2018 Election

Students at the Goldman School of Public Policy — like many others — are closely following the 2018 Elections. The results from the November 6th contests will help shape American government for the next two years and beyond. As policy students, we have particular interests in assessing the candidates who might end up in office and the initiatives that might go into effect. And on a human level, we maintain ties to the communities which will play direct roles in determining local outcomes across the country.

Amidst a host of media coverage on the impending elections, GSPP students added their perspectives on the contests they are watching with particular attention. While not holistic by any means, the sum of their contributions focuses in on a subset of the countless questions confronting voters nationwide.

Using the interactive map and list of articles below, you can read the Berkeley Public Policy Journal’s 2018 Election coverage. We thank the authors who contributed their time and energy to produce pieces. Further, we thank members of the Berkeley Public Policy Journal staff — especially Sarah Brandon, Fiona McBride, Nandita Sampath, and Mai Sistla — who did the work required to make this project happen.

Joseph Monardo and Henriette Ruhrmann, Berkeley Public Policy Journal Co-Editors in Chief


Senate Races


House Races

California Congressional District 1
California Congressional District 4
California Congressional District 45
California Congressional District 50
Iowa Congressional District 1
Illinois Congressional District 14
Illinois Congressional District 6
Minnesota Congressional District 2
Missouri Congressional District 2
New Jersey Congressional District 11
New Jersey Congressional District 7
Oregon Congressional District 2
Texas Congressional District 23
Utah Congressional District 4
Washington Congressional District 5

Gubernatorial Races


Local Races

City of Davis – Measure L
City of Oakland – Measure AA


California Proposition 1
California Proposition 5
Massachusetts Ballot Question 1
Washington Initiative 1631
West Virginia Amendment 1



Alaska Governor

By Ben Menzies

The contest: Alaska Governor

The options: Mark Begich (D) and Mike Dunleavy (R)

What the polls say: Republican Mike Dunleavy held a wide lead in a 3-way race and a narrow but consistent lead over Begich in a 2-way race.

Why this race is interesting: Incumbent Governor Bill Walker, the only Independent governor in the country, faced a tough reelection campaign against challengers from both the Democratic and Republican parties in a heavily Republican state. With Walker and Democrat Mark Begich splitting the votes of Democrats and Democrat-leaning Independents, Republican Mike Dunleavy was showing a wide lead. Walker made an unusually altruistic choice for a politician in the heat of a campaign: less than three weeks before Election Day he dropped out of the race and endorsed Begich.

Begich was already an unusually strong Democratic nominee — his 2008 victory over Senator Ted Stevens remains one of the few statewide races Democrats have won since Alaska’s statehood. In fact, the only other time Alaska has elected a Democrat to a federal legislative office was when Nick Begich, Mark Begich’s father, won election to the House of Representatives in 1972. While Begich won his reelection campaign with 56 percent of the vote, shortly before the election he disappeared and was presumed dead in a plane crash. His Republican opponent, Don Young, won the subsequent special election and has held the seat ever since.

Despite Begich’s electability (relative to other Alaska Democrats), Republicans are still dominant in Alaska. Begich has never led in a head-to-head matchup with Dunleavy, and Walker’s name will remain on the ballot despite his exit from the race, which could siphon precious votes away from Begich in a close race. Democrats are hoping that the state’s unpredictable politics will deliver one more twist, much as it did when Senator Lisa Murkowski won a write-in campaign after losing the Republican primary in 2010 or when Walker himself won as an independent in 2014.

Two significant issues differentiate Begich and Dunleavy. Dunleavy has promised to undo one of Walker’s signature policy accomplishments, a reform to the Alaska Permanent Fund that, among other things, reduced the annual payout the state provides all residents as their cut of the state’s oil revenues. Critics say Dunleavy’s plan would put the state’s finances at risk. Walker also expanded Medicaid in Alaska, in line with the federal Affordable Care Act, a decision he made unilaterally in 2015. Begich supports the expansion, while Dunleavy has tried to avoid taking a position.  



Arizona Senate

By Sydney Bennett

The contest: Arizona U.S. Senate

The options: Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Martha McSally (R)

What the polls say: FiveThirtyEight has Sinema with a 5 in 8 chance of winning the Senate seat, with a forecasted vote share of 50.0 for Sinema and 47.9 for McSally.

What is this race interesting: Arizona leans 9.3 points more Republican than the nation as a whole, yet the Senate race to replace retiring Republican Senator Jeff Flake remains one of the closest in the country. In any normal year, a Democrat would be unlikely to win the Arizona Senate seat, but a political climate that favors Democrats and a strong Democratic candidate are putting the race in play. The Arizona electorate is 26.5 percent Latino, but historically Latino turnout has lagged in states such as Arizona and California. If the Latino community exercises its political power, this may be the year Arizona finally turns blue.

Sinema began her career as an anti-war Green Party activist, but in the House of Representatives she has voted as a moderate-to-conservative Democrat. Sinema has been called “perhaps the single best politician in Arizona today” and her strength as a candidate is one reason the seat is in play.

Before being elected to Congress, McSally was a former fighter pilot and made history as the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat. An establishment Republican, part of her initial strength as a politician was a perceived ability to win over Democratic voters; she previously supported immigration reform and criticized Trump in the 2016 election. However, during the Senate primary, after seeing her lead slip, McSally has shifted to the right. McSally attempted to embrace Trump and took a hardline stance on immigration, both of which may serve to mobilize the Latino electorate and contribute to a Democratic victory.



California Congressional District 1

By Ben Menzies

The contest: California’s 1st Congressional District

The options: Doug LaMalfa (R) and Audrey Denney (D)

What the polls say: There has been no public polling of this district, but Republicans have typically won big in this district and FiveThirtyEight projects that Republicans have more than a 75 percent chance of winning.

Why this race is interesting: Republicans hope this district remains firmly in their column despite a strong challenge from first-time candidate Audrey Denney. California has become far more Democratic in recent decades, turning from a genuine swing state in which Republicans competed throughout the state into a Democratic stronghold. While ceding ground statewide, Republicans have continued to dominate the rural, heavily white areas of the state’s inland periphery (the Sierra Nevada mountains on its eastern border and the sparsely populated area north of Sacramento). California’s 1st Congressional District stretches across nearly the entire northern third of the state, from the Oregon border south to the Sacramento suburbs. If Republicans cannot safely win this seat, it is fair to conclude no Republican seat in California is safe.

