Alonso Vega resigns from Puerto Rico House of Representatives 

Rep. Néstor Alonso Vega (New Progressive Party) resigned from his seat in the Puerto Rico House of Representatives on Nov. 10. Alonso Vega, who held an at-large seat in the chamber, had been arrested and indicted for allegedly increasing an employee’s salary in order to receive half of the increase in return. 

Alonso Vega had recently won re-election to his seat on Nov. 3. He is the third member of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives to resign after being arrested and charged with corruption this year, after María Charbonier Laureano and Nelson Del Valle Colón.

The Puerto Rico House of Representatives is the lower chamber of Puerto Rico’s bicameral legislature. All 51 of Puerto Rico’s House seats were up for election on Nov. 3. Prior to the election, the New Progressive Party controlled the chamber with 35 seats, while the Popular Democratic Party held 15 seats and one was held by an independent. The results of the November election are not yet final. 

Additional reading:

Veterans in the 116th Congress

Ninety-six veterans served as members of the 116th Congress (2019-2020). Seventy-three served in active duty with one of the four main military branches: 15 in the Air Force, 36 in the Army, 15 in the Marine Corps, and eight in the Navy (Steven Palazzo served in both the Army and Marine Corps). The remaining veterans served in either the reserves or national guard.

Sixty-six were members of the Republican Party and 30 were members of the Democratic Party. Fourteen of the veterans serving in the 116th Congress did not run for re-election in 2020.

President Woodrow Wilson (D) first recognized November 11 as Armistice Day in 1919 to commemorate the agreement that ended World War I in 1918. Congress recognized the date as a legal holiday to honor veterans of World War I in 1926. Congress changed the name from Armistice Day to Veteran’s Day in 1954 to further commemorate the service of veterans in World War II and the Korean War.

Election deadlines for the week beginning Nov. 9

In the week beginning Nov. 9, 11 states and the District of Columbia have absentee/mail-in ballot receipt deadlines:

  • Nov. 9: Iowa and West Virginia
  • Nov. 10: Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York
  • Nov. 12: North Carolina
  • Nov. 13: Alaska, D.C. Maryland, and Ohio

Also next week, eight states will observe election certification and/or canvassing deadlines:

  • Nov. 10: Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, and Virginia
  • Nov. 11: South Carolina and Wyoming
  • Nov. 13: Mississippi

Additional reading:

Incumbent Sen. Tina Smith wins re-election in Minnesota

Incumbent Tina Smith (D) defeated Jason Lewis (R), Oliver Steinberg (Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party of Minnesota), and Kevin O’Connor (Legal Marijuana Now Party) in the U.S. Senate election in Minnesota. 

Smith was appointed to the seat in 2018 following Al Franken’s (D) resignation. Smith won a special election to complete Franken’s term in 2018, winning 53% of the vote to Karin Housley’s (R) 42%. Heading into the election, Minnesota had not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since the 2002 election of Norm Coleman (R).

Prior to her appointment, Smith had served as Minnesota’s lieutenant governor. She was endorsed by former Vice President Joe Biden (D) and the _Minneapolis Star-Tribune_ editorial board.

Leading up to the 2020 elections, Republicans had a 53-47 majority in the Senate. 35 of 100 U.S. Senate seats are up for election this year. Of the 35 seats up, 23 are held by Republicans and 12 by Democrats, giving Republicans greater partisan risk this year. Democrats need to win a net four seats to win an outright majority in the chamber.

Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: November 3, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at new coronavirus restrictions in Connecticut and Massachusetts, guidance for schools in Oregon, school reopenings, and more. Want to know what happened Friday? Click here.

The next 72 hours

What is changing in the next 72 hours?

  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced the state will move backward from Phase 3 to Phase 2 of reopening starting Nov. 6. Restaurants will have to limit capacity to 50% and close indoor dining by 9:30 p.m. every night. Religious gatherings will be limited to the lesser of 50% capacity or 100 people.
  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced mitigation policies will be implemented in Region 2 starting Nov. 4. Bars and restaurants will not be able to offer indoor service, and outdoor service will have to close by 11 p.m. every night. Gatherings will be limited to the lesser of 25 people or 25% of a room’s capacity. All 11 of the state’s regions will have mitigation restrictions once the rules become effective in Region 2.
  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced the state will implement additional mitigation measures starting Nov. 4. Indoor gathering limits will be reduced to 50 people, and Maine’s travel restrictions (that require travelers to quarantine for 14 days or present a recent negative test on arrival) will extend to New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Mills also postponed reopening bars and tasting rooms until further notice.

