Polls Close in First 6 States: Our Monopoly Politics Analysis

Posted by Rob Richie on November 08, 2016

Poll Closings-- 7:00pm ET

Georgia

Georgia has drawn attention this year as a battleground state, but a defeat for Trump would indicate a very bad night for his bid for president -- indeed, anything much less than winning 55.8% of the two-party would suggest Trump has a national problem based on our presidential partisanship analysis. As to the U.S. House, our Monopoly Politics report indicate a big yawn -- 14 seats, and 14 seats declared safe for this election two years ago, including 10 for Republicans. https://fairvote.app.box.com/v/MP16-GA-State-Page

Keep an eye on the U.S. Senate race -- not because Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson is seen as threatened, but because if no candidate wins a majority of more than 50% plus one in this three-candidate race, Georgia will hold a runoff in January, when turnout would plunge. Georgia also holds primary runoff elections for primaries  and is a good candidate for ranked choice voting.

Indiana

Indiana will play a major role in this year’s election, but not for president. Barack Obama won a surprise victory in the state in 2008, but it’s again been a spectator state in the presidential race, albeit with its recent governor Mike Pence on the Republican ticket. Reading the partisan tea leaves, use a 57% to 43% two-party vote win for Trump as a benchmark based our presidential partisanship analysis.

There’s no meaningful choice expected in U.S. House races FairVote’s Monopoly Politics projects all nine seats as safe, including seven for Republicans. https://fairvote.app.box.com/v/MP16-IN-State-Page

The real action is in open seats for governor and for U.S. Senate, where Evan Bayh is seeking to recapture the seat he gave up in 2010. As to poll-closing, polls in fact close at the absurdly early time of  6 pm local time, but the state is divided into two time zones.

Kentucky

Kentucky has a highly uneventful election at the federal level. Donald Trump  is heavily  heavily favored in the presidential race, with 63.3% of the two-party vote being a good benchmark based on our presidential partisanship analysis. Republican Rand Paul is heavily favored in his re-election bid for U.S. Senate. In U.S. House elections, our Monopoly Politics report two years ago projected all six seats as  safe, including five for Republicans. https://fairvote.app.box.com/v/MP16-KY-State-Page

Keep an eye on elections for the Kentucky state house of representatives. It is the last remaining state legislative chamber in the South to be controlled by Democrats in a region, where just 20 years ago, every chamber was run by Democrats. Republicans are slightly favored to earn a majority and a clean sweep of southern state legislative power.

Kentucky shares with Indiana the ignominy of closing its polls at 6 pm local time -- with a split time zone meaning that that not all polls are closed until 7 pm.


South Carolina

Presidential elections in South Carolina take on a certain poignancy, given that in January 2008, its voters gave Barack Obama one of his most important presidential primary victories -- and then Obama didn’t return to the state even once for seven years even though it’s only slightly more Republican than neighboring North Carolina, where Obama visited 18 times in his first term as president. Once again it’s been  a presidential backwater, with a two-party vote barometer of 57.2% to 42.8% for Trump based on our presidential partisanship analysis.

Similarly, Republican incumbent Tim Scott is seen as  safe in the U.S. Senate race, making him one of three African American Members of Congress. As to the U.S. House, FairVote more than two years ago projected all seven seats as safe, including six for Republicans https://fairvote.app.box.com/v/MP16-SC-State-Page


Vermont 

Vermont used to be  a Republican stronghold in presidential races, but no more. Hillary Clinton’s benchmark in this year’s election is winning at least 65.9% of the two-party vote. The U.S House and U.S. Senate races are lopsided as well, as is control of the state legislature - -see our Monopoly Politics projection. https://fairvote.app.box.com/v/MoPo2016atlarge

The one exception to Democratic domination is state executive offices, including this year’s election for governor. Lt. Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, has had a narrow lead in polls over Democrat Sue Minter. A Minter defeat would, among other things, mean that the number of women governors will be sure to decline  this year from their current six seats.

The one wildcard is that if no candidate wins a majority of the vote -- and third party candidate include former Boston Red Sox pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee -- then the Democrats in the legislature will pick the winner. If Maine today votes to adopt ranked choice voting (RCV), Vermont may return to an issue that got as far as the governor’s desk in 2008.

When  use of RCV for Congress passed the legislature in 2008, three legislators played a particularly key role: Jim Condos, who is now secretary of state and coasting to reelection; David Zuckerman, who is favored to be elected Lt. Governor; and Chris Pearson, a former FairVote staffer well-positioned to elect a state senate seat. So backers of fairer elections should keep a close eye on Vermont tonight.

Virginia 

Virginia for three elections has been one of the nation’s favored swing states. Although polls suggest Hillary Clinton is favored, in 2012 its partisanship was nearly exactly 50-50. If the national vote is close night, Virginia may end up being so as well, although it has had a steady progression toward Democrats now for several presidential cycles.

U.S House elections in Virginia received a jolt by a court-ordered redistricting plan since the 2014 elections, and our Monopoly Politics model leaves three House seats as leaning toward one party, but not safe like the remaining eight that split 4-4. Democrats have a chance to win a majority of seats after winning only three of 11 seats in 2014: https://fairvote.app.box.com/v/MP16-VA-State-Page

There is no U.S. Senate race, but if Clinton is elected, her running mate Tim Kaine will give up his Senate race -- setting up a short-term appointment by Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe, then a special election in November 2017 at the time of the next election for governor, then a race for a full term in 2018.

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