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30 governors have given 2023 State of the State addresses

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Thirty governors have given their State of the State addresses so far
  2.  Pennsylvania House adjourns, package of constitutional amendments won’t appear on the May ballot 
  3. Subscribe to Hall Pass to stay up to date on school board politics and education policy 

Have a minute and an opinion? Take our 2023 reader survey!


Thirty governors have given their State of the State addresses so far

Happy February! President Joe Biden (D) is scheduled to give his annual State of the Union address to Congress on Feb. 7. Meanwhile, governors are busy giving their State of the State addresses. 

As of Jan. 29, 30 governors—14 Democrats and 16 Republicans—have discussed their state’s condition to legislators and laid out their priorities and goals for the year ahead. Eight more governors are scheduled to deliver their addresses between now and March 7. 

All 50 state constitutions mandate that the governor give an annual (or regular) report to the legislature on the state’s condition. 

Four of the governors who have delivered their addresses—Katie Hobbs (D-Ariz.), Josh Green (D-Hawaii), James Pillen (R-Neb.), and Joe Lombardo (R-Nev.)—were first elected in November and gave their annual report for the first time. The 26 other governors who addressed their legislatures are returning incumbents. 

We analyzed State of the State transcripts and created word clouds of the most common words in Democratic and Republican addresses. While some words like “state” (used 1029 times), “people” (415) and “work” (357) feature prominently in both Democratic and Republican addresses, there are differences. The average length of all addresses so far is 4,869 words. 

Democratic speeches averaged about 4,394 words. The words “housing” (used 158 times), “families” (145) and “health” (145 times) were among the most frequently used. 

Republican addresses averaged 5,285 words. The words “million” (used 207 times), “tax” (174), and “school” (172) were among the most commonly used. 

We track SoS addresses every year. To see a list of all current and previous addresses, click on the link below. 

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Pennsylvania House adjourns, package of constitutional amendments won’t appear on the May ballot 

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives adjourned on Jan. 24, 2023, affecting a package of three constitutional amendments that could have appeared on the ballot in May. 

According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, the General Assembly had until Jan. 27 to pass the amendments. The state constitutional deadline to pass and advertise the proposed amendments is Feb. 16. Since the House isn’t expected to reconvene until Feb. 27, the earliest the amendments could appear on the ballot is the Nov. 7 general elections. 

The Legislature passed the three amendments in the previous legislative session. Pennsylvania is one of 13 states with a two-session requirement for legislatively referred constitutional amendments to appear on the ballot (in four of those states, an amendment that receives a supermajority in the first round can bypass the second).

Historically, the two-session requirement has made it less likely an amendment will appear on the ballot. Between 2010 and 2022, 37.7% of constitutional amendments in the 13 states that require two legislative sessions or a supermajority did not make the ballot because they failed during the second session. When party control of the legislature changed between sessions in this same time period (as happened on Nov. 8 in Pennsylvania), 79% of constitutional amendments (11 out of 14) failed in the second session.

In 2015, for example, the Republican-controlled Nevada Legislature approved five constitutional amendments for the first time. Democrats controlled the Legislature during the next session in 2017, and four of the five constitutional amendments did not even receive a floor vote. You can read about other recent examples here

The first Pennsylvania amendment, introduced as House Bill 14 (HB 14), would create a two-year period for individuals to file civil suits regarding childhood sexual abuse that otherwise exceeded the statute of limitations. HB 14 passed both chambers in March 2021.

The other two amendments were part of a package of five amendments, known as Senate Bill 106 (SB 106), that passed in July 2022. Two of these amendments—one requiring individuals to present an ID when casting their ballot, and another allowing the Legislature to pass veto-proof concurrent resolutions to disapprove of regulations—were packaged with the amendment regarding child sexual abuse lawsuits as Senate Bill 1 (SB 1). 

SB 1 passed the Senate on Jan. 11, 2023. Twenty-eight senators, 27 Republicans and 1 Democrat, voted for the package, while 20 senators, all of them Democrats, voted against it (one Democrat did not vote). The process came to a stalemate in the House.

The Democratic Party currently controls the governor’s office, while the Republican Party controls the state Senate. There are 101 Republicans and 99 Democrats in the House—and three vacancies. Voters in three Pittsburgh-area districts will head to the polls on Feb. 7 to fill those vacancies and determine partisan control of the chamber. 

Click the link below to read more about Pennsylvania’s 2023 measures.

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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. 

Here’s a sample of what you can expect to find in this week’s edition, which comes out the afternoon of Feb. 1 (today!). 

  • On the issues: On Jan. 12, the Florida Department of Education rejected an AP African American studies course from being taught in its current form in K-12 schools. In this section, we take a look at different perspectives regarding that decision. 
  • Election calendar: School board elections will take place throughout 2023. We look at which states are holding elections in the coming weeks and months. The first statewide school board primaries will happen on Feb. 14 in Oklahoma. In next week’s edition, we’ll walk you through our comprehensive coverage of every district holding primaries in the Sooner State. 
  • Only 240 school districts are governed by boards with more than 10 members—Chicago Public Schools will soon be one of them: Chicago is holding a mayoral election on Feb. 28, and education has been a central issue. Currently, the Chicago mayor appoints the seven-member board. A 2021 state law will expand the board to to 21 elected members in the coming years. We look at the politics and dig into research we conducted last year on the country’s more than 14,000 members to see how common 21-member boards are (not very!). 

Each edition also features survey responses from school board candidates and a trove of links to the latest research and news in the world of education. 

Click below to subscribe! 

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One week from today—PA House control at stake

Welcome to the Tuesday, January 31, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Three Pennsylvania House special elections on Feb. 7
  2. More than 5,000 pages added to the Federal Register so far this year
  3. Come work with Ballotpedia

Have a minute and an opinion? Take our 2023 reader survey!


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) faces pastor and Army veteran Clay Walker (R). 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) faces former law enforcement officer Robert Pagane (R). 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) faces former school board member Don Nevills (R). Incumbent Austin Davis (D) was re-elected but was also elected lieutenant governor. Davis resigned on Dec. 7, 2022.

All three former incumbents were either uncontested or won by margins of more than 30 percentage points in 2022.

  • District 32: DeLuca defeated Zarah Livingston (G) 86 to 14%, a margin of 72 percentage points.
  • District 34: Lee was uncontested.
  • District 35: Davis defeated Donald Nevills (R) 66 to 34%, a margin of 32 percentage points.

These three vacancies led to disagreements over who had the authority to schedule these special elections since, in Pennsylvania, that responsibility falls to the House majority leader.