Doug LaMalfa, the Republican incumbent and a rice farmer by trade, represented much of the district in the California Assembly and State Senate for years before being elected to Congress in 2012. Audrey Denney, the Democratic nominee, is a first-time candidate who has lived in the district for many years and worked in agricultural education. Although LaMalfa’s seat was widely seen as safe during 2017 and 2018, Denney has consistently beaten his fundraising numbers and raised more money than any previous challenger for the seat. Denney’s strong fundraising is even more surprising given the lack of support she has received from national Democrats, who have declined to allocate resources to the race given the large number of more competitive seats throughout the country. Without polling in the massive and sparsely populated district, it is hard to know whether her fundraising reflects genuine electoral strength, but Denney’s campaign has emphasized its grassroots organization throughout the district and some observers believe she may have a better chance of attracting moderates and conservatives than previous candidates.

Although Republicans have won this district by double digits in the past few elections, there is some precedent for Democrats realistically competing here. In 2006, incumbent Republican John Doolittle beat Democrat Charlie Brown by just under 10,000 votes, a shockingly close result at the time attributed to the favorable conditions for Democrats nationwide and Doolittle’s unapologetic defense of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Rather than face Brown in a competitive rematch, Doolittle retired and Republicans nominated State Senator Tom McClintock as his replacement. In an extremely close race, McClintock ultimately triumphed by less than 2,000 votes out of 370,000 cast, and Brown declined to run a third time. Since then, Democrats have not come close to matching Brown’s success, but Denney’s supporters believe the favorable national environment for Democrats and Denney’s status as a political outsider could give her a similar result. If Denney can keep the race within single digits, Democrats will likely see it as a major success and encourage her to run again in 2020.


California Congressional District 4

By Ben Menzies

The contest: California’s 4th Congressional District

The options: Tom McClintock (R) and Jessica Morse (D)

What the polls say: McClintock is the heavy favorite to win reelection in this highly conservative district, but there are no public polls and Morse has beaten McClintock soundly in fundraising.

Why this race is interesting: Similar to the race in California’s 1st Congressional District, the 4th District is one of the few areas in California in which Republicans have continued to dominate politics. After his narrow election in 2008, McClintock has faced only minor challengers, especially after redistricting in 2011 left him with an even more conservative district than before. Morse, who worked in foreign policy for USAID and the State Department, has carefully constructed a moderate platform designed to appeal to the conservative district while capitalizing on the nationwide enthusiasm among Democrats. Perhaps most indicative of that enthusiasm is that Morse, a first-time candidate, raised three times as much money as McClintock for the general election, a highly unusual result against a seasoned politician like McClintock.

While McClintock has defended his staunchly conservative voting record on issues like repealing the Affordable Care Act and supporting President Trump’s tax cut proposal, Morse has attacked him as a career politician, emblematic of the very “swamp” against which President Trump campaigned. The attacks may have extra strength as McClintock has never lived in the district: before his election to Congress, McClintock represented a part of Orange County in the State Senate and lived in Elk Grove, near Sacramento. After his election in 2008, the district was redrawn with McClintock’s Elk Grove residence still outside the boundaries. Debate has also focused on local issues in this district, such as improving forest management techniques in the fire-prone region likely to experience more severe and frequent wildfires as a result of climate change. Morse has called for increased funding for forest management, while McClintock claims excessive regulation is to blame for the buildup of fuel. If Morse pulls off an upset victory in this deeply conservative seat, it would send an unmistakable distress signal to California Republicans that even their strongholds may be slipping away, and it would be strong evidence that 2018 is indeed a “Democratic wave” election. Even if the race is merely close, however, Democrats are likely to claim victory given the wide margins McClintock has won in the past (in 2016, he won by 25 points), and a close result could suggest a rematch between the two in 2020.


California Congressional District 45

By Lisa McCorkell

The contest: California’s 45th Congressional District

The options: Katie Porter (D) and Mimi Walters (R)

What the polls say: Most polls show Porter having a lead between one and seven percentage points, with only one recent poll that was sponsored by Walters showing a Walters lead (FiveThirtyEight).

Why this race is interesting: Mimi Walters (R) is the incumbent representative in CA-45, a district that has been represented by a Republican since its inception in 1983. In previous contests, the district did not see much competition between the parties, but this race could now be one of the most critical races if Democrats are to regain control of the House. In the 2016 presidential election, the district voted for Hillary Clinton by five points (making it the first time the district voted for a Democrat for President in 80 years). Since President Trump’s inauguration, Walters has voted in line with his position 98.9% of the time. With a median income among the nation’s highest ($90,000), the district contains the type of educated suburban voters that had previously voted Republican. But there are signs those voters are becoming less loyal to Republican candidates under Trump, and Walters’ support of the president’s policies has started to make her unpopular among voters. This, combined with the growing demographic changes within the district, open the door for a Democrat to gain momentum.

Walters’ challenger, Katie Porter, is a law professor at UC Irvine and is seen as Elizabeth Warren’s protege. Her platform of Medicare for All, overturning Trump’s tax plan, ending Citizens United, supporting abortion rights, gun reform, protecting the environment, immigration reform, and advocating for LGBTQ rights is fairly radical for a previously conservative district, but given how close the polls are, perhaps Orange County will no longer be the red district in a sea of blue.


California Congressional District 50

By Henriette Ruhrmann

The contest: California’s 50th Congressional District

The options: Ammar Campa-Najjar (D) and Duncan Hunter (R)

What the polls say: Republican Duncan Hunter has a narrow lead within the margin of error according to UC Berkeley’s Institution of Governmental Studies. FiveThirtyEight gives Hunter a more comfortable lead and an 85 percent chance of winning.

Why this race is interesting: California’s 50th Congressional district encompasses San Diego’s northern and eastern suburbs with a conservative constituency who has elected Republican candidates to represent the district’s interests in Congress since 2002. The five-term incumbent Republican Duncan Hunter has represented interests of San Diego county residents in Congress for a decade and continuously held the seat with comfortable margins.

