TagAnalysis

In four states, no state or federal officials have tested positive for COVID-19

Between the start of the coronavirus pandemic and March 18, 2021, no elected or appointed state or federal officials announced positive COVID-19 test results in four states—Delaware, Maryland, Oregon, and Vermont. In the 46 other states, Ballotpedia has identified at least one COVID-19 positive state or federal official within our coverage scope. State and federal officials include members of Congress, state legislators, and state executive officeholders.

The first COVID-19 positive state officials identified by Ballotpedia were New York state Reps. Helene Weinstein (D) and Charles Barron (D), who announced positive test results on March 14, 2020. The first members of Congress to test positive were Reps. Ben McAdams (D-Utah) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fl.), who made their announcements March 18.

Since then, Ballotpedia has identified 215 candidates and officials diagnosed with COVID-19 at the state level, and 69 candidates and officials with COVID-19 at the federal level.

The state with the highest number of publicly identified COVID-19 state and federal officials is Pennsylvania, where two U.S. House members, the governor, and 17 members of the state legislature have tested positive since March 2020.

To read more about federal, state, and local officials and candidates affected by COVID-19, click the link below.



Direct Legislative Appointment method produces the lowest average partisanship confidence score for state supreme court justices according to the Ballotpedia Courts: State Partisanship study. 

Direct legislative appointment yields the lowest average partisan confidence score for state supreme court justices of any method, according to the Ballotpedia Courts: State Partisanship study. The Michigan-Ohio method produced the highest average partisan confidence score of 11 for all justices, while the direct legislative appointment method produced an average partisan confidence score of 5 for its justices.  

In addition to recording the lowest average partisan confidence score for justices, the direct legislative appointment method produced a court balance score of 3.7. The court balance score recorded for direct legislative appointment was the fifth-highest across the eight selection methods. We arrived at a court balance score by finding the average of partisan confidence scores while accounting for the differences between Democrats and Republicans, whereas the average score, also referred to as the pure partisanship score, is the average of all scores without regard to the differences between Democrats and Republicans. 

Although the direct legislative appointment method produced a low average partisanship score for its justices, this could be due to the fact that it is used in fewer states than other methods. Only South Carolina and Virginia use direct legislative appointment.

South Carolina has four justices with mild Republican affiliation and one justice with indeterminate partisan affiliation. The court balance score for South Carolina is 4.2, mildly Republican. The pure partisanship score for South Carolina’s justices is 4.6, compared to the national average of 7.

Virginia has one justice with strong Republican affiliation, three justices with mild Republican affiliation, one justice with mild Democratic affiliation, and two justices with indeterminate partisan affiliation. The court balance score for Virginia is 3.3, mildly Republican. The pure partisanship score for Virginia’s justices is 5.3, compared to the national average of 7.

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Changes to ballot access procedures in the 2021 election cycle

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the two states conducting regular state-level elections in 2021—New Jersey and Virginia—have both made temporary modifications to their candidate ballot access procedures.

Ballot access procedures dictate whether a candidate or political party will appear on an election ballot. These laws are implemented and enforced at the state level. A candidate must prepare to meet ballot access requirements well in advance of primaries, caucuses, and the general election.

New Jersey: On January 25, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy (D) issued Executive Order No. 216, which provided that filing officers “allow for any candidate, delegate, recall, initiative, referendum, or other petition required to be filed prior to an election to be submitted by hand delivery and electronically.” The order also allows for petition signatures to be collected electronically.

Virginia: In January 2021, the Virginia Department of Elections settled a lawsuit over ballot access requirements for statewide candidates in 2021. As a result of the settlement, the signature requirement for statewide petitions was reduced from 10,000 to 2,000, with at least 50 signatures from each U.S. House District (as opposed to the statutory requirement of 400 signatures per district). The settlement also provided for petition signers to submit their signatures electronically.

Ballot access changes in 2020: In 2020, at least 20 states made temporary modifications to their ballot access procedures: Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

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Eight state legislative seats switched parties in special elections last year

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

In the 59 state legislative special elections held in 2020, eight seats changed partisan control. Democrats flipped seven seats and Republicans flipped one. 

Between 2010 and 2020, an average of 71 state legislative special elections took place each year. In those 782 elections, 103 seats (13.2%) changed partisan control. Democrats flipped 56 seats, Republicans flipped 41, and independent and third-party candidates flipped six.