Members from both major parties attempted to claim the majority leader position in December. Rep. Joanna McClinton (D) said she was the majority leader since Democrats won a majority in the election. Rep. Bryan Cutler (R) said he held the post since Republicans had a functional majority due to the three vacancies.

McClinton scheduled the three special elections for Feb. 7, but House Republicans filed a lawsuit, alleging McClinton lacked the authority to do so.

On Jan. 13, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that all three elections occur on Feb. 7.

While voters will fill these three House vacancies on Feb. 7, today, Jan. 31, voters in Senate District 27 will fill another. Sen. John Gordner (R) resigned on Nov. 30, 2022. There, educator Patricia Lawton (D) faces Rep. Lynda Culver (R). District 27 voted for former President Donald Trump (R) by a margin of 36 percentage points in 2020.

There were 54 special state legislative elections in Pennsylvania between 2011 and 2022. In 47 elections (87%), the party that controlled the district beforehand won. In the remaining seven elections (7%), party control switched. The most recent special state legislative election to change party control was in 2019, when Democrats won a district previously represented by a Republican.

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More than 5,000 pages added to the Federal Register so far this year

We recently brought you an end-of-the-year update on pages added to the Federal Register in 2022. Last year, the Biden administration added 80,756 pages, making 2022 the register’s seventh-most active year since 1936.

Here’s how things look as we round out the first month of 2023.

Between Jan. 23 and 27, the Federal Register added 1,810 pages for a year-to-date total of 5,720 pages.

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, accounting for regulatory and deregulatory actions.

The Biden Administration has added an average of 1,430 pages to the Federal Register each week this year. At that rate, the total number of pages would reach 74,360 by the end of the year.

The most recent addition to the Federal Register includes 499 notices, four presidential documents, 38 proposed rules, and 46 final rules.

Certain rules are classified as significant, meaning they have the potential to have large effects on the economy, environment, public health, or state/local governments.

Some of those significant additions include:

  • Implementation of the Helping American Victims Affected by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act of 2021 from the State Department; and,
  • Consideration of revisions to the regulatory capital framework for the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation from the Farm Credit Administration.

The Biden administration has issued 26 significant proposed rules, 19 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of Jan. 27.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of our Administrative State Project. This neutral encyclopedic resource analyzes the administrative state, its philosophical origins, legal precedents, and scholarly examinations. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

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Come work with Ballotpedia

Ballotpedia is a collaborative team of fast learners and creative problem solvers. We are eager to make the world a better place by providing every citizen with the information they need to make informed decisions in elections at every level.

Ballotpedia has several open roles across our team, including Communications Manager, Data Sales Manager, Director of External Relations, Elections Staff Writer, and News Researcher.

If you want to help provide neutral, unbiased information to voters across the country and work hard with this team to achieve that goal—join us by applying here!

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An early look at certified 2024 measures

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. California and New York certify measures for 2024 related to fast-food working conditions, Equal Protection Clause
  2. Tallying error in Oakland, Calif., led to inaccurate election results 
  3. 275 election-related bills introduced in state legislatures last week

California and New York certify measures for 2024 related to fast-food working conditions, Equal Protection Clause

Last week, we updated you on the certified statewide measures voters will decide in 2023 (there are five as of this writing). But did you know states are already certifying measures for 2024? On Jan. 24, California and New York certified new measures that voters will decide in 2024. That brings the total number of 2024 certified measures to eight. At this time in 2019, states had certified six measures for the 2020 ballot. At this time in 2021, states had certified five for the 2022 ballot. 

Let’s take a look at these measures. 

California
On Jan. 24, the California secretary of state announced that a veto referendum filed to repeal Assembly Bill 257 (AB 257) had qualified for the November 2024 ballot. 

AB 257 enacts the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (FAST Recovery Act), which authorizes the creation of a 10-member fast-food council within the Department of Industrial Relations. Members include fast-food restaurant franchisors, franchisees, employees, advocates for employees, and a representative from the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. The law would authorize the labor commissioner and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to enforce the council’s adopted regulations once at least 10,000 fast-food restaurant employees had signed a petition approving the council’s creation. 

AB 257 also authorizes the council to adopt a minimum wage for fast-food employees not to exceed $22 per hour in 2023 with annual adjustments.

The law was set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2023. However, on Dec. 29, 2022, Save Local Restaurants, which had submitted more than 1 million signatures for a veto referendum to overturn AB 257 on Dec. 5, filed a lawsuit asking the court to stop the state from enforcing the law until the signature verification process was complete. On Jan. 13, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang granted a preliminary injunction keeping the bill from taking effect until the state verifies the signatures. In California, the number of signatures required for a veto referendum is 623,212 (5% of the votes cast in the preceding gubernatorial election). 

On Jan. 24, the secretary of state reported that the final random sample count contained at least 712,568 valid signatures.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Restaurant Association PAC, and International Franchise Association Franchising PAC have endorsed the campaign to repeal AB 257. The top campaign donors include Chipotle Mexican Grill, In-N-Out Burgers, Starbucks, Yum! Brands, and Wing Stop.

SEIU California State Council, California Employment Lawyers Association, California Labor Federation, and Gig Workers Rising oppose the referendum.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed AB 257 into law in September 2022. 

In California, 402 ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1985 and 2022. Two hundred thirty-one ballot measures were approved and 171 were defeated.

New York
Now, let’s turn to the Empire State.

On Jan. 24, the New York Legislature passed a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the denial of rights to an individual based on ethnicity, age, sex, gender identity, reproductive status, and other characteristics. The amendment will go to voters in 2024.  

The amendment first passed both chambers of the legislature in July 2022, and passed both chambers again in the current legislative session. For a constitutional amendment to go on the ballot in New York it must pass each chamber during two successive legislative sessions. New York is one of 13 states with a two-session requirement for legislatively referred constitutional amendments (in four of those states, an amendment that receives a supermajority in the first round can bypass the second). 

The amendment would add language to the Equal Protection Clause in the state constitution. The Equal Protection Clause currently prohibits the denial of rights to an individual based on race, color, creed, or religion.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) said: “The amendment we’re passing today attempts to achieve what America has failed to do for generations: guarantee constitutional protections for individuals on the basis of sex, orientation, or background from implicit or explicit discrimination. We’re also enshrining a constitutional right to abortion and contraception to help ensure that our rights remain untouched by the federal court’s recent action.”

Assembly member David DiPietro (R), who opposed the amendment, said: “The passage of the equality amendment would result in the further erosion of religious liberty for New Yorkers whose faith, traditions teach that abortion, homosexuality and/or transgenderism are immoral and could subject many faith-based charities and schools to catastrophic liability.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization held that the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Following that decision, voters in California, Michigan, and Vermont approved amendments establishing a right to abortion. Voters in Kansas and Kentucky rejected amendments that said state constitutions cannot be interpreted to establish a state constitutional right to abortion. There were a total of six ballot measures addressing abortion in 2022—the most for a single year.

