook and television ads in national and early primary state markets.

“The DNC donor requirement may have been added with the right intentions, but there’s no doubt that it’s created a situation in which billionaires can buy their way onto the debate stage,” he said. “We’re kidding ourselves if we’re calling a $10 million purchase of 130,000 donors a demonstration of grassroots support.”

Steyer campaign manager Heather Hargreaves responded, “Fewer than half of Tom’s donations came from advertising. Writing off the support of thousands of Democratic voters who are responding to Tom’s message isn’t the way to beat Trump in 2020, no matter what you think about the DNC’s criteria.”

Candidates attend gun violence forum in Iowa, release rural and domestic terrorism policies

Nearly the entire Democratic field was in Iowa over the weekend. Seventeen candidates participated in a forum on gun violence hosted by Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, and Students Demand Action.

Wayne MessamSeth MoultonBeto O’Rourke, and Donald Trump were the only candidates who did not head to the Hawkeye State. Moulton is scheduled to appear at the Soapbox on Aug. 17.

Candidates also continued to introduce policy plans related to rural issues and domestic terrorism:

  • In his plan to address hate crimes, Cory Booker called for the creation of a White House Office on Hate Crimes and White Supremacist Violence. He would also have the Department of Justice and the FBI prioritize domestic terrorism as they do international terrorism.

  • Pete Buttigieg released a rural economy plan focused on entrepreneurship, technology, and education.

  • Kamala Harris unveiled her plan to combat domestic terrorism, which included red flag measures called “Domestic Terrorism Prevention Orders” and background check requirements for websites that sell firearms.

  • Elizabeth Warren introduced her gun violence platform, seeking to reduce the number of gun deaths in the country by 80 percent. Her plan would create a federal licensing program, cap firearm purchases, change the laws to protect survivors of domestic abuse, and raise taxes on gun manufacturers.

Candidates on the cusp

Stacey Abrams announced Tuesday that she would not run for president, focusing instead on combating voter suppression. 

“If any of the nominees offered me the opportunity to run with them as their vice president after they have been selected as a nominee, of course I’d be honored to consider that,” she added.

Mark Sanford released another campaign-style video Monday on how to address the federal deficit. “Some have suggested starting an advocacy group. Others have suggested running in the Republican primary against the president as a way of elevating the issue and changing the debate,” he said.

Sanford said he would make a decision about entering the presidential race by around Labor Day.

Trump on the trail

Donald Trump held a rally Thursday in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he discussedthe economy, tariffs, the Democratic field, and mental health policy. He said the stock market will crash if he is not reelected in 2020.

He also spoke to energy workers in Pennsylvania as part of an official White House event that touched on campaign issues Wednesday. He criticized several Democratic candidates by name, mentioned union support, and promoted his immigration and economic policies.

Want more? Find the daily details here:

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Staff Spotlight

Staff spotlight

Stephen Brokaw worked on Barack Obama’s (D) 2008 and 2012 campaigns. He graduated from Harvard University in 2006 and obtained his law degree from the University of Illinois in 2012.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2012 Barack Obama presidential campaign, digital project manager

  • 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign, delegate tracker and senior political generalist

Other experience:

  • 2016-2019: Google, Metro expansion lead and Grow with Google marketing manager

  • 2014-2015: 270 Strategies, senior vice president, general counsel, and principal

  • 2013-2014: Schiff Hardin LLP, associate

What We’re Reading

Flashback: August 12-16, 2015

  • August 12, 2015: Hillary Clinton hired Heather Stone as the campaign’s chief of staff and Craig Smith as a paid consultant.

  • August 13, 2015: The Cook Political Reported shifted Pennsylvania’s presidential race rating, categorizing it as a Toss Up from Leans Democratic.

  • August 14, 2015: Eighteen presidential candidates were set to visit the 11-day 2015 Iowa State Fair.

  • August 15, 2015: Donald Trump said he was willing to spend $1 billion on his presidential campaign.

  • August 16, 2015: The Trump campaign released its first policy paper on immigration, which called for the construction of a border wall, tripling the number of ICE officers, ending birthright citizenship, and criminalizing visa overstays.


Since 1900, which state other than Ohio has the best record of backing winning presidential candidates?