This November, however, the voters will see a highly contested election in their district. In August, Congressman Duncan Hunter was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud, unlawful conspiracy, and campaign finance violations (in particular, appropriating more than $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use). Hunter has plead not guilty to the charges and is awaiting his trial on November 22. In the interim, House Speaker Paul Ryan has removed Hunter from his three House committee assignments. The scandal allowed his Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, to gain a lot of ground in the polls. Meanwhile, the race has attracted national attention for Hunter’s aggressive strategy to discredit his opponent, including the use  of xenophobic rhetoric. Recently, he described Campa-Najjar as an “Islamist” seeking to infiltrate Congress; Campa-Najjar is, in fact, Christian.

However, the San Diego district’s representation in Congress may become even more interesting following the election should Hunter be elected and then convicted. According to House rules, a Representative sentenced to two or more years in prison is advised to refrain from voting but the Representative could only be forcibly removed by expulsion, which would require substantial political commitment by whichever party holds the majority following the election.


City of Davis – Measure L

By Spencer Bowen

The contest: Davis, CA Measure L

The options: A simple majority would approve a change to the Davis general plan to develop 75 acres of agricultural land into no more than 560 housing units.

What the polls say: Specific polling is tough to come by, but the Yes on L campaign reported about $31,000 in contributions on September 1 while the No on L campaign reported a single $1,000 loan.

Why this race is interesting: Measure L aims to address two big problems in Davis: a dwindling housing supply and the effects of an aging Baby Boomer generation. The additional units would including  affordable housing for seniors, market- rate rental, and market-rate, for-sale housing. In Davis, much of the older population lives in spacious homes near Downtown and pays relatively low property taxes due to Proposition 13. In theory, more housing catered specifically to “Davis-connected” seniors would help older folks as they downsize and relocate while opening up housing supply for younger families. Proponents of the project point to nearby highways, shopping, hospitals, and clinics as key beneficiaries. Opponents note the housing may be exclusionary to non-Davis residents, lacks density, and opens the door to “sprawling” development on the northwest side of town. Measure L represents a classic example of the political realities surrounding California’s housing crisis, exacerbated by Davis’ popular vote requirement for changes to the general plan or expansions of the City limits. Davis identifies as a progressive community but has approved only one housing-related city expansion in recent memory. In some ways, Davis voters will decide whether to make the perfect housing development the enemy of a good one in a town with rapidly growing rents and a shortfall of accessible family housing.


City of Oakland – Measure AA

By Ben Raderstorf

The contest: Oakland, CA Measure AA

The options: “Yes” to accept a parcel tax aimed to tackle educational disparities; “No” to reject the parcel tax

What the polls say: Prediction data is lacking. Supporters of the measure include Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and CA Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

Why this race is interesting: Measure AA, known as the “Oakland Children’s Initiative,” aims to tackle, at once, two of the city’s most enduring educational disparities: early childhood/Pre-K and college readiness. The measure would levy an annual parcel tax of just under $200 on most homes, $135.25 for apartments, and a sliding scale for commercial properties (with exceptions for low income households and other hardship circumstances). The measure is predicted to raise approximately $30 million annually. The funds will be split roughly two-to-one between early childhood programs and college supports including readiness programs and scholarships. Supporters position this measure — backed by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Assemblymember Rob Bonta, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee — as critical to improving Oakland’s low graduation rates and overcoming the city’s broad and systemic class and race inequalities in education.


California Proposition 1

By Spencer Bowen

The contest: California Proposition 1

The options: A “yes” vote authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds to support housing programs, loans, grants, and veterans’ housing.  

What the polls say: A recent SurveyUSA poll found 62% support, 21% opposition, and 18% undecided with a margin of error of +/- 4.7%.

Why this race is interesting: Proposition 1 is one facet of a 15 piece housing package passed in 2017 by the California Legislature. In concert with Proposition 2, Prop. 1 aims to tackle one part of the statewide housing crisis: housing supply. The measure would distribute general obligation bond revenues through many channels, including the CalVet home loan program and the Multifamily Housing Program, all of which provide some kind of financial assistance for the purchase or rehabilitation of affordable housing. Voter enthusiasm for this measure may be a bellwether for housing-related legislation to come. Despite widespread voter and editorial support for Prop. 1, most agree that this proposal is just a drop in the bucket in addressing a multifaceted and chronic housing problem.


California Proposition 5

By Nick Draper

The contest: California Proposition 5

The options: A “yes” vote would allow homeowners who are over age 55, severely disabled, or whose home has been impacted by a natural disaster to retain their current property tax rates when they move to a more expensive home.

What the polls say: No polling has been conducted on this initiative. However, a recent poll has another anti-tax initiative, Proposition 6 (repeal of the gas tax increase), losing 52 percent to 39 percent. The same poll also has Proposition 10 (expanding local authority to impose rent control) — to which many of the interest groups promoting Proposition 5 are vehemently opposed — losing 48 percent to 36 percent.

Why this race is interesting: Proposition 5, the Property Tax Fairness Initiative, is being spearheaded and entirely funded by the California Association of Realtors, who are pitching the initiative as a solution to California’s  housing crisis. Supporters argue that Proposition 5 will open up more housing inventory for first-time homebuyers by providing significant tax benefits to longtime homeowners who opt to downsize. Under current law, homeowners who are over age 55, those who are severely disabled, or whose home has been impacted by a natural disaster can retain their current property tax rates when moving to a home of equal or lesser market value within the same county one time. Proposition 5 would allow them to retain their property tax rates when moving to a more expensive home anywhere in California an unlimited number of times. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that schools and local governments would lose around $100 million per year in the first few years of Proposition 5 going into effect. Over time, they estimate, lost revenue would increase to $1 billion per year. Some of this revenue loss could be made up for by tax revenues associated with home sales, but it is unclear if it would equal the lost revenue resulting from the policy change.

Realtors stand to benefit handsomely from Proposition 5, since those covered by the initiative would receive substantial tax benefits from selling their homes and moving, leading to more and higher commissions for realtors. A broad range of stakeholders that would be impacted by the resulting loss of tax revenue — including labor unions, local governments, social justice organizations, and housing advocates — oppose the Proposition. Although Californians have tended to support tax increases in recent years to protect public services and roll back the steep budget cuts that resulted from the Great Recession, Proposition 5 will be an interesting test of whether they will vote against an initiative that takes money away from the same public services they recently voted to fund.




