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ICYMI: Top stories of the week

Each week, we bring you a collection of the most viewed stories from The Daily Brew, condensed. Here are the top stories from the week of March 6-March 10.

Ballotpedia is covering more than 8,700 school board seats up for election across 28 states

This might be an off-cycle election year for Congress and most state legislatures, but school board elections don’t stop. With about 83,000 board members in over 13,000 districts, school boards are some of the most influential elected bodies in the country—but also some of the most overlooked. 

In 2023, Ballotpedia is covering elections for approximately 8,750 school board seats in 3,211 school districts across 28 states. Traditionally, we’ve covered all school districts in the 100 largest cities by population and the 200 largest school districts by student enrollment.

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Control of Wisconsin Supreme Court at stake in most expensive judicial election in U.S. history

On April 4, Wisconsin voters will decide the ideological balance of their state supreme court, choosing between Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz and former Justice Daniel Kelly. 

While Wisconsin’s supreme court elections are officially nonpartisan, PBS Wisconsin’s Zac Schultz wrote, “Protasiewicz and Kelly are heavily aligned with the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively.”

The winner will succeed retiring Justice Patience Roggensack, a member of the court’s current 4-3 conservative majority. If Protasiewicz wins, the court will switch to a 4-3 liberal majority. If Kelly wins, the conservative majority will remain.

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Virginia General Assembly elections will determine state’s trifecta status

Virginia is one of four states—along with Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Jersey—holding legislative elections this year.

For the first time since 2019, all 140 legislative districts are holding elections: 40 in the Senate and 100 in the House. 

Virginia is one of two states where both major parties control one chamber. Democrats have controlled the Senate since 2019 and enter the election with a 22-18 majority. Republicans have held a 52-48 majority in the House since 2021. This—plus the state’s Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, whose term ends in 2025—gives the state a divided government.

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ICYMI: Top stories February 27-March 3

Each week, we bring you a collection of the most viewed stories from The Daily Brew, condensed. Here are the top stories from the week of February 27-March 3.

California ends COVID-19 emergency, leaving five states with active orders

On Feb. 28, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) ended the statewide COVID-19 emergency order—1,091 days after issuing it on March 4, 2020. At the beginning of the pandemic, all 50 governors declared emergencies.

Throughout 2021 and 2022, most states ended their COVID-19 emergencies. As of this writing, five states have active emergencies:

  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • New Mexico
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas

New Mexico’s emergency was scheduled to end March 3. As of this writing on March 3, we have not seen that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) has renewed the order. 

With the exception of Texas, the remaining states with emergencies related to the COVID-19 pandemic are Democratic trifectas, meaning Democrats control the governor’s office and both chambers of the legislature. New Mexico’s emergency will end on March 3, while Rhode Island’s is scheduled to end March 11. 

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What’s next in the Chicago mayoral election 

Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas advanced from Tuesday’s election and will face each other in a runoff on April 4. With 99% of the votes in, Vallas and Johnson received 33.8% and 20.3% of the votes, respectively.

Incumbent Lori Lightfoot finished in third place and did not advance to the runoff. She is the first Chicago mayor in 34 years not to win re-election. 

Nine candidates ran in the general election. 

Lightfoot received 17.1% of the vote, and U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D) received 13.7%. No other candidate received more than 10% of the vote. 

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Five noteworthy presidential candidates have declared for 2024, nine fewer than this point in the 2020 cycle

Last week, we added two noteworthy 2024 presidential candidates to our list: entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy (R), and author and 2020 presidential candidate Marianne Williamson (D). Our total tally currently stands at five noteworthy 2024 presidential candidates.

Ramaswamy joins former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley (R), former President Donald Trump (R), and former Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton (R) in the Republican primary. 

Williamson is the first Democratic candidate to have declared a campaign for the nomination. President Joe Biden (D) has yet to officially announce whether he intends to run for a second term.