  1. Illinois→

  2. Pennsylvania→

  3. New Mexico→

  4. Florida→




The Daily Brew: Eleven days until Mississippi’s Republican gubernatorial runoff

Today’s Brew checks in on the Republican primary runoff for Mississippi’s governor’s race + a fourth Democratic presidential candidate exits the race  
 The Daily Brew

Welcome to the Friday, Aug. 16, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Third-place finisher endorses runner-up in Mississippi’s Republican primary runoff
  2. Former Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper (D) ends presidential campaign
  3. What’s the Tea?

Third-place finisher endorses runner-up in Mississippi’s Republican primary runoff

State Rep. Robert Foster endorsed former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. in the Aug. 27 Republican gubernatorial runoff primary. 

Foster finished third in the Aug. 6 primary, winning with 18% of the vote. Waller finished second with 33%. First-place finisher Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves won 49% of the vote.  

Because no candidate received a majority, Reeves and Waller advanced to the Aug. 27 runoff.

At a news conference announcing his endorsement, Foster said, “In the end, we each just have one vote, or we can stay home. But if you don’t want to see Jim Hood win in November, I encourage you to join me in voting for Bill Waller.” 

Reeves and Waller both began airing new ads this week. Reeves’ ad criticized Waller for supporting Medicaid expansion in Mississippi and backing an increase in the state gas tax. Waller’s ad said that while Reeves was focused on attacking him, Waller was focused on proposing solutions to the challenges facing Mississippi.

The most recent campaign finance reports show Reeves with $5 million cash on hand to Waller’s $118,000. The next campaign finance reporting deadline is Aug. 20—one week before the runoff.

The winner of the Aug. 27 primary runoff will face the Democratic nominee, Attorney General Jim Hood, in the Nov. 5 general election. Inside Elections and Sabato’s Crystal Ball rate the general election as “Leans Republican” and Cook Political Report rates the contest as “Likely Republican.” Ronnie Musgrove was the last Democrat elected governor of Mississippi. He defeated Rep. Mike Parker (R) 49.6-48.5% in 1999.

Learn more


Former Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper (D) ends presidential campaign

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) announced yesterday he would end his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. In a statement and video, Hickenlooper said in part, “This morning, I’m announcing that I’m no longer running for President. While this campaign didn’t have the outcome we were hoping for, every moment has been worthwhile & I’m thankful to our entire team.” Hickenlooper has said he is considering running for the U.S. Senate.

Hickenlooper announced he was running for president on March 4. He served two terms as governor of Colorado and was also mayor of Denver. Hickenlooper participated in both Democratic primary debates—on June 27 and July 30—held so far. He campaigned the third-most days of any Democratic presidential candidate in Iowa—21—through the end of July.

Hickenlooper is the fourth Democratic elected official or notable public figure—after Richard Ojeda (W. Va.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), and Mike Gravel (Alaska)—to exit the Democratic presidential primary. 

In the 2016 presidential race, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry was the first Republican elected official or notable public figure to leave the race. Perry suspended his campaign Sept. 11, 2015, after announcing his candidacy on June 4, 2015.

Learn more→

What's the tea?

Regular Brew readers know that I enjoy covering the Supreme Court, but I know that’s not true for everybody. So, for this week’s question, How much coverage would you like to see in the Brew about SCOTUS?


56 percent of 2019 state legislative elections lack a Democratic or Republican candidate

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Thursday, August 15, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. 56 percent of 2019’s state legislative races lack either a Democratic or Republican candidate
  2. Ballotpedia highlights 88 congressional battlegrounds in 2020
  3. Two weeks until our next quarterly presidential briefing webinar

56 percent of 2019’s state legislative races lack either a Democratic or Republican candidate

Four states—Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia—are holding regularly scheduled state legislative elections this year for 538 seats. The filing deadline has now passed in all four states, allowing us to compare the percentage of seats having major party competition to prior years. 

Of the 538 state legislative seats up for election, 299 of them—55.6%—lack either a Democratic or Republican candidate. 158—29.4%—do not have a Democratic candidate on the ballot, and another 141—26.2%—do not have a Republican candidate.

