Why Women Are Winning: The GA Primary Run-Offs as a Case Study (Jul. 25)

Update 287 — Why Women Are Winning: The GA Primary Run-Offs as a Case Study

Four first-time candidates competed in GA-06 and GA-07 last night in the Democratic primary runoff. In both races, a man ran against a woman and the woman won — a familiar story thus far in the 2018 Democratic primary season.  When a man and a woman have run for the same seat with no incumbent on the ballot, women have been the winners in 65 percent of the races.

Overall, more women are running and winning than ever before on the Democratic side.  More below on how and why, through the prism of the Peach State primaries.




GA-06: McBath vs. Rep. Handel

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 48/Clinton 47
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 61/Obama 38
  • 2016 House: Price (R) 62/ Stooksbury (D) 38
  • Cook PVI: R+8

In GA-06, the longest Republican-held district in the state (previously Newt Gingrich’s seat) and the district of the Jonathan Ossoff near-miss runoff last year, Lucy McBath defeated Kevin Abel, a local businessman, 54 to 46 percent to win the Democratic primary runoff.  McBath will face Rep. Karen Handel in November.

McBath is a gun control activist whose son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed in 2012.  McBath also advocates for decreasing the age of medicare eligibility, increasing investment in infrastructure, and raising the minimum wage — a progressive idea for a state that has long had sub-$4/hour jobs in its rural and farming communities.

GA-07: Bourdeaux vs. Rep. Woodall

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 52/Clinton 46
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 53/Obama 45.5
  • 2016 House: Woodall (R) 60/ Malik (D) 40
  • Cook PVI: R+9

Carolyn Bourdeaux, a professor of public policy at Georgia State University, defeated David Kim, a small business owner, 52 to 48 percent in GA-07’s runoff race last night.

Bourdeaux was previously the director of the Georgia State Senate Budget and Evaluation Office and also worked as an aide for U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).  Bourdeaux has focused on increasing access to affordable healthcare through policies like expanding Medicaid and establishing a public option under the Affordable Care Act, making her progressive in Georgia terms. She also wants to increase investment in education and job training programs.

The Common Economic Thread

McBath’s campaign differs from the likes of Democratic nominees Kara Eastman of Nebraska and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York in appealing to suburban Georgians. Rather than the national progressive hot-ticket items, like Medicare-For-All and a federal jobs guarantee, McBath focuses on progressive issues that challenge the local business community mindset that raising wages somehow kills job growth.

Both McBath and Bourdeaux’s campaigns emphasize the number one economic policy issue in the country—particularly for women—healthcare.  Georgia has seen rural hospitals decimated as a result of the state executive’s refusal to expand Medicaid. Bordeaux’s support for Medicaid expansion and a public option on ACA has earned her the support of local progressives and shows voter receptiveness to progressive policies in different districts around the country.

Disparate Districts: Nebraska to Georgia

It is clear that the strength of the female Democratic wave is due in part to its diversity of opinion among the candidates.  Female candidates are winning their primaries in disparate districts on the issues that matter most to their voters — a promising sign for Democrats in the lead up to November. The Democratic platforms in NE-02, GA-06, and NY-14 may be different, but they all share one thing in common — they are being delivered by a woman’s voice.

There are additional forces at work from Nebraska to Georgia that are pushing these women across the finish line. In NE-02, Eastman has been running a progressive race in a district that voted narrowly for moderate Democrat Brad Ashford in 2014 and Trump Republican Don Bacon in 2016. Eastman is winning with the progressive message she believes in, because she has found that her district responds strongly and identifies with her on issues like Medicare-For-All.

In the suburbs of GA-07, Bordeaux ran and won on a message that resonated for her district. Similarly, in GA-06, Lucy McBath focused on her personal past and a desire to make a difference that struck a chord with the voters in her district. Both of them promote progressive ideas, but they present them in language that makes their voters feel more comfortable than the way national progressives speak.  The GA nominees’ campaigns demonstrate that the surge of interest and involvement of women in this cycles’ elections transcend differences among districts in ways that some policy preferences do not.

The Year of the Female Majority

Headlines across the country have been focusing on the big surprises and upsets, the marquee names of winners and losers, and the advent of the socialist flank. Less read about are the people who are winning in moderate suburban districts. They aren’t going to be the big starlets because they don’t have the bold progressive label, but nevertheless, they are running in the most competitive races in the country and, thus far, they are winning.

The regional disparities of these candidates and their messages does not mean that the women who won last night aren’t progressive. They are, for their respective districts.  This comes with majority status and should be seen in this light as an auspicious sign. Across the country, D candidates are framing their messages in the language that makes their voters most comfortable, but they are not afraid to name and claim the policies that match the D next to their names. The wave is dominated by women candidates running to their districts and away from, say, Washington.


Kavanaugh Nomination Fires Up Pink Army (July 11)

Update 285: Kavanaugh Nomination Fires Up Pink Army, Propelling Blue Wave Gaining Speed

The 2018 congressional primary season is more than half over and it is already apparent how this election cycle will stand apart from all preceding ones, with consequences certain to be seen in November and beyond.  

Women are entering the US political arena like never before in history.  This phenomenon has been felt everywhere — in fundraising prowess, in volunteer numbers, and in the voting booth.   We drill down on what we’ve learned about the scope and significance of the pink army of female candidates, campaign staff, donors, and volunteers that marks the midterms thus far.  




Since President Trump’s election, hundreds of first-time female candidates have competed for political office.  A record 472 female candidates filed to run for House seats this cycle, shattering the 2012 record of 298 and more than doubling the number of women who ran in 2016.  Over three quarters of women who competed for House seats have run in Democratic primaries.

Women candidates are also winning at higher rates than ever before. 65 percent of primary contests between one woman, one man, and no incumbent have been won by the female candidate. With everyone hopeful of a blue wave in November, it may well be that it is in fact a pink army that has the power to turn districts from red to blue.

