What to track until November 2020? A general election cheat sheet


Here are 440 (and growing!) 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.

Expect list to grow, and stay tuned for a PDF version for Election Night.


You can follow me on Twitter @taniel for more.

Also, visit The Appeal’s Political Report, a project that I founded, for coverage of local elections on criminal justice. And read my primers on the most important DA/sheriff races, and the most important races when it comes to ICE cooperation. And overall, a big hat-tip to, and visit, Ballotpedia, Daily Kos Elections.


STATEWIDE

Senate

Dem-held (major races)
Alabama
Michigan
Minnesota
GOP-held (major races)
Alaska
Arizona
Colorado
Georgia
Georgia | special
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
North Carolina
Maine
Montana
South Carolina
Texas
Democrats need a net 3 seats if Biden wins, 4 if not.

Governors

DEM-HELD
Montana
North Carolina
GOP-HELD
Indiana
Missouri
New Hampshire
Vermont
Pre-election:
26 R, 24 D
Not listed: DE, ND, UT, WA, WV

Attorneys general

DEM-HELD
North Carolina
Pennsylvania
GOP-HELD
Indiana (open)
Montana (open)
Not listed:
MO, UT, and WV (GOP-held) OR , VT, and WA (Dem-held)

Secretaries of state (important for voting rights!)

DEM-HELD
North Carolina
GOP-HELD
Montana (open)
Oregon (open)
Washington
West Virginia
Not listed: MO (GOP-held), VT (Dem-held)

Other statewide officials (except Justices: see right)

MT: Super. of Public Instruction (GOP inc.; faultlines on public school funding debates)
NC also votes for:
—LG (open)
—Auditor (D inc.)
—Treasurer (R inc.)
—Agriculture Commiss. (R inc.)
—Labor Commiss. (open)
—Insurance Commiss. (R inc.)
—Super. of public instruction (open)
PA: Auditor General (preview)
WA: Lieut. Gov. (all-Dem runoff)
WA: Super. of public instruction (GOP-backed challenger takes issue with Dem-incumbent-backed sex ed mandate)
WV: Treasurer (a rare Dem official)
TX: Railroad Commission race is important for climate politics and energy policy
See right-most column for statewide Supreme Court elections

Other statewide stakes

AZ: Will the Corporation Commission (a powerful body) flip to Dems?
NY: Will WFP keep its NY ballot line, i.e. will enough NYers vote for Biden on the WFP line? Context.
MI: Will Supreme Court flip to Dem? (See right for details)
OH: Will Supreme Court flip to Dems? (See right for details)
TX: Will Dems flip the Board of Education?
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.

U.S. HOUSE

GOP-held

All GOP-held districts won by Clinton:
CA-25
NC-02
NC-06
NY-24
PA-01
TX-23
Competive GOP-held districts won by Trump ’16:
AK-AL (incumbent since 1973!)
AR-02
AZ-06
CA-04
CA-22
CA-50
CO-03 (Boebert’s CD)
FL-15
GA-07
IL-13
IN-05
MI-03
MI-06
MN-01
MO-02
MT-AL
NC-08
NC-09
NC-11
NE-02 (Omaha)
NJ-02
NY-01
NY-02
OH-01
OH-12
PA-10
TX-03
TX-10
TX-21
TX-22 (Troy Nehls!)
TX-24
VA-05
WA-03

Dem-held

All Dem-held districts won by Trump ’16:
AZ-01
GA-06
IL-14
IL-17
IA-01
IA-02
IA-03
ME-02
MI-08
MI-11
MN-02
MN-07
NV-03
NH-01
NJ-03
NJ-05
NJ-07
NM-02
NY-11
NY-18
NY-19
NY-22
OK-05
PA-08
PA-17
SC-01
UT-04
VA-02
VA-07
WI-03
Competitive Dem-held districts won by Clinton ’16
CA-10
CA-21
CA-48
FL-26
OR-04
WA-08

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.

All-Dem runoffs

CA has seven:
Only open one: CA-53 (preview of fault lines)
Inc. challenged: CA-12, CA-18, CA-29, CA-34, CA-38, CA-44
WA has one:
—WA-10, Doglio vs. Strickland