Only one state legislative race has no major-party candidates on the ballot. Louisiana State Rep. Joseph Marino is nonpartisan and is unopposed for re-election.

Here’s the breakdown by state: 

Seats without major party competition And here’s how the numbers compare to previous odd-numbered election years, from 2011 through 2019: 

Historical races without major party opposition


Early analysis: 88 congressional battleground elections in 2020 

In 2020, all 435 seats in the U.S. House and 34 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate are up for election. Our initial list of battleground races includes 88 of them—15 in the Senate and 73 in the House.

Battlegrounds are elections that we expect to have a meaningful effect on the balance of power in government or to be particularly competitive or compelling. We selected this initial list of 2020 races based on past election results or whether the incumbent is seeking re-election or was recently elected for the first time. We also considered race ratings from outlets like the Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and Inside Elections.

In the Senate, Republicans currently hold a 53-seat majority. Of the 34 seats up for election, Republicans are defending 22 seats while Democrats are defending 12. Ten battleground races are for seats held by Republicans and five are for seats held by Democrats. In 2018, Ballotpedia identified 16 battleground races—11 held by Democrats and five held by Republicans. 

Senate Battlegrounds

In the House, Democrats hold a 235-197 majority with one independent and two vacancies. Of our 73 battleground elections, Democrats hold 43 and Republicans hold 30. In 2018, Ballotpedia identified 82 battleground districts—73 held by Republicans and nine held by Democrats. Fifty-seven of the House races currently designated as battleground races for 2020 were also considered battleground races in 2018. 

House battlegrounds

We expect both battleground lists to change as the 2020 election approaches.

Click here to learn more about U.S. Senate battlegrounds

Click here to learn more about U.S. House battlegrounds

Two weeks until our next quarterly presidential briefing webinar

There have been two sets of Democratic debates since our last quarterly webinar on the 2020 presidential race. We’ve also seen the release of second-quarter fundraising reports and campaigns are actively hiring staff, issuing policies, and advertising in the early primary states.

Do you want to catch up on all the news from the summer and preview the months ahead? Join me in two weeks—on August 29 at 11 a.m. Central Time—for our free quarterly presidential briefing webinar. I’ll be joined by Emily Aubert, one of the primary authors of our daily and weekly Presidential News Briefing newsletters, to discuss who has qualified for the next primary debate, what the campaigns are doing, how the early state contests are shaping up, and more.

Twenty-six notable elected officials and public figures—24 Democrats and two Republicans—are running for their party’s nomination. With so much happening you’ll definitely want to join us as we examine the current state of the 2020 presidential race and what’s likely to happen next. Click the link below to reserve your spot.


Seattle city council elections decided

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Wednesday, August 14, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Seattle City Council general election candidates set after primary
  2. Phoenix voters to decide citizen initiatives on light rail, city pensions
  3. Department of Justice seeks to decertify union representing immigration judges

Seattle City Council general election candidates set after primary

All three incumbents running for re-election in Seattle’s seven nonpartisan city council elections on August 6 advanced to the November 5 general election. Results will not be certified until August 20 from Seattle’s vote-by-mail process, but media outlets have projected winners—that is, the top two finishers—in each contest.

Re-election races for incumbents Lisa Herbold and Kshama Sawant will each feature an opposing candidate endorsed by the local Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee. Incumbent Debora Juarez was herself endorsed by that group.

The elections are occurring a year after the city council unanimously passed and then repealed a head tax proposal that was opposed by the city’s business community, including the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Amazon. Sawant voted against the repeal, and Herbold was a main supporter of the initial proposal.

One candidate backed by the Chamber of Commerce and one endorsed by the King County Democrats advanced to the general election in each of the four open-seat council elections. Between seven and 14 candidates ran in each.

Overall, the seven primary races saw $874,000 in independent expenditures, which was more than the 2015 primary and general elections combined—the last time these same seven seats were up for election. The Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee, which raised $250,000 from Amazon, spent more than $377,000 in support of nine endorsed candidates and opposing Herbold and Sawant in the primary.

This is also the second election in the last 100 years in which councilmembers are being elected by district. From 1910 to 2013, all Seattle city councilmembers were elected at large.


