TagDaily Brew

The Daily Brew: An early look at the 2022 Senate elections

Welcome to the Thursday, Feb. 11, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. An early look at the 2022 Senate elections
  2. Oklahoma school board primary results
  3. January state legislature count: 54% Republican, 45% Democrat

An early look at the 2022 Senate elections

Now that the 2020 election cycle is completed, we’re pivoting to take a look at the 2022 elections. Today, let’s dive into what we know about the 2022 U.S. Senate elections so far.

On Nov. 8, 2022, 34 U.S. Senate seats will be up for election. Heading into those elections, the Senate is tied 50-50 – Democrats control the majority owing to the tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris. 

Of the 34 Senate seats up for election in 2022, Republicans currently hold 20 and Democrats hold 14. Four Republicans – Alabama’s Richard Shelby, North Carolina’s Richard Burr, Ohio’s Rob Portman, and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey – have announced they will not run for re-election.

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

Early race ratings

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

Toss-up or Democratic advantage



New Hampshire


Toss-up or Republican advantage


North Carolina




Seats that changed party hands

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

The last time these Senate seats were up for election, seven were won by a margin of fewer than 5 percentage points. They are listed below by margin. Of those seven seats, Democrats won four and Republicans won three.

  • Wisconsin: Ron Johnson (R) won by 3.4 percentage points in 2016.
  • Missouri: Roy Blunt (R) won by 2.8 percentage points in 2016.
  • Arizona: Mark Kelly (D) defeated incumbent Martha McSally (R) by 2.4 percentage points in the 2020 special election.
  • Nevada: Catherine Cortez Masto (D) won by 2.4 percentage points in 2016.
  • Georgia: Raphael Warnock (D) defeated incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R) by 2.1 percentage points in the special runoff election last month.
  • Pennsylvania: Pat Toomey (R) won by 1.5 percentage points in 2016.
  • New Hampshire: Maggie Hassan (D) defeated incumbent Kelly Ayotte (R) by 0.1 percentage point in 2016.

Read on

Oklahoma school board primary results

February means Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, and school board primaries in Oklahoma. On Feb. 9, Oklahoma held its primary elections for school boards across the state. Ballotpedia covered elections for 35 seats across 27 of those boards. 

Below are some quick stats from the results. Oklahoma is one of 14 states that cancel primary elections when they are unopposed.

  • Seventeen elections (49%) were won outright by unopposed candidates.
  • In thirteen other races (37%), two candidates automatically advanced from the primary to the general election on April 6. 
  • The remaining five seats (14%) held primaries between three or more candidates. 

The 49% of elections won outright by unopposed candidates in 2021 was lower than in the last two years. That number was 18 (64%) in 2020 and 16 (53%) in 2019. 

Elections can be won outright in the primary if a candidate receives more than 50% of the vote.

Read on 

January state legislature count: 54% Republican, 45% Democrat

Last week, I mentioned our monthly count of the partisan breakdown in all 99 state legislative chambers. Let’s take a look at January’s report. 

Out of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States, 54.3% of all state legislators are Republicans and 44.9% are Democrats as of Jan. 31.

Before the 2020 general election, Republicans held a majority in 59 chambers and Democrats held a majority in 39 chambers, with Alaska’s House of Representatives organized under a power-sharing agreement. 

After the elections, Republicans control 61 chambers, and Democrats hold 37. Control of Alaska’s state House remains undetermined.

Nationally, there are 1,953 state senators and 5,366 state representatives. Democrats hold 864 state Senate seats and 2,448 state House seats. Republicans hold 4,007 total seats—1,089 in state Senates and 2,918 in state Houses. Independent or third-party legislators hold 36 seats: 31 state House seats and five state Senate seats. There are 28 vacant seats.

Read on 

The Daily Brew: Alaska House yet to elect permanent speaker after 2020 elections

Welcome to the Wednesday, Feb. 10, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Alaska House of Representatives elects temporary speaker
  2. Iowa voters to decide constitutional amendment regarding firearms next year
  3. Checking in on 2021 state supreme court vacancies

Alaska House of Representatives elects temporary speaker

Forty-six state legislatures are currently in session. The Alaska House of Representatives has been in session since Jan. 19. But no regular business has taken place because legislators have not elected a permanent speaker or organized committees.

Partisan control of the House was uncertain after the 2020 elections, split between those favoring a Republican-led majority and those supporting a multi-party coalition. Republicans won 21 of 40 seats, but Rep. Louise Stutes (R) joined a coalition of 16 Democrats and three independents, leaving legislators split into two 20-member factions.

The Alaska House elected Josiah Patkotak (I) unanimously as temporary speaker on Feb. 4. Patkotak was elected to his first term on Nov. 3. He is presiding over the chamber until a permanent speaker is elected, taking over for Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer (R) who had filled the role of presiding officer since the legislative session began. Legislators have not submitted any nominations for a permanent speaker as of Feb. 9.

Alaska has a Republican governor, and Republicans control the state Senate, so final control of the chamber will also determine the state’s trifecta status.

The Alaska House faced a similar situation after the 2018 elections. That year, Republican-aligned candidates won 23 seats, and Democratic-aligned candidates won 17. A coalition of 15 Democrats, four Republicans, and two independents elected Bryce Edgmon (I) as House speaker on Feb. 14, 2019. Edgmon was originally elected as a Democrat but changed his party affiliation to independent before he was elected speaker. Both parties split control of key leadership positions and committees. 

>Read on

Iowa voters to decide constitutional amendment regarding firearms next year

Iowa voters will decide a state constitutional amendment in 2022 that says, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” and “Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”

Both chambers of the legislature approved the measure on Jan. 28, certifying it for the next general election. The votes were along party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats opposed. To put a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment before voters, both chambers of the legislature must approve it by a simple majority in two legislative sessions. There also must be a state legislative election between the two sessions.