REFERENDA

Expand voter eligibility

CA: Voting rights for people on parole (#17)
CA: Enable 17-year olds to vote in primaries (#18)
San Francisco: Lower voting age to 16 for city elections (#G)
Oakland: Lower age to 16 for races for school board
Drug policy
OR: Decriminalize drugs (#110)
Legalize marijuana:
AZ (#207)
MT
NJ
SD (#A)
Legalize medical marijuana:
MS
SD (#26)
NE [off ballot]
OR: Legalize psilocybin (#109)
DC: Deprioritize psilocybin
Criminal justice
CA: Rolls back sentencing reform (#20)
CA: On the 2018 bail reform (#25)
NV: Make the parole process a bit easier
OK: Sentencing reform (#805)
KY: Marsy’s law (context)
Policing
Portland, ME: Ban facial recognition
Set up civilian oversight boards with subpoena power:
Philadelphia
San Diego
Portland, OR
Columbus, OH
San Francisco (#D)
Pittsburgh: Stronger civilian oversight board
St. Louis, MO: Would allow police officers to not live in the city
San Francisco: End mandate for minimal size of police force (#E)
Los Angeles: Boost funding for housing, health, jobs, not L.E. (#J)
King County, WA: May shrink sheriff powers (and make sheriff appointed)
Ballotpedia round-up of local policing measures covers more.
Labor
FL: $15 minimum wage (#2)
Portland, ME: $15 minimum wage (#A)
CA: Huge stakes for labor. Ends mandate gig economy workers be employees, bar their unionization (Prop 22)
CO: Paid medical & family leave (#118)
AZ: Min. wage for hospital workersOff ballot
Housing
CA: Expand rent control (#21)
Burbank, CA: Rent control measure
Culver City, CA: Would undo tenant protections
Sacramento, CA: Rent control measure
Boulder, CO: “No eviction without representation
Portland, ME: New green rules for buildings (#C), new tenant protections (#D), and Airbnb restritions (#E). Previews here & here.
San Francisco, CA: Bond: Enables est. 10K units of affordable housing (#K)
San Diego, CA: Bond: Enable est. 7.5K units of affordable housing (#A)
Baltimore, MD:
Bond: Affordable housing program (#A)
Raleigh, NC:
Bond: Housing development, esp. around transit
Election rules
Initiatives to make ballot initiatives harder:
AR (#3)
FL (#4)
ND (#4001)
CO: Stay in popular vote compact
Enable ranked-choice voting:
MA (statewide)
AK (mixed system)
Albany, CA
Eureka, CA
Bloomington, MN
Minnetonka, MN
Boulder, CO
MO: Would overturn voter-approved
redistricting reform
(#3)
VA: Reform redistricting process. Here’s how.
Create Top 2/Top 4 systems:
—FL
: “Top 2”
AK: “Top 4” (and ranked choice)
St. Louis, MO: Mix of approval voting & runoff
Inscribe in state constitutions that only U.S. citizens can vote (would preempt enabling bigger electorate in local races):
AL
CO
FL
MS: End “electoral college”-like system in statewide races
Governance rules
MO: New limits of two terms for statewide officials (already exist for Gov)
MD: Transfer budgetary authority from Gov to legislature
Baltimore, MD:
—Measures to strengthen council (over mayor): (#F-#H)
—Measures to create unelected city manager position (#K)
San Francisco: Allows noncitizens on local advisory boards (#C)
Reproductive rights
CO: 22-week abortion ban
LA: Anti-abortion declaration (#1)
Taxes, Budgets
AZ: Tax hike for high incomes (#208)
CA: Changes to property tax structure; curbs longtime revenue-constraints (Prop 15)
CO: lowers income tax
IL: Enables a progressive income tax
LA: Enables property tax exemptions for some companies (#5)
NM: Various bond initiatives
Baltimore, MD:
—Various bond measures (for infrastracture, school buildings, etc.)
San Francisco:
—$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.
See below for other tax measures specific for transportation, education, energy.
Transportation
Arkansas: Sales tax to fund transportation
Austin, TX: A tax plan for new light rail lines, BRT, and more
Gwinnett Co, GA: Sales tax to fund transit expansion
Portland, OR: Tax plan to expand public transit
SF, Santa Clara, San Mateo: Hike sales tax for Caltrain (#RR)
Find out more about transit elections on the Transport Politic!

Education

CA: Lifts ban on affirmative action in universities (and gov. contracts) (#16)
WA: Blocks law requiring sex ed (#90)
Multnomah Co., OR: Preschool for all

Energy & environmental

AK: Increases taxes on oil companies (#1)
CO: Reintroduce wolves
NV: Increases renewable energy standard to 50% by 2030 (#6)
Check out this Gizmodo primer on initiatives that matte on these issues.

Other topics

CA: Consumer privacy measure (#24)
Removes slavery as punishment from state law [past coverage of issue]:
NE
UT
MT: Makes local gun control harder
MS: Approves new state flag
NV: Repeal state ban on same-sex marriage
Puerto Rico: Vote on statehood
RI: Remove word “plantation” from state name
WY: Lifts constitutional “debt ceiling” on sewer projects.

STATE GOV.

