2020 Primary Scorecard
Throughout the 2020 primaries, Third Way tracked primary endorsements organizations across the ideological spectrum from left to center-left. We focused on endorsements of non-incumbents in federal elections. This is a continuation of a project from 2018.
Similar to 2018, primary voters tended to prefer more moderate candidates, especially in competitive contests such as those with a Republican incumbent. Both the official party structures as well as moderate groups increased their win rates from 2018.
The success was much more mixed for leftwing insurgent groups. One improved upon 2018 by focusing on a smaller amount of elections and playing almost entirely in safe Democratic House districts. Two others actually won fewer contests in 2020 than 2018.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) endorsed 18 candidates before their primaries. Every single one of them won their primaries, giving the DCCC a 100%-win rate. This was the highest score of any endorsements we tracked.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) endorsed 13 candidates before their primaries, and 12 of them won for a 92%-win rate. The sole loss was in the Tennessee Senate race, which Cook Political Report rates as a Solid Republican seat.
It is worth noting that the DSCC has also endorsed two candidates ahead of jungle elections in Georgia and Louisiana that occur during the November general election. Both of these endorsed candidates will face other Democrats, so if they advance to a runoff over these other Democrats, one might consider these to be primary wins.
New Dem Action Fund
The New Dem Action Fund is the political action committee for the moderate New Democrat Coalition in the House. They supported 16 candidates before their primaries. Of those, 15 won, giving them an 94%-win rate—the second best of the organizations we tracked, and an eight-point improvement from 2018.
The New Dem Action Fund has backed an additional 15 candidates who won their primaries, bringing their general election endorsement total to 30. Of these 30, 28 are trying to flip districts from red to blue, and Cook Political Report lists 27 as being in elections rated as anything other than Solid for either party.
There were three major leftwing groups endorsing insurgent-type candidates this cycle: Brand New Congress, Justice Democrats, and Our Revolution. To be consistent across the document, we are listing endorsements in federal elections of non-incumbent candidates.
It is clear from the results that leftwing insurgent groups are most adapt at winning primaries in safe Democratic House districts, but have very limited appeal in competitive Senate and House contests.
Our Revolution endorsed 28 candidates, but only six won, giving the organization a 21%-win rate. Of their six wins, five are in safe Democratic House districts according to Cook Political Report; though, one is in an all-Democratic general election in California’s top-two system. The sixth is in a competitive red-to-blue House race.
If one wanted to include gubernatorial primaries, Our Revolution won one of two, which would bring their win rate up to 23%.
Both of these are way down from their 37% primary win rate in 2018.
Our Revolution has endorsed an additional three candidates in federal elections after their primaries including two in red-to-blue House races, meaning Our Revolution is attempting to flip three House districts from red to blue.
Justice Democrats endorsed 10 candidates, and five won, giving them a 50%-win rate, which is significantly up from their 31%-win rate in 2018.
Of their five wins, four are in safe Democratic House districts according to Cook Political Report; though, one is in an all-Democratic general election in California’s top-two system.
Only one Justice Democrats candidate is attempting to flip a House district from red to blue.
Brand New Congress
Brand New Congress endorsed 40 candidates, but only eight won, giving them a 20%-win rate, which is down from their 30%-win rate in 2018. Of their eight wins, two are in races that Cook Political Report rates as solid Democratic while three are in races rated by Cook as Solid Republican.
Only three Brand New Congress candidates are trying to flip House districts from red to blue.