I’m Nathan Gonzales, the elections analyst for Roll Call and the editor and publisher of Inside Elections. I report on and analyze races for Congress, including yesterday’s primaries and races to come next week and beyond.

I’ll be answering questions about races to watch, each party's campaign strategies, which party will be in the majority next year, and how we’re approaching these elections in a post-2016 world. Ask me anything!

Proof: https://twitter.com/rollcall/status/996144927049469952

Some of my work:

Video: Which House Races Are the Parties Targeting? Look to the Money, the TV Ad Money http://www.rollcall.com/video/which_house_races_are_the_parties_targeting_look_to_the_money_the_tv_ad_money

Candidate Conversations:  https://www.rollcall.com/video/behind_the_scenes_of_race_ratings_the_candidate_interview

Roll Call’s 2018 Election Guide: https://media.cq.com/electionguide/

Our websites:

Inside Elections- http://www.insideelections.com/

Roll Call- http://www.rollcall.com/

Twitter- @nathanlgonzales, @rollcall

Update: This was fun! I'm going to head out but feel free to post questions and I'll try to come back and get to them. Looking forward to a crazy six months!

Update 2: I'm back answering some more questions! Keep posting if you have anything more you want to learn about this year's election cycle.

Update 3: Thanks for all the great questions. I'm going to finish up for today, but if you have any more pressing questions, still post them and I'll try to come back and respond.

Comments: 381 • Responses: 52  • Date: 

IndridFrost1118 karma

Hello Nathan! I live in Texas and was wondering what you think the chances are that Ted Cruz will lose his seat to Beto O'Rourke?

rollcall92 karma

Glad to see so many redditors interested in this race! We have Texas Senate rated as Likely Republican. O’Rourke’s fundraising can’t be ignored. It’s been phenomenal and sustained. He has tapped a large number of donors eager to send a message to President Trump and Sen. Cruz. I don’t think O’Rourke raises that same money if he’s running against John Barrasso in Wyoming.

That being said, it’s still a tough race for O’Rourke. I don’t doubt he can get 43% (what Clinton got), 44 or 45%. I just think each percentage point above that is difficult. And just when I start to believe in O’Rourke’s chances a little more, he does things like come out in favor of impeaching the president.

I think that’s the kind of stuff that could turn off voters in the middle.

RegularGuy81587 karma

Which major candidates do you quietly think have that extra "something" that might suggest they can do better than the label that prognosticators have given their race (I.e. a Democrat being in a better position than their Lean D race gives them credit for)?

rollcall90 karma

Great first question! Our ratings are a delicate balance between lots of factors including candidate quality, so we’re already trying to account for that “it” factor.

I think it will be fascinating to see if someone like Democrat Richard Ojeda in West Virginia 3 has the charisma and personal story to overcome the GOP-lean of the district at the federal level. This morning we just changed the rating of the race from Solid Republican to Likely Republican.

Here's a link to our updated map: https://media.cq.com/electionguide/house/WV/3/

escapesuburbia37 karma

Hi Nathan, I noticed that out of the main election raters, it’s just you guys and CNN that still have the Mississippi special at Safe R. With the rise of Mike Espy and the fight between Hyde Smith and McDaniel, what’s the reasoning behind the Safe R, and could it become more competitive as time passes?

rollcall48 karma

I think Mississippi becomes vulnerable if McDaniel makes the top two, and I’m not sure he’s got a lot of momentum left.

But if polling shows he has more of a shot at knocking off Hyde-Smith, then I assume we’ll re-rate the race. Our ratings certainly aren’t set in stone.

GameMatter29 karma

Are there any races that you have a major interest in following? A race that’s interesting for some specific circumstances that make it stand out or unique?

rollcall58 karma

This is like asking me to choose which one of my four kids is my favorite!

I can find something interesting about almost any race. But right now, I think Orange County is fascinating, not just because I went to college out there, and not just because of the top two primary drama. But because you have four competitive races and it will help us understand whether 2016 was an aberration or the new baseline. Just because Clinton won OC doesn’t mean it’s a Democratic county, IMO.