2017 had the highest number of flips during this time period, with Democrats flipping 14 seats and Republicans flipping three. This was also the year with the highest net change for Democrats, who gained a net of 11 seats out of 98 special elections. Republicans’ highest net gain was five seats in 2013.

Since 2010, Democrats have gained a net of 12 state legislative seats in special elections, and Republicans have lost a net of 17 seats.

No seats changed partisan control in 2010, when only 30 special elections were held.

The state with the highest number of flips since 2010 is New Hampshire, where 11 seats have changed partisan control. Massachusetts and Connecticut follow with 9 flips each. 

Twenty-five states use special elections to fill state legislative vacancies and four other states (Kansas, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Washington) use special elections in some circumstances. Twenty-seven states held state legislative special elections in 2020. 

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Average margin of victory in Pivot Counties has shifted by 25.1 percentage points from Democrats to Republicans since 2008

Ballotpedia is concluding its analysis of Pivot Counties in the 2020 presidential election with a look at the presidential margins of victory in these counties and how they have changed over time.

Pivot Counties are the 206 counties nationwide that voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016.

In 2020, we have used the following categories to describe these counties:

  • Retained Pivot Counties, which voted for Trump again this year, and 
  • Boomerang Pivot Counties, which voted for Joe Biden (D) on Nov. 3.

Following the 2020 presidential election, there were 181 Retained Pivot Counties and 25 Boomerang Pivot Counties.

In 2008, Obama had an average margin of victory of 12.3 percentage points across all 206 of these counties. In 2020, the average result across all Pivot Counties was a win for Trump by a margin of 12.8 percentage points. This represents a shift of 25.1 percentage points towards Republicans.

When looking at just the 181 Retained Pivot Counties, the margin shift from 2008 increases to 26.2 percentage points. Of those 181 counties, Trump won a larger margin of victory in 113 compared to his 2016 results. Trump’s margin decreased in 68 Retained Pivot Counties.

The average margins in the 25 Boomerang Pivot Counties Joe Biden (D) won in 2020 shifted 10.2 percentage points towards Republicans when compared to results from the same counties in 2008.

The chart below shows the overall change in average margins of victory by Pivot County category between 2008 and 2020. 

The table below shows the margins of victory from each presidential election since 2008 using the categories above. The rightmost section shows the total change since 2008 both in percentage points and percent change. In Retained Pivot Counties, the average margin of victory has shifted 217% towards Republicans. In the 25 Boomerang Pivot Counties that voted for Biden, the average margin has shifted 76% towards Republicans.

The Pivot Counties where Trump’s margin of victory increased from 2016 were located primarily in the Southeast and Upper Midwest, concentrated in states like Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Counties where Trump’s margin decreased in 2020 were located primarily in New England and the Northeast.

Woodruff County, Ark., a Retained Pivot County, had the largest margin change towards Trump in 2020 with an 18.8 percentage point shift. Ziebach County, S.D., a Boomerang Pivot County, had the largest margin change towards Biden with a 10.5 percentage point shift.

The map below does not differentiate between Retained and Boomerang Pivot Counties. Instead, it shows counties based on whether their margins of victory became either more Republican, towards Trump, or more Democratic, towards Biden, compared to 2016 results.

To learn more about 2020 presidential election margins of victory in Retained and Boomerang Pivot Counties, click here: Election results, 2020: Pivot Counties’ margins of victory analysis



Analyzing partisan splits in states holding U.S. Senate elections in 2022

Thirty-four Senate seats are up for election on November 8, 2022. Republicans currently hold 20 and Democrats hold 14. 

For seats up for election next year, we look at party differences between the current Senate incumbent and their state’s other senator, their state’s governor, and their state’s 2020 presidential winner.

Split Senate delegations

Seven states have senators from different parties in the 117th Senate: Maine, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. This is the fewest number of states with split Senate delegations in history, according to Eric Ostermeier of the University of Minnesota.

Four of the seven states with split delegations in 2021 have Senate seats up for election in 2022. Vermont has one Democratic senator and one independent senator who caucuses with Democrats, so three states with seats up for election have senators in different caucuses: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In all three, the seats up for election in 2022 are currently held by Republicans.

