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Obama-Obama-Trump pivot counties in 2018 state legislative elections

There are 206 pivot counties in the country-those that voted for Barack Obama (D) in both 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016. On November 6, 2018, 87 of the nation’s 99 state legislative chambers held regularly-scheduled elections for 6,073 seats. Of those, 453 state house districts and 138 state senate districts intersected with pivot counties. These 591 state legislative districts accounted for approximately 10 percent of all state legislative districts up for election in 2018.
Sixty-one districts switched partisan control in the 2018 elections. The elections resulted in a net change of 19 seats in favor of Democrats. The most common changes were:
  • Republican to Democrat: 31 districts
  • Democrat to Republican: 20 districts
  • Split districts to all-Democrats: 10 districts
Democratic candidates for state legislatures in districts that intersected with a pivot county won a net total of 19 seats (3.2 percent of the total they controlled going into the election). Nationally, the party gained 308 seats (9.7 percent of the total they controlled going into the election).
Republicans lost a lower percentage of these seats than they did nationally, 3.3 percent to 7.2 percent.
Across the country, Democrats gained control of six state legislative chambers from Republicans, while losing one chamber (Alaska House) to a power-sharing agreement.

Special elections to the 116th Congress: What’s coming up

As of February 20, 2019, two special elections have been scheduled for the 116th Congress: one for Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District and another for one of Arizona’s U.S. Senate seats. Another will be scheduled for North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District.
Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District: A special election to fill the vacant U.S. House seat will be held on May 21, 2019. The vacancy occurred following the resignation of former Rep. Tom Marino (R) on January 23. Marino won the November 6, 2018, election with 66 percent support.
Rather than hold a primary, party committees are nominating their candidates for the race. On February 12, the Democratic Party nominated Marc Friedenberg as its candidate. Republican Party delegates are scheduled to choose their nominee on March 2.
U.S. Senate seat from Arizona: On November 3, 2020, there will be a special election to fill the rest of the 2017-2022 term that John McCain (R) was elected to in 2016. McCain died on August 25, 2018.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) first appointed Jon Kyl (R) to fill the seat until the special election winner takes office, and Kyl resigned on December 18, 2018. Ducey then appointed Martha McSally (R). The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of McCain’s term, ending in January 2023.
North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District: North Carolina’s 3rd District Rep. Walter Jones (R) died on February 10. Walter was unopposed in the 2018 election. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) must schedule a special election for the seat. Dates have not yet been set.
Ahead of these special elections, Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the U.S. Senate, and Democrats hold a 235-197 majority in the U.S. House (with two vacancies and one 2018 election, in North Carolina’s 9th district, still to be decided).
There were 17 special elections called to fill vacancies in the 115th Congress in 2017 and 2018. Nine Republicans and eight Democrats won those elections. Four races resulted in a partisan flip from a Republican to Democratic officeholder.

Reverse pivot counties in 2018 U.S. House elections

Democratic candidates for the U.S. House carried all six reverse pivot counties in 2018. Reverse pivot counties are counties that voted for John McCain (R) in 2008, Mitt Romney (R) in 2012, and Hillary Clinton (R) in 2016.
The average margin of victory for 2018 U.S. House candidates in these counties was 11.05 percent. Cobb County, Georgia, had the lowest margin of victory with 7.18 percent and Henry County, Georgia, had the highest with 14.59 percent.
In five of the six counties, the Democratic U.S. House candidate had a larger margin of victory than Clinton did in 2016. Her average margin of victory in 2016 in these counties was 4.96 percent.
There are six reverse pivot counties in the country from four states: Orange County, California; Cobb County, Georgia; Gwinnett County, Georgia; Henry County, Georgia; Anne Arundel County, Maryland; and Fort Bend County, Texas. Their opposite, pivot counties, voted for Barack Obama twice and Donald Trump in 2016.

