Mostly smoke, and little fire, from Republicans to Democrats on impeachment
GOP hasn’t yet launched a credible campaign against 8 of the 13 vulnerable Democrats it is targeting

ANALYSIS — Republicans are publicly celebrating impeachment as a political boon and trying to hold House Democrats’ feet to the fire with television ads and protests. But without credible challengers, it’s little more than expensive hot air.

Last week, President Donald Trump’s campaign manager bragged about turning up the heat on a freshman Democrat who supports the impeachment inquiry, and the Republican National Committee is on television targeting a dozen Democratic members for supporting it. But in most instances, there’s a lot of smoke and little fire, considering Republicans are still searching for credible candidates in many of the districts.

Rating change: Upstate New York race less vulnerable for GOP with Collins resignation
Without indicted incumbent in 27th District, Democratic takeover looks unlikely, but ballot questions remain

Not all House departures are created equal. New York Rep. Chris Collins’ resignation should make it easier for Republicans to hold his Buffalo-area sea because the GOP should have a nominee without legal problems. But New York’s multiple ballot lines could complicate the special election to replace the congressman, as they have in past contests.

Collins, who was reelected last year proclaiming his innocence on charges of insider trading, submitted his resignation Monday, a day before he is expected to change his not guilty plea.

Jedi impeachment politics: Wrong your conventional wisdom could be
Not enough data to know how public will react

ANALYSIS — As House Democrats move closer to impeaching President Donald Trump, I’m amazed by the collective certainty about how the storyline will play out. It’s assumed that history will repeat itself. But I can’t help but think of Luke Skywalker’s words of caution.

Up to this point, everyone is assuming that if Democrats pursue Trump’s impeachment, they risk a repeat of 1998, when House Republicans began impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton and Democrats subsequently gained five seats in the midterm elections.

Far from being ignored, Andrew Yang receives too much attention
So do Gabbard, Williamson and Sanders, given their likelihood of winning nomination

More than 250 people running for the Democratic presidential nomination are polling within a couple of points of Andrew Yang, but that won’t stop his Yang Gang and some members of the media from calling for the press to pay more attention to their candidate.

Blaming a losing candidate’s lack of traction on the media is a time-honored tradition. But Yang, Marianne Williamson, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and even Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders get more attention than they deserve given their likelihood of winning the Democratic nomination.

9 things I think I think after the North Carolina redo election
GOP efforts to hold 9th District unlikely to be replicated in other suburban races

Nearly a year after the two parties fought to a draw in North Carolina’s 9th District, Republican Dan Bishop and Democrat Dan McCready ended with another close race. Bishop prevailed 51 percent to 49 percent, with absentee ballots remaining to be counted.

A win is better than a loss (and the result affects the fight for the majority), but the overall lessons from the race should not be dramatically different whether a candidate finishes narrowly ahead or behind. And even if the results aren’t predictive, there are implications for the 2020 elections.

Rating changes in four House races, but Flores’ seat isn’t one of them
Outlook shifts toward Democrats in Texas and Iowa races, and toward GOP in one California contest

It’s not a question of if more House Members will retire; it’s a question of when and where.

On Wednesday, Rep. Bill Flores became the fifth Texas Republican to announce he will not seek reelection or another office in 2020. Of the 13 members retiring in 2020, 11 are Republicans and two are Democrats. And more exits are likely to come, considering that, on average, 23 members have retired each election cycle, going back to the 1970s.

In our podcast, we’re gone to Carolina
Political Theater, Episode 91

It’s September 2019, but we’re only just now wrapping up the 2018 election. Voters in North Carolina’s 9th District will finish it all off on when they decide on Sept. 10 whether Democrat Dan McCready or Republican Dan Bishop will represent them in Congress. 

The lagging special election was necessary because the North Carolina State Board of Elections threw out last fall’s initial results because of election fraud tied to the Republican effort and its nominee, Mark Harris. 

Inside Elections poll: Democrat McCready leads GOP’s Bishop in NC redo election
8 percent ‘unsure’ as vote nears for seat left vacant since 2018 election was thrown out

Democrat Dan McCready has a narrow advantage over Republican Dan Bishop heading into the final days of the Sept. 10 redo election in North Carolina’s 9th District, according to a new bipartisan poll for Inside Elections

The survey, conducted from Monday through Wednesday by Harper Polling and Clarity Campaign Labs, showed McCready ahead of Bishop, 46 percent to 42 percent, with two third-party candidates receiving a combined 3 percent. Some 8 percent of voters were “unsure” and the survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.19 percentage points.

Isakson’s decision adds competitive seat to 2020 Senate battleground
Republicans still favored to hold both Senate seats in Georgia

Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson’s resignation adds another seat to the 2020 Senate battleground and gives Democrats another takeover opportunity in their road to the majority.

According to state law, GOP Gov. Brian Kemp will appoint a senator, who will then stand for election in November 2020 to fill the remainder of Isakson’s term. Isakson was most recently reelected in 2016, 55 percent to 41 percent, and would have been up again in 2022.

Trump vulnerability in a primary is more fiction than fact
President has solid GOP support, a huge cash advantage, and it’s already late in the process

Former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford is seriously considering challenging President Donald Trump in the primary, even though he called the idea “preposterous” on many levels. It’s a rare moment when you should take a politician at his word.

Even if you look past the huge hurdles of the president’s popularity among the Republican base and the humongous fundraising advantage, the anti-Trump movement is simply running out of time, and it’s arguably too late to mount a serious presidential campaign at all.

Trump missing an opportunity to burnish his legacy with gun law
If anyone in GOP can stand up to the NRA, it's the outsider president

President Donald Trump has forgotten who holds the power within the Republican Party.

There’s a perception that the National Rifle Association has an impenetrable lock on base Republican voters and thus is holding GOP members of Congress captive. But Trump is the one person who has the capital with the GOP base to oppose the NRA and get something done on guns. And the president is missing an opportunity to add a legacy item to his time in office and even help his chances of winning a second term.

GOP will need more than promoting their preferred opponent to affect Democratic primaries
Republicans appear to be taking a page from Democrat Claire McCaskill’s winning 2012 Senate campaign

A Democratic state senator bragged this week about drawing the attention of national Republicans in the competitive race for U.S. Senate in North Carolina. But Erica Smith shouldn’t wear the attacks as a badge of honor. And if Republicans really want to make an impact, they’re going to have to spend a lot more money.

“The @NRSC has purchased a billboard attacking me in Raleigh — calling me ‘too liberal,’” Smith tweeted Monday, referring to the National Republican Senatorial Committee effort. “I am the only candidate that they are spending money against — it shows you who @ThomTillis is worried about. Can’t attack @CalforNC bc no one knows what he stands for.”

After Marchant retirement, race for Texas’ 24th District remains competitive
With Trump atop the 2020 ticket, GOP can’t feel comfortable about attracting suburban voters

Another day, another Republican retirement.

It might seem like there’s a flood of members announcing they will not seek reelection, but we’re still not close to historical levels. And the location of the open seats matters more than the timing.

How recent House retirements change the battleground in Texas and Michigan
More members will follow Olson and Mitchell and forego 2020 if historical trends hold

Republican Reps. Pete Olson of Texas and Paul Mitchell of Michigan recently announced they will not seek reelection, but how much do their decisions affect the fight for the House majority? Open seats are usually more vulnerable than districts where an incumbent is seeking another term, but these two retirements aren’t political earthquakes.

First, we are still well below the historical average for retirements, so there will be plenty more of these stories to come.

‘Extremists’ in Virginia candidate’s video include Democrats and fellow Republicans
Afghanistan veteran vying to challenge Rep. Jennifer Wexton swipes at McConnell, King, Meadows

It’s no surprise that a Republican congressional candidate used Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a campaign video. But including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and two other GOP House members as targets for criticism is a novel approach for a Republican candidate.

GOP strategists knew they needed an atypical candidate to have any chance of recapturing Virginia’s 10th District. As a double amputee Marines Corps veteran of the war in Afghanistan, Rob Jones fits that bill.

Drawing new congressional lines won’t be easy for Democrats
Maps must withstand shifts in attitudes, and parties should not assume Trump era patterns continue

The next round of redistricting shouldn’t sneak up on anyone. After coverage of the recent Supreme Court decisions and renewed interest in state-level races because of their role in selecting who draws district lines, parties and political observers are tuned in to the mapmaking process. But there’s one aspect that hasn’t been discussed enough.

In short, too much success can be a bad thing when it comes to drawing the next set of political maps.

Trump admits he was a liability in 2018
New book states president deliberately hindered Minnesota Republican Erik Paulsen’s reelection

President Donald Trump still won’t publicly admit he was a significant factor in Republicans’ loss of the House in 2018. But a behind-the-scenes moment captured in a new book suggests he is more politically self-aware than he leads on.

We know that Trump doesn’t admit mistakes or commit sins. It’s not in his personality or good for his brand to acknowledge any weakness. But, according to Politico’s Tim Alberta, the president endorsed a vulnerable member of Congress in an intentional effort to weaken his candidacy.

Fallout in Michigan and beyond from Justin Amash’s breakup with GOP
Complications force 3rd District race to move from Solid to Leans Republican

Republicans didn’t shed a tear after Rep. Justin Amash jumped the GOP ship last week. But their exuberance over being rid of the Michigan congressman might be masking the impact his departure will have on their efforts to recapture the House majority and regain control of his 3rd District.

As more of a libertarian than a Republican, Amash has never fit comfortably within the GOP conference, and he made his departure official with a July 4 op-ed in The Washington Post declaring his independence from the Republican Party.

Rating changes: Texas and Minnesota Senate races shift the Democrats’ way
Cornyn remains the favorite, but defending his seat could cost the GOP resources

The fight for Senate control is still taking shape and, less than 16 months before Election Day, two states appear to moving in the Democrats’ direction on the battlefield.

Donald Trump came within about a point and a half of winning Minnesota in the 2016 presidential election. But that might be the new high-water mark for Republicans, and the GOP will have a hard time unseating Democratic Sen. Tina Smith in 2020.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and run somewhere else
Comeback trail for 2020 candidates sometimes means running in a different district — or state

A handful of House candidates this cycle aren’t letting previous losses — or geography — get in the way of another congressional run. Dozens of members of Congress lost races before eventually winning, but some politicians are aiming their aspirations at different districts, and in some cases different states, to get to Capitol Hill.

In Arizona, Democrat Hiral Tipirneni lost two races to Republican Debbie Lesko in the 8th District last year, including a special election. This cycle, she is seeking the Democratic nomination in the neighboring 6th District to take on Republican incumbent David Schweikert.