Three of the states that passed measures in 2022—California, Michigan, and Vermont—are the only states where the state constitution explicitly provides the right to an abortion. Four states—Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, and West Virginia—have passed constitutional amendments that say state constitutions cannot be interpreted to establish a state constitutional right to abortion.

From 1985 to 2022, 30 constitutional amendments have gone on the ballot in New York. Twenty-one (70%) of them were approved and nine (30%) were defeated.

Read more about 2024 ballot measures at the link below. 

Keep reading


Tallying error in Oakland, Calif., led to inaccurate election results 

Ranked-choice voting (RCV) is a system that has attracted growing attention over the last few years. Broadly, RCV allows voters to rank candidates by preference on their ballots. Alaska and Maine have adopted RCV for various federal and state-level elections, and 10 states have jurisdictions that have implemented RCV at the local level. In 2024, voters in Nevada will decide a measure that would establish RCV for congressional and state-level general elections.

California is one of those states where RCV is used in some local elections. Recently, a tallying error in a California school board race that relied on RCV led election officials to certify the wrong winning candidate.

On Dec. 28, 2022, the Alameda County Registrar of Voters acknowledged in a press release that the initial certified results were incorrect for the school director race in District 4 of the Oakland Unified School District in California.

Nick Resnick was certified as the winner of the race in November. However, election officials later told Mike Hutchinson, who originally finished third, that he won: “Without being cynical, I now believe in holiday miracles. So it was very shocking to wake up this morning and receive a phone call at 10:30 a.m. from the Alameda County head of elections informing me that I had actually won the election.” 

Hutchinson filed a petition in Alameda County Superior Court on Dec. 29, 2022, asking a judge to overrule the prior certification and name him the official winner.

According to the press release from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters:

The ROV learned that its RCV tally system was not configured properly for the November 2022 General Election. It should have been configured to advance ballots to the next ranking immediately when no candidate was selected for a particular round. … After reviewing the election data and applying the correct configuration, the ROV learned that only one outcome was affected: Oakland School Director, District 4, for the Oakland Unified School District. No other result for any RCV election in any jurisdiction was changed.

California Ranked Choice Voting Coalition and FairVote, two organizations that supported the use of ranked-choice voting in California, discovered the error while auditing the election results. They found that county officials used the wrong method to tally votes that did not include a first choice candidate.

Rob Richie, the CEO of FairVote, said, “This unfortunate error was due to a combination of human folly and correctable practices for transparency. Importantly, it wasn’t about RCV nor the accuracy of the underlying Dominion software used by Alameda County and San Francisco.”

Litigation is ongoing. Resnick was officially sworn into the position of District 4 Oakland school director on Jan. 9, 2023.

On Jan. 10, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted to undertake a recount of several races that used RCV in November 2022, including the Oakland mayoral election. In that race, Sheng Thao defeated Loren Taylor 50.3% to 49.7%. 

Click here to read arguments for and against RCV. To read more about this story, click the link below. 

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275 election-related bills introduced in state legislatures  

Here’s a quick update on last week’s state legislative activity related to election administration.

Since Jan. 20, 275 election-related bills have been introduced (or saw pre-committee action). That’s a 16.9 percent increase from last week’s total of 236 bills. 

These 275 bills represent 27.2 percent of the 1,013 bills we are currently tracking in 2023. Seventy of these bills are from states with Democratic trifectas, 135 are from states with Republican trifectas, and 70 are from states with a divided government.

The bar chart below compares recent activity on a week-to-week basis over the last eight weeks. 

If you want to learn more about election-related legislation, click the link below and subscribe to our weekly election legislation tracking digest. You’ll receive weekly updates on election-related activity across the states, including information about noteworthy bills, the number of bills acted on within a given week, and which states have seen the highest concentration of legislative activity. You can also use our interactive Election Administration Legislation Tracker to find and read election-related bills in your state. 

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New year, new state legislative leaders

Welcome to the Friday, January 27, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. At least 121 new state legislative leaders elected so far
  2. Oklahoma will vote on marijuana legalization in March, Ohio could follow in November
  3. #FridayTrivia: What percentage of congressional races were decided by fewer than 10 percentage points last year?

At least 121 new state legislative leaders elected so far

At the start of each legislative session, newly elected and returning legislators elect chamber leaders. These leaders—like Senate presidents, House speakers, and majority and minority leaders—preside over the chamber or caucus, directing the legislative process and typically performing other procedural duties.

We have been tracking these leadership elections and, so far, have identified outcomes for 283 offices nationwide. Results for 33 offices are still pending.

Of the 283 called offices, legislators 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.

Leadership turnover has been higher for Republicans. Of their 156 leaders, 48% (75) are newcomers to their positions. Meanwhile, for Democrats, 35% (45) of their 126 leaders are new to their positions.

That difference becomes starker when looking at the top leadership positions in each chamber. In the Senate, that’s the president, or president pro tempore in states where the lieutenant governor serves as the Senate leader. In the House, it’s the speaker.

We’ve found results for 47 Senate president elections. Of the 29 Republicans, 45% (13) are new to the job compared to 22% (4) of the 18 Democrats.

And we have 45 results for House speakerships. Of the 27 Republicans, 44% (12) are new, compared to 38% of the 18 Democrats.

Four top leadership positions have switched party control so far, all from Republicans to Democrats in chambers where Democrats won control: the Michigan House and Senate, Minnesota Senate, and Pennsylvania House.

But leadership elections can also represent a change even when the position remains within the same party.

  • In Alaska, House lawmakers elected Rep. Cathy Tilton (R) as speaker, replacing Rep. Louise Stutes (R). Stutes previously led a multi-partisan majority made up primarily of Democrats and independents. While Tilton also oversees a multi-partisan majority, hers is made up primarily of Republicans.
  • In Ohio, lawmakers elected Rep. Jason Stephens (R) over Rep. Derek Merrin (R). Merrin had previously won the House GOP caucus’ support for the speakership, but Stephens lobbied Democrats to join a portion of Republicans, securing him the office.

Learn more about the leadership positions and more using the link below.

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Oklahoma will vote on marijuana legalization in March, Ohio could follow in November

Oklahoma voters will decide on State Question 820, an initiative to legalize marijuana, on March 7. Voters in Ohio could decide on a similar initiative in November.

The two states are the latest in an ongoing nationwide trend of marijuana initiatives appearing on ballots.

There were five such measures on the ballot last year. Voters in Maryland and Missouri approved recreational marijuana legalization, while voters in Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota defeated similar measures.

