Tagelection results

One-sixth of U.S. House retirees in 2020 won re-election in 2018 by less than six points

Of the 36 U.S. House incumbents that did not run for re-election in 2020, six (16.7%) won re-election in 2018 by less than six points. That’s a higher percentage than in both 2018 (10.3%) and 2016 (7.3%).

Exactly one-third of 2020 retirees won re-election in 2018 by more than 36 points. That’s a higher percentage than 2018 (27.5%) but lower than 2016 (41.4%). The 2020 retiree with the largest margin of victory in 2018 was Jose Serrano, who won re-election to represent New York’s 15th Congressional District by 92 percentage points.

One 2020 retiree, Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.), was unopposed in his last re-election campaign. That matches the number of 2016 retirees who were previously unopposed. The 2018 election cycle had two retirees who were previously unopposed.

The 36 members of the U.S. House in this analysis do not include members of the 116th Congress who left office early. Of those 36 members, nine are Democrats, 26 are Republicans, and one is a Libertarian.



Wyoming amendment concerning municipal debt for sewage systems fails

The Wyoming State Legislature referred Constitutional Amendment A to the November 2020 ballot. The measure was designed to remove the constitutional limit on debt a municipality could incur for municipal sewer projects. Going into the election, the limit on total debt for municipal projects was 4% of the assessed value of the taxable property within the municipality. The constitution allows for an additional 4% for municipal sewer projects. The measure would have removed the additional limit of 4% for sewer projects and instead allowed the legislature to provide for additional indebtedness.

This measure failed since it required approval from a majority of voters casting a ballot at the election, which means leaving Amendment A blank was the equivalent of voting against it. Of the total ballots cast, 11.17% of voters either left Amendment A blank or filled in both “for” and “against.”

  • Total ballots cast at the election – 278,503 (100%)
  • Total votes for Amendment A – 126,589 (45.45%)
  • Total votes against Amendment A – 120,808 (43.38%)
  • Undervotes and overvotes on Amendment A – 31,106 (11.17%)

From 1996 through 2018, the Wyoming State Legislature referred 26 constitutional amendments to the ballot. Voters approved 18 and rejected eight of the referred amendments. Four of the eight rejected measures were defeated despite receiving more yes votes than no votes. They failed for the same reason Amendment A (2020) failed. All of the amendments were referred to the ballot for general elections during even-numbered election years. The average number of amendments appearing on the general election ballot was two. The approval rate at the ballot box was 69.23% during the 22-year period from 1996 through 2018. The rejection rate was 30.77%.

Five other states besides Wyoming have this type of requirement based on election turnout instead of votes cast on the measure itself. Four require constitutional amendments to be approved by a majority of all voters at the election, and one requires approval from a number equal to a majority of all voters casting a ballot for governor. Three other states have provisions that require approval from a certain percentage, ranging from 30% to 40%, of all voters at the election. Provisions like these mean that a certain number of undervotes on an amendment could prevent the measure from passing despite approval from a majority of votes cast on the measure itself.

Additional reading:



California Proposition 15, which would have created a split roll property tax, defeated

California Proposition 15 was rejected 48.1%-51.9% based to votes tallied through November 12. Proposition 15 would have required commercial and industrial properties, except those zoned as commercial agriculture, to be taxed based on their market value, rather than their purchase price. In California, the proposal to assess taxes on commercial and industrial properties at market value, while continuing to assess taxes on residential properties based on the purchase price, was known as split roll. 

Proposition 15 would have required that revenue, after accounting for adjustments, be distributed to schools and local governments. The state fiscal analyst estimated that, upon full implementation, the ballot initiative would generate between $8 billion and $12.5 billion in revenue per year.

Proposition 15 would have amended Proposition 13 (1978), which required that residential, commercial, and industrial properties be taxed based on their purchase price. The tax under Proposition 13 was limited to no more than 1 percent of the purchase price (at the time of purchase), with an annual adjustment equal to the rate of inflation or 2 percent, whichever is lower.

More than $148 million was raised for and against Proposition 15, making the measure the second most expensive of 2020 nationwide. Supporters had raised $74.2 million, and opponents had raised $73.8 million. Yes on 15 received contributions from the California Teachers Association ($17.8 million), Chan Zuckerberg Advocacy ($11.6 million), and the SEIU California State Council ($6.3 million). No on 15 received contributions from the California Business Roundtable ($31.9 million), the California Business Properties Association ($1.8 million), and California Taxpayers Association ($1.0 million).



Analyzing margins of victory in the 206 Pivot Counties nationwide

Voters in 206 Pivot Counties across the country backed Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016. How did these counties vote in 2020?

We have split the Pivot Counties into two categories based on the unofficial results: 

  1. Retained Pivot Counties, which voted for Trump again in 2020, and 
  2. Carousel Pivot Counties, which voted for Joe Biden (D) this cycle.

