Establishment-Backed Candidates Prevail in Primaries

Gavin Newsom, the Democratic mayor of San Francisco at the time, gives a speech at the University of California, Berkeley, October 3, 2008
Gavin Newsom, the Democratic mayor of San Francisco at the time, gives a speech at the University of California, Berkeley, October 3, 2008 (Charlie Nguyen)

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight reports that Democratic and Republican Party elites had a good night in America. In most of the primary elections held on Tuesday, establishment-backed candidates prevailed. Read more

Democrats Wisely Stay the Course

View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, August 4, 2013
View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, August 4, 2013 (Jeffrey Zeldman)

In primary elections on Tuesday, Democrats in the United States largely went with the more sensible candidates.

Coming on the heels of Ralph Northam’s victory in Virginia and Doug Jones’ in Alabama, it suggests the party is not losing its mind in the age of Donald Trump and wisely staying the course.

Or, as Jonathan Bernstein puts it:

We’re now six states in and if there’s any sign that Democrats are either plagued by a dysfunctional overreaction to Trump or are having real difficulties handling the surge in new candidates, I’m not really seeing it.

Read more

Democrats Poll Better for Senate, Trump Rethinks TPP

The United States Capitol dominates the skyline of Washington DC, November 22, 2013
The United States Capitol dominates the skyline of Washington DC, November 22, 2013 (IIP/Tim Brown)

The conventional wisdom in the United States is that Democrats are likely to take control of the House of Representatives in November while Republicans are likely to defend their majority in the Senate.

That’s changing, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Democrats are polling better in Arizona and Tennessee. Ted Cruz is still likely to win reelection in Texas, but Democrat Beto O’Rourke is mounting a serious challenge.

In Florida, it’s the other way around. The candidacy of Republican governor Rick Scott is making Democrat Bill Nelson’s reelection a little less likely.

For more, read my story from February. Read more

Ryan Joins Exodus of House Republicans

Republican House speaker Paul Ryan speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference National Harbor, Maryland, March 3, 2016
Republican House speaker Paul Ryan speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference National Harbor, Maryland, March 3, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)

Axios reports that prominent Republicans are fleeing Washington DC.

House speaker Paul Ryan is the latest to depart, announcing on Wednesday that he will not seek reelection in November.

About a dozen committee chairmen are giving up their seats as well.

There are two reasons for the exodus:

  1. The expectation that Democrats will win a majority in the House.
  2. Frustration with President Donald Trump. Read more

Democrats Have Early Advantages, Berlusconi Backs Hard Right

View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC in the early morning, January 15, 2017
View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC in the early morning, January 15, 2017 (DoD/William Lockwood)

How good are Democrats’ chances for the midterm elections in November? Jonathan Bernstein argues in Bloomberg View that it’s too soon to tell, but that the party’s early advantages, in terms of candidates, money and volunteer commitments, could make the difference.

We like to think of voters as the key players in elections, write Bernstein. However, “voters are strongly influenced by the choices of others within the political system and by the general electoral context.”

This is where the “party decides” theory comes in: party elites (including activists who probably don’t think of themselves as “elite”) actively shape the choices voters get.

Voters may not consider themselves partisans, but they tend to vote for a party — and the same party — rather than the candidate.

The president’s job approval and the state of the economy play a huge role as well. There are political scientist who argue these factors alone determine the outcome.

For more, read my story from last month about what we already know about the midterm elections in the United States. Read more

The Party Can Still Decide

Delegates listen to a speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia,Pennsylvania, July 25, 2016
Delegates listen to a speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia,Pennsylvania, July 25, 2016 (DNCC/Chris Frommann)

“The party decides” theory — which argues that American party elites exert a strong behind-the-scenes influence on who gets nominated for political office — took a blow in 2016, when Donald Trump won the Republican presidential contest despite strong internal opposition.

One exception doesn’t discredit the whole theory, theory. Seth Masket argues at Mischiefs of Faction that this year’s nominating contests show activists and party leaders are still actively shaping the choices voters will get. Read more

What We Know About the Midterm Elections in the United States

View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, August 4, 2013
View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, August 4, 2013 (Jeffrey Zeldman)

The map is biased against Democrats, but don’t overestimate the Republican turnout advantage. It wouldn’t take that much for a Democratic wave to turn into a tsunami. White women and college graduates are likely to decide the outcome.

Here is what we know about the upcoming congressional elections in the United States. Read more