House Campaigns Turning Around

By Jim Ellis

daily-kosOct. 16, 2018 — According to the liberal Daily Kos Elections website, six congressional races that appeared to be headed in one direction look to be reversing themselves.

Four campaigns that Democrats earlier projected as red to blue conversions are now either tilting toward the Republican candidate or coming back into play. An additional campaign that we believed was always miscategorized is now performing as we predicted, while a further Republican incumbent, already projected to be in a close race, has actually dropped behind for the first time in a published poll. Descriptions for each of these contests follow.

Two GOP incumbents who were trailing in several polls — the Siena College/New York Times polls had one lagging 15 points behind and the other by 10, for example — have come back to take the lead or are hovering in virtual tie range.


IOWA

Iowa Rep. Rod Blum (R-Dubuque) has represented the most Democratic seat in Iowa for two terms. He fell significantly behind state Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Dubuque) to the point where the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) even canceled a flight of media advertising because they presumably believed the race was sealed.

But, a new Polling Company survey for the Blum campaign (Oct. 2-4; 400 likely IA-1 voters) finds the congressman pulling back to within one point of Finkenauer, 44-43 percent, even with a turnout projection that forecasts a 53-47 percent female gender split. The previously published polls were both from September. Siena/NYT (Sept. 18-20; 502 likely IA-1 voters) found a 52-37 percent spread preferring the Democrat. Earlier, Emerson College (Sept. 6-8; 1,000 registered IA-1 voters) saw a 43-38 percent split in Finkenauer’s favor.


NEW JERSEY

New Jersey Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-Toms River) is another GOP incumbent who found himself running significantly behind. The Siena/NYT survey (Sept. 22-26; 499 likely NJ-3 voters) saw him trailing former National Security Council official Andy Kim (D) by a 49-39 percent margin. Much earlier in the cycle, Monmouth University (August) found Kim leading by three points, and the Democratic Global Strategy Group (June) saw the two candidates tied.

Now, however, the National Research polling organization (Oct. 2-4; 400 likely NJ-3 voters) projects Rep. MacArthur re-claiming an advantage, at 44-40 percent. Recently, the NRCC has been running major negative attacks against Kim, which apparently have been effective in changing the race trajectory.

Two open Republican seats that Democrats believed were a conversion lock also appear to be turning around.


FLORIDA

In Florida, a lackluster campaign effort from former Health & Human Services secretary Donna Shalala (D) has led to her falling behind Emmy Award winning bilingual journalist Maria Elvira Salazar.

In a district that voted 58-39 percent for Hillary Clinton and is the most Democratic seat (referencing the 2016 presidential campaign) to elect a Republican House member (retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen), Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies testing for the Telemundo television network (Oct. 1-6; 625 likely FL-27 voters) finds Salazar now leading the race, 44-42 percent. An earlier McLaughlin & Associates survey for the Salazar campaign (Sept. 10-13; 400 likely FL-27 voters) staked their candidate to a larger 51-42 percent.


NEVADA

In the central Nevada open congressional seat, Moore Information (Oct. 3-8; 400 likely NV-4 voters) now projects former Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Mesquite) to be holding a 41-37 percent edge over former Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas).

Most media prognosticators have rated this seat as Likely Democrat, ignoring the 2014 campaign when the two opposed each other. In that year, when Horsford was the sitting incumbent, Hardy defeated him, 48-46 percent.

Two years later, Rep. Hardy would lose to the current incumbent, Democrat Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas) who is not seeking re-election because of sexual harassment accusations. Therefore, since its creation in the 2011 redistricting plan, the 4th District has not re-elected an incumbent. Looking now at recent increased major party spending it is clear that both parties realize this race is very much in play.


ARIZONA

Democrats appeared concerned earlier that Arizona freshman Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona) was in a battle for re-election in the politically marginal and geographically expansive 1st District. He pairs against retired Air Force officer and frequent candidate Wendy Rogers (R). While the Democratic national apparatus spent right after the Aug. 28 primary, their Republican counterparts showed little early interest. Therefore, the DCCC strategists decided to cut back on their own spending.