By Joseph Monardo

The contest: Georgia Governor

The options: Stacey Abrams (D) and Brian Kemp (R)

What the polls say: FiveThirtyEight has this as the closest Governor’s race in the country, with Kemp leading Abrams by less than a point in the polls.

Why this race is interesting: Stacey Abrams (D) and Brian Kemp (R) are battling over the Governor’s seat in Georgia, but the contest has come to represent a lot more than that. Abrams, who beat out Stacey Evans in the primary, is the first Black female nominee for governor from a major political party. Branded as a progressive champion, Abrams’ last eight years in the Georgia General Assembly — including as House Minority Leader — also revealed a willingness to negotiate with Republicans. A 1992 photo of Abrams burning a Georgia state flag, which at the time featured the battle-flag symbol of the Confederacy, has intensified criticisms of her as an extremist. The former novelist is also the founder of the New Georgia Project, which has facilitated registration for nearly 70,000 voters since 2014.

Opposing her is Kemp, who built a career in construction and is the owner of Kemp Properties. The Republican candidate served in the Georgia State Senate from 2003-2007, and has been the Georgia Secretary of State since 2010. His platform includes typical conservative promises to cut taxes and regulations to spur business and keep families safe by targeting gang violence. In his campaign ads, Kemp brands himself a “politically incorrect conservative” who owns a truck to “round up criminal illegals” himself.

Overshadowing the race in recent weeks have been accusations that Kemp has used the power of his current role to cancel 1.4 million voter registrations since 2012 and 670,000 in 2017 alone based on the “exact match” law, purportedly designed to guard against voter fraud. And he’s slowed down registration of new voters in the lead up to election day: in a lawsuit filed on October 12th, a coalition of civil rights leaders says 80% of the 53,000 Georgians who’s voter status is “pending” are Black, Latino, or Asian American. The Daily podcast placed the suppression efforts in the context of a history of Black disenfranchisement in the state. In a consistently red state, both candidates focused on voter turnout as the path to victory: Abrams by registering more Georgians and Kemp by cleaning the rolls. Barring any legal decisions, the outcome might come down to who was more effective.



Illinois Congressional District 6

By Mai Sistla

The contest: Illinois’s 6th Congressional District

The options: Peter Roskam (R) and Sean Casten (D)

What the polls say: FiveThirtyEight estimates that this race is a toss-up, and that both candidates have about a 50% chance of winning.

Why this race is interesting: Illinois’s 6th Congressional district is the perfect example of the suburban “Romney-Clinton” districts that could play a key role if the Democratic Party is to take over the House this year. In 2016, this district went for Clinton by seven percentage points, even though the district had voted for Romney and Bush (in both elections) with almost 10-point margins. The district, which encompasses many middle-class and upper-middle-class western suburbs of Chicago, is home to a large Catholic population that has historically voted Republican and has not elected a Democrat to its House seat in the last 48 years. However, Trump’s unpopularity in the district, combined with this year’s predicted Democratic surge, makes way for a potential flip in their House seat.

Incumbent Peter Roskam is running for his seventh term and faces a strong challenge from Democrat Sean Casten. Roskam, though a moderate Republican, has been forced to defend his record when voting with Donald Trump. Casten is a former scientist and first-time political candidate. Both candidates have differing opinions on taxes (Roskam supported Trump’s tax bill last year), health care (Roskam voted to repeal the ACA, while Casten would keep it), and climate change (as a scientist and former clean energy entrepreneur, combating climate change and promoting clean energy is one of Casten’s signature issues).


Illinois Congressional District 14

By Ted Kupper

The contest: Illinois’s 14th Congressional District

The options: Randy Hultgren (R) and Lauren Underwood (D)

What the polls say: Hultgren holds a slight lead according to a recent New York Times poll

Why this race is interesting: Illinois’s 14th Congressional District lies directly west of the 6th district, thought to be the most competitive race in the state during this election cycle. It contains Chicago’s far-western suburbs and the farmland beyond, trends about 10 points more Republican than the average American congressional district according to FiveThirtyEight, and was previously represented by former Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert for 20 years. The fact that this race is as close as it is speaks to the opportunity Democrats have this year to win traditionally Republican seats.

In its endorsement, the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board touts Randy Hultgren as a “solid conservative.” Hultgen, who has represented the 14th since 2011, is the co-chair of the House’s Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. The Democratic candidate, Lauren Underwood, is a 31-year-old African-American woman running in a district that is over 85 percent white. A former official at the Department of Health and Human Services under President Obama, she has managed to raise four times as much money as Hultgren throughout the campaign. She’s netted support from Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen — and an ice cream flavor to match — and former Vice President Joe Biden. Still, in a district as persistently red as this one, Underwood winning the seat would represent a major upset.


Illinois Governor

By Mai Sistla

The contest: Illinois Governor

The options: Bruce Rauner (R) and J.B. Pritzker (D)

What the polls say: As of October 27, FiveThirtyEight gives J.B. Pritzker an 11-in-12 chance of winning

Why this race is interesting: Four years ago, when now-incumbent Bruce Rauner won then-incumbent Patrick Quinn’s seat, there was considerable frustration among Democrats who believed Rauner had an unfair advantage due to his personal wealth. Rauner, a former private equity executive from the wealthy North Shore suburbs of Chicago, has a net worth of at least $100 million, and half of the money from his 2014 campaign came from himself and nine other wealthy Illinois individuals. Many claimed the money he brought in from a few ultra-wealthy Illinois families overwhelmed Quinn, whose biggest funders were Illinois labor unions (a still-powerful force in state politics).

Rauner is ironically at a monetary disadvantage this year as his opponent is none other than J.B Pritzker, a businessman and heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune who has an estimated net worth of $3.4 billion. Both have contributed tens of millions of their own fortunes to their campaigns, and the race is slated to be one of the most expensive governor’s races in history.

Incumbent Rauner is at a disadvantage for two main reasons. First, as a relatively moderate Republican, he faced a strong primary challenge from further right-candidate Jeanne Ives that exemplified his unpopularity with pro-Trump Republicans. Additionally, Illinois was without a budget for two years during his tenure, as Rauner was unable to strike compromises with the Democratic legislature on issues such as worker’s compensation, taxes, and term limits. This has paved the way for J.B. Pritzker’s predicted victory, even though Pritzker comes with his own set of scandals and baggage. Perhaps this is to be expected, however, in a state where four out of the last nine governors have gone to jail.