To date, 21 states have legalized recreational marijuana, 12 via ballot measures and nine via legislation.

Another 16 states have legalized medical marijuana, five—including Oklahoma—via ballot measures and 11—including Ohio—via legislation. 

Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws, the group leading the campaign in support of State Question 820, wanted the measure to appear on the ballot in 2022. Due to legal challenges and signature deadlines, the measure had to be moved to a later election. On Oct. 18, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) set the special election for March 7, 2023.

In Ohio, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol recently submitted 136,729 valid signatures for a similar recreational marijuana legalization initiative

Since Ohio uses indirect initiated statutes, the proposal is first submitted to the Ohio General Assembly. Lawmakers have until May 3 to approve the measure. If they reject or take no action, initiative supporters must collect an additional 124,046 valid signatures within 90 days. If successful, the initiative would then appear on the Nov. 7 ballot.

But that’s just a look at 2023. Four marijuana-related initiatives in three states—Florida, Nebraska, and Wyoming—are currently gathering signatures to appear on ballots in 2024.

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#FridayTrivia: What percentage of congressional races were decided by fewer than 10 percentage points last year?

In 2022, 9.8% of all congressional races (46) were decided by fewer than five percentage points. That’s an increase from 8.9% in 2020. 

But if you look at races decided by fewer than 10 percentage points, the percentage in 2022 actually decreased compared to 2020.

What percentage of congressional races were decided by fewer than 10 percentage points last year?

  1. 26.4%
  2. 18.1%
  3. 21.7%
  4. 13.2%



Five measures certified (so far) in three states for the 2023 ballot

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Five measures certified in three states for the 2023 ballot  
  2. Willie Wilson leads Chicago mayoral candidates in fundraising while Mayor Lori Lightfoot leads in spending
  3. Learn how school board elections played out in the 2022 midterms with On the Ballot, our weekly podcast

Five measures certified in three states for the 2023 ballot  

Here’s an update on this year’s certified ballot measures. 

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 measure was certified last week:

Wisconsin voters will decide those measures on April 4, the same date as a state supreme court election. We wrote about the relationship between the ballot measures above and the state supreme court election in the Jan. 23 Brew

Signatures have been submitted and are pending verification for two initiatives in Maine: 

Additionally, enough signatures were verified for three indirect initiatives in Maine and Ohio to send them to the legislature:

In general, with indirect signatures, if a legislative body doesn’t enact the initiatives within a set time period, the initiative is then placed on the ballot.

An average of 33 statewide measures were certified in odd-numbered years from 2011 to 2021. By this time during odd-numbered years from 2011 through 2021, an average of four statewide measures had been certified for the ballot. 

Keep reading 

Willie Wilson leads Chicago mayoral candidates in fundraising while Mayor Lori Lightfoot leads in spending

This year won’t be as packed with elections as 2022, but that doesn’t mean the election calendar is empty. In a little over a month, voters in Chicago, Ill., will go to the polls to decide one of this year’s biggest mayoral contests.  

Nine candidates are running in the election—incumbent Lori Lightfoot, Jesus Garcia, Brandon Johnson, Paul Vallas, Kambium Buckner, Ja’Mal Green, Sophia King, Roderick Sawyer, and Willie Wilson

Although elections are officially nonpartisan, candidates are typically affiliated with one of the major political parties. Eight of the current candidates are affiliated with the Democratic Party and one is an independent. The last Republican mayor of Chicago, William Thompson, left office in 1931. To learn about the partisan affiliation of each candidate, click here.

Lightfoot, Garcia, Johnson, and Vallas have performed the best in polling and received the most media attention.

Here’s an update on fundraising in the race, through the most recent filings on Dec. 31, 2022.

Wilson has raised  $6.1 million. WTTW, Chicago’s PBS television station, reported that $5 million of that total was self-funded. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot spent $4.3 million, $2 million more than her next closest competitor.  

Four other candidates raised more than $1 million: Lightfoot ($4.5 million), former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas ($2.2 million), Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson ($1.8 million), and U.S. Rep. Jesus Garcia ($1.5 million).

Three other candidates spent more than $500,000: Wilson ($2.0 million), Vallas ($1.0 million), and Johnson ($578,000).

If no candidate receives a majority of votes in the general election, the top two candidates will compete in a runoff on April 4. The last two mayoral elections (2019 and 2015) resulted in runoffs. In 2019, all 14 candidates, including those who participated in the primary, spent more than $38 million combined. 

We’ll have more on this race in a future edition of the Brew. For now, you can learn more about the candidates, fundraising, issues, and what’s at stake at the link below. 

Keep reading 

Learn how school board elections played out in the 2022 midterms with 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, staff writer Doug Kronaizl walks us through what we’ve learned about last year’s school board elections. Doug digs into why recall campaigns against school board members spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic and helps us understand the core themes that animated school board elections last November (you can also subscribe to Hall Pass for weekly updates on school board politics).

Plus, Footnote Facts with Paul Rader returns to tell us about the 50 longest-serving governors in U.S. history who served non-consecutive terms.

New episodes of On the Ballot are posted every Thursday afternoon. If you’re reading this on the morning of Jan. 26, you’ve still got time to subscribe to On the Ballot on your favorite podcast app before this week’s episode drops! 

Click below to listen to older episodes and find links to where you can subscribe.

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One week until Mississippi’s statewide filing deadline

Welcome to the Wednesday, Jan. 25 Brew. 

By: Juan Garcia de Paredes

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Filing deadline update in Mississippi
  2. Seattle to decide on Social Housing Developer initiative
  3. DeSantis currently leads PredictIt’s 2024 presidential general election market

One week until Mississippi’s statewide filing deadline

Yes, you read that right. As hard as it is to believe, the 2023 election season is already upon us! In Mississippi, the filing deadline to appear on the ballot in the Aug. 8 statewide primaries is Feb.1.one week from now.

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.

All 52 seats in the Mississippi State Senate and all 122 seats in the Mississippi State House are up for election this year. Republicans currently have a 36-16 majority in the state senate and a 76-42 majority in the state house, with three independent members and one vacancy. The party also holds the governorship, meaning Mississippi has a Republican trifecta. 

Besides seats in the state legislature, voters in Mississippi will vote for 14 state executive positions in November. Republicans hold 12 of these positions, and Democrats hold two. As of Jan. 13, ten Republican incumbents and one Democratic one have filed to run for re-election.  

Below is a list of the state executive positions up for election in Mississippi this year: 

  • Governor
  • Lieutenant Governor
  • Attorney General
  • Secretary of State
  • Treasurer
  • Auditor
  • Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce
  • Commissioner of Insurance
  • Mississippi Public Services Commission (3 seats)
  • Mississippi Transportation Commission (3 seats)

The general election is on Nov. 7.