Now, the Go Right Strategies polling organization released a survey for the Rogers campaign that finds their candidate surging into a lead. According to the poll (Oct. 9-10; 943 “data points”) that targeted 14,856 Democrats, 11,411 Republicans, and 7,353 Independents, Rogers claims a 44-38 percent advantage over O’Halleran. So, it is likely we will see increased outside spending returning to eastern Arizona.


UTAH

Finally, it is well known that Utah Rep. Mia Love (R-Saratoga Springs) has consistently under-performed the typical Republican vote margin in her two terms representing the south Salt Lake City suburban/rural district after losing a race by less than 800 votes to then-Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Salt Lake City) in 2012. With Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D) as her opponent, it was clear that she would face another competitive campaign this year.

A new Mellman Group survey for the McAdams campaign (Oct. 7-10; 400 voters “representing the likely 2018 electorate in Utah’s 4th Congressional District”) finds their candidate ticking ahead of Rep. Love 47-46 percent. Most disconcerting for Love is the Independent voter segment, which Mellman forecasts as breaking 57-32 percent for McAdams.


Though early suppositions were made in each of the aforementioned six districts, largely looking more toward early polling and discounting voter history, the electorates in each scenario now appear to be snapping back into a more typical voting pattern. It is clear, however, that none of these pre-determined races is decided, and as we move into the election cycle’s final three weeks and they obviously remain volatile.

A Polling Dichotomy in Wisconsin

By Jim Ellis

Superintendent of public instruction, Tony Evers (D), left, and Gov. Scott Walker (R)

Superintendent of public instruction, Tony Evers (D), left, and Gov. Scott Walker (R)

Sept. 15, 2018 — Two succeeding polls were just released with one showing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) barely leading in his fight for a third term, while another predicts he will be blown out. Yet, the two seemingly contradictory polls both find an almost identical Senate race status.

NBC News/Marist College went into the field during the period of Sept. 30-Oct. 3 (943 Wisconsin adults; 781 registered Wisconsin voters; 571 likely voters) and found Democratic superintendent of public instruction, Tony Evers, leading Gov. Walker by a whopping 53-43 pecent among the likeliest of voters (52-43 percent within the registered voter segment). But, Marquette University Law School, a prolific Wisconsin pollster since the 2012 election cycle, actually finds the governor clinging to a one-point, 47-46 percent edge in their just-released survey (Oct. 3-7; 1,000 registered Wisconsin voters; 799 likely voters).

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), left, and state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield)

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), left, and state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield)

While the two pollsters are far apart in how they see the governor’s race, they are very consistent in projecting the US Senate contest between first-term incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) and state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield). NBC/Marist gives Sen. Baldwin a 54-40 percent advantage within their likely voters cell, while Marquette finds a similar 53-42 percent spread.

A simple explanation suggests that the governor’s race is quite volatile while the Senate campaign is virtually decided. The two polls were run consecutively with NBC/Marist ending on Oct. 3 and Marquette beginning on that day. Obviously, this means the Marquette data is the most recent.

The Marquette sampling universe looks to be the stronger, as both the registered and likely voter cells are larger than NBC/Marist’s. Additionally, since Marquette exclusively polls the Wisconsin electorate and does so on what appears to be a quarterly basis but more frequently when closer to an election, their knowledge of the voter base is likely superior to NBC/Marist, which is a national pollster. Therefore, the greater local knowledge likely provides them a superior ability to better pull a reflective sample.

There is no other poll that finds such a deep spread between the two gubernatorial candidates. Most find results more in line with Marquette, a conclusion that continues to point to a very close electoral contest. Since the beginning of September, four gubernatorial polls have been conducted, including one from Marquette, and the average spread between the two candidates when averaging these surveys is 4.5 percent, but all in Evers’ favor.

Interestingly, of the aforementioned September polls, the second-best finding for Evers (plus-five percentage points) comes from Marquette. (Ipsos/Reuters online polling found Evers holding a 50-43 percent advantage, which is the Democrat’s strongest position.). Thus, the change from their Sept. 12-16 poll to the Oct. 3-7 version is a net six percentage points in Gov. Walker’s favor.

