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Federal Register weekly update; highest weekly page total of Trump administration to-date

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.
During the week of August 12 to August 16, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 3,076 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 42,798 pages. The week’s Federal Register featured a total of 527 documents, including 405 notices, one presidential document, 52 proposed rules, and 69 final rules.
One proposed rule and two final rules were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that they may 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.
During the same week in 2018, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 2,146 pages for a year-to-date total of 42,016 pages. As of August 16, the 2019 total led the 2018 total by 782 pages.
The Trump administration has added an average of 1,297 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of August 16. Over the course of 2018, the Trump administration added an average of 1,301 pages to the Federal Register each week. During the Obama administration, the Federal Register increased by an average of 1,658 pages per week.
According to government data, the Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.
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.

Colorado recall on Tuesday rooted in commercial activity zoning conflict

In Colorado, Estes Park Mayor Pro Tem Cody Walker is facing a recall election on August 20. Prior to the recall effort beginning, the city government had approved code changes that would allow for commercial development and activity in some areas that had been zoned for residential use.
Recall supporters listed six grounds for Walker’s recall. The allegations were that he (1) changed the city’s development code for personal gain, (2) did not follow proper protocol for approving development projects, (3) proceeded with a development project that violated the zoning regulation’s intended purpose, (4) failed to recuse himself from voting on matters in which he had a conflict of interest, (5) damaged the community’s relationship with the city government, and (6) did not follow the city’s code of conduct and policies.
In response to the recall effort, Walker told the Estes Park Trail-Gazette, “I have a long history here. I raised my family here, so I’m interested in making the community better. I think all of these statements are baseless. I was elected to work on issues like parking, housing, community and the business climate. I’m going to keep doing that because [voters] asked me to.”
Initially, recall supporters also targeted Estes Park Mayor Todd Jirsa on the grounds that his supervision of the city’s planning commission was inadequate. In response, Jirsa stated, “The town board nor the mayor does not supervise planning staff. In fact, to do so would be in violation of our policy governance. It isn’t our job.” The recall effort against Jirsa ended when not enough petition signatures were found valid for the recall to move forward. Petitioners were required to submit valid signatures equal to 25 percent of votes cast in the most recent election for that office—553 signatures for Jirsa and 450 signatures for Walker. The town clerk found 391 signatures against Jirsa valid and 454 signatures against Walker valid.
In 2018, Ballotpedia covered a total of 206 recall efforts against 299 elected officials. Of the 123 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 77 were recalled for a rate of 62.6 percent. That was higher than the 56.9 percent rate and 56.3 percent rate for 2017 and 2016 recalls, respectively.

New Hampshire governor vetoes two public-sector labor bills

On July 10 and July 12, 2019, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) vetoed two public-sector labor bills, SB18 and SB148. Here’s what you need to know about them.
What would the bills do?
  • SB18 would allow public-sector employees to authorize voluntary wage deductions for insurance or employee benefits offered in conjunction with their membership in a recognized union. It would allow employees to withdraw authorization with 30 days written notice.
  • SB148 would require unions to notify new public-sector employees of their right to join or refrain from joining a union. The notification would also include the estimated annual cost of union membership. This bill would also require employers to provide unions with certain personal information about the employees it represents.
Why did Sununu veto the bills?
  • In his veto statement for SB18, Sununu said, “Continuing the payroll deduction for a month after a worker has chosen not to continue union membership falls outside the spirit of the Janus ruling and could potentially expose the state, counties, and municipalities to litigation.”
  • In his veto statement for SB148, Sununu said, “Ensuring that public employees are informed of their options related to union membership is important. However, the other provisions laid out in this bill are items that should be negotiated through the collective bargaining process rather than enacted into law through the legislative process.”
What is the political makeup of New Hampshire’s state government?
Democrats control 58 percent of all House seats and 58 percent of all Senate seats, falling short of the two-thirds majorities required in each chamber to override a veto. Sununu, a Republican, was first elected in 2016 with a margin of victory of 2.3 percent. Sununu was re-elected in 2018 with a margin of victory of 7 percent.
What comes next?
Because they do not hold veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate, Democrats cannot act unilaterally to override Sununu’s vetoes. Lawmakers will not be able to consider a veto override until they reconvene in September.

Cameron and Stumbo compete in Kentucky attorney general election, one of seven Kentucky state executive races this year

Daniel Cameron (R) and Gregory Stumbo (D) are running in the general election on November 5, 2019, for Attorney General of Kentucky. Cameron won the Republican primary election on May 21, while Stumbo ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Democrats have held Kentucky’s Attorney General office since 1952, but recent election history suggests that the race could be competitive. Pre-election incumbent Andy Beshear (D) defeated his opponent by a margin of 50.1% to 49.9% in 2015. Beshear is challenging Governor Matt Bevin (R) in Kentucky’s 2019 race for governor, leaving the attorney general election open. In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump (R) won Kentucky with 62.5 percent of the vote.
Cameron worked as a law clerk to Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, worked at a private firm in Louisville, and was legal counsel to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Stumbo’s experience includes 30 years in the Kentucky General Assembly and four years as the Attorney General of Kentucky from 2004-2008.
Heading into the election, Kentucky is one of 15 states under divided triplex control, meaning that its governor, attorney general, and secretary of state do not belong to the same political party. Either party could gain triplex control in 2019, as the attorney general election is occurring alongside Kentucky’s gubernatorial and secretary of state elections.
Three states are holding attorney general elections in 2019: Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Of those, Democrats hold two seats and Republicans hold one. Kentucky is also holding state executive elections for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, agriculture commissioner, auditor, and treasurer in 2019.