Keep reading

Seattle to decide on Social Housing Developer initiative on Feb. 14

On Feb. 14, Seattle voters will decide on Initiative 135, an initiative to create the Seattle Social Housing Developer, a public development authority to own, develop, and maintain what the initiative describes as social housing. According to Initiative 135, this housing would provide publicly financed apartments that are “removed from market forces and speculation and built with the express aim of housing people equitably and affordably.”

Under Initiative 135, the public developer’s housing units would be available to those with a mix of income ranges from 0% to 120% of the area median income (which was $120,907 as of 2022). Rent prices would be limited to 30% of household income. Applications would not include prior rental references, co-signers, background checks, or application fees. Tenants would be selected using a lottery-based system.

As a public corporation, the Seattle Social Housing Developer would be allowed to issue bonds, receive federal funds and grants, receive private funds, and collect revenue for services.

House Our Neighbors! (HON), also known as Yes on I-135, is sponsoring the initiative. House our Neighbors! needed to submit 26,520 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. The group submitted 27,220 valid signatures. 

HON stated, “Social Housing is publicly owned forever, permanently affordable, and creates cross-class communities and resident leadership. … By creating a community-controlled Social Housing Developer to buy and build housing that will be available to those across the income spectrum, Seattle will have another critical tool to address the suffering, displacement, and inequity that defines our housing landscape.” 

The measure has received endorsements from State Sens. Joe Nguyen (D) and Rebecca Saldana (D), and State Reps. Frank Chopp (D) and Nicole Macri (D). It was also endorsed by the Green Party of Seattle and the Working Families Party of Washington.

The Housing Development Consortium, a non-profit organization based in Seattle that describes its mission as building “a diverse network committed to producing, preserving, and increasing equitable access to affordable homes,” released a statement on Initiative 135, writing, “… We are concerned [the initiative] distracts funds and energy away from what our community should be focusing on – scaling up affordable housing for low-income people. We do not need another government entity to build housing when there are already insufficient resources to fund existing entities. … “

“The proposed new public development authority (PDA) would not have the authority to impose taxes on its own, so the funds necessary to set up the additional citywide PDA would likely draw from existing affordable housing funding that could otherwise be dedicated to creating homes for our lowest-income neighbors,” the group added.

Currently, the Seattle Housing Authority, an independent public corporation, provides low-income housing and rental assistance to 17,945 households. The SHA owns and operates 8,530 apartments and single-family homes in Seattle. Eighty-five percent of SHA housing serves households with incomes at or below 30% of the area median income (about $36,270). Funding for the Seattle Housing Authority comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), rent revenue, and public and private grants. The Social Housing Developer would not replace the Seattle Housing Authority.

Mail ballots must be postmarked no later than Feb. 14 or returned to a ballot drop box by 8 p.m. on Feb. 14. In Washington, individuals who prefer to vote in person rather than by mail may do so at voting centers, which are open during business hours for 18 days prior to the election. Washington allows for same-day voter registration.

Since 2017, four local measures have reached the ballot in the City of Seattle. All four were approved. 

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DeSantis currently leads PredictIt’s 2024 presidential general election market

Now, let’s take a look at the 2024 presidential election. 

As of January 23, 2023, PredictIt’s 2024 presidential market shows Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) leading at $0.31, followed by President Joe Biden (D) at $0.29, former President Donald Trump (R) at $0.21, and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) at $0.12. No other candidate has more than a $0.10 share price. The share price, which rises and falls based on market demand, roughly corresponds to the market’s estimate of the probability of an event taking place.

Trump is the only candidate of this group to have officially announced his presidential campaign.

The Democratic presidential primary market shows Biden leading the pack at $0.52. Two other candidates have a share price at or above $0.10: California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) is at $0.20, and Vice President Kamala Harris (D) is at $0.11.

DeSantis currently leads in the Republican presidential primary market at $0.38, followed by Trump at $0.32. No other candidate has a share price at or above $0.10. 

PredictIt is an online political futures market in which users purchase shares relating to the outcome of political events using real money. Each event, such as an election, has a number of contracts associated with it, each correlating to a different outcome. Services such as PredictIt can be used to gain insight into the outcome of elections. Due to action from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, PredictIt may halt trading on February 15, 2023.

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

Welcome to the Tuesday, January 24, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Republican U.S. House candidates outperformed 2020’s presidential results in 327 districts last year
  2. Signatures submitted for Right to Repair initiative in Maine
  3. Florida creates new appellate court district

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

Republicans in 327 congressional districts outperformed former President Donald Trump’s (R) 2020 vote totals in those same districts, meaning, compared to Trump, Republican House candidates either won by larger margins or lost by smaller margins last year.

Democratic House candidates outperformed Biden in 68 districts (16%).

In Texas’ 9th and 35th Districts, the 2022 House and 2020 presidential margins were identical.

Thirty-eight districts (9%) were excluded from this analysis because they were either uncontested or did not feature both major parties in 2022.

To calculate these results, we first found the margins of victory from all 397 U.S. House races with candidates from both major parties.

Next, since district lines have changed since 2020, we used data from Daily Kos to determine how many votes Joe Biden (D) and Trump would have received  if the 2020 election had been held with the new district boundaries in place.

We then compared the two margins of victory, checking to see whether the 2022 House margins were more Democratic or more Republican than the presidential margins in 2020. 

Republicans’ largest improvement was in Florida’s 26th District, where the House margin was 23.5 percentage points more Republican than the 2020 presidential margin. In both elections, voters supported the Republican candidate, but more so in 2022.

  • In 2020, Trump received more votes than Biden, 58.9 to 40.6% (R+18.3). 
  • In 2022, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R) defeated Christine Olivo (D) 70.9 to 29.1% (R+41.8)

Democrats’ largest improvement was in Alaska’s At-Large District, where the House margin was 20.1 percentage points more Democratic than the 2020 presidential margin. Since Alaska uses ranked-choice voting for the U.S. House, the 2022 margin is based on the results of the final tabulation.

  • In 2020, Trump received more votes than Biden, 53.1 to 43.0% (R+10.1).
  • In 2022, Rep. Mary Peltola (D) defeated Sarah Palin (R) 55.0 to 45.0% (D+10.0).

Nationwide, looking at all 397 districts included in this analysis, the average margin of victory in 2020 was D+5.7 in Biden’s favor. The average House margin was D+0.8, meaning margins became 4.9 percentage points more Republican in 2022.