Iowa Congressional District 1

By Annie McDonald

The contest: Iowa’s 1st Congressional District

The options: Abby Finkenauer (D) and Rod Blum (R)

What the polls say: Blum is considered by many to be one of the most vulnerable GOP incumbents and polling has consistently shown Finkenauer with the lead.

Why this race is interesting: With a victory, Finkenauer could become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress (though Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will most likely claim this crown with a win in New York’s 14th Congressional District). This district has been historically unpredictable and is a major focus of the Democrats’ campaign to take back the House. Blum is also currently under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for questionable business practices, the results of which won’t be released until mid-December.



Maryland Governor

By Althea Lyness-Fernandez

The contest: Maryland Governor

The options: Larry Hogan (R) and Ben Jealous (D)

The polls: Hogan holds an 18-point lead over Jealous, according to an average of recent polls.

Why this race is interesting: Maryland’s current governor, Larry Hogan, may be the first Republican governor in a half-century to be elected to a second term leading the state.

Maryland leans Democrat — the state has voted for Republican Presidential candidates only twice in the past 10 elections. Of Maryland’s registered voters, 55 percent identify as Democrats while only 31 percent identify as a Republicans. While conservatives are more successful in state and local politics, only three out of the past nine governors have been Republicans, and no Republicans have served two terms since 1959. In this light, Hogan’s win in 2014 and continued popularity among moderate Democrats remains a surprise.

Governor Hogan’s opponent, Ben Jealous, is a progressive candidate with backing from political figures such as Senator Bernie Sanders and former President Barack Obama. Previously, Jealous served as Chief Executive Officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and is currently a partner at Kapor Capital, an investment firm focused on progressive entrepreneurs. Jealous’ platform centers around education reform, including raising teacher wages and creating universal pre-K, as well as Medicare-for-all. He is also one of three black candidates involved in a gubernatorial race this election season and, if he were to win, would be Maryland’s first black governor.

Despite Maryland’s strong Democratic base, Jealous faces an uphill battle. Hogan has a 64 percent job approval rating. He has distanced himself from President Donald Trump, whose extremism makes Hogan appear more of a moderate. In the face of most projections — which show Jealous trailing by as many as 20 points — Jealous’ tactic is to focus on turning out the vote. He is aiming to mobilize 1 million Maryland voters to show up to the polls this November.



Massachusetts Ballot Question 1

By Fiona McBride

The Contest: Massachusetts Ballot Question 1

The Options: Majority approval would limit the number of patients per nurse in Massachusetts hospitals.

What the polls say: It’s a very close race, with polls showing equal support for both “Yes” and “No” on the ballot measure and with around 12% undecided.

Why this race is interesting: This is the most contested ballot question in Massachusetts this November. Nurses and other healthcare providers are split on the best direction, with proponents claiming better care and less burnout for nurses and opponents referencing exorbitant costs and the closing of hospital units that serve vulnerable populations. The only other state with a similar measure in place is California, which implemented the change in 2004. Since its introduction, the initiative has led to better working conditions for nurses and no hospital closures, but also didn’t demonstrate clear improvements in patient care. The outcomes for patients may be better in Massachusetts, as Question 1 specifically prohibits hospitals from counteracting the increased costs of lower patient-nurse ratios by laying off other hospital staff . If Bay Staters vote “Yes,” the shift in ratios could be an important experiment that impacts other states’ healthcare policies. Hospitals are the fiercest challengers of the measure, and the tension is representative of the larger push and pull in the healthcare system between quality of patient care and workers’ rights on one side and revenue generation on the other. Whichever side wins, the outcome will offer important evidence to enhance this ongoing debate.



Minnesota Congressional District 2

By May Lim

The contest: Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District

The options: Angie Craig (D) and Jason Lewis (R)

What the polls say: The race has been neck-and-neck, but the latest polls (The New York Times) show Craig pulling ahead of the incumbent Lewis.

Why this race is interesting: Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District has been a consistent swing district during major elections. The district — including the southern portion of the Twin Cities, the surrounding suburbs, and a small rural area — backed Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016, each time by a margin of less than 1 percent. The population is largely white and has a higher median household income than the rest of Minnesota and the country. In 2016, the same two candidates vied for this congressional seat after the previous representative retired.

Incumbent Jason Lewis, supported by Paul Ryan, has sparked controversy in the campaign due to past sexist and racist comments he made as a radio host, a role he occupied from 2009 to 2014. He aligns with Trump’s policies and is running on the success of the GOP tax plan.

Angie Craig, endorsed by Obama in 2016, is campaigning on increasing jobs and wages and creating more affordable healthcare. She lost in 2016 running a campaign that emphasized her education and qualifications while focusing on Lewis’s discriminatory remarks. This time around, Craig is choosing to highlight the fact that she is a lesbian working mother and a grassroots candidate who understands the struggle of working people.

In 2016, some constituents believed Hillary would win the presidency and voted for Lewis in order to “balance out” the partisan representation of their elected officials. While the district ended up going to Trump in the Presidential election, a recent poll shows that 55 percent of constituents in the 2nd disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president. If Craig continues to maintain her lead in this tight race, the district could flip from red to blue this year.



Missouri Congressional District 2

By Joony Moon

The contest: Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District

The options: Cort VanOstran (D) and Ann Wagner (R)

What the polls say: FiveThirtyEight predicts Wagner to receive 52.0 percent of the vote, a sizable cushion over VanOstran’s 44.8-percent vote share.

Why this race is interesting: One race to watch in this year’s midterm elections is in Missouri’s 2nd congressional district, where Cort VanOstran challenges three-time incumbent Ann Wagner. VanOstran, 30, is a lawyer who decided to run for office after the passing of his mother, who relied on the Affordable Care Act during her last years. Wagner, 56, has a long track record of public service and activity in the Republican Party, having previously served as the Chair of the Missouri Republican Party, Co-chair of the Republican National Committee, and U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, though VanOstran has outraised Wagner over the past few months, Wagner’s institutional connections and funds leftover from previous campaigns leave her with a considerable cash-on-hand advantage entering the final weeks before the election. Wagner has generally been quiet this election cycle, even recently not showing up to a debate with the other candidates. Based on analysis of recent polls, FiveThirtyEight predicts an 85.3% chance that Wagner will win the election. Though it may appear to be an uphill battle for VanOstran in a district that has been represented by a Republican since 1993, the newcomer represents part of the new “blue wave” angling to be the face of the Democratic party for years to come.