This time next year, we will be between Democratic and Republican National Conventions

In just under a year, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) will hold its presidential nominating convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from July 13-16, 2020. A little over a month later, the Republican National Committee (RNC) will meet in Charlotte, North Carolina, from August 24-27, 2020. At both conventions, delegates will select their party’s presidential nominee and vote to adopt a platform outlining the party’s priorities and values.
Between now and then, Democratic and Republican primaries and caucuses will be held across the country, with the first caucus event taking place in Iowa on February 3, 2020. New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina will also hold primaries in February.
Super Tuesday, the day when the largest number of states and territories hold a presidential primary or caucus, will be March 3, 2020. States with more than one-third of the U.S. population are expected to vote on Super Tuesday.
The last primary elections will be held at the beginning of June 2020.

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 


Primary competitiveness rises for state legislators compared to 2015 and 2017

In 2019, Ballotpedia published primary competitiveness data following each state’s major-party candidate filing deadline. Five states are holding regular statewide elections: Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi are holding elections for state executive offices, and Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia are holding elections for state legislative seats.
A contested primary is defined as one in which voters have a choice on the ballot. As of the report’s publication, 28.8% of all possible state primary races are or were contested this year. This figure is similar to the 28.9% contested primary races in 2015. Comparatively, 16.1% of primaries were contested in 2017. This year, state executive primaries are contested in 67.4% of the races, and state legislative primaries are contested in 26.8% of the races.
Approximately 31.2% of the incumbents running for re-election in 2019 face contested primaries. Sixty percent of state executive incumbents face challengers across 25 seats, and 30.1% of state legislative incumbents face challengers across 538 seats. The percentage of state executive incumbents facing opponents is lower than in both 2017 (66.7% across seven seats) and 2015 (68.8% across 25 seats). By contrast, the percentage of state legislative incumbents facing opponents is greater than in both 2017 (16.0% across 220 seats) and 2015 (26.9% across 398 seats).

Trump announces intent to nominate law professor to federal court

On August 14, 2019, President Donald Trump (R) announced his intent to nominate Richard Myers II to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Myers was nominated to succeed Judge Malcolm Howard, who assumed senior status on December 31, 2005. There is one current vacancy out of the court’s four judicial positions.
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina has three active Article III judges:
• Chief Judge Terrence Boyle – nominated by President Ronald Reagan (R)
• Louise Flanagan – nominated by President George W. Bush (R)
• James Dever – nominated by President George W. Bush (R)
The court’s two judges on senior status are:
• Malcolm Howard – nominated by President Ronald Reagan (R)
• Earl Britt – nominated by President Jimmy Carter (D)
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina is one of 94 United States district courts. When decisions of the court are appealed, they are appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals based in downtown Richmond, Virginia.

Hickenlooper becomes fourth Democrat to suspend 2020 presidential campaign

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) 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 was the fourth notable Democratic candidate to leave the presidential race, following former state Sen. Richard Ojeda, Rep. Eric Swalwell, and former Sen. Mike Gravel.
The 2020 Democratic field has outpaced the 2016 Republican field in both size and early departures. The first notable Republican to suspend his 2016 presidential campaign was former Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Sept. 11, 2015.
Hickenlooper’s departure left 25 notable elected officials and public figures in the presidential race—23 Democrats and two Republicans.

State legislative special elections in Pennsylvania and South Carolina on Tuesday

On August 20, special general elections are scheduled for District 85 of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and District 19 of the South Carolina House of Representatives.
In Pennsylvania, Jennifer Rager-Kay (D) and David Rowe (R) are facing off for the District 85 seat.
  • Both candidates were selected by their respective political parties through nominating conventions in June.
  • The seat was vacated when Fred Keller (R) resigned on May 24, 2019. He was elected to Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District on May 21. Keller had served in the state House since 2011. He last won re-election in 2018, defeating Rager-Kay in the general election with 67.7% of the vote.
  • Heading into the election, Republicans have a 109-93 majority in the Pennsylvania House with one vacancy. Pennsylvania has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.
In South Carolina, Carrie Counton (D) and Patrick Haddon (R) are running in the District 19 general election.
  • Haddon defeated a primary opponent in June. Counton ran unopposed in the primary.
  • The seat was vacated after Dwight Loftis (R) was elected to represent District 6 of the South Carolina State Senate. Loftis had served in the state House since 1996. He last won re-election in 2018, defeating Counton in the general election with 61.2% of the vote.
  • Heading into the election, Republicans have a 78-44 majority in the South Carolina House with two vacancies. South Carolina has a Republican state government trifecta.
Special primaries are also being held on Tuesday in District 42 of the Alabama House of Representatives and the Rockingham 9 District in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
As of August, 72 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 24 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.