NFL Parity Is Creating Excitement — And, Um, Ties

When Dak Prescott’s improbable pocket escape and 44-yard heave set up a field goal to tie Sunday night’s Cowboys-Texans game late in regulation, viewers were left with a familiar feeling: This game, like so many others this season, seemed destined for overtime. (Indeed, it did require OT — the Texans kicked a field goal in the extra frame to win 19-16.) It was the eighth overtime game of the 2018 season already — the most in the first five weeks of any NFL season since 2002, which also saw eight OT games. Along the way we’ve also gotten two ties, ensuring only the league’s fourth multi-tie campaign since it first introduced regular-season OT in 1974, and we narrowly missed three others thanks to game-ending scores in the waning seconds of the extra period.14 While the NFL still faces plenty of big-picture problems — and some fans are even lamenting the renewed prevalence of those dreaded ties — this wave of close finishes has mainly made last year’s complaints about boring football seem like a distant memory.

The spike in overtime contests is just one element of this year’s extra drama. According to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, 52 of the league’s 78 games this season have seen the trailing team sit within one score of the leader with five minutes left in the game — the second-most in any season through five weeks since 2001.15 Furthermore, 47 games this season have been within a score with two minutes left to play in regulation. It’s a perfect recipe for wild endings like Sunday’s Panthers-Giants duel — which saw two lead changes in the final 68 seconds of play — or last week’s Raiders-Browns thriller, with its four separate game-tying or go-ahead scores in the fourth quarter and OT alone.

Speaking of overtime: It took a season to produce an effect, but in combination with so many close games, the league’s recent tweaks to the OT format have finally started to generate more of those aforementioned ties. Back in May 2017, my colleague Ty Schalter predicted that the NFL’s switch from 15- to 10-minute overtime periods (on top of its earlier decision to modify the sudden-death rule, giving the coin-flip loser a chance to answer if the winner kicked a FG on its opening drive) would dramatically hike the rate of tied games once OT was reached. Although we went an entire season without a tie in 2017 — only 14 games went into overtime at all, below the seasonal average of 16 since 200116 — this year has made up for lost time, with a quarter of OT games ending in a stalemate. And you thought draws were too common in the “other” version of football

Anyway, all of this mainly speaks to the rise in parity across the league as a whole this year. Through five weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs rank No. 1 in FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings (our pet way of gauging how well a team is playing at any given moment in time), though their 1657 Elo isn’t especially high for an NFL leader at this stage of the season.17 At the other end of the rankings, the No. 32 Cleveland Browns (1344 Elo) are a lot better than the typical last-place team. You might say the Browns deserve better than 32nd place (I happen to agree), but choose an alternative — the Bills? Cardinals? Giants?? — and each has at least shown some signs of basic competency at various times this season. All of which is to say: The gap between the best and worst teams is not as wide as we’ve gotten used to it being.

And that shows up in the overall distribution of team performances this season. Since 1970, the standard deviation of teams’ Elo ratings through a season’s first five weeks has never been lower than it is right now:

Unlike college football, which is currently as imbalanced as ever, the pros have generally tended toward more competitive balance since the 1970s. That trend, though, largely leveled off once free agency and the introduction of a salary cap equalized each team’s spending, creating a parity machine that apparently only the New England Patriots — and conversely, until this year at least, the Browns — could resist. But even against that backdrop, this year’s Super Bowl race looks particularly wide open, with K.C. sitting nervously as tentative favorites.

In that department, we might gain some additional insight after Sunday night’s Patriots-Chiefs matchup, which rates as the best of the week in terms of matchup quality (as determined by the harmonic mean of the two teams’ Elo ratings in each game):

The best matchups of Week 6

Week 6 games with the highest average Elo rating using the harmonic mean plus the total potential swing for the two teams’ playoff chances, according to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL predictions

Playoff % Playoff %
Team A Current Avg. Chg* Team B Current Avg. Chg* Total Change Game Quality
KC 97.2% +/-1.9 NE 70.0% +/-11.7 13.6 1637
CIN 68.4 15.3 PIT 42.5 16.4 31.6 1554
BAL 51.5 16.1 TEN 56.9 14.0 30.1 1539
DAL 30.7 10.5 JAX 59.8 11.8 22.3 1530
CAR 59.7 13.2 WSH 29.8 12.1 25.3 1521
DEN 7.2 4.5 LAR 93.4 3.8 8.3 1513
ATL 22.7 9.8 TB 29.0 12.5 22.3 1509
ARI 3.6 2.9 MIN 51.0 10.3 13.2 1495
CHI 54.9 12.2 MIA 35.9 11.8 24.0 1490
NYG 4.6 4.1 PHI 61.4 11.4 15.5 1488
OAK 2.3 1.7 SEA 33.4 9.5 11.2 1468
GB 22.0 8.3 SF 6.5 4.5 12.8 1445
BUF 22.9 9.5 HOU 11.9 6.7 16.2 1439
CLE 3.2 2.7 LAC 51.7 12.3 15.0 1438
IND 5.5 3.4 NYJ 13.1 5.4 8.8 1419

Game quality is the harmonic mean of the Elo ratings for the two teams in a given matchup.