Since our last edition

What is open in each state? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here.

  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Monday, Nov. 2, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) issued a series of new coronavirus restrictions that take effect Friday, Nov. 6. The new restrictions include a statewide, stay-at-home advisory between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and a requirement that businesses like salons, gyms, and event venues close by 9:30 p.m. Baker also issued a new face-covering mandate, which replaces the current one that allows people to remove their masks when social distancing is possible.   
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced schools in the state’s red and orange mitigation zones will be able to reopen after all of a school’s students and teachers get tested. Cuomo did not give a timeline for the reopening but said the state will provide the tests. 
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): The Oregon Department of Education released updated school reopening guidance. Under the new rules, schools in counties with less than 50 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents over 14 days can resume full-time, in-person learning. Previously, the state only allowed full-time, in-person schedules in counties with 10 or fewer new cases per 100,000 residents each week over a three-week rolling average.

Daily feature: Schools

All 50 states closed schools to in-person instruction at some point during the 2019-2020 academic year. Beginning in May 2020, schools in certain states began to reopen. In which states are schools allowed to open? In which states are they ordered to remain closed?

We last looked at school reopenings and closures in the Oct. 27 edition of the newsletter. Since then, the Oregon Department of Education relaxed school reopening guidance. Partial closures are still effective in the state.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic. 

  • On Oct. 30, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) joined a lawsuit challenging El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego’s (D) order closing non-essential businesses and imposing a curfew. The lawsuit, filed in El Paso County’s 34th Judicial District Court by ten El Paso restaurants, claims that Samaniego’s order illegally usurps the governor’s authority. In his motion to intervene, Paxton argues the state “has an intrinsic right to enact, interpret, and enforce its own laws,” including “authority to sue to redress any violations of” public rights. Paxton further argues, “Judge Samaniego has no authority under [state law] to preempt or supersede” Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) orders. In a statement to the press, Samaniego said, “We received a lawsuit, however until such time that a Court orders otherwise, my order still stands.” 

What are Pivot Counties?

Image of donkey and elephant to symbolize the Democratic and Republican parties.

Two hundred and six counties nationwide voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 before voting for Donald Trump (R) in 2016. Voters in these Pivot Counties cast 7.5 million votes in 2016—5.5% of all votes cast that year.

The 206 Pivot Counties are located in 34 states. Iowa’s 31 Pivot Counties—out of 99 counties overall—is the most of any state. Half of Maine’s 16 counties are Pivot Counties, the greatest proportion of any state. Maine is also the state with the greatest percentage of its population—47.1%—residing in Pivot Counties. Nine states have 10% or more of their population living in Pivot Counties.

The 206 Pivot Counties include 57 counties that have voted for every winning presidential candidate since 2000. Two of those counties—Valencia County, New Mexico, and Vigo County, Indiana—have voted for every winning presidential candidate since 1960.

Across all Pivot Counties, the average swing towards Republicans between 2012 and 2016 was 19.7 percentage points; Barack Obama carried the Pivot Counties by an average margin of 8.2 percentage points in 2012, while Donald Trump carried them by an average margin of 11.5 percentage points in 2016.

Barack Obama carried 16 Pivot Counties by margins of 1 percentage point or less in 2012; his narrowest margin in a Pivot County that year was 0.04 percentage points in Price County, Wisconsin, which Donald Trump carried by a margin of 25.00 percentage points in 2016. Five Pivot Counties went to Obama by margins of 20 percentage points or wider in 2012. His widest margin in any pivot county was 26.07 percentage points in Franklin County, New York, which Donald Trump carried by a margin of 5.45 percentage points in 2016.

In 2016, Donald Trump carried 12 Pivot Counties by margins of 1 percentage point or less, with his narrowest margin of victory being 0.12 percentage points in Panola County, Mississippi, which Barack Obama had carried by 8.62 percentage points in 2012. Trump carried 37 Pivot Counties by margins of 20 percentage points or greater. His widest margin of victory, and his only margin greater than 30 percentage points, was 44.13 percentage points in Elliott County, Kentucky. Barack Obama carried Elliott County by a margin of 2.50 percentage points in 2012 and 25.17 percentage points in 2008, representing a 69.30 percentage point swing towards Republicans at the presidential level in eight years.

