2016 Election Preview & Predictions: Part Three – State Elections

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What we often forget is  ultimately the U.S. Presidential Election is a series of state elections. In the final part of our election series, lets take a look at the 50 states (Gubernatorial elections and state legislative elections).

I have no doubt that these will be the hardest predictions to nail down for two reasons: one, the lack of available polling for many state legislative races and even many gubernatorial races (in safe D or safe R states), and two, given the historically high unfavorable ratings at the top of each ticket, it is harder to predict any sort of down ballot affect that usually is in play. Traditionally, for reasons of higher name ID and concentration of media coverage on the top ticket races, Presidential candidates and statewide candidates get more votes and a higher percentage than their down ballot counterparts. At least in theory. Local candidates who have a special relationship with their constituents often do much better than the top of the ticket, but I digress. Let’s start with the statewide races, then state legislative control in all 50 states, and end with going specific in the three states that I have been a resident in at some point in my life (Minnesota, North Dakota, and now New York).

General predictions for the makeup of gubernatorial power in the states.

Currently

GOP: 31 Governors, DEM: 18 Governors, Independent: 1 (in Alaska)

New (prediction)

 

GOP: 31 Governors, DEM: 18 Governors, Independent: 1 (in Alaska)

Overall, most gubernatorial races happen in midterm elections, which will give the GOP a strong advantage as long as the Democratic Party continues to win the White House. Of the few gubernatorial races this year (12 in total), I predict the Democrats easily retain Washington, Oregon, and Delaware, while the Republicans easily retain North Dakota and Utah, which leaves us with closer races in the New Hampshire, Vermont, North Carolina, West Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, and Montana.

Of those seven, the GOP will pick-up Vermont, West Virginia, and just narrowly miss out on picking up New Hampshire and Missouri. The Democrats will pick-up Indiana and North Carolina narrowly, retain Montana by at least 5 points, and  narrowly retain New Hampshire and Missouri (where GOP candidate Eric Greitens has ran a frightening campaign, foretelling things to come, stay tuned next week for more on that.)

In other words, no change in the gubernatorial makeup and control of the various executive branches in the states.

General predictions for the makeup of state legislative power in the states.

Currently

The GOP controls 68 out of the 98 chambers (higher chambers and lower chambers) at the state legislative level.

New (prediction)

The GOP controls 65 out of the 98 chambers, which means Democrats net a total of 3 state legislative chambers.

The GOP will pick-up the Kentucky House, a coda if you will to the past realignment and death of the old south where the Democrats were able to compete locally many cycles after they began losing the once solid south at the Presidential level.

The Democrats will pick-up the Colorado Senate (go Jered Weber!), Nevada Assembly, New Mexico House, and the biggest surprise and reach here, the Arizona Senate. In other words, continued signals of the longer term blue trend of the Mountain West and Southwest.

*Note: the state of Nebraska has a unicameral non-partisan state legislature, but let’s not kid ourselves here… that’s another one in the GOP column if we’re being honest.

Now for a spotlight on a few states.

First, the state of North Dakota, which has the honor of being the only state where a Democratic Party has promoted millennials and young people to positions of party and public leadership. Because when you are losing 45-0, why not just call up the farm system and start building…

NORTH DAKOTA

Senate: Current 32-15 Republican majority against the Democratic-NPL (Non-partisan league)

House: Current 71-23 Republican majority against the Dem-NPL

New (prediction), in solidly red North Dakota, which has gone even darker shades of red during the eight years of the Obama Administration (Obama won this state in the 2008 Democratic Primary and finished within 10 in the 2008 General Election), the Republicans easily hold on to their supermajorities in both houses. It’s hard to even imagine where the Dems would pick up seats here other than maybe a few seats out of Fargo. I expect Donald Trump to do better here than most states tomorrow and that could have its own wave effect on the few rural Dem-NPL legislators that still have seats. So I’ll call this one a wash, with virtually no change in either the state house or senate.

MINNESOTA

Senate: Current 38-28 DFL (Democrat-Farmer Labor) majority (or 39-28 if going by 2012 election)

House: Current 73-61 Republican majority

New (prediction)

Senate: 36-31 DFL (the GOP has a net pick-up of 3 seats)

House: 70-64 GOP (the DFL has a net pick-up of 3 seats)

Analysis: The changing demographics (featured earlier in this brilliant and illuminating podcast episode of “This American Life”) propel St. Cloud to deliver pick-ups for the DFL in Senate District 14 and House District 14B.

In general, the split in the DFL between metro-area environmentalists and rural labor unionists and farmers will continue to show up at the ballot box. Rural voters in CD8 and 7 have fewer reasons to vote for the DFL each cycle and that will show up most strikingly in Nolan’s close re-election to the House, a seat that looks to be in deep trouble for the ’18 midterms. The down ballot effects will be seen at the state legislative races while the DFL continues to recruit solid candidates, and party-build well in the suburban metro areas. In the Senate, the GOP will gain seats in SD 1, 17, 24, and 36 to cut in slightly to the overall DFL majority in the state senate. In the house, the DFL has a net-gain of 3 seats, with pick-ups in 21A, 24B, and a hold in 48A. Despite Trump and Jason Lewis on the ballot, the down-ballot MN-2 legislative races hold for the GOP in 56A, 56B, 57A, and 57B. If a few of these races however are called for the DFL, then the Republican majority in the state house is in jeopardy.

NEW YORK

We end with my home state of New York. The disfunction of corruption of both major parties here is seen even in their state legislative election tallies. Low turnout (bottom 5 in the nation usually), and tight election laws by blue state standards will make tomorrow frustrating. We’ve shined the spotlight on three states tonight, North Dakota, a red state trending further red. Minnesota, a blue state trending red. Now New York, a blue state trending further blue, but like another blue state, Illinois, embodies many of the problems with the modern day national Democratic Party.

Senate: Current 32-31 GOP majority

Assembly: Current 106-42 Dem majority

Analysis: The Assembly is safe Democratic hold, and the Senate is anyone’s guess and a true coin toss. Why? Let me explain first how the GOP even gets to their majority. In the New York State Senate, which as I pointed out in an earlier article, has had an unsurpassed string of public corruption and grift, has 29 elected Democrats (with five of them being considered Independents that caucus with the Democrats in Albany), 29 elected Republicans, with 1 Democrat who caucuses with the senate Republicans in Albany. Leaving us with 4 true toss-ups. I’m splitting the difference and saying that the NY State Senate ends up with 32 caucusing as Republicans to hold the majority (29 actually endorsed by the Republicans, and 3 Democrats who caucus with them), and 31 Democrats or elected state senators who end up caucusing with the Democrats.

In other words. Albany is a mess, folks like Andrew Cuomo are not the future of the party, but rather its extreme neoliberal past that ought to be in the rear view mirror as soon as possible. The best news to come out of New York state tomorrow night will hopefully be the election of Teachout in the New York 19th Congressional District.

Now go vote tomorrow if you haven’t already!

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