I think it’s a county full of Republicans who don’t like President Trump. But are those Republicans going to turn out for their GOP member or candidate when they’re disappointed in the White House? I don’t think we have an answer yet.

joerobo23 karma

Hey Nathan,

A number of election experts have stated that the influence of money and donations on actually winning elections is massively overstated. Have you found this to be the case?

rollcall42 karma

I think the place where outside money has the most influence can be in primaries, when one candidate can massively outspend the other(s).

In contrast, if one candidate/party outspends the other $25 million to $30 million, I’m not sure it’s a big deal. But if a candidate spends $3 million and other(s) spend $100,000, that’s a big deal. At the same time, the candidate with the most money doesn’t always win.

Just ask Congressman David Trone of Maryland. Wait....

ByWillAlone21 karma

The most popular and respected analysts and handicappers were grotesquely wrong about the 2016 presidential election. What went wrong with those predictions and what changes, if any, have been made to methods used for analyzing future elections?

rollcall19 karma

It’s a reasonable question that deserves a more thorough answer than I can provide here. I think it was a combination of flawed polling analysis (too much focus on national polls) and uneven state-level polls. If we had had more polling in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, I think everyone should have realized there were more toss-up states and that Trump had a better chance than previously thought.

I spelled it out more methodically in our post-election issue of Inside Elections, which is behind our paywall. https://www.insideelections.com/news/article/donald-trump-golden-shepherds-and-the-2016-election

ByWillAlone6 karma

So what about going forward then? Are analysts just throwing out 2016 as an anomaly and going on as if it never happened or have there been adjustments to the models analysts use to make predictions better match reality?

rollcall4 karma

Candidly, 2016 made me want to stay out of the presidential handicapping business and stick to Congress. We projected Democratic gains in the Senate +3-6 seats. They gained 2. We projected Democratic gains in the House of +8-13 seats. They gained 6. So while we were slightly high, we correctly identified the trend and were pretty darn close, particularly in the face of a unique set of presidential dynamics.

So I don't feel the need to come up with a completely different way of doing things. But we can always improve and get better. As I've said before, I think it's about staying focused on the individual races in the states and districts, not getting distracted by the national stuff.

Senate projections 2016: https://www.insideelections.com/ratings/senate/2016-senate-ratings-november-3-2016

House projections 2016: https://www.insideelections.com/ratings/house/2016-house-ratings-november-3-2016

Chester270712 karma

Hi Nathan. Huge fan of you and Roll Call. Always appreciate your twitter responsiveness too. I've tried to ask this a couple times, but I don't do great at articulate my question, so I'll try again: There seems to be a clear disparity between generic ballot polling and Democratic performance. Obviously generic ballot can't be applied everywhere, but what is perhaps the largest reason for the Democratic over-performance we've seen? Does the generic ballot fail to consider new voters or voters who don't typically participate often? Or am I perhaps not digging deep enough into the polling to check for signs like enthusiasm? Or finally, is it just too far out, and am I taking too much away from elections without outsized influence that likely won't be replicated in November? Hope that's not too broad. Thanks!

rollcall21 karma

First of all, I think the national generic ballot can help us understand the overall mood of the country, but I don’t find it particularly helpful as a generic ballot in a specific state or district. To that point, I’m not sure that Democrats over-performed the generic ballot in each of the special elections, because I don’t know if we had enough of that data.

I think pollsters need to be careful about screening out new voters because they don’t have a history of voting — or basically don’t make the mistake some pollsters made in 2016 by screening out what ended up being Trump voters.

I think the overall trend in the specials is Democratic over-performance, but what we don’t know is what GOP turnout will look like, will President Trump’s supporters turn out when he isn’t on the ballot.

YoungCubSaysWoof11 karma

The sentiment from progressives that I know is that we are willing to cut our nose to spite our face when it comes to what we perceive as “corporate Democrats.” (i.e. Democrats that support many traditionally Republican views and values.)

Are you getting a sense of that as well? I could be in a bubble, so I like to ask for the thoughts of others. Thanks!

rollcall17 karma

This is a similar question Republicans have been wrestling with for years — would you rather have a smaller caucus that is more ideologically aligned, or a larger caucus with more diversity on issues.

I remember then-Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina said he’d rather be in the minority in the Senate than served with a bunch of RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). I think there are some Democrats who now feel similarly — that the majority is not worth compromising on core values.