Legislatures

Dem-held chambers
MN | House
NH | House
NH | Senate
NY | Senate
WA | Senate
AK | House (sort of)
GOP-HELD CHAMBERS
AZ | House*
AZ | Senate*
FL | Senate
GA | Senate
GA | House
IA | House
MI | House*
MN | Senate*
NC | Senate
NC | House
PA | House
PA | Senate
TX | House*
Can GOP gain supermajority?
WI | House
WI | Senate
NE | Senate
Can Dems gain supermajority?
NV | Senate
Can Dems break GOP supermajority?
KS | House
KS | Senate
Listed if competitive. Read Lou Jacobson’s ratings. | * means most competitive.

Trifecta Watch: Will a party run a state? Every state listed

Now under Dem control: 15
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Illinois
Hawaii
Maine
New JerseyDEM
New Mexico
Nevada
New York
Oregon
Rhode Island
VirginiaDEM
Washington
Now under GOP control: 21
AlabamaGOP
Arkansas
Arizona
Florida
Georgia
Idaho
Indiana
Iowa
MississippiGOP
Missouri
Nebraska
North Dakota
Oklahoma
Ohio
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
West Virginia
Wyoming
Currently split: 13)
Alaska
Kansas*
Kentucky
LouisianaSplit
Maryland*Split
Massach.*Split*
MichiganSplit
Minnesota
Montana
North Carolina
New Hampshire
Pennsylvania
Vermont*
Wisconsin
* (Starred) if, in split situation, non-Gov. party has a leg. super-majority.

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 her right
CT | H & S
—GOP-held HD17/132
—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:
—Dem-held SD14
—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 for chamber. 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 to flip 2 of SD1, 31, 24, 11, 7 (& keep S8, 19, 27).
NH | Senate
—GOP-held SD1
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
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.)
PA | H & S
—Dems have an outside shot at flipping House. Need 9 of these, as assessed by DKE: HD28, 29, 30, 44, 105, 106, 152, 168, 176, 178, 160.
—Dems need +4 for Senate.
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 to flip a net of 9 seats. Watch, per this analysis: HD134, 108, 112, 138, 66, 67, 26, 64, 121, 96, 54, 97, 14, 92, 93, 28, 94, 126, 32, 29, 129, 133
—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

Prosecutors

CA | Los AngelesCriminal justice reform is on the line, DA Jackie Lacey vs George Gascon. A preview.
AZ | MaricopaIn a county with punitive policies, a Dem gain could advance decarceration. GOP incl. Adel faces Dem Gunnigle.
CO | District 1 (includes Jefferson Co.)Preview: Dems could flip. Big contrasts on drug policy.
CO | District 18 (includes Arapahoe, Douglas)Preview: Reform-touting Dem vs. deputy DA under retiring punitive GOP incumbent.
FL | OrlandoProgressive Monique Worrell is favored in the general after winning a high-stakes primary.
HI | HonoluluRunoff: S. Alm (some reform language) vs. M. Kau (who’s rejected reform premises). Context.
IL | CookKim Foxx won tough primary, now faces GOP challenger.
IL | DeKalbDem challenger campaigning on reform vs GOP incumbent. Preview
IL | LakeDem challenger campaigning on reform vs GOP incumbent. Context.
LA | New OrleansA harsh DA is retiring, and activists are pressing for change. [May go to runoff.] Detailed preview.
KS | Johnson Co.In state’s biggest county, Dem challenger is a public defender, against GOP DA.
KS | Shawnee Co. Includes 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, Merrimack2 first-term Dems got major pushback for some reform, face GOP challengers.
NY| WestchesterMimi Rocah ousted the Dem incumbent in primary amid police scandal; GOP opponent just dropped out.
OH | Hamilton Co. (Cincinnati)Cincinnati’s punitive GOP prosecutor (Fanon) faces Dem (Rucker). Preview on death penalty contrast.
SC | Berkeley & Charleston countiesUnder-radar bid by a progressive challenger. Q&A/context.
TX | Travis Co. (Austin)A progressive won the Dem nomination & is now heavily 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.
Elections already settled earlier this year in Portland, OR, in Ann Arbor, MI, in Tucscon, AZ, in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, likely in St. Louis, MO, and in Houston.

Also see: List of candidates running for DA.

