Biden Expands the Map, Democrats Dominate Fundraising

With only 100 days left until the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden continues to expand the electoral college map. Shifting what would usually be firmly Republican states into the Likely Republican category, Joe Biden may very well be on his way to a landslide not seen since George H. W. Bush’s trouncing of Michael Dukakis in 1988. To reflect Biden’s impact (or “Joe-mentum”, if you will), we are moving the states of Alaska, Montana, Utah, Kansas and Missouri out of the Safe Republican column, as there is now a feasible path for Biden to win these states.

However, the likelihood of a Trump victory hasn’t diminished completely. While Biden is showing promise by slimming the margins, it’s more than likely that all of these states will be single-digit races. While there may be other firmly red states that could follow suit (such as Indiana or South Carolina), we do not see a feasible path to a Biden victory at this time due to a lack of elasticity in their electorates.

The states of Montana, Kansas and Missouri elected statewide Democrats as recently as 2018: Montana re-elected Senator Jon Tester, Kansas promoted State Senator Laura Kelly to a governorship, and Missouri elected State Auditor Nicole Galloway. Despite the blue streak, these states tend to vote for Republicans in presidential elections. A notable exception is the 2008 election, when Barack Obama came close to carrying Montana and Missouri in what was considered a landslide win for Democrats. A similar outcome for Joe Biden is not out of the realm of possibilities.

While Kansas hasn’t seen a truly tight race since 1992 and hasn’t voted for a Democrat since 1964, it still remains a state governed by moderates who are turned off by hardcore conservatism; a contributing factor to Laura Kelly’s win in 2018. Kansas was one of the few states that actually swung leftward in 2016, and we can expect that trend to repeat itself this year.

Utah is another case where President Trump has a weak appeal to voters: Utah had a massive shift leftward in 2016, thanks in part to Provo-born third party candidate Evan McMullin, who garnered 22% of the vote. Trump only garnered 46% of the vote in the state in 2016 as a result. While we expect his share of votes to increase this election, his likelihood of carrying the state is not certain. Trump’s ongoing rivalry with Senator Mitt Romney and his overall unfavorability mean that Utah might not be as ruby red as many are expecting.

Alaska is, without a doubt, the biggest oddball in American electoral politics: just look at the gubernatorial and senatorial races there throughout the 2010s: Senator Lisa Murkowski won re-election as a write-in candidate, another re-election with 44.4% of the vote in a four-way race. It elected Bill Walker, an Independent, to the governorship in 2014, and less than a month before the election he dropped out of his re-election bid. But when it comes to standard Democrat vs. Republican match-ups, the races are usually close: Mark Begich, the former Senator who lost re-election in 2014 by a razor-thin margin of 2 points, lost the gubernatorial race by 7 points. Recently, thanks to a crowdfunding effort by many of us from “Election Twitter”, a poll was conducted in Alaska that showed a Biden loss of just 3 points. President Trump will likely carry the state, but right now we are predicting a single digit race there.

  1. Montana | Safe R → Likely R
  2. Kansas | Safe R → Likely R
  3. Missouri | Safe R → Likely R
  4. Utah | Safe R → Likely R
  5. Alaska | Safe R → Likely R

In the aforementioned crowdfunded polls, the Senate races in Montana and Alaska appear to be close. This is the first Alaska Senate poll we’ve seen, and it shows incumbent Republican Dan Sullivan only up by 5 points. Given these polling results and the usual tightness of Alaska races, we are moving the race from Safe R to Likely R. In the Montana poll, Governor Steve Bullock once again narrowly leads over incumbent Republican Steve Daines. This is the third poll out of 5 conducted since March that show Governor Bullock leading. With that, we are shifting our prediction from Tilt R to Toss-Up.