I’m agnostic on it, but I think a rigid ideology can limit the long-term growth of a party.

almondparfitt10 karma

what are the elections we should really be paying closest attention to before nov? also do you think the midterms will give us some idea of what to expect in 2020 or really too early to say?

rollcall38 karma

All of them!

I think the fight for the Senate will really come down to North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri, West Virginia, Florida, Nevada, and Arizona. If Democrats lose more than a couple of those, the chances at the majority are probably gone.

In the House, if we stick with our Orange County theme, I’d say Democrats probably need to win 3 or 4, instead of 1 or 2. But that would be a long Election Night because of the time change.

If you want something early on Election Night, watch Kentucky’s 6th District. If GOP Rep. Andy Barr loses, it’s probably a big night for Democrats.

rollcall35 karma

The outcome of the midterms is really important and will set the stage for 2020.

I can see at least two scenarios if Democrats take back part of Congress. President Trump the Dealmaker could work with Democrats to pass legislation that will drive Republicans crazy.

On the other hand, President Trump could use a Democratic Congress as the bogeyman for his re-election bid. It would give him something to run against, which could help him.

HazzMadd2 karma

To that second point for Trump's 2020 bid, do you think that tactic would actually be successful? Granted, we don't know who the Dems are fielding in 2020, but I imagine that a shift for the Democrats in congress would reflect a shift in either voter turnout or independent dissatisfaction with Trump/the GOP. In both cases, it seems like "Blue Boogey Man" in Congress would fall on deaf ears or be preaching to an already fervent, but numerically stagnant, choir.

rollcall2 karma

Obviously 2020 is a long ways away. Does President Trump even run again?

I know that if the election were today and he faced a primary, he would crush any GOP opponent. The general election, which is what you're asking about, is even more unknown. We know the president has a loyal following that will come out to support him again. But that's not a majority. If President Trump can use an evil Democratic Congress to convince anti-Trump Republicans to vote and voters in the middle who think the country is headed in the right direction (if we are indeed headed in the right direction), then the strategy could work.

I think a lot could depend on what Democrats do with the majority/majorities. Do they go for impeachment and is there a backlash? Lots of scenarios, but simply too early to tell.

CQPab9 karma

Hi Nathan! Curious: So how many races did you move last night?

rollcall15 karma

We actually changed the rating on 19 races this morning (thus part of the reason for the lack of sleep), all in favor of Democrats.

We now have 68 vulnerable Republican seats on our list and just 10 vulnerable Democratic seats. Democrats need to gain 23 seats for a majority. Our new range for the House is a Democratic gain of 20-30 seats.

Aconrad08035 karma

Which 19 races did you change?

rollcall17 karma

They're all in our election guide: https://media.cq.com/electionguide/But specifically, here are the races we changed:

AR-02--Solid to Likely R

CA-04 -- Solid to Likely R

CA-07 -- Likely toSolid D

FL-13 -- Likely to Solid D

GA-07 - Solid R to Likely R

IN-02 - Solid to Likely R

IA-01 - Tilt R to Toss-Up

ME-02 - Likely R to Lean R

MI-07 - Solid to Likely R

NJ-03 - Solid to Likely R

NJ-05 - Tilt to Lean D

NJ-07 - Lean R to Tilt R

NM-02 - Likely R to Lean R

OH-01 - Solid R to Likely R

OH-14 - Solid R to Likely R

PA-17 - Tilt R to Toss Up

TX-21 - Solid R to Likely R

VA-07 - Likely R to Lean R

WV-03 - Solid R to Likely R

sportsnut13508 karma

Of the house candidates running, which do you envision running for higher office in the future?

rollcall18 karma

The House is full of people who want to be senators and the Senate is full of people who want to be president, so I think there will be lots of folks trying to move up eventually.

Specifically in the House, I was intrigued about Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval, who is running in Ohio’s 1st District against Steve Chabot. I’m not sure yet if he’ll win the race this year, but he’s a young charismatic guy who I think will keep running.

Also in Ohio, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ken Harbaugh runs for higher office. He’ll have a tougher time winning Ohio’s 7th District than Pureval in the 1st, but he has the drive.

AmbitiousBubble7 karma

Braun’s odds in Indiana? It looks to me like a pretty decent shot given how hard IN went for Trump.

Ofc, the majority party tends to lose seats in midterms, not pick them up.

rollcall5 karma

We have Indiana Senate rated as a Toss-Up.

