Sabato's Crystal Ball

Center for Politics Poll Finds Public Ranks Kennedy Highest Among Recent Presidents

Survey conducted by Reuters/Ipsos coincides with upcoming Kennedy centennial 

UVA Center for Politics May 25th, 2017


As the nation marks the 100th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s birth on Memorial Day, a University of Virginia Center for Politics-Reuters/Ipsos poll finds that Americans rate JFK more highly than other recent presidents.

The online poll of American adults found that of the presidents who served from 1950-2000 (Dwight Eisenhower through Bill Clinton), Kennedy received higher average ratings than any other president, and more than half of respondents (53%) named him as one of the one or two best presidents in that timeframe. Additionally, 87% of respondents expressed at least mildly favorable views of Kennedy.

Table 1: “Would you say you are generally favorable or unfavorable towards President John F. Kennedy?”

The rating of Kennedy as one of the best recent presidents improved from 2012, when the Center for Politics partnered with Hart Research Associates on a different online poll that used identical question wording as part of the Center’s Kennedy Half Century project. The percentage of respondents naming JFK as one of the best presidents in the second half of the 20th century increased from 41% to 53% (Table 3). The numbers for most of the other presidents stayed stable, with the exception of Bill Clinton, whose rankings declined significantly (as shown in both tables 2 and 3).

Table 2: Mean rating that respondents gave each president who served from 1950-2000 on a scale from zero (one of our country’s worst presidents) to 10 (one of our country’s best presidents)

Table 3: “From that same list of presidents who served between 1950 and 2000, which one or two stand out in your mind as the best president(s)?”

When asked to choose selected recent or historical presidents to hypothetically serve as the country’s next president, Kennedy (22%) rated similarly with Ronald Reagan (23%) and Barack Obama (21%). Here again, Clinton’s numbers declined significantly from the previous 2012 survey. It is worth noting when comparing the 2017 poll to the 2012 poll on this particular question that it was posed open-ended in 2012, allowing respondents to name any president they liked, while in 2017 only the top ranked responses from 2012 were provided to respondents to choose from.

Table 4: “Suppose you could bring back any of the U.S. presidents, living or dead, to be the next president of the United States. Who would you most want to be the next president?”

While it’s hard to pinpoint specific reasons for Kennedy’s improvement from the previous poll, it’s possible that there are some additional, residual good feelings about Kennedy engendered by all the JFK coverage that occurred during the anniversary of his assassination in 2013 and as part of the current emphasis on his centennial.

Bill Clinton has suffered a sharp decline since 2012. Whereas 33% of respondents rated him as a 9 or 10 on a 0 to 10 scale five years ago, our new poll finds just 16% rate him as a 9 or 10. This shift comes from an across-the-board partisan decay in positive views of the former president, with more Democrats, Republicans, and Independents rating Clinton more unfavorably. Bill Clinton’s worsened public perception may mirror the similar decline of his wife, Hillary Clinton, during and in the aftermath of a brutal, unsuccessful presidential election.

In 2012, Hillary Clinton had strong favorability nationally while she was secretary of state. Once she re-entered the political fray and was the target of negative attacks for two years, her numbers eroded significantly, and that erosion appears to apply to her husband as well.

Some other observations from the poll:

— When given a number of words and phrases used to describe Kennedy, respondents generally thought positive descriptors applied to Kennedy more than negative ones. However, respondents in this poll were not as impressed by JFK in several ways as respondents in 2012. Asked to rate different terms and phrases to describe Kennedy on a scale from 0 to 10, 50% said “charismatic” was a 9 or 10 versus 61% in 2012, 39% rated “courageous” as a 9 or 10 compared to 48% in 2012, and 47% rated “patriotic” as a 9 or 10 versus 56% in 2012.

— JFK received the most bipartisan support from respondents regarding which former president (living or dead) they would want to be the next president. Ronald Reagan led on this question overall with 23%, followed by Kennedy with 22%, and Barack Obama 21%, as noted above. But JFK’s support was more evenly split among partisans, with 25% of Democrats and 16% of Republicans choosing him. This support contrasted with Reagan and Obama: 50% of Republicans picked Reagan while only 6% of Democrats did, and 38% of Democrats picked Obama while only 7% of Republicans did. And Kennedy was also the most common answer for Independents, with 27% selecting him versus 18% for Obama and 17% for Reagan.