In four of the five districts with the largest Republican improvements, Trump won in 2020, but Republican House candidates won by more in 2022. Rep. Mike Garcia (R) won California’s 27th District, which previously voted for Biden.

In three of the five districts with the largest Democratic improvements, Democratic House candidates won in districts that previously voted for Trump. In Hawaii’s 1st and Pennsylvania’s 2nd Districts, Democratic House candidates expanded on Biden’s margins.

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Signatures submitted for Right to Repair initiative in Maine

On Jan. 19, the Maine Right to Repair Coalition submitted more than 70,000 signatures for a ballot initiative to give car owners and independent repair facilities access to vehicle on-board diagnostic systems.

The initiative addresses diagnostic data transmitted wirelessly to vehicle manufacturers. According to the coalition, more than 90% of new cars can transmit real-time diagnostic and repair information wirelessly, but in a manner only available to vehicle manufacturers.

Tim Winkeler, CEO of VIP Tire Service and coalition member, said without the initiative, “these vehicles are gonna have to go back to the dealerships and independent repair shops won’t be able to work on cars. Consumers are at risk of being forced to take their car back to only the dealerships, and not have freedom of choice.”

The Maine initiative is similar to one decided in Massachusetts in 2020. Voters approved Question 1, which similarly requires that vehicle owners and repair facilities have access to wireless diagnostic data.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a group representing automakers, filed a lawsuit against Question 1, saying it “makes personal driving data available to third parties with no safeguards to protect core vehicle functions and consumers’ private information or physical safety.” The lawsuit is ongoing.

According to the Repair Association, an advocacy group in favor of right-to-repair policies, two states, Colorado and New York, have passed right-to-repair bills, while 10 states, not including Maine, have active legislation under consideration this year.

Initiatives in Maine require 67,682 valid signatures to appear before the Legislature. If lawmakers approve the initiative, it becomes law. If not, it will appear on the November 2023 ballot.

As of Jan. 23, five measures have been certified for the ballot in three states. That’s down from 10 certified this time in 2021 but up from the one in 2019.

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Florida creates new appellate court district

A new year brings many new things, and for some in Florida, that includes a new appellate court district. On Jan. 1, a law establishing the state’s Sixth District Court of Appeal located east of Tampa in Lakeland took effect. The Sixth District has jurisdiction over the Ninth, Tenth, and Twentieth Circuit Courts.

Appellate courts serve as an intermediate step between trial courts (where a case originates) and the state supreme court. After a trial court renders a decision, plaintiffs or defendants can file an appeal, which typically moves it to an appellate court for further review.

This is the first time Florida has added a new appellate court district since 1979.

The Florida Supreme Court requested the new appellate court in 2021, recommending that legislators redraw the state’s district court boundaries. A committee working on that recommendation said a new district would “provide adequate access to oral arguments and proceedings, foster public trust and confidence based on geography and demographic composition, and help attract a diverse group of well-qualified applicants for judicial vacancies.”

Legislators and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) enacted redrawn lines—which included the new Sixth District—in June of last year.

DeSantis appointed judges to fill each of the new court’s nine seats before its formation. Six of those judges were reassigned from other appellate districts. Three previously sat on circuit courts. 

Judge Meredith Sasso, previously of the Fifth District Court of Appeal, will serve as the new district’s chief judge. Former Gov. Rick Scott (R) first appointed Sasso to a judgeship in 2019.

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Wisconsin voters to decide three ballot measure questions on April 4

Welcome to the Monday, January 23, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Wisconsin Legislature puts three ballot questions on the April ballot
  2. Over the last week, 236 election-related bills were introduced in state legislatures  
  3. An update on last week’s additions to the Federal Register

Wisconsin Legislature puts three ballot questions on the April ballot

On April 4, Wisconsin voters will decide a closely watched state supreme court election and three ballot measures. The measures include two constitutional amendments and one advisory question. The supreme court election will determine ideological control of the court, which is currently considered to have a 4-3 conservative majority.

The constitutional amendments relate to the conditions of release for an accused individual before conviction and cash bail. The two questions were referred to the ballot with the final passage of Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR 2) on Jan. 19. The legislature also voted to place an advisory question on the April ballot. It asks: “Shall able-bodied, childless adults be required to look for work in order to receive taxpayer-funded welfare benefits?” 

Wisconsin has a divided government. Republicans control the state House and Senate, while a Democrat serves as governor.  

According to Wisconsin Public Radio’s Shawn Johnson, “The potential political benefit for Republicans is that the referendum questions they’ve chosen could appeal to voters who may otherwise be unlikely to cast ballots for the officially nonpartisan, sometimes low-key office of supreme court justice.”

In Wisconsin, a majority vote in two successive legislative sessions is required to approve an amendment for the amendment to appear on the ballot. Wisconsin is one of 13 states with a two-session requirement for legislatively referred constitutional amendments (in four of those states, an amendment that receives a supermajority in the first round can bypass the second).  

During the 2021-2022 legislative session, the amendments were introduced as Assembly Joint Resolution 107 (AJR 107). The state Assembly approved AJR 107 by a vote of 70-21 on Feb. 15, 2022. The state Senate approved the joint resolution 23-10 on Feb. 22. 

During the 2023-2024 legislative session, the amendments were introduced as SJR 2. The Senate approved it 23-9 on Jan. 17. The Assembly approved it 74-23 on Jan. 23. In both chambers, Republicans supported the SJR 2. In the House, Democrats voted 12-23. In the Senate, Democrats voted 2-9.

Wisconsin voters last amended this section of the state constitution in April 1981 with the passage of Question 3. The amendment permitted the legislature to allow courts to deny, revoke, or set terms of bail. It was approved by a vote of 73.15% to 26.85%. 

Between 1985 and 2022, 18 measures appeared on odd-numbered year ballots in Wisconsin. Eleven measures were approved and seven were defeated. The last spring odd-year election to include a ballot measure in Wisconsin was in 2015. Voters approved a measure allowing majority of supreme court justices to elect a chief justice..

Click to read more about Wisconsin’s 2023 ballot measures.

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236 election-related bills introduced in state legislatures  

Since Jan. 13, 236 election-related bills have been introduced (or saw pre-committee action). That represents a 7.4 percent decrease from last week’s total of 256 bills. 

These 236 bills represent 29 percent of the 808 bills we are currently tracking in 2023. Seventy-three of these bills are from states with Democratic trifectas, 123 are from states with Republican trifectas, and 40 are from states with a divided government.

The bar chart below compares recent activity on a week-to-week basis over the last eight weeks.

To date, we have tracked 808 election-related bills in 2023. These bills were either introduced this year or crossed over from last year’s legislative sessions. 