Amendment sponsors originally intended to pass the bill during the 2017-2018 and 2019-2020 sessions to place the question on the 2020 ballot. However, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) said in January 2019 that his office failed to publish the amendment in two newspapers in each of Iowa’s congressional districts and on the legislature’s website once per month for three months, as the state constitution requires. Because the amendments passed during the 2018 legislative session were not published, sponsors had to start the amendment process from the beginning. 

Forty-four states include a right to bear arms in their constitutions, some for self-defense and the defense of the state. North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia were the first to add such a right to their state constitutions in 1776. The most recent amendments were added in Alabama and Missouri in 2014 and Louisiana in 2012.

Iowa’s constitutional amendment is one of four statewide ballot measures in three states approved for the 2022 ballot.

>Read on 

Checking in on 2021 state supreme court vacancies

So far this year, there have been seven supreme court vacancies in the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies occurred in six states, and retirements caused all seven.

Here’s a look at the two most recently-announced vacancies, including one in Missouri that could change the partisan balance when considering the party of the governor that appointed each justice.

  • Idaho Supreme Court Justice Roger Burdick is retiring on June 30. Republican Gov. Dirk Kempthorne appointed him in 2003, and voters retained him in 2004, 2010, and 2016. Burdick’s current term would have expired in January 2023. His replacement will be Republican Gov. Brad Little’s first appointment to the five-member supreme court. 
    • Following Burdick’s retirement, Republican governors will have appointed three justices to the supreme court, and one justice was elected in a nonpartisan election to an open seat.
  • Missouri Supreme Court Justice Laura Denvir Stith is retiring on Mar. 8. Democratic Gov. Bob Holden appointed her to this position in 2001, and voters retained her in 2002 and 2014. Stith’s current term would have expired on Dec. 31, 2026. Her replacement will be Gov. Mike Parson’s (R) first nominee to the seven-member supreme court.
    • Before Stith’s retirement, a Democratic governor appointed four justices on the court, and a Republican governor appointed three. After Gov. Parson appoints Stith’s replacement, the composition of the court will change—Republican governors will have appointed four justices, and Democratic governors will have appointed three.

In 2020, there were 23 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. In 2019, there were 22 vacancies in those states. 

>Read on

The Daily Brew: The first two congressional special elections of the 117th Congress

Welcome to the Monday, Feb. 8, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Previewing the upcoming congressional special elections
  2. Harris casts her first tie-breaking votes as vice president
  3. Upcoming redistricting 101 briefing

Previewing the upcoming congressional special elections

It seems like the Georgia congressional races just happened, but we’re already looking ahead to the special elections to Louisiana’s 2nd and 5th Congressional District—the first special elections of the 117th Congress. Both races will be held on March 20, with the candidate filing deadline having passed on Jan. 22.

  • Fifteen candidates are running for Louisiana’s 2nd District, which became vacant when President Joe Biden (D) announced that former Rep. Cedric Richmond (D) would join his administration as a senior adviser to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Media coverage has focused primarily on Troy Carter, Karen Peterson, and Gary Chambers. Carter and Peterson are both members of the Louisiana state Senate representing districts 7 and 5, respectively. Chambers is a social activist and publisher from Baton Rouge.
  • Twelve candidates are running for Louisiana’s 5th District, which became vacant when former Representative-elect Luke Letlow (R) died on Dec. 29 from complications related to COVID-19. Letlow had just won the seat in the Dec. 5 general election. Media coverage has focused on Candy Christophe (D), Chad Conerly (R), Allen Guillory Sr. (R), and Julia Letlow (R). Christophe, the only Democratic candidate running in the primary, is a business owner and social worker. Guillory is a business owner and has a degree in criminal justice. Conerly is a veteran who has worked in finance with the Air Force and White House Communications Agency. Letlow, the widow of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, has worked in marketing and as an administrator at the University of Louisiana Monroe and Tulane University.

Elections in the Bayou State take place under the Louisiana majority-vote system. All candidates compete in the same primary, and a candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate does, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their partisan affiliation.

We are also anticipating two other potential special congressional elections that could happen this year. Both are for congressional districts represented by a Biden administration appointee whose appointment requires Senate confirmation. Rep. Debra Haaland (D) from New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District was nominated as secretary for the interior, and Rep. Marcia Fudge (D) from Ohio’s 11th Congressional District was nominated as secretary of housing and urban development. Should they be confirmed to their new posts, a special election will then be triggered.

Fifty special elections to the United States Congress were held during the 113th through 116th Congresses (2013-2020). During that time, special elections were called for 16 seats vacated by Democrats and 34 vacated by Republicans.


Harris casts her first tie-breaking votes as vice president

On Feb. 5, Vice President Kamala Harris (D) cast her first two tie-breaking votes in the U.S. Senate

  • The Senate voted 50-50 to adopt a budget resolution relating to COVID-19 economic relief. Harris broke the tie to adopt the resolution. 
  • The Senate voted 50-50 to adopt an amendment proposed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) on the budget resolution. Harris broke the tie to adopt the amendment.

Since John Adams cast the first tie-breaking vote on July 18, 1789, there have been 270 such votes from 37 vice presidents. Former Vice President Mike Pence (R) cast 13 tie-breaking votes in the Senate. Twelve vice presidents, including Joe Biden (D) and Dan Quayle (R), never cast a tie-breaking vote during their time in office. 

Stef Kight of Axios wrote about Harris’ role as vice president on Jan. 11: “Harris will now assume the role during only the second 50-50 split Senate during the past 60 years. Congress is facing the prospect of major legislation addressing the coronavirus, comprehensive immigration reform and voting rights.”

Under the U.S. Constitution, the vice president of the United States also serves as the president of the Senate. In this capacity, he or she may cast the deciding vote when there is a tie in the Senate.