— Obama’s improvement and Clinton’s decline on the question of which former president respondents would like to see be the next president of the United States was driven by changes among Democrats. In the 2012 poll, while Obama was seeking his second term, 41% of Democratic respondents picked Bill Clinton as the person they preferred to be the next president, while just 10% picked Obama. In the new polling, 38% of Democrats picked Obama while only 11% picked Clinton.

— Respondents had a good sense of when Kennedy served: 78% were able to accurately select “the early 1960s” as when he served in office. Unsurprisingly, older respondents scored better on this question than younger ones: 95% of those over 60 knew when Kennedy served, while just 60% of those aged 18-29 did.

This Ipsos poll was conducted May 11-15, 2017 on behalf of Thomson Reuters and the University of Virginia Center for Politics. For the survey, a sample of roughly 1,472 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. These findings are compared to 2012 results with a sample of 2,009 adults for an online poll conducted June 7-13, 2012 by Hart Research Associates. Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online polls, so the precision is measured using a credibility interval. The 2017 poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points for all respondents. The 2012 poll had a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. For more on the methodology, see here.

The full poll is available here and the crosstabs are here. The 2012 poll is available here and the crosstabs here.

In addition to the poll, the Center for Politics is marking the Kennedy centennial through a series of public programs and symposia. Earlier this year, the Center hosted an exhibition of never-before-seen photos of JFK and a panel on his relationship with the media. Additional public programs and symposia planned for the year include:

— JFK 100th Birthday celebration at UVA Reunions. (June)

— Race to the Moon, featuring pioneers of America’s exploration of space. (September)

— Secret JFK Records: A look into the records of the Kennedy assassination that remained sealed from public view. (October)

The final dates and participants will be announced ahead of each event.

As part of JFK100, the Center also is partnering with PBS to produce a national television documentary featuring a selection of the unreleased photos and new stories about the life and legacy of JFK. The new documentary will serve as a sequel to the Center’s 2013 release, The Kennedy Half Century, which won an Emmy Award for Best Historical Documentary. The Center also is partnering with Coursera and iTunes U to produce a series of new lessons for its Massive Open Online Course entitled The Kennedy Half Century and taught by Center for Politics Director Larry J. Sabato, which to date has enrolled nearly 200,000 students from around the world.

Stepping Up: How Governors Who Have Succeeded to the Top Job Have Performed Over the Years

2018 could see a number of successor governors running for full terms in office

Geoffrey Skelley, Associate Editor, Sabato's Crystal Ball May 18th, 2017


On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) moved to end debate on the nomination of Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA) as the next U.S. ambassador to China. While the exact timeline is uncertain — Democrats could try to stall the appointment — Branstad’s confirmation for the diplomatic post is expected very soon. Upon becoming ambassador, Branstad will resign the Hawkeye State governorship and hand the reins over to Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), who will become Iowa’s first woman governor. Once she takes office, Reynolds is expected to run for a full term in 2018 as a gubernatorial incumbent, albeit a “successor incumbent” rather than an elected one.

She is unlikely to be the only such incumbent running in 2018. As things stand, there are already two freshly-minted governors who may fit the bill: Govs. Kay Ivey (R-AL) and Henry McMaster (R-SC) are already ensconced in their new posts due to the resignation of Gov. Robert Bentley (R-AL) and the appointment of former Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Ivey has not yet stated her plans regarding the 2018 election, but it would somewhat surprising if she didn’t run. After all, she ran in the 2010 gubernatorial race for a time before dropping down to run for lieutenant governor instead. McMaster is certain to run in 2018.

Additionally, it is possible that Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer (R-KS), a possible 2018 gubernatorial candidate, could become governor of Kansas if Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) exits office early. In March, Brownback was rumored to be in line to become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for food and agriculture. While there has been nothing further on his prospects for that appointment, Brownback’s name is now circulating as a possible choice to be the State Department’s ambassador for international religious freedom.

So there’s a chance that four (or even more) unelected gubernatorial incumbents could be on the ballot running for full gubernatorial terms next year.