Contributions from Women Rise Sharply

Women are not only running for office in higher numbers, but female donors are investing more in the political process.  This election cycle, campaign contributions from female donors total 31 percent of House candidate fundraising, more than in any other election year and up from 27 percent in 2014. Women are not only participating by running, they are also participating by donating.

Screen Shot 2018-07-17 at 11.38.45 AM.pngSource: Cook Political Report

Female Political Activism on the March

Female political engagement and activism is at an all-time high. The Women’s March on Washington saw record numbers in D.C.—and across the nation—show up to make their voices heard on a myriad of issues including women’s rights, gender equality, and paid family leave. Continuing with the #MeToo movement, we have seen the power of women’s voices in the political narrative and their engagement in the issues that matter most to them.

According to the latest Gallup poll tracking, just 35 percent of women approve of President Trump’s performance, compared to 49 percent of men. In 2016, Trump lost the female vote by an unprecedented 13 points, receiving just 41 percent to 54 percent for Hillary Clinton. Unmarried women, Latino, and millennial voters all came out to vote in the 2016 election in greater numbers than in 2012.  Given the rise in female political activism and the rise of female candidates focusing on issues that women care about, 2018 will surely be remembered as the Year of the Woman.

Progressive Women Driving the Blue Wave

Poll after poll shows that the American people are desperately looking for change from their political leaders– and women are delivering. Candidates from districts as different as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Kara Eastman’s won their primaries against moderate incumbents, Joe Crowley and Brad Ashford, by running on progressive policies and visions.  While Ocasio-Cortez should cruise in her deep blue district, Eastman will face stiff competition in a purple Nebraska district that has been separated by one percentage point the last few election cycles.

Regardless of how difficult their general election fights will be, their primary victories represent the direction that this blue wave is headed – towards women and towards progressive outsiders.

Economic and Related  Issues this Cycle

There are a number of policy positions that have played well for female Democrats during this primary season.

  • Healthcare

Voters rank healthcare as the number one issue going into the November midterms, and they are looking for sweeping reform proposals from candidates, not incremental changes.  Democratic candidates, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are running (and winning) on bold, progressive policies such as Medicare for all. Healthcare issues resonate strongly with female voters because they make 80 percent of health decisions in the family, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.  Voters also tend to trust women more when it comes to healthcare, and given the importance that voters assign to the topic this will certainly advantage female candidates.

  • Taxes and the Economy

The recent GOP tax cuts have gone from a positive to either a neutral or negative campaign message in the eyes of voters. This negative impression by the electorate could be further exacerbated if the GOP look to attack entitlements in order to make amends for their fiscally irresponsible Tax Cuts and Jobs Act bill. Likewise, with the economy, voters are looking for bold messaging: to rewrite the rules of the game so the economy works for everyone, not just a select few. As wages stagnate while the cost of living increases, the tax cuts feel more and more like a dividend for wealthy special interests who rig the rules.

  • Campaign Finance Reform

Despite the repeated transgressions of the Trump administration, Democrats are double-digits behind Trump when it comes to “cleaning up the swamp.”  Democratic candidates are winning their primaries by linking economic and political reform. This issue is critical in the perception among voters that candidates stand for something and are not part of a political establishment that is looking to continue the status quo.  Many candidates have found that eschewing donations from big business, lobbyists, and/or super PACs resonates strongly with voters.

The Pink Army

29 female non-incumbent Democratic candidates have won primaries in districts that are considered to be competitive (not solid Dem or GOP) by Cook Political Report. The candidates in these districts are scattered around the country but are united by their prioritization of economic issues on the campaign trail and their desire for change.

More importantly, they will be a preponderant factor in enabling Democrats to take back the House in November.  The Cook Political Report has predicted that Democrats are going to win between 20-35 seats in November. If Democrats are going to realize this, it is likely going to be on the back of a pink army that has already seen half of all House Democratic nominations this far go to women, a staggering number that more than doubles the previous historical record.  

A Tree Falls in Queens (June 27)

Update 282: A Tree Falls in Queens: House Leader Crowley’s Loss Shocks Party

In a surprise on the order of then-House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor’s primary defeat in 2014, Rep. Joseph Crowley, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus was defeated by a first-time candidate, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in yesterday’s New York District 14 primary. Ocasio-Cortez is 28 and a Bernie Sanders organizer. Much more on yesterday’s voting below.

Meanwhile, Justice Kennedy’s announcement that he is vacating his SCOTUS seat raises the stakes of the upcoming confirmation vote and of course, November’s midterm elections, especially for those concerned about a Roe majority on the Court.




New York

NY-14: Ocasio-Cortez vs. Anthony Pappas

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 78/Trump 20
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 81/Romney 18
  • 2016 House: Crowley (D) 83/Spotorono (R) 17
  • Cook PVI: D+29

In NY-14, 28 year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a former Bernie Sanders volunteer, pulled off the upset of the primary season by beating House Democratic Caucus leader Joe Crowley. Ocasio-Cortez used an unabashedly progressive platform to overcome a ten-to-one fundraising disadvantage and claim a 15 point victory over the ten-term incumbent. Her campaign explicitly focused on fighting against systemic risk in the financial sector, the creation of a public banking option at the United States Postal Service, a federal jobs guarantee, and clean campaign finance reforms.

Ocasio-Cortez is all but guaranteed victory in November in this D+29 district. Her opponent, economics professor Anthony Pappas, stands little chance of gaining traction in the overwhelmingly blue district. While Crowley’s defeat is in part due to local political dynamics and redistricting, it is the latest and loudest demonstration that the establishment center is dangerous territory in this election cycle.