Phoenix voters to decide citizen initiatives on light rail, city pensions

Voters in Phoenix will decide two citizen initiatives that would amend the city’s charter in a special ballot initiative election August 27. Proponents of each measure needed to submit 20,510 valid signatures—15% of ballots cast in the previous mayoral election—to qualify their initiative for the ballot. 

Proposition 105 would:

  • end construction of light rail extensions;

  • redirect funds from light rail projects to other transportation infrastructure improvements in Phoenix; and

  • prohibit funding other light rail development, with an exception for PHX Sky Train—an automated electric train that serves the area around Phoenix International Airport.

Building a Better Phoenix sponsored the initiative petition effort and is leading the campaign in support of Proposition 105. Proponents say that many city roads are in urgent need of repair and funding is being wasted on light rail when it should be directed to roads, and that light rail use is declining. Opponents state that the initiative would reverse previous decisions made by voters to approve funding for light rail expansion and that the city would lose federal and regional funding for light rail development. 

Proposition 106 would:

  • require annual assessments of the city’s pension debt based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and the 10-year average return on investment;

  • limit budget growth if pensions are not 90% funded;

  • earmark revenue over the budget limit to paying down pension debt, with exceptions for police, fire, and first responder services; and

  • require city officials to reimburse the city for pension benefit employer contributions.

Responsible Budgets Inc. led the initiative petition drive for Proposition 106. Proponents of the measure state that it requires accurate accounting and transparency of the city’s pension liabilities and a long-term solution to the city’s pension obligations. Opponents say the initiative would prevent the city from fully funding services—such as parks, libraries, senior centers, and homeless services—and would reduce the value of the city’s pension plan for fire and police employees and other city officials.

Invest in PHX, Vote no on 105 and 106 is leading the campaign in opposition to both Proposition 105 and Proposition 106. 

Phoenix voters approved six charter amendments in 2018 that were placed on the ballot by city council vote.  

Department of Justice seeks to decertify union representing immigration judges

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced August 9 that it was petitioning the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to decertify the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ)—the federal labor union representing immigration judges.

Immigration judges are a type of federal administrative adjudicator employed by the DOJ to preside over special classes of administrative proceedings pertaining to immigration, including removal proceedings. The department employed 424 judges as of May 2019 and requested funding to hire up to an additional 100 judges in 2020. 

Although immigration judges and other types of administrative judges have the word judge in their job title, they are part of the executive, rather than the judicial branch. They are not judges as described in Article III of the U.S. Constitution.

The Department of Justice claims that immigration judges are management officials and, therefore, cannot legally participate in collective bargaining activities. Federal law defines management officials as “any individual employed by an agency in a position the duties and responsibilities of which require or authorize the individual to formulate, determine, or influence the policies of the agency.” Decertification of the NAIJ could give DOJ officials more control over the work schedules and caseloads of immigration judges.

Immigration Judge Ashley Tabaddor, president of the NAIJ, said in a statement, “We are trial court judges who make decisions on the basis of case specific facts and the nation’s immigration laws. We do not set policies, and we don’t manage staff.”

In March 2018, the Department of Justice instituted a quota of 700 cases per year for immigration judges. As of May 2019, there was a backlog of 892,000 immigration cases. 

The FLRA rejected a similar application by the Department of Justice during the Clinton Administration to decertify the NAIJ in 2000.


The Daily Brew: White House agency has reviewed 235 rules in 2019

Today’s Brew highlights the number of reviews by the White House’s regulatory affairs office + Washington voters will decide affirmative action policy in 2019

 The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Monday, August 12, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. White House agency reviewed 51 significant regulatory actions in July
  2. Washington voters to decide state affirmative action policy in November
  3. Special election to be held to replace sole Republican on Los Angeles city council

White House agency reviewed 51 significant regulatory actions in July

You may not be familiar with it, but the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is a federal office within the Office of Management and Budget that reviews the actions of other federal agencies. It was created in 1993 by an executive order issued by President Clinton.

OIRA’s responsibilities include regulatory review, clearance and approval of government information collection requests, and oversight of government statistical practices and privacy policies. It is also responsible for reviewing and coordinating what it deems to be all significant regulatory actions—rules that may have a large impact on the economy, environment, public health, or state and local governments and communities—made by federal agencies.

