Gonzales

Election analysis from Nathan L. Gonzales

Midterms Were a Buffet Election for Democrats, Republicans
Each side can pick what it liked best from the results — and ignore warning signs

Sen.-elect Mike Braun, R-Ind., Sen.-elect Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Sen.-elect Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Sen.-elect Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Sen.-elect Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., pose for a group photo in McConnell’s office in the Capitol on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When I was a kid in small-town Oregon, my family would occasionally go to King’s Table, and my sister and I would get free rein at the buffet.

I became famous in my own family for my condiment salad — an impressive collection of bacon bits, croutons, shredded cheese, sunflower seeds and plenty of ranch dressing. Essentially, my strategy involved choosing what looked and tasted good and avoiding anything of nutritional value.

It’s Not Too Early to Start Looking at the 2020 Senate Map
The fight for the Senate should once again be a prime battle.

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., is up for re-election in 2020 in a state carried by both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The votes haven’t all been counted in the 2018 Senate elections, but we know the size of the incoming majority will be critical, because the 2020 Senate map offers limited initial takeover opportunities for both parties.

Of course, it’s too early to tell what the presidential race will look like, how voters will feel about the economy and direction of the country, and whether they’ll believe more Democrats are needed in Washington.

Let Beto O’Rourke Keep His Money
Claims that Texas Democrat’s fundraising is robbing from other candidates are exaggerated

Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke’s campaign for Senate is helping Democrats in many indirect ways, Gonzales writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

I’m old enough to remember when some Democrats and reporters suggested that Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke donate his Senate campaign money to other candidates and causes.

But the latest Quinnipiac University survey found the congressman within 5 points of Republican incumbent Ted Cruz, clearing him, it would seem, to just spend it on his own race. It was ridiculous to suggest he give away his hard-earned cash in the first place.

Republicans Need a Cold Compress With Less Than One Month to Go
Presidential pain still plagues vulnerable incumbents ahead of the midterms

President Donald Trump may turn out Democrats better than any Democrat could. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — Weather metaphors are often used (and overused) in election analysis, but there’s a better way to describe the Republicans’ challenge in 2018. The GOP is dealing with many headaches as it tries to preserve the Republican congressional majorities.

From tension to cluster to migraine, they can vary in frequency and severity. And Republicans’ ability to alleviate them will determine control of the House and Senate in the 116th Congress.

Don’t Sweat the Election Night Surprises
From Nancy Boyda to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, upsets happen for different reasons

New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, center, upset House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley in a June primary. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

What will be the biggest surprise on election night?

It’s a common and valid question, but I’m always a little amused by it.

Prepare to Be Disappointed on Election Night
Close races, voting schemes and mail-in ballots could all complicate calling control of Congress on Nov. 6

The race for Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s Mississippi seat lists among the complicating factors that might impede calling control of the Senate on Nov. 6, Gonzales writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After two years of campaigning in the latest most consequential election of our lifetimes, election night could be a huge letdown. The disappointment is not about which party prevails Nov. 6, but the reality that a combination of close races and West Coast contests could prevent enough races from being called to determine majorities in Congress until days later.

In the Senate, more than 10 races could finish within single digits, and a handful of those contests look like they’re neck and neck. The close margins could make it difficult for media outlets to project a winner on election night. Since Republicans have just a two-seat majority, every Senate race matters, so anything left uncalled could make it difficult to figure out who will control the chamber next year.

What 39,000 Words in 15 Profiles Didn’t Tell You About Beto O’Rourke
El Paso politician has had a long rise to a position of national prominence

Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, is getting a lot of press as he takes on Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. But much of the coverage misses some key points about his political rise. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

I’m pretty sure three new profiles of Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke have been published in the time it took me to write this lede. Yet the only thing more remarkable than the sheer volume of stories written about the congressman is that none of them put his 2012 House victory in proper context.

I read more than a dozen profiles, and they most often describe a young, sweaty candidate with Kennedy-esque looks and punk sensibilities as an accidental and almost reluctant challenger to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. But O’Rourke was never going to be content with being on the El Paso City Council or playing bass for the band Foss.

5 States That Will Decide the House Majority
Watch these states to tell if Democrats are having a good election night

California Democrat Harley Rouda, here with a supporter at a rally in Laguna Beach in May, is challenging GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in the 48th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With a growing number of vulnerable House districts, there might be too much to watch for on election night. But by focusing on just a handful of states, you can get a pretty good idea of whether Democrats are having a good enough night to gain the 23 seats necessary to win back the majority.