I'd like to see more general election data now that the primary is over. President Trump in the Oval Office is the only thing keeping Donnelly alive. If this race took place with President Hillary Clinton in office, I think Donnelly would be toast.

mghoffmann7 karma

Are there any candidates that are neither Republican nor Democrat that have a chance at winning a seat?

rollcall6 karma

Do Bernie Sanders and Angus King count? I'm guessing that's not what you're thinking. I'm not aware of a third-party or independent candidate who has a real shot right now. The only scenario that I can think of is if the loser of the Michael Grimm vs. Dan Donovan GOP primary in New York 11 runs on the Conservative or Independence Party line. But if they did, it would probably ensure that Democrat Max Rose wins the race because of a divide on the right.

aseemru6 karma

Hi Nathan! I love the work you do at Inside Elections and Roll Call, and I have been following you for quite a while. I have a few questions.

Last night in the NE-02 Democratic primary, Kara Eastman pulled off an upset victory over Former Representative Ashford. Do you expect more upsets in Democratic primaries, and how much do you think this will affect Democratic prospects in November?

Also, a general pattern I've noticed in midterms is that as time goes on, the party out of power seems to gain ground. What kind of signals do you see throughout the year that allow you to make different ratings than you would have earlier?

Thank you for everything you do! Inside Elections and Roll Call are very valuable resources for me.

rollcall11 karma

Thank you! Primaries are some of the most difficult races to handicap — turnout is often low, there’s usually very little polling data, and it can be tough to track the dynamic on the ground if you’re not there consistently.

I do expect more surprises this year, whether it be in primaries or general elections (on both sides of the aisle). I think it’s too early to declare whether, in the case of Democrats, a liberal or progressive candidate is unelectable in the general election. We saw conservative Republicans get elected in the 2010 wave because voters weren’t focused on their ideology, but instead on sending a message to President Obama and the Democrats in power.

I think when one party gains a lot of power, they often push the agenda too far, too fast, and voters react by sending members of the other party to Washington to keep an eye on them.

M3rryP3rry6 karma

How's life dude?

rollcall23 karma

For having slept about 3 1/2 hours last night because of the primary results and publishing the newsletter, I’m doing great. Thanks to Team Roll Call for the donut this morning!

SkyClubba6 karma

Do you think that Mike Braun is the toughest opponent Joe Donnelly could have drawn out of those three?

rollcall14 karma

Braun might have the lowest floor and highest ceiling of the Republican candidates. He’s kind of a wild card because he hasn’t been in the national spotlight, and not vetted as much as Messer and Rokita. But he’s probably a better messenger to carry the outsider message against Donnelly.

Braun’s admakers did a good job of contrasting him with the congressman. We’ll see what they come up with against Donnelly. We still have the race rated as a Toss-up.

kevanthony335 karma

How tough do you think knocking off devin nunes will be? Andrew janz is raising a hell of a lot of money, but the more pragmatic part of me recognizes that theres an awful lot of wishcasting in the coverage of this race.

rollcall16 karma

I understand the scenario about Nunes being vulnerable, but I’m not a believer in the Democratic opportunity yet. Janz’s fundraising did pick up with the headlines, but he still trailed the congressman in cash-on-hand, $4.5 million to $612,000 on March 31.

That’s why it’s important to focus on cash rather than just quarters of fundraising. Of course it’s possible for Janz to win (after 2016 I have ruled out ruling things out), but I think it’s probably a fourth-tier opportunity right now.

freedomfilm5 karma

What’s your take on the vote destruction in Broward county?

rollcall2 karma

I admit I haven’t looked at it closely.

In close races, everything matters. But that Florida 23 primary was a margin of 17 points, or about 7,000 votes. I’m not sure that made the difference.

Aconrad08033 karma

At a political briefing a few weeks ago, they estimated that republicans would lose anywhere between 25-45 House seats. Do you agree with that? Whats your estimate at this point six months out?

rollcall17 karma

We just published a new outlook this morning, (https://insideelections.com/ratings/house) where we think the most likely outcome is a Democratic gain of 20-30 seats, with potential for bigger Democratic gains.