At this point in the 2020 cycle, 14 noteworthy candidates had announced their campaigns.

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A look at this year’s voter registration deadlines

Every state except North Dakota requires residents to register with election officials before voting.

This year, eight states are holding statewide elections for state executive, legislative, or judicial offices: Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

This year’s earliest registration deadline has already passed. Wisconsin residents had until Feb. 17 to register to vote in the statewide primary on Feb. 21.

Wisconsin also has the next upcoming deadline: residents can register by mail or online until March 15 or in person until March 31 to participate in the April 4 general election.

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Weekly Brew: February 17, 2023

Each week, we bring you a collection of the most viewed stories from The Daily Brew, condensed. Here are the top stories from the week of February 13-February 17.

Third-party and independent candidates received the lowest share of the national U.S. House vote in two decades

Independent and third-party candidates received 2% of the national vote share in U.S. House elections last year, down from 2.5% in 2020, and their lowest share of the U.S. House vote since 2000.

After declining to 4.2% in 2004, independent and third-party candidates’ share of all votes for U.S. House remained relatively stable for the next 12 years, ranging from 3.8% to 4.7%. After this period of relative stability, the independent and third-party vote share declined in 2018, falling to 2.8% from 4.4.% in 2016. It declined further to 2.5% in 2020, and to 2% in 2022.

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Fifty-six minor party candidates received more votes than the margins of victory between the winning candidates last year

In the more than 40,000 elections we covered last year, at least 56 minor party or independent candidates received more votes than the margins of victory between the winning candidates in their elections, potentially altering the outcome.

Those 56 candidates include:

  • Five in congressional elections;
  • 18 in statewide elections;
  • 26 in state legislative elections; and,
  • Seven in municipal elections

There were 77 such candidates in 2020.

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State government trifectas at the Super Bowl

Super Bowl LVII offered us a rare matchup between a team in a state with a Republican trifecta—the Kansas City Chiefs from Missouri—against a team from a state with a divided government—the Philadelphia Eagles in Pennsylvania.

Such a matchup had only happened four times since the first Super Bowl in 1967. Teams from states with divided governments won three of those contests, while Republican trifecta teams had only won one: Super Bowl II in 1968.

There are currently 14 teams in states with Democratic trifectas, 11 in states with Republican trifectas, and seven in states with divided governments.

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Weekly Brew: February 10, 2023

Each week, we bring you a collection of the most viewed stories from The Daily Brew, condensed. Here are the top stories from the week of February 6-February 10.

103 state legislative elections decided by 100 votes or fewer in 2022

One hundred and three state legislative elections were decided by 100 votes or fewer in 2022, three times more than in 2020.

These 103 elections represented 1.6% of the 6,278 seats up for election in 2022. In 2020, 30 of the 5,875 seats up for election (0.5%) were decided within this margin.

Democrats won 49 of those 103 races (48%), Republicans won 52 (50%), and an independent won one (1%). An additional race in New Hampshire ended in a tie with a redo election scheduled for Feb. 21.

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Average margin of victory in state legislative races continued upward trend in 2022

The average margin of victory in last year’s state legislative elections was 27.7 percentage points. This is the highest even-year average of the last three election cycles, up from 27.0 percentage points in 2020 and 25.8 in 2018. 

The margin of victory is the difference between a winning candidate’s vote share and that of the runner-up. For example, if Candidate A wins with 55% of the vote and Candidate B finishes with 45%, the margin of victory is 10 percentage points.

Legislators in Alabama won by an average margin of 56.4 percentage points, the most in the country. Tennessee and Arkansas followed, with average margins of 42.8 and 39.9 percentage points, respectively.

New Hampshire had the closest races, with legislators winning by an average margin of 11.1 percentage points, followed by South Dakota and Nebraska with average margins of 17.1 and 17.7 percentage points, respectively.

