Former Ohio secretary of state challenges Justice Judith French for a seat on the Ohio Supreme Court 

Incumbent Judith French and Jennifer L. Brunner are running in the general election for Ohio Supreme Court on November 3, 2020.

Justice French was appointed to the Ohio Supreme Court by Gov. John Kasich (R). She assumed office on January 1, 2013. She advanced from the Republican primary for Ohio Supreme Court on April 28, 2020. Her previous political experience includes serving as chief legal council for Gov. Bob Taft (R) from 2002 through 2004 and as assistant attorney general to Betty Montgomery (R) from 1997 through 2002.

Brunner advanced from the Democratic primary for Ohio Supreme Court on April 28, 2020. She served as Ohio secretary of state from 2007 until 2011 and was elected to the 10th District Court of Appeals in 2014.

Two justices of the Ohio Supreme Court face re-election this year. In addition to Justice French, Justice Sharon L. Kennedy will stand for re-election. Justice Kennedy advanced from the Republican primary for Ohio Supreme Court on April 28, 2020.

Two justices currently on the Ohio Supreme Court have advanced from Democratic primaries to win the general election, and five justices on the Ohio Supreme Court have advanced from Republican primaries to win the general election. If both incumbents are defeated in the November general election, the court will have a majority of justices who have advanced from Democratic primaries.

Additional reading:

How many races in 2020 had the same candidates in 2018?

In the 2020 general election, 366 elections in Ballotpedia’s coverage scope are rematches between the same candidates who ran for office in 2018.

Rematch elections in 2020 include:

    1. 23 elections for the U.S. House
    2. One state executive election
    3. 339 state legislative elections
    4. Three local races in our coverage scope.

Republicans won 205 of the 2018 races that are now rematches, while Democrats won 159 and third party or nonpartisan candidates won two.

Of the 23 U.S. House rematches, Democrats won 13 and Republicans won 10 in 2018. A Republican won the state executive race in 2018.

Of the 339 state legislative rematches, Republicans won 193, Democrats won 145, and third party candidates won one in 2018.

Absentee/mail-in voting witness requirements in the 2020 general election

Heading into the Nov. 3 general election, six states are expected to require absentee/mail-in voters to obtain the signature of a witness or notary in order to have their ballots counted. They are:

  • Alabama: Two witnesses or one notary
  • Alaska: One witness
  • Mississippi: Notary or other officer authorized to administer oaths
  • Missouri: Notary or other officer authorized to administer oaths
  • North Carolina: One witness
  • Wisconsin: One witness

Six states have suspended, reduced, or otherwise modified statutory or regulatory witness/notary requirements, as election officials prepare for an anticipated record-high number of absentee/mail-in ballots. They are:

  • Minnesota
  • North Carolina (reduced from two witnesses to one)
  • Oklahoma (voters can submit copies of their identification in lieu of having their ballots notarized)
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia

Witness/notary requirements have been subject to litigation throughout 2020. Further changes to these procedures are possible as the general election approaches.

Additional reading
Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to COVID-19
Changes to absentee/mail-in voting procedures in response to COVID-19

Biden gains cash advantage over Trump for first time in 2020 presidential election cycle

Joe Biden outraised Donald Trump by $150 million according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on September 20.

The Biden campaign raised $212 million in August, a percentage difference of 109% from the Trump campaign’s $62 million. Biden’s campaign spent $130 million to Trump’s $61 million. As of August 31, the Biden campaign had $60 million more in cash on hand than the Trump campaign ($181 million to $121 million), marking the first time his campaign has held a cash advantage over Trump. Biden also leads Trump in overall fundraising for the first time, cumulatively raising $541 million to Trump’s $476 million.

Biden’s campaign more than quadrupled its receipts from July in August ($50 million to $212 million), while Trump’s receipts declined by $10 million ($72 million to $62 million).