Obviously +20-22 would leave Democrats short of a majority while +23 or more would be a majority. I haven’t seen enough district level data to declare the House is lost for Republicans.

themarranator3 karma

What’s your degree in and how did you get into the field?

rollcall1 karma

I've been interested in journalism and writing for most of my life and was a Broadcast Journalism major in college. But I did one semester (fall of my senior year) in Washington, DC and figured out that I wanted to write about politics. I didn't grow up as a political junkie or in a political family, but that semester piqued my interest. My first job out of school was at CNN, but a year later I got connected with Stu Rothenberg (through my first boss at CNN) and thus began my career in this direction.

mleithead3 karma

Hey Nathan,

What is you ropinion on the Georgia Governor's race? Primary results, and further outcome.

rollcall7 karma

I think Stacey is going to win the Democratic Primary. Bank on it. Wait, you want to know which one? I think Abrams is the favorite but I've been impressed by Evans and how her personal story weaves nicely into her passion on education. Cagle is the front-runner on the Republican side, but I'm content to let it play out. I think the GOP nominee will start with the advantage. But if the cycle spirals out of control against Republicans, Democrats could win.

OneAndOnlyRedditor3 karma

Are you finding more younger people intending on voting? And to what extent are polls taking potential new voters into account?

rollcall7 karma

Just going by historical trends, you should be skeptical that there will be an uptick in younger voters. But it's possible that we've reached a watershed moment, particularly with gun violence, that will inspire more young people to vote. Pollsters should be generating their call lists using a voter file, which will include newly-registered voters (presumably mostly young people) and make sure to include some of those in their sample.

Ginger_Libra3 karma

What does it take for a state to flip? I live in a state that hasn’t had a Dem Governor since the 90s but there’s a strong Dem candidate that’s been a Rep to the state House that’s running.

What do you think the role of social media and paid ads via platforms like FB will be in the coming election cycles?

rollcall3 karma

The short and best answer is..... it depends.

Partisanship is difficult to overcome, but can be overcome under the right circumstances with the right candidates. I think it’s easier for candidates from the minority party to win state races, such as governor, down-ballot races, or legislative races, compared to federal races, which can be more polarizing. That’s why you can have a Republican governor of Hawaii not long ago, but consistently two Democratic senators.

rollcall1 karma

I think both parties and all the candidates are trying to figure out the best way to find voters and deliver messages where people naturally congregate. As people keep turning away from traditional broadcast TV, parties are searching for the next big thing. When it comes to social media, I think Facebook is still king for campaigns to reach voters. I think Twitter is more for reporters and consultants and party leaders. Anyone who tells you they know exactly how campaigns can effectively and consistently use social media is lying to you.

PAKMan19883 karma

Hey Nathan! I really enjoy reading your analysis of the races! (I'm an amateur handicapper myself, posting analysis on my personal Facebook page). As someone living in Iowa, I'd like to ask if you had any strong opinions on Iowa's four congressional races? I'm of the opinion that Iowa was an anti-Clinton state, not a pro-Trump state (which is why he did so well) so I feel like, without Clinton, Dems should do better than they did last year.

rollcall7 karma

Welcome to the handicapper’s club! It’s not for the faint of heart.

Interesting theory on pro-Trump vs. anti-Clinton. There’s been a little bit of polling data (I believe Selzer & Co.) that hinted at a backlash in Iowa against the president since he was elected. I think the main focus is still the 1st District (which we just moved to Toss-up) and the 3rd District (which we moved to Lean Republican).

I think the Steve King seat is still out of reach for Democrats and Loebsack is probably safe until there is a Democrat in the White House.

funk_truck2 karma

What's your take on how much money the DNC can afford to pour into Bill Nelson's campaign at the expense of other races?

I wonder if it will be like Patrick Murphy in 2016 where they pulled out after he couldn't get within striking distance.

rollcall2 karma

Great question.

First of all I'm not sure how much money the DNC will even have. But if you mean the DSCCC (Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee), I'm not sure that answer either. Party committees are very loyal to their incumbents, in part because incumbents help the committee raise the money and expect support when they need it. But party funds are not endless. I don't think we'll have an answer for another few months.

At the same time, there could be a point of diminishing returns for Democrats and for Rick Scott. But that could be tens of millions of dollars down the road.