In the 2018 U.S. House elections, there were 99 districts intersecting with Pivot Counties. Republicans represented 63 of those districts to Democrats’ 36. Democrats gained a net eight seats, winning 44 to Republicans’ 54 (the results of one U.S. House election were not certified owing to allegations of election fraud). At the county level, Democratic U.S. House candidates won 113 (55%) of Pivot Counties. In 184 Pivot Counties (89%), the Republican U.S. House nominee either lost the county or won with a narrower margin of victory than President Trump (R) had in 2016.

There are also six reverse Pivot Counties, which voted for John McCain (R) in 2008, Mitt Romney (R) in 2012, and Hillary Clinton (D) in 2016. Three of these counties were in Georgia, with one each in California, Maryland, and Texas. On average, the Reverse Pivot Counties had a larger population than Pivot Counties—971,164 to 78,018.

We’ll be watching how the Pivot Counties vote in the 2020 presidential election and updating our coverage with the latest details as they are available; check back later this week for more!

Additional reading:

Weekly Presidential News Briefing: October 30, 2020

This week we discuss early voting, the Supreme Court’s ruling on ballot deadlines, and compare the candidates’ stances on Social Security.

Share the latest from the campaign trail.


Presidential Race Ratings

Inside Elections updated its race ratings on October 28, 2020:

  • Texas moved from Tilt Republican to Toss Up.
  • Georgia and North Carolina moved from Toss Up to Tilt Democratic.

The Cook Political Report updated its race ratings on October 28, 2020:

  • Texas moved from Leans Republican to Toss Up.

Notable Quotes of the Week

“For Mr. Biden, an all-in strategy could carry risks.

Mrs. Clinton was criticized for not visiting Wisconsin in the general election, even as she campaigned during the final days of the race in Arizona, which Mr. Trump ended up winning. Some of her former aides later acknowledged they put too many resources in states that wound up not being competitive.

Mr. Trump’s team during the current campaign has frequently pointed to polling in 2016 that showed Mrs. Clinton leading in the final weeks and has noted that Mr. Trump was significantly outspent.”

– Sabrina Siddiqui and Ken ThomasThe Wall Street Journal

“But I would argue that Trump and his campaign will make the same mistake they made in 2018 if they focus on an issue that is of limited interest to voters outside the two parties’ bases.  On the Friday before the midterm election two years ago, Republicans got a gift when the monthly jobs report announced that 250,000 jobs had been created, in what was then a 49-year low. Even a former economic adviser to Biden called it ‘pretty much everything you could want in a monthly jobs report.’

But rather than playing their strongest card — Trump’s historic record of job creation versus the Obama-Biden weak economic recovery — Republicans spent the weekend before the election talking about immigration and the caravans heading toward the border.  Immigration is important, but in the big scheme of things, the economy and Trump’s record-setting progress were more important to more voters. But that’s not what they heard.”

– David Winston, adviser to congressional Republicans

Week in Review

Trump on the campaign trail • On Monday, Trump held three rallies in Pennsylvania.• On Tuesday, Trump campaigned in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska.• On Wednesday, Trump held two rallies in Arizona.• On Thursday, Trump held a rally in Tampa.• On Friday, Trump is campaigning in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin.Biden on the campaign trail • On Monday, Biden visited Pennsylvania.• On Tuesday, Biden campaigned in Atlanta and Warm Springs, Georgia.• On Thursday, Biden held rallies in Broward County and Tampa in Florida.• On Friday, Biden is campaigning in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

More than 84 million ballots cast early in the general election

As of Friday afternoon, 84.7 million early votes had been cast in the general election, according to the United States Election Project.

More than 9 million ballots have been cast early in Texas, surpassing the state’s total number of votes in the 2016 presidential election. Other states at 85% or more of the 2016 turnout are Washington, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Georgia.

Spending in presidential election exceeds $6 billion

The Center for Responsive Politics projected that spending in the presidential election will exceed $6.6 billion, more than doubling the $2.4 billion spent in the 2016 election.

Advertising Analytics reported that Donald Trump, including joint spending with the Republican National Committee, had reserved $27.3 million in ad buys between Monday and November 3. Joe Bidenreserved $42.9 million over the same time period.

Michael Bloomberg’s PAC, Independence USA, is planning to spend $15 million on advertising campaigns in Ohio and Texas for Biden.

The pro-Trump America First placed $2.5 million in national ads to run through Election Day.