If you want to learn more about election-related legislation, click the link below and subscribe to our weekly election legislation tracking digest. You’ll receive weekly updates on election-related activity across the states, including information about noteworthy bills, the number of bills acted on within a given week, and which states have seen the highest concentration of legislative activity. You can also use our interactive Election Administration Legislation Tracker to find and read election-related bills in your state. 

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An update on last week’s additions to the Federal Register

Now that we’ve talked about state legislatures, let’s take a look at what’s happening in D.C.

Between Jan. 16-20, the Federal Register added 1,410 pages for a year-to-date total of 3,910 pages. 

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal activity. The 1935 Federal Register Act created the journal to centralize and standardize the public release of federal government information. The journal includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices, and is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.

This week’s update features 468 documents, including 372 notices, four presidential documents, 31 proposed rules and 61 final rules.

Ten rules—three proposed and seven final—were deemed significant under E.O. 12866. A rule is defined as significant if it has the potential to have large effects on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. One of the significant proposals concerns revisions to regulations under the Black Lung Benefits Act regarding authorization of self-insurers from the Workers’ Compensation Programs Office. One of significant final rules concerns amendments to medical regulations regarding emergent suicide care from the Veterans Affairs Department. 

Significant actions may conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Biden administration has issued 21 significant proposed rules, 13 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of Jan. 20.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

We maintain page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of our 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.Click below to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017.

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

Welcome to the Friday, January 20, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Less than 10% of all bills introduced to change ballot initiative processes passed in 2022
  2. 18% of last year’s congressional elections were decided by fewer than 10 percentage points
  3. #FridayTrivia: How many people have filed with the FEC to run for president in 2024?

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 were enacted into law, representing 9.9% of those 232 bills, 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%.

Examples of bills passed in 2022 include:

  • Florida House Bill 921 would have prohibited out-of-state donors from giving more than $3,000 to support or oppose an initiative during the signature-gathering phase. A U.S. district court declared the law unconstitutional last June.
  • Washington House Bill 1876 requires ballot language to include a statement describing how an initiative might affect state revenue.

In addition to these bills, voters also decided an increased number of legislatively referred ballot measures on the initiative process in 2022. 

There were six such measures on the ballot in four states: five constitutional amendments and one referred statute. This is up from two in 2018 and four in 2020. Voters approved two and rejected three:

  • Arkansas Issue 2 would have required a 60% vote to approve future ballot measures instead of a simple majority. Voters rejected this measure with 59% of the vote.
  • Arizona Proposition 128 would have allowed the Legislature to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot measures containing provisions the Arizona or U.S. Supreme Courts rule unconstitutional. Voters rejected this measure with 64% of the vote.
  • Arizona Proposition 129 requires citizen-initiated ballot measures to cover a single subject. Voters approved this measure with 55% of the vote.
  • Arizona Proposition 132 requires a 60% vote to pass ballot measures affecting taxes. Voters approved this measure with 51% of the vote.
  • Colorado Proposition GG adds a table to ballot titles for initiatives showing changes in income tax owed for average taxpayers in certain brackets. Voters approved this measure with 72% of the vote.
  • South Dakota Amendment C would have required a 60% vote to approve future ballot measures that increase taxes or fees or increase appropriations by $10 million or more in the first five fiscal years. Voters rejected this measure with 67% of the vote.

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18% of last year’s congressional elections were decided by fewer than 10 percentage points

Of the 470 congressional elections held in 2022, 18.1% (85) were decided by 10 percentage points or fewer. 

Ten of those races were for the U.S. Senate, where 35 seats were up for election. Seventy-five were in the House, where all 435 districts were on the ballot.

The percentage of races decided by fewer than 10 percentage points decreased in 2022 compared to 2018 and 2020 but was higher than in 2014 and 2016.

But when looking at races decided by five percentage points or fewer, the figure in 2022 is actually the second-highest since 2014 at 9.8% (46), behind only 2018 with 10.6% (50).

The closest Senate race in 2022 was in Nevada, where incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) defeated Adam Laxalt (R) by a margin of 0.50 percentage points (48.70% to 48.20%).

The closest House race was in Colorado’s 3rd District, where incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert (R) defeated Adam Frisch (D) by a margin of 0.17 percentage points (50.06% to 49.89%).

The list below shows the five offices with the narrowest margins of victory in 2022, along with the winning candidate and margin of victory. Of these five races, incumbents won re-election in two, one incumbent—Yvette Herrell (R-N.M.)—lost, and the two races in California and Michigan were for open seats.

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#FridayTrivia: How many people have filed with the FEC to run for president in 2024?

In Thursday’s Brew, we looked at the most recent presidential candidate filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). As of Jan. 17, the number of people who have filed to run is already at its third-highest level in 40 years. To run for president, you must be a natural-born citizen of the U.S., at least 35 years old, and a resident of the U.S. for at least 14 years.

As of Jan. 17, how many people have filed with the FEC to run for president in 2024?

  1. 1,212
  2. 314
  3. 859
  4. 531


Redistricting litigation updates in five states

Welcome to the Thursday, January 19, Brew. 

By: Juan Garcia de Paredes

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Updates regarding redistricting litigation in five states
  2. 2024 presidential candidate filings currently at the third-highest level in forty years
  3. Listen to our interview with pollster and political analyst Scott Rasmussen for On the Ballot, our weekly podcast

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). 

Here are some updates regarding redistricting litigation in South Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas.

South Carolina

On Jan. 6, a federal three-judge panel ruled that South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District was unconstitutional and enjoined the state from conducting future elections in the district until the court approved new boundaries. The ruling ordered the General Assembly to submit a remedial map for its review by Mar. 31. 

South Carolina enacted new congressional district maps on Jan. 26, 2022, when Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed a proposal approved by the South Carolina House and Senate into law. Both state legislative chambers approved the congressional map along party lines, with Republicans supporting the proposal and Democrats opposing it.

On Feb. 10, 2022, the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and a South Carolina voter filed an amended complaint against State Senate President Thomas Alexander (R), four other state legislators, and the members of the South Carolina State Election Commission challenging the constitutionality of the state’s congressional district boundaries. The complaint argued that South Carolina’s enacted congressional map “discriminates on the basis of race by appearing to preserve the ability of Black voters to elect in Congressional District 6 (“CD”) while working adeptly to deny the ability of Black voters to elect or even influence elections in any of the other six congressional districts.”

The complaint challenged the constitutionality of the state’s 1st, 2nd, and 5th congressional district boundaries. The three-judge panel ruled the boundaries of the 2nd and 5th district were constitutional, while the boundaries of the 1st district were not. 