New Jersey

New Jersey Congressional District 7

By Larkin Turman

The contest: New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District

The options: Leonard Lance (R) and Tom Malinowski (D)

What the polls say: FiveThirtyEight gives Malinowski more than a 60-percent chance of winning. RealClearPolitics puts Malinowski up 3 points, but The New York Times has Lance up a point.

Why this race is interestingThe race is emblematic of the type of seat Democrats have to flip to win the House — a Republican seat in a suburban, high income district that narrowly went for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. Republicans have represented this northwestern New Jersey district for more than three decades. Lance is a relatively moderate rank-and-file member of his party, but notably voted against recent tax bill and AHCA, the House health care bill that would have drastically changed the ACA. Lance has no big legislative victory or larger claim to fame and votes with the President 87 percent of the time, while Malinowski, an immigrant from Poland, was an Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor during the Obama Administration and Senior Director on the White House National Security Council during the Clinton Administration. Malinowski is running on a platform to repeal the tax reform bill — which is very unpopular in New Jersey — fight for affordable healthcare, and stand up to President Trump.

Lance has represented the district for five terms, but this race is proving to be his toughest yet. Lance and Malinowski have been neck-and-neck in the polls, while Malinowski has raised significantly more money. Malinowski is a 1987 graduate of UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in political science.


New Jersey Congressional District 11

By Annie McDonald

The contest: New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District

The options: Mikie Sherrill (D) and Jay Webber (R)

What the polls say: The race is currently rated “Lean Democratic,” and polls have consistently shown Sherrill with a slight lead.

Why this race is interesting: This is generally a solidly Republican district — retiring  Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen has served since 1995 with no serious challenges, and the district has broken for Republican presidential candidates in the last five elections (albeit by increasingly slimmer margins). However, Sherrill, a former Navy pilot and prosecutor, appears to hold the lead this time around.



Nevada Senate

By Nandita Sampath

The contest: Nevada U.S. Senate

The options: Dean Heller (R) and Jacky Rosen (D)

What do the polls say? FiveThirtyEight considers this race to be a toss-up, with Dean Heller holding a 60 percent chance of winning.

Why is this race interesting? This race is considered one of the closest Senate races in the country, and this seat is among the most coveted. First-term representative Jacky Rosen (D) is challenging Republican incumbent Dean Heller, the only Republican senator up for re-election in a state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Heller’s seat is considered the Democrats’ best chance for flipping a Senate seat this year. Heller has not lost a race in his nearly thirty-year career, but Rosen, who is relatively unknown, has received no shortage of support. She has managed to raise over $40 million and Democrats have started to bring in their heavy hitters to campaign across the state: Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders have all made appearances in Nevada to try and push her over the edge. Earlier in the race it seemed as though it would be an easy victory for the Rosen and the Democrats, but in recent weeks it seems as though her victory is far less likely due to a projected low turnout for Latino voters and Trump’s popularity throughout the state.

Rosen has made healthcare a significant issue in the race. She is a supporter of Obamacare and attacked Heller in the most recent debate for supporting its repeal. Heller has changed positions on many issues, including healthcare, immigration, and gun-control (Nevada experienced the worst mass shooting in American history in 2017, when a gunman killed 58 people in Las Vegas). He also did not support Trump until late in the 2016 campaign and says he voted for him, even though Clinton won the state in 2016. Rosen has been using his apparent inconsistency to her advantage in her attack ads and in their debates.



Oregon Congressional District 2

By Maiya Zwerling

The contest: Oregon 2nd District

The options: Greg Walden (R) and Jamie McLeod-Skinner (D)

What the polls say: Based on the polls, Walden is almost sure to win. FiveThirtyEight gives McLeod-Skinner a 1-in-100 chance at taking the seat.

Why this race is interesting: Jamie McLeod-Skinner is joining the ranks of progressive challengers across the nation, taking on powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee chair Greg Walden. McLeod-Skinner is challenging Walden in a safe Republican district but is gaining traction under populist messaging that highlights jobs, health care, and other local issues. This is the only federal seat in Oregon held by a Republican. Though the seat is likely to go for Walden, McLeod-Skinner is hoping to activate a form of politics in rural Oregon that has been largely dormant for years.



Texas Senate

By Tsuyoshi Onda

The contest:Texas U.S. Senate election

The options: Ted Cruz (R) and Beto O’Rourke (D)

What the polls say: Incumbent Ted Cruz has maintained a strong lead throughout the campaign but O’Rourke has narrowed the gap significantly over the last couple of months.

Why this race is interesting: The race between Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz has become unusually close in a state that has not seen a Democrat hold state office in over 20 years. The difference between the two candidates and their campaigns is drastic: Ted Cruz runs on the Tea Party Republican platform that propelled him to victory in the 2012 senate race, while Beto O’Rourke bills his campaign as  the symbol of Texan progressivism.

Ted Cruz is perhaps best known for his 2016 presidential campaign, where he finished second to Donald Trump in the Republican primary, along with his continued visibility as a prominent movement conservative within the Senate. In Texas, he is recognized for his strong debate skills and aggressive campaign tactics. Interestingly, Cruz is not viewed particularly favorably among fellow senators, even among Republicans. Former Speaker of the House John Boehner famously said about Cruz, “I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

Beto O’Rourke rose to national recognition as the U.S. House representative of his home district that encompasses El Paso. Today, he is known for his charismatic demeanor on the campaign trail and his refusal to accept campaign contributions from PACs. O’Rourke is considered a rising figure in the  Democratic party, with many regarding him as a potential future presidential candidate. While he has stressed his commitment to bipartisanship, his political positions are largely to the left of most voters in Texas.

Few people gave O’Rourke a chance heading into the summer, but recent polls indicate this could be a race to watch. While Ted Cruz still holds the edge in a state that leans Republican, this race may signal the slow-changing political landscape, and increasing polarization, in Texas.


Texas Congressional District 23

By Annie McDonald

The contest: Texas’s 23rd Congressional District

The options: Gina Ortiz Jones (D) and Will Hurd (R)

What the polls say: The district is considered to “Lean Republican” and Hurd has hung on to a modest lead in the polls.

Why this race is interesting: Ortiz Jones is an Iraq War veteran and former Air Force officer. She served under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and would be the first openly lesbian member of Congress if elected. Hurd bills himself as a moderate Republican and has distanced himself from Trump of late. Texas’s 23rd is considered the most “swing” district in the state, and regularly changes hands between Democrats and Republicans, making this one of the most closely-watched races of the midterms.



Utah Senate

By Ben Menzies

The contest: Utah U.S. Senate

The options: Mitt Romney (R) and Jenny Wilson (D)

What the polls say: Romney has a huge lead according to all polling.

Why this race is interesting: Although few expect this race to be competitive, the race to replace retiring Senator Orrin Hatch is worth watching because it is likely to return a national political figure to prominence.

Republican Mitt Romney, the favorite to win, entered the race following a brutal decade of both prominence and defeat for Romney. Once one of the GOP’s brightest rising stars, Romney earned bipartisan praise as governor of deeply liberal Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, during which time he passed and implemented a health care plan upon which President Obama’s Affordable Care Act was later based. Romney’s significant policy achievements and political maneuvering in Massachusetts created lasting suspicion among conservatives during his two runs for president. His eagerness to demonstrate his bona fides as “severely conservative” made him into a far less moderate candidate in 2012 when he lost by a large margin to President Obama. In 2016, Romney leveled some of the harshest criticism of any Republican against nominee Donald Trump. Republicans sided overwhelmingly with Trump, and Romney was forced to apologize personally to Trump while lobbying for the Secretary of State position in the new administration, a humiliating episode that ended with Trump dismissing Romney’s candidacy entirely.

Romney has since struggled to define his relationship to the President, praising his policies and defending him against Democratic attacks while also asserting his independence from Trump and claiming that he intends to be a Republican check on the President. If Romney wins, his national stature and prominence within the Republican Party will make him a significant figure within the Republican caucus, even a possible candidate to replace Majority Leader Mitch McConnell if he were to step down in the next several years. Even absent a formal role in Senate leadership, Romney’s position as one of the few major Republicans continuing to claim any distance from President Trump has endeared him to conservative critics of Trump, and he will play a significant role in how those factions deal with the President over the next two to six years. If Wilson pulls off an upset victory or even comes close, however, the damage to Romney’s reputation could be severe, killing his comeback attempt before it even gets started.  


Utah Congressional District 4

By Ben Menzies

The contest: Utah’s 4th Congressional District

The options: Mia Love (R) and Ben McAdams (D)

What the polls say: Love has held a narrow lead for weeks, but the most recent poll shows the candidates tied at 46%.

Why this race is interesting: Republican Mia Love, the first and only black Republican woman elected to Congress, has represented this district since 2015. Although Utah is one of the most conservative states in the country, this district primarily covers the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, one of the only strongholds for Democrats in this deeply red state. Democratic challenger Ben McAdams currently serves as mayor of Salt Lake County, a position to which he was reelected in 2016 with 59 percent of the vote, the latest in an undefeated streak stretching back to his first election to the Utah State Senate in 2009.

Adding to the unusual dynamics of this race is the ambivalence with which Utah’s voters have treated President Trump. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) showed little enthusiasm for President Trump during the 2016 Republican primary, who placed a distant third with just 14 percent of the vote after Ted Cruz and John Kasich. Additionally,  prominent Mormons like Mitt Romney and Senator Jeff Flake have, at times, strongly criticized Trump as an unethical, insufficiently conservative person. Salt Lake County, in particular, gave long-shot Independent candidate Evan McMullin the largest number of votes of any county in the country. Despite Utah’s one-time antipathy toward Trump, Republicans ultimately unified behind him, and even former critics like Romney have at times supported Trump as President.

Recent polling by the Salt Lake Tribune and the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics estimated this race to be a dead heat, with Love and McAdams each notching 46 percent with 8 percent undecided. While Love is winning most Republicans, McAdams has remained competitive by winning nearly all Democrats and a large majority of independent voters. A McAdams win could signal that at least some Utah voters remain skeptical of President Trump and the Republican Party’s realignment behind him, but it is also possible that popular, strong candidates like Love and ticket-topper Romney (running for U.S. Senate) can convince Utahns to look past their distaste for the President to support candidates who favor his policies. This question will likely remain pertinent going into 2020, as any challenge to Trump within the Republican Party would begin by unifying the same conservative LDS voters who preferred McMullin in 2016.



Washington Congressional District 5

By Ben Menzies

The contest: Washington’s 5th Congressional District

The options: Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R) and Lisa Brown (D)

What the polls say: Polls have shown a very close race, with McMorris Rodgers holding a narrow lead within the margin of error.

Why this race is interesting: Cathy McMorris Rodgers, one of the top Republicans in the House of Representatives, has represented this district since 2005. The 5th district stretches across large swaths of Eastern Washington’s agriculture and timber country, including the state’s second-largest city (Spokane) and several towns like Walla Walla with multiple institutions of higher learning. While Washington is often considered a “blue state,” Republicans have remained highly competitive statewide and especially dominant in rural Eastern Washington.

In 1994, this district provided one of the signature upsets of Newt Gingrich’s “Republican Revolution,” in which popular Speaker of the House Tom Foley — a Democrat — was unexpectedly defeated by a first-time candidate after representing the district for 30 years (the first defeat of a House Speaker since 1862). Since Foley’s loss, the district has proved incredibly difficult for Democrats, with several well-funded, promising challengers ultimately failing to make headway against Republicans, including McMorris Rodgers. This year, however, polls have shown McMorris Rodgers in a dead heat with challenger Lisa Brown.

Brown, the former state senate majority leader, has been cautious in trying to appeal to moderates in this conservative district. One major issue McMorris Rodgers has raised is Brown’s support for a state income tax, which Washington lacks. As a top Republican in Congress, McMorris Rodgers has forged a conservative voting record, but she has also attempted to differentiate herself from Trump and other leading Republicans at times. She voted against a hardline immigration proposal championed by the House Freedom Caucus while also opposing calls from Democrats and immigrant advocates to hold a vote protecting recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.