NY-19: Delgado vs. Rep. Faso

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 52/Clinton 44
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 52/Romney 46
  • 2016 House: Faso (R) 54/Teachout (D) 46
  • Cook PVI: R+2

Attorney Anthony Delgado emerged from a crowded field of seven to win the Democratic primary in NY-19. Delgado was seen as a progressive candidate, beating out the “Cuomo candidate,” who finished in 2nd place, 22 to 18 percent. His victory is another example of progressive energy overcoming the establishment. He will face incumbent John Faso, a savvy but vulnerable Republican who faced a tough race against Zephyr Teachout in 2016.

Delgado is running on a progressive economic platform. He wants to ensure job creation in his district, protect small businesses, and increase the minimum wage. Aside from that, he calls for increased education and infrastructure investment, undoing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and increasing rural economic development spending.

NY-24: Balter vs. Rep. Katko

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 49/Trump 45
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 57/Romney 41
  • 2016 House Results: Katko (R) 61/Deacon (D) 39
  • Cook PVI: D+3

A progressive woman also won in NY-24, where Syracuse University professor Dana Balter handily beat the DCCC-backed Juanita Perez Williams, 62 to 37 percent. Balter will now face incumbent Republican Rep. John Katko in a race that is seen as one of the Democrats’ best chances to flip a seat in the Empire State.

As was the case elsewhere in New York state, local issues played an important role in NY-24. Local party officials were angered by the DCCC’s late foray into the race in support of the more conservative Perez Williams. Balter campaigned on an economic platform that focused on guaranteeing a living wage, rewriting the tax code to increase progressivity, and investing in public education.

NY-02: Shirley vs. Rep. King

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 53/Clinton 44
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 52/Romney 47
  • 2016 House: King (R) 62/Gregory (D) 38
  • Cook PVI: R+3

First time candidate Liuba Gretchen Shirley won the Democratic nomination for New York’s Second Congressional District, which covers Wantagh, Seaford, and Levittown. The conservative district is represented by well-known, long-time Republican incumbent Peter King. Shirley’s campaign is a symbol of the struggle for campaign finance reform in a system that bars low and middle income women from running for office. She made headlines when she won a fight with the Federal Election Commission over the use use campaign funds to pay for childcare. While she has a distant chance of defeating Rep. King, this district’s race will be interesting.

NY-22: Brindisi vs Rep. Tenney

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 55/Clinton 39
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 49/Obama 49
  • 2016 House: Tenney (R) 47/Myers (D) 41
  • Cook PVI: R+6

NY-22 is a pivot district – it went for Obama in 2012 and 2008, but for Trump in 2016. Rep. Claudia Tenney, a one-term Republican incumbent, will face off against Democrat Anthony Brindisi in November. Brindisi, a state assemblyman, ran in an uncontested primary. Democrats see this race as a promising pick up opportunity due to Rep. Tenney’s support for the tax bill and ACA repeal. Brindisi has long roots in the district and campaigned as a political outsider — he has said he would not vote for Rep. Pelosi as House speaker and has been at odds with Gov. Cuomo at different points in his political career. Brindisi is running on a platform of protecting healthcare and improving the local economy.

NY-11: Rose vs. Rep. Donovan

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 54/Clinton 44
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 52/Romney 47
  • 2016 House: Donovan (R) 62/Reichard (D) 37
  • Cook PVI: R+3

Max Rose won a decisive victory in yesterday’s Democratic primary in NY-11, securing over 50 percent of the vote in a six-way race. Rose is a combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan and has many years of experience working for a healthcare nonprofit serving underprivileged New Yorkers. He will now face the winner of yesterday’s GOP primary, the Trump-endorsed Rep. Dan Donovan who triumphed over convicted felon and ex-Rep. Michael Grimm.

As with other New York districts, local issues will play a huge role in deciding who will come out on top in November. Rose has criticized Donavan’s lack of leadership on the opioid crisis gripping the Staten Island community. He is also a strong supporter of innovative infrastructure projects in the district. NY-11 is the most conservative district in The Big Apple, but Rose still has a fighting chance to flip the district come November.

NY-12: Rep. Maloney Feels Some Heat

In New York’s 12th, progressive insurgent Suraj Patel performed remarkably well against longtime incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney. Patel’s 41 to 59 percent defeat might seem decisive, but the result is significant given that Rep. Maloney fended off her 2016 primary challenger by an 80 point margin. Patel’s strong showing suggests that Rep. Maloney might be becoming too conservative for a rapidly changing district that includes large swaths of Brooklyn.


UT-04: McAdams vs. Rep. Love

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 39/Clinton 32
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 67/Obama 30
  • 2016 House: Love (R) 54/Owens (D) 41
  • Cook PVI: R+13

In UT-04, Salt Lake City’s Mayor Ben McAdams will run a moderate campaign in hopes of defeating two time incumbent Rep. Mia Love. Neither candidate had to worry about a primary challenger, but November’s contest could be signal for an impending blue wave. Love, a moderate Republican member with some tea-party leanings, will be a difficult member to defeat in an increasingly conservative Utah. A member of the House Financial Services Committee, she was the primary sponsor of the Volcker Rule Relief provision in S.2155.

McAdams is running on a platform that includes fixing the Affordable Care Act and criticized Love and Republicans for their vote on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act due to its deficit impact. In line with his concern about the federal debt, McAdams also supports the balanced budget amendment to the constitution.


CO-06 Crow vs. Rep. Coffman

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 50/Trump 41
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 52/Romney 47
  • 2016 House: Coffman (R) 51/Carroll (D) 43
  • Cook PVI: D+2

Attorney Jason Crow resoundingly defeated his primary opponent to win the Democratic nomination in a toss-up, east-of-Denver district that includes Aurora. While the district is expected to swing blue this November, Crow will not have an easy fight. There are an equal number of Democrats, Republicans, and Independent registrations in the district and incumbent Republican Mike Coffman has won in “blue wave” years before.