Competitive races: 5

A Congressional Candidate Plays Softball in an Ad, and I Have Lots of Questions
For starters, why is Ohio Democrat Aftab Pureval wearing jeans?

Ohio Democrat Aftab Pureval’s latest ad “Slugger” raises more than a few questions for Nathan L. Gonzales. (Screenshot/Aftab for Congress/YouTube)

When I saw Ohio Democrat Aftab Pureval playing softball in a campaign ad, I felt like my years of election analysis and beer-league softball were finally coming together.

Pureval, the Hamilton County clerk of courts, is challenging Republican Rep. Steve Chabot in Ohio’s 1st District. He’s running a competitive race (which we’ve rated Leans Republican) and outraised the congressman through June 30 ($1.6 million to $959,000).

30 House Ratings Shift in Favor of Democrats, 2 Move Toward GOP
This doesn’t mean the majority is lost for Republicans, but they have a lot of fires to put out

Labor Day is supposed to be the official start of general election season, but many of the top House and Senate races are well underway.

In fact, the campaign trail has been so busy that Inside Elections recently issued 32 race ratings changes, most in favor of the Democrat in the race.

Why We’re Not Changing the Rating for Duncan Hunter’s Seat, Yet
It’s already a competitive seat, for one

Rep. Duncan Hunter R-Calif., lines up his shot during the First Tee’s Congressional Challenge annual golf tournament at the Columbia Country Club golf course Monday June 25, 2018. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Whenever a member of Congress is indicted, it’s a good idea to take a long, hard look at their re-election chances. It’s also reasonable to believe their prospects for another term would be diminished and political handicappers would immediately downgrade their race. But it’s not so simple with GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter and California’s 50th District.

When New York Republican Chris Collins was indicted a couple weeks ago, we shifted New York’s 27th District from Solid Republican to Likely Republican. It was an acknowledgment that an indictment at least warrants a district be on the list of competitive races.

Rating Change: Chris Collins’ Arrest Puts Seat in Play
Inside Elections is shifting the rating from Solid to Likely Republican

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., was reportedly arrested on Wednesday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If Rep. Chris Collins continues to run for re-election, he would do so while facing charges of insider trading and lying to the F.B.I. But just because a member of Congress is indicted, doesn’t mean they can’t win.

GOP Rep. Michael Grimm of New York and Democratic Rep. William J. Jefferson of Louisiana are two recent examples of incumbents who won re-election in the face of significant legal problems.

Congress Isn’t Perfect but the Politicians Aren’t Always to Blame
Fixing the Hill is easier said than done

Politicians aren’t always to blame for the dysfunction in Congress and the perceived solutions are more complicated than many realize, Gonzales writes. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After 30 years of covering Congress, David Hawkings has a good idea of how Capitol Hill works — or more important, how it doesn’t — and he laid out five key reasons why Congress is broken.

But whether it’s money, maps, media, mingling or masochism, there are no easy solutions. Nor are they entirely the responsibility of the politicians to address.

Ratings Change: Races for 2 GOP Seats Shift to Toss-Ups
Texas’ Pete Sessions and Kentucky’s Andy Barr face strong Democratic challengers

Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, faces Democrat Colin Allred in his bid for a 12th term representing the Dallas area. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In 2010, Texas Rep. Pete Sessions led Republicans to a historic 63-seat gain in the House and a new GOP majority as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Now, he’s at significant risk of losing his own seat.

Sessions represents the Dallas-area 32nd District, which Hillary Clinton carried by 2 points in 2016. It’s the type of suburban, college-educated area that has been revolting against President Donald Trump since he took office. But for much of the cycle, Sessions benefitted from a fundraising advantage and a competitive Democratic primary, which was only decided in a May runoff.

Democratic Candidates Should Be Bolder on Gun Control, Poll Finds
“The center has shifted on this issue,” gun control advocate says

Students march to the Capitol on Pennsylvania Avenue to call on Congress to act on gun violence prevention during a national walkout on April 20 to mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Gun control has been a third rail of Democratic campaigns, but a new poll suggests that Democratic candidates should embrace a bolder approach to restrictions on guns, even in general elections.

Up to this point, Democrats have been decidedly defensive on guns. The most famous instances of Democratic candidates using guns in television ads include West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III shooting the so-called cap-and-trade bill, former Georgia Rep. John Barrow talking about his granddaddy’s pistol and Missouri Senate candidate Jason Kander assembling a rifle blindfolded. The ads were meant to reassure voters that Democrats didn’t want to take away their guns.