  1. Alaska | Safe R → Likely R
  2. Montana | Tilt R → Toss-Up

MT-AL has had a whopping 4 polls conducted since our update on July 1st, including the aforementioned PPP poll, showing Rosendale (R) +9, two ties, and Rosendale (R) +2. Given the closeness of the race, we’ll be moving MT-AL from Likely R to Lean R. In AK-AL, the PPP poll showed Galvin (I/D) up by 2, so we will also be moving that prediction from Likely R to Lean R.

Outside of polling data for the US House, we do have more changes to offer on the basis of the recent fundraising reports that we’ve combed through. With these rating changes, we now consider the US House Safe Democrat.

  1. AK-AL | Likely R→ Lean R
  2. MT-AL | Likely R→ Lean R
  3. NY-19 | Lean D → Likely D
  4. ME-02 | Tilt D → Lean D
  5. MN-01 | Lean R → Tilt R
  6. NY-02 | Tilt R → Toss-Up
  7. NY-11 | Tilt D → Lean D
  8. NY-18 | Likely D → Safe D
  9. NM-02 | Toss-Up → Tilt D
  10. SC-01 | Toss-Up → Tilt D
  11. MN-02 | Lean D → Likely D
  12. NJ-03 | Tilt D → Lean D
  13. IN-05 | Lean R → Tilt R
  14. IL-13 | Tilt R → Toss-Up
  15. PA-08 | Lean D → Likely D
  16. TX-22 | Tilt R → Toss-Up
  17. UT-04 | Tilt D → Lean D
  18. GA-07 | Toss-Up → Tilt D

We are making two changes in the gubernatorial elections up this year, one leftward and one rightward. First is in Montana, where we have seen a consistent lead for Gianforte (R) this month, with one poll showing him up 9 points over Lieutenant Governor Cooney (D), another showing him up by 4 points, and another showing him up by 3 points. We consider him a slight favorite right now, and he likely owes the edge he has in the polls to his name recognition over Cooney. The race could become closer and Gianforte may lose his slight edge as November approaches, and we may have to move our prediction of this race back to Toss-Up. The other change we’re making is in Missouri, where polls have been tightening for the past two months to the point where YouGov had incumbent Governor Parson (R) up by just 2 points. The heat is on.

  1. MT-GOV | Toss-Up→ Tilt R
  2. MO-GOV | Safe R→ Likely R

In state legislatures, we have finally combed through campaign finance reports. After doing so, we made a whopping 248 changes in our district predictions: 191 in the leftward direction and 57 in the rightward direction. Given the sheer amount of changes, we cannot list them in this article, but you can find them in this spreadsheet. The only chamber rating affected though is the IA House, where Democrats are heavily out fundraising Republicans in most competitive districts.

We are also moving the AZ House from Tilt R to Toss-Up, given the uncertainty of the multi-member district chamber. Democrats netted seats in the chamber in 2018, unlike the State Senate, and they only need to net one seat in order to make the district a tied chamber.

Our final chamber rating change is in the WV State Senate, moving from Safe R to Likely R. This is because we made a slight error when we calculated the odds for the chamber. After entering the correct seats, we found that there is a slight chance Democrats could actually win a majority in the chamber.

  1. IA House | Tilt R → Toss-Up
  2. AZ House | Tilt R → Toss-Up
  3. WV Senate | Safe R → Likely R

We also have two state legislative district changes being made because of recently identified open seats.

  1. CT HD-149 | Likely R → Tilt R
  2. NC HD-24 | Lean D → Tilt D

Of the 5,235 single-member state legislative districts up this year in regular elections, 1,030 are competitive (325 Likely, 345 Lean, 209 Tilt, 151 Toss-Up), or 19.68%. 1756 are uncontested (908 Uncontested D, 844 Uncontested R, 4 Uncontested I), or 33.54%. 2449 are safe (1,120 D, 1,326 R, 4 I), or 46.78%.

68 districts are currently projected to flip (25 D to R, 1 I to D, 1 I to R, 41 R to D). In the State House/Assemblies, it’s 20 R to D, 18 D to R and 1 I to R. In the State Senates, it’s 21 R to D, 7 D to R, and 1 I to D.