Monday, November 4, 2019

BTRTN: Can the Dems Really Win Three Red State Governorships Tomorrow?

Tom outlines what to watch on Election Day 2019 tomorrow, and gives the BTRTN predictions.

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There will be many, many elections across the country tomorrow (Tuesday) on Election Day.  Our goal here is not to immerse you in Election Day minutiae, but rather to focus on the most consequential elections.  And they are the three gubernatorial elections, in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi, and the elections to determine the composition of both chambers of state legislatures in Virginia, Mississippi and Louisiana, and just the General Assembly in New Jersey.

Either party can win the three gubernatorial races, and the Virginia legislature (both chambers) is up for grabs as well.  These are truly bellweather election for 2020.  (The other legislature contests almost surely will remain under the control of the incumbent party.)

Note that the Louisiana elections are on November 16, as they are "run-offs" from open primaries held in October.

Let’s take a look at each.

Gubernatorial Races

Remarkably, when all is said and done on Wednesday morning, the Democrats have a chance to end up with three governorships in deep red southern states.  Even if they lose several of them, just the fact that these state houses are in play, and will be close races, is indicative of the trouble the GOP is in at this juncture.

Kentucky.  This is a crucial race, with Kentucky’s “trifecta” on the line (that is, having control over the state house and both chambers of the state legislature).  The incumbent, the Republican Matt Bevin, won the governorship in 2015 by +9 percentage points.   (Trump carried this traditional red state in 2016 by +30 points, and Mitt Romney by +23 points in 2012.)  Bevin’s opponent is Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, and the animus between the two men is personal.  There were two polls in mid-October and they were totally inconsistent:  Beshear +18 (50/32) and even (46/46).  The race is generally rated as a toss-up or leaning to Bevin.   This is a very significant race.  A Beshear win would be enormous for the Democrats and devastating to the GOP.  It might also spell trouble for Mitch McConnell in his 2020 reelection.   BTRTN forecasts that Bevin will hold on by a 52/48 margin.

We got this "toss-up" one wrong, as Breshear won a close one, 49.2% /48.8%.

Louisiana.  Here the incumbent is, surprisingly, a Democrat, John Bel Edwards (unrelated to that John Edwards).  Edwards advanced to the nomination for Governor in an open primary just weeks ago, along with the second place finisher, Republican businessman Eddie Rispone.  Edwards defeated Republican David Vitter in 2015 by +12 points, succeeding Bob Jindal (remember him?).   Despite Edwards’ handy win in the primary (46/27), the GOP candidates combined outpaced the Democrats (52/47).  The most recent polls have Edwards by +3 and +4 percentage points.  The race is generally viewed as leaning Democrat.  This too is a significant race as a barometer, although here the Dems need to defend.  BTRTN forecasts the Edwards will remain in office, also by a 52/48 margin.

We were right on this one, as Edwards won by a 51/59 margin.

Mississippi.  Another southern gubernatorial race, and another race the Dems could pick off.  Republican Phil Bryant termed out after two terms (and two easy wins, 61/39 in 2011 and 66/32 in 2015).  But Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood is making a race of it, up against Republican Lt. Governor Tate Reeves.  Recent polls had Reeves up a mere +3 range.  This is another potential bellweather for 2020, another potential huge Democratic pick-up.  But...BTRTN forecasts that the Republican Reeves will hold off Hood by a 53/47 margin.

We were right on this one.  Reeves won by a 52/47 margin.

State Legislatures

Virginia.   Every seat in both chambers is up for election.  Republicans hold slender majorities in both the State Senate, 21-19, and in the House of Delegates, 51-49.   In 2017, the Democrats flipped +15 seats in the House of Delegates.  This is a crucial election for the Democrats, who need to flip just a few more to gain the majority in each chamber.   BTRTN forecasts that the Democrats will emerge with majorities in both chambers.

We got this one right.  The Dems took over both chambers.  They won 21 seats in the State Senate to the GOP's 19.  The Dems won 54 seats in the House of Delegates, to 43 for the GOP, with three still undecided.

Mississippi:  Every seat in both chambers is up for election.  Republicans hold the State Senate by a 25-14 margin.  They hold 62 seats in the state House of Representatives to the Democrats 37, with 3 Independents holding office and 3 vacancies.  The Republicans are expected to continue to hold comfortable majorities in both chambers.  BTRTN forecasts that the Republicans will retain control of both chambers.

We got this right.  The GOP won 36 seats in the State Senate to the Dems 16.  The GOP won 73 seats in the State House to 43 for the Dems, with 1 Independent winning and 4 races still undecided.

Louisiana.  Every seat in both chambers is up for election.  Republicans hold the State Senate by a 31-18 margin (with 3 vacancies), and are expected to maintain control.  The State House ran an open primary in September for every seat, and if one won 50% or more of the vote, they were declared the winner and do not have to run in the general election.  In the primary, Republicans won 63 seats to the Dems 33, and one independent won a seat.  So there remain 24 elections to decide and, of course, the best the Dems can do is prevent a supermajority.   BTRTN forecasts that the Republicans will retain control of both chambers.

The run-off election is on November 16.

New Jersey.  Only one chamber is in play; all seats in the General Assembly are up for election.  The Democrats control the General Assembly 54-26 and there is little chance for the GOP to change that.  BTRTN forecasts that the Democrats will retain control of the General Assembly.

We got this one right.  As of now the Dems won 54 seats, the GOP 25, with one still undecided.

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