Preliminary analysis shows the following breakdown for the 206 Pivot Counties:

  1. 174 Retained Pivot Counties
  2. 20 Carousel Pivot Counties
  3. 12 unclear/too-close-to-call

Trump has been winning the 174 Retained Pivot Counties with an average margin of victory of 14.9 percentage points. Compared to his 2016 results, Trump’s margin of victory decreased in 49 Retained Pivot Counties and increased in 125.

Biden has been winning the 20 Carousel Pivot Counties with an average margin of victory of 3.1 percentage points. Compared to Obama’s results in 2012, the last time a Democrat won in these counties, Biden’s margin of victory represents a decrease in 18 and an increase in two.

The five counties with the largest change in margin of victory for Democrats and Republicans since 2016 are in the tables below.

Trump:

Biden:



Van Duyne declared winner in Texas’ 24th Congressional District

Beth Van Duyne (R) defeated Candace Valenzuela (D) and three other candidates in the general election for Texas’ 24th Congressional District. Incumbent Rep. Kenny Marchant (R), who was first elected in 2004, did not run for re-election.

Van Duyne worked as a regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Trump administration. She was the Mayor of Irving from 2011-2017.

Heading into the election, Democrats had a 232-197 majority in the House. Republicans need to win a net 21 seats to win control of the chamber.

Outlets have called 415 races so far. Democrats won 215 seats and Republicans won 200. So far, 11 seats have changed party hands. Republicans won seven seats currently held by Democrats and one held by a Libertarian. Democrats won three seats held by Republicans.



Puerto Ricans approve non-binding statehood referendum

Voters in Puerto Rico approved a non-binding referendum that asked: “Should Puerto Rico be immediately admitted into the Union as a state?” The “Yes” side received 623,053 or 52.3% as of votes recorded on November 9. 

While the ballot measure itself cannot compel the U.S. Congress to act on the issue of Puerto Rico’s political status, the ballot measure contained a provision authorizing the governor to appoint a seven-member commission to represent Puerto Rico in matters and negotiations related to achieving statehood. The commission will meet to develop a transition plan, which the governor can approve or reject, and present the plan to Congress and the President.

This year’s ballot measure is the sixth in Puerto Rico’s history on the territory’s political status, and it was the first one to give voters a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ option on a single potential status.



Conor Lamb wins re-election to Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District

Incumbent Conor Lamb (D) defeated challenger Sean Parnell (R) in Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District.

Lamb was first elected in a March 2018 special election for the remainder of Tim Murphy’s (R) term in what was then the 18th Congressional District. Lamb defeated Rick Saccone (R) 49.9% to 49.5% to flip the seat. Following court-ordered redistricting later that year, Lamb won election to the new 17th District 56.3% to 43.7% over Keith Rothfus (R). Preliminary returns indicate that Parnell won by a more narrow 51.1% to 48.9% margin this year.

In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump (R) defeated Hillary Clinton (D) 49% to 47% in the district, making it one of 30 districts Democrats were defending this year that President Trump carried in 2016.



Carolyn Bourdeaux defeats Rich McCormick in Georgia’s 7th Congressional District

Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) defeated Rich McCormick (R) in the general election for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. Incumbent Rep. Rob Woodall (R), first elected in 2010, did not run for re-election.

This was the second time Bourdeaux ran in the district. In 2018, she lost the election to Woodall by 433 votes—50.1% to 49.9%. Bordeaux is a professor at the Andrew Young School of Public Policy and a former Director of Georgia’s Senate Budget and Evaluation Office.

Heading into the election, Democrats had a 232-197 majority in the House. Republicans need to win a net 21 seats to win control of the chamber. We’ve called 408 races so far. Democrats won 212 seats and Republicans won 196. So far, 11 seats have changed party hands. Republicans won seven seats currently held by Democrats and one held by a Libertarian. Democrats won three seats held by Republicans. 



French Hill wins election to fourth term in U.S. House

Incumbent French Hill (R) defeated challenger Joyce Elliott (D) in the general election for Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District.

Hill was first elected in 2014, and won his subsequent re-election campaigns in 2016 and 2018 58%-37% and 52%-46%, respectively. He led Elliott 55% to 45% in preliminary 2020 results.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) included the district on its Red to Blue list and spent $700,000, in addition to $1.2 million in spending from the Democratic-aligned House Majority PAC. The Republican-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund spent $1.6 million in the district.



Jim Hagedorn wins re-election to Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District

Incumbent Jim Hagedorn (R) defeated challengers Dan Feehan (D) and Bill Rood (Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party of Minnesota) in Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District.

The election was one of 56 U.S. House rematches taking place this year. In 2018, this seat was left open as incumbent Tim Walz (D) ran for governor. Hagedorn defeated Feehan 50.1% to 49.7% to become one of three Republicans who flipped a seat from Democrats that year. Preliminary returns indicate that Hagedorn expanded his margin over Feehan in 2020, winning 48.6% to 45.5%.

Both parties’ national committees targeted this district in 2020. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Majority PAC spent a combined $5.2 million, while the National Republican Congressional Committee and Congressional Leadership Fund spent a combined $4.2 million.