Author

David Luchs

David Luchs is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

President Trump signs Consolidated Appropriations Act, approves second round of direct payments

President Donald Trump (R) signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act into law December 27, approving a $900 billion legislative package that included a second round of direct stimulus payments in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The act, which was introduced as a series of amendments to the United States-Mexico Economic Partnership Act, passed both chambers of Congress on Dec. 21. It is the fifth-longest bill ever to have passed Congress, according to GovTrack.

Among the act’s provisions is a second round of direct stimulus payments. The act calls for individuals who reported an income of $75,000 or less in tax year 2019 to receive a direct payment of $600. The size of the payment decreases as 2019 income increases, with individuals who reported an income of $99,000 or greater in 2019 receiving no direct payment.

President Trump (R) signed a first round of direct stimulus payments of up to $1,200 into law in March.

The act extends several existing federal policies enacted in response to the pandemic, including a moratorium on evictions, federal unemployment assistance, and the Paycheck Protection Program. The act also includes $20 billion in funding for coronavirus testing and $28 billion towards acquiring and distributing doses of the vaccine.

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Incumbent governors had a 100% re-election rate in 2020

Eleven states held elections for governor this year, including nine where the incumbent ran for re-election. All nine governors up for re-election won another term this year.

Republicans had greater partisan risk in 2020; the eleven states electing a governor included seven with Republican governors and four with Democratic governors. Republicans won eight of those races to Democrats’ three. The only state where control of the governorship changed was Montana, where Greg Gianforte (R) was elected to succeed Steve Bullock (D).

Gianforte is the first Republican to win election as governor of Montana since 2000. His election gives the Republican Party its first trifecta (unified control of the governorship and legislature) in the state since Democrats flipped the governorship in 2004. Montana’s 16 years without a state government trifecta is the longest among any state currently without one.

Outgoing Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) was the only governor prevented from running for re-election by term limits this year. The other outgoing governor, Gary Herbert (R-Utah), chose not to run for a third full term. Herbert, who took office in 2009, is the nation’s longest-serving governor currently in office.

Both parties were defending the governorship in two states where the other party’s presidential candidate won in 2016. Republican governors won re-election in New Hampshire and Vermont, which both went to Hillary Clinton (D) in 2016 and Joe Biden (D) in 2020. Democrats were defending governorships in both Montana and North Carolina, which President Trump (R) carried in both elections. While Republicans flipped the governorship in Montana, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) won a second term.

After Governor-elect Gianforte is sworn in Jan. 4, Republicans will hold 27 governorships nationwide to Democrats’ 23; the same totals both parties held after the 2018 election (Democrats flipped the Kentucky governorship in 2019). Democrats last held a majority of governorships nationwide in 2010.

In 2016, the same eleven states (and Oregon) held gubernatorial elections. That year, Republicans gained three governorships (in Missouri, New Hampshire, and Vermont), while Democrats gained one, in North Carolina.

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Republican and Democrat national party committees raised $467 million between October 15 and November 23

Six party committees raised a combined $467 million between October 15 and November 23 this year, according to post-general election campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on December 3. One more campaign finance report is due this cycle, covering fundraising and spending through December 31.

Democrats and Republicans each have three party committees; a national committee to coordinate overall party objectives and one committee each dedicated to electing members to the Senate and House. The latter two are referred to as Hill committees. During the 2018 campaign cycle, the six committees spent a combined $1.3 billion. So far in the 2020 cycle, they have spent a combined $2.37 billion out of $2.49 billion in fundraising.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) raised $202.5 million and spent $217.3 million during the five-and-a-half-week reporting period, while the Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised $61.0 million and spent $113.8 million. So far in the 2020 cycle, the RNC has raised 59.9% more than the DNC ($845.2 million to $455.4 million). The RNC’s 59.9% advantage is up from 47.9% as of the pre-general campaign finance reports and 51.5% at the end of September.

At this point in the 2016 election cycle (the most recent presidential cycle), the DNC had a 7.2% fundraising advantage over the RNC ($351.9 million to $327.2 million).

