2020 Bellweathers

"Generic Democrat" had a Better Night than Trump on 11/5

On Tuesday, November 5, five states held elections with statewide ramifications. Virginia and New Jersey held elections for State Legislature, Louisiana and Mississippi held races for State Legislature and Governor, and Kentucky held elections for State executives, including Governor. These results may be early predictors for Presidential candidates in 2020.

Virginia voted for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016. As of Tuesday, the first time in 25 years the state's Legislature is controlled by Democrats. 1.16 million people voted for Democratic candidates for the House of Delegates, compared to 954,000 people who voted for Republican Candidates. Virginia will not be an easy win for a Democratic Presidential Candidates, but in terms of raw numbers, Democrats appear to have an edge.

The Kentucky race for Governor also shows a potential lead for a Democratic Presidential candidate, but the battle will be even harder. Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear only beat incumbent Republican Governor Matt Bevin by 5,000 votes.

Gubernatorial races in Louisiana and Mississippi show much more clear advantages for Republicans. Nearly 50,000 more voters choose a Republican than a Democrat in Mississippi. Louisiana has a unique late-year election system, where all Candidates of each party run for each office in the fall. If one candidate wins more than 50%, they win. If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, the top two victors (regardless off party affiliation) compete in a runoff in December. 30,000 more voters choose a Republican in the Louisiana blanket primary than a Democratic candidate, and while Republicans will likely retain this edge in the runoff, participation in these secondary competitions generally decreases, possibly leaving an opening for incumbent Governor Jon Bel Edwards.

Finally, the method for electing legislative Candidates in New Jersey causes difficulty in gathering evidence of future party performance, though Democrats are almost guaranteed victory. The Legislature is divided into 40 Districts, each electing 2 Assembly members. Each party nominates two candidates, but all voters may choose their preferred combination of any two candidates, regardless of party. In most Districts, one party received similar vote tallies for their candidates, but no party's pair of candidates received the same number of votes. Democrats won a majority of seats. The top Democratic nominees in each District collectively received 777,000 votes, while the top Republican nominees received 665,000. A gap this large makes a Democratic Presidential candidate much more likely to win New Jersey’s electoral votes in 2020. This State is also the most likely electoral win for a Democrat than the four others that held elections this month.

2020 primary contests will ultimately be the greatest indicator of the strength of both parties in each state. While several State Republican Parties will not be holding primaries for President, most states will hold primary contests with statewide totals, including for Legislature, Governor, and Congress. This week's elections are evidence to show potential support for a Democratic Presidential candidate in Virginia, New Jersey, and Kentucky, and support for Trump in Louisiana and Mississippi.