Scott Walker first won his position in 2010 with a 52-46 percent victory over Milwaukee mayor and former congressman Tom Barrett (D). He then won a recall vote in 2012 with a 53-46 percent margin. Over 356,000 more votes were cast in the special election as compared to the first general election. In 2014, the governor’s re-election victory margin was 52-47 percent, this time over former local official Mary Burke (D).

Evers was first elected to his statewide education position in 2009, and he has been re-elected twice. Over his three statewide electoral efforts, Evers has averaged 62.7 percent in his odd-numbered year campaigns. In the 2018 gubernatorial primary, the superintendent defeated nine other Democrats with 41.8 percent of the vote.

McSally Surges in New Arizona Poll

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson)

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson)

Oct. 12, 2018 — A new OH Predictive Insights survey for ABC News 15 in Phoenix (Oct. 1-2; 600 likely Arizona voters) brings new information about the open Arizona Senate race. According to the ballot test results, Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) has overcome Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-Phoenix) consistent small lead in the battle to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R) and claims a six-point advantage, 47-41 percent.

Though this is the first time that Rep. McSally has scored a lead beyond the polling margin of error, the new result is plausible.

For several weeks, surveys have projected that Gov. Doug Ducey (R) is expanding his small advantage over Arizona State University professor and Democratic gubernatorial nominee David Garcia into a double-digit lead, but the same polls continued to forecast Rep. Sinema with a tight edge in the Senate race. It seemed only a matter of time before the act of Ducey cementing his margin would begin to help McSally.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)

Secondly, McSally, a retired Air Force colonel and the first woman to fly a combat mission and command a flight squadron, has been hitting Sinema over her role as a war protester prior to the latter woman being elected to the state legislature. The contrast is a compelling one and should play to McSally’s favor. Arizona may be more politically competitive that in past years, but Republicans still maintain a statewide advantage here. Additionally, the death of Arizona Sen. John McCain brings greater attention to those engaged in military careers, thus further helping McSally.

An outside conservative organization then began attacking Sinema over legislation she drafted while in the legislature that made it more difficult to charge individuals in child prostitution cases. Sinema’s argument was that men should not be held totally responsible for engaging in such a crime if the prostitute in question is made to look much older than her true age. This attack appears relatively weak and may miss the mark, but it adds to the multi-pronged strategy to cast Rep. Sinema in a negative light.

For her part, Sinema countered with more positive ads and saw the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and EMILY’s List come into the race to levy negative attacks against Rep. McSally. The DSCC is running a version of the healthcare/pre-existing condition/elimination of Medicare ad that they are using around the country. EMILY’s List is using a different mode of attack, venturing into the healthcare debate but applying it to Hispanic children, in Spanish, in the Phoenix and Tucson media markets.

Returning to the polling analysis, this is the second time that OH Predictive Insights has projected McSally with a lead. Their first such poll came in early September (Sept. 5-6; 597 likely Arizona voters) when they found the Republican to be holding a smaller 49-46 percent advantage. Simultaneously, Gravis Marketing (Sept. 5-7; 882 likely Arizona voters) also saw the Tucson representative forging ahead, 49-48 percent. The July OH Predictive survey found Sinema holding a 48-44 percent edge.

Between the time McSally was first detected as holding the edge (early September) and today, seven pollsters have surveyed the Arizona Senate campaign and all posted Rep. Sinema to a positive margin of between three and seven points, though five of the studies projected leads of three points or less.

Vox Populi, polling in the same period as OH Predictive (Sept. 29-Oct. 2; 702 likely Arizona voters) also forecasts McSally to be ahead in the race, 45-42 percent, with Republicans up on the generic ballot test, 51-49 percent, when all leaners are calculated. This helps provide support that the OH Predictive numbers are in the reliability realm despite arriving at a different conclusion than other recent pollsters.

Fox News and YouGov were also in the field during this early October time period and both still project Rep. Sinema continuing to hold her typical small edge. Fox (Sept. 29-Oct. 2; 716 likely Arizona voters) and YouGov (Oct. 2-5; 898 likely Arizona voters) each sees Sinema capturing 47 percent support, with McSally trailing at 45 and 44 percent, respectively.

