Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
January 27, 2015

November 4, 2014

Counties to Watch in 5 Key Senate Races

Counties to Watch in 5 Key Senate Races

Udall is seeking re-election in Colorado. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Control of the Senate comes down to just a few states, with Republicans in a position to pick up the necessary net six seats to win the majority.

As the results pour in Tuesday evening, here are the counties to watch in five of the most contested Senate races: Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, Kansas, and Georgia.

Colorado: Arapahoe County and Jefferson County

These two Denver suburbs have served as bellwethers for statewide results in recent years, and probably will again as Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat, fights to fend off Rep. Cory Gardner, a Republican.

Jefferson County’s results in the past six cycles have mirrored the statewide results within a percentage point. Arapahoe is another strong indicator of the statewide results in past years, but it’s also a county where there’s often drop off in voters between presidential years and midterms. If the number of votes coming in from Arapahoe look similar to the vote total from 2012, it could be a good night for the Democrats. Full story

6 Harbinger House Races for Election Night

6 Harbinger House Races for Election Night

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel will have a bad night if his party loses these races. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Democrats are bracing for losses on Election Day, but just how bad of a night will it be?

A few races will serve as cues throughout the evening, as polls close across the country. They will be harbingers for House Republicans, who are looking at gains anywhere from six to a dozen seats.

Here are the bellwether House races to watch as results come in, in order of poll closing times:
Full story

Why Senate Control May Not Be Known by Wednesday

Why Senate Control May Not Be Known by Wednesday

Landrieu rallies supporters Nov. 2 in Shreveport, La. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There are enough Democratic seats in play for Republicans to secure the Senate majority Tuesday, but there is also a chance the outcome won’t be known for days, weeks or even a couple months.

Needing to net six seats to win back control for the first time since George W. Bush’s second midterm in 2006, Republicans have taken advantage of a Democratic president in a similarly weak political position and have carved a path through 10 states. That means Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell may be celebrating more than his own re-election in Louisville, Ky., on Tuesday night.

Still, with runoffs likely in two competitive states, potentially razor-thin margins in a few races and vote-counting complications in Alaska, there are several hurdles to one party having clear control of the Senate by the time the sun rises Wednesday on the East Coast. Full story

Election Day Rituals: Movies, Meals and Mass

Election Day Rituals: Movies, Meals and Mass

DCCC operatives posted winning campaign signs on DNC windows for good luck (Twitter photo from @JesseFFerguson)

At party headquarters on Ivy Street in March, a few Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee staffers gathered for a good-luck ritual: They posted signs from past special-election victors on windows — and destroyed the losers’ election mailers.

The occasion? The high-stakes special election to replace the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young — though Lady Luck would quickly turn on these staffers. Republicans came from behind to win the appropriately numbered 13th District in Florida.

It’s just one of many superstitious habits saved for an Election Day — and on Tuesday, politicians, operatives and consultants conduct rituals to calm their nerves until polls close and results are released.

Full story

November 3, 2014

The Other House Race in Louisiana

The Other House Race in Louisiana

Graves is one of the top GOP candidates in the crowded race in Louisiana's 6th District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Though the fate of the “kissing congressman” in Louisiana is garnering some attention outside of the Pelican State, a crowded race to the south with its own colorful characters is wide open — at least on the Republican side.

Ten candidates are vying to replace Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, who vacated his seat to challenge vulnerable Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu. Among them are state lawmakers, a tree farmer and an ex-governor/ex-congressman/felon. Since the Republican candidates are ideologically similar, there is no clear GOP frontrunner heading into Election Day.

“I think you’ve seen that all of the candidates are campaigning as conservatives so it would be difficult to contrast any of the Republican candidates’ policy stances,” Jason Dore, executive director for the Louisiana Republican Party, told CQ Roll Call. Full story

Why State Lawmakers Are an Opposition Researcher’s Dream

Why State Lawmakers Are an Opposition Researchers Dream

Tillis has a record and Democrats know it. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Think being a Washington politician gets a bum rap? It’s not so easy being a politician from Phoenix, Springfield, Des Moines, Lincoln or Raleigh, either. Just ask Arizona Speaker Andy Tobin, Illinois state Rep. Mike Bost, Iowa House Rep. Pat Murphy, Nebraska state Sen. Brad Ashford or North Carolina Speaker Thom Tillis.

With extensive voting records, state legislators hoping to capture national offices have seen their records used against them in close races, as their opponents use their votes to paint them with the same brush any incumbent is accustomed to.

The two speakers, Tillis and Tobin, have been targeted especially hard. Full story

Billionaire Boys Club: Congress’ Top Super PAC Donors

Dubbed the “billionaire election” by some, these midterms have featured more money than ever spent by the wealthiest Americans and less by small donors. Big-spending outside groups are distilling an already elite donor pool even further, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and the overall number of individual donors has declined for the first time.

Listed below are the top five donors to unrestricted super PACs in both parties, as ranked by the Sunlight Foundation. Not included are contributors to tax-exempt advocacy groups that operate outside the disclosure rules, such as the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. Full story

30 Members, 1 Senator Running Unopposed

30 Members, 1 Senator Running Unopposed

Sewell is running unopposed. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There are 31 members of Congress who will be back in January no matter what. That’s 16 Democrats and 15 Republicans — with Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions being the only senator without an opponent Tuesday.

These lawmakers still bring in cash, with Sessions spending nearly $1 million and Democratic Rep. Terri A. Sewell of Alabama raising more than $1.4 million.

Georgia has the most members running unopposed, with six congressional districts in the ultra-safe category. Massachusetts also has six — all Democrats. Florida has five.

Here are the incumbents running unopposed, listed alphabetically by state:

Full story

November 2, 2014

Roll Call Event With Top Senate Campaign Aides Thursday

Roll Call Event With Top Senate Campaign Aides Thursday

Collins is the executive director of the NRSC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Photo)

The cycle’s top campaign operatives will delve inside the races that decided the Senate majority in a special post-election briefing at CQ Roll Call’s Election Impact Conference.

Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Rob Collins, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, will discuss the top Senate contests of 2014 — their first joint appearance after Election Day.

The duo will be interviewed by Roll Call’s Editor-in-Chief, Christina Bellantoni, at the Liaison Hotel on Capitol Hill. It’s part of our larger look into what the election’s results signal for the 114th Congress (Register here!).

I’ll moderate a discussion later that morning a panel of reporters and pollsters who will take a deep dive into the election results, including Nathan L. Gonzales, deputy editor, Rothenberg Political Report and Roll Call Contributor; Perry Bacon, NBC News Senior Political Reporter; Mark Blumenthal, Huffington Post Senior Polling Editor; and Abby Livingston of our Roll Call Politics team.

The Election Impact Conference also features: Full story

November 1, 2014

Final Rankings: The 10 Most Vulnerable Senators

Final Rankings: The 10 Most Vulnerable Senators

Pryor, right, canvasses Saturday with an aide in the Little Rock, Arkansas, suburbs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

Roll Call’s final ranking of the most vulnerable senators doesn’t vary much from previous versions — the result of an unfavorable national climate for Democrats that has failed to improve.

On the eve of the midterm elections, Senate Democrats are staring down a hole dug by President Barack Obama’s disapproval ratings and an unforgiving map packed with red states. Retirements by a quartet of senators in Republican-leaning or swing states didn’t help, but the seats of at least four incumbents seeking re-election aren’t on much stronger ground.

It’s the reality of what could end up being a dreadful cycle for Democrats. Still, party strategists remain cautiously optimistic they can hold on to a few endangered seats, possibly even pick up a GOP open seat in Georgia and save the majority. Republicans need a net gain of six seats. Full story

Last Chance: 10 Most Vulnerable House Incumbents

Last Chance: 10 Most Vulnerable House Incumbents

Enyart is the most vulnerable House incumbent. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

What a difference a year makes.

Not a single name on Roll Call’s first edition of this cycle’s 10 most vulnerable House members graces the final list before Election Day. The reasons are plenty: some retired, some won primaries, others lost.

Just three Republicans made the final list — and every one has personal political problems. It’s a difficult year to be a Democrat, and the remaining seven members on the list are running in competitive or conservative districts.

This list could easily have been extended to include several more members: Reps. Ron Barber, D-Ariz.; John Barrow, D-Ga.; Timothy H. Bishop, D-N.Y.; Julia Brownley, D-Calif.; Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y.; Scott Peters, D-Calif.; Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn.; and Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H.

Here are the 10 most vulnerable House members, ranked in order of likelihood to return next Congress:

Full story

Reid: Iowa Loss Would Mean Republican Senate Majority (Updated)

Reid: Iowa Loss Would Mean Republican Senate Majority (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:27 p.m., Nov. 1 | Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may have just unwittingly given Minority Leader McConnell something to smile about.

“What Joni Ernst would mean, coming to the United States Senate, is that Mitch McConnell would be the leader of the Senate, someone who agrees with her on virtually everything. Think what that would mean to our country,” Reid told progressives Saturday, when asked about Ernst’s chances in the open-seat race in Iowa.

That sure sounds like Reid believes his Republican leadership counterpart is going to win in Kentucky on Tuesday.

Reid then reprised familiar lines about the increase in the number of cloture motions and the history of the filibuster.

(Join us on Election Night: Live Stream With Analysis, Results and More at RollCall.com)

Full story

When Democrats Have Zero Options

When Democrats Have Zero Options

Hastings is retiring. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats in Washington’s 4th District don’t have much of a choice on their ballot: a Republican, or another Republican.

The Evergreen State’s primary allows the top two vote recipients to proceed to the general election, regardless of party affiliation. In the open-seat race to succeed Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., Republicans won the top two slots for general election’s mail-in ballot.

So what’s a Democrat to do?

“I haven’t decided yet. I have my ballot in my purse,” laughed Mary Baechler, a Democrat who challenged Hastings in 2012. “You want to help me out with that?”
Full story

October 31, 2014

Early Voting Update in Four Senate Races

Early Voting Update in Four Senate Races

A polling station in Washington, D.C. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Early voting is playing a crucial role in several of the cycle’s most contested races for the Senate, where control hangs in the balance ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Senate Republicans must gain six seats to win the majority — an increasingly likely scenario.

Here’s a look at how both sides are faring in early voting in four of the most competitive Senate races:

Colorado
Sen. Mark Udall, Democrat, vs. Rep. Cory Gardner, Republican.

Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Rating: Tilts Republican 

Full story

How Mary Landrieu and Kissing Congressman’s Fates Are Tied

How Mary Landrieu and Kissing Congressmans Fates Are Tied

Landrieu campaigns at an event for Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Vulnerable Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., and embattled GOP Rep. Vance McAllister, also known as the “Kissing Congressman,” have something in common on Election Day.

Though on opposite sites of the aisle, the two Pelican State incumbents are fighting for their political lives Tuesday. They also have a common goal in attracting moderate voters — and the same adversary in the Louisiana Republican Party.

“Certainly they both need the support of moderates to win,” said Louisiana GOP executive director Jason Doré in a phone interview Wednesday. Full story

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