Crow plans to eliminate the influence of dark money in politics, reject corporate PAC money, and overturn Citizens United. His economic plans include increasing the minimum wage, increasing the overtime salary cutoff, improving collective bargaining rights, and ensuring paid leave. He has also pledged to increase federal grants and student loan programs for higher education and protect post-financial crisis Wall Street reform rules.

Gubernatorial News in MD

Former NAACP head Ben Jealous overcame Rushern Baker III in a decisive 39 to 29 percent victory on Tuesday night to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination for Maryland. Jealous ran a progressive campaign that was endorsed by Sens. Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris. Running on strikingly similar campaign messages as Stacey Abrams’ successful Democratic gubernatorial primary campaign in Georgia, Jealous campaigned strongly on single-payer healthcare, increasing the minimum wage, and making state colleges tuition-free. Jealous will now faces a tough fight against Larry Hogan, a GOP moderate with a 69 percent approval rating among Maryland voters.


From the beginning of the primary season, the results have moved districts from toss-up to lean-D according to the Cook Political Report. The number of such districts can be expressed as a fraction of the total seats needed for the Democrats to secure a majority in the US House in November.

Not including yesterday’s primaries, we estimate that Democrats can confidently claim seven flips, or 7 of the 23 seats needed to win back the House.

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June 12 Voting In ME, NV, ND, VA (June 13)

Update 278 – June 12 Voting In ME, NV, ND, VA
49% of Dem House Nominees are Women

Yesterday’s primary elections marked another big night for Democratic women across the country. After last night, Ds have nominated women in 49 percent of house races — 73 out of 150. On the R side, that number is only 16 percent. GOP establishment candidates, such as Rep. Mark Sanford, continue to lose primaries, demonstrating Republican voters’ continued allegiance to President Trump.

We take a closer look at yesterday’s primaries below.





  • VA-10: Wexton vs. Rep. Comstock
  • 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 52/Trump 42
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 50/Obama 49
  • 2016 House: Comstock (R) 53/Bennett (D) 47
  • Cook PVI: D+10

In VA-10, State Sen. Jennifer Wexton emerged from a crowded field to claim the Democratic nomination with an emphatic 42 percent of the vote. She will take on vulnerable incumbent Rep. Barbara Comstock in a district that is widely seen as one of the Democrat’s best flip opportunities of 2018. Mitt Romney won VA-10 by one point in 2014, and Hillary Clinton carried the northern Virginia district by a ten point margin in 2016. Continuing the trend, Ralph Northam won the district by 13 points in last year’s gubernatorial race.

Wexton, who won the endorsements of establishment figures such as Sen. Tim Kaine and Gov. Ralph Northam, deployed a progressive legislative record to claim victory in yesterday’s primary. During her time as a State Senator, Wexton voted in favor of raising the minimum wage, closing the gender pay gap, and establishing paid medical leave. She also called for increased spending on vocational job training, expanding workers’ rights, and reining in Wall Street’s excesses.

VA-07: Spanberger vs. Rep. Brat

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 50/Clinton 44
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 54/Obama 44
  • 2016 House: Brat (R) 58/Bedell (D) 42
  • Cook PVI: R+6

Former covert CIA operative Abigail Spanberger handily defeated retired Marine Col. Dan Ward in yesterday’s Democratic primary in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. Spanberger received over 73 percent of the vote and will face off against GOP Rep. Dave Brat in November. Spanberger is a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion in Virginia. She is a vocal proponent of organized labor, public schools and workforce training programs. Spanberger opposes the recent GOP tax cuts, any attempts to cut or privatize social security, and is endorsed by End Citizens United for her campaign finance reform credentials.

VA-02: Luria vs. Rep. Taylor

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 48/Clinton 45
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 50/Obama 48
  • 2016 House: Taylor (R) 62/Brown (D) 38
  • Cook PVI: R+3

Veteran and business owner Elaine Luria won her primary with over 62 percent of the vote. She emerges to challenge incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Taylor in a coastal Virginia district that leans conservative. Luria is campaigning to improve workplace conditions, establish equal pay for equal work, and expand access to jobs with living wages and benefits. The race will be tight, but winning it will mean Democrats have secured the gains they hoped for come November.

VA-05: Cockburn vs. Riggleman

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 53/Clinton 42
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 53/Obama 46
  • 2016 House: Garrett, Jr. (R) 58/Dittmar (D) 42
  • Cook PVI: R+6

Longtime journalist Leslie Cockburn will campaign to flip the 5th Congressional district, which runs through central Virginia. Republicans chose craft distillery owner and former Air Force officer Denver Riggleman to replace retiring GOP Rep. Thomas Garrett Jr. To win this historically red district, Cockburn is emphasizing federal funding for new energy, an improved tourist and leisure industry, a minimum wage increase, and improved transportation infrastructure. Cockburn’s performance will reveal whether Democratic outreach to rural areas spells success in the coming months.


Last night’s primaries saw a historically high voter turnout in the state of Nevada, with 19 percent of eligible voters going to polls. Democrats saw higher numbers with 83,701 ballots cast, compared to 76,011 Republican ballots. There was also a slightly higher percentage of women voting than men, which bodes well for female Democratic candidates.

NV-03: Lee vs. Tarkanian

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 48/Clinton 47
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 50/Romney 49
  • 2016 House: Rosen (D) 47/Tarkanian (R) 46
  • Cook PVI: R+2

EMILY’s List champion and Nevada State Democratic Party favorite, Susie Lee, emerged as the Democrat candidate for NV-03 with 67 percent of the vote. She is proving to be a solid fundraiser and has the endorsement of incumbent Rosen, who is departing for a Senate bid. This will be Lee’s second run for a primary house race, after narrowly losing NV-04 to Ruben Kihuen in 2016. This time around, she stands a strong chance against GOP candidate Danny Tarkanian, who has already lost seven political races. Following in Rosen’s footsteps, Lee is focused on economic issues, including wage stagnation, credit availability, energy affordability, and the protection of social security.