With at least a handful of successor incumbents or potential ones running for governorships in 2018, we decided to examine the electoral performances of previous governors who took office via succession going back to the end of the Second World War (i.e. first election is 1946). We looked at the primary and general election showings of every governor who ascended to that post following the resignation or death of the previous governor and then ran as a successor incumbent in the next regular or special election for that governorship.

As it turns out, having a sizable number of elections involving successor incumbents in 2018 wouldn’t be that unusual. Since the first post-World War II cycle in 1946, there have been nine election cycles (presidential or midterm) with at least three successor incumbent governors seeking election. In fact, there were five such contests in 1948, 1970, and 1978, and four in 1946, 1954, and 2010. Overall, 62 successor incumbents have sought to continue on as governor in the next regular or special election for the governorship, and they are listed in Table 1 below. This table includes two less-clear-cut cases who were serving as acting governors while the sitting governors were still technically in office, but they are included because they were serving in the gubernatorial role while actively running for the office (see the Table 1 footnotes). Most recently, then-Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown (D) ascended to the governorship after the resignation of Gov. John Kitzhaber (D-OR) in 2015 and won the rest of that term in a 2016 special election; she will be up for a full term in 2018.

Table 1: Post-World War II successor gubernatorial incumbents who sought the governorship in next regular or special election

Notes: Instances where an individual succeeded to the governorship after losing a party primary for the ensuing election are not included. In the “Election type” column, “R” refers to a regular general election and “S” refers to a special general election. In the “Primary %” column, “U” signifies that the individual was unopposed in the party primary or was nominated at a party convention with or without opposition; “DC” signifies that the individual was defeated at a party convention. In the result columns, “W” indicates the individual won the primary, primary runoff, or general election; “RO” indicates that the primary election resulted in a primary runoff election; and “L” indicates that the individual lost in the primary, primary runoff, or general election. The “Party in general” column refers to the general election outcome for the successor incumbent’s political party. The data are available in spreadsheet form here.

Footnotes: 1.) Following the Three Governors Controversy, Lt. Gov. Melvin Thompson (D-GA) became governor of Georgia in March 1947. 2.) Following the election of Gov. Spiro Agnew (R-MD) to the vice presidency of the United States, state House Speaker Marvin Mandel (D-MD) was elected by the Maryland legislature to the governorship in 1969 because Maryland did not have a lieutenant governor position at that time. 3.) Lt. Gov. George Ariyoshi (D-HI) became acting governor in late 1973 because of the illness of Gov. John Burns (D-HI). Ariyoshi served in that role for the remainder of Burns’ term while running for governor in 1974. Lt. Gov. Blair Lee III (D-MD) became acting governor in the middle of 1977, when Mandel handed over executive power after being convicted for political corruption. Lee served as acting governor for 19 months and sought his party’s nomination in 1978 while in that position.

Sources: CQ Guide to Elections, OurCampaigns, Center for the American Governor, Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, state election authorities, archived state blue books, and state legislative manuals

In total, 39 of the 62 successor incumbents who sought election from 1946 to the present went on to win the general election, 14 lost in the general election, and nine failed to win their party’s nomination.  That 63% success rate is worse than the reelection rate of elected incumbent governors in the same timespan (74%) but does compare favorably to the 49% success rate of appointed U.S. senators who sought election since World War II. The better performance of successor incumbent governors versus appointed U.S. senators makes sense: Often times, the gubernatorial successor was elected in his or her own right for another statewide office such as lieutenant governor or secretary of state, whereas some appointed senators have not won a previous statewide contest — or any kind of election at all, in some cases.

Unsurprisingly, gubernatorial successors who had previously won on their own statewide ballot line have performed slightly better than those who rose from top positions in state legislatures or unelected statewide offices. The latter category includes lieutenant governors who ran on the same ballot line as the governor; many states do not have separate elections for governor and lieutenant governor. Those who had won statewide before were more successful across the board, from nomination battles to general elections. Table 2 lays out the election data for successor incumbents for governor based on whether or not the individual had held a statewide-elected office prior to acceding to the governorship. Overall, 69% of successor incumbents who had been elected statewide to their prior position went on to win a gubernatorial general election versus just 54% of those whose previous post wasn’t a statewide-elected office. This pattern suggests that someone like Reynolds — a running mate — might be more vulnerable than someone like Ivey or McMaster, who were both elected in their own right as lieutenant governors (Ivey has actually won four statewide elections). Still, both Alabama and South Carolina use primary runoff systems, so neither will have a simple road to their party nominations.