This race continues to be close and will go down to the wire. In order to win, Rep. McSally must continue to find ways of going on the offensive with an effort of drawing a clear contrast between the two candidates. Rep. Sinema must continue her campaign strategy of attempting to nationalize and personalize the race with additionally pushing her theme of serving her current local constituents.

New Nevada Data

By Jim Ellis

Nevada-mapOct. 11, 2018 — The new NBC News/Marist College survey (Sept. 30-Oct. 3; 920 NV residents; 780 registered Nevada voters; 574 likely Nevada voters) detects movement toward the Republicans in the two major Nevada statewide races (governor and senator), while keeping both contests in the pure toss-up column.

Marist College is an “A” rated pollster from the 538 statistical analysis organization and has partnered with NBC News since the 2012 election. Already releasing several statewide polls this year, Marist tested the Nevada electorate knowing that Sen. Dean Heller (R) is embroiled in a tough re-election campaign against freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson), while the open governor’s race, featuring Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) and Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak (D), had begun to turn toward the latter.

According to the NBC/Marist ballot test results, Sen. Heller posts a 46-44 percent edge among likely voters and an almost identical 45-43 percent within the registered voter sample. When the Libertarian Party nominee is added and a question asking whether any of the candidates are satisfactory, Sen. Heller maintains the lead, 44-42 percent, with eight percent going to Libertarian Tim Hagan, and another two percent saying they want “none of these candidates.” Among registered voters, the respondents split 42-41-8-3 percent in Sen. Heller’s slight favor, with Rep. Rosen closely following, and Hagan and “none of the above” trailing respectively.

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Early Voting:
When, Where & Possibly Why

By Jim Ellis

voteOct. 10, 2018 — There is great discussion within political circles about the importance of early voting and whether an advantage can ascertained for one party or another, or if it is a predictor of the associated election that is decided in the succeeding vote.

As more states adopt early voting – 37 currently have enacted some form of the balloting process – it is still unclear as to whether it brings more voters into the election cycle. Offering elongated voting times does make ballot casting more convenient, no doubt, and Democrats usually are more prodigious in their use of the procedure, but there are no long-term patterns that suggest the use of early voting actually leads to more Democratic victories.

The early voting calendar is also elongating the election process, and the periods for such ballot casting are getting longer. Right now, pre-election voters in Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, North and South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming already are casting their Nov. 6 ballots. This week, Arizona, California, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, and Ohio voters can join them. The states with the latest early voting start dates are Florida (Oct. 27), Maryland (Oct. 25), and West Virginia (Oct. 24).

Those who exercise their right to vote early, however, do miss the critical part of the advertising campaign, which may or may not cause them to re-think and change their votes, and it is clear that early voting has altered the campaign cycle. Thus, it is relatively clear that the more decided voters, possibly meaning the most partisan from the various parties, are the ones who generally cast their votes before Election Day.

The only states that carry early voting through Election Day itself are the three where all votes are cast via mail: Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. All others end early voting before the official Election Day, which is Nov. 6 this year.

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The CBS/YouGov Series

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 9, 2018
CBS News and the YouGov international online pollster again teamed to test four key US Senate races as part of the former’s Battleground Tracker series and finds Republican and Democratic candidates both leading in two states. All of the polls were conducted between Oct. 2-5. The polling margin of error ranges from 3.4 to 3.9 percent. The responses were submitted online and not via live telephone operators.

CBS News/YouGov Poll

CBS News/YouGov poll results (click image above to see full results posted on CBSNEWS.com)

In Arizona (1,010 registered Arizona voters), Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) continues to lead Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) by a small plurality. According to this poll, which is consistent with other known data, Sinema claims a 47-44 percent edge.

Regarding the economy, 80 percent of the Arizona respondents believe the economy is very good (26 percent) or somewhat good (54 percent). Rep. McSally is viewed as the stronger candidate on immigration, crime, and gun policy. Rep. Sinema is considered to be the stronger candidate with regard to healthcare, which is the most important issue cited.