OIRA reviewed 51 significant regulatory actions in July issued by federal agencies. It approved one rule without changes and approved the intent of 45 rules while recommending changes to their content. Five rules were withdrawn.

As part of its review process, OIRA examines the rulemaking agency’s analysis of the costs and benefits of the rule. It also attempts to ensure that executive agency policies reflect the priorities of the president. OIRA has 90 days—with a possible 30- day extension—to complete its review of a significant regulatory action. 

OIRA has reviewed 235 significant rules so far in 2019. The agency reviewed 355 significant rules in 2018 and 237 significant rules in 2017. OIRA’s website listed 120 regulatory actions under review as of August 8.

Learn more



Washington voters to decide state affirmative action policy in November 

Washington voters will decide November 5 whether to allow affirmative action to be used when considering a person for public education or public employment opportunities. Referendum Measure 88 (R-88) will appear on the ballot before voters as a veto referendum. This referendum petition effort seeks to overturn the legislature’s approval of Initiative 1000 (I-1000), which would allow affirmative action without the use of quotas by the state of Washington. 

The path to the ballot for R-88 is an example of the chain reaction of our political process in action. A series of political events led to this point, so buckle up for a summary of how we got here: 

  • I-1000 originally qualified for the 2019 ballot February 7 through a successful petition drive. As an Initiative to the Legislature—the name of indirect initiatives in Washington—the state legislature had two options: a) approve it or b) have voters decide it as a statewide ballot measure. 
  • I-1000 was approved by the legislature in April by a 56-42 vote in the state House and a 26-22 vote in the state Senate, with all votes in favor coming from Democratic legislators. 
  • Following the approval of I-1000 by the legislature, a campaign was started to place a veto referendum before voters. That campaign—R-88—was certified August 7, requiring that voters decide whether or not to enact I-1000 through a vote on R-88.

Washington Initiative 200, approved by voters in 1998, banned affirmative action, discrimination, and preferential treatment based on certain characteristics, such as race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. I-1000 was designed to explicitly allow the state of Washington to implement affirmative action laws and policies while continuing to ban discrimination and preferential treatment—meaning those characteristics could not be the sole or deciding factor when considering a person for education or employment opportunities.

I-1000 was sponsored by the One WA Equality Campaign and was supported by Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) and the NAACP. Regarding I-1000, Inslee said, “I-1000 is a well-considered approach to updating our state’s policies and ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion in government contracts, employment and schools.”

Let People Vote led the R-88 petition drive and is leading the campaign for a vote against I-1000 at the November election. Let People Vote stated, “I-1000…would abolish the standard of equality for all, regardless of races, sex, color, age, ethnicity, or national origin, as required by Washington Civil Rights Act, and replace it with a system that uses different rules for people of different races.”

Washington voters have decided 37 statewide veto referendum measures since 1914. Thirty, or 81%, have resulted in the targeted bill being repealed. Two previous referendum efforts were filed against Initiatives to the Legislature—such as I-1000—that were approved by the legislature rather than being placed on the ballot. Both veto referendums—one in 1943 and the other in 1995—succeeded in overturning the initiative. 

The map below identifies the 23 states that provide for citizen-initiated veto referendums: States in a darker shade have had more veto referendums. Between 1906 and 2018, voters decided 521 veto referendums in 23 states, repealing 340—65.3%—of the targeted laws.

States with veto referendum ballot measures

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Special election to be held to replace sole Republican on Los Angeles city council

The city of Los Angeles is holding a nonpartisan special election August 13 for one of 15 city council seats. John Lee and Loraine Lundquist advanced from a primary field of 15 candidates June 4.  

Mitchell Englander—who was the only Republican on the city council—resigned his seat in December 2018 to work for a sports and entertainment firm.

Lee finished first in the primary, receiving 19.2% of the vote. He was endorsed by the L.A. Jobs PAC, which is sponsored by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Lee is Englander’s former chief of staff and is described by the Los Angeles Times as a Republican. Lundquist—who was endorsed by The Los Angeles Times and Our Revolution—was second in the primary with 19%. Lundquist is a university professor and describes herself as a Democrat. 