Biden’s $541 million in overall fundraising is the second-highest figure for any presidential candidate at this point in the past four cycles. The only candidate to have outraised him was Barack Obama (D), who had raised $598 million in inflation-adjusted funds at this point in 2008. Biden’s cash-on-hand total of $181 million is the highest of any candidate’s at this point in the election cycle, topping Trump’s $121 million this year and Obama’s $102 million in inflation-adjusted cash on hand in September 2012.

Biden and Trump’s combined $1 billion in fundraising is the highest across the four most recent election cycles. At this point in the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama and John McCain (R) had raised a combined inflation-adjusted $908 million.

Additional reading:

Did COVID-19 affect the number of candidates who filed for election in 2020?

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, states have changed election dates, voting procedures, and candidate filing deadlines. We took a look at the potential effect these changes had on candidate filing ratios (the number of candidates who filed compared to the number of seats up for election).

We chose the date of comparison as March 13, 2020—the date the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries to take a comprehensive approach to fight COVID-19. The data shows that the number of candidates who filed in 2020 and in 2018 is similar.

In 2020, 0.13 more candidates filed for election on or before March 13 than those who filed on or before the same date in 2018.

In 2020, 0.21 more candidates filed for election after March 13 than filed for election after March 13 in 2018.

In 2018, 2,294 candidates filed to run for the U.S. House. For this year’s elections, the number is 2,378. In both years, all 435 U.S. House seats were up for election.

The five states with the largest changes in candidate filing ratios—calculated by dividing the number of candidates who filed for election by the number of seats up for election—(positive or negative) from 2018 to 2020 are:

New Hampshire: -7.00
Utah: +6.25
Hawaii: +4.00
Idaho: -4.00
South Carolina: -3.15

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, 25 states have changed election dates at the state or local level and 40 states have made changes to voting procedures. Nineteen states have made changes to candidate filing deadlines.

Additional reading:

Former U.S. Sen. Kassebaum (R) endorses Bollier (D) in KS race

Former U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (R) endorsed Barbara Bollier (D) in the Senate race in Kansas. Kassebaum held the seat from 1978 until 1997. Pat Roberts (R), the retiring incumbent in 2020, succeeded her. Bollier, Roger Marshall (R), and Jason Buckley (L) are on the ballot.

Bollier, a state senator, served in the state House and Senate as a Republican until switching her affiliation to Democrat in December 2018. She cited school funding and Medicaid expansion among the issues influencing her switch. Bollier has endorsements from several current and former Republican state legislators.

Marshall has served in the U.S. House since 2017. Roberts and President Donald Trump (R) endorsed him. Sheila Frahm (R), who was appointed to the state’s other U.S. Senate seat in 1996 and lost that year’s primary to Sam Brownback, endorsed Marshall the same day Kassebaum endorsed Bollier.

The Wichita Eagle’s Jonathan Shorman wrote, “Both Frahm and Kassebaum hail from an era of moderate Republicanism in Kansas. … Both Frahm and Kassebaum endorsed Democrat Laura Kelly in the 2018 governor’s race.”

Kansas has not elected a Democratic senator since 1932. No Democrat appeared on the 2014 general election ballot, and Roberts won re-election with 53% of the vote to independent Greg Orman’s 43%. In the 2018 gubernatorial race, Kelly defeated Kris Kobach (R) 48% to 43%. Marshall defeated Kobach and nine others in the 2020 Republican primary.

The outcome of this race will affect the partisan control of the U.S. Senate. Thirty-five of the 100 seats will be up for election, including two special elections. As of September 2020, the Republican Party has a 53-seat majority in the chamber. Democrats have 45 seats. Independents who caucus with the Democrats hold the two remaining seats. Republicans face greater partisan risk in the general election, as they are defending 23 seats while Democrats are defending 12. Both parties have two incumbents representing states the opposite party’s presidential nominee won in 2016.

Additional reading:
U.S. Senate delegation from Kansas

Two Nevada Supreme Court seats are up for nonpartisan election in November

The seats of Nevada Supreme Court Justices Mark Gibbons and Kris Pickering will be up for nonpartisan election on November 3, 2020. Pickering is seeking re-election while Gibbons is not. Pickering is unopposed for the November election to reclaim her seat. Ozzie Fumo and Douglas Herndon will face each other in an effort to fill Gibbons’ seat on the court.