Senator’s vs. governor’s party

Eleven seats up for election are currently held by a senator of a different party than the state’s governor. Six seats held by Republican senators in states with Democratic governors are up. Five seats held by Democratic senators in states with Republican governors are up.

States won by presidential candidate of a different party

Democrats are not defending any Senate seats in states Donald Trump won in the 2020 presidential election. Republicans are defending two Senate seats in states Joe Biden won: Pennsylvania (held by Sen. Pat Toomey) and Wisconsin (held by Sen. Ron Johnson).

• In Pennsylvania, Biden defeated Trump (R) 50.0%-48.8%.

• In Wisconsin, Biden defeated Trump 49.5%-48.8%.

For additional information on the 2022 Senate elections, including outside race ratings and a full list of seats up for election, click below.

https://ballotpedia.org/United_States_Senate_elections,_2022

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Breaking down partisanship on the Delaware Supreme Court

Delaware is the only state in the country with a constitutional requirement mandating partisan balance on the state supreme court. In 1851, Delaware amended its constitution to include: “three of the five Justices of the Supreme Court in office at the same time, shall be of one major political party, and two of said Justices shall be of the other major political party.”

Ballotpedia’s recently published study on state supreme courts revealed that of the five justices on the Delaware Supreme Court, four justices had some level of affiliation with the Democratic party and one justice had an indeterminate partisan affiliation.

In “Ballotpedia Courts: State Partisanship”, we gathered a variety of data on 341 active state supreme court justices across the 50 states in order to understand their partisan affiliations. Based on this research, we placed each justice into one of five categories indicating our confidence in their affiliations with either the Democratic or Republican Parties. These categories are Strong Democratic, Mild Democratic, Indeterminate, Mild Republican, and Strong Republican.

Our confidence measure shows that there are two Strong Democrats on the Delaware Supreme Court (Justices James Vaughn and Collins Seitz), two Mild Democrats (Justices Gary Traynor and Tamika Montgomery-Reeves), and one Indeterminate justice (Justice Karen Valihura). 

Although Justice Traynor is a registered Republican, the Federal Election Commission records that he has donated to Democratic political campaigns and has no recorded donations to Republican campaigns. Justice Valihura is also a registered Republican in the state. Unlike Traynor, she has donated to Republican campaigns throughout her career.

As of 2020, Delaware remains the only state with such a requirement in its constitution. States like New Jersey and Massachusetts have informal but not constitutional rules which mandate balance on the state supreme court.

Justices in Delaware are selected using the assisted appointment method, where the Judicial Selection Commission forwards a list of candidates to the governor. The governor then appoints a candidate who must then be confirmed by the Delaware General Assembly. Justices serve renewable twelve-year terms.

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71 new members of Congress elected in 2020 election

Seventy-one new members were elected to the 117th U.S. Congress on Nov. 3, 2020, or in subsequent runoff elections: nine new senators and 62 new representatives. This includes Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R-La.), who died from complications related to COVID-19 on Dec. 29.

The last race was called on Feb. 8, when the New York Board of Elections voted to certify the results of New York’s 22nd Congressional District election after months of legal challenges.

Five senators — one Democrat and four Republicans — were defeated by candidates of the opposing party. Thirteen members of the U.S. House, all Democrats, were defeated by Republican challengers.

All 435 U.S. House seats and 35 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats were up for election in 2020. In 53 of the 470 seats up for election — four in the Senate and 49 in the House — a non-incumbent was guaranteed to be elected. Republicans held 38 of those seats, Democrats held 14, and a Libertarian held one.

In the Senate, the four open seats were held by three retiring Republicans and one retiring Democrat. In the House, the 49 open seats were held by 35 Republicans, 13 Democrats, and one Libertarian. Thirty-six seats were open because the incumbent did not seek re-election. This included 26 Republicans, nine Democrats, and one Libertarian. Eight seats — held by five Republicans and three Democrats — were open because the incumbent was defeated in a primary or convention. Five seats were vacant, including the one Democratic seat left open by Rep. John Lewis’ (D-Ga.) death and four Republican seats left open by resignations and appointments.

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Six national party committees raised a combined $2.65 billion in 2019 and 2020

Six committees associated with the Democratic and Republican parties raised a combined $2.65 billion in 2019 and 2020.