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) raised $75.5 million and spent $57.1 million during the reporting period, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raised $35.6 million and spent $49.9 million. So far in the 2020 cycle, the NRSC has raised 5.3% more than the DSCC ($295.2 million to $279.9 million). The NRSC’s 5.3% fundraising advantage is up from a 10.6% fundraising advantage for the DSCC as of the pre-general election campaign finance reports and a 4.2% advantage for the DSCC as of the end of September.

On the House side, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) raised $48.0 million and spent $51.0 million, while the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) raised $44.8 million and spent $57.8 million. So far in the 2020 campaign cycle, the DCCC has raised 22.3% more than the NRCC ($338.6 million to $270.5 million). The DCCC’s 22.3% fundraising advantage is down from 25.1% as of the pre-general election reports and 26.1% as of the end of September.

At this point in the 2018 campaign cycle, Republicans had a narrower lead in Senate fundraising and Democrats had a wider lead in House fundraising. The NRSC had raised 1.5% more than the DSCC ($148.8 million to $146.7 million), while the DCCC had raised 35.8% more than the NRCC ($291.3 million to $202.8 million).

So far in the 2020 campaign cycle, the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC have raised 27.1% more than the DNC, DSCC, and DCCC ($1.411 billion to $1.074 billion). Republicans’ 27.1% fundraising advantage is up from 15.7% as of the pre-general election reports and 18.7% as of the end of September.

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Average U.S. House margin of victory on track to be narrower than 2018, setting a decade-low record

The average margin of victory among U.S. House races that were callable as of Nov. 18 was 30.0 percentage points, the narrowest since at least 2012, according to a Ballotpedia analysis. The previous record low was 30.2 percentage points in 2018. The average margin of victory in callable U.S. Senate races was 18.9 percentage points, wider than the 16.8 percentage point average in 2018 but narrower than in any other year since 2012.

The narrowest margin of victory in any callable race was Burgess Owens’ (R) 0.57 percentage point margin over incumbent Ben McAdams (D) in Utah’s 4th Congressional District. McAdams defeated incumbent Mia Love (R) by a 0.26 percentage point margin in 2018, that year’s second-closest U.S. House race.

The narrowest margin of victory in the U.S. Senate was incumbent Gary Peters’ (D) 1.35 percentage point margin over John James (R) in Michigan. Peters’ win was the fifth-closest by overall number of votes. The U.S. Senate race decided by the fewest votes was incumbent Steve Daines’ (R) 31,000-vote win over Steve Bullock (D) in Montana.

The widest margin of victory, excluding uncontested races, was Neal Dunn’s (R) 96.1 percentage point margin over write-in Kim O’Connor (I) in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District. Among U.S. Senate races, the widest margin was Cynthia Lummis’ (R) 46.1 percentage point margin over Merav Ben-David (D) in Wyoming.

Ballotpedia’s analysis of Congressional margins of victory will be updated and expanded as final certified results become available.



Three states split presidential and gubernatorial vote

Three states voted for presidential and gubernatorial candidates of different parties this year, while at least two voted for presidential candidates of a different party than the state’s trifecta status.

A state government trifecta occurs when one party holds a state’s governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. Heading into the 2020 elections, Republicans held 21 state government trifectas and Democrats held 15. The 14 remaining states had divided government, where neither party holds a trifecta. Republicans gained at least two trifectas in states with divided governments this year, picking up trifectas in Montana and New Hampshire. As of Nov. 16, Alaska’s final trifecta status remained too close to call, leaving the possibility of a third trifecta pickup for Republicans. No other states’ trifecta statuses changed as a result of the election.

Joe Biden (D) won all 15 states with Democratic trifectas as well as Arizona, which has a Republican trifecta, and New Hampshire, which gained one. As of Nov. 16, the results of the presidential election in Georgia, a Republican trifecta, remained too close to call. Four of the five outlets Ballotpedia tracks had called the state for Joe Biden.

Donald Trump (R) won the other 20 Republican trifecta states. Of the 12 states with divided government after the election (including Alaska), five voted for Donald Trump and seven for Joe Biden.

Eleven states elected a governor this year, including seven with Republican governors at the time of the election and four with Democratic governors. Three states split their presidential and gubernatorial votes. New Hampshire and Vermont re-elected the Republican governors first elected in 2016 while voting for Joe Biden for president. North Carolina re-elected the Democratic governor first elected in 2016, while voting a second time for Donald Trump.

All 11 states also held gubernatorial elections in 2016. That year, five states split their presidential and gubernatorial votes. Montana, North Carolina, and West Virginia elected Democratic governors while also voting for Donald Trump (R). New Hampshire and Vermont elected Republican governors while also voting for Hillary Clinton (D).

Both Montana and West Virginia voted for Donald Trump a second time while also electing a Republican as governor. In Montana, Greg Gianforte (R) was elected governor after losing to incumbent Steve Bullock (D) in the 2016 election. In West Virginia, Jim Justice (R) was re-elected. Justice was first elected as a Democrat in 2016 and joined the Republican Party the following year.



Abigail Spanberger (D) wins re-election in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District

Incumbent Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) defeated challenger Nick Freitas (R) in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.

Spanberger was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, defeating incumbent Rep. Dave Brat (R) 50% to 48%. Preliminary results indicate Spanberger won re-election by a similar 51% to 49% margin.

The 7th District was one of 30 districts Democrats were defending nationwide this year that Donald Trump (R) carried in the 2016 presidential election. In that election, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton (D) 51% to 44% in the district.

Both parties’ national committees targeted the district; the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) added Spanberger to its Frontline program, which allocates funds and resources to Democratic candidates in competitive races, while the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) added Freitas to its Young Guns program, the Republican Party’s equivalent fundraising program.

The DCCC and House Majority PAC spent a combined $3.9 million on the race, while the NRCC and Congressional Leadership Fund spent a combined $5.0 million.

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Conor Lamb wins re-election to Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District

Incumbent Conor Lamb (D) defeated challenger Sean Parnell (R) in Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District.

Lamb was first elected in a March 2018 special election for the remainder of Tim Murphy’s (R) term in what was then the 18th Congressional District. Lamb defeated Rick Saccone (R) 49.9% to 49.5% to flip the seat. Following court-ordered redistricting later that year, Lamb won election to the new 17th District 56.3% to 43.7% over Keith Rothfus (R). Preliminary returns indicate that Parnell won by a more narrow 51.1% to 48.9% margin this year.

In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump (R) defeated Hillary Clinton (D) 49% to 47% in the district, making it one of 30 districts Democrats were defending this year that President Trump carried in 2016.



French Hill wins election to fourth term in U.S. House

Incumbent French Hill (R) defeated challenger Joyce Elliott (D) in the general election for Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District.

Hill was first elected in 2014, and won his subsequent re-election campaigns in 2016 and 2018 58%-37% and 52%-46%, respectively. He led Elliott 55% to 45% in preliminary 2020 results.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) included the district on its Red to Blue list and spent $700,000, in addition to $1.2 million in spending from the Democratic-aligned House Majority PAC. The Republican-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund spent $1.6 million in the district.



Jim Hagedorn wins re-election to Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District

Incumbent Jim Hagedorn (R) defeated challengers Dan Feehan (D) and Bill Rood (Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party of Minnesota) in Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District.

The election was one of 56 U.S. House rematches taking place this year. In 2018, this seat was left open as incumbent Tim Walz (D) ran for governor. Hagedorn defeated Feehan 50.1% to 49.7% to become one of three Republicans who flipped a seat from Democrats that year. Preliminary returns indicate that Hagedorn expanded his margin over Feehan in 2020, winning 48.6% to 45.5%.

Both parties’ national committees targeted this district in 2020. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Majority PAC spent a combined $5.2 million, while the National Republican Congressional Committee and Congressional Leadership Fund spent a combined $4.2 million.



Tom Malinowski wins re-election to Congress

Incumbent Tom Malinowski (D) defeated challenger Thomas Kean Jr. (R) in New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District.

Malinowski was first elected in 2018, when he defeated incumbent Leonard Lance (R) 52% to 47%, becoming the first Democrat to win election in the district since 1978. Preliminary returns suggest Malinowski expanded on his 2018 margin this year, winning 54% of the vote to Kean’s 46%.

Both parties’ national committees targeted the district this year, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) naming Malinowski to its Frontline program and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) naming Kean to its Young Guns program. The DCCC and House Majority PAC spent a combined $3.8 million in the district, while the NRCC and Congressional Leadership Fund spent a combined $4.3 million.



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