Upcoming redistricting 101 briefing

The 2020 U.S. Census is complete, and the Ballotpedia staff have been patiently awaiting the exciting time of receiving updated Census data. The process has been delayed on several occasions, with the next scheduled date of data delivery on April 1. In the meantime, let’s run through the basics of redistricting with a briefing. 

Join us on Feb. 10 at 11:00 a.m. Central as we walk through what to know about redistricting. Our team will discuss:

  • How redistricting works
  • What’s at stake during this redistricting cycle
  • What’s changed from the last cycle
  • The latest news and updates

Click here to reserve your spot today!

The Daily Brew: 25 states have legalized sports betting

Welcome to the Friday, Feb. 5, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. A look at the current sports betting landscape
  2. Kansas voters to decide abortion-related constitutional amendment in 2022
  3. Today’s the last day to send a snail-mail Ballotpedia Valentine and pin
  4. What’s the Tea?

A look at the current sports betting landscape

The American Gaming Association released a study on Feb. 2 that projected that 23.2 million Americans will wager an estimated $4.3 billion on the Super Bowl this year. This includes people who will bet with friends, through an online or in-person sportsbook, or in a pool or similar contest.

Nevada enacted laws permitting gambling on sporting events in 1949, and it was the only state where legal sports wagering was allowed until 2018. 

New Jersey voters approved a 2011 constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to legalize sports betting, and the state enacted such a law in 2012. However, four professional sports leagues and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) filed suit to block the New Jersey law, arguing that it violated the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a 1992 federal law that prohibited states from authorizing sports gambling. 

A federal district court and the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld PASPA, preventing New Jersey from offering legal sports betting. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed those decisions in May 2018, ruling in Murphy v. NCAA (originally Christie v. NCAA) that PASPA was unconstitutional.

Twenty-five states and Washington, D.C., have legalized sports betting either through statute or ballot measure, as shown in the map below. Based on 2019 census estimates, 146.4 million people—or 44.5% of the country—live in states where sports betting is legal. These 25 states currently are 11 Democratic state government trifectas, nine Republican trifectas, and six states with divided government. In some states, sports betting is only permitted in certain jurisdictions or venues. 

Proponents of a California measure that would legalize sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks reported submitting about 1.4 million signatures in December. If enough signatures are deemed valid, voters will decide that measure in November 2022.

Last year, South Dakota voters approved a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment on Nov. 3 legalizing sports betting within the city limits of Deadwood, South Dakota. Maryland voters also approved a legislatively-referred statute authorizing sports and events wagering at certain licensed facilities. 

Read on>

Kansas voters to decide abortion-related constitutional amendment in 2022 

Kansas voters will decide a measure in 2022 that would add language to the state constitution stating that “the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion.” The amendment would also state that “the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion.” The measure will go before voters at the state’s primary election on Aug. 2, 2022.

The amendment is a response to a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling that held the state’s Bill of Rights does include a right to abortion. If voters approve the amendment, courts will be prevented from ruling the state constitution includes a right to abortion.

The Kansas state House passed the amendment 86 to 38 on Jan. 22. All House Republicans voted in favor of the amendment, and all Democrats voted against it (one was absent). One independent member also voted against the amendment. The state Senate approved the measure 28-11 on Jan. 28. All Republican members voted for the amendment, and all Democratic members voted against it.

Constitutional amendments in Kansas are put on the ballot if two-thirds of each chamber of the legislature approves it. Amendments do not require the governor’s signature, nor can a governor veto a proposed amendment. Kansas is one of 40 states that allow the legislature to place amendments before voters after just one legislative session, depending on whether the amendment receives a simple majority or supermajority. From 1995 through 2020, the Kansas Legislature referred ten constitutional amendments to the ballot. Voters approved eight and rejected two.

Four states have adopted constitutional amendments declaring that their constitutions do not secure or protect a right to abortion or require the state to fund abortion. Tennessee was the first state to pass such an amendment in 2014. Alabama and West Virginia passed similar amendments in 2018. Louisiana voters did likewise last year. Court rulings in at least 10 states, including Kansas, have affirmed a state constitutional right to an abortion.

The following map shows the states where courts have ruled that a right to abortion exists under the state constitution and states with constitutional amendments stating that no such right exists:

Read on> 

Order your Ballotpedia Valentine today!

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Donate to Ballotpedia and choose from one of four witty Valentine’s day cards to send to your friends, family, or colleagues. We’ll mail them out with a special Ballotpedia Valentine’s day pin. 

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What’s the Tea?

Super Bowl LV takes place this Sunday—Feb. 7—between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Florida. What are you looking forward to the most about this year’s event?

  1. The game
  2. The commercials
  3. The halftime show
  4. Wait, the Super Bowl is this weekend?

The Daily Brew: Voters approved 13 statewide election policy changes in 2020

Welcome to the Thursday, Feb. 4, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Voters in 12 states approved election policy ballot measures in 2020
  2. Biden has signed 28 executive orders in first two weeks in office
  3. Tracking federal judicial nominations

Update: An astute reader emailed us about an elected official we missed in Wednesday’s Brew about politicians who played in the Super Bowl. Reggie Williams was a member of the Cincinnati Bengals and played in the 1982 and 1989 Super Bowls. He was appointed to the Cincinnati City Council in 1988 and elected to a full term on the council in 1989—his final year in the NFL. As a longtime Bengals fan, I’m a little mad at myself that we omitted him, but thanks so much to that reader for pointing that out!

Voters approved 13 election policy ballot measures in 2020

In 2020, 39 states made changes to their election administration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to those changes, voters in 12 states approved 13 ballot measures related to election policy. Additionally, five measures were defeated. The topics included changes to campaign finance, election dates, election systems, redistricting, suffrage, and term limits. 