NV-04: Rep. Horsford vs. Rep. Hardy

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 50/Romney 45
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 54/Romney 44
  • 2016 House: Kihuen (D) 49/Hardy (R) 45
  • Cook PVI: D+3

Following yesterday’s primary, NV-04 will see a November general election between two of the district’s former representatives, Democrat Steven Horsford, who held the seat 2013-2015 and Republican, Cresent Hardy, who held the seat from 2015-2017. Democrats will have to strive to continue to drive up voter turnout in a district that encompasses a large section of northern Los Vegas.

Like other Nevadan Democrats, Horsford is highly focused on economic security. He advocates for job training programs, renewable energy, and education reform aimed at ending the school-to-prison pipeline. He was Nevada’s first African American State Senate Majority Leader between 2009-2012.


Ranked Choice voting

Yesterday’s Maine primaries represented the first use of ranked choice voting in US electoral history. Under ranked choice voting, if no candidate receives a majority of the first place votes, the last place candidate’s votes are redistributed to voters’ next choices until someone breaks 50 percent. The Associated Press will only call winners for the first round of tabulation and if additional rounds are required to determine a winner, final results will not be available for a few days.

ME-02: Golden vs. Rep. Poliquin

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 51/Clinton 41
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 53/Romney 44
  • 2016 House: Poliquin (R) 55/Cain (D) 45
  • Cook PVI: R+2

Current projections show that former Marine Jared Golden is closest to the 50 percent mark with 49.7 percent of the vote, making it a near-certainty that he will be the Democratic nominee. Golden will take on incumbent GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a veteran of the House Financial Services committee and strong proponent of the dangerous S.2155.

Golden, who campaigned on his bipartisan perspective, has a progressive streak in his economic policies. He calls for the strengthening of social security and medicare, investing in infrastructure and business, and campaign reform beginning with overturning Citizens United.

North Dakota: Tough Senate Fight in November

Although the results of North Dakota’s 2018 Senate primary were all but predetermined, the race will be one of the most talked about in the 2018 general election. Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp will face off against North Dakota’s At Large Representative Kevin Cramer. Senator Heitkamp has largely been loyal to her constituents and the Democrats, but may have committed an unforced error by championing unpopular banking deregulation in S. 2155. Having Senator Heitkamp in this seat will be important for Democrats to regain the Senate majority and will be one of the most important races to watch come November.



From the beginning of the primary season, the results have moved districts from toss-up to lean-D according to the Cook Political Report. The number of such districts can be expressed as a fraction of the total seats needed for the Democrats to secure a majority in the US House in November.

Not including yesterday’s primaries, we estimate that Democrats can confidently claim six flips, or 6 of the 24 seats needed to win back the House.

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Eight States in Midterm Voting (June 6)

Update 276 – Eight States in Midterm Voting

Yesterday was the Super Tuesday of the 2018 primary season. The most R to D flippable U.S. House seats in the country are in California, where the “jungle” primary system forced strategic recalibration among candidates and campaigns.

Did Democrats manage to avoid being locked out of all the general elections in the flippable districts, with a first or second-place finish and a spot on the November ballot assured? See below.




Last night’s primary marked the most recent chapter in California’s ongoing experiment with jungle primaries, in which the two candidates who receive the most votes proceed to the general election, regardless of political affiliation. Democrats’ fears of being locked out of the flippable districts did not materialize.

While votes are still being counted, it appears that Democrats have a secured a second place slot in three of California’s most pivotal districts, CA-39, CA-48, and CA-49. Strong Democratic candidates successfully consolidated enough of the vote to make it into all of the flippable US House elections.


CA-10: Josh Harder (D) v Rep. Jeff Denham (R)

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 48/Trump 45
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 50/Romney 47
  • 2016 House: Denham (R) 52/Eggman (D) 48
  • Cook PVI: Even

In a district that Sec. Clinton won by three points, venture capitalist Josh Harder will take on three term incumbent Rep. Jeff Denham. CA-10 was a district that Democrats were worried would be an all Republican race after the jungle primary, but Harder edged out Republican Ted Howze 16 to 14 percent to finish second. Harder’s platform is centered around health care and bringing good paying jobs to the Central Valley by investing in infrastructure, funding apprenticeship programs and making college more affordable.

CA-25: Katie Hill (D) v Rep. Steve Knight (R)

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 50/Trump 43
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 49/Obama 47
  • 2016 House: Knight (R) 53/Caforio (D) 47
  • Cook PVI: Even

Emily’s List champion Katie Hill emerged to face off against incumbent GOP Rep. Steve Knight in this toss-up north-of-LA district. Hill, who runs a homeless services nonprofit, barely edged out lawyer Bryan Caforio, 20 to 18 percent. Under her “rebuilding the middle class” platform, Hill intends to reduce income inequality, expand local hiring, attack the affordable housing and homelessness problem, and support organized labor. A dead even toss-up, this is a district Democrats must win to regain control of the House.

CA-39: Gil Cisneros (D) v Young Kim (R)

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 51/Trump 43 (R)
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 50/Obama 47
  • 2016 House: Royce (R) 57/Murdock (D) 43
  • Cook PVI: Even

The CA-39 primary proved highly contested after incumbent Republican Ed Royce chose not to seek re-election. Democrat Gil Cisneros gained a spot on the general election ballot with 19 percent of the vote, close behind his Republican opponent, Young Kim, a former assemblywoman. Cisneros is an education policy expert eager to invest in education, vocational training and career development. He is also devoted to raising the minimum wage, reducing middle class taxes, and ending tax breaks for special interests and corporations.

