Forty Congressional incumbents—four in the Senate and 36 in the House—did not run for re-election in 2020. Of these 40 open seats, four (10 percent) changed party hands as a result of the 2020 elections, and an additional three races were still too close to call as of Nov. 18. All four changes occurred in the House, where Democrats picked up three seats held by Republicans and Republicans picked up one seat held by a Libertarian.
The group of 40 incumbents who did not run for re-election included 10 Democrats, 29 Republicans, and one Libertarian. They represented 8.5 percent of all 470 Congressional offices up for election.
Across all 2020 Congressional elections, 16 seats changed hands. Democrats picked up two seats in the Senate while Republicans picked up one. In the House, Democrats picked up three seats while Republicans picked up 10 seats.
Burgess Owens (R) defeated incumbent Rep. Ben McAdams (D) and John Molnar (L) in Utah’s 4th Congressional District.
McAdams was first elected in 2018, defeating incumbent Mia Love (R) 50.1% to 49.9%—a margin of 694 votes. His 2018 election made the 4th District one of 30 House Districts that voted for Donald Trump (R) in 2016 and that a Democrat represented in 2020.
Owens played professional football with the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders, including as part of the Raiders’ 1981 Super Bowl Championship team. Owens later founded Second Chance 4 Youth, a nonprofit supporting incarcerated juveniles.
Heading into the election, Democrats had a 232-197 majority in the House. Democrats were projected to maintain their majority after the 2020 elections. We’ve called 421 races so far. Democrats have won 213 seats and Republicans have won 203. So far, 13 seats have changed party hands. Republicans won nine seats currently held by Democrats and one held by a Libertarian. Democrats won three seats held by Republicans.
Alaska Ballot Measure 2 was approved with 50.5% of the vote reported as of November 17. Ballot Measure 2 was designed to make several changes to Alaska’s election policies, including:
* replacing partisan primaries with open top-four primaries for state executive, state legislative, and congressional offices;
* establishing ranked-choice voting for general elections, including the presidential election, in which voters can rank the candidates; and
* requiring persons and entities that contribute more than $2,000 that were themselves derived from donations, contributions, dues, or gifts to disclose the sources of the contributions.
Under Ballot Measure 2, Alaska is the first state to adopt top-four primaries for state executive, state legislative, and congressional offices. Like the top-two systems in California and Washington, candidates run in a single primary election, regardless of a candidate’s party affiliation. Unlike in California and Washington, where the two candidates who receive the most votes move onto the general election ballot, Ballot Measure 2 moves the four candidates who receive the most votes onto general election ballots.
At the general election, voters elect state and federal candidates using ranked-choice voting. For state executive, state legislative, and congressional elections, voters rank the four candidates that advanced from their top-four primaries. A candidate needs a simple majority of the vote (50%+1) to be declared the winner of an election. If no candidate wins a simple majority of the vote, the candidate with the fewest votes would be eliminated. People who voted for that candidate as their first choice would have their votes redistributed to their second choice. The tabulation process would continue in rounds until there are two candidates remaining, and the candidate with the greatest number of votes would be declared the winner.
Ballot Measure 2 gives ranked-choice voting proponents their second statewide win after Maine approved Question 5 in 2016. In 2020, Massachusetts also voted on a ranked-choice ballot measure, but it was defeated. On November 3, local ranked-choice voting ballot measures were approved in Albany and Eureka, California; Boulder, Colorado; and Bloomington and Minnetonka, Minnesota.
Alaskans for Better Elections led the campaign in support of Ballot Measure 2. Through October 24, 2020, the campaign’s committees had raised $6.8 million, with contributions from several organizations that seek to change election policies. Action Now Initiative was the largest donor, providing $2.8 million. Unite America was the second-largest donor, providing $2.7 million. Former Rep. Jason Grenn (Independent) was chairperson of the campaign. Green described the ballot initiative as “kind of a three-pronged attack on making our elections better.” Speaker of the Alaska State House Bryce Edgmon (Independent) supported Ballot Measure 2, as did the Alaska Libertarian Party and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld (R).
Defend Alaska Elections led the campaign in opposition to Ballot Measure 2. Through October 24, Defend Alaska Elections, along with the Protect Our Elections PAC, had raised $472,836. The Alaska Republican Party provided $50,000 to Defend Alaska Elections. The Republican State Leadership Committee also provided $50,000. John Sturgeon, the chairperson of Defend Alaska Elections, described Ballot Measure 2 as “a 25-page-long mess that isn’t fair, democratic, or needed.” Former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D) and former Gov. Sean Parnell (R) opposed Ballot Measure 2.
Ballot Measure 2’s system of top-four primaries and ranked-choice voting general elections will be first used in 2022, which includes the gubernatorial, U.S. House, and a U.S. Senate election in Alaska.
Voters in 12 states voted on 19 ballot measures addressing tax-related policies on Nov. 3. Ten of the measures addressed taxes on properties, three were related to income tax rates, two addressed tobacco taxes, one addressed business-related taxes, one addressed sales tax rates, one addressed fees and surcharges, and one was related to tax-increment financing (TIF).