The number of last year’s approved election policy measures was lower than it was in 2018 and tied with 2016. In 2018, voters in 16 states approved 18 measures related to election policy and defeated three. In 2016, voters in seven states approved 13 measures related to election policy and defeated five.

The 13 statewide measures in 2020 are broken down as follows:

  • Campaign finance: One measure in one state (Oregon)
  • Election dates: One measure in one state (New Mexico)
  • Election systems: Three measures in three states (Alaska, Colorado, and Mississippi)
  • Redistricting: Three measures in three states (Missouri, New Jersey, and Virginia)
  • Suffrage: Four measures four states (Alabama, California, Colorado, and Florida)
  • Term limits: One measure in one state (Arkansas)

Voters in eleven local jurisdictions also approved 17 ballot measures related to election policy in the top 100 largest cities by population. The ballot measures spanned seven states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

Ballotpedia also tracked a selection of notable election-related measures outside of the top 100 largest cities. All five related to ranked-choice voting measures in cities in California, Colorado, and Minnesota. Voters approved all five.

>Read on

Biden has signed 28 executive orders in first two weeks in office

Yesterday marked two weeks since President Joe Biden (D) was inaugurated on Jan. 20. Since then, he has signed 28 executive orders, 11 presidential memoranda, and five proclamations.

Biden’s 28 executive orders are more than his three predecessors combined over the same period of time. Here’s a quick break-down of the different kinds of executive actions.

  • Executive orders are directives written by the president to officials within the executive branch requiring them to take or stop some action related to policy or management. They are numbered, published in the Federal Register, and cite the authority by which the president is making the order.
  • Presidential memoranda also include instructions directed at executive officials, but they are neither numbered nor have the same publication requirements. The Office of Management and Budget is also not required to issue a budgetary impact statement on the subject of the memoranda.
    • In his 2014 book, By Order of the President: The Use and Abuse of Executive Direct Action, Phillip J. Cooper, a professor of public administration at Portland State University, wrote, “As a practical matter, the memorandum is now being used as the equivalent of an executive order, but without meeting the legal requirements for an executive order.”
  • Proclamations are a type of executive directive that typically relate to private individuals or ceremonial events, such as holidays and commemorations.

>Read on 

Tracking federal judicial nominations

If you are a regular Brew reader, you know that we pay close attention to judicial nominations. We have been tracking data around that since Ballotpedia’s founding. Through his first few weeks in office, President Biden has not announced any judicial nominations. 

During the first two weeks of former President Donald Trump’s (R) term, he had made one nomination: Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. After Gorsuch, Trump’s next nomination was on March 9, 2017. Former President Barack Obama’s (D) first nomination was on April 2, 2009.

As of Feb. 1, there were 57 vacancies out of 870 Article III judicial positions (6.6%). 

Biden’s lack of nominees could change soon. The Washington Post reported that Biden’s advisers have prepared a list of judicial nominees to fill the current vacancies. The Biden administration does not plan to review and rate candidates in consultation with the American Bar Association until after their formal nomination, unlike the former process of the Obama administration.

>Read on

The Daily Brew: 13 politicians played in at least one Super Bowl

Welcome to the Wednesday, Feb. 3, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. At least 13 politicians have played in the Super Bowl
  2. Delaware Legislature amends state constitution to prohibit discrimination according to race, color, national origin
  3. 20 state executive offices switched party control in 2020

At least 13 politicians have played in the Super Bowl

Super Bowl week is here. So, let’s see, Super Bowl and politics…how can we bring the two together? How about exploring which political figures have ever played in a Super Bowl?

We identified 13 people who played in at least one Super Bowl from 1970 to 2010 before running for elected office or serving in government. The first Super Bowl was played in 1967.

Of those 13, Lynn Swann of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Alan Page of the Minnesota Vikings made the most Super Bowl appearances with four each. Swann ran for governor of Pennsylvania in 2006, and Page was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1992, where he served until reaching the court’s mandatory retirement age in 2015.

These 13 Super Bowl participants ran for office in 11 different states—Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington. Of the 13, six are current political figures, including two in the U.S. House—Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) and Burgess Owens (R-Utah). Eight of the politicians who played in the Super Bowl ran as Republicans, and two ran as Democrats. Three served in offices that were officially nonpartisan.

Nine of these 13 Super Bowl players were elected. Three were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, one to a state Senate district, one to a state supreme court, one to a local court, one to a county council, one to a county commission, and one to a mayoral office. The full list is presented in the chart below.

Are there any Super Bowl participants that you know of that we missed? Send us an email at editor@ballotpedia.org.

>Read on

Delaware Legislature amends state constitution to prohibit discrimination according to race, color, national origin 

We wrote yesterday in the Brew about a recent issue with a state constitutional amendment in Pennsylvania. Here’s a story about how Delaware recently changed its constitution, using its one-of-a-kind process.

The Delaware Legislature approved a constitutional amendment on Jan. 28 prohibiting discrimination according to race, color, and national origin. Delaware is the only state where the legislature can amend the state constitution without a ballot measure appearing before voters.

This new amendment adds “race, color, national origin” to the state constitution’s Bill of Rights. That section now reads, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of race, color, national origin, or sex.”

There are two ways to amend Delaware’s constitution. 

  • The state legislature must approve a proposed amendment by a two-thirds vote of each chamber in two consecutive legislative sessions. Such amendments do not require the governor’s signature before becoming effective.
  • The Delaware constitution can also be amended through a constitutional convention. The state legislature can refer the following question for voters to decide via a two-thirds vote in each chamber: “Shall there be a Convention to revise the Constitution and amend the same?” If a simple majority of voters approves the question, the state will hold a constitutional convention.