*Average change is weighted by the likelihood of a win or loss. (Ties are excluded.)


Of course, the Chiefs have tempted us to overreact after beating the Patriots before, so maybe we won’t actually learn as much as we might hope on Sunday. But Week 6 also offers a number of matchups that could move the playoff-odds needle by at least 20 combined percentage points — including Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh, Baltimore vs. Tennessee and Carolina vs. Washington.

Out of all these tightly contested games, surely some will flirt with overtime (or maybe even a tie!) again. But more than just giving us yet another chance to jokingly compare stalemates on the gridiron with those on the soccer pitch, it’s a real sign of how evenly balanced the league has become so far this season.

FiveThirtyEight vs. the readers

Want another way to keep up with the league? Be sure to check out our constantly updating NFL prediction interactive, which uses Elo ratings to forecast the rest of the season. And if you think you’re smarter than Elo, now you can prove it: In our prediction game, you can pick against our model (and your fellow readers) for bragging rights and a place on our giant leaderboard.

Using your picks from last week, here’s our regular look at where Elo made its best — and worst — predictions against the field:

Elo’s dumbest (and smartest) picks of Week 5

Average difference between points won by readers and by Elo in Week 5 matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction game

SEA 50% LAR 70% LAR 33, SEA 31 +13.5
PHI 70 PHI 58 MIN 23, PHI 21 +12.8
BAL 76 BAL 66 CLE 12, BAL 9 +11.3
DAL 61 HOU 50 HOU 19, DAL 16 +9.6
SF 66 SF 59 ARI 28, SF 18 +7.2
CIN 63 CIN 64 CIN 27, MIA 17 -1.2
NE 83 NE 83 NE 38, IND 24 -2.0
NO 73 NO 71 NO 43, WSH 19 -3.1
CAR 80 CAR 76 CAR 33, NYG 31 -3.4
LAC 73 LAC 69 LAC 26, OAK 10 -3.9
KC 68 KC 61 KC 30, JAX 14 -7.7
PIT 57 PIT 51 PIT 41, ATL 17 -7.9
NYJ 56 DEN 56 NYJ 34, DEN 16 -14.3
DET 60 GB 56 DET 31, GB 23 -17.4
BUF 52 TEN 62 BUF 13, TEN 12 -17.8

Home teams are in bold.

The scoring system is nonlinear, so readers’ average points don’t necessarily match the number of points that would be given to the average reader prediction.

Elo eked out another victorious week over the readers, winning by 24.3 net points on average. It’s been an unusually impressive start to the season for Elo, whose built-in lack of knowledge over the NFL’s offseason comings and goings hasn’t seemed to hamper it one bit. (Maybe this is a nice reminder that preseason NFL predictions are mostly useless.) In Week 5, Elo was too high on the Seahawks, Eagles and Ravens, all of whom fell short. But it made up for those bad picks by calling Buffalo’s win over Tennessee and Detroit’s victory over Green Bay, among other games.

But Elo didn’t make all of our readers look silly. Congrats to reader Paul Diaz, who led all users in points for Week 5, and to Jevon Mallett, who leads all users on the season in total. Thanks to everyone who played last week — and if you didn’t play, get in on the game already! You can make picks now and still try your luck against Elo, even if you missed the first quarter of the season.

Check out our latest NFL predictions.

Louisville Voter Guide Takes It Up A Notch Locally

Louisville Voter Guides have in the past left something to be desired.  The official state guide at only gets a voter to register and understandably it leaves out most of the candidate information.

Louisville voters guide

Sean Delahanty’s campaign site similarly must remain neutral as a judge must remain nonpartisan but his voter guide includes candidates website links when available, and a side by side tweeter comparison for the Louisville Metro Mayor‘s race.  This adds a more rich experience to visitors looking for more than just a piece of the puzzle.

Local Election Coverage

The Complete Voter Guide as it is termed on the site aims to form a puzzle from all of the pieces of other sites.  Jefferson County Clerk’s site provides precinct and voter statistics, the Kentucky Secretary of State’s site provides voter information lookup capabilities and various mapping sites provide legislative districts for State House, State Senate, Metro Council Districts and suburban cities.

What District Am I In?

When Louisville merged with Jefferson County decades ago it did a secular thing in leaving all of the other cities in the county in tact.  This means that in addition to Louisville election districts the same voters may have additional cities and districts to vote upon.  The cities of Shively, St. Matthews and Jeffersonville are the largest of these examples.  Some cities barely cover a couple blocks such as Stratford Manor.  The voter guide at Sean Delahanty’s site provides a Louisville Neighborhoods and Districts map to aid voters in those regards.

Metro Council Districts Map
Metro Council Districts map in voter guide

Comparatively other voter guides are actually used in the voter guide such as and Ballotpedia.