Democrats and Republicans each have three major national committees: an overall national party committee, one dedicated to U.S. Senate elections, and one dedicated to U.S. House elections. The six committees were each among the top 15 spenders nationally in the 2019-20 campaign cycle.

The top fundraiser among the six committees in the 2019-20 campaign cycle was the Republican National Committee (RNC), which reported raising $890 million and spending $833 million. The RNC’s $890 million in fundraising represents a 174% increase over its $325 million raised during the 2018 cycle, when it was also the top fundraiser among the six.

On the Democratic side, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) reported raising $490 million and spending $462 million, the second-highest sum of any of the six committees. The DNC’s $490 million in fundraising was a 179% increase over the committee’s $176 million in fundraising during the 2018 cycle, the largest proportional increase among the six committees.

On the Senate side, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) led in fundraising with $338 million raised and $331 million spent. The NRSC raised 123% more than its 2018 total of $152 million. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raised $304 million and spent $300 million, a 104% increase over its $149 million in fundraising in 2018.

Both parties’ House committees reported smaller increases in fundraising relative to 2018. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) raised $346 million and spent $330 million, up 17% from its $296 million in fundraising in 2018. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) raised $281 million and spent $285 million, up 37% from its $206 million in fundraising in 2018.

The three Republican committees’ overall fundraising total of $1.510 billion was 27.9% more than the Democratic committees’ overall fundraising of $1.140 billion. Across the 2019-20 campaign cycle, the RNC raised 58.0% more than the DNC and the NRSC raised 10.7% more than the DSCC. Democrats led in House fundraising, with the DCCC raising 20.7% more than the NRSC.

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An early look at the 2022 Senate elections

On November 8, 2022, 34 Senate seats will be up for election. These elections—along with any vacancies, special elections, or appointments that may occur in the meantime—will determine whether the Senate maintains a 50-50 partisan split with effective Democratic control, Democrats strengthen their majority, or Republicans take control of the chamber.

Of the 34 Senate seats up for election in 2022, Republicans currently hold 20 and Democrats hold 14. 

Democrats are not defending any Senate seats in states Donald Trump won in the 2020 presidential election. Republicans are defending two Senate seats in states Joe Biden won: Pennsylvania (held by Sen. Pat Toomey) and Wisconsin (held by Sen. Ron Johnson).

• In Pennsylvania, Biden defeated Trump (R) 50.0%-48.8%.

• In Wisconsin, Biden defeated Trump 49.5%-48.8%.

*Early race ratings*

Outlets including The Cook Political Report, Inside Elections, and Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Have released early race ratings. The outlets agreed in their ratings of 15 races as Safe/Solid Republican and 10 as Safe/Solid Democratic. The nine elections with more competitive ratings from two or more outlets are:

Toss-up or Democratic advantage

• Arizona

• Georgia

• New Hampshire

• Nevada

(Toss-up or Republican advantage)

• Florida

• North Carolina

• Ohio

• Pennsylvania

• Wisconsin

Four of the seats up for election in 2022 changed party hands the last time they were up for election. In 2020-2021, Democrats picked up Senate seats in special elections in Georgia and Arizona. In 2016, Democrats picked up Senate seats in Illinois and New Hampshire.

The last time these Senate seats were up for election, seven were won by a margin of fewer than 5 percentage points.

• In Wisconsin, Ron Johnson (R) won by 3.4 percentage points in 2016.

• In Missouri, Roy Blunt (R) won by 2.8 percentage points in 2016.

• In Arizona, Mark Kelly (D) defeated incumbent Martha McSally (R) by 2.4 percentage points in the 2020 special election.

• In Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto (D) won by 2.4 percentage points in 2016.

• In Georgia, Raphael Warnock (D) defeated incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R) by 2.1 percentage points in the special runoff election last month.

• In Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey (R) won by 1.5 percentage points in 2016.

• In New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan (D) defeated incumbent Kelly Ayotte (R) by 0.1 percentage point in 2016.

Three incumbents have announced they are not seeking re-election: North Carolina’s Richard Burr (R), Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey (R), and Ohio’s Rob Portman (R). 

Click below to follow along with the latest on 2022’s Senate elections.

https://ballotpedia.org/United_States_Senate_elections,_2022

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