Chief Judge Roger Gregory of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit appointed the three judges on the panel. Two of the judges – Judge Mary Geiger Lewis and Judge Richard Gergel from the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina – were nominated to their current court by President Barack Obama (D), while the third one — Judge Toby Heytens from the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit — was nominated by President Joe Biden (D). 

As of January 18, 2023, it was unclear whether the state would appeal the ruling. 

Kansas

On Nov. 23, the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state’s congressional district boundaries filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS). The petition—which asks SCOTUS to hear the case—challenges the Kansas Supreme Court’s May 2022 decision upholding that state’s congressional redistricting plan. As of January 18, SCOTUS had not announced whether it would review the case. 

Kansas enacted congressional district boundaries on February 9, 2022, when both the state Senate and House overrode Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) veto of a redistricting plan that the legislature passed. The House of Representatives overrode Kelly’s veto 85-37 on February 9, 2022, with all votes in favor by Republicans, and 36 Democrats and one Republican voting to sustain the veto. The Senate overrode Kelly’s veto 27-11 along party lines on February 8, 2022. The state Senate originally approved the congressional district map proposal on January 21, 2022, and the state House of Representatives approved it on January 26, 2022. Kelly had vetoed the congressional map on February 3, 2022.

On Apr. 25, 2022, Wyandotte County District Court Judge Bill Klapper struck down Kansas’ enacted congressional map. Klapper ruled on a case that resulted from the consolidation of three lawsuits challenging congressional district boundaries on the grounds that they violated the state constitution due to political and racial gerrymandering.

On Jun. 21, 2022, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned the district’s court’s decision that had found that the state’s congressional district boundaries were unconstitutional. The state supreme court’s order said, “The record below demonstrates that plaintiffs did not ask the district court to apply the correct applicable legal tests to their race-based claims. The district court, in turn, did not apply these legal tests to plaintiffs’ race-based claims…Therefore, on the record before us, plaintiffs have failed to satisfy their burden to meet the legal elements required for a showing of unlawful racial gerrymandering or unlawful race-based vote dilution.”

Mississippi

On Dec. 20, the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP and five Mississippi voters filed a lawsuit in federal district court challenging the state’s legislative district map. The suit alleges that the boundaries the legislature enacted in March 2022 violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act and “illegally dilute the voting strength of Black Mississippians and improperly use voters’ race to achieve partisan goals and protect incumbent politicians.”

On Dec. 20, Judge Priscilla Richman, the Chief Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, appointed a three-judge panel to hear the case. The judges on the panel — Circuit Judge Leslie Southwick, District Judge Daniel Jordan, and District Judge Sul Ozerden — were nominated to their current court by President George W. Bush (R). 

Mississippi enacted new state legislative district boundaries on Mar. 31, 2022, when both legislative chambers approved district maps for the other chamber. Legislative redistricting in Mississippi is done via a joint resolution and did not require Gov. Tate Reeves’ (R) approval.

Mississippi voters will decide elections for all 52 state Senate seats and all 122 state House of Representatives seats in 2023. The qualifying period for prospective state legislative candidates began on Jan. 3 and ends on Feb. 1.

North Carolina

On Dec. 16, the North Carolina Supreme Court affirmed the February 2022 decision of the Wake County Superior Court that rejected the remedial congressional redistricting plan that the General Assembly adopted (RCP) and adopted the Modified remedial congressional redistricting plan (Modified RCP) that the court-appointed special masters developed. The special masters were three former judges: former Superior Court Judge Tom Ross, a Democrat, former state Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, an independent, and former state Supreme Court Justice Bob Edmunds, a Republican. The Modified RCP was used for North Carolina’s 2022 congressional elections. 

Two of the justices who voted to affirm the Wake County Superior Court’s decision — Justice Robin Hudson (D) and Justice Sam Ervin IV (D) — left the court on January 1, 2023, 16 days after the ruling took place. Hudson did not run for re-election in 2022, and Ervin lost re-election on November 8. 

The North Carolina General Assembly originally enacted new congressional district boundaries on Nov. 4, 2021. On Feb. 4, 2022, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that the enacted congressional map violated the state constitution and directed the General Assembly to develop new maps.

Republican state legislators filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 25, 2022, asking to halt the state court’s order until SCOTUS could review the case. The United States Supreme Court declined on Mar. 7, 2022, to block the enacted congressional map. The Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives—Timothy K. Moore (R)—appealed this case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case on Jun. 30, 2022. The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in this case on Dec. 7, 2022.

Texas

On Dec. 6, a federal district court dismissed the League of United Latin American Citizens’ claims that the state’s adopted congressional district boundaries do not enable Hispanics to “have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice” in Texas’ 15th Congressional District. This is one of seven ongoing cases challenging the congressional map Texas adopted after the 2020 census.

From September 2021 to May 2022, 44 states enacted revised congressional district boundaries after the 2020 census, and six states were apportioned one U.S. House district, so no congressional redistricting was required.

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2024 presidential candidate filings currently at the third-highest level in 40 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 figure excludes candidates whose filings have expired or who we identified as fake candidates.

Any person running for president that raises or spends more than $5,000 for a campaign must file a Statement of Candidacy with the FEC within 15 days. To do so, that person must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, at least 35 years old, and a resident of the United States for at least 14 years. A Statement of Candidacy includes basic information like the candidate’s name and address and any campaign committees working for them.

The number of filings in the 2024 election is the third most in 40 years. In 2016, 1,762 candidates filed with the FEC to run for president. In 2020, 1,212 candidates filed. 

Of the 11 presidential elections that took place from 1980 to 2020, the 1984 election had the highest proportion of Democratic candidates at 40.1%. The major party candidates running that year were incumbent Ronald Reagan (R) and Walter Mondale (D). The 2012 election had the highest proportion of Republican candidates in that period at 29.0%. The major party candidates that year were incumbent Barack Obama (D) and Mitt Romney (R). The highest proportion of nonpartisan or minor party candidates filed in 2016 (70.4%), which featured Hillary Clinton (D) and Donald Trump (R).

The current proportion of 2024 candidates—14.5% Democratic, 27.3% Republican, and 58.2% nonpartisan or minor party candidates—most closely resembles the averages seen in presidential elections with a Democratic incumbent. President Joe Biden (D) has not announced a re-election campaign, but he is eligible to run for a second term in 2024.

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Interview with pollster 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 steps in for host Victoria Rose to interview pollster Scott Rasmussen, the president of RMG Research and the author of the Number of the Day column for Ballotpedia. In their conversation, Geoff and Rasmussen cover various topics, from the 2022 U.S. House results and the difficulty of polling today to political polarization in America and even the origins of sliced bread!

Episodes of On the Ballot come out Thursdays.

Click below to listen to older episodes and find links to subscribe.

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