What to track until November 2020? A general election cheat sheet
Here are 465 things I’m watching in the Nov. 2020 elections! Congress, state governments, and powerful county and municipal officials like DAs and sheriffs are on the ballot, besides the presidential race. This cheat sheet contains races I find noteworthy for political or ideological stakes, with details. All states and D.C. represented for at least one non-federal election.
You can follow me on Twitter @taniel for more. Please consider giving this page a link or a nod if you are using it for an editorial project.
You can also download a printable PDF version of the cheatsheet for Election Night. (Updated on 11/2)
Also, visit The Appeal’s Political Report, a project that I founded, for coverage of local elections on criminal justice. Read my primers on the most important DA/sheriff races, & when it comes to ICE cooperation. A big hat-tip to, and visit, Ballotpedia and Daily Kos Elections.
What we know so far, in the aggregate:
Senate balance: +1 Dem so far
House balance: -8 GOP so far
Legislative chambers flip: GOP gains NH H & S
Dem-held (major races)
GOP-held (major races)
|Georgia | special||Runoff|
26 R, 24 D
Not listed: DE, ND, UT, WA, WV
MO, UT, and WV (GOP-held) OR , VT, and WA (Dem-held)
Secretaries of state (important for voting rights!)
Other statewide officials (except Justices: see right)
|MT: Super. of Public Instruction (faultlines on public school funding)||GOP|
|NC also votes for:|
—Agriculture Commiss. (R)
—Labor Commiss. (R)
—Insurance Commiss. (R)
—Super. of public instruction (R)
|PA: Auditor General (preview)||GOP|
|WA: Lieut. Gov. (all-D)||Heck|
|WA: Super. of public instruction (GOP-backed challenger takes issue with Dem-incumbent-backed sex ed mandate)||Dem|
|WV: Treasurer (a rare Dem official)||GOP|
|TX: Railroad Commission race is important for climate politics and energy policy||GOP|
Other statewide stakes
|AZ: Will the Corporation Commission (a powerful body) flip to Dems?||GOP|
|NY: Will WFP keep its NY ballot line, i.e. will enough NYers vote for Biden on the WFP line?||Yes|
|MI: Will Supreme Court flip to Dem? (See right for details)||Yes|
|OH: Will Supreme Court flip to Dems? (See right for details)||No|
|TX: Will Dems flip the Board of Education?||No|
Oh, and there’s the presidential election too!
If the presidential race were to go to the House, the GOP currently controls 26 House delegations & Dems control 23. See this analysis. Key elections to watch for Dems to gain or tie a delegation: AK-AL, MT-AL, KS-02, PA-01, PA-10, FL-15, FL-16, and the Texas landscape in general. For Republican opportunities, watch MN-07, MI-03, and the Iowa landscape in general.
All GOP-held districts won by Clinton:
Competive GOP-held districts won by Trump ’16:
|AK-AL (incumbent since 1973!)||GOP|
|CO-03 (Boebert’s CD)||GOP|
All Dem-held districts won by Trump ’16:
Competitive Dem-held districts won by Clinton ’16
NOTE: This list contains all Dem-held districts that Trump carried in 2016, and all GOP-held districts that Clinton carried. It also contains most House districts that are rated as at least competitive by Cook Political, UVA’s Crystal Ball, or Inside Elections.
Also see this Daily Kos Elections’ resource for how each district votes.
Expand voter eligibility
|CA: Voting rights for people on parole (#17)||YES|
|CA: Enable ppl who’ll be 18 by Nov. to vote in primaries (#18)||NO|
|San Fran.: Lower voting age to 16 for city elections (#G)|
|Oakland: Lower age to 16 for races for school board||YES|
|Winnoski, VT: Allows noncitizen voting||YES|
|OR: Decriminalize drugs (#110)||YES|
|Legalize medical marijuana:|
|OR: Legalize psilocybin (#109)||YES|
|DC: Deprioritize psilocybin||YES|
|CA: Rolls back sentencing reform (#20)||NO|
|CA: On the 2018 bail reform (#25)||NO|
|NV: Make pardon process a bit easier||YES|
|OK: Sentencing reform (#805)||NO|
|KY: Marsy’s law (context)||YES|
|KY: longer DA terms||NO|
|Portland, ME: Ban facial recognition||YES|
|Set up civilian oversight boards with subpoena power:|
—San Fran. (#D)
|Pittsburgh: Stronger civilian oversight board||YES|
|St. Louis, MO: Would allow police officers to not live in the city||NO|
|San Francisco: End mandate for minimal size of police force (#E)||YES|
|Los Angeles: Boost funding for housing, health, jobs, not L.E. (#J)||YES|
|King County, WA: May shrink sheriff powers (and make sheriff appointed)||YES|
|FL: $15 minimum wage (#2)||YES|
|Portland, ME: $15 minimum wage (#A)||YES|
|CA: Huge stakes for labor. Ends mandate gig economy workers be employees, bar their unionization (Prop 22)||YES|
|CO: Paid medical & family leave (#118)||YES|
|AZ: Min. wage for hospital workers||Off ballot|
|CA: Expand rent control (#21)||NO|
|Burbank, CA: Rent control measure||NO|
|Culver City, CA: Would undo tenant protections||NO|
|Sacramento, CA: Rent control measure||NO|
|Boulder, CO: “No eviction without representation“||YES|
|Portland, ME: New green rules for buildings (#C), new tenant protections (#D), and Airbnb restritions (#E). Previews here & here.|
|SF, CA: Bond: Enables est. 10K units of affordable housing (#K)||YES|
|San Diego, CA: Bond: Enable est. 7.5K units of affordable housing (#A)||NO (57%, needed 67.7%)|
|Baltimore, MD: |
Bond: Affordable housing program (#A)
|Raleigh, NC: |
Bond: Housing development, esp. around transit
|Initiatives to make ballot initiatives harder:|
|CO: Stay in popular vote compact (#113)||YES|
—AK (#2: Top 4 + RCV)
|NO in Mass.|
|MO: Overturn voter-approved |
redistricting reform, could exclude some residents from count (#3)
|VA: Reform redistricting process (#1). Here’s how.||YES|
|Create Top 2/Top 4 systems:|
—FL: “Top 2″(#3)
—AK: “Top 4” (and ranked choice)
|St. Louis, MO: Mix of approval voting & runoff||YES|
|Inscribe in state constitutions that only U.S. citizens can vote:|
|MS: End “electoral college”-like system in statewide races||YES|
|MO: New limits of two terms for statewide officials (already exist for Gov)||NO|
|MD: Transfer budgetary authority from Gov to legislature||YES|
—Measures to strengthen council (over mayor): (#F-#H)
—Measures to create unelected city manager position (#K)
|Sacramento, CA: Strengthens mayor power over council & city manager (#A)|
|San Francisco, CA Allows noncitizens on local advisory boards (#C)||Yes|
|See transit, housing, education sections for other tax-related measures.|
|CA: Changes to property tax structure; curbs longtime revenue-constraints (Prop 15)|
|CO: lowers income tax||YES|
|IL: Enables a progressive income tax||NO|
|LA: Enables property tax exemptions for some companies (#5)||NO|
|NM: Various bond initiatives|
|Baltimore, MD: |
—Various bond measures (for infrastracture, school buildings, etc.)
—$489 mill. bond measure (parks, health, homelessness)
—Hike property tax on “big sales”
|Nashville, TN: Koch-funded initiative to roll back property tax hike. May be on Dec. 15 ballot.|
|Arkansas: Sales tax to fund transport.||YES|
|Austin, TX: A tax plan for new light rail lines, BRT, and more||YES|
|Gwinnett Co, GA: Sales tax to fund transit expansion|
|Portland, OR: Tax plan to expand public transit||NO|
|SF, Santa Clara, San Mateo: Hike sales tax for Caltrain (#RR)||YES|
|AZ: Tax hike to fund education (#208)||YES|
|CA: Lifts ban on affirmative action in universities (and gov. contracts) (#16)||NO|
|WA: Approve or blocks law requiring sex ed (#90)||App|
|Multnomah Co., OR: Preschool for all||YES|
Energy & environmental
|AK: Increases taxes on oil companies (#1)|
|CO: Reintroduce wolves||YES|
|Denver, CO: Increases sales tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (#2A)||YES|
|NV: Increases renewable energy standard to 50% by 2030 (#6)||YES|
|CA: Consumer privacy measure (#24)|
|Removes slavery as punishment from state law [past coverage of issue]:|
|MT: Makes local gun control harder|
|MS: Approves new state flag||YES|
|NV: Repeal state ban on same-sex marriage||YES|
|Puerto Rico: Vote on statehood||YES|
|RI: Remove word “plantation” from state name||YES|
|WY: Lifts constitutional “debt ceiling” on sewer projects.||NO|
|CO | Senate||D|
|MN | House||D|
|NH | House||R|
|NH | Senate||R|
|NY | Senate||D|
|WA | Senate||D|
|AK | House (sort of)|
|AZ | House*||R|
|AZ | Senate*||R|
|FL | Senate||R|
|GA | Senate||R|
|GA | House||R|
|IA | House||R|
|MI | House*||R|
|MN | Senate*||R|
|NC | Senate||R|
|NC | House||R|
|PA | House||R|
|PA | Senate||R|
|TX | House*||R|
Can GOP gain supermajority?
|WI | House||NO|
|WI | Senate||NO|
|NE | Senate|
Can Dems gain supermajority?
|NV | Senate|
|NY | Senate|
Can Dems break GOP supermajority?
|KS | House||NO|
|KS | Senate||NO|
Trifecta Watch: Will a party run a state? Every state listed
Now under Dem control: 15
Now under GOP control: 21
Currently split: 13)
Bolded if worth watching most closely.
Noteworthy legislative races
|NATIONAL: Use Daily Kos Elections’ sheet for the key races in the hottest districts in 12 key chambers, with info on each.|
|AZ | H & S|
Dems aiming for majorities (need +3 in Sen, +2 in House). AZ Central flags key targets. In Senate, LD6, LD28, LD17. In House, LD6, LD20, LD21 LD23. GOP targeting LD4, LD17, LD18.
|CA | Senate|
—AD53 (LA), AD58 (LA) AD64 (LA) & SD11 (SF): Dem lawmakers face challenges from their left.
—AD59 (LA): Dem lawmaker faces police-funded Dem challenger from his right
|CO | H& S|
CO Newsline flags SD25 & SD8 as main Dem targets, & HD47 as a GOP target.
|CT | H & S|
—Dem-held HD48. —Dem-held SD26, with Sen. Haskell (D), who’s filed CJR bills.
|DE | H & S|
Can Dems grow majority facilitate change? Watch:
—GOP-held SD5, SD7, HD21.
|FL | Senate|
Dems need +3 to tie, which will be hard.
—Dems’ main targets: SD9 & SD39.
—Dems’ main defense: SD37.
—Also watch GOP-held SD20
|IA | House|
Dems need 4 to break GOP trifecta. Laura Belin flags: HD-16, 37, 55, 67, 73, 82, 91, 95
|IN | House|
HD37: Speaker Todd Huston (R) challenged amid education wars
|MA | Senate|
After scandal, GOP Sen. Tran vs. Dem Cronin.
|MI | House|
Dems need to +4. MIRS News lists main Dem targets as: HD38, 39, 43, 45, 61, 72, 91, 104. GOP targets: 19, 25.
|MN | Senate|
Dems need +2 to gain trifecta.
—6 main Dem targets: SD14, 25, 26, 34, 44, 56
—Also watch GOP-held SD5, 11, 20, 38 & 39.
—Dems defend Trump-won SD4, 27, 37, 54, 58
—DKE also flags Dem-held SD36, 48, 51, 53, 57.
|NC | H & S|
—House: Dems need to +6. Targets per this analysis are H9, 45, 63, 59, 82, 74, 20, & 83. Also watch Dem-held H43, 47, & 66.
—Senate: Dems need +4 to tie (+5 to flip). Main targets: SD1, 7, 11, 18, 24, 31, 39 (& keep S8, 19, 27).
|NH | Senate|
|NM | Senate|
Progressives beat 5 cons. incumbents in Dem primary. Watch generals in SD30, 28, 35
|NV | Senate|
Dems aim for supermajority, with implications for taxes. They’d need to flip one (SD15 or SD18) if they defend their seats (esp. SD 5 or SD6).
|NY | Senate|
—DEM-HELD: Police unions endorsed GOP challengers to Dem Sens in SD3, 5, 6, 40, 42. Also GOP candidates in open SD1. (Comes after police push vs pretrial reform.) Also watch Dem-held SD22.
—GOP-held: Dems need +2 for supermaj., target SD1, 4, 41, 46, 50, 51, 55, 56, 60, 61.
|PA | H & S|
—Dems need a net +9 to flip House. As assessed by DKE and WHYY, main Dem targets are HD18, 28, 29, 30, 44, 105, 106, 144, 151. 152, 160, 168, 176, 178. Main GOP targets: HD9, 25, 33, 50, 53, 55, 72, 113, 114, 118, 119, 123, 143.
—Dems need +4 for Senate. Key Dem targets: SD9, 13, 15, 49, Key GOP targets: SD37, SD45.
|RI | Legislature|
—Progressives target R-held SD34 + HD39.
—Conserv. Dem Speaker in danger in HD15.
|TN | House|
Rep. Deberry (I, was D) backed law criminalizing protests. Faces Torrey Harris (D).
|TX | House|
—Dems need +9. Baker Institute ranks as top Dem targets: HD 26, 28, 54, 64, 66, 67, 92, 93, 94, 96, 97, 108, 112, 121, 126, 134, 138. GOP targets: HD45, 47, 52, 65, 102, 113, 114, 132, 135.
—Watch HD28 ft. TGOP Rep. Gates, who’s evicting dozens during pandemic
|WA | Legislature|
—Dems could expand majority by flipping SD38.
—HD23, ft. Tarra Simmons (D), a formerly incarcerated advocate.
—HD6, where a GOP lawmaker threatened a journalist.
— HD43: Challenge from the left (from S. Lascelles) for former Speaker F. Chop
|WI | Legislature GOP hopes to flip 3 seats in each chamber for veto-proof majority. Preview in Wisconsin State-Journal flags: SD10, SD30, SD32, AD14, AD73, AD74, AD94.|
LOCAL & JUDICIAL
|CA | Los Angeles|
In nation’s biggest county, a clash on many issues tied to DA powers (sentencing, death penalty, prison pop., leg. lobbying). DA Lacey vs Gascon. Preview.
|AZ | Maricopa|
In a huge county with punitive policies, a Dem gain could advance decarceration, & change statewide politics.
|CO | District 1 (incl. Jefferson Co.)|
Open, Dems could flip. Big contrasts on drug policy with a reform-minded Dem. (Preview)
|Colorado | District 8 (incl. Larimer)|
Debate on whether to build a new jail is spilling into the DA race. (Preview.)
|CO | District 18 (incl. Arapahoe, Douglas)|
Punitive GOP incumbent term-limited. His deputy (R) facing a Dem who’s emphasized reforms. (Preview.)
|FL | Orange, Osceola (Orlando)|
Progressive Monique Worrell favored in the general after winning high-stakes primary.
|FL | Hillsborough (Tampa)|
Dem incumbent aligned with reform prosecutors vs. a GOPer criticizing him for it.
|GA | Athens|
A race that almost didn’t happen, with a reform challenger (Gonzalez) facing an ind. (Chafin) and an acting DA more skeptical of reform.
|HI | Honolulu|
In this runoff: Alm (some reform language) vs. Kau . (Most progressive candidate lost in primary.) Context.
|IL | Cook|
Kim Foxx won tough primary, now faces GOP challenger.
|IL | DeKalb|
Dem challenger to GOP incumbent running on reform, stresses she has been inspired by BLM protests.
|IL | Lake|
Dem campaigns on some reform vs GOP incumbent.
|LA | New Orleans|
A harsh DA is retiring, and activists are pressing for change & getting candidates to vow to advance reforms (to varying extents.
|KS | Johnson Co.|
In state’s biggest county, Dem public defender, against GOP DA.
|KS | Shawnee Co. (Topeka) |
Dem challenger says he’s running to reduce incarceration. Brief preview.
|MI | Oakland Co.|
A Dem challenger ousted a punitive DA in primary, now faces Republican critical of reform. Brief preview.
|NH | Hillsborough, Merrimack|
2 first-term Dems got major pushback for some reform, face GOP challengers.
Mimi Rocah ousted the Dem incumbent in primary amid police scandal; GOP opponent just dropped out.
|OH | Hamilton Co. (Cincinnati)|
Cincinnati’s punitive GOP prosecutor (Deters) faces Dem (Rucker). Preview on death penalty contrast.
|SC | Berkeley & Charleston counties|
Under-radar bid by a progressive challenger, against backdrop of major racial inequalities.
|TX | Travis Co. (Austin)|
A progressive won the Dem nomination, with one of cycle’s boldest platforms. Now favored in the fall.
|TX | Nueces Co. (Corpus Christi)|
Dem DA won on reform in 2016, now faces a GOP challenger proposing to be harsher. Brief preview.
|WI | Shawano |
A contested DA race, with a focus on system’s unfairness (see this preview), in a state with staggeringly few contested elections.
Note: for DAs & sheriff more than most offices, given the history of mass incarceration, I don’t use the prospect of partisan flip as reason enough for worthwhileness, and have worked to draw out those with bolder policy contrasts. See more here.
Also see: List of candidates running for DA.
3 justices are up for retention, 2 years after Republicans packed the state Court.
GOP efforts to not retain a Dem Justice in the 3rd district. (Sets up a 2022 election.)
Eastern Kentucky District. A Dem (Harris) vs an arch-conservative (Conley). Incumbent already ousted
Two seat: To gain control, Dems need to flip one, and defend another (i.e. go 2/2).
P. Thissen (Dem-appointed inc) vs M. MacDonald (conservative with eventuful past bid)
GOP-backed incumbent (K. Griffis) faces Dem-backed challenger (L Westbrooks), who’d be the first Black woman to be a MS Justice.
Open race. Former prosecutor (Herndon) vs. former Dem lawmaker (Fumo)
THREE elections with big stakes for civil rights. 2 Dem-held; 1 GOP-held. Dems now up 6-1.
Dems will flip court if they beat both GOP incumbents (as they did in 2018!)
On 2 highest courts, 7 GOP incumbents face Dem challengers.
Two new Inslee appointees face opponents. Some context.
|AZ | Maricopa|
Joe Arpaio’s former GOP deputy challenges the Dem sheriff (D). Preview.
|AZ | Pima|
A former Dem sheriff vs his GOP successor.
|FL | Pinellas|
GOP sheriff helped ICE, wanted to arm teachers, & more. Faces progressive challenger who wants to end that, & reduce arrests. Preview.
|FL | Brevard|
A tough on crime GOP sheriff faces a Dem public defender; it is a red county, though. Preview.
|GA | Athens|
Progressive challenger ousted the incumbent Dem, in part on ICE. Dem-leaning jurisdiction.
|GA | Cobb|
GOP sheriff faces a Dem challenger. On the line: membership in ICE’s prized 287(g) program. Preview.
|GA | Gwinnett|
Open race in a hotspot for cooperation with ICE. Dem nominee has pledged to quit ICE’s 287(g) program. Preview.
|MA | Norfolk|
GOP Sheriff vs. Dem challenger. Some contrasts on ICE, policing. Preview.
|MI | Oakland County|
Prominent ICE-friendly GOP sheriff up in populous suburban county. Also contrasts on drug policy. Brief preview.
|OH | Hamilton Co. (Cincinnati)|
Dem nominee ousted the Dem sheriff in primary, ran on curbing detention & ICE ties. Now ICE, scope of policing, an issue in general election.
|SC | Charleston|
Longtime GOP sheriff faces Dem; ICE ties, jail, at stake. Preview
|TX | Harris Co. (Houston)|
Dem incumbent, who’s pushed some reforms, faces GOP challenger. Brief preview.
|TX | Fort Bend|
A Trumpian sheriff is running for Congress, and his twin brother wants to replace him. Preview.
|TX | Tarrant (Fort Worth)|
A big one. A GOP sheriff faces Dem tide. At stake: Poor jail conditions, and ICE contracts.