Almost every justice on the court won their seat in a nonpartisan election. The lone exception is Justice Stiglich, who was appointed by Republican Governor Brian Sandoval in 2016.

Justices on the Nevada Supreme Court are elected in nonpartisan elections for six-year terms. Whenever a vacancy occurs, the governor appoints a replacement.

Across all types of state supreme court elections, incumbent justices running for re-election won 93% of the time from 2008-2019. Nevada has not seen an incumbent supreme court justice lose an election during this same time frame.

Additional reading:
Nevada Supreme Court
Kris Pickering
Mark Gibbons
Ozzie Fumo
Douglas Herndon
Incumbent win rates

Kansas’ state legislative Republican primaries alter the ideological makeup of GOP caucus

On August 4, 12 of the 28 Republican state legislative incumbents facing primary challenges in Kansas lost their primaries. These results could alter the makeup of the Republican caucus in 2021.

Local media sources like The Wichita Eagle, Shawnee Mission Post, and The Kansas City Star identified nine incumbents whose primaries and defeats were representative of an intra-party divide over issues including Medicaid expansion and abortion laws.

Michael Ryan wrote in The Kansas City Star, “A good number of conservatives absolutely washed over their more moderate state legislative opponents in Tuesday’s Republican primary election.”

Jonathan Shorman wrote in The Wichita Eagle, “The influence of Kansas Republican moderates has waxed and waned. Gov. Sam Brownback [(R)] helped oust them in 2012. Voters then swept them back into office in 2016 to end his signature income tax cuts and stabilize the budget.” Shorman continued, “But with last week’s primary losses, their ranks have been depleted to levels not seen for years.”

The following six state senators lost Republican primaries this year. All were first elected in 2016, the year of the most recent state senate elections. Sens. John Skubal, Bruce Givens, Randall Hardy, and Edward Berger defeated Republican incumbents in primaries themselves that year.

• District 11: Sen. John Skubal, lost to Kellie Warren 64-36%
• District 14: Sen. Bruce Givens, lost to Michael Fagg 54-46%
• District 15: Sen. Dan Goddard, lost to Virgil Peck, Jr. 50.1-49.9%
• District 24: Sen. Randall Hardy, lost to J.R. Claeys 63-37%
• District 33: Sen. Mary Jo Taylor, lost to Alicia Straub 60-40%
• District 34: Sen. Edward Berger, lost to Mark Steffen 57.5%-42.5%

The following three state representatives lost Republican primaries this year.

• District 20: Rep. Jan Kessinger, lost to Jane Dirks 57-43%
• District 42: Rep. Jim Karleskint, lost to Lance Neelly 52-48%
• District 71: Rep. Diana Dierks, lost to Steven Howe 62-38%

Local media outlets identified the No Right to Abortion in Constitution Amendment as a noteworthy issue in the primaries featuring Sen. Skubal and Rep. Kessinger. If passed, the measure would have placed a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on the August 4 ballot stating that there is no right to abortion or public funding for abortions in the Kansas Constitution.

A two-thirds vote of all members in each chamber of the Kansas State Legislature was required to refer the amendment to the ballot for voter consideration.

In the Senate, that equaled 27 votes and, in the House, 84. Republicans held supermajorities in both the Senate and House with 29 and 84 members, respectively, equal or greater to the two-thirds threshold in both chambers.

Skubal and Kessinger voted against placing the measure on the ballot. The Senate approved the amendment. Kessinger and three other Republicans joined 39 Democrats to vote against the amendment in the House, resulting in a final vote of 80-43, four votes short of passage.

Skubal’s and Kessinger’s primary defeats and the retirement of the three House Republicans who voted against the amendment with Kessinger means none of the five Republicans who opposed the No Right to Abortion in Constitution Amendment will return for the 2021 legislative session.