DukeWayne2502 karma

Hey Nathan, what are your thoughts on the CT gubernatorial race?

rollcall3 karma

I've been skeptical of GOP chances, even though the outgoing Democratic governor is incredibly unpopular. We have the race rated as Lean Democratic.

That might be selling Republican chances a little short. It would have been better for Republicans if Malloy ran for re-election. Now they have to tie him to the Democratic nominee.

CzarEggbert2 karma

How much does primary turnout effect your predictions?

rollcall3 karma

Primary turnout is something to take under consideration, but I think it's one of many factors.

For example, Republican turnout in Ohio recently outpaced Democratic turnout, but I didn't feel the need to rush and push a bunch of races toward Republicans. In fact we added Ohio's 1st and 14th Districts to our list of competitive races this morning, in the Democrats' direction.

On the other hand, primary turnout in West Virginia's 3rd District was a good reminder that the southern part of the state is ancestrally Democratic and the presidential performance could be understating Democratic chances there.

California primaries can also be deceiving. GOP turnout has been slightly higher in the primaries compared to general elections, so there is usually a temptation to think Republicans are in better shape there than they really are.

ChezBoris2 karma

Hi Nathan,

Do you have any thoughts about how to best convey margin of error and probabilistic outcomes when reporting on upcoming elections? It seems to me that most people intrinsically have a higher level of certainty of certain outcomes than they mathematically deserve based on the available information (ie: FiveThirtyEight's attempt at discussing the problem. )

rollcall2 karma

I think we're on the same page here. Sometimes I get uncomfortable with the precision conveyed by 538's individual outcomes because of a lack of race-level data. Our race ratings are a different way of expressing likelihood of winning, but I think with a proper level of imprecision. But how do we best convey probability and uncertainty? I'm not sure. I often try to remind people that handicapping elections is more of an art than a science.

escapesuburbia2 karma

In your opinion, how likely is it that Democrats hold all their senate seats? Also, what would it take for that to happen?

rollcall9 karma

I think it’s unlikely all of the Democratic senators win re-election. I’m not exactly sure who will lose, but I expect at least one of Heitkamp, McCaskill, Donnelly, Manchin or Nelson to lose. That would then mean Democrats have to win Tennessee, Texas, Mississippi, or Nebraska (along with Nevada and Arizona) for a majority.

How do they all win? Probably a combination of turning their elections into personality contests instead of partisan elections, and maybe a GOP implosion or two

theonehandedwriter2 karma

Hello Mr. Gonzales.

I was wondering if you have any information on South Carolina's 5th district for house. Ralph Norman won last year over Tommy Pope in the special election primary, but it was extremely close. Norman blew a ton of his money and outspent Tommy by a wide Margin. But when he went up against Archie Parnell who is basically an unknown in the special election, Norman only won by 3%, which is within the statistical margin of error.

Currently Parnell is outraising Norman at about 3 to 1 margin and the scuttlebutt is that Norman can't reach into his own business again and produce hundreds of thousands of dollars. He's supposedly tapped. Norman first embraced and then ran away from Trump and we're looking at a wave election which is basically going to be a referendum on the president, and I don't think he'll be able to do that again.

Do you have any further insight here? Parnell getting so much more in campaign donations for his war chest is surprising and makes me think he actually has a shot at what is normally a solidly republican district. Any insight you could provide me with would be appreciated.

rollcall3 karma

They both had about the same money in their campaign accounts on March 31 (about $400,000), so I don't yet see the fundraising as a big factor. I think Parnell's biggest challenge is the fundamental nature of the district- It's a Trump, Romney, McCain seat. It's possible that type of district flips, but I still think it's unlikely right now.

Trogdorrules2 karma

What is your favorite food or drink to fuel you through a big job?

rollcall4 karma

I probably drink more Mountain Drew than a grown man should consume. If I'm working late at night, Skinny Pop is great snack. If either company is looking for a political handicapper to sponsor, feel free to reach out.

FurryFeets1 karma

Any thoughts on Sanjay Patel's chances to flip a red seat blue here in FL?

rollcall4 karma

I admit, I had to look him up. First challenge will be the district, which went Trump, Romney, McCain. Seems like he could also use some more cash. Money isn't the only factor in elections, but you can be the best candidate in the world with the best message and the best looking family, but if you don't have money to introduce yourself to voters, you probably aren't going to win.

iscrulz1 karma

Will Levin and Stabenow every lose their senate seat in Michigan before they retire?

rollcall2 karma

Levin already retired, so that's an easy one.

