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Columnist, National Journal


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John K. Boardman Politics Professor, Washington and Lee University


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Former US representative from Virginia (1995-2008) and chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC)


“I’ve known and relied on Rhodes Cook since we first worked together at Congressional Quarterly in 1987. Rhodes was then the foremost journalistic expert on the rules of the presidential nominating contest, and the acknowledged master of the detailed informational election story with accompanying maps, charts and graphics. As an independent newsletter publisher since the turn of this century, Rhodes has maintained his focus on elections and his reputation for insightful observation. But what really sets Rhodes apart is his passion for hard data and completeness, a combination when he carried on the legacy of Richard Scammon’s monumental America Votes series. With all the wealth of Big Data we now have from websites and software, there is still no replacement for the savvy analysis and meticulous touch of “The Rhodes Cook Letter.”

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National Public Radio (NPR) Senior Editor and Correspondent

American University Executive in Residence, Department of Government, School of Public Affairs


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Larry J. Sabato

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Maps illustrate the geography of elections, whether a single election or a series of elections.Since its inception in 2000, “The Rhodes Cook Letter” has been following U.S. elections for president, Congress, and governorships, as well as providing analysis of voting trends that these elections produce. In both presidential and midterm election cycles, the Letter takes a close look at primary contests as well as the November balloting, with an interest in placing both primary and general election results in historical context.

This is done with the help of various forms of charts and artwork presented in living Technicolor. They are designed to illustrate in a straightforward and colorful fashion, the basic points that are being made in each issue. Maps, line graphs, and bar graphs, in particular, are featured.

From 2000 through 2016, the Letter was published on a bimonthly basis, with a total of six issues per year. Since 2018, the Letter has moved to a four times a year publishing schedule, with the first issue of 2019 to be released in April.

Unlike in the past, when the Letter was sold only on an annual subscription basis, there are now two options. The first is to purchase four issues, which would cover a year’s worth. The other option is a new one: to buy the Letter on an issue by issue basis. With either option, payment can be made by cash, check, or now through PayPal.

In any event, thanks for your interest in the Letter. 

About the Latest Issues 

April 2019 (“Trump and Reelection: An Early Look”)

The 2020 presidential election may still be more than a year and a half away, but there are basic elements about it that are already known. Much as the 2004 election was a referendum on the policies of President George W. Bush, the 2020 election will largely be a vote on Donald Trump and his presidency. As such, the race will be expensive. It will be bruising. And it will be for very high stakes. The April issue looks at the pros and cons for both major parties at this early stage of the 2020 campaign, with charts and artwork galore. 

December 2018 (“Democratic Tide”)

Throughout 2018 there was talk of a coming Democratic “surge” in the November elections. But once the results were in, they probably could be better described as a “tide.” Democrats did flip control of the House of Representatives, thanks to a 40-seat pick up. And the party did make notable gains in governorships and state legislative seats. But Republicans emerged from 2018 retaining control of most of the governorships and state legislatures, while also expanding their advantage in the Senate by two seats. Still, it was clearly a Democratic year, as a wave of anti-Trump passion on the Democratic side helped fuel a record midterm congressional turnout. The December issue takes a look at the midterm results as it seeks to place the election in historical context. (23 pages)

July 2018 (“In the Shadow of Trump”)

Arguably Donald Trump was more engaged in the 2018 election than any previous president has been in a midterm contest. That was particularly the case in the Republican primaries, where Trump by-passed the largely passive role of past presidents in order to declare his support (or opposition) to GOP primary candidates across the country. In the Republican primaries, candidates often competed to show who was the most loyal to Trump, while on the Democratic side, the reverse was the case, with opposition to Trump a basic litmus test for Democratic candidates. The July issue takes a look at the historic nature of the 2018 primaries given Trump’s outsized role in shaping outcomes. (18 pages)

April 2018 ("Ruling the Roost")
It may not seem like it at times, but Republicans have rarely been more dominant at the federal and state levels than they are now. It is an impressive display of hegemony, as they control the White House, both chambers of Congress, a large majority of governorships, and the lion's share of state legislatures. This issue takes a look at the situation and the fact that it may not last beyond November. Also included in this newsletter are results and analysis of the March primaries in Texas and Illinois, as well as a review of the ongoing special elections. (21 pages)

January 2018 (A ‘Special’ Time)

Over the course of American history, even-numbered years have been for elections, odd-numbered years for governing. The few elections held in odd-numbered years have rarely had much national significance. But that was not the case in 2017, where the outcomes of special congressional elections and regularly scheduled gubernatorial contests in New Jersey and Virginia were seen by many as an early reaction to Donald Trump’s controversial presidency. The January issue takes a look at this phenomenon. (25 pages) 

Purchase Issues

For those who wish to pay by check, please make it out to "The Rhodes Cook Letter" and send to:

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Recent Issues for Sale

Following is a list of issues of “The Rhodes Cook Letter” published since the beginning of 2016, with a brief description of each. Electronic copies of all past newsletters sell for $10 per issue; printed copies for $15 per issue. For a list of the titles and dates of newsletters published from the inception of “The Rhodes Cook Letter” in 2000 through 2015, please contact

Line graphs are used to illustrate electoral trends, whether comparative poll data as above or electoral data.

January 2016 … “And Away We Go”  (19 pages)

A preview of the 2016 presidential nominating contests, especially the four states that kicked off the voting in February (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina).

February 2016 … “Apres SC, Le Deluge”  (17 pages)

A look at the results of the opening events in February dominated by Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side and Donald Trump on the Republican. Also, a look ahead at the glut of March primaries.

March 2016 … “Meaningful Primaries Ahead”  (18 pages)

A detailed review of presidential primary and caucus results in both parties through March, and an opening look at 2016 congressional primary action.

July 2016 … “The ’16 Primaries: Making History” (25 pages)

Final thoughts (and numbers) on the 2016 presidential primary season, plus results from the spring congressional primaries.

Bar graphs often compare various aspects of political data at a particular point in time, such as the standing of presidents at a similar date in their administrations.

September 2016 … “Is This Election Over?”  (20 pages)

Emphatically “no” was the answer to the question posed in this issue. While Donald Trump looked unelectable to many political observers through the summer and fall of 2016, both major party candidates possessed clear strengths and weaknesses which made the race competitive to the end.

November 2016 … “A Divided America Votes” (18 pages)

An election eve preview of the November 2016 balloting, with information on state polling hours, final polling numbers, and data putting the presidential election into historical context.

March 2017 … “An Election Like None Other” (19 pages)

A first take on the stunning 2016 election results, with a focus on Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the presidential vote. The unexpected outcome was the product of a historical rarity: An Electoral College “misfire,” with different popular and electoral vote winners. It was only the fifth time in the nation’s history there was a “misfire,” but 2016 marked the second time it has happened since 2000.