The respondents are breaking evenly about supporting or opposing President Trump, though his job approval is an upside down 46:53 percent favorable to unfavorable.

CBS/YouGov then surveyed Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D) chances of winning re-election in New Jersey (1,009 registered New Jersey voters). Here, the senator scores a 49-39 percent advantage, one of the better reported polls for him during this election cycle.

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Forecasting the Results – Part II

By Jim Ellis

2018-democrat-house-majority-breakdown-text-graphicOct. 8, 2018 — The Democrats need to convert a net 24 seats to secure a one-seat majority in the US House on Election Day, Nov. 6. Many reports quote the number 23 as what is necessary to win control, but the new Pennsylvania map will yield one seat coming back to the Republicans — the new open 14th District — thus pushing the total up to 24.

As stated Friday, our forecasts listed below are based upon a series of factors, including current polling numbers, voter history, candidate personal and job approval favorability, fundraising, other races on the state ballot that could drive turnout, and outside issues such as the confirmation vote to for Judge Brett Kavanaugh to become a Supreme Court Justice, which could change the turnout model, etc.

According to our new analysis, the Democrats are on the cusp of converting the requisite number of Republican seats to take a bare majority and seeing their caucus become significantly larger. At this point, the Democratic gain range appears to reach 23 on the low side and 35 at the apex.

Looking at the country by state and region, it appears the Democrats will do well in the Midwest, in particular. The Great Lakes region that delivered President Trump his surprise victory appears to be snapping back to the Democrats in the midterm House races. Michigan looks particularly good for them at both the statewide and district levels.

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Forecasting the Results – Part I

By Jim Ellis

2018-senate-breakdown-text-graphicOct. 5, 2018 — As we approach one month remaining in the 2018 election cycle, it is a good time to begin forecasting what may be the plausible outcome of this national midterm election campaign. Today, we look at the Senate; tomorrow, the House.

In the Senate races, 17 of the 35 feature serious competition. With a 51-49 Republican majority margin, Democrats need only two seats to gain control. Their problem is to defend 26 of the 35 in-cycle Senate states, and that ratio yields too few targets to make a realistic run for the majority.

The forecasts listed below are based upon a series of factors including current polling numbers, voter history, candidate personal and job approval favorability, fundraising, other races on the state ballot that could drive turnout, and outside issues such as the confirmation vote for Judge Brett Kavanaugh that could change the turnout model, etc.

The competitive Senate campaigns are rated as to what we believe will happen on Nov. 6, and not about what might occur if the election were today. Certainly, time still remains for the outcome in many of these races to change, and currently unforeseen events in a dynamic election cycle could obviously alter the final results.

Democratic Seats Staying Democratic
• Michigan – Sen. Debbie Stabenow
• Ohio – Sen. Sherrod Brown
• Pennsylvania – Sen. Bob Casey Jr.
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VA-10: Momentum Change;
Dems: Eye-Popping Dollars

By Jim Ellis

Virginia state Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Loudoun County (left) | Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-McLean (right)

Virginia state Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Loudoun County (left) | Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-McLean (right)

Oct. 4, 2018 — Recently, signals were developing that Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock’s (R-McLean) campaign status against state Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D-Loudoun County) was trending poorly to the point that she was becoming one of the most endangered incumbents in the nation. Now, the political winds appear to be changing.

In June, Monmouth University released a survey that found the congresswoman dropping behind her Democratic opponent by a substantial margin, 50-41 percent, under a standard midterm turnout model; President Trump’s approval rating was severely upside down; and rumors were circulating that the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) was looking to cancel its multi-million dollar media air time reservation.

Now, things have picked up for Comstock. Yesterday, Monmouth released their new survey for this district (Sept. 26-30; 374 likely VA-10 voters), and it shows her gaining strength when compared to their June data. Still, Wexton leads in all three of their projected turnout models, but it is clear that the momentum is moving in Comstock’s direction.

Under the standard midterm participation model, the Wexton lead is 50-44 percent. If the turnout is low, her margin dips to 50-46 percent. And, if a “Democratic surge” actually takes hold of the electorate, the margin increases to 53-42 percent.