CA-45: Katie Porter (D) v Mimi Walters (R)

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 50/Trump 44
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 55/Obama 43
  • 2016 House: Walters (R) 59/Varasteh (D) 41
  • Cook PVI: R+3

A nationally renown consumer advocate, Katie Porter emerged from the pack to face incumbent GOP Rep. Mimi Walters in the general. Supported by Elizabeth Warren for her financial policy chops, Porter is pushing to undo the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s reverse wealth transfer to the top one percent. Porter will face off against Rep. Walters, who will have a fight on her hands defending her seat against a candidate with substantial national support.

CA-48 Harley Rouda (D) / Hand Keirstead (D) v Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R)

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 48/Trump 46
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 55/Obama 43
  • 2016 House: Rorabacher (R) 58/Savary (D) 42
  • Cook PVI: R+4

The 48th district saw the closest race among democrats. Harley Rouda, lawyer and businessman, and Hans Keirstead, a stem cell researcher/entrepreneur, were neck and neck with 17.3 and 17.2 percent of the vote respectively. While a recount is likely, this district is a strong flip possibility.

Rouda has been campaigning on a clean energy platform and is devoted to closing tax loopholes that benefit outdated industries and the wealthy. Keirstead focuses his platform on creating jobs, increasing the minimum wage, and ensuring clean energy infrastructure investments boosts hiring. The second place finisher will face incumbent GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in a lean-conservative district.

CA- 49: Mike Levin (D) v Diane Harley (R)

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 51/Trump 43
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 52/Obama 46
  • 2016 House: Issa (R) 50/ Applegate 49
  • Cook PVI: R+1

Mike Levin emerged to beat two Democrat candidates, Sarah Jacobs and Doug Applegate, with 17 percent of the vote to their respective 15.5 and 13 percent. He will face Republican Diane Harley, who had 25 percent of the primary vote. Levin is a former executive director of the Orange County Democratic Party with experience working on clean energy issues. He also champions other environmental policies and supports a $15 federal minimum wage.


IA-01: Abby Finkenauer (D) vs. Rep. Rod Blum (R)

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 48/Clinton 45
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 56/Romney 43
  • 2016 House: Blum (R) 54/Vernon (D) 46
  • Cook PVI: D+1

In IA-01, the northeastern congressional district in Iowa, 28-year old State Rep. Abby Finkenauer will face off against incumbent Tea Party Rep. Rod Blum. Minority Leader Pelosi and other influential Democrats have labeled Finkenauer as “one to watch” this November and beyond, as she progresses in her promising political career. Finkenauer is pushing for innovative progressive ideas, with an economic policy platform that includes strong organized labor, pay equity, and raising the minimum wage.

IA-03: Cindy Axne (D) vs. Rep. Dave Young (R)

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 48/Clinton 45
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 51/Romney 47
  • 2016 House: Young (R) 53/Mowrer (D) 40
  • Cook PVI: R+1

IA-03 is another Trump-country district with a good chance to flip. Cindy Axne, a small business owner and Emily’s List champion, takes on incumbent Rep. Dave Young. Axne’s two main policy platforms are health care and insufficient retirement benefits. Should Axne and Finkenauer win in November, they will be the first two female members of Congress from Iowa and would shift the state’s delegation from 3-1 R to 3-1 D seats.

New Jersey

NJ-11: Mikie Sherrill (D) vs. Jay Webber (R)

  • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 49/Clinton 48
  • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 52/Obama 47
  • 2016 House: Frelinghuysen (R) 58/Wenzel (D) 39
  • Cook PVI: R+3

In NJ-11, former Navy pilot and prosecutor Mikie Sherrill rode a Joe Biden endorsement to cruise to an easy victory in a crowded primary field. She faces Jay Webber in November to replace outgoing Rep. Frelinghuysen in a district that includes the heavily Democratic Essex Country and the historically Republican Morris County. Sherrill is running with economic issues at the forefront of her policy platform: increased infrastructure and education spending, a reform or repeal of most of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and the protection of Social Security and Medicare.

New Mexico

Sen. Martin Heinrich will face off against Republican Mick Rich this November. Sen. Heinrich has been a strong advocate for American workers and their families as Ranking Member of the Joint Economic Committee. Under his leadership, the committee has identified and promoted ways to sustainably grow our economy and has released multiple reports opposing the tax cut and S. 2155. Sen. Heinrich is not expected to have a serious challenge in this race.



From the beginning of the primary season, the results have moved districts from toss-up to lean-D according to the Cook Political Report. The number of such districts can be expressed as a fraction of the total seats needed for the Democrats to secure a majority in the US House in November.

Not including yesterday’s primaries, we estimate that Democrats can confidently claim four flips, or 4 of 24 seats.

Inside/Outside Politics (May 23)

Update 273— Inside/Outside Politics: Texas Draw; History in Georgia

Last night’s primary replicated an emerging pattern: contests in which the two top vote-getters are one establishment or party-backed candidate and one insurgent.

In Georgia, Stacey Abrams won 76.5 to 23.5 percent, a 54 point margin, and made history by becoming the first black woman to win a gubernatorial nomination of a major political party. She is a graduate of Yale Law School and the author of several romance novels.

More on yesterday’s primaries below.






Update on the Senate race: Rep. O’Rourke easily won his primary with 62 percent of the vote and will face of against Sen. Ted Cruz for his seat in November. While O’Rourke remains somewhat unknown to many Texans, an assertive fundraising and advertising campaign is underway to change that. In a recent conversation, Beto identified health care as the issue that Texas voters tell him is the most important economic policy issue facing them today.

TX-23: Ortiz Jones vs. Rep Hurd

    • 2016 Pres. Election Results: Clinton 50/Trump 46
    • 2012 Pres. Election Results: Romney 51/Obama 48
    • 2016 House Results: Hurd (R) 48/Gallego (D) 47
    • Cook PVI: R+1

In TX-23, Gina Ortiz Jones was victorious against Rick Treviño, endorsed by Bernie Sanders, coasting to an easy 68 to 32 percent win. Next, Ortiz Jones will face Republican Rep. Will Hurd in a district that is the Democrats’ best chance to flip a House seat in Texas. She faces a tough but winnable fight against a two-term incumbent opponent who holds a substantial fundraising advantage.