Other county & municipal officials: Mayors, county executives, city councilors, commissioners, high bailiffs…
|AZ | Maricopa|
Can Dems flip the board in the 4th biggest county in the nation? Preview of races.
|AZ | Maricopa|
Dems campaign against retention of a judge (Coury) who tossed a ballot initiative to increase ed funding.
|AZ | Phoenix|
Mayor Kate Gallego (D) running for re-election, but mayoral power has really weakened. Also council races.
|CA | Los Angeles City|
—Incumbent David Ryu vs. progressive chaIlenger Nithya Raman. Preview.
—M. Ridley-Thomas faces challenger G. Yoo who opposed homelessness assistance.
|CA | Los Angeles County|
Herb Wesson vs Holly Mitchell for the board, stakes for law enforcement
|CA | San Jose|
Incumbent city council Dev Davis (formerly GOP) faces Green challenger Tonkel
|CA | Sacramento|
Progressives are trying to strengthen a ‘Sacramento Squad’ by getting Mai Vang elected to city council
|CA | Oakland|
Community/housing advocate Carroll Fife is running for city council.
|CA | San Diego Co.|
BOARD: Dems can flip board by flipping the 3rd District. (Stakes, e.g. for planning.) Nation’s 5th biggest county.
|CA | San Diego|
MAYOR: An all-Dem runoff (Todd Gloria vs. more moderate Barbara Bry). Stakes for transit.
|CA | Irvine|
Mayor Christina Shea (R) vs Farrah Khan (D)
|CA | San Francisco’s BART board & AC transit board|
Policing and equity at heart of these elections.
|CO | Arapahoe County|
Could board in this populous county flip to Dems?
|CO | Douglas County|
COVID-19 & health regulations major issues as Dems hope to break unanimous GOP board, esp. District 3.
|FL | Miami-Dade Co.|
MAYOR: Steve Bovo (R) vs. Daniella Levine Cava (D). Context. One major issue: ICE. Also, transit/spending.
District 1 (southern GA) & District 4 (northern GA) have elections for Public Serice Commission where climate & utility shutdowns are on the line.
|GOP (D1), Runoff (D4)|
|ID | Ada County|
Dems flipped this (2-1) in 2018. Now defending D2 (Lachiondo) & targeting D3.
|IL | Cook County (Chicago)|
Head judge in Chicago’s juvenile justice division, Michael Toomin, has worked for judges to be able to jail children under 13 years old. Local advocates are working against his retention.
Injustice Watch has put together a very detailed look at all local judges.
|HI | Honolulu|
R. Blangiardi (running more as a moderate, endorsed by police union) vs K. Amemiya.
|LA | New Orleans|
A group of 7 public defenders is trying to win local judgeships on a reform agenda. Preview.
Two districts are voting for their officials on the public service comission, which runs utilities. See here.
|MD | Baltimore|
City council: Green Party’s Franca Muller Paz is challenging Dem incumbent Robert Stokes.
|MD | Prince George’s|
Police presence in schools at issue in school board races. Preview.
|Sweep by candidates who want to remove police|
|MN | Hennepin Co. |
4 seats are up on the county board, incl. some D/R contests & LE debates.
|NC | Wake County (Raleigh) ed board|
A slate of 5 conservatives opposed to diversity efforts aim to take over the school board.
|Far right fails|
|NY | Erie Co. (Buffalo)|
The GOP is hoping to gain back a foothold.
|OK | Oklahoma Co. |
County commission could flip to Dems if Spencer Hicks were to unseat Brian Maughan.
|OR | Portland|
Mayor Ted Wheeler, faces a challenger (Sarah Iannarone) from the left.
|UT | Salt Lake County|
GOP challenger vs. Dem incumbent mayor, preview.
|VA | Richmond|
Mayor Levar Stoney faces re-election.
|VT | High bailiffs|
Numerous candidates are running to promote criminal justice reform via this obscure high bailiff’s office.
Attention to an at-large city council seat, amid efforts to push council left. Many progs. coalesced around E. Lazare. See guides in WaPo & DCist.
|Washington, D.C. |
A candidate with ties to far-right groups seeks to become an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) in a Black neighborhood, WaPo reports.
|WA | Pierce Co.|
Dems may flip county executive position.