Election Polling and Statistics

Its an interesting collection of info and insights that Louisville voters don’t usually see in local elections.  Polling is almost nonexistent at this level but the voter guide still makes an attempt with their polling for entertainment purposes.  The site’s inclusion of crime data for the last ten years is also unique as it divides incidents by category and zip code.

Its a good guide from a nonpartisan candidates campaign.

Which Races Could Shake Up The Midterms?

Welcome to FiveThirtyEight’s weekly politics chat. The transcript below has been lightly edited.

sarahf (Sarah Frostenson, politics editor): All right, team. We have 🚨 LESS THAN A MONTH 🚨 until the midterms, so it’s time we did an update on the races we’re watching: To get us started, what races are you watching that no one else is? Let’s start in the House (as there has to be at least one race flying under the radar in a pool of 435). We’ll be sure to make stops in today’s chat in the Senate and governor’s mansions as well.

geoffrey.skelley (Geoffrey Skelley, elections analyst): Collectively, the competitive North Carolina House races are very interesting. There is no major statewide contest in North Carolina this year — i.e., Senate or governor — making it what’s sometimes called a “blue moon” election. I’m curious to see if the Democrats’ enthusiasm advantage is bolstered by the lack of a notable contest at the top of the ticket.

sarahf: Any districts you’re eyeing specifically, Geoff?

geoffrey.skelley: Currently, FiveThirtyEight pegs the North Carolina 9th as a toss-up, so it’s probably the most notable. But the North Carolina 2nd and North Carolina 13th lean toward the GOP in our model.

nrakich (Nathaniel Rakich, elections analyst): Agreed, Geoffrey. As I wrote this week, Democrats could pick up as many as five House seats in North Carolina with a big enough wave.

This is due in large part to how Republicans drew the state’s districts — i.e., they’re built to withstand a modest Democratic wave, but not a tsunami, as may form in 2018.

One race that’s on nobody’s radar there is the North Carolina 6th, Republican Rep. Mark Walker’s district. But we give him only a 5 in 6 chance.

geoffrey.skelley: In the case of the North Carolina 9th, it’s always interesting when an incumbent loses renomination, making it potentially easier for the opposition to win in the general election. In this case, Rep. Robert Pittenger lost to Mark Harris in the GOP primary, and that has probably helped the Democratic candidate, Dan McCready, who has a huge resource advantage over Harris in the general.

sarahf: But North Carolina did vote for President Trump in 2016. How is that factoring into what we’re seeing in the House races there?

nrakich: According to Morning Consult, Trump’s net approval rating has dropped by 20 points in North Carolina since the beginning of his term, so its love for Trump may not be what it once was.

sarahf: So why couldn’t Pittenger make it through his primary? I think Mark Sanford in the South Carolina 1st was the only other GOP incumbent to not win his renomination?

nrakich: That’s right, Sarah. Pittenger’s loss was kind of a delayed-release time bomb. In 2016, he narrowly beat Harris as questions were swirling about an ethics investigation and because he was new to much of the district after court-ordered redistricting. Pundits thought those issues had evaporated by 2018, but Harris ended up pulling out the win.

sarahf: And what do we know about Harris? Is he a Trumpy-Republican?

geoffrey.skelley: Harris is an evangelical Christian pastor who lost in North Carolina’s 2014 GOP Senate primary. Harris is an ardent social conservative, and given the president’s overwhelming support among evangelical Christian voters in 2016 and his continued support from that group, Harris could be described as “Trumpy” at least in who he most appeals to. Trump even helped Harris with a private fundraiser a little while back.

Janie Velencia (FiveThirtyEight contributor): Personally, I’m most curious about what’s happening in Minnesota — specifically in the 1st District. It’s a seat that has been left open by a Democrat (Tim Walz is running for governor). Donald Trump won the district by 14.9 points, while Hillary Clinton won the state by 1.5 points in 2016. I think it will be interesting to see whether they vote in another Democrat or opt for the Republican this time around. In 2012, the district went blue, voting for Obama over Romney by 49.6 percent to 48.2 percent.

Right now, the district is rated a toss-up by experts we rely in for our model, and the FiveThirtyEight forecast gives the Republican a 2 in 3 chance of winning. To me, it seems that Democrats should try to pick up at least one seat in the state to meet the seat target they need to win the House.

sarahf: Yeah, after 2016, I think there were some real questions about how much of a “blue wall” Minnesota would be moving forward.

Janie Velencia: Minnesota is also interesting in that both of its Senate seats are on the ballot in November and will likely stay blue, but the state’s House seats are pretty competitive. The Classic version of the FiveThirtyEight forecast currently rates five of the state’s eight races as competitive (lean Republican, lean Democrat, likely Republican, likely Democrat or toss-up).

geoffrey.skelley: Yeah, Minnesota is basically the epicenter of competitive House races — it more or less has the largest share of races that are competitive of any state.

nrakich: Theoretically, Minnesota’s House delegation could be six Republicans and two Democrats or seven Democrats and one Republican. That’s, uh, a big range.

Janie Velencia: But Republicans also see potential pickups, especially in the Minnesota 1st.

sarahf: Why is that you think? Are we seeing a pretty big shift in the political makeup of Minnesota House races from 2016?

geoffrey.skelley: The state had lots of competitive races in 2016, too.

But I think the interesting part is that what’s going on in Minnesota is somewhat reflective of what we’re seeing nationally.

sarahf: Go on.

geoffrey.skelley: The Minnesota 2nd and Minnesota 3rd are partly, or mostly, in the Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs.

sarahf: Ah, so Romney-Clinton districts?

Or Obama-Trump?

geoffrey.skelley: The Minnesota 3rd is a Republican-held Obama-Clinton seat. The Minnesota 2nd did go narrowly for Obama, but by only 0.1 points, and then it went for Trump by about a point.

nrakich: Yeah, but it’s not an Obama-Trump district by the spirit of the law. It shifted all of one percentage point — it just so happened that it was already close, so that made the difference between going blue or red.

geoffrey.skelley: Right.

And our House forecast gives Democrats a 5 in 6 chance of winning in each of those seats.

nrakich: The Minnesota 2nd stretches from almost downtown St. Paul to some pretty rural areas, so I think you may have a situation where lots of Romney-Clinton voters and Obama-Trump voters basically cancel each other out.

geoffrey.skelley: But the two rural Democratic seats that are particularly close — the Minnesota 1st and Minnesota 8th — are both open seats that swung sharply toward Trump after voting for Obama.

nrakich: As sharply as a Ginsu knife.

geoffrey.skelley: So Democrats are hoping the environment helps them retain those, while Republicans see those as among their only real pickup opportunities in this cycle. But we might have a situation where Democrats and Republicans just trade two seats with each other, resulting in no net change in Minnesota.

Janie Velencia: Even if Democrats come out even in Minnesota, it will still bode well for them in terms of taking the House. If they win more than that, I think it’s a good signal all around for Democrats.

nrakich: Agreed, Janie. If Democrats can win two very different district types in Minnesota, that’s a sign they might not have to choose one path forward in 2020 and beyond.

sarahf: I see what you mean about Minnesota being at the epicenter. But what about states that actually flipped red in 2016, like Pennsylvania?

geoffrey.skelley: Pennsylvania’s new map is working out nicely for Democrats, as you’d expect, considering that it was drawn by the Democratic-controlled state supreme court. The Pennsylvania delegation is currently 12-6 Republican (including vacant seats with the party that previously held them), but our current forecast suggests that there’s a pretty good chance it will be 9-9 after this election.

sarahf: Gotcha. So you’re telling me the Conor Lamb special election hype wasn’t wasted?

geoffrey.skelley: Lamb’s narrow special election win set him up to run in the new Pennsylvania 17th, where he’s favored against fellow incumbent Keith Rothfus, who’s a Republican. But the remnants of Lamb’s old district will almost certainly go Republican, so there’s no net change there. But the new map probably helped his chances of staying around, so watch out for Lamb to run against Republican Sen. Pat Toomey in 2022.

nrakich: There’s no way this doesn’t end with President Conor Lamb, is there?

sarahf: Ha, let’s see what happens in the Minnesota 2nd and Minnesota 3rd first.

nrakich: One district I think could be a deep sleeper Democratic pickup is Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik’s New York 21st. It’s kind of a weird district — located in New York’s rural North Country, it shares a lot of characteristics with next-door Quebec and Vermont that make it more liberal than you’d expect. It voted for Barack Obama by 6 points in 2012, and while it did swing strongly toward Trump in 2016, lots of other areas that did that (looking at you, Iowa) look poised to return to the Democratic column this year. New York 21st is actually a bluer seat than Rep. Claudia Tenney’s New York 22nd, which our model rates as lean Democratic. Now, Stefanik is a much stronger incumbent than Tenney is, but I’m surprised that there hasn’t even been any polling in New York 21st.

geoffrey.skelley: Nationally, it seems that a lot of the Democrats’ best pickup opportunities are in the suburbs and exurbs. But they almost certainly have to win a few districts that are substantially rural, and many of those districts were places where Trump improved markedly on Mitt Romney’s vote support. The New York 21st is that sort of place, although Democrats probably have better rural/rural-ish targets.

sarahf: OK, switching gears just a little … What about sleeper races in the Senate? Or things that have surprised you? A much harder chamber to discuss this year, I know!

nrakich: I guess the main thing that has surprised me in the Senate is just how well Democrats have expanded the map. At this time last year, I thought Arizona would be lean Republican; instead, our model has it at lean Democratic. And I certainly didn’t expect Texas and Tennessee to be in play at all. (Both are lean Republican.)

geoffrey.skelley: With only 35 races in total, there really isn’t a true “sleeper” contest in the Senate. But Mississippi’s special election is unusual and worth commenting on. The election is technically nonpartisan — there won’t be any party labels on the ballot for that race — and it’s unlikely that any candidate will win a majority. If that’s the case, the winner will be determined in a runoff on Nov. 27, just after Thanksgiving. It’s possible, though unlikely, that control of the Senate could come down to that runoff, which would be quite the show.

sarahf: Do you really think Democratic challenger Mike Espy stands a chance, Geoff? What do we know about him? And when was the last time Mississippi elected a Democrat to the Senate?

geoffrey.skelley: I think it’s unlikely that Espy can defeat appointed Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in a runoff — Mississippi is a racially polarized state when it comes to voting, so it’s difficult to see a black Democrat winning. Still, if somehow Republican Chris McDaniel were to advance to a runoff, instead of Hyde-Smith, that would really open the door for an Espy win. McDaniel isn’t Roy Moore, but he has a lot of problems as a candidate. As for the last time a Democrat won a Senate race in Mississippi, we have to go back to John Stennis in 1982, though it’s worth remembering that Stennis was a conservative Democrat.