Supreme Courts

Arizona3 justices are up for retention, 2 years after Republicans packed the state Court.
KentuckyEastern Kentucky District. A Dem (Harris) vs an arch-conservative(Conley). Incumbent already ousted.
MichiganTwo seat: To gain control, Dems need to flip one, and defend another (i.e. go 2/2).
MinnesotaP. Thissen (Dem-appointed inc) vs M. MacDonald (conservative with eventuful past bid)
MississippiGOP-backed incumbent (K. Griffis) faces Dem-backed challenger (L Westbrooks), who’d be the first Black woman to be a MS Justice.
NevadaOpen race. Former prosecutor (Herndon) vs. former Dem lawmaker (Fumo)
North CarolinaTHREE elections with big stakes for civil rights. 2 Dem-held; 1 GOP-held. Dems now up 6-1.
OhioDems will flip court if they beat both GOP incumbents (as they did in 2018!)
TexasOn 2 highest courts, 7 GOP incumbents face Dem challengers.
WashingtonTwo new Inslee appointees face opponents. Some context.
See DKE’s nationwide analysis on gerrymandering stakes.

Sheriffs

AZ | MaricopaJoe Arpaio’s former GOP deputy challenges the Dem sheriff (D). Preview.
AZ | PimaA former Dem sheriff is challenging GOP successor.
FL | PinellasA GOP sheriff has helped ICE, wanted to arm teachers, & more. Faces progressive challenger who wants to end that, & reduce arrests. Preview.
FL | BrevardA tough on crime GOP sheriff faces a Dem public defender; it is a red county, though. Preview.
GA | AthensProgressive challenger ousted the incumbent Dem, in part on ICE. Dem-leaning jurisdiction.
GA | CobbGOP sheriff faces a Dem challenger. On the line: membership in ICE’s prized 287(g) program. Preview.
GA | GwinnettOpen race in a hotspot for cooperation with ICE. Dem nominee has pledged to quit ICE’s 287(g) program. Preview.
MA | NorfolkGOP Sheriff vs. Dem challenger. One contrast: whether sheriffs should be allowed to honor ICE detainers. Preview.
MI | Oakland CountyProminent 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 | CharlestonGOP sheriff faces Dem challenger with ICE cooperation at stake. Preview
TX | Harris Co. (Houston)Dem incumbent, who’s pushed some reforms, faces GOP challenger. Brief preview.
TX | Fort BendA 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 Co.Can Dems flip the board in the 4th biggest county in the nation? Preview of races.
AZ | Maricopa Co.Dems campaign against retention of a judge (Coury) who tossed a ballot initiative to increase ed funding.
AZ | PhoenixMayor 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 CountyHerb Wesson vs Holly Mitchell for the board, stakes for law enforcement
CA | San JoseIncumbent city council Dev Davis (formerly GOP) faces Green challenger Jake Tonkel
CA | SacramentoProgressives are trying to strengthen a ‘Sacramento Squad’ by getting Mai Vang elected to city council
CA | OaklandCommunity/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 DiegoMAYOR: An all-Dem runoff (Todd Gloria vs. more moderate Barbara Bry). Stakes for transit.
CA | IrvineMayor Christina Shea (R) vs Farrah Khan (D)
CA | San Francisco’s BART board & AC transit boardPolicing and equity at heart of these elections.
CO | Arapahoe CountyCould board in this populous county flip to Dems?
CO | Douglas CountyCOVID-19 & health regulations major issue as Dems hope to break unanimous GOP board.
FL | Miami-Dade Co.MAYOR: Steve Bovo (R) vs. Daniella Levine Cava (D). Context. One major issue: ICE. Also, transit/spending.
GeorgiaDistrict 1 (southern GA) & District 4 (northern GA) have elections for Public Serice Commission where climate & utility shutdowns are on the line.
ID | Ada CountyDems flipped this (2-1) in 2018. Now defending D2 (Lachiondo) & targeting D3.
IL | Cook County (Chicago)Injustice Watch has put together a very detailed look at all local judges.
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.
HI | HonoluluR. Blangiardi (running more as a moderate, endorsed by police union) vs K. Amemiya.
LA | New OrleansA group of 7 public defenders is trying to win local judgeships on a reform agenda. Preview.
LouisianaTwo districts are voting for their officials on the public service comission, which runs utilities. See here.
MD | BaltimoreCity council: Green Party’s Franca Muller Paz is challenging Dem incumbent Robert Stokes.
MD | Prince George’s CountyPolice presence in schools at issue in school board races. Preview.
MN | Hennepin Co. 4 seats are up on the county board, incl. some D/R contests & LE debates.
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 | PortlandMAYOR: Mayor Ted Wheeler, faces a challenger (Sarah Iannarone) from the left.
UT | Salt Lake CountyGOP challenger vs. Dem incumbent mayor, preview.
VA | RichmondMayor Levar Stoney faces re-election.
VT | High bailiffsNumerous candidates are running to promote criminal justice reform via this obscure high bailiff’s office.
Washington D.C.Attention to the at-large city council seat, amid efforts to push council left. See guides in WaPo & DCist.
WA | Pierce Co.Dems may flip county executive position.