I think Stabenow would have been vulnerable under historical midterm trends if Hillary Clinton had been elected president. I don't see her losing this cycle. We have the race rated as Solid Democratic.

Of course things could change. We'll see if she even runs again in 6 years when she is 74 years old. I think one of the big regrets from this cycle will be not getting to cover a Stabenow vs. Kid Rock Senate election.

Hydropos1 karma

Can we convince democrats not to push gun control ever again?

I think that would do a LOT to help their poll numbers. The republicans have started to figure this out by slowly drifting from the "christian values party" to the "small government party". If the dems managed something similar and went from the "lets be like Europe party" to the "corporations are bad party" I think they could really gain some traction.

rollcall1 karma

I feel like there's a difference between whether Democrats could or should give up talking about guns. I guess they could, but it's very unlikely right now. This is viewed as a literal life-and-death issue for some Democrats. I don't see that going away soon.

I'm actually fascinated by state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, the Democrat likely to take over New Jersey's 2nd District from Republicans. He's the best Democrat to win that seat, but he's also received money from the NRA in past legislative races and earned an A rating from the group. I'm not sure how much room there is for him in the Democratic Party right now, although he would be essential to helping Democrats regain the House majority.

All that to say, I'm not sure how many Democrats you could get to agree that the party should stop talking about the issue. The populist, anti-corporate America messaging might help, but it's complicated because President Trump occupies some of that populist space right now, including with some blue collar Democrats.

possiblyhysterical1 karma

How can Paulette Jordan win Governor of Idaho in November now that she's secured the primary. Is this totally impossible? What would have to occur for it to happen?

rollcall2 karma

What would it take? Maybe Republicans believing Election Day was is on Thanksgiving?

Of course it would be foolish to completely rule it out. It's not that long ago there was a Democratic governor of Wyoming. But it would take a significant fracture in the Republican Party and/or maybe a third party candidate siphoning off votes from Little in order to win. It's tough for me to see Jordan going from Hillary's 27.5% to a majority in November.

danthemanvsqz1 karma

Do you think last year's presidential election was hacked?

rollcall1 karma

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by hacked. If you mean were vote totals manipulated by an outside force to change the results? No, I don't believe that. Did the Russians try to meddle? I'd say yes. Did it impact the race? It might have.

In spite of the Electoral College vote not being particularly close, I regard the presidential race as a close race because of Trump's narrow win in a number of states. In close races, everything matters. But it's hard to isolate individual factors because campaigns are complex organisms. So in a close race, I think the meddling could have made an impact, alongside events like Comey letter, Hillary not going to Michigan, etc.

nae321 karma

I know there's a lot of talk about the "blue wave", but is there an interesting seat where a Republican might make an upset this time around?

rollcall3 karma

I think Republicans' best takeover opportunity is probably Minnesota's 8th District, where DFL Rep. Rick Nolan isn't running for re-election. The northern Minnesota seat, which stretches from the Twin Cities suburbs to the Iron Range, swung for Trump. Republicans have a good candidate, Pete Stauber, who is a former Duluth police officer, county commissioner, and former hockey player in the Detroit Red Wings organization. His fundraising hasn't been great, but Democrats are wading through a primary. There are a few other opportunities, such as Minnesota 1 open, Nevada 3 open, Nevada 4 open. Republicans are also bullish on defeating Matt Cartwright in Pennsylvania.

greenbananas111 karma

Do you think there’s a chance Alison Hartson can win in California?

rollcall2 karma

Not good. I expect Dianne Feinstein to make the top two with probably de Leon. Based on two big Democratic names in the race, I might expect a Republican to finish in the top two before Hartson. I guess she could pull off the shocker of the cycle.

miggitymcwilly1 karma

Hi Nathan,

What do you think about CA23? Do you think there’s enough anti trump momentum to pull the seat from McCarthy?

rollcall2 karma

In California 23, I think Democrats face a couple of hurdles. Not only is it a Trump 58% district, but Romney and McCain won it with 61%, as well. So I don’t think Democrats can just boost Democratic turnout to get over the top. They need a Democratic surge and depressed Republicans to not show up to vote.

