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National Politics|By Charlie Cook, November 24, 2015

Last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris amounted to a 9/11 event for the French and, for Americans, a vivid memory of that horrific day 14 years ago. It also reminds us that we could very well have another—experts say it’s almost inevitable. So, what effect will the tragedy in Paris have on the U.S. presidential campaign and next year’s election? The short answer: Ask me again in 50 weeks.

Lousiana Senate|By Jennifer Duffy, November 23, 2015

On Saturday, Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter soundly lost an open race for Governor. After the polls closed, he not only conceded the contest to Democrat John Bel Edwards, but he announced the end of his political career. Vitter said that he would finish out his term in the Senate, but that he would not run for re-election next year. This creates the sixth open seat of the cycle, but...

Senate Overview|By Jennifer Duffy, November 20, 2015

The election is now just a mere 354 days away. While this cycle’s 34 Senate races got off to a slow start compared with recent elections, they began to ramp up over the summer and into the fall. The Senate race landscape is now much clearer, even if the overall political environment isn’t yet.

House Overview|By David Wasserman, November 20, 2015

Retirement season is upon the House, and so far the numbers are pretty even: there are 13 Democratic open seats and 15 GOP open seats, although there could be 10-20 more before the cycle is over. The good news for Democrats is that just two of their 13 open seats are at serious risk of falling to Republicans, while five of Republicans' 15 open seats are at risk of falling to Democrats.

National Politics|By Charlie Cook, November 20, 2015

Few would ar­gue with the premise that, in the five months since June, pres­id­en­tial polit­ics have be­haved in ex­traordin­ary ways. The “Feel The Bern” surge of Bernie Sanders on the left and the rise of Don­ald Trump and, more re­cently, Ben Car­son on the right—none of these were de­vel­op­ments that any­one pre­dicted a year or two ago.

National Politics|By Amy Walter, November 18, 2015

In the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris there's been a lot of chatter here in DC about their impact on the 2016 elections. Will the "outsiders" be pushed out as voters flock to more traditional and experienced politicians? Will terrorism and security, two issues that have fallen to the bottom of the concern list for voters in recent years, rise back to the top? It's obviously too...

POLITICAL ADVERTISING|By Elizabeth Wilner, November 17, 2015

Beyond the phenomenally lopsided overall spending, a look at past ad buys and reservations of future ad time reveals some other potential medium-by-medium effects of a less contested Democratic primary versus the mosh pit that is the Republican race. Just four Democratic advertisers have been up on TV or radio in this month alone. On the Republican side? Fifteen.

Political Books|By Michael Nelson, November 17, 2015

Contemporary academic historians tend to underplay the influence of presidents. The new orthodoxy in Civil War history, for example, is that Abraham Lincoln didn’t free the slaves; instead, enslaved people won their own freedom. Popular historians typically overcorrect. When you hear a title like Destiny and Power, for example, who comes to mind? Churchill? Napoleon? Julius Caesar? Joan...

Louisiana Governor|By Charlie Cook, November 13, 2015

To be honest, I am very surprised that the Louisiana governor’s race has become hotly contested. I didn’t expect that we would move it to the Toss Up as we did on October 26 just after the primary, and even more so now that we are calling Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter the underdog, and moving the rating to Lean Democrat. This rating change says little about the overall politics of...

  • In 2014, a good political environment, a weakened Democratic President and several open Democratic-held seats in red states combined to give Senate Republicans a nine-seat gain and the majority. The 2016 cycle looks very different cycle for Republican, as the tables are turned. Republicans will defend 24 seats to just 10 for Democrats. Of those 24 seats, President Obama carried the states of five of them in 2012 by at least five points, and carried two more by one and three points. Neither party may be helped by open seats as we suspect there won’t be many retirements this cycle, particularly compared to the last three cycles. Democrats need five seats – or four if they retain the White House – to take back the majority. It’s still very early, but winning back the majority may prove more challenging than it looks today.

  • The current House breakdown is 246 Republicans, 188 Democrats and one vacancy. Thanks to President Obama's standing and the GOP's natural midterm turnout advantages, Republicans gained 13 seats in 2014, their largest share of seats since 1928. Democrats are likely to bounce back somewhat in the presidential cycle of 2016. But given how well sorted-out the House has become, netting the 30 seats they need for a majority looks like an unrealistic goal today. Today, our outlook is a Democratic gain in the 5-10 seat range.

  • The 2016 cycle will host 15 gubernatorial contests, including three races in 2015, and 12 in 2016, including the special election in Oregon. Democrats are defending nine seats to six for Republicans. The most interesting races of 2015 will be the open seats in Kentucky and Louisiana. In 2016, the marquis contests will be the open seat in Missouri and in North Carolina where GOP Gov. Pat McCrory is seeking a second term. With so few seats on the ballot, neither party is likely to make significant gains or sustain big losses.

New York  |  District 22  |  Hanna (R)

Likely R
Solid R

New York  |  District 11  |  Donovan (R)

Likely R
Solid R

New Mexico  |  District 02  |  Pearce (R)

Likely R
Solid R

Louisiana  |  Governor  |  Jindal (R)

Lean D
Toss Up

Utah  |  District 04  |  Love (R)

Lean R
Likely R

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    – David Broder, The Washington Post

Charlie Cook's Column

Of Paris and (Would-Be) Presidents

November 24, 2015

Last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris amounted to a 9/11 event for the French and, for Americans, a vivid memory of that horrific day 14 years ago. It also reminds us that we could very well have another—experts say it’s almost inevitable. So, what effect will the tragedy in Paris have on the U.S. presidential campaign and next year’s election? The short answer: Ask me again in 50 weeks.

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Amy Walter, National Editor

Amy Walter is the Cook Political Report's National Editor. In her weekly column, Walter provides analysis of the issues, trends, and events that shape the national political environment.
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Elizabeth Wilner, Senior Contributing Editor

Elizabeth Wilner is Senior Vice President of Kantar Media Ad Intelligence with oversight of its Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG), Contributing Editor of The Cook Political Report, and former Political Director of NBC News. Wilner's weekly segment, "On Points," covers the fast-growing junction of advertising, Big Data, and politics.
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Michael Nelson, Contributing and Book Editor

Michael Nelson, Rhodes College. Mike writes about the American presidency and presidential elections and has reviewed books frequently for publications ranging from the American Prospect to the Weekly Standard. He has won the American Political Science Association’s Richard E. Neustadt Award for best book on the presidency and executive politics in 2015 and the Southern Political Science Association’s V. O. Key Award for best book on southern politics in 2007.
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The Cook Political Report Partisan Voting Index (PVI)

The 2014 Partisan Voting Index

Since 1997, the Cook Political Report's Partisan Voting Index (PVI) has been the gold standard in measuring how each state and district performs at the presidential level relative to the nation as a whole. Click below for the breakdown of PVI for every House district in the 113th Congress.
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The Rhodes Cook Letter

In the latest issue of the Rhodes Cook Letter, Rhodes takes a close look at the 2014 election.

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The 2016 Political Environment

Updated November 25, 2015 | As the 2016 election cycle begins to take shape, the Cook Political Report has identified several metrics worth monitoring between now and Election Day.

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The Almanac of American Politics