The three measures concerning state income taxes were on the ballot in Arizona, Colorado, and Illinois. Arizona voters approved a measure to add a surtax for income above a certain level to fund education. Colorado voters approved an income tax decrease. Illinois voters defeated a measure to allow for a graduated income tax.
Arizona Proposition 208 was approved by a vote of 51.75% to 48.25%. The measure enacted a 3.50% income tax, in addition to the existing income tax, on taxable income above $250,000 (single filing) or $500,000 (joint filing). As of 2020, the highest income tax in Arizona was 4.50%, which was levied on income above $159,000 (single filing) or $318,000 (joint filing). Based on the existing income tax rates, the ballot initiative has the effect of increasing the tax rate from 4.50% to 8.00% on income above $250,000 (single filing) or $500,000 (joint filing). The Invest in Education PAC was registered in support of the ballot initiative. The PAC received $21.6 million in contributions. The Arizonans for Great Schools and a Strong Economy and No on 208 PACs were registered in opposition to the ballot initiative. The PACs received $5.7 million in contributions.
Colorado Proposition 116 was designed to decrease the state income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55% for individuals, estates, trusts, and foreign and domestic C corporations operating in Colorado. It was approved by a vote of 57.88% to 42.12%.
The Colorado individual income tax rate has been a flat tax rate since 1987. The flat tax was 5% from 1987 to 1998. It was lowered to 4.75% in 1999. The rate has been 4.63% since 2000. Energize our Economy (306 Real Fair Tax) and Americans for Prosperity Colorado Issue Committee raised $1.55 million in contributions to support the measure. Protect Colorado’s Recovery and Fair Tax Colorado reported $3.19 million in contributions to oppose the measure.
An amendment to authorize the state to enact legislation providing for a graduated income tax was on the ballot in Illinois where it was defeated by a vote of 45.46% to 54.54%. The ballot measure would have repealed the state’s constitutional requirement that the state’s personal income tax is a flat rate across income. Instead, the ballot measure would have allowed the state to enact legislation for a graduated income tax. In Illinois, income is taxed at a flat rate of 4.95%.
The Vote Yes For Fairness, Vote Yes for Fair Tax, and Yes to a Financially Responsible Illinois PACs were registered to support the constitutional amendment. Together, the committees had raised $60.33 million. Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) contributed 94 percent of the PACs’ total combined funds.
The Vote No On The Blank Check Amendment, Coalition To Stop The Proposed Tax Hike, and Chambers Against Progressive Income Tax PACs were registered to oppose the constitutional amendment. Together, the committees had raised $60.86 million. Ken Griffin, the founder and CEO of Citadel, contributed 88 percent of the PACs’ total combined funds.
Going into the 2020 election, 43 states levied a tax on personal income. Of these 43 states, 11 states had a flat income tax rate, meaning there is a constant rate across income before deductions and exemptions. The flat income tax rates ranged from 2.00% in Tennessee to 5.25% in North Carolina. Tennessee’s income tax was scheduled to be reduced to 1.00% in 2020 and to be repealed entirely in 2021. Most (32 of 50) states had a graduated income tax, with different rates applied to different levels of income.
Support and opposition campaigns for Oregon’s four ballot measures reported raising over $25.3 million according to the latest campaign finance reports filed November 10.
Yes for a Healthy Future, the campaign behind Oregon Measure 108, received the most contributions with over $13.7 million. The top donor to the committee with $3.3 million was Providence Health and Services, a Washington-based Catholic nonprofit hospital system. The opposition campaign—No on 108—reported $8,000 in contributions. Measure 108 was approved and will enact increased taxes on tobacco products and inhalant delivery systems (such as e-cigarettes).
Supporters of Oregon Measure 110, which decriminalized the possession of controlled substances, reported nearly $6 million in contributions with More Treatment for a Better Oregon receiving the bulk of the contributions. The top donor to the support committees was the Drug Policy Alliance with $5 million in contributions. Drug Policy Alliance is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that has funded marijuana legalization and drug decriminalization efforts in other states. More Treatment for a Better Oregon also received $500,000 from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The No on Measure 110 campaign reported receiving $167,740.00 in contributions with the bulk of that being in loans.
Yes for Psilocybin Therapy, the campaign in support of Measure 109, reported receiving $3.9 million in contributions. The top donor to the campaign was New Approach PAC with $3.5 million. New Approach is a 527 nonprofit organization founded in 2014 and based in Washington, D.C. The organization has supported other ballot initiatives to legalize medical and recreational marijuana. No campaigns registered in opposition to Measure 109, which was approved.
There were two campaigns registered in support of Measure 107: Yes for Fair and Honest Elections and Honest Elections Oregon. Together, they reported receiving $171,397.00 in contributions. The measure was approved. It will authorize the state legislature and local governments to enact certain campaign finance restrictions and requirements. The top donors to the support campaign were End Citizen’s United ($25,200), Kate Brown Committee ($27,833.00), and AFSCME Council 75 (20,000.00).
From 1985 to 2020, the average number of measures appearing on even-numbered year Oregon ballots was 14. The four measures in 2020 were the fewest number of measures to appear on even-numbered year ballots.