Washington Initiative 1631

By Ben Menzies

The contest: Washington Initiative 1631

The options: A simple majority approval of the Clean Air, Clean Energy Initiative would establish a fee on greenhouse gas emissions to finance investments in renewable energy, sustainable land management practices, climate adaptation, and other climate-related priorities.

What the polls say: There have been no public polls of the initiative. A different carbon tax initiative in 2016 failed with only 41% of the vote even though polls showed 67% of Washington voters supported a carbon tax in theory.  

Why this race is interesting: Anyone interested in climate change should watch this race closely. As climate action has stalled at the national level, some states have attempted to fill the gap with policies that both address state-level climate issues and provide national policymakers with model approaches for climate policy. Governor Jay Inslee of Washington has made climate action a key priority, but a divided legislature and various budget crises have stymied much of his legislative agenda. In 2016, Inslee and other supporters of climate action took the issue to Washington’s voters with a “revenue-neutral” carbon tax proposal in which revenue collected by the tax would be returned to taxpayers with offsetting tax cuts. That measure, envisioned as a bipartisan approach that could attract conservatives with tax cuts instead of direct government spending, failed to attract support from many progressive groups due to its revenue-neutral laissez-faire approach to climate policy and also failed to garner much support from conservatives for whom it was designed. In response, progressive groups drafted a new initiative with an entirely different theory of climate policy.

Initiative 1361 would impose a fee on greenhouse gas emissions, rising slowly over time, and would direct the new revenues to a host of climate-related projects (akin to a “Green New Deal,” according to some commentators). Although the initiative places a lower direct price on greenhouse gas emissions than 2016’s initiative, backers of I-1361 argue these investments will produce the same (or greater) climate benefits by both taxing emissions and investing the money directly in beneficial projects. The initiative specifically requires 70 percent be spent on investments in “clean energy and air” by supporting deployment of new technologies and retraining workers in carbon-intensive industries. The remaining 30 percent would go toward adaptation measures such as improving forest resilience, investing in flood management, and helping tribal communities at risk from sea level rise to relocate (among other things). The initiative also requires a minimum of 35 percent of funds be spent in high-pollution, vulnerable, and low-income communities, with specific minimums for each category of investments.

As a political matter, backers of 1361 argue that it represents the future of climate policy because it foregrounds the benefits of climate action rather than emphasizing the costs of emissions reductions, as a tax would). They also argue that energizing a progressive base of voters around a directly redistributive policy is better politics than a moderate approach aiming to bring conservatives on board with climate action. As a matter of policy, I-1361 represents an approach focused on improving equity rather than finding the most economically efficient means of reducing emissions and adapting to climate change. For supporters of such a “climate justice” approach, this distinction is crucial because an efficiency-focused approach (like the 2016 carbon tax initiative) will fail to remedy the disproportionate harm climate change will have upon marginalized communities who have contributed the least to the problem. Some backers of the 2016 initiative, however, have criticized 1361 for prioritizing spending that may be more costly or less economically efficient, especially since it imposes a lower direct price on emissions and depends upon its investments being successful in order for its climate benefits to materialize. If 1361 passes, its backers will herald it as the model for passing future climate action by offering upfront, direct benefits. Failure would prompt further debate about how best to sell skeptical voters on climate policies. Even if 1361 passes, detractors and supporters alike will be watching its implementation closely for lessons on fusing climate policy with redistributive justice.


West Virginia

West Virginia Amendment 1

By Annie McDonald

The contest: West Virginia Amendment 1

The options: A “Yes” vote on this initiative would add an amendment to the West Virginia Constitution stating, “nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.” A “No” vote opposes.

What the polls say: Unclear — it does not appear that any official polling has been done on this measure.

Why this race is interesting: This amendment is one of three ballot initiatives across the nation this year regarding abortion rights. Abortions are currently covered by Medicaid in West Virginia, but this amendment would end that coverage, if passed. The outcome of this amendment deserves particular attention in the wake of the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, as it paves the way for denial of abortion rights in West Virginia in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned by the current court.




By Ben Menzies

The contest: Wisconsin Governor

The options: Scott Walker (R) and Tony Evers (D)

What the polls say: Most polls have shown Evers with a modest but consistent lead of between 5 to 10 points, but the two most recent polls from Marquette University and Reuters/Ipsos show either Walker or Evers with a narrow lead within the margin of error.

Why this race is interesting: In just a few years, Scott Walker has gone from the cusp of the Republican nomination for President to the brink of losing his bid for reelection. Six years before Donald Trump broke through the “Blue Wall” of the northern Midwest, Scott Walker rode a tide of Tea Party anger and Super PAC money to a narrow victory in Wisconsin. Walker quickly pushed through a highly conservative agenda that endeared him to conservative activists and Republican donors, including stripping most public employees of collective bargaining rights, actions which sparked large protests in a traditionally pro-union state. The controversy resulted in an unprecedented attempt to recall Walker in 2012, but Walker defeated the recall attempt before winning reelection in 2014. As a two-term governor of a swing state with impeccable conservative credentials, he was widely considered a top contender for the Republican nomination in 2016 at least until he started campaigning. After only a few months, Walker dropped out after cratering in the polls and failing to stand out in the crowded primary. Nonetheless, his previous electoral success and Donald Trump’s surprise win in Wisconsin seemed to bode well for his chance at a third term.

Walker’s opponent, Tony Evers, currently serves as Wisconsin’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, an evocative foil for a governor who made his political mark by battling teachers’ unions. It might be the case that voters have grown tired of Walker, as some polls have shown him behind by double-digits. Donald Trump has remained unpopular in the state despite his narrow surprise win in 2016, and Democrats have won several special legislative elections in historically Republican territory. If Democrats defeat Walker and flip the state legislature, they could fairly claim a strong mandate from voters to undo much of Walker’s highly conservative agenda. Moreover, it would be a strong signal of disapproval from a state seen as the epitome of Trump’s surprising electoral success, not to mention the home state of outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Trump’s first Chief of Staff (and former Republican National Committee chair) Reince Priebus. Polls have tightened in recent weeks, however, and if Walker can pull off a come-from-behind victory for a third term, it would likely cement his agenda and undo some of the damage done to his image during his ill-fated 2016 presidential campaign.