In the 49 other states, the legislature must refer proposed constitutional amendments to the ballot for voter approval. States have varying requirements for constitutional amendments originating in the legislatures. Some have multiple processes with separate requirements:

  • Ten states allow a referred amendment to go on the ballot after a majority vote in one session of the state’s legislature.
  • Nine states allow a referred amendment to go on the ballot after a 60% supermajority vote in one session of the state’s legislature.
  • Seventeen states allow a referred amendment to go on the ballot after a two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote in one session of the state’s legislature.
  • Fifteen states, including Delaware, have a two-session process for proposed constitutional amendments. 
  • Four states—Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania—have an either/or system, meaning that the legislature must pass a proposed amendment in two separate legislative sessions or a supermajority vote of one session.

>Read on 

20 state executive offices switched party control in 2020

One hundred and sixty-five state executive offices were up for election last year. Partisan control of 20 of those offices changed on Nov. 3. Republicans had a net gain of three state executive offices, and Democrats had a net loss of two.

In 2016, the last presidential election year, there were 93 state executive offices up for regular election. That year, partisan control of 23 offices changed, with Republicans having a net gain of 18 offices and Democrats having a net loss of 17.

Following the 2020 elections, Republicans hold nationwide majorities of all four top state executive offices:

  • There are 27 Republican governors and 23 Democratic governors.
  • There are 25 Republican lieutenant governors, 20 Democratic lieutenant governors, and five states without a lieutenant governor.
  • There are 25 Republican state attorneys general, 23 Democratic state attorneys general, and two nonpartisan state attorneys general.
  • There are 25 Republican secretaries of state, 21 Democratic secretaries of state, one independent, and three states without a secretary of state.

Eleven offices switched from Democratic to Republican control, and eight offices went from Republican to Democratic control. Vermont’s lieutenant governor changed from David Zuckerman (Vermont Progressive Party) to Molly Gray (D).

In two states, a change in partisan control of state executive offices resulted in a change in that state’s trifecta or triplex status. 

  • Greg Gianforte (R) defeated Mike Cooney (D) for Montana’s open governor’s office. Republicans maintained their majorities in both chambers of the state legislature, so Gianforte’s win created a Republican trifecta and triplex in the state.
  • Shemia Fagan (D) defeated Kim Thatcher (R) to win the election for Oregon’s secretary of state. Incumbent Bev Clarno (R) did not seek re-election. Because the governor and attorney general were already Democrats, Fagan’s win resulted in a Democratic triplex.

The 20 offices that changed control were spread across 15 states. There was a net gain for Democrats in eight states and a net gain for Republicans in seven. The state with the most Democratic gains was Kansas, where two positions on the state board of education changed from Republican to Democratic control. The state with the most Republican gains was Michigan, where three members of the state university boards of regents switched from Democrats to Republicans.

The map below shows states where party changes occurred in 2020. States shaded dark gray saw no change in the party control of the state executive offices up for election in 2020. In the case of Utah, the state began holding partisan elections for offices that were previously nonpartisan. Those elections were excluded from this analysis.

>Read on 

The Daily Brew: The incumbents who sought a change of scenery

Welcome to the Tuesday, Feb. 2, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. 344 members of Congress, state legislators sought another office in 2020
  2. Pennsylvania Secretary of Commonwealth to resign after error in constitutional amendment process
  3. Election result anticipated in New York’s 22nd Congressional District

344 members of Congress, state legislators sought another office in 2020

Ballotpedia regularly tracks incumbent success rates for congressional and state legislative incumbents. Another aspect of that analysis is how state legislators and members of Congress do when they run for a different office.

Last year, Ballotpedia tracked 344 officials in Congress and state legislatures who ran for a different office than the one to which they were elected. Of those 344 officials, 162 (47%) won election to a new position.

Of the 344 state legislators and members of Congress who sought another office in 2020, 169 (49%) were Republicans, 173 (50%) were Democrats, and two were independents. Overall, fifty-six percent of Republicans and 39% of Democrats won election to a new office. 

  • Fourteen members of the U.S. House and eight members of the U.S. Senate sought election to a different office. 
    • Four House members and all eight U.S. Senate members ran for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, losing to Joe Biden (D). 
    • Three Republican House members (45%) and two Democratic House members (28%) won election to a new position.
    • One House member lost in the general election and three others were defeated in their party’s primary. One withdrew before the primary.
    • The 14 House members who sought election to a different office included seven Democrats and seven Republicans.
    • Compared to 2018, fewer members of the U.S. House sought a different office in 2020. In 2018, Ballotpedia tracked 21 members of the House who sought election to statewide offices, including 10 Democrats and 11 Republicans. Forty-three percent won the general election.
  • In the state legislatures, 322 state lawmakers from 44 states ran for other elected office, with 49% winning their elections. Fifty-four percent of state representatives and 32% of state senators were successful in their bids for other elected office. Of the 322 state legislators, 162 were Republicans and 158 were Democrats. Two ran as independents. 
    • Fifty-seven percent of Republican state legislators and 41% of Democratic state legislators won election to a new position. 
    • Of the 244 state representatives who ran for a different office, a majority (59%) sought a state senate seat. Seventy-eight state senators ran for a different office, with the most sought-after (35%) being a seat in the U.S. House.
    • Compared to 2018, 150 fewer state legislators ran for another office in 2020. In 2018, 472 ran for a new position, with 46% successfully doing so.

>Read on 

Pennsylvania Secretary of Commonwealth to resign after error in constitutional amendment process

Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar (D) is expected to resign on Feb. 5 after her office failed to advertise a constitutional amendment as the state constitution requires. I asked our ballot measures team to explain how the process works in Pennsylvania.

A constitutional amendment must be approved at two successive sessions of the Pennsylvania Legislature. During the 2019-2020 legislative session, both legislative chambers approved the amendment. It was reintroduced during the 2021-2022 session, and the state House re-approved it on Jan. 27. 