Though Rep. Comstock is behind under all turnout models, her standing has improved in each since June, and reports from inside her campaign suggest the numbers might be even better. Under the standard turnout model forecast in June, the Comstock gain is a net three percentage points. Within the low turnout model, she gains a net five points, and even her standing vis-a-vis the “Democratic surge” is better, by a net two percent.

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NJ-11: Rebounding

By Jim Ellis

Navy veteran and attorney, Mikie Sherrill

Navy veteran and attorney, Mikie Sherrill

Sep. 3, 2018 — A new poll suggests that conventional wisdom about how a northern New Jersey district will vote next month might be inaccurate.

For quite some time, the common belief has been that retiring Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s (D-Morristown) seat will convert to the Democrats in the person of attorney and Naval Academy graduate Mikie Sherrill.

An internal National Strategy poll for the Jay Webber (R) campaign (Sept. 24-27; 400 likely New Jersey voters), however, now finds the GOP nominee drawing much closer to Sherrill, to the point where he is within the polling margin of error. According to National, the ballot test finds Sherrill leading, 46-43 percent.

Published polls here have been few and far between. Right after the primary, the money count so favored Sherrill that the prognosticators began making a Democratic victory in this open Republican district a foregone conclusion.

Sherrill had already raised over $4.2 million before the end of June and held just under $3 million in the bank. This compared to Webber having less than $200,000 cash-on-hand. His fundraising was slow to gain momentum, and he had to spend in order to win the party nomination in the June 5 primary, hence his low post-primary financial total. The dollar count led to the principle idea that Sherrill was becoming a lock. Since that time, Webber’s fundraising has moved well into seven digits.

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The Healthcare Air Wars

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 2, 2018 — With the economy performing well, most recent polling finds jobs and taxes often dropping to third place as an answer to the most important issue question. Depending upon the geographic region, immigration ranks as the second most mentioned topic, but almost all now cite healthcare as number one.

(NY-24, Democrat Dana Balter’s healthcare ad)

Therefore, it is not surprising to see campaigns on both sides driving very different healthcare messages.

Democrats are consistently hitting Republicans over their vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as the Dems call it, or Obamacare, as is the GOP reference. The Democrat attacks claim that, because of this vote, the Republican House members wanted to rescind insurance coverage for those with pre-existing medical conditions. Lately, they’re adding an attack that Republicans attempted to invoke an “age tax”, claiming that the vote to repeal would have increased insurance costs five-fold for people over 50 years of age.

Republicans are countering that the “Medicare for all” plan that some Democrats advocate will cost $32 trillion dollars and result in a “doubling of the income tax.”

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Will He Stay Or Will He Go?
New Duncan Hunter Poll Released

By Jim Ellis

California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine)

California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine)

Oct. 1, 2018 — One of the more interesting asides for the coming election is whether the two indicted congressmen, California’s Duncan Hunter and New York’s Chris Collins, can still win re-election. Since the House partisan division may be close, every seat is of critical importance particularly to Republicans who are attempting to hold their tenuous majority and risk both of these seats.

Monmouth University just released their new poll in California’s 50th Congressional District, testing Rep. Duncan Hunter’s political strength. As you may remember, Hunter is under federal indictment for campaign finance violations.

According to the Monmouth data (Sept. 22-26; 401 potential CA-50 voters who have cast a ballot in at least one of the last four primary or general elections or have newly registered to vote since January 2016), Hunter still has majority support in a district that President Trump carried, 55-40 percent.

Monmouth has been testing different turnout models in all of their latest polls. They look at all registered voters, a standard midterm model, and one that features a “Democratic surge.” In this poll, as in many other Monmouth surveys around the country, the tested Democratic candidate performs better under the registered, or “all voters” model, than under a Democratic surge, so it’s unclear as to the value of the latter test framework.

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The Spending Clues

By Jim Ellis

nrcc-dcccSept. 28, 2018 — The old saying, “put your money where your mouth is,” certainly applies to campaign politics, and we have new evidence of that. Currently, there is much conjecture and banter about which candidates are going to win various House races, including media prognosticators making predictions about how the Nov. 6 election will unfold, but a better clue as to what the party leaders actually believe can be found in their spending reports.