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Democrats regain majority in the Pennsylvania House

Pennsylvania held special elections to fill three vacancies in the state House of Representatives on Feb. 7. Let’s look at the results of those House elections and what they mean for the chamber’s partisan balance. 

The special elections took place in three Pittsburgh-area districts—32, 34, and 35. Last November, Democrats won a 102 to 101 majority in the chamber, switching majority control for the first time since 2010. However, the Democratic-held districts became vacant after the election, giving Republicans a functional 101-99 majority when the legislative session began in early January.

When the winning candidates are sworn in, Democrats will have a 102-100 majority in the chamber (with one vacancy). The candidates are expected to be sworn into office before the end of the month. 

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Weekly Brew: February 3, 2023

Each week, we bring you a collection of the most viewed stories from The Daily Brew, condensed. Here are the top stories from the week of January 30- February 3.

How 2024’s presidential election timeline compares to 2020 and 2016

If history is any indication, the bulk of 2024 presidential candidate announcements will likely occur in the next few months. In the 2020 cycle, 87% (27) of the noteworthy candidates announced their campaigns by June 2019. And in the 2016 cycle, 77% (17) had by that time in 2015.

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An update on the partisan composition of state legislatures

At the end of January 2023, 54.85% of all state legislature seats in the United States are Republican while 44.45% of seats are Democratic. There are 7,386 state legislative seats in the country.

Democrats hold 854 state Senate seats, gaining six Senate seats since last month, while Republicans hold 1,108 state Senate seats, gaining three seats since last month. Independent or third-party legislators hold three state Senate seats. Eight state Senate seats are vacant. 

When it comes to state House seats, Democrats hold 2,429, a gain of 31 seats since last month, while Republicans hold 2,943 seats, a gain of 25 seats since last month. Independent or third-party legislators hold 20 state House seats. Twenty-one state House seats are vacant. 

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Three Pennsylvania House special elections on Feb. 7

Voters in three Pittsburgh-area districts will head to the polls on Feb. 7 to fill three vacancies in the narrowly-divided Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Last November, Democrats won a 102 to 101 majority in the chamber, switching majority control for the first time since 2010.

But three Democratic districts became vacant after the election, giving Republicans a functional 101-99 majority when the legislative session began in early January.

Those three vacant districts are:

  • District 32: Former Allegheny Democratic Committee Director Joe McAndrew (D) and pastor and Army veteran Clay Walker (R) are running. Incumbent Anthony DeLuca (D) died on Oct. 9, 2022. DeLuca’s name remained on the ballot, and he was re-elected, creating a vacancy.
  • District 34: Attorney Abigail Salisbury (D) and former law enforcement officer Robert Pagane (R) are running. Incumbent Summer Lee (D) was re-elected but was also elected to the U.S. House. Lee resigned on Dec. 7, 2022.
  • District 35: McKeesport chief finance officer Matthew Gergely (D) and former school board member Don Nevills (R) are running. Incumbent Austin Davis (D) was re-elected but was also elected lieutenant governor. Davis resigned on Dec. 7, 2022.

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Weekly Brew: January 27, 2023

Each week, we bring you a collection of the most viewed stories from The Daily Brew, condensed. Here are the top stories from the week of January 23 – January 27.

At least 121 new state legislative leaders elected so far

So far in this year’s state legislative sessions, legislators have re-elected 57% of leaders (162) to their previous posts. In another 38% (108), they elected a different leader from the same party as the previous leader. The remaining 5% of posts (13) changed party control completely due to changes in chamber control.

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Mississippi’s statewide filing deadline is Feb. 1

In Mississippi, the filing deadline to appear on the ballot in the Aug. 8 statewide primaries is February 1.

The Magnolia State is one of four states—along with Louisiana, New Jersey, and Virginia—holding regularly-scheduled state legislative elections this year. It is also one of three states—along with Kentucky and Louisiana—holding statewide elections for executive positions this year

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Five measures certified in three states for the 2023 ballot  

As of Jan. 25, five statewide measures have been certified for the ballot in three states. That’s one more than the average number certified at this point in odd-numbered years from 2011 to 2021. 