Ballot deadline cases reach SCOTUS

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that mail-in ballots in Wisconsin will only be counted if they are received by November 3.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court declined to expedite consideration of a Republican challenge to a Pennsylvania Supreme Court order that extended the deadline for mail-in absentee ballots until November 6 for ballots postmarked by November 3.

The Supreme Court also declined to intervene in a North Carolina case, leaving the deadline for ballots postmarked by Election Day to be received by November 13.

Eighth Circuit panel grants injunction in Minnesota deadline case 

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that postmarked Minnesota ballots received after Election Day but before November 10 will be separated from other ballots until a final decision is made on whether they should be counted.

Trump, Biden on the campaign trail in Rust Belt

Donald Trump is campaigning across Pennsylvania on Saturday with events in Bucks County, Reading, and Butler.

Joe Biden is campaigning in Michigan on Saturday. He will hold a joint rally with former President Barack Obama.

Want more? Find the daily details here:

Facebook Spending

Poll Spotlight

Campaign Ad Spotlight

Candidates on the Issues: Social Security

What we’re reading this week

Flashback:  October 26-30, 2016

  • October 26, 2016: Hillary Clinton campaigned in Florida on her 69th birthday.
  • October 27, 2016: Michelle Obama campaigned with Hillary Clinton in North Carolina.
  • October 28, 2016: James Comey notified Congress that the FBI was reviewing additional emails related to Hillary Clinton’s private email use.
  • October 29, 2016: Donald Trump questioned mail-in voting in Colorado during a rally in the state.
  • October 30, 2016: The Presidential Mask Index, which correctly predicted the presidential winner of every election since 1996 based on Halloween mask sales, projected Donald Trump would win.

15 races we’re watching in 2020

On November 3, Americans will elect thousands of offices up and down the ballot, including the presidency, 35 seats in the U.S. Senate, all 435 seats in the U.S. House, 11 governorships, and 5,875 seats across 86 state legislative chambers. Ballotpedia has identified the top 15 races we’ll be watching (the presidential election aside), listed alphabetically and by race type.

These elections were selected by members of Ballotpedia’s editorial department based on past election results, unique election-specific circumstances, and race ratings published by elections forecasters. We selected a mix of federal and state races.