Looking at the most recent independent expenditures from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) tells us which races the party leadership believes are their top current priorities. For a full report on all recent expenditures, check the Daily Kos Elections blog, Daily-Kos-Elections-Live-Digest-9-26.

Though the latest expenditure reports tell us which are the hot, undecided races, they don’t provide the entire picture. Media market size and previous expenditure amounts also must be considered, particularly the former. For example, a $378,000 DCCC media buy in the 2nd District of Kansas is major, whereas spending $375,000 in Nevada’s 3rd District wholly contained in the expensive Las Vegas market isn’t nearly as large even though the dollar amounts are equivalent.

That being the said, the districts where the DCCC is spending more than $500,000 in current expenditures are:
• VA-10: Against Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-McLean) – $567,000
• MN-1: Open seat defense district – $539,000
• WA-8: Open seat conversion opportunity – $518,000
• NV-4: Open seat defense district – $508,000
• MN-8: Open seat defense district – $500,000

The NRCC is spending similar amounts but not as much in:
• WA-8: $484,000
• FL-26: Protecting Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Miami) – $435,000
• VA-10: $422,000

Obviously, the VA-10 and WA-8 races are very hot because both districts are at the top of each party’s expenditure lists.
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The Healthcare Attacks

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 27, 2018 — Now that the economy is rolling, surveys are beginning to show that jobs and taxes are lesser campaign issues.

Some state and district polls indicate that the economy is dropping from the most important issue commonly cited all the way down to number three. Depending on the district or state location, immigration moves into the second slot, while healthcare now becomes the top concern. Most research consistently finds these three issues, in some order, as the most important set of topics that could move voters in an election, however.

Therefore, it is not surprising to see the two major party congressional arms attacking their opponents about healthcare, but from very different perspectives. The method of attack is becoming prevalent in virtually all of the top campaigns.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) ad attacking Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) in a suburban Chicago race

Democrats, usually using the DCCC as their message delivery entity, though the House Majority PAC, which is the Democrats’ main outside organization commonly involved in congressional races, is also a major part of the attack portfolio, hits Republican incumbents for voting to end coverage for pre-existing conditions.

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TX-31: Carter vs. Hegar

TX-31 -- The 31st Congressional District in Texas

TX-31 — The 31st Congressional District in Texas


By Jim Ellis

Sept. 26, 2018
–For the first time since his original election to the House back in 2002, Texas Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock) has drawn a top-tier Democratic challenger.

Consultant and Afghanistan War veteran M.J. Hegar (D) is giving the veteran congressman all he can handle, but a new Democratic poll finds him still hanging onto to a lead despite absorbing over $1 million in money spent opposing him.

Some of Hegar’s expenditures included financing an introductory 3:29 minute promotional video that went viral nationally and attracted well over 2.8 million views. The video, mostly about Hegar’s military career and being wounded in action, her life after the service, and the battle to allow women in combat, also created a fundraising bonanza.

Much of the money was used to tangentially hit Rep. Carter because Hegar first had to clear a four-person Democratic primary and run-off, an election that saw her placing first in the primary (44 percent), and then scoring a 62-37 percent win in the Democratic run-off vote.

The Anzalone Liszt Grove Research firm just released their second 31st District poll and the first since July. The survey (Sept. 16-20; 500 likely TX-31 voters) finds Rep. Carter leading Hegar, 46-42 percent. In July, the congressman’s margin was 48-39 percent.

The analysis indicates that Hegar is the candidate who is moving forward because she has shaved a net five percentage points from the previous lead but, considering that her campaign has been on offense and Carter defense suggests that the race could have moved more substantially.

The ALG analysis also points out that Hegar has more room to grow because her hard and soft name identification is 60 percent. Yet, they illustrate that Carter’s 63 percent name ID is weak for an incumbent. They omit to conclude, however, that the congressman can also better define himself among the 37 percent that do not possess a clear opinion of him, more of whom are more likely to be his voters than hers.

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