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South Dakota House impeaches state attorney general for actions related to 2020 fatal crash

The South Dakota House of Representatives impeached Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg (R) on April 12 for his actions related to a car accident that killed a pedestrian in September 2020. The state House voted 36-31 to approve House Resolution 7002 (HR 7002) which states, “A RESOLUTION, Providing for the impeachment of Jason Ravnsborg, Attorney General of the State of South Dakota, for certain crimes and for malfeasance in office.”

Twenty-eight Republicans and eight Democrats voted in favor of the resolution and 31 Republicans voted against it.

Ravnsborg fatally struck a pedestrian while driving on Sept. 12, 2020. An investigation led by the South Dakota Highway Patrol found that Ravnsborg was distracted at the time of the crash, and that his car left the road before it struck the victim. Toxicology reports showed that he was not under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of the incident.

Ravnsborg was charged with three misdemeanors, including careless driving, operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile electronic device, and driving out of a lane in Feb. 2021. He pleaded no contest to two of the charges while the third charge—careless driving—was dropped on Aug. 26, 2021.

The South Dakota House Committee on Impeachment voted 6-2 against impeaching Ravnsborg on March 28.

Ravnsborg was elected attorney general after defeating Randy Seiler (D), 55% to 45%, in the general election in 2018. Ravnsborg was unopposed in the Republican primary that year. Ravnsborg finished fifth in the GOP primary for one of South Dakota’s U.S. Senate seats in 2014.

According to Joe Sneve of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Ravnsborg is the first official ever impeached in South Dakota and was required to take a leave of absence as attorney general until his trial in the Senate. The Argus Leader also reported that a chief of staff in the attorney general’s office said that Chief Deputy Attorney General Charlie McGuigan would lead the office during Ravnsborg’s absence.

Sneve wrote that the Senate trial can begin no earlier than May 2 and that Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck “has indicated a trial might not commence until early June.”

Democrats defending seven vulnerable trifectas this year, Republicans defending six

Thirteen state government trifectas are vulnerable in 2022, according to Ballotpedia’s annual trifecta vulnerability ratings. Democrats are defending seven vulnerable trifectas and Republicans are defending six.

The Democratic trifectas in Delaware and Washington are highly vulnerable. Neither of those two states are holding gubernatorial elections in 2022 but in both states, Democrats have a five-seat or less advantage in the state Senate. Democratic trifectas in Colorado, Maine, and Nevada are moderately vulnerable. Two Democratic trifectas—Illinois and Oregon—are considered somewhat vulnerable.

Arizona is the only highly vulnerable Republican trifecta this year. The governor’s race is currently rated as a Toss-up, and Republicans have a one seat majority in both the state House and Senate. Three Republican trifectas in Georgia, New Hampshire, and Texas are classified as moderately vulnerable. The Republican trifectas in Florida and Iowa are somewhat vulnerable.

Ballotpedia also assessed the chances of new trifectas forming in states that are currently under divided government. According to our methodology, states that qualified as a possible Democratic trifecta pickup are Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and North Carolina, while Republicans have pickup chances in Alaska and Kansas. In Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, both parties have the opportunity to establish a state government trifecta.

A state government trifecta occurs when one party holds the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. There are currently 23 Republican trifectas and 14 Democratic trifectas. The remaining 13 states have divided governments.

Thirty-six states are holding gubernatorial elections this year and 88 of the country’s 99 state legislative chambers will hold regularly-scheduled elections.

Ballotpedia calculates the chances of trifectas breaking and forming by evaluating each trifecta component individually and assessing the chances of them changing control. We base our evaluations of gubernatorial races on ratings from The Cook Political ReportInside Elections, and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball. We assess state legislative chambers according to the absolute number of seats up for election and the proportion of seats that would need to flip for partisan control to change, evaluating both chambers in a state’s legislature individually.

The 2020 elections resulted in Republicans gaining two trifectas—in Montana and New Hampshire—both of which had divided government at the time of the election. In 2021, Republicans in Virginia broke what had been a Democratic trifecta by winning the governorship and control of the House of Delegates. Between 2010 and 2021, 73 state government trifectas were broken or gained.

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Thirteen gubernatorial battleground elections to take place in 2022

Thirty-six states will hold elections for governor in 2022. Of those, Ballotpedia has identified 13 as general election battlegrounds: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.

These battleground races were selected using the following criteria:

  • the results of the 2020 presidential election in each state,
  • whether the incumbent is seeking re-election,
  • whether the governor’s office changed partisan control the last time it was up for election, and
  • how the Cook Political ReportSabato’s Crystal Ball, and Inside Elections with Nathan Gonzales rated the race.

Of the 13, seven are in states with Republican incumbents and six are in states with Democratic incumbents. Six states had a governor of a party different from the candidate who won the state in the 2020 presidential election. The list of battlegrounds may change over the course of 2022.

The following map displays all states holding gubernatorial elections in 2022 shaded by the incumbent’s or most recent incumbent’s political affiliation. Battleground races are highlighted in brighter colors.

Thirty-nine state legislative special elections scheduled for 2022

Thirty-nine state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 19 states in 2022. Fourteen special elections have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had controlled 11 of the seats, and Republicans controlled three. No seats have changed party control as a result of special elections this year.

Upcoming special elections include:

Mar. 1

  • Connecticut House of Representatives District 5
  • Michigan House of Representatives District 15 (primary)
  • Michigan House of Representatives District 36 (primary)
  • Michigan House of Representatives District 43 (primary)
  • Michigan House of Representatives District 74 (primary)

Mar. 5

  • Delaware House of Representatives District 4

Mar. 8

  • Florida State Senate District 33
  • Florida House of Representatives District 88
  • South Carolina House of Representatives District 97 (primary)

By this time in 2021, 27 special elections had been called in 16 states. There were 33 special elections called in 15 states by this time in 2020. No seats flipped in the 14 special elections that had taken place between the two years; six in 2021 and eight in 2020.