Three new measures were certified last week:

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Republican U.S. House candidates outperformed 2020’s presidential results in 327 districts last year

Republicans in 327 congressional districts last year outperformed Donald Trump’s (R) 2020 vote totals in those same district boundaries.Democratic House candidates, meanwhile, outperformed Joe Biden in 68 districts (16%).

Florida’s 26th Congressional District saw the largest swing towards the same party. Incumbent Mario Diaz-Balart (R) improved on Trump’s margin of victory in the district by 23.5 percentage points.

Alaska’s at-large congressional district saw the largest swing in a district that changed party control. Incumbent Mary Peltola (D) won the state by 10 percentage points in 2022 after Trump won the state by 10.1 percentage points in 2020, resulting in a 20.1 percentage point swing towards Democrats.

In two districts, the margins of victory in the 2020 presidential election and 2022 midterms matched: Texas’ 9th and Texas’ 35th.

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Weekly Brew: January 20, 2022

Updates regarding redistricting litigation in five states

In the aftermath of the 2022 redistricting cycle, at least 82 lawsuits challenging congressional and state legislative maps across the country have been filed. According to the American Redistricting Project, 22 states have ongoing litigation regarding either their congressional or legislative redistricting (or both).

We looked at ongoing redistricting litigation in Thursday’s Brew. You can read that edition here.

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2024 presidential candidate filings currently at the third-highest level in forty years

Five hundred and thirty-one people have filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to run for president in 2024 as of Jan. 17. The list includes 77 Democratic candidates (14.5%), 145 Republican candidates (27.3%), and 309 nonpartisan or minor party candidates (58.2%). This is the third-highest number of candidates to file to run since the 1980 presidential election.

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Less than 10% of all bills introduced to change ballot initiative processes passed in 2022

In 2022, Ballotpedia tracked 232 bills that would change the citizen-initiated ballot measure processes, the most since 2014.

Twenty-three proposals (9.9% of them) were signed into law, the lowest percentage over that timespan.

Since 2014, lawmakers have introduced an average of 189 bills affecting ballot measure processes. Twenty-seven tend to pass, with an average passage rate of 14.2%.

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Listen to our interview with pollster and political analyst Scott Rasmussen for On the Ballot, our weekly podcast

On the Ballot, our weekly podcast, takes a closer look at the week’s top political stories.

In this week’s episode, Ballotpedia’s Editor-in-Chief Geoff Pallay interviews pollster Scott Rasmussen, the president of RMG Research and the author of the Number of the Day column for Ballotpedia.

Listen here

Subscribe to Hall Pass to stay up to date on school board politics and education policy

Hall Pass is a weekly newsletter that keeps you informed about the conversations driving school board politics and education policy. New editions reach your inbox Wednesday afternoons. Stories featured in this week’s edition included:

  • The debate over using school suspensions to discipline students
  • Orange County districts fire superintendents
  • Eight state executive candidates endorsed 106 school board candidates in Ballotpedia’s coverage scope in 2022

Click the link below to read the Jan. 18 edition and subscribe to the Hall Pass newsletter.

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87% of Americans live in a county that has voted for the same party in the past three presidential elections

Almost 9 in 10 Americans live in a county that has voted for the same party in the past three presidential elections. Ballotpedia describes these as either Solid Democratic or Solid Republican counties, depending on the party that voters there supported.

After the 2020 presidential election, 288 million Americans lived in either a Solid Democratic or Republican county, 87.2% of the 330 million covered in this analysis.

We identified three other types of counties, in addition to Solid Democratic or Republican ones.

  • Trending counties have voted for the same party in the two most recent presidential elections, after backing the other three cycles ago.
  • Battleground counties have flipped parties in each of the last three presidential elections.
  • New Democratic or Republican counties flipped parties in the most recent presidential election after two cycles backing the opposite party.