SCOTUS agrees to hear challenge to addition of citizenship question on 2020 census

The United States Supreme Court agreed on February 15, 2019, to hear a case challenging the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 census. Oral argument is scheduled for late April 2019.
Judge Jesse Furman of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a ruling in the consolidated case on January 15, 2019, holding that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by including a question regarding citizenship status in the 2020 census. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) appealed Furman’s decision to the United States Supreme Court. DOJ requested that the court bypass an appellate court decision in order to issue a ruling in time for the 2020 census.
Judge Furman stated in his decision that Ross had “failed to consider several important aspects of the problem; alternately ignored, cherry-picked, or badly misconstrued the evidence in the record before him; acted irrationally both in light of that evidence and his own stated decisional criteria; and failed to justify significant departures from past policies and practices.”
In addition to concerns about administrative procedure, the plaintiffs had also argued that Ross violated the equal protection component of the U.S. Constitution’s Due Process Clause because his actions were “motivated by invidious discrimination,” according to the ruling. Furman, however, held that the due process claims fell short because the administrative record in the case did not demonstrate discrimination as a motivating factor for Ross’ decision.
The case consolidated two legal challenges before the Southern District of New York: State of New York, et al. v. United States Department of Commerce, et al. and New York Immigration Coalition, et al. v. United States Department of Commerce, et al. The plaintiffs in the cases included a coalition of 18 states and the District of Columbia, fifteen cities and counties, the United States Conference of Mayors, and a group of advocacy organizations.

New EPA rule would clarify federal jurisdiction over waters of the United States

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers issued a proposed rule under the Clean Water Act (CWA) that would distinguish water subject to federal regulation from water subject to state and tribal jurisdiction. The rule, published on February 14, 2019, revises definitions of “waters of the United States” established in 1986 and 2015 that have been subject to years of court battles.
According to the EPA’s notice of proposed rulemaking, the new rule will change the definition of the waters of the United States in order to comply with the text of the CWA and Supreme Court precedent better than the 2015 definition. In addition, the agency claims that the new rule would be easier to implement than the 2015 definition because it uses a more straightforward definition of waters, such as oceans, rivers, and lakes, as opposed to “ephemeral geographic features that are dry almost all of the year.”
The rule follows President Trump’s Executive Order 13778, which directed agencies to review the 2015 definition to see if it was consistent with keeping navigable waters free from pollution while promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and respecting the roles of Congress and the states under the U.S. Constitution.
Proposed rules are preliminary versions of a prospective federal agency regulation. If an agency determines that a new regulation is necessary, the agency develops a proposed rule for publication in the Federal Register. After a period of public comment, the agency may determine to revise the proposed rule, abandon the proposal, or move forward to the final rule stage of the rulemaking process.

CRA resolution would undo rule that expanded short-term health insurance plans

On February 6, 2019, a resolution was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to restrict the market for short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans. Under a rule, effective October 2, 2018, insurers were allowed to sell short-term, limited-duration plans with a maximum coverage period of fewer than 12 months. Before the new rule, those plans could only provide coverage that lasted less than three months.
According to the supplementary information published with the rule, short-term, limited-duration insurance is generally exempt from federal requirements because it is not considered to be individual health insurance coverage. The plans do not have to provide the essential health benefits specified by the Affordable Care Act and can refuse to cover preexisting conditions.
Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) introduced a resolution under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) that would undo the October 2018 rule. Her resolution would restore the under-three-month limit on those kinds of insurance plans.
Under the Congressional Review Act, the resolution would need to pass both houses of Congress and receive President Trump’s signature to repeal the rule.
The CRA is a federal law passed in 1996 creating a review period during which Congress, by passing a joint resolution of disapproval that is then signed by the president, can overturn a new federal agency rule.
Prior to 2017, the law was successfully used only once, to overturn a rule on ergonomics in the workplace in 2001. In the first four months of his administration, President Donald Trump (R) signed 14 CRA resolutions from Congress undoing a variety of rules issued near the end of Barack Obama’s (D) presidency. As of May 2018, the last time the CRA was successfully used, 16 rules have been repealed under President Trump.

Two weeks to Tampa mayoral race

Seven candidates are running in the March 5 election for Tampa’s open mayoral seat. Mayor Bob Buckhorn (D) is term-limited and unable to run for re-election. Transportation and congestion relief are the major issues in this race.

Mayoral elections in Tampa are officially nonpartisan, though candidates are typically members of a political party. Tampa’s mayor is one of 18 Democratic mayorships up for election in 2019, with Republicans and independents each holding another four. No matter who wins the Tampa race, control of the city will not change partisan hands—FOX 13 says that all candidates identify as members of the Democratic Party.