An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even-numbered years. An average of 85 special elections took place in the past six odd-numbered years. Between 2011 and 2021, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.

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Confirmation votes for SCOTUS justices appointed since 1967

President Joe Biden (D) said that he will name his nominee to replace Justice Stephen Breyer on the United States Supreme Court by the end of February. Whoever the nominee is, they are set to be the first to require confirmation from a United States Senate divided 50-50.

Since 1967, when the U.S. Senate held its first roll call confirmation after Hawaii became the 50th state, the Senate has confirmed 20 individuals to the Supreme Court. Of those, Sandra Day O’Connor received the most yes votes (99), and Brett Kavanaugh received the fewest (50). Amy Coney Barrett is the only justice in that time that was confirmed with yes votes from senators belonging to a single party.

The chart below shows the total number of yes votes each Supreme Court justice received in the U.S. Senate since 1967, divided by senators’ party. Blue represents Democratic votes, red represents Republican votes, and grey represents independent or third party votes.


  1. Sandra Day O’Connor (nom. Ronald Reagan (R), 1981) received the most votes (99).
  2. Brett Kavanaugh (nom. Donald Trump (R), 2018) received the fewest votes (50).
  3. John Paul Stevens (nom. Gerald Ford (R), 1975) received the most votes Democratic votes (59).
  4. Amy Coney Barrett (nom. Donald Trump (R), 2020) received the fewest Democratic votes (0).
  5. John Roberts (nom. George W. Bush (R), 2005) received the most Republican votes (55).
  6. Elena Kagan (nom. Barack Obama (D), 2010) received the fewest Republican votes (5).

Among those nominated by Democratic presidents…

  1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg (nom. Bill Clinton, 1993) received the most yes votes (96).
  2. Kagan received the fewest yes votes (63).
  3. Ginsburg received the most Republican votes (41).
  4. Kagan (nom. Obama, 2010) received the fewest Republican votes (5).
  5. Sonia Sotomayor (nom. Obama, 2009) received the most Democratic votes (57).
  6. Thurgood Marshall (nom. Johnson, 1967) received the fewest Democratic votes (37).

Among those nominated by Republican presidents…

  1. O’Connor received the most yes votes (99).
  2. Kavanaugh received the fewest yes votes (50).
  3. Stevens received the most number of Democratic votes (59).
  4. Barrett received the fewest number ofDemocratic votes(0).
  5. Roberts received the most number of Republican votes (55).
  6. Warren Burger (nom. Richard Nixon, 1969) received the fewest Republican votes (36).

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2021 Candidate Connections report

A total of 694 candidates completed the Ballotpedia Candidate Connection survey in 2021. The largest number of responses came from Colorado, Texas, and New York with 62, 61, and 60 candidates responding to the survey respectively.

City candidates made up the largest portion of respondents at 43%. School board candidates accounted for 21% of survey responses. 

Of the 694 candidates who completed our survey, 21% went on to win their respective races. Some of those winners include Glenn Youngkin (R), who completed the survey before winning the Virginia governorship, and Michelle Wu (D), who completed the survey before winning the Boston mayoral election. 

You can read more about notable respondents and find additional statistics in the full 2021 report

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announces retirement

Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Justice Stephen Breyer announced Wednesday he will retire at the end of the 2022 term this October.

Breyer, a Bill Clinton (D) appointee, has served on the court since 1994. He is one of three justices on the nine-member court to be appointed by a Democratic president.

Breyer’s retirement will be President Joe Biden’s (D) first opportunity to nominate a member to the court; both Donald Trump (R) and Barack Obama (D) nominated three SCOTUS justices while in office. Biden’s nominee will need to win the approval of both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full U.S. Senate before taking office.

Democrats currently hold a 50-50 majority in the full Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris (D) able to cast a tie-breaking vote. Control of the committee is split 11-11. Under the organizing resolution the U.S. Senate adopted at the beginning of the current Congress, a tied vote in committee will not prevent a nomination from advancing to the full Senate.

President Biden will not need to wait for Justice Breyer’s retirement to take effect before selecting a nominee, giving Democrats time to confirm a successor ahead of the November elections. In the 15 Supreme Court vacancies that have opened since 1975, an average of 76 days elapsed between the outgoing justice leaving office and a successor taking their place.

Three of these vacancies lasted for only a few hours each; the successor was sworn in the same day the retiring Justice officially left office. The longest vacancy under this definition was 422 days, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

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SCOTUS accepts cases for 2021-2022 term

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on Jan. 14 accepted five cases for argument during the 2021-2022 term:

As of this writing, the court has agreed to hear 64 cases during the term. Four cases were dismissed, and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Sixteen cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.

To date, the court has issued decisions in six cases. Two cases were decided without argument. Between 2007 and 2020, SCOTUS released opinions in 1,062 cases, averaging between 70 and 90 cases per year.

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86% of incumbents were successful in their Nov. bid for re-election

In the 2021 general election, an average of 85.54% of incumbents nationwide won their re-election bids. The number drops to 82.35% when including incumbents that withdrew or were disqualified.

In 2020, 93% of incumbents won their elections. In 2019, that number was 90%, and it was 92% in 2018. 

Minnesota incumbents were the least successful in 2021 with a win rate of 55%, followed by Kansas (59%) and Colorado (67%).

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