The Pennsylvania Constitution (Section 1 of Article XI) required Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar (D) to publish the constitutional amendment in at least two newspapers in each of the state’s 67 counties during each of the three months before the next general election (Nov. 3, 2020). On Feb. 1, 2021, the Pennsylvania Department of State announced that officials did not advertise the constitutional amendment as required. The department’s press release said, “While the department will take every step possible to expedite efforts to move this initiative forward, the failure to advertise the proposed constitutional amendment means the process to amend the constitution must now start from the beginning.” 

Voters could have decided the constitutional amendment at the upcoming election on May 18, but the two-session process will now need to restart. The earliest the amendment could be referred to the ballot is now May 16, 2023. 

The constitutional amendment would have created a two-year period in which persons can file civil suits arising from childhood sexual abuse that would otherwise be considered outside the statute of limitations. A 2018 grand jury report that investigated child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church recommended the two-year litigation window.

Boockvar said in a statement that she learned of the error the week prior and immediately notified Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) office. “I’ve always believed that accountability and leadership must be a cornerstone of public service,” she said. Gov. Wolf appointed Boockvar to the office in 2019. 

Pennsylvania is not the only state to miss a constitutionally required advertisement period for constitutional amendment in recent years. 

In 2019, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) said that his office failed to report two constitutional amendments that the 86th Iowa General Assembly (2017-2018) approved in 2018. Like the Pennsylvania Constitution, the Iowa Constitution required notifications of the constitutional amendments to be published at least three months before the following general election. 

Unlike Pennsylvania, the Iowa Constitution doesn’t specify who needs to publish the amendment. Rather, it is set in statute. In response to the error, the Iowa Legislature passed a bill to make the state legislature, rather than secretary of state, responsible for publishing proposed constitutional amendments passed in one legislative session. Since the Pennsylvania Constitution specifically requires the secretary of commonwealth to publish amendments, a constitutional amendment would be needed to pursue a similar policy change as Iowa.

Thirty-six state constitutions have a publication requirement for proposed constitutional amendments. Most require public notice prior to the election at which voters are to decide a constitutional amendment. 

In six states (out of 13) with a two-session process for legislatively referred constitutional amendments, there are constitutionally mandated publication requirements in between approval in the first legislative session and the second legislative session. Those states are Iowa, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

>Read on

Election result anticipated in New York’s 22nd Congressional District

After a months-long litigation process, a final vote count is expected as early as today, Feb. 2, in the race for New York’s 22nd Congressional District between Anthony Brindisi (D) and Claudia Tenney (R). This election is one of two U.S. House races whose outcome remains unclear following the 2020 election cycle. New York’s 22nd does not currently have a voting representative in the U.S. House since no winner was certified before the 117th Congress was sworn in.

The most recent unofficial count shows Tenney with a 112-vote lead over Brindisi. These updated numbers were released following the recanvassing of Oneida County’s affidavit ballots on Jan. 29. Justice Scott DelConte of the Oswego County Supreme Court ordered the count to identify ballots cast by individuals whose voter registrations were not processed by the county board of elections in time for the election. Of the 1,097 ballots recanvassed, it was determined that 393 were cast by voters with unprocessed voter registrations.

Also on Jan. 29, DelConte released his final ruling on the absentee and affidavit ballot challenges brought by the Brindisi and Tenney legal teams. The decision included rulings on 17 types of ballot challenges. Of the 1,188 challenges made by the candidates, 470 were affirmed, 139 were overturned, 533 were withdrawn, and three were not preserved for judicial review. 

In his decision, DelConte ordered the boards of elections in the county to certify their election results in court on Feb. 2, meaning a winner in the race could be determined as soon as today. If results are certified with Tenney keeping her lead, the House will be composed of 221 Democrats and 212 Republicans. 

Follow along with us as we track the race at the link below.

>Read on

The Daily Brew: Send an election-themed Valentine today!

Welcome to the Monday, Feb. 1, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Support Ballotpedia: Send an election-themed Valentine today!
  2. 19 states saw at least one party with a net gain of seats in both state legislative chambers
  3. The most expensive ballot measure in recent Massachusetts history

Support Ballotpedia: Send an election-themed Valentine today!

Ah, February. We made it through the first month of 2021. The new month arrives bringing new elections, new candidate filings, and Valentine’s day! February 14th is just two weeks away. How will you celebrate this year?

As much as we like flowers, and candy, earning the trust of millions of voters is what really melts our hearts. And we know that you share our love of fair and accurate political information!

So here’s an idea for you or the election-lover in your life: make a donation to Ballotpedia this week, and you’ll be able to choose an election-themed Valentine that we will mail out with a special Ballotpedia Valentine’s Day pin.

It’s a win-win for you: You get to help millions of Americans get the information that they need… and you get to delight your politics-loving-sweetheart (or yourself!) with a Valentine delivered to the doorstep.

Pick out your Valentine’s day card here →

19 states saw at least one party with a net gain of seats in both state legislative chambers

We like to keep track of all sorts of partisan breakdowns at Ballotpedia. One example is our monthly count of the partisan breakdown in all 99 state legislative chambers, which came out on Friday. Along those lines, we also took a look at the states where at least one part saw a net gain of seats in both chambers after last year’s Nov. 3 elections. Let’s dive into the details.

There were 19 states where either Democrats, Republicans, or both had a net gain of seats in both the state House and Senate following the Nov. 3 elections.

Democrats had a net gain in both the chambers of four states. Their largest gain was in Connecticut, where Democrats picked up six seats in the state House and two in the state Senate. The smallest gains for Democrats were in Massachusetts and Missouri, with a net gain of three seats across both chambers in each state.

Republicans had a net gain in both chambers of 13 states. Their largest gain was in New Hampshire, where Republicans picked up 57 seats in the state House and four in the state Senate. 

Aside from Alaska, where control of the state House had yet to be determined as of Jan. 26, New Hampshire was the only state where control of a legislative chamber changed in the 2020 elections. Both the House and Senate flipped from Democratic to Republican control. The smallest net gains for Republicans were in Missouri and Oregon, with a net gain of one seat in both the House and Senate of each state.