Los Angeles voters approved a change to the city charter in 2015 that moves municipal primary and general elections to June and November of even-numbered years beginning in 2020 to align them with federal and state elections. The seven even-numbered city council seats will be up for election in 2020 and the eight odd-numbered districts will be up for election in 2022.

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Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: Tucson voters to decide sanctuary city status

Today’s Brew highlights a 2019 ballot measure regarding Tucson’s sanctuary city status + the number of judges appointed by Trump compared with other presidents  
 The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Friday, Aug. 9, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Tucson, Arizona, voters to decide city’s sanctuary status on Nov. 5
  2. Trump has appointed the second-most federal judges at this point in his presidency in the last 100 years
  3. What’s the tea?

Tucson, Arizona, voters to decide city’s sanctuary status on November 5

Tucson voters head to the polls Nov. 5 to decide a ballot measure that, if approved, would make Tucson Arizona’s first sanctuary city.

The initiative would include a declaration of Tucson’s sanctuary status and add a new section to the city’s code that would:

  • restrict law enforcement officers from actions to determine a person’s immigration status under certain conditions;
  • prohibit officers from contacting federal law enforcement agencies to determine a person’s immigration status; and
  • prohibit city employees from inquiring about a person’s immigration status, among other policies.

The group Tucson Families Free and Together submitted about 18,000 signatures on July 3, two days before the deadline, to qualify the initiative for the November general election ballot. They were required to collect 9,241 valid signatures. The Pima County Recorder reviewed a random sample of petition signatures and determined there were enough valid signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot. This sent the initiative to the city council, which had two options—either approve the initiative and enact it into law without an election, or put it on the ballot. The council voted August 6 to place the measure on the ballot. 

All three of Tucson’s Democratic mayoral candidates—Randi Dorman, Regina Romero, and Steve Farley—and independent mayoral candidate Ed Ackerley oppose the initiative. Tucson will hold partisan primary elections for mayor and three city council seats Aug. 27. The general election is Nov. 5. U.S. Sen. Martha McSally (R) and declared 2020 U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly (D) have also stated that they oppose the measure. 

Ballotpedia’s analysis of municipal immigration policies in August 2017 found that 32 of the nation’s 100 largest cities by population self-identified as sanctuary cities or maintained sanctuary policies. At that time, 30 of the 32 cities that identified as sanctuary jurisdictions had Democratic mayors. The other two had Republican mayors.

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Beyond the headlines

Currently, there are 22 Republican and 14 Democratic trifectas. With 5 states holding elections this year those totals could change.

Find out how in our latest episode of Beyond the Headlines.???????

Trump has appointed the second-most federal judges at this point in his presidency in the last 100 years 

Three years into his presidency, Donald Trump has appointed 146 Article III federal judges through August 1. Looking back through history to the Theodore Roosevelt administration, only Bill Clinton appointed more judges—156—through the same point during his first term. 

Presidents appoint Article III federal judges for what can be life terms and must be confirmed by the Senate. These include judges on the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeal, U.S. District Courts, and the Court of International Trade. 

From the Theodore Roosevelt administration to the present, the average number of presidential judicial appointments through Aug. 1 of their third year in office is just over 80. 

Here are some other takeaways about presidential judicial appointments through this point:

  • The median number of Supreme Court appointments is two. William Taft (R) appointed the most—five. Trump has appointed 2 justices—Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh—so far.
  • The median number of U.S Court of Appeals appointees is 18. Trump has appointed the most among this group of presidents through Aug. 1 of this third year with 43. His 43 appointments comprise 24% of the 179 judgeships on the appeals courts.
  • The median number of U.S. District Court appointees is 54, with Clinton appointing the most with 128. Trump has appointed 99 district court judges, or 15% of the 677 district court judgeships.

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Here’s another weekly edition of our ”What’s the tea?” question so you can tell us what you think.  

Please click on the answer that most closely matches your opinion. 

The August 8th edition of the Brew included two local election stories—from the district attorney primary in Queens, New York, to city council and local ballot races in Seattle. 

Do you feel that news about local politics and government gets covered adequately in your area—not just on Ballotpedia, but from all sources?


Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: Delaney and Williamson most active presidential campaigners in early primary states

Today’s Brew looks at the most active presidential campaigners in the four early primary states + highlights the Seattle, Washington election results  
 The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Thursday, August 8 Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Delaney and Williamson most active campaigners in early states
  2. Seattle’s election results
  3. Six weeks after election day this race is over – what took so long?

Delaney and Williamson most active campaigners in early states

Ballotpedia has compiled the number of days each Democratic presidential candidate spent in the four early primary states—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada—between January 1 and July 29 this year.

Former Rep. John Delaney was the most active campaigner in Iowa, while author Marianne Williamson spent the most days in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. Where candidates focus their campaigns can hint at primary strategy and where they are trying to fortify coalitions. 

Here are the top states for the candidates who have qualified for the September debate:

Former Vice President
Joe Biden


Sen. Cory Booker

Iowa and South Carolina

South Bend Mayor
Pete Buttigieg


Sen. Kamala Harris

South Carolina

Sen. Amy Klobuchar


Former Rep.
Beto O’Rourke


Sen. Bernie Sanders


Sen. Elizabeth Warren


We will update this data with more analysis next week and will continue to update it as the primary season progresses. See the full details and our methodology at the link below.

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Seattle’s election results

Preliminary results for Tuesday’s primary for seven seats on the Seattle City Council showed the three incumbents seeking re-election in the lead. Seattle uses a vote-by-mail process and King County Elections will count ballots each day until the primary results are certified on August 20. To advance to the November 5 general election, candidates must win a plurality of the vote. The results below are current as of Wednesday morning.

For the races where incumbents filed for re-election:

  • District 1: Incumbent Lisa Herbold led her two opponents with 48 percent of the vote. Phil Tavel was second with 34 percent.
  • District 3: Incumbent Kshama Sawant led with 33 percent of the vote, and Egan Orion had 24 percent; the nearest challenger of the four others was Pat Murakami with 14 percent.
  • District 5: Incumbent Debora Juarez led with 43 percent and Ann Davison Sattler had 28 percent. In third was John Lombard with 14 percent. Six candidates appeared on the ballot.

For the open races:

  • District 2: Tammy Morales led with 44 percent and Mark Solomon was second with 24 percent in the seven-candidate field.
  • District 4: Alex Pedersen led with 46 percent, and Shaun Scott was second with 20 percent. Ten candidates are running in District 4.
  • District 6: Dan Strauss and Heidi Wills led with 31 percent and 23 percent, respectively, in the 14-candidate field.
  • District 7: Andrew Lewis led with 29 percent and Jim Pugel was second with 27 percent. Ten candidates are running.

Voters also approved two local ballot measures Tuesday. 

  • Proposition 1 in Seattle authorized the city to levy for seven years a property tax of $0.122 per $1,000 in assessed property value with annual increases of up to 1% to fund library operations, materials, and maintenance and capital improvements. 
  • Proposition 1 in King County authorized the county to levy for six years a property tax of $0.1832 per $1,000 in assessed property value to replace an expiring tax, with annual increases and with revenue for parks, recreation, open space, public pools, zoo operations, and aquarium capital improvements.

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Six weeks after election day this race is over – what took so long?

On Tuesday, public defender Tiffany Caban conceded the Democratic primary for Queens, New York district attorney to Queens Borough President Melinda Katz (D), ending a six-week-long dispute over the election’s outcome. 

The primary to succeed Richard Brown, who died in May 2019 after 28 years in office, drew national attention after presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren endorsed Caban. Political observers compared the race to last year’s Democratic primary for a Queens-based Congressional seat in which Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) unseated fourth-ranked House Democrat Joseph Crowley (D). Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Caban while Crowley fundraised for Katz. 

On June 25, Caban appeared to be the winner with a lead of 1,100 votes over Katz. But after absentee and provisional ballots were certified July 3, Katz took a lead of 20 votes. The city’s elections board completed a full manual recount on July 29 which found Katz ahead by 60 votes. Caban challenged the recount results before the Kings County Supreme Court, saying that the board had invalidated a number of ballots which she argued should have been counted. In his ruling Tuesday, Judge John G. Ingram found that most of the ballots named in Caban’s challenge were not valid, meaning there were not enough ballots remaining in question to change the election’s result.