Heading into the November elections, Kansas has a divided government. Republicans control both the Senate and the House. Democrats hold the governorship following Gov. Laura Kelly’s election in 2018. The next gubernatorial election will be held on November 8, 2022. In the Senate, Republicans will retain a veto-proof supermajority if they gain seats, hold their current number of seats, or lose a net of two seats. In the House, Republicans will retain a veto-proof majority if they gain or hold their current number seats. If Democrats gain a net of one seat, they will control more than one-third of the House seats.

To read more background, local commentary, and historical data on Kansas’ state legislative Republican primaries, click here.

All candidates in New York’s 10th Congressional District election complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection Survey

All three candidates running in the election for New York’s 10th Congressional District—Incumbent Jerrold Nadler (D), Cathy Bernstein (R), and Michael Madrid (L)—completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection Survey. Ballotpedia asks all federal, state, and local candidates to complete a survey so voters can discover what motivates them on political and personal levels.

One question in the survey asks candidates to list three key messages of their campaigns. Each candidate’s responses are below.

• Strengthen Democracy & Rule of Law
• Reduce Economic Inequality
• Fight Climate Change

• Housing Costs Are Sky High
• Helping Our Small Businesses To Succeed

• Simplify: life is hard enough without needless regulation making it more so
• Legalize Housing: Rents are too high and homelessness is a huge problem. Our community needs housing. Let’s get rid of the barriers to building housing…and build housing.
• Basic Income: We need an simple, efficient, always on safety net there during crisis and normal times, not the huge tangle of wasteful, mis-targeted, inaccessible services we purport to offer now

In 2018, 1,957 candidates completed a Candidate Connection survey. This number represents 6.9% of all 28,315 candidates Ballotpedia covered during that cycle. Out of the 1,957 respondents, 477 (24.4%) won their elections.

To read the candidates’ responses and learn more about the race, click here: New York’s 10th Congressional District election, 2020

To read more about Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey or if you are a candidate who would like to submit a survey, click here: Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection

Nearly three in four of this year’s federal races will not be competitive, election forecasters say

Five hundred and twenty-one federal elections are taking place this November, including elections for president in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, elections for 35 seats in the U.S. Senate, and elections for all 435 voting seats in the U.S. House. A Ballotpedia review of election forecasts found forecasters project 137 of those races (26.3%) will be competitive, with the remaining 384 all but certain to be won by one of the two major parties.

Ballotpedia’s 2020 election forecasts hub contains an overview of presidential and congressional race ratings from major forecasters as of Sept. 1, 2020. This review looked at race ratings from the Cook Political Report, Inside Elections, Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and the Bitecofer model as of Sept. 1, 2020.

As of Sept. 1, election forecasters saw President Donald Trump (R) as all but certain to win 13 states in his bid for re-election, with challenger Joe Biden (D) all but certain to win 13 states plus the District of Columbia. Forecasters identified eight states as battlegrounds where both Biden and Trump have a substantial chance of winning, including three toss-ups: Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina.

In the U.S. Senate, 35 seats are up this year, including 23 held by Republicans and 12 held by Democrats. Forecasters projected 10 seats are all but certain to go to Republicans and eight are all but certain to go to Democrats, leaving 17 competitive races. Two of those—Iowa and North Carolina—are toss-ups. Forecasters also identified two seats that tilt towards each party, with Montana and the regularly-scheduled election in Georgia tilting towards Republicans and the races in Colorado and Maine tilting towards Democrats. All six toss-up and tilt seats are currently held by Republicans.

In the U.S. House, all 435 voting seats are up for election. Forecasters projected that 339 are all but guaranteed to one of the two major parties—186 seats to Democrats and 153 to Republicans. Ten seats were identified as toss-ups where neither party has a clear advantage, including seven seats currently held by Democrats and three currently held by Republicans. There were five U.S. House races where forecasters differed on which party was ahead: Illinois’ 13th, Indiana’s 5th, North Carolina’s 11th, Texas’ 3rd, and Texas’ 21st.

Additional reading:
Race rating definitions and methods
Presidential election, 2020
United States Senate elections, 2020
United States House of Representatives elections, 2020