The most recent polling by St. Pete Polls showed former police chief Jane Castor leading philanthropist David Straz 45-13. Four other candidates in the race polled between 6 percent and 9 percent. As of Jan. 22, Straz has raised $1.6 million while Castor has raised $222,000. Ed Turanchik has raised $215,000.

If no candidate receives a majority in the election, a runoff between the top two vote-getters will take place April 23. The last time the city had an open seat mayor’s race was 2011. Five candidates ran and a runoff was required.

Obama-Obama-Trump pivot counties in 2018 U.S. House elections

There are 206 pivot counties in the country: those that voted for Barack Obama (D) in both 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016.
What happened in those counties in the 2018 elections for the U.S. House?
Democratic U.S. House candidates won 113 (55 percent) pivot counties and Republican candidates won 93.
Overall, Democratic candidates won by an average 12.3 percent margin while Republican candidates won their counties by an average 10.1 percent margin.
In counties won by a Democrat, the Republican candidate’s share of the vote was an average 21 percentage points lower than Trump’s in 2016. In counties where a Republican candidate won, their share of the vote was an average 6.9 percentage points lower than Trump’s in 2016.
Twelve congressional districts that intersect with a pivot county changed party control in 2018: 10 from Republican to Democratic, and two from Democratic to Republican.
Those districts were…
  • Republican to Democrat: FL-26, IA-1, IA-3, ME-2, MN-2, NJ-2, NM-2, NY-19, NY-22, SC-1.
  • Democrat to Republican: MN-1, MN-8.
 Across all 435 districts, Republicans lost a net of 40 of their 235 seats (17 percent). In the 203 districts that contain pivot counties, Republicans lost a net of eight of their 66 seats (12 percent).

Virginia General Assembly selects next supreme court justice

On February 14, the Virginia General Assembly appointed Virginia Court of Appeals Judge Teresa M. Chafin to succeed Elizabeth McClanahan on the Virginia Supreme Court. The Senate voted 36-0 and the House voted 97-0. Chafin will join the state supreme court on September 1, 2019. Both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly have Republican majorities.

Selection of state supreme court justices in Virginia occurs through legislative selection. Judges are selected by a majority vote of the Virginia General Assembly (the combined House of Delegates and Senate). Supreme court justices serve for 12 years and are subject to reappointment to additional terms by the legislature. Virginia is one of only two states in the country, the other being South Carolina, where judges are selected this way.

Chafin began serving on the Virginia Court of Appeals in May 2012. She was a judge on the 29th Judicial Circuit from 2005 to 2012. She was also a judge on the Tazewell County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court from 2002 to 2005. Chafin received her J.D. from the University of Richmond School of Law in 1987.

She is the sister of state Sen. Ben Chafin (R-District 38). Chafin, a member of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, abstained from voting.

Gwyneth Paltrow, school boards, and Los Angeles elections – what they all have common this Tuesday

The deadline to register to vote for elections on March 5, 2019, in California is Tuesday, February 19. In California, residents must register to vote 15 days prior to an election. On March 5, 2019, voters will decide the following races:
– The District 5 seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education – This is a special election to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Ref Rodriguez. The term filled by this election expires in December 2020.
– Seven local measures in five cities within Los Angeles County.
— Measure A will determine whether or not a development project by the Arts Club of London on 8920 Sunset Boulevard, which is owned by Gwyneth Paltrow and Arts Club chairman Gary Landesberg, moves forward. It was put on the ballot by through a veto referendum petition backed by Unite Here Local 11, a hospitality industry union.
— The other measures concerning hotel taxes in Manhattan Beach, sales taxes in Glendora, election consolidation in Signal Hill, marijuana taxes in West Hollywood.
– The District 2 seat of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors – Heading into this special election, the board is split 3-3 between members supported by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and those supported by the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA).
– Local measures concerning the lease of hospital facilities in Palm Drive (Sonoma County) and Coalinga (Fresno County)
Voter registration information is available here. If you miss the voter registration deadline on February 19, you can still register and vote conditionally. More information is available here.