Ortiz Jones’ economic policy platform focuses on job creation, affordable education, and the protection of Social Security and Medicare. As the first lesbian, first Iraq War veteran, and first Filipina-American to represent Texas in Congress, Ortiz Jones would be transformational should she win in November. This race will be down to the wire, but Democrats will need to win this seat to retake the House.

TX-32: Allred vs. Rep. Sessions

    • 2016 Pres. Election Results: Clinton 49/Trump 47
    • 2012 Pres. Election Results: Romney 57/Obama 41.5
    • 2016 House Results: Sessions (R) 71/Rankin (D) 19
    • Cook PVI: R+5

Civil rights attorney and former NFL player Colin Allred won handedly against entrepreneur and attorney Lillian Salerno in yesterday’s TX-32 runoff contest, 70 to 30 percent. Allred will now face 10-term incumbent Rep. Pete Sessions in what stands to be a tight race in northern Dallas.

Allred relied on a progressive economic platform that includes infrastructure spending, increasing the minimum wage to 15 dollars, and paid family leave. Now he will turn this message against the conservative Sessions, who supports a balanced budget amendment and wants to audit the Fed. Given this matchup, TX-32 might serve as a bellwether for economic preferences in Texas.

TX-07: Pannill Fletcher vs. Rep. Culberson

    • 2016 Pres. Election Results: Clinton 49/Trump 47
    • 2012 Pres. Election Results: Romney 60/Obama 39
    • 2016 House Results: Culberson (R) 56/Cargas (D) 44
    • Cook PVI: R+7

After a first round of primary voting in March, TX-07 concluded its runoff voting yesterday, handing an easy 67 to 33 percent win to attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher against insurgent candidate Laura Moser. The Emily’s List-backed Pannill Fletcher’s moderate economic platform focuses on the promotion of green technology, investment in STEM education, and the creation of vocational schools.

Observers see the rapidly changing 7th district as an in-play district for Democrats.  While the district has produced Republican stalwarts George H.W. Bush and Bill Archer, Hillary Clinton beat Trump in the Houston-area district by one point in 2016 and recent polling saw incumbent Rep. Culberson trailing the Democrat in a generic ballot.

TX- 21: Kopser vs. Roy

  • 2016 Pres. Election Results: Trump 52/Clinton 42
  • 2012 Pres. Election Results: Romney 60/Obama 38
  • 2016 House Results: Smith (R) 57/Wakely (D) 36
  • Cook PVI: R+10

In TX-21, Democrat Joseph Kopser, an entrepreneur, Army veteran and former Republican, is pitted against Chip Roy, a former Chief of Staff to Sen. Ted Cruz in this Republican haven. In spite of his conservative past, Kosper has led with progressive economic issues, primarily paid family leave, ending the capital gains preference, the creation of a financial transaction tax, and restructured public school funding. While he is far from Bernie Sanders, he is running on an economic platform that has unmistakable populist overtones.

TX-22: Kulkarni vs. Rep. Olson

    • 2016 Pres. Election Results: Trump 52/Clinton 44
    • 2012 Pres. Election Results: Romney 62/Obama 36
    • 2016 House Results: Olson (R) 59/Gibson (D) 41
    • Cook PVI: R+10

Sri Preston Kulkarni, one of the more progressive Democrats in the field of candidates for TX-22, will face off against incumbent Rep. Pete Olson for the southern Houston district. Sri was commissioned as a Foreign Service Officer following college and served for 14 years, with overseas tours in five different countries. A PCCC candidate and an outspoken advocate for addressing economic inequality, Kulkarni has railed against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as a giveaway to corporations and the wealthy and as a fiscally irresponsible bill that will hurt entitlements going forward.


The most important result from last night’s Georgia primary lies outside of our usual focus on House races. Stacey Abrams, Georgia State House Minority Leader, won a landslide victory in the Georgia gubernatorial race. Abrams campaigned on the principle that voters in urban areas of the state need to be enfranchised into the political process. Her more moderate Democratic opponent campaigned on reaching out to voters in suburban and rural parts of the state.

This November, Abrams can make history as the first female governor in Georgia’s history and the first black female governor in US history. Abrams’ vision on economic mobility includes the establishment of a state earned income tax credit, expanding childcare tax credits, protecting workers from abusive on-call scheduling, and creating programs to encourage saving.

GA-06: McBath and Abel Head to a Runoff

    • 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 48/Clinton 47
    • 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 61/Clinton 38
    • 2016 House: Price (R) 62/Stooksbury (D) 38
    • Cook PVI: R+8

In GA-06, where Democrat Jon Ossoff lost a close special election race to replace Tom Price last year, prominent gun-control activist Lucy McBath is heading to a runoff with local businessman Kevin Abel. McBath claimed the top spot with 36 percent of the vote to Abel’s 30. McBath is pushing to increase the minimum wage and expand the federal earned income tax credit. Abel pledges to apply his experience leading an IT consulting company to improve conditions for workers. The runoff will take place on July 24.


Women Big Winners in PA (May 16)

Update 271 – Women Big Winners in PA
Voters Focused on Health Costs, not Tax Cuts

Democrats in Pennsylvania came away from yesterday’s primary elections confident of gaining at least five U.S. House seats in November.  That would move the Commonwealth’s delegation from a GOP 13-5 advantage into a 10-8 Democratic majority. The delegation will likely include four women, up from none currently.

Below we drill down into the flippable races in PA and the other states voting yesterday — Idaho, Nebraska, and Oregon with a view to economic policy issues and candidates to watch in the general.