Table 2: Successor incumbent gubernatorial election performance based on prior statewide elected status

Turning more specifically to performance in nomination contests, 42 successor incumbents had primary opposition in the subsequent gubernatorial primary. They won an average of 62% of the vote and a median of 60%. But the primary vote percentage ranged from 12% to 91%. Table 3 lays out the primary and general election results for the 42 successor incumbents who faced primary opposition.

Table 3: Primary and general election outcomes based on primary performance

Note: Includes only the 42 successor incumbents who had opposition in their party primary. For candidates in runoff states, they are included based on their result in the initial primary.

With an eye on the general election, there does seem to be some connection between worse outcomes and greater competition in the primary. For successors who won 70% or more in their primaries, 83% won in November. But for those that won at least 50% but less than 70%, only 54% won in November. Of course, this is a small sample, and the three successors who managed to win their party nomination with less than 50% of the primary vote all went on to win in November. So don’t take it to the bank that winning less than 70% in a primary means a coin-flip in November for any of the 2018 successor incumbents. After all, Ivey and McMaster are both in deeply Republican states where winning the party primary/runoff may be tantamount to winning in November.

As for the nine successor incumbents who failed to get to the general election, their stories are possibly more interesting than those who won their party’s nomination. Of the nine, eight lost in primary or primary runoff elections and one at a party convention. Most of the primaries and primary runoffs were competitive, with only one successor governor losing by double digits (South Carolina’s Ransome Williams, who lost in the 1946 Democratic primary to a fellow named Strom Thurmond). Interestingly, in each of these nine cases, the loser’s party went on to win the general election. This was partly because some of the states were relatively safe for one party or the other (i.e. a Democratic Solid South state or a rock-ribbed Republican Plains or Mountain state).

A big-name intraparty opponent caused problems for some of these successors. Perhaps the best example was Gov. Albert Brewer (D-AL), who succeeded to Alabama’s governorship in 1968 following the death of Gov. Lurleen Wallace (D), wife of presidential aspirant and ex-Gov. George Wallace (D). Brewer then faced George Wallace in the 1970 Democratic primary for governor, winning a plurality of the vote, but not a majority. Wallace then narrowly edged Brewer in the primary runoff by three points and won the general election for the second of what would be his four terms as Alabama governor. South Dakota also had a former governor return to defeat a successor incumbent in 1994. Following the death of Gov. George S. Mickelson (R) in a plane crash, Gov. Walter Miller (R-SD) became chief executive of the Mount Rushmore State in 1993. But former Gov. Bill Janklow (R), who had served from 1979 to 1987, decided to run for the office again. The ex-governor defeated Miller by eight points in the party’s June 1994 primary and went on to win the general.

In a bizarre situation in Georgia, a former governor who had previously served for three months — Herman Talmadge (D) — defeated the “real” successor incumbent, Gov. Melvin Thompson (D), in the 1948 Democratic primary. Talmadge’s father, Eugene, won the Peach State’s 1946 gubernatorial election with nearly 99% of the vote, but the victor had been unwell for some time. Talmadge backers had worried about the possibility of the incoming governor dying prior to inauguration, leading them to get the younger Talmadge enough write-in votes to be a possible candidate for the state legislature to elect if the elder Talmadge passed away. Eugene Talmadge did die and his son, having finished second to his father by way of write-ins, was elected by the state legislature. However, the 1945 state constitution had created the post of lieutenant governor, which created confusion over succession. The lieutenant governor-elect, Thompson, eventually won in court to become the next governor, but not until Herman Talmadge had served as governor for three months. In the 1948 special election that followed, the younger Talmadge challenged Thompson in the Democratic primary for governor and defeated him 52%-45%, going on to easily win the general.

The lone successor incumbent to lose out at a party convention was Gov. Olene Walker (R-UT), who became the Beehive State’s first female governor in 2003 following the resignation of Gov. Mike Leavitt (R) to become EPA administrator. The long-time lieutenant governor was fairly moderate by Utah standards, and she decided to run for a full term only a couple of months before the party convention. She finished fourth at the conservative-dominated party convention in 2004, missing out on a top-two spot that would have placed her in the party primary (which Jon Huntsman went on to win).

So with all of this in mind, keep an eye on what the 2018 crop of successor incumbents decide to do and monitor just how strong their primary opposition may or may not be. They may start as favorites, but victory is no certainty.

Ratings Changes and Some “Special” Updates

Tweaks to Senate, gubernatorial, and House races

Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor, Sabato's Crystal Ball May 18th, 2017


As the White House lurches from one self-inflicted crisis to the next — “chaos is the new normal,” as the Columbia Journalism Review put it in a Tuesday morning headline — Senate Republicans have to be worried that President Donald Trump’s difficulties will imperil their opportunity to make gains next year despite a very favorable map.

While Republicans can and probably will suffer at least some erosion in their House majority next year, with significant losses possible but far from guaranteed, the GOP could end up netting Senate seats next year even in a bad environment (and could net several in a good one). A new model from RealClearPolitics suggests that even with President Trump at a weak 40% approval — his current average approval rating according to the poll aggregators — the likeliest projection would be for no net change in the Senate.

As noted previously in the Crystal Ball, Republicans are only defending nine seats this cycle (including a special election in Alabama later this year), while Democrats are defending 25 seats (including two held by independents who caucus with the Democrats). The Democrats hold 11 Senate seats in states that Trump won in the presidential race last year, and all but one of those is on the ballot this year (the exception is Michigan Sen. Gary Peters). Republicans, meanwhile, only hold three Senate seats in states Hillary Clinton won, and only one is on the ballot next year (Nevada Sen. Dean Heller).

So Republicans have many more targets than Democrats do this cycle, but invariably some of those targets will develop better for them than others. Two states where Republican prospects, never particularly strong, seem to be fading are Maine and Minnesota, where we’re making ratings changes this week. Despite Trump’s near wins in both states — Hillary Clinton only carried Maine by three points and Minnesota by just half that — incumbent Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with the Democrats, both appear to be in good position to win next year.

Klobuchar appears unlikely to face a credible opponent as Republicans focus more on the open governors’ race, and she has a significant amount of crossover appeal: A Star Tribune poll found her with a 72% approval rating (Morning Consult had her at a less impressive but still strong 63%). Klobuchar moves from Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic, and assuming she wins reelection she could very well be a presidential contender when the Democratic nomination contest begins in earnest following next year’s midterm.

In Maine, King got welcome news last week when term-limited Gov. Paul LePage (R) decided not to run. King probably would have been favored over the combustible LePage, but facing a challenge from an often underestimated sitting governor would have made the incumbent’s life much harder. State Sen. Eric Brakey (R) is running, but with credible Democrats likely to take a pass on the race, Brakey’s task is difficult against the popular King. Moreover, Maine hasn’t voted out an incumbent senator in nearly four decades (Bill Hathaway, a Democrat, was the last incumbent to lose, back in 1978). We’re moving this race from Leans Independent/Democratic to Likely Independent/Democratic.

Table 1: Crystal Ball Senate ratings changes

We have a few other updates to gubernatorial and House races this week:


Little has changed on the gubernatorial front since we announced our initial ratings last month. However, there is an additional dark horse, red state Democratic target that may be emerging.

Oklahoma, despite being one of a handful of states that have not voted Democratic for president since 1964, has had Democratic governors more often than Republican ones over the last half-century. Term-limited Gov. Mary Fallin (R) is very unpopular: A recent Sooner Poll found just 31% viewed her favorably, and the Republican-controlled legislature fared similarly. The state is facing budget troubles and many school districts are cutting back to four-day weeks. Last week, a Democrat lost a special election for a state House seat by just a 50%-48% margin in a district Trump carried by 50 points and that the previous Republican incumbent won 67%-33% just last November. So local dissatisfaction with ruling Republicans could crack the door open slightly for Democrats next year, and state House Minority Leader Scott Inman and former state Attorney General Drew Edmondson, among others, are seeking the Democratic nomination. Among the Republican possibilities are Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb and state Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones.

Oklahoma’s gubernatorial race moves from Safe Republican to Likely Republican.