  • U.S. Senate election in Georgia: Incumbent David Perdue (R) faces Jon Ossoff (D) and Shane Hazel (L). If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff on January 5, 2021. Depending on the results of other Senate elections, such a runoff could end up determining control of the chamber.
  • U.S. Senate special election in Georgia: Incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R), who was appointed to the Senate following Johnny Isakson’s (R) retirement, faces 20 challengers in this special election for the remainder of Isakson’s term. Special Congressional elections in Georgia do not have primaries, meaning every candidate advanced directly to the general election. The polling and fundraising leaders are Loeffler, Doug Collins (R), Matt Lieberman (D), and Raphael Warnock (D). Like the other Georgia Senate election, this race will advance to a runoff unless one candidate wins more than 50% of the vote.
  • U.S. Senate election in Iowa: Incumbent Joni Ernst (R), Theresa Greenfield (D), Rick Stewart (L), and Suzanne Herzog (I) are running for one of Iowa’s seats in the U.S. Senate. Iowa has been contested political territory in recent elections; its total of 31 Pivot Counties (which voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016) is greater than that of any other state.
  • U.S. Senate election in Kansas: Barbara Bollier (D), Roger Marshall (R), and Jason Buckley (L) are running for the U.S. Senate seat left open by Pat Roberts’ (R) retirement. Bollier, a state legislator who left the Republican Party in 2018, would be the first Democrat to win election to the U.S. Senate since 1932.
  • U.S. Senate election in Maine: Incumbent Susan Collins (R), Sara Gideon (D), and five other candidates are running for one of Maine’s U.S. Senate seats. This election will use ranked-choice voting, a system where voters rank candidates in order of their preference rather than voting for one.
  • U.S. Senate election in North Carolina: Incumbent Thom Tillis (R), Cal Cunningham (D), Kevin E. Hayes (Constitution Party), and Shannon Bray (L) are running for one of North Carolina’s seats in the U.S. Senate. Tillis would be the first incumbent to successfully win re-election to this seat since Jesse Helms (R) in 1996.
  • California’s 25th Congressional District: Incumbent Mike Garcia (R) and Christy Smith (D) are running in this Los Angeles-area U.S. House district. Katie Hill (D) flipped this district in 2018 before resigning the next year amid allegations of an extramarital affair. In the May 2020 special election, Garcia defeated Smith to flip the district back, becoming the first Republican to flip a U.S. House district in California since 1998.
  • Georgia’s 7th Congressional District: Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) and Rich McCormick (R) are running for this suburban Atlanta district, currently represented by retiring incumbent Rob Woodall (R). Bourdeaux was the Democratic nominee in 2018 when she lost to Woodall by a 433-vote margin; the narrowest of any U.S. House race that year.
  • Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District: Incumbent Collin Peterson (D), Michelle Fischbach (R), and Slater Johnson (Legal Marijuana Now Party) are running in this western Minnesota district. Donald Trump (R) won this district 62% to 31% in 2016, his largest margin of victory in any House district currently represented by a Democrat.
  • New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District: Incumbent Xochitl Torres Small (D), Yvette Herrell (R), and Steve Jones (I) are running for this southern New Mexico district. This is one of 56 U.S. House rematches in 2020; Torres Small and Herrell were their party’s nominees in 2018. That year, Torres Small defeated Herrell 51% to 49%.
  • South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District: Incumbent Joe Cunningham (D) and Nancy Mace (R) are running for this southeastern South Carolina district. Cunningham became the first Democrat elected from the district since 1978 when he first won election in 2018. President Trump defeated Hillary Clinton (D) 54% to 40% in the district in 2016.
  • Utah’s 4th Congressional District: Incumbent Ben McAdams (D), Burgess Owens (R), and John Molnar (L) are running for this suburban Salt Lake City district. McAdams defeated incumbent Mia Love (R) to win election in 2018. His 694-vote margin of victory was the narrowest in any U.S. House election that resulted in a flipped seat that year.
  • Governor of North Carolina: Incumbent Roy Cooper (D), Dan Forest (R), Al Pisano (Constitution Party), and Steven DiFiore II (L) are running for governor of North Carolina. Cooper defeated incumbent Pat McCrory (R) 49.0% to 48.8% in 2016, the same year Donald Trump (R) defeated Hillary Clinton (D) 50% to 46%.
  • Washington Secretary of State: Incumbent Kim Wyman (R) and Gael Tarleton (D) are running for Washington Secretary of State. The secretary of state, which serves as Washington’s chief elections officer, is one of two statewide offices currently held by Republicans. Tarleton would be the first Democrat elected to the office since 1960.
  • Michigan Supreme Court: Seven candidates are running for two seats on the seven-member Michigan Supreme Court. Currently, the court is comprised of four members appointed by Republican governors and three elected after winning a nomination from the Democratic Party. One Republican-affiliated and one Democratic-affiliated seat are up, meaning the elections have the potential to tilt the balance on the court.

Additional reading:

Can presidential candidates win the election if they have already conceded?

After unofficial election results are published, a presidential candidate may give a statement conceding the election to his or her opponent. That concession, however, is not legally binding, and the candidate can still win the election.

Presidential election results remain partial and unofficial on election night. The popular vote is finalized in a process called canvassing and certification. During this process, elections officials verify that votes were counted correctly. Officials review rejected ballots and finish tallying write-in, provisional, and mail-in ballots. In 2020, state deadlines for certification range from mid-November to mid-December.

The certified election results determine which electors represent each state in the Electoral College. In 2020, the Electoral College is scheduled to vote on December 14. Congress will then convene on January 6, 2021, to count electoral votes and formally declare the winner. It is possible that a candidate who concedes on election night ends up winning when Congress formally declares the outcome of the election in January. 

Concessions are also retractable. In the 2000 presidential race, Al Gore (D) conceded to George W. Bush (R) in a phone call on November 8. However, as it became clearer that election results in Florida could trigger an automatic recount there, Gore retracted his concession in a second phone call to Bush. After the Supreme Court ruling in Bush v. Gore, Gore conceded again on December 13, 2000.

Additional reading:

Federal Register weekly update: 1,430 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 October 19 to October 23, the Federal Register grew by 1,430 pages for a year-to-date total of 67,630 pages. Over the same period in 2019 and 2018, the Federal Register reached 57,600 pages and 54,228 pages, respectively. As of October 23, the 2020 total led the 2019 total by 10,030 pages and the 2018 total by 13,402 pages. 

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

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 544 documents:

  • 441 notices
  • four presidential documents
  • 37 proposed rules
  • 62 final rules

One final rule related to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s implementation of the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 was 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 27 significant proposed rules, 60 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of October 23.

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.

Additional reading: