The number of crossover districts—16 in total—is extremely low by historical standards but continues a downward trend reflecting our nation’s increased political polarization. Following the 2016 elections, there were 35 crossover seats, which was an increase from 2012 but a steep drop from the 83 produced by the 2008 Democratic wave. For much of the post-war era, there were 100 or more such districts, according to the Brookings Institution—to find a lower proportion in a presidential year, you have to go back to the GOP landslide of 1920, when there were just 11 crossovers.
These districts are now concentrated in just 11 states, as you can readily see in our “hexmap” that displays all districts at the same size (see here for a traditional geographic map version), but Pennsylvania holds the unique distinction of being the only state in the nation that’s home to both a “Biden-Republican” and a “Trump-Democrat” seat: the 1st and 8th districts, respectively.
The 1st, located in the Philadelphia suburbs, is held by Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a perpetual Democratic target who’s always managed to run ahead of the top of the ticket. He did so again in 2020 even as his district went from a 49-47 advantage for Hillary Clinton to a wider 52-47 win for Biden. Fitzpatrick nonetheless held off Democrat Christina Finello by a healthy 56-43 margin.
The 8th, anchored by Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the northeastern part of the state, also got bluer, though it still went for Trump: In 2016, it supported him 53-44 but this time backed him by a much narrower 52-47 spread. Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright hung on by outperforming Biden, beating Republican Jim Bognet 52-48.
But Pennsylvania also contributed to the decline in crossover seats on account of the fact that the 17th District, based in the Pittsburgh suburbs, flipped from supporting Trump 49-47 to backing Biden 51-48. Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb, who is now considering a bid for Senate, was fortunate to hold off Republican Sean Parnell in a tight 51-49 race.
At the other end of the state, the heart of Philadelphia yielded up the undisputed new holder of the title “bluest district in America.” That now belongs to Democratic Rep. Dwight Evans’ 3rd District, a majority-Black district that backed Biden by a thunderous 91-8 margin. That just edges out California’s 13th District, held by Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee, which favored Biden 89-9. It also displaces the 2016 champ, New York’s 15th District, which at 86-13 Biden has fallen to eighth overall.
With our efforts now complete at the congressional level, we’ll soon be turning our attention to crunching the results of the presidential election for the nation’s 6,764 legislative districts, which we expect to occupy us for quite some time.
But before we switch gears, we want to recognize a long list of people who selflessly helped us gather hard-to-find data and patiently answered our many arcane questions, folks without whom this project would never have been possible. We are particularly grateful to Derek Willis and his team at the invaluable OpenElections project, which is devoted to collecting and publicizing election results, and Benjamin Rosenblatt of Tidal Wave Strategies, who’s been tireless in his efforts to track down data from every county in New York.
We are also indebted to:
- the incomparable Adam Bonin, for all those Pennsylvania counties he carries in his pocket, like so many nickels and dimes;
- Jeanne Albert, who’s been graciously pestering local officials on our behalf for years;
- Gabe Rosenberg, for working his magic at the Connecticut Secretary of State’s office;
- Our data collection volunteers: Mike Piel, Dovid Holtzman, Neal Traven, Graham Crowe, Jason Parsley, and John Ray;
- TC McCarthy and John Tomanelli at Newsday, for making the impossible Nassau County happen;
- Aaron Kleinman at Future Now and his team of data collectors;
- Shiro Kuriwaki, for teaching us about cast vote records; and
- Jacob Alperin-Sheriff, Ben Forstate, Venkat Ranjan, Jayanth Uppaluri, Lisa Needham, Jeff Smith, Arik Wolk, and James Newton.
Lastly, we must thank the godfather of our “pres-by-CD” project, Jeff C., who emerged from behind the scenes in early 2009 to steer our very first attempt to calculate this data when we were still known as the Swing State Project. Jeff brought a level of accuracy, transparency, and rigor to the effort that guides us to this day, and he continues to provide us with his singular advice.
P.S. We have one final request for all readers: If you use our data, we’d be very appreciative if you’d cite Daily Kos Elections by name and link to us. Thank you!
● PA-Sen: State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta announced Thursday that he would join the Democratic primary for this open Senate seat, and he immediately picked up an endorsement from the American Federation of Teachers. Kenyatta would be the first LGBTQ person of color to serve in the upper chamber, as well as Pennsylvania’s first Black senator. Kenyatta joins Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in the primary, while a number of other prominent Democrats are also considering running to succeed retiring GOP incumbent Pat Toomey.
Kenyatta was elected to a safely blue seat in North Philadelphia at the age of 28, an accomplishment that made him the legislature’s first LGBTQ member of color. He also stood out as a prominent surrogate for Joe Biden during the presidential primary and general election.
On the Republican side, businessman Everett Stern recently entered the contest with considerably less press coverage. Stern is the founder of Tactical Rabbit, which calls itself “a private intelligence agency that provides clients with legal, business, and national security intelligence.” PennLive also writes that Stern, who considered a 2016 primary bid against Toomey, is “little-known to some in top state Republican Party circles.”
However, Stern also was in the news back in 2012 after he served as a whistleblower against his employer, the banking giant HSBC. The Department of Justice went on to level a $1.9 billion fine against HSBC for what PennLive describes as “violating U.S. sanctions for doing business with countries like Iran and North Korea, and breaking terms of the Trading With the Enemy Act and other money-laundering laws.”
● NY-Gov: Rep. Tom Reed recently told Politico that he was considering seeking the Republican nomination to take on Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The site adds that, while Reed hasn’t committed to anything, “several Republican operatives said they are all but planning on his candidacy.”
Another Republican has been campaigning for this post since June of last year, but Michael Carpinelli, who serves as sheriff of sparsely populated Lewis County in the far northern part of the state, has yet to attract much attention.
● WI-Gov, WI-Sen: Politico reported Friday that Reince Priebus, who served as the first of Donald Trump’s four White House chiefs of staff, is considering a bid against Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Priebus has not yet said anything publicly, but both the Associated Press and WisPolitics.com soon added that Priebus was also mulling a run for Senate in the event that his fellow Republican, incumbent Ron Johnson, decides to retire.
Johnson seems to be in no hurry to make his plans known, however, and an unnamed source informed the AP’s Scott Bauer that Priebus was “far away from making a decision” about whether to take on Evers. Bauer also notes that Priebus, who has resided in D.C. for a long time, is no longer a registered voter in the state he’d like to lead, which could be a liability at the ballot box.
And if Priebus does run for governor, he’ll almost certainly need to go through a competitive primary before he can take on Evers in this swing state. Badger State politicos view Rebecca Kleefisch, who served as Scott Walker’s lieutenant governor, as all but certain to run. Bauer also reports that Rep. Mike Gallagher, former Rep. Sean Duffy, and lobbyist Bill McCoshen are also thinking about getting in, though there’s no other information about any of their deliberations.
Priebus himself has only been on the ballot once, when he lost a close 2004 race for a state Senate seat around Kenosha. Priebus went on to chair the state party before he waged a successful 2011 bid to unseat his one-time ally Michael Steele as head of the Republican National Committee. (Amusingly Steele, who backed Joe Biden last year, is also considering a run for governor this cycle in Maryland.)
Priebus remained at that post for six years until Donald Trump selected him to become his first chief of staff. Priebus lasted just a little over six months in the White House before being unceremoniously dumped, though he later went on to stump for Trump’s failed re-election campaign.
● NY-11: Army veteran Brittany Ramos DeBarros, who served in Afghanistan for a year, announced Thursday that she would seek the Democratic nomination to face freshman Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis.
DeBarros, who describes herself as “Afro-Latina,” launched her campaign by positioning herself as a “progressive Democrat” who is challenging “Donald Trump’s favorite New York Republican.” It would be very tough to win as an anti-Trump candidate in a Staten Island-based seat that he took 55-44 last year, but the upcoming round of redistricting could see Democrats dramatically alter the landscape here.
● OH-11: Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown earned an endorsement on Friday from Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty, who represents a Columbus-based district to the southwest of this Cleveland-area constituency.
● UT-04: Former Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams recently told the Deseret News that he was considering seeking a rematch against Republican incumbent Burgess Owens, who ousted McAdams 48-47 as Donald Trump was carrying this suburban Salt Lake City seat by a much-stronger 52-43 margin last year.
McAdams doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to decide, though, as he said, “I think Rep. Owens should be given every opportunity to succeed, and as a Utahn and an American, I want him to be successful.” Owens, for his part, used his first week in office to vote to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election.
● AK State House: Alaska’s state House finally agreed on how to organize itself with a successful vote on Thursday, but the bipartisan coalition in charge of the chamber still lacks a formal majority and will have to rely on outside support to approve key legislation.
This Democratic-led alliance, known a bit incongruously as the Majority Coalition, now has a membership equal to exactly half the seats in the House: 14 Democrats, four independents, and two Republicans, one of whom, state Rep. Louise Stutes, was elected as speaker just over a week ago. The other, state Rep. Kelly Merrick, provided the decisive vote for Stutes but had initially said she wasn’t joining the coalition, though she’s since come into the fold.
Following the speakership vote, one member of the hardline GOP caucus, state Rep. Sara Rasmussen, announced she would no longer affiliate with her fellow Republicans but would instead serve independently, albeit while retaining her party label. In turn, Democratic state Rep. Geran Tarr left the coalition to also operate on her own after getting bumped out as co-chair of the House Resources Committee.
However, both Tarr and Rasmussen nonetheless voted in favor of the coalition’s preferred committee assignments, allowing them to take effect on a 22-17 vote (one Republican was absent). That step will at last allow lawmakers to begin conducting business, a month after the legislature’s session began. But to pass any future bills—including the all-important state budget—the Majority Coalition will need continued backing from at least one of these two unaffiliated members, or from the Republican caucus.
● Cincinnati, OH Mayor: Candidate filing closed Thursday for the May 4 nonpartisan primary to succeed termed-out Mayor John Cranley, and Democrats look well positioned to retain control of this office. City Councilman Christopher Smitherman, an independent who has often won with Republican support, had kept observers guessing about his plans until the final day of qualifying, but he ultimately announced that he wouldn’t run.
Two of Smitherman’s Democratic colleagues also bowed out of the race shortly before filing closed. P.G. Sittenfeld had looked like the dominant frontrunner until December, when he was arrested by FBI agents on bribery charges. Sittenfeld maintained his innocence and continued to campaign until Thursday, when he finally dropped out. City Councilman Chris Seelbach, who would have been the city’s first LGBTQ mayor, also left the race on Wednesday.
Nine people ultimately ended up filing, and the Cincinnati Enquirer writes that this is still the largest field since voters began electing mayors in 2001. (The post before then had little actual power and merely rotated among city council members, including Jerry Springer in the 1970s.) The top-two vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 2 general election.
The field includes four current elected officials, all of whom are Democrats. The best-known contender to Digest readers is probably Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval, who lost a high-profile 2018 race against Republican Rep. Steve Chabot in Ohio’s 1st District. Another former Chabot opponent is City Councilman David Mann, who served as mayor twice under the old system and was elected to Congress in 1992 before being ousted by the Republican two years later. (Cranley also lost to Chabot in 2006.)
Team Blue’s field also includes City Councilman Wendell Young and state Sen. Cecil Thomas, who would each be the second African American elected to this job. The other three Democratic contenders are physicist and businessman Gavi Begtrup, retired firefighter Raffel Prophett, and perennial candidate Kelli Prather. There are also two independents in the race: tech businessman Adam Koehler and Herman Najoli, who took less than 5% of the vote in a November race for Hamilton County commission.
● New York City, NY Mayor: Attorney Maya Wiley secured an endorsement on Friday from New York City’s largest union, 1199 SEIU, ahead of the June instant-runoff Democratic primary. This labor group, which represents over 200,000 health care workers, is also the first of the four major unions in city politics to take sides in the contest to succeed termed-out Mayor Bill de Blasio. The others are SEIU 32BJ, which represents building workers and airport employees; the Hotel Trades Council; and the United Federation of Teachers.