There’s also a fundraising issue: McCarthy had $4.1 million on March 31, and would have outside allies’ help, while none of the Democrats had more than $10,000. Of course it’s not impossible, just incredibly unlikely right now.

Davidjhyatt1 karma

Is California District 8 going to change?

rollcall1 karma

Hello! Swinging back by to answer a few more questions.

I assume you mean switch party control. I think it's unlikely but it would be foolish to say absolutely not. Trump, Romney, McCain won it consistently with 55%, which leads me to believe it's not only a Republican-leaning district but also that it might be less prone to dramatic swings, since it stayed in line through the tumultuous 2016 election.

On a side note, my SoCal friends don't consider that part of the state California and instead refer to it as "pre-Oregon."

tek9jansen1 karma

Hi Nathan, thank you for doing this AMA.

How is Roll Call different from Project Five Thirty Eight? Personally, I don't put any faith in any political analytics after project five thirty eight completely miscalculated the results of the 2016 election. What mistakes did they make that your organization has learned from?

rollcall2 karma

I'll let the folks at FiveThirtyEight speak for themselves.

For us, I think 2016 should be an inspiration to gather as much qualitative and quantitative information as possible at the state and district-level (not national) and embrace a level of uncertainty in all of this. While I certainly wasn't projecting Donald Trump would become president, our House and Senate projections were pretty close to right, particularly in a unique election.

I should also say that I'm just one part of Roll Call's political coverage. We've got two of the best reporters - Simone Pathe and Bridget Bowman who have great sources in DC and get out on the road frequently. If you're interested in getting updates of their coverage, consider signing up for their newsletter with this form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfgxbPJcNnWtu8SH58uIkkM5d8Gy5pikFFSD5SlyqGOMF5QcA/viewform

DarkLordObama1 karma

Actually i have a serious question. How viable/useful would it be for a candidate to very visibly represent their donors a la nascar sponsors?

rollcall1 karma

Interesting idea. Contributions made directly to candidates are not a secret unless it's a small-dollar amount. They're available on the Federal Election Commission website or through other sites that compile the information. That's why people can comb through the finance reports and see who has received money from the National Rifle Association, for example. Would candidates voluntarily make their contributors more visible? Probably not. I think people might be more frustrated when candidates get help from outside groups that don't fall under the same disclosure rules because of their tax status. I know it's not a popular idea, but there's a case to be made for getting rid of the contribution limits to candidates. Sure they could raise more money, but at least it would be public.

sobieski84-1 karma

Wouldn't voter ID stop russian meddling?

Why do Democrats think voter ID is racist?

rollcall3 karma

I don't think we can stop Russians from trying to meddle in our elections. We can control whether we let them affect our votes though.

I'm really not sure what Voter ID has to do with the Russians since I don't think we're talking about Russians actually voting in the election. But I know some Democrats feel passionately about the voter ID issue because of the times in our country when the powerful made it difficult for certain communities to vote under the disguise of good government.

Roll Call has a lot of coverage on the court battles over Voter ID laws across the country. I'll put up some links going into further detail about the debates over discrimination people are bringing up:

http://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/supreme-court-wont-revive-north-carolina-voter-id-law

http://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/texas-agrees-changes-voter-id-law

http://www.rollcall.com/news/home/voting-rights-act-used-strike-texas-voter-id-law

Le_Gros_Jambon-9 karma

Given how the corporate lobby quite straightforwardly owns the entire political spectrum, why should anyone bother to vote for one puppet over the other? It's pretty clear that no matter who we elect, lobbyists will continue to bend politicians to their will with little to no regard for our own interests.

rollcall14 karma

I only sense a little bit of cynicism in that question. :) I think most people use the word lobbyist to describe folks they don’t like and allies/friends for people advocating for their cause.

But I hear your overall point. People can choose to throw their hands up and not vote, but the elections are still going to happen. The best way to make sure your voice isn’t heard is not not vote.

I think part of the disagreement is on what it means to represent the people. Our country certainly isn’t monolithic, and neither are our districts or states. So there will always be people who feel like their views are not being represented.

rollcall9 karma

Also, it will be interesting to see the impact of multiple Democratic candidates refusing to take corporate PAC money for their campaigns. If they get elected, then it would be harder to argue that the entire political spectrum is owned by the corporate lobby.