Both Democrats and Republicans had net gains in two states—Missouri and Vermont—due to flipping seats that were either previously held by third-party legislators or winning seats that were vacant at the time of the election.

The map below shows those states where one party had net gains in both state legislative chambers shaded red, blue, or purple to indicate party gains.

Across all chambers that held regular state legislative elections in 2020, Democrats had a net loss of 114 seats, Republicans had a net gain of 175, and third parties had a net loss of 14.

To learn more about these chambers and the number of legislators by party following the 2020 election, keep reading at the link below.

> Read on 

The most expensive ballot measure in recent Massachusetts history

The final Massachusetts ballot measure campaign finance reports are in for 2020. Massachusetts Question 1 was the most expensive measure in the state for at least the last 15 years. 

The Right to Repair Coalition (supporting Question 1) and the Coalition for Safe and Secure Data (opposing Question 1) received a combined $51.5 million in contributions during the election cycle. Final campaign finance reports were filed on Jan. 20.

Question 1 amended a 2013 “right to repair law.” The amended question required manufacturers that sell vehicles with telematics systems in Massachusetts to equip them with a standardized system beginning with model year 2022. Vehicle owners and independent repair facilities may access the standardized system to retrieve mechanical data and run diagnostics through a mobile-based application. It was approved with a margin of 74.97% to 25.03%.

The Right to Repair Coalition, the sponsor of Question 1, reported $24.9 million in contributions. The top donors to the campaign included the Auto Care Association ($4.6 million) and the Coalition of Automative Repair Equality ($4.2 million).

The Coalition for Safe and Secure Data registered in opposition to Question 1 and reported $26.6 million in contributions. The top donors to the campaign included General Motors ($5.5 million) and Toyota Motor North America, Inc. ($4.5 million).

The top five most expensive measures by total contributions (support and opposition) in Massachusetts since 2006 are:

  • $44.3 million for Question 2, Authorization of Additional Charter Schools and Charter School Expansion (2006)
  • $37.2 million for Question 1, Nurse-Patient Assignment Limits Initiative (2018)
  • $15.8 million for Question 3, Casino Repeal Initiative (2014)
  • $10.7 million for Question 2, Expansion of Bottle Deposits Initiative (2014)
  • $10.2 million for Question 2, Ranked-Choice Voting Initiative (2020)

In 2020, committees registered to support or oppose all of the 129 statewide measures reported a combined total of $1.2 billion in contributions and $1.02 billion in expenditures. Massachusetts ballot measure campaigns raised the third largest amount in contributions compared to other states with a total of $61.6 million. California campaigns raised the most with $739 million, and Illinois campaigns raised the second most with $121.2 million.

>Read on

77 third-party candidates received more votes than the winner’s margin of victory in 2020

Seventy-seven third-party candidates whose vote totals were greater than the winner’s margin of victory

When third-party candidates run in elections, sometimes they can receive more votes than the margin of victory in the race. We looked at last year’s races where that happened within our coverage scope of more than 10,000 races. Below are the results of that analysis.

In 2020, there were 77 third-party or independent candidates who received more votes than the margin of victory in their election. Presidential candidates were not included in the analysis. These third-party candidates included: 

  • eight running for Congress, 
  • 23 running for a statewide office, 
  • 43 running for another state-level office, 
  • and three running for a local office within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope. 

Here are some quick stats about those candidates:

  • The eight congressional candidates included two who ran for U.S. Senate. 
    • Kevin O’Connor of the Legal Marijuana Now Party received 5.77% of the vote in Minnesota’s U.S. Senate election. Tina Smith (D) won by a margin of 5.25 percentage points. O’Connor’s 185,064 votes was the largest number of votes any such third-party candidate received in 2020. 
    • In North Carolina, Shannon Bray (L) received 3.13% of the vote, while incumbent Thom Tillis (R) won re-election by a 1.75 percentage point margin.
    • Since our analysis doesn’t cover races that advanced to a runoff, we didn’t include the U.S. Senate race in Georgia. In the general election, Shane Hazel (L) received 2.3% of the vote. David Perdue (R) and Jon Ossoff (D) advanced to the runoff with 49.7% and 47.9% of the vote (a difference of 1.8 percentage points), respectively.
  • The third-party candidate who won the largest percentage of the vote in 2020 was Maine state Rep. Norman Higgins (I). Higgins, who had represented Maine’s 120th state House district since 2014, won 30.9% of the vote in 2020 but lost his bid for re-election to Richard Evans (D).
  • More than one-third of the 77 third-party candidates (26) were members of the Libertarian Party. The only other parties with five or more of these candidates were the Green Party (nine), the U.S. Taxpayer’s Party (the Michigan affiliate of the Constitution Party) (six), and the Legal Marijuana Now Party (five). There were 20 candidates who ran as independents.

In 2018, Ballotpedia identified 99 third-party candidates using the criteria above. Those 99 included five candidates for Congress, 21 running for a statewide office, 69 running for state-level offices, and four running for a local office within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope.

Libertarians made up a greater proportion of third-party candidates who received more votes than the margin of victory in their election (43) in 2018 than in 2020. That year, the only other party to run five or more of these candidates was the Green Party, with five. There were also 30 candidates who ran as independents.

There were five independent candidates who ran in both 2020 and 2018. In each election, they received more votes than the margin of victory. Four of those candidates ran for higher education boards in Michigan. The fifth, Will Hyman (L), ran to represent District 48 in West Virginia’s House of Delegates.

Keep reading

Dickey defeats Stewart in special election in Iowa state Senate District 41

Adrian Dickey (R) defeated Mary Stewart (D) in the Jan. 26 special election for Iowa’s 41st Senate District. Dickey defeated Stewart 55.3% to 44.7%.

The special election was called after Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) resigned effective Jan. 2, 2021, to be seated in the U.S. House of Representatives. Democratic candidate Rita Hart contested the Nov. 3 election results. Three recounts were conducted, the last of which showing Miller-Meeks winning by six votes. Hart contested the election with the House Administration Committee, and on Jan. 21, Miller-Meeks filed a motion asking Congress to dismiss Hart’s challenge of the election results. The House committee has not yet ruled in the case. Click here for the full story.

Miller-Meeks served from 2019 to 2021. Dickey will fill the remaining two years in Miller-Meeks’s term.

Dickey’s 10.6 percentage point margin of victory is the largest in the 41st District since 2010 when Roby Smith (R) defeated Richard Clewell (D) by 19 percentage points. 

Iowa has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the Iowa state Senate by a margin of 32-18.

As of January, 24 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year. Iowa held 22 special elections from 2010 to 2020.

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A look at this year’s Supreme Court term

The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has been in its current session since Oct. 5—its first full session where oral arguments are being conducted via teleconference. Here’s an update on the October 2020-2021 term.

On Jan. 25, SCOTUS issued one opinion in a case argued during the current term, bringing the number of opinions issued this term to 12. 

In the case Henry Schein Inc. v. Archer and White Sales Inc., the court issued a per curiam opinion—a ruling given collectively by the whole court—dismissing the case as improvidently granted. Put another way, the court concluded that it should not have granted review in the case.

The court’s next argument sitting is scheduled to begin on Feb. 22. So far, the court has agreed to hear 60 cases during this term. Of those, 12 were originally scheduled for the 2019-2020 term but were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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Over 4,700 candidates took Ballotpedia’s candidate survey in 2020

Over 4,700 candidates responded to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey in 2020

For the third year in a row, Ballotpedia invited all candidates in our coverage scope to complete our Candidate Connection survey. In 2020, we covered 29,002 federal, state, and local candidates.  Our survey asks candidates about their backgrounds, priorities, and proposed solutions to the issues faced by their communities, and aims to enable voters to learn more about political candidates as people.

We received submissions from 4,745 candidates—or 16.4% of all 2020 candidates we tracked. 

Here are five highlights:

  • The 16.4% completion rate is more than double the response rate in 2018. That year, we had 1,957 survey respondents out of 28,315 total candidates covered by Ballotpedia that year, for a completion rate of 6.9%.
  • Incumbents accounted for 5.5% of respondents, with challengers making up the remaining 94.5%.
  • Of the 4,745 candidates who completed Ballotpedia’s candidate survey, 743—15.7%—won their elections. In 2018, 477 of the 1,957 candidates who responded to our survey, or 24.4%, won their races.
  • Candidates from all 50 states and the District of Columbia responded to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection in 2020. Texas had the most respondents with 391, followed by California at 375 respondents and Michigan at 225.
  • Over half of our survey respondents (54.0%) ran for a state legislative office. Those running for Congress were the second-largest group (27.1%), followed by candidates running for state executive seats (3.8%).

Curious what these candidates had to say? Explore a sample of their answers through our Candidate Questions tool!

Keep reading

Analyzing the demographics of 2020’s Pivot Counties 

ICYMI, we held a briefing last week providing some in-depth analysis of last year’s voter turnout in Pivot Counties. 

Ballotpedia identified 206 counties nationwide that voted for Barack Obama (D) in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections and Donald Trump (R) in 2016. After the 2020 election, we labeled the 181 counties that voted for Trump in 2020 as Retained Pivot Counties and the 25 counties that voted for Joe Biden (D) as Boomerang Pivot Counties.

Here are three interesting facts I learned watching the briefing:

  • Retained Pivot Counties are less populous on average than Boomerang Pivot Counties. The average population of a Retained Pivot County is 62,980 compared to 186,852 of a Boomerang Pivot County. The nationwide county population average is 104,435. From 2016 to 2020, the population of Retained Pivot Counties decreased 0.1%, and Boomerang Pivot Counties increased 1.0%.
  • The average median home value is higher in Boomerang Pivot Counties than in Retained Pivot Counties. The national median home value is $204,900. Thirty-two percent (32%) of Boomerang Pivot Counties have a median value more than the average, compared to 4% of Retained Pivot Counties.
  • Both Retained (79.6%) and Boomerang Pivot Counties (78.2%) have a higher-than-average non-Hispanic white population compared to the national average of 60.1%. In total, 82% of Retained Pivot Counties (149) and 88% of Boomerang Pivot Counties (22) exceed that national rate.

We discussed even more interesting facts about Pivot Counties, including an analysis of counties that have flipped parties every two cycles going back to the 1970s! Click here to watch the full recording of last week’s briefing.

Learn more

U.S. Senate has confirmed three Biden Cabinet secretaries so far

One of the leading priorities of a new presidential administration involves selecting and swearing in members of the Cabinet. The president’s Cabinet includes the heads of 15 key executive agencies like the Department of Commerce and Department of Defense. 

Presidents may also give Cabinet-rank status to other specific positions, such as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency or the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. The vice president is also part of the Cabinet. All Cabinet positions—except for the vice president and White House chief of staff—require confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Seven days after their respective inaugurations, Trump had two main Cabinet members confirmed, and Biden had three.

Obama outpaced both of his successors with 10 confirmations at this point following his inauguration. An eleventh Obama Cabinet member—Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—was held over from the Bush administration.

The following chart compares the pace of Senate confirmations for the main 15 Cabinet members following the inaugurations of Presidents Donald Trump (R) in 2017 and Joe Biden (D) in 2021. We also have a similar chart comparing the pace of Senate confirmations between the Obama and Biden administrations here. These charts do not include other Cabinet-rank positions whose inclusion in the Cabinet varies from administration to administration.

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