In 2020, committees registered to support or oppose statewide ballot measures reported a combined total of $1.19 billion in contributions. The following five states had the most ballot measure campaign contributions reported:
Three states voted for presidential and gubernatorial candidates of different parties this year, while at least two voted for presidential candidates of a different party than the state’s trifecta status.
A state government trifecta occurs when one party holds a state’s governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. Heading into the 2020 elections, Republicans held 21 state government trifectas and Democrats held 15. The 14 remaining states had divided government, where neither party holds a trifecta. Republicans gained at least two trifectas in states with divided governments this year, picking up trifectas in Montana and New Hampshire. As of Nov. 16, Alaska’s final trifecta status remained too close to call, leaving the possibility of a third trifecta pickup for Republicans. No other states’ trifecta statuses changed as a result of the election.
Joe Biden (D) won all 15 states with Democratic trifectas as well as Arizona, which has a Republican trifecta, and New Hampshire, which gained one. As of Nov. 16, the results of the presidential election in Georgia, a Republican trifecta, remained too close to call. Four of the five outlets Ballotpedia tracks had called the state for Joe Biden.
Donald Trump (R) won the other 20 Republican trifecta states. Of the 12 states with divided government after the election (including Alaska), five voted for Donald Trump and seven for Joe Biden.
Eleven states elected a governor this year, including seven with Republican governors at the time of the election and four with Democratic governors. Three states split their presidential and gubernatorial votes. New Hampshire and Vermont re-elected the Republican governors first elected in 2016 while voting for Joe Biden for president. North Carolina re-elected the Democratic governor first elected in 2016, while voting a second time for Donald Trump.
All 11 states also held gubernatorial elections in 2016. That year, five states split their presidential and gubernatorial votes. Montana, North Carolina, and West Virginia elected Democratic governors while also voting for Donald Trump (R). New Hampshire and Vermont elected Republican governors while also voting for Hillary Clinton (D).
Both Montana and West Virginia voted for Donald Trump a second time while also electing a Republican as governor. In Montana, Greg Gianforte (R) was elected governor after losing to incumbent Steve Bullock (D) in the 2016 election. In West Virginia, Jim Justice (R) was re-elected. Justice was first elected as a Democrat in 2016 and joined the Republican Party the following year.
Two of the 35 Senate races held in 2020 remain uncalled: the regular and special Senate elections in Georgia. Republicans have secured 50 seats in the next Senate, and Democrats have secured 48 (including two seats held by independents who caucus with Democrats). Control of the Senate will come down to Georgia.
Democrats would need to win both of Georgia’s Senate seats to split the chamber 50-50. Since the vice president casts tie-breaking votes in the Senate, splitting the chamber would give Democrats an effective majority in 2021. Republicans would need to win one of the Senate races to maintain their majority.
Georgia is one of two states (alongside Louisiana) that requires runoff elections if no candidate receives a majority of the vote in a general election. As vote totals currently stand, it is projected that both Senate elections in Georgia will go to runoffs. That would mean we wouldn’t know which party will control the Senate until the January 5 runoff elections.
Republican incumbents are running in both Georgia Senate races: David Perdue in the regular election and Kelly Loeffler in the special election. Perdue was first elected in 2014. Loeffler assumed office in January 2020; she was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp (R) after Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) resigned.
Perdue faces Jon Ossoff (D), who challenged Karen Handel (R) in the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District in 2017. Raphael Warnock (D), senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, is challenging Loeffler.
Of the 33 Senate races called, Republicans won 20 and Democrats 13. Democrats have a net gain of one seat, as they flipped two (in Colorado and Arizona) and Republicans flipped one (in Alabama).
A special general election was held for Virginia House of Delegates District 29 on November 3, 2020. Bill Wiley (R) defeated Irina Khanin (D), earning 63.7% of the vote to Khanin’s 36.2%.
The special election was called after Chris Collins (R) resigned on June 28, 2020, to serve on the Virginia 26th Judicial District Court. Collins served from 2016 to 2020.
Virginia has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Following the special election, Democrats control the Virginia House of Delegates by a margin of 55-45.
As of November 2020, 59 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 27 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
Incumbent Thom Tillis (R) defeated Cal Cunningham (D), Kevin Hayes (Constitution Party), and Shannon Bray (L) in the U.S. Senate election in North Carolina. Tillis was first elected in 2014.
The race drew the most satellite spending of any congressional election in history at around $229 million. Top spenders on the Republican side included the Senate Leadership Fund, American Crossroads, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. On the Democratic side, Senate Majority PAC and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spent the most.
Roll Call listed Tillis as the fifth-most vulnerable senator up for re-election in 2020. The three senators topping their list—Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.)—lost their bids. Maine’s Susan Collins (R), who had the #4 spot, won re-election.
Thirty-five Senate seats were up for election, and the regular and special elections in Georgia remain uncalled. Democrats have flipped two seats and Republicans flipped one. Georgia’s races appear headed to runoffs, and Democrats would need to flip both to split control of the chamber 50-50. The vice president has the tie-breaking vote in the Senate.