Most Americans live in a Solid Democratic county. There were 459 of these counties after the 2020 presidential election, home to 171 million people (52%). There were 2,368 Solid Republican counties, home to 118 million people (36%).

The next largest category by population was New Democratic counties, those that voted for Joe Biden (D) in 2020 after voting for Mitt Romney (R) in 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016. There are 34 New Democratic counties, which include cities like Fort Worth and Phoenix, with an overall population of 14 million people.

After New Democratic counties are the 191 Trending Republican counties, which voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2012 before supporting Trump in 2016 and 2020. Over 12 million people live in these counties, many of which are clustered in the Upper Midwest and the Northeast.

The table below shows a further population breakdown of these counties. 

Two states—Hawaii and Massachusetts—are made up entirely of Solid Democratic counties. In Oklahoma, every county is Solid Republican.

Upcoming Article III Judicial Vacancies

According to the latest vacancy data from the U.S. Courts, there were 34 total announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships. Article III judgeships refer to federal judges who serve on one of the 13 U.S. courts of appeal, 94 U.S. district courts, and on the Court of International Trade. These are lifetime appointments made by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

These positions are not yet vacant but will be at some point in the future with every judge having announced his or her intent to either leave the bench or assume senior status. In the meantime, these judges will continue to serve in their current positions.

The president and Senate do not need to wait for a position to become vacant before they can start the confirmation process for a successor. For example, the process has already begun for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was nominated to replace Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer when he vacates the seat at the beginning of the court’s summer recess. There are six nominees pending for upcoming vacancies.

Twenty-two vacancy effective dates have not been determined because the judge has not announced the date he or she will leave the bench. The next upcoming scheduled vacancy will take place on April 17, 2022, when U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California Judge John Mendez assumes senior status.

In addition to these 34 upcoming vacancies, there are 73 current Article III vacancies in the federal judiciary out of the 870 total Article III judgeships. 

President Biden has nominated 83 individuals to federal judgeships on Article III courts. Fifty-eight of those nominees have been confirmed. Of the 25 nominees going through the confirmation process, 11 are awaiting a vote in the U.S. Senate, six are awaiting a committee vote, and eight are awaiting a committee hearing.

The latest redistricting news from New Jersey, New Mexico, and Wisconsin

In this week’s Redistricting Review, we cover news out of New Jersey, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.

New Jersey: On July 20,New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner asked Democrats and Republicans to reconvene and pick a consensus candidate for the 13th member of the state’s congressional redistricting commission.

According to state law, the majority and minority leaders of each chamber of the state legislature and the chair of the state’s two major political parties appoint the first 12 members of the congressional redistricting commission. The 12 commissioners then appoint the last commission member. If they cannot agree on an appointment, the commissioners must submit two names to the New Jersey Supreme Court and the court must then appoint the final commissioner.

Last week, when the commissioners could not reach a consensus by their July 15th deadline, they submitted former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice John E. Wallace, Jr., and former Superior Court Judge Marina Corodemus to the court. According to the New Jersey Globe, “This is the first time the two parties haven’t agreed on a 13th member for congressional redistricting. The Supreme Court option wasn’t involved in 1991, 2001 and 2011.”

Chief Justice Rabner gave the commissioners until July 30th to respond with a consensus candidate. If they do not, the New Jersey Supreme Court will pick a tiebreaker candidate by August 10th.

New Mexico: The New Mexico Redistricting Committee’s new website launched last week. The website includes information on how to participate in committee meetings and a portal for submitting public comments or maps. It can be accessed here.

Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Supreme Court temporarily halted a lower court ruling blocking Republican legislators from hiring private attorneys with taxpayer funds. On July 15, the court unanimously agreed to take up the case, and in a 4-3 decision ordered that Republican lawmakers be allowed to hire private attorneys pending their decision.

Additional reading: