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A closer look at the demographics of Retained and Boomerang Pivot Counties

Ballotpedia has been analyzing the 206 Pivot Counties that voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016. This year, we have introduced two new categories: Retained Pivot Counties, which voted for Trump again in 2020, and Boomerang Pivot Counties, which voted for Joe Biden (D).

Based on unofficial results that are subject to change, Ballotpedia has identified 179 Retained Pivot Counties and 25 Boomerang Pivot Counties.

A detailed look at two characteristics, population and educational attainment, shows that Retained Pivot Counties are, on average, less populous and have lower rates of high school graduation and bachelor’s degree attainment compared to Boomerang Pivot Counties.

Collectively, Pivot Counties make up 4.9% of the U.S. population at 16,070,734. The 179 Retained Pivot Counties make up 70.9% of that total and the 25 Boomerang Pivot Counties make up the remaining 29.1%.

The average population of a Retained Pivot County is 63,615 compared to 186,852 for a Boomerang Pivot County. The nationwide county population average is 104,435. Since the 2016 presidential election, the population of Retained Pivot Counties decreased an average of 0.1% while the population of Boomerang Pivot Counties increased 1.0%.

The map below shows all Retained and Boomerang Pivot Counties by population. Larger circles indicate more populous counties. The largest Retained Pivot County is Suffolk County, New York, with a population of 1,476,701. The largest Boomerang Pivot County is Pinellas County, Florida, with a population of 974,996.

For educational attainment, Ballotpedia examined high school graduation rates and bachelor’s degree attainment as a percentage of individuals 25 years and older. The table below highlights the averages of these demographics in 2020, 2016, and shows the change between those years.

On average, Boomerang Pivot Counties have a higher rate of high school graduation than Retained Pivot Counties, but a majority of both types of counties exceed the national high school graduation rate. Ninety-two percent of Boomerang Pivot Counties (23) exceed the national rate compared to 68% of Retained Pivot Counties (122). The table below shows the counties with the five highest and lowest high school graduation rates. Red dots indicate a Retained Pivot County and blue dots indicate a Boomerang Pivot County:

Boomerang Pivot Counties also have a higher rate of bachelor’s degree attainment than Retained Pivot Counties on average. Thirty-two percent of Boomerang Pivot Counties (8) have above average attainment rates compared to 3% (5) of Retained Pivot Counties. The table below shows the counties with the five highest and lowest bachelor’s degree attainment rates:

To learn more about the demographics of these counties, click here.



President Donald Trump leads in endorsement win rates among Ballotpedia’s tracked influencers

During the 2020 election cycle, Ballotpedia tracked candidate endorsements from five noteworthy influencers: President Donald Trump (R), President-elect Joe Biden (D), former President Barack Obama (D), Vice President Mike Pence (R), and Senator Bernie Sanders (I). 

Obama issued the most endorsements in 2020 elections at 232, according to Ballotpedia’s count. Of these 232 endorsed candidates, 82 won, 115 lost, and 35 races were uncalled as of December 2nd. Not including uncalled races, 42% of Obama-endorsed candidates won their races.

We counted 181 endorsements that Trump issued during the 2020 elections, the third-highest among our tracked influencers. Of these candidates, 136 won, 40 lost, and five races were uncalled as of December 2nd. Not including uncalled races, 77% of Trump-endorsed candidates won their races.

Biden issued 50 endorsements in 2020. Twelve of these candidates won, 29 were defeated, and nine races were uncalled as of December 2nd. Not including uncalled races, 29% of Biden-endorsed candidates were elected to office.

We counted 202 endorsements that Sanders issued during the 2020 elections, the second-highest among our tracked influencers. Of these candidates, 125 won, 62 lost, and 15 races were uncalled as of December 2nd. Not including uncalled races, 67% of Sanders endorsed candidates won their elections.

At 10 endorsements issued in 2020 by Ballotpedia’s count, Pence endorsed the fewest candidates in 2020 among our tracked influencers. Seven of these candidates won and three were defeated, meaning Pence-endorsed candidates won 70% of the time.

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Federal Register weekly update: More than 2,000 pages added

Banner with the words "The Administrative State Project"

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.

From November 30 to December 4, the Federal Register grew by 2,280 pages for a year-to-date total of 78,698 pages. Over the same period in 2019 and 2018, the Federal Register reached 67,168 pages and 63,382 pages, respectively. As of December 4, the 2020 total led the 2019 total by 11,530 pages and the 2018 total by 15,316 pages. 

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 517 documents:

  • 412 notices
  • three presidential documents
  • 37 proposed rules
  • 65 final rules

Three final rules regarding revisions to debt collection practices by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; corrected amortization limits from the Farm Credit Administration; and the evaluation of musculoskeletal disorders by the Social Security Administration were all deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Trump administration in 2020 has issued 32 significant proposed rules, 68 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of December 4.

Not all rules issued by the Trump administration are regulatory actions. Some rules are deregulatory actions pursuant to President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to eliminate two old significant regulations for each new significant regulation issued.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2019, 2018, and 2017. 

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How did political parties perform in races where the same candidates ran in 2018 and 2020?

In the 2020 general election, 402 elections in Ballotpedia’s coverage scope were rematches between the same candidates who ran for office in 2018. These rematches represented about 4.2% of all general election races in Ballotpedia’s coverage scope.

Rematch elections in 2020 included:

  • 56 races for the U.S. House.
  • One state executive race.
  • 342 state legislative races.
  • Three local races in our coverage scope.

Results in 26 rematch races (three U.S. House races and 23 state legislative races) were unavailable as of December 1.

Of the called races in 2020, Republicans won 229 (about 57%) to Democrats’ 146 (about 36%) and third-party and nonpartisan candidates’ two (about 0.5%). 

In 2018, Republicans won 222 (about 55%) of the 2020 rematch districts, while Democrats won 175 (about 44%), and third-party or nonpartisan candidates won two (about 0.5%).

In 2020, 87 rematches (about 22%) were decided by a margin of 10 percentage points or fewer. In 2018, 130 (about 32%) of the same races were decided by a margin of 10 percentage points or fewer.



Introducing Ballotpedia’s Runoff Report, a daily newsletter on Georgia’s runoffs and the fight for Senate control

Republicans have secured 50 seats in the next U.S. Senate and Democrats 48 (including two independents who caucus with them). Control of the next Senate will come down to Georgia’s runoff elections. 

On Nov. 30, we launched Runoff Report, a daily newsletter providing the latest on each runoff and the overarching fight for Senate control. Here’s the type of stories you can expect to find: 

  • Balanced coverage of candidates’ statements, events, and activities
  • Campaign ad comparisons
  • Policy/issue position comparisons
  • Campaign events with national political figures 
  • Satellite spending summaries
  • Features on the major state and national influencers involved in the races
  • Historical context on Senate runoffs in the state
  • Voting trends in the state and key counties

Georgia was the only state to hold two Senate elections in 2020: a regularly scheduled election and a special election to complete the term Johnny Isakson (R) won in 2016. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Kelly Loeffler (R) to succeed Isakson, who resigned at the end of 2019. She and Raphael Warnock (D), senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, are running to complete the term ending in January 2023. David Perdue (R), first elected in 2014, is seeking re-election in the other race. He faces Jon Ossoff (D), who ran against Karen Handel (R) in the 6th Congressional District special election in 2017. 

Georgia holds runoffs when no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the general election. 

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Senator Rick Scott, other federal lawmakers test positive for coronavirus

On November 20, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fl.) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. On November 14, he announced he would quarantine himself after coming into contact with a person who tested positive for the virus.

Scott was the 31st member of Congress to test positive for COVID-19, and the seventh to announce a positive test since Monday, November 16.

On November 16, Reps. Tim Walberg (R-Mi.) and Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) announced they tested positive. Senate President pro tempore Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Co.) announced positive test results on November 17. On November 18, Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-Co.) and Dan Newhouse (R-Wa.) announced positive test results.



Federal Register weekly update: More than 300 presidential documents published so far in 2020

Banner with the words "The Administrative State Project"

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.

From November 16 to November 20, the Federal Register grew by 1,696 pages for a year-to-date total of 74,594 pages. Over the same period in 2019 and 2018, the Federal Register reached 64,702 pages and 60,332 pages, respectively. As of November 20, the 2020 total led the 2019 total by 9,892 pages and the 2018 total by 14,262 pages. 

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

Last week’s Federal Register featured the following 546 documents:

  • 435 notices
  • four presidential documents
  • 38 proposed rules
  • 69 final rules

Two final rules regarding high-risk loans within the Farm Credit System and emission standards for hazardous air pollutants, as well as one proposed rule concerning the collection of biometric data, were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Trump administration in 2020 has issued 31 significant proposed rules, 65 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of November 20.

Not all rules issued by the Trump administration are regulatory actions. Some rules are deregulatory actions pursuant to President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to eliminate two old significant regulations for each new significant regulation issued.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2019, 2018, and 2017. 

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Donald Trump wins 20 states with trifectas, Joe Biden wins 18

After the 2020 elections, Republicans had 23 trifectas, Democrats had 15 trifectas, and 11 states had divided governments. Trifecta status in Alaska is pending. A trifecta occurs when one political party holds the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

Two divided government states gained Republican trifecta status following the 2020 elections. Joe Biden (D) won New Hampshire, which gained a Republican trifecta when Republicans won majorities in the state legislature. Donald Trump (R) won Montana, which gained a Republican trifecta when Greg Gianforte (R) won the governorship.

Besides New Hampshire, Biden also carried the Republican trifecta states of Arizona and Georgia. Republicans have had a trifecta in Arizona since 2009 and in Georgia since 2005.

In total, Trump won 20 Republican trifectas and Biden won three. Biden won the statewide vote in all 15 Democratic trifecta states.

Biden won three states Donald Trump (R) won in 2016 that now have divided governments. Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania all went to Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020. All three states previously had Republican trifectas; Michigan’s and Wisconsin’s were broken in the 2018 elections, while Pennsylvania’s was broken in the 2014 election.

Biden also won the presidential vote in four other divided government states: Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Vermont. Hillary Clinton (D) won these states in 2016. 

Trump won four divided government states that he also won in 2016: Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and North Carolina. These states all gained divided trifecta status after electing Democratic governors. Louisiana elected a Democratic governor in 2015, followed by North Carolina in 2016, Kansas in 2018, and Kentucky in 2019.



Biden announces senior White House staff

Transition Tracker Daily by Ballotpedia

Welcome to Ballotpedia’s Transition Tracker

November 18, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) is the projected winner of the 2020 presidential election. The Electoral College will meet on December 14, 2020, to vote for the next president of the United States.

In 2016, there were 1,714 government positions subject to presidential appointment: 1,242 positions required Senate confirmation and 472 did not. Every weekday, Ballotpedia is tracking potential Cabinet nominees, appointments, and news related to the Biden presidential transition.

Appointments and Nominations

Biden announced nine appointees who will serve as White House senior staff on Wednesday. As previously reported, Jen O’Malley Dillon, Cedric Richmond, and Steve Richhetti will serve as deputy chief of staff, senior advisor, and counselor to the president, respectively.

The six other appointments are as follows:

Anthony Bernal, senior advisor to Dr. Jill Biden

Anthony Bernal was a deputy campaign manager for the Biden presidential campaign and Jill Biden’s chief of staff. He has worked with the Bidens for more than a decade, including as director of scheduling and trip director for Jill Biden during the Obama administration.

Mike Donilon, senior advisor to the president

Mike Donilon was chief strategist for the Biden presidential campaign. Prior to joining the campaign, Donilon was the managing director of the Biden Institute. He has worked on six presidential campaigns.

Dana Remus, White House counsel

Dana Remus was general counsel for the Biden presidential campaign. She previously worked as general counsel for the Obama Foundation. She was also the deputy assistant to the president and deputy counsel of ethics during the Obama administration. She clerked for Republican-nominated Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon, chief of staff to Dr. Jill Biden

Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon served as the U.S. ambassador to Uruguay and deputy assistant secretary of state during the Obama administration. She is a partner at Winston & Strawn and previously worked on the faculty of Columbia Law School and Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Julie Chavez Rodriguez, director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs

Julie Chavez Rodriguez was a deputy campaign manager for the Biden presidential campaign. She previously worked on the Harris presidential campaign as the national political director and traveling chief of staff. In the Obama administration, Chavez Rodriguez was a special assistant to the president and senior deputy director of public engagement.

Annie Tomasini, director of Oval Office Operations

Annie Tomasini is Biden’s traveling chief of staff. She has worked for Biden for over a decade, including as his deputy press secretary during the Obama administration and as press secretary when Biden was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.


News

  • NPR reported that John Jones, a former chief of staff to Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), is being considered for the position of director of the Office of Management and Budget. Jones also worked as an aide to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). He is vice president of government relations for the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts.
  • The Biden Transition is vetting Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) for secretary of the interior, according to The Hill. If selected, she would be the first Native American Cabinet secretary. Haaland’s district, New Mexico’s 1st, is rated Safe Democratic.
  • Biden hired former Obama White House communications director Jen Psaki to lead a team overseeing the Senate confirmation process for his nominees. “The new team is also looking to shake up some of the conventions of the Cabinet nomination process, including the code of silence that has traditionally surrounded nominees. Instead, transition staff intend to introduce Biden’s Cabinet picks to the American people before their Senate hearings, which could include media blitzes to build up public support. There’s a risk, however, that the increased exposure could lead to embarrassing gaffes or missteps by nominees,” Politico reported.

What We’re Reading

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Franklin Babauta appointed to Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives

On Nov. 11, Northern Mariana Islands Governor Ralph Torres appointed Franklin Babauta to the District 1 seat in the NMI House of Representatives. The seat had been vacant since October when former NMI House Minority Leader Edwin Propst resigned due to sexual misconduct allegations. 

The Northern Mariana Islands constitution requires that legislative vacancies that occur when less than half the term remains must be filled by the candidate who won the second-highest vote total in the most recent election. Babauta ran as an independent in the 2018 election, in which he placed seventh in a race for six seats. Babauta will serve out the remainder of Propst’s term, which ends in January 2021. He did not run for election to the seat in the general election on Nov. 3. 

The Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives is the lower house of the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature. All 20 seats in the chamber were up for election on Nov. 3. Prior to the election, the Republican Party held a majority in the chamber.

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