Janie Velencia: I’m surprised by a couple of seats that Democrats look to be in danger of holding on to. In Missouri, Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill is in a tight race with Republican Josh Hawley. And there’s also Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota.

sarahf: Right, do you think Heitkamp is in jeopardy now because she voted against confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court?

Janie Velencia: I think that’s part of it. Polls conducted in the state before she voted showed that voters supported Kavanaugh’s confirmation and about a third of voters would be upset if she voted “no” on Kavanaugh. And Republicans are definitely trying to use it to campaign off of now.

nrakich: I’m not sure it will help her, but it’s clear that she was trailing before the Kavanaugh vote. The two latest polls have her down by double digits, and both were out of the field by the end of the day on Oct. 2.

I’m surprised by Heitkamp, too. In such a small state, you’d expect her to have a pretty big incumbency advantage. And she has a strong personal brand.

sarahf: It seems as if the #MeToo movement may resonate with Heitkamp given her mother’s experience with sexual assault. It definitely put her in a difficult situation of sticking to her moral guns and appeasing North Dakota voters, but maybe there’s a chance that resonates with women in North Dakota?

Janie Velencia: She’s also an example of how senators are increasingly losing their personal brand and voters are instead voting for local candidates based on national issues and aligning with national party sentiment.

nrakich: Yeah, there are several candidates who will be a test case of that this year. Phil Bredesen, the popular former governor of Tennessee who’s now running for U.S. Senate, also comes to mind.

sarahf: #TaylorSwiftEndorsement

nrakich: In all seriousness, I wonder if that could backfire because it nationalizes the race more.

And that is the last thing I will ever say about Taylor Swift’s endorsement.

geoffrey.skelley: Bredesen didn’t lose a single county in his 2006 re-election win for governor. But he’s an underdog against Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn. Tennessee has moved sharply to the right in the last few presidential cycles.

nrakich: Yeah, Geoffrey, remember when Tennessee was one of the hot Senate races of 2006? That state has changed a LOT since then.

Janie Velencia: Are you sure we can’t talk about the Taylor Swift effect?

sarahf: Tell us more, Janie!

Janie Velencia: While most celebrity endorsements don’t really affect elections, Trump actually responded to Taylor Swift, which is bringing more attention to her endorsement. Is there a chance she could have some effect? Maybe encourage younger voters to go out and vote?

sarahf: Well, did tell BuzzFeed that they got 65,000 new voter registrations after Swift’s Instagram post. So you might be onto something.

nrakich: Speaking about candidates getting nationalized … I have some really out-there sleeper picks for governor. Sitting governors Phil Scott, Chris Sununu and/or Charlie Baker lose in Vermont, New Hampshire and/or Massachusetts, respectively. These New England Republicans are generally seen as unthreatened, but I do wonder how many Democrats (of which there are a lot in Vermont and Massachusetts) will go to the polls both (a) really steamed at Donald Trump and (b) prepared to vote Republican for governor.

sarahf: You think Charlie Baker is going to lose!?! Get out.

What evidence do you have?

nrakich: We have one poll of Vermont, and it gave Scott an 8-point lead. It’s a Democratic poll, but that’s not the lead you’d expect in a race rated “solid” or “safe” Republican by all three major handicappers. Scott’s approval rating also tanked after he signed a controversial gun-control bill.

And in New Hampshire, an American Research Group poll in late September found Sununu with just a 5-point lead. First-term New Hampshire governors almost never lose. But New Hampshire is a very elastic state, and in such a Democratic-leaning year, it might be asking too much for Sununu to survive.

Massachusetts is definitely the longest shot. There have been a few polls, all showing Baker with a huge lead. In my heart of hearts, I don’t really think it’s going to happen, but it could be closer than people think. All three of these races will be, I think.

sarahf: whispers Remember publishing this, Nathaniel?

Baker is safe.

nrakich: I don’t dispute that he’ll win, but I think “safe” is going too far. A 10-point Baker win feels right to me.