Table 2: Crystal Ball gubernatorial ratings change


Just last week, we argued that close to two-thirds of the 435 House districts are essentially either too Republican or too Democratic to be credibly targeted by the other party. But there are a few exceptions: Rep. Collin Peterson (D, MN-7), for instance, holds a seat that Donald Trump won by 31 points — a seat that is significantly more Republican than any other held by Democrats.

Now there could be another exception: a competitive race in a seat that was Trump’s 13th-best district by margin of victory in the entire country.

Rep. Evan Jenkins (R, WV-3), a former Democrat who defeated longtime incumbent Nick Rahall (D) in 2014, is running against Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). That creates an open-seat race in his southern West Virginia seat, which backed Trump by 49 points in 2016, better than his 42-point statewide margin. However, many voters in this ancestrally Democratic, depopulating coal country district split their tickets: Gov. Jim Justice (D) won the district by 17 points in 2016, 10 points better than his seven-point statewide margin. If he wins reelection next year, Manchin almost certainly needs to carry WV-3, and probably by more than just a few points.

The open seat has attracted a credible Democratic candidate: newly-elected state Sen. Richard Ojeda. Ojeda, an Army veteran who unsuccessfully challenged Rahall in the 2014 primary, defeated a sitting Democratic state senator in a primary last year, which was held just a few days after Ojeda was severely beaten in an attack that may have been politically motivated. Ojeda backed Trump last year, just like so many other registered Democrats in the district. Several Republicans are either running or considering running, including ex-state Del. Rick Snuffer, who lost to Rahall in 2012, state Del. Rupie Phillips, and state Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas.

Despite West Virginia’s shift to the Republicans over the last two decades, open-seat House races in the state can be quite competitive: In 2014, Rep. Alex Mooney (R, WV-2) only won by three points in his successful bid to replace now-Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R) in the House.

Unique local considerations and the possibility of plenty of ticket-splitting in WV-3 prompts us to move this open seat from Safe Republican to Likely Republican.

We also have a couple of ratings changes in some upcoming special House elections.

Greg Gianforte (R), the GOP’s 2016 gubernatorial nominee, remains a favorite in next week’s Montana House special election over musician Rob Quist (D). However, Republican outside groups have spent about $4 million to boost Gianforte’s bid, a clear sign that they are taking the possibility of an upset quite seriously in a statewide “district” that Trump carried by 20 points. Democrats have spent a more modest $630,000, although Quist has outraised Gianforte and thus is hardly starved for resources. The election is next Thursday (May 25), and the likeliest outcome seems to be a Gianforte win in the single digits. If that’s what happened, the outcome would continue the trend of Democrats significantly outperforming Clinton’s 2016 showing in the lion’s share of federal and state legislative special elections held so far, a positive sign of Democratic voter engagement in the Trump era. A Quist win, though unlikely, would not be a complete shock given the amount of attention the race has received, and we’re moving the race to Leans Republican as a way of allowing for an upset.

Meanwhile, we’re still about a month away from the much-anticipated special House election in GA-6, where former congressional aide Jon Ossoff (D) faces former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) in what has become the most expensive House election of all time. There have been only two nonpartisan polls since the initial round of voting last month: Handel led by two points in one poll and Ossoff led by two in the other. There’s every reason to expect a very close outcome.

On Tuesday, former state Rep. Ralph Norman appeared to win a primary runoff to become the Republican nominee in SC-5, although his lead over state House Speaker Pro Tem Tommy Pope — 200 votes, or about half a percentage point — was so small that a recount looms. Assuming he is the nominee, Norman starts as a heavy favorite against Archie Parnell (D), a former Goldman Sachs tax adviser, in a race that hasn’t yet attracted national spending outside of the GOP primary. As with the other special elections, where Parnell performs in relation to Clinton is worth watching: She lost the district by 19 points last year.

There’s really no indication that Parnell has much of a shot to win. But we’re going to move this race from Safe Republican to Likely Republican anyway. Why? Because even though these special elections are different, Trump’s problems make them all alike in the sense that the GOP has to constantly be on guard for upsets.

Both the SC-5 and GA-6 specials will be on Tuesday, June 20. Given the seemingly endless flood of new and potentially damaging revelations coming out of the White House, the circumstances under which those elections are contested a month from now could be significantly different than they are now.

Table 3: Crystal Ball House ratings changes