PA-17: Rep. Lamb (D) v. Rep. Rothfus (R)

• 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 49/Clinton 47
• 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 52/Obama 47
• 2016 House: *District Lines Changed
• Cook PVI: R+3

Yesterday, the newly-created PA-17 held uncontested primaries to set up a general election race between Rep. Connor Lamb and Rep. Keith Rothfus.  The result of Pennsylvania’s recently redrawn district lines, this clash of incumbents gives Democrats a realistic opportunity to add a pickup.

While the race is technically “lean Republican,” Rep. Lamb lines up well against Rep. Rothfus. Relative to the R+11 Cook PVI that Lamb overcame in his March PA-18 victory, PA-17’s R+3 rating will feel like friendly territory, especially given Lamb’s opposition to the conservative Rothfus, a three-term Trump Republican from PA-12 who is expected to struggle in the more moderate district.  Lamb will use a pragmatic approach similar to his last campaign, focusing on infrastructure spending, job training, protecting medicare and social security, and strengthening unions.

PA-07: Wild (D) v. Nothstein (R)

• 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 57/Trump 38
• 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 56/Romney 42
• 2016 House: *District Lines Changed
• Cook PVI: D+7

With 33 percent of the vote, Allentown attorney Susan Wild won the Democratic Primary in the Lehigh Valley, where the moderate Republican Rep. Dent is retiring.  She defeated an anti-immigrant, anti-choice, Trump sympathizer John Morganelli, the district attorney of Northampton County. Wild’s campaign is centered around protecting medicare and social security, strengthening union bargaining power, and investing in job training programs.  She also advocates for the defense of the Earned Income Tax Credit and promotes investing in rural infrastructure development.

Her win signifies a victory over the old guard where conservative Democrats are still active. Backed by Emily’s List, Wild would be the first woman to represent the Lehigh Valley in Congress.  Her opponent in November will be former Olympian Marty Nothstein, who narrowly won his nomination on a conventional GOP platform of border security, repealing obamacare, and protecting gun rights.  The general election will be hotly contested in this purple district, a bellwether for an impending progressive wave.


PA-01: Wallace (D) v. Rep. Fitzpatrick (R)

• 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 49/Clinton 47
• 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 50/Obama 48
• 2016 House: *District Lines Changed
• Cook PVI: R+1

Scott Wallace, a philanthropist, public interest lawyer, and one-time capitol hill staffer, will face incumbent Republican Rep. Fitzpatrick in PA-01.  He is a descendant of Henry Wallace, an architect of Social Security as FDR’s trusted cabinet member and Vice President. Scott Wallace is campaigning to strengthen the program his grandfather designed, and is also promoting a serious agenda to revitalize the nation’s community colleges and vocational programs.

Unseating a Republican incumbent in Bucks county will not be easy, but this is the year to do it.  Wallace has substantial campaign funds and runs in a district that went blue from 2007 to 2011.


PA-06: Houlihan (D) v. McCauley (R)

• 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 52/Trump 43
• 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 51/Obama 48
• 2016 House: *District Lines Changed
• Cook PVI: D+2

Chrissy Houlihan, an Air Force veteran with business experience as the COO of a popular footwear and apparel company, will face off against a little-known Republican attorney in a new district whose precincts heavily favored Clinton against Trump in 2016.  While the district is close on the Cook PVI scale, most expect it to go the Democrats’ way in a wave year. Houlihan is campaigning on giving workers a living wage, increasing worker bargaining power, and closing the gender pay gap.


PA-04: Dean (D) v. David (R)

• 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 57/Trump 38
• 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 56/Romney 42
• 2016 House: *District Lines Changed
• Cook PVI: D+7

State Rep. Madeleine Dean defeated both her primary opponents convincingly to take the Democratic nomination in this brand new, “lean D” district.  Dean would be one of several women to take office in a state that is currently the largest to send an all-male delegation to the US House. Dean is campaigning on infrastructure modernization, increasing the bargaining power of organized labor, and repairing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to increase support for low and middle-income workers and increase taxes on the richest.


PA-05: Scanlon (D) v. Kim (R)

• 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 62/Trump 34
• 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 63/Romney 35
• 2016 House: *District Lines Changed
• Cook PVI: D+13

Attorney Mary Gay Scanlon emerged from a field of ten Democratic candidates to easily win the nomination.  A nonprofit lawyer, Scanlon is poised to flip this redistricted seat in the Delaware County suburbs just southwest of Philadelphia.  Scanlon is likely to turn to education reform when approaching long term solutions to economic issues. She has particularly emphasized student loan reform and debt relief and making community college and public university attendance free for families earning less than $150,000.

NE-02: Eastman (D) v. Bacon (R)

• 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 48/Clinton 46
• 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 53/Obama 46
• 2016 House: Bacon (R) 49/Ashford (D) 48
• Cook PVI: R+2

One of the biggest upsets of the primary season thus far came out of the Cornhusker State as Kara Eastman, an Omaha nonprofit president, beat out former Rep. Brad Ashford.  In a near three point victory, NE-02 Democrats narrowly nominated Eastman to take on incumbent Rep. Don Bacon, a Trumpian Republican who has voted with the president 97 percent of the time.  Although many saw Ashford as the more viable candidate, don’t count Eastman out in the general election, NE-02 is still amongst the most flippable districts this cycle and is a key district to win if Democrats hope to take back the house.

Eastman advocates Medicare-for-all as her main policy platform, but also relies on strong progressive economic policy ideas.  She supports raising the minimum wage, tax reform that raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations, and raising the taxable maximum on social security.
All’s Quiet on the Western Front:

Two western states – Idaho and Oregon – also held primary contests yesterday.  In Oregon, all five incumbents won their primaries easily and are expected to cruise to victory in the general election.  In Idaho’s first district, Christina McNeil will face off against Russ Fulcher in a seat that former Rep. Raúl Labrador vacated to (unsuccessfully) run for governor.  In ID-02, incumbent Rep. Mike Simpson will face Democrat Aaron Swisher.  As in Oregon, neither race is expected to be competitive.