There will be a lot of energized Democrats voting in Boston and Cambridge.

geoffrey.skelley: One sleeper gubernatorial race this cycle might be a GOP pickup chance. In Oregon, Democratic Gov. Kate Brown is a moderate favorite to win re-election, but we have seen some close poll results. A new, nonpartisan poll there just had her up 49 percent to 45 percent over the Republican candidate, Knute Buehler. Buehler is interesting because he’s a pro-choice Republican, running ads like this defending his position on the issue.

nrakich: To move away from my shamelessly outlandish claims, I’ve been surprised that Democrats are so competitive in Kansas. I thought they were sunk when Greg Orman got in that race as an independent, but he hasn’t been much of a factor. Democrat Laura Kelly even led Republican Kris Kobach in the latest poll (a Republican internal!).

geoffrey.skelley: The Kansas race is very interesting and speaks to the three-party nature of Kansas: Conservative Republicans, moderate Republicans and Democrats.

If the Republicans nominate a very conservative candidate, moderate Republicans might swing toward the Democratic candidate and create a competitive environment. That seems to be happening in 2018. Kobach is about as conservative as they come, and a number of well-known Kansas Republicans have endorsed Democrat Laura Kelly instead.

It doesn’t help the GOP that former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback left office quite unpopular. Somewhat similarly, Oklahoma seems competitive in part because outgoing Republican Gov. Mary Fallin has maybe the worst approval rating in the country. This environment has given Democrats a bit of an opening, and they have won a number of state legislative special elections there since Trump was elected president.

nrakich: Yep, definitely another race that has surprised me. South Dakota may even be competitive, although I have yet to be convinced on that one. Democrat Billie Sutton released an internal poll that showed the race as close, and the Cook Political Report moved the race all the way to “toss-up.”

sarahf: The current governor breakdown is 33 Republicans, 16 Democrats and one independent (shout-out to Gov. Bill Walker of Alaska). Not everyone is up for election here in 2018, but it’s still pretty unlikely that we’ll have more Democratic than Republican governors by the end of the midterms, right?

Janie Velencia: Yep, there are 36 gubernatorial races this cycle. Of the seats that are up, 26 are currently controlled by Republicans, and nine are controlled by Democrats (the other governorship up is Walker’s, in Alaska). So, Republicans simply have more to lose.

nrakich: It’s not out of the question, Sarah. Because most of the governorships up this year were previously up for election in 2014 — a very good GOP year — there are a lot of pickup opportunities for Democrats. They need to flip 10 governorships to control a majority of states, which is certainly a lot, but they have as many as 12 opportunities for gains. In rough order of likelihood, IMO, those are Illinois, New Mexico, Michigan, Nevada, Maine, Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kansas, Ohio, Georgia and Oklahoma.

And that’s not counting my sleeper picks 😉.

sarahf: Guess I’ll have to wait until we publish our FiveThirtyEight governors forecast 😉.

What To Do With Your Political Site After The Election

Louisville Cloud – SEO – Web Design

Its something farthest from your mind, I’m sure.  If you’re working for a political campaign you’re pushing forward and the next 5 weeks are all out war ahead.  What to do with your campaign site after the election?  Heck I suspect some of you are just now getting around to your website, or many feel it hasn’t helped in the past so no need to worry.  You’d be wrong if you fall into either of those mindsets, if you’re the diligent one you’ll find the rewards are like a garden.

I started renting a house in my hometown after returning from Chicago and suddenly I found I had room to grow things. I wanted hydrangeas so I planted 14 or so … it took a lot of them to make a show at a gallon a plant. We also planted a grapevine.  Not much happened though, and I could have easily given up after the summer, just ignore them…but they were never going to be mature in one season.  A grapevine takes 3 years before it produces grapes, I learned hydrangeas were “old” wood and new growth wouldn’t come from new plant life.  If you get where I’m going, I’ll stop with the gardening story.  You’re website will not produce fruit in its first couple months.

Domain age actually has both a direct and indirect effect on your ranking.  For one, a website thats been up and running since the last election has had links from other sites organically made, not a ton if you just leave it sitting there but definitely more than if you take it down and just hold on to the domain.  In a previous post I mentioned it takes 3 to 6 months to rank a site, you’ll be a step further if you just leave it up and alone.  (Best not alone, maybe post a new article every couple months.)

Domain Age directly affects your Trust Factor/Citation Factor and your Domain Authority which in turn suggest that your Google standing next election cycle is going to be improved as well.  And stop thinking your target keyword is your name, if someone is Googling your name they’ve already heard of you. Take the big terms like election results, voter guide or the other candidate’s name.

Take and the first is younger but it has 70 times the backlinks and its been updated religiously, has the social media mentions, it has the content.  The first address is a Domain Authority 23 and the older one is a Domain Authority 2! Its still neck and neck in some searches.  Just today I Googled the candidates name the older one comes up 3rd and the real site thats 2 months old, has 10+ times the domain authority that site is 6th. Here is a representation of how much weight domain age may have, I link to the case study below.  Oh and BTW the new site is actually doing pretty good I think. Page 1 ranking on 45 keywords on Google…100 ranked keywords altogether. But back to the point…

what goes into a ranking

what goes into a ranking

Now let me clear the air though, no matter how old your domain is and consistently you’ve had a site up…if the content isn’t any good its a lost opportunity.  So do make an effort to convey your continued message through your site and when you run for the next office you’re site will be that much more ready.  Final note here, there are a ton of opinions out there on domain age, but no one would disagree a site thats up and updated periodically is more likely to gain backlinks.