89,858 votes were cast in the 2019 Democratic primary, while 3,777 votes were cast for the office at the last election in 2015. Katz will face attorney Daniel Kogan (R) in the November 5 general election.

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Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: Here’s what happened in Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary in Mississippi

Today’s Brew highlights the results of Mississippi’s gubernatorial primary + who’s leading in Ballotpedia pageviews among Democratic presidential campaigns  
 Ballotpedia's Daily Brew
Welcome to the Wednesday, August 7, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Hood (D) wins nomination for governor of Mississippi, GOP race undetermined
  2. Williamson had most Ballotpedia pageviews among Democratic presidential campaigns last week
  3. Join us for today’s Ballotpedia Insights session on market research

Hood (D) wins nomination for governor of Mississippi, GOP race undetermined

Attorney General Jim Hood defeated seven other candidates to win the Democratic nomination for governor of Mississippi. With 40% of precincts reporting, Hood received 70.1% of the vote and Michael Brown was second with 9.9% of the vote. 

The results from Mississippi’s Republican primary had not yet been determined to make it into this morning’s Brew.

Voters in Mississippi are electing a successor to term-limited Gov. Phil Bryant (R) in the general election November 5. To win the governorship, a candidate must win a majority of the statewide vote and carry a majority of state House districts. If no candidate meets both requirements, the election is decided by the state House. Bryant won the past two gubernatorial general elections with more than 60% of the vote. The last Democrat to win election as governor of Mississippi was Ronnie Musgrove in 1999.

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Williamson campaign profile received most Ballotpedia pageviews among Democratic presidential candidates last week 

Marianne Williamson’s (D) campaign page received the most Ballotpedia pageviews among Democratic candidates—7,588—during the week of July 28 to August 3, which was during the second round of Democratic presidential debates. This is Williamson’s second time leading Democratic candidates in pageviews. The first time was the week of the first round of Democratic debates in June. 

Each week, we report the number of pageviews received by 2020 presidential campaigns on Ballotpedia. These numbers show which candidates are getting our readers’ attention. 

Williamson’s pageviews represented 8.1% of the pageviews for all Democratic presidential campaigns. Tulsi Gabbard received 7.0% of Democratic candidate pageviews for the week, while Joe Biden received 6.8%.  

Here are the Democratic candidates with the largest number of pageviews on Ballotpedia over the last five weeks:

  • Week ending 8/3: Williamson, 7,588 views
  • Week ending 7/27: Biden, 3,185 views
  • Week ending 7/20: Kamala Harris, 3,772 views
  • Week ending 7/13: Harris, 3,594 views
  • Week ending 7/6: Harris, 4,678 views

Pete Buttigieg’s campaign still leads Democrats in lifetime pageviews with 97,150. Andrew Yang again has the second-most lifetime pageviews after surpassing Harris last week. Harris’ lifetime pageviews had surpassed Yang’s the week before. Yang currently has 84,124 pageviews to Harris’ 83,846. 

The chart below displays the top 10 candidates who received the most pageviews for the week of August 3.

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Join us for today’s Ballotpedia Insights session on market research

There’s still time to join us for today’s Ballotpedia Insights session with Adam Probolsky on market research. Probolsky has served as a pollster and strategic advisor on hundreds of successful crisis communications and public affairs projects, as well as local, county and statewide initiatives and candidate campaigns.

In our Ballotpedia Insights series, we host a subject matter expert and ask them tailored questions designed to gain insight into their work. We’ve conducted them with political and legal scholars, researchers, reporters, and authors. They’re a fantastic chance to “go deeper” into some interesting topics from some of the leading professionals in politics and policy.

Ballotpedia’s Director of Outreach, Sarah Rosier, will interview Probolsky on the state of market and opinion research on elections and public policy. This research is used by decision-makers and campaigns on a wide variety of topics and this session will help you understand how it’s done and why it matters. Sarah and Adam will also discuss how market research is different from polling and the changes Adam’s seen in the field over his career

The session begins at 1 pm ET and there’s still time to register.  Just click the link below—we’ll see you then! 

Click here to register →