SO Just get a cheap web hosting plan and post every few months, don’t just take it down and box it up till a month before the next election.  For further reading on domain authority a case study.  Id recommend that article, it goes over several factors.

And I can tell you one person who’s still got her site up…signs of the times.



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Louisville Cloud – SEO – Web Design – Cloud502 Cloud, SEO and Design Solutions. Ranked results in Louisville, KY.

University Students Voter Registration

University Students Who Live On Campus

If your primary residence is the university on campus student housing you may register to vote in the precinct where your student housing is located.

University Students Who Travel To Campus

You should register to vote at your primary residence. Commuting to school does not change your primary residence.

Registering To Vote

Students registering to vote may do so online through the State Secretary’s website which is available from the linked Voter Guide.

Election Results

State Board of Elections and County Clerk’s will be reporting unofficial numbers on election night. These numbers may differ from voting polls or each other.  We’ll report both sets of results through the Election Results page.

An Article Worth A Second Read

Louisville Cloud – SEO – Web Design

So I was cleaning up some posts on Sean Delahanty’s site and making them fresh for folks when I ran across this often missed and misunderstood posting of a WDRD story.  Sean Delahanty and the controversy with jailing everyone for everything.

The issue can kinda be boiled down to this …

If you are arrested you are innocent until proven guilty. Thats our rule of law. Now LMPD and prosecutors feel that if the police arrest you, you are guilty and you should only get bail if they (the police think you shouldnt be there…which why would they bring them there if they didnt think they were guilty?) But these two statements cant both be true…

LMPD officers arrested following allegations of rape of underage minors.

Or how about the guy who was a suburban police chief who said just shot the black people.

Racist Chief

Racist Chief

SO police arrested those police officers…so they must be guilty?  And this racist says shooting black people is cool…even the County Attorney had to agree the police were wrong on that one. But then …. see its a paradox.

Now I’m not saying that LMPD officers are normally like these three…but I am saying they are human, and capable of good and bad.

They are not judge and jury ..thats why we have a judge and jury.  If you get the time read that long in depth article.

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Louisville Cloud – SEO – Web Design – Cloud502 Cloud, SEO and Design Solutions. Ranked results in Louisville, KY.

Ranking Louisville Candidate Site With Organic SEO

Its likely no secret we’re working hard to rank up Judge Sean Delahanty‘s site.  He had but I’ve always believed that the primary site for any campaign needs to be someone’s name unless its hard to spell without any office referenced.

Thats why we developed his new election site  Wanting to bring a small level of gamification and interactivity I added polls and debated a chat section but due to speed concerns on the domain I moved that idea to Its a site to allow supporters to collaborate and make a difference.

In the image below you can see the vast majority of his tracked pages are on page one of Google.
In order to draw new traffic from higher search volumned topics I added the FAQ and Voter Guide content.  The voter guide is not the most innovative site but it is likely the one campaign site that provides maps and names on races beyond their own.  Its a gamble that the voter will find and appreciate Sean Delahanty’s site

The site recently received a make over notice the reported as of today.

ranking seo

Judging The District Court Judges – Insider Louisville

(Editor’s note: Several Insider Louisville contributors collected information for this post including Terry Boyd, who did the majority of the writing.)

This is a story with a back story.

We’ve been trying for weeks to get documents related to chronic absenteeism by a small minority of Jefferson District Court judges.

Insiders told Insider Louisville Chief Judge Angela McCormick Bisig is one of a group of female judges frequently absent from the court, a group that includes fellow judges Katie King and Michele Stengel.

Neither King nor Stengel replied to written requests for interviews left with court officials.

Bisig’s and others’ absences caused log jams, confusion and unreasonable workloads for the judges who do show up, say those sources, whose identities we agreed to keep confidential, because they have to appear before these judges, or work beside them as colleagues.

These particular judges are the judges who sort through the jammed criminal dockets in a court system that attorneys say is broken.

How broken?

For two weeks, we tried to find out, and we know now this is a story that will have to be teased out over time.

Judge Angela McCormick Bisig

Multiple sources told Insider Louisville that Bisig, among others, had extensive absences from her courtroom during 2012.

In an interview Thursday, Bisig told Insider Louisville that she hadn’t “taken a single day of vacation this year.”

However, the judge posted photos on her Facebook page of an April trip to New York City.

Bisig then confirmed she took “a long weekend” to go with her sons, adding that “any allegations of excessive absences are not true.”

What’s the truth?

We don’t know.

It’s nearly impossible to document the workings of the court, especially which of the 14 district court judges actually earn their paychecks, about $113,000 annually. (By comparison, Gov. Steve Beshear is paid $127,885 annually.)

Insider Louisville was denied documents, or told documents didn’t exist, only to find out they were public domain.

Beyond the stonewalling, documenting those absences and the additional strains they place on colleagues is difficult, because judges have virtually no obligation beyond personal scruples to show up.

We also came away with the feeling that at least one judge wants to tell the whole story, but can’t quite bring himself to do it.

District Judge Sean Delahanty doesn’t deny some Jefferson County District courtrooms aren’t in disarray.

But Delahanty won’t discuss the situation beyond vague assertions of lack of work ethic by other judges.

This very problem – backed up courts – was the driving force for a reorganization of Jefferson District Court last August.

Before that reorganization, judges were too frequently combining dockets, Delahanty said. That is, one judge doesn’t show up, so another judge has to fold that additional case load into his or her docket.

That’s still going on now, he said.

“The only reasons judges are supposed to combine dockets is vacations or emergencies, and dockets are getting combined way too often for other things,” Delahanty said.

He declined to go into detail.

In a story posted Wednesday on a survey of attorneys concerning the reorganization, Courier-Journal reporter Jason Riley quotes Delahanty as saying, “Some of these judges need to decide if this job interferes with their lifestyle, and I’m not going to say anymore than that.”

Which could be interpreted as a shot at Bisig, who appears frequently at social events featured in the Voice-Tribune newspaper, the Bible of Louisville’s social scene.

Pressed to address the major problems in the courts, Delahanty said, “There are things that will come out in time.”

“What he’s talking about is the lack of accountability the judges have in the way they spend their time,” said attorney Thomas Clay, a partner at Clay Frederick Adams, PLC.

Clay and other attorneys say there are two ways judges hand off their dockets  – by calling a colleague and asking that judge to take their cases, or to call into clerks of the court, who would assign the absent judge’s docket to another judge.

Which is what causes delays and confusion, with judges not in their assigned courtrooms when defendants, witnesses and judges show up for trials and hearings, say our sources.

The system leads to a core of judges picking up the slack including Delahanty, our sources said.

“I defy you to find one attorney anywhere out there who will say my courtroom is broken,” Delahanty said. “You can come to my courtroom anytime you want. Courtroom 204. You come any day, and you can see how a court should be run.”

Asked to talk about the workings of the court or attorneys who don’t run their courtrooms as they should be run, he demurred.

Most elected officials have some mechanism that can be used for accountability whether it be records of votes, legislation or roads paved.

But not judges.

Delahanty told Insider Louisville that he doesn’t believe there are any documents that have data documenting the time judges are in the courtroom or the volume of cases they hear: “We don’t keep a record of attendance.”

“It’s an issue that needs to be addressed. And this is not an issue that just cropped up recently. There have been questions about this topic for years,” Clay said.

Jacob Conway, whose Website Mentors consults with local judicial campaigns and frequent Insider Louisville contributor, said he finds ridiculous allegations that Bisig is a chronic no-show.

Bisig, a former prosecutor, “had a stellar record” in that job, Conway said. “She was one of the people who was always there, later than her job required, longer than any other judges … a workhorse. It’s why no one ever ran against her before.”

Conway says he believes allegations that Bisig and other female judges are devoting less than their all to their positions connect back to possible resentment about more women winning judicial elections.

“A majority of women on the court are women who beat incumbent men,” he said. “These men pointing fingers may be upset about the number of women judges (winning) just in the last few years.

“This is the last ‘old boys club’ left in (Kentucky) politics.”


Two weeks ago, legal insiders told us about a survey of attorneys coming out Tuesday, August 21 that would expose the Jefferson District Court system as a system in chaos.

We went to Bisig to request a copy. Bisig was non-committal, telling us she didn’t know anything about any survey, and wasn’t sure if it would be public record if there was such a document.

We persisted. We asked who paid for the survey, aguing if it was paid with taxpayers’ dollars, it’s a public document. Bisig said she didn’t know.

We asked state officials, including Leigh Anne Hiatt, public information officer for the Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort, for the document. Hiatt never followed up on our request.

We asked local employees at the Administrators of the Court, and they claimed the survey didn’t exist, or referred us to state officials.

Wednesday night, Riley posted a story on the survey, a story that stated 53 percent of 164 lawyers responding disagreed or strongly disagreed the reorganization had enhanced administration of justice, with 10 percent agreeing. (Thirty-seven percent had no opinion.)

 From Riley’s story:

Among the biggest problems cited in the survey are that the changes have led to too many combined dockets – those in which a judge took on their own cases as well as the cases of another judge who was either not in court that day or unavailable, backing up the process.

We tried to quantify attendance rates and workloads through the court dockets, which our sources told us judges must sign off on daily.

However, in an email response, Hiatt stated that’s not true (emphasis ours):

You … requested information about when individual judges are on the bench. The court system does not have any one document to provide that information. In addition, docket information does not provide a complete picture of when judges are working. When outside of the courtroom, judges may be preparing paperwork, reviewing probate files, ruling on default judgment motions and taking 24-hour calls regarding bond reviews, search warrants, emergency protective orders and mental inquest warrants. Judges can also have dockets on evenings and weekends. It is also important to note that judges determine their own schedules to meet the needs in their jurisdictions.

More as we solicit these documents.