The Primaries Through May:
Setting November, Part II

the-primariesBy Jim Ellis

May 25, 2018 — With primaries having been completed in 13 states we review the key run-off and general election pairings that these primaries produced. Today we’ll look at Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia. Yesterday we reviewed Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska and North Carolina.


Ohio: A competitive open governor’s race is underway, featuring Attorney General and former US Sen. Mike DeWine (R) and ex-Attorney General Richard Cordray (D). Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) begins the general election in the favored position over Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth). A special election in the 12th District between state Sen. Troy Balderson (R) and Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor (D) occurs on Aug. 7. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) defends his seat against Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval. Former NFL football player and businessman Anthony Gonzalez (R) is heavily favored to succeed Rep. Renacci in the open 16th District.


Oregon: The only competition here is occurring in the governor’s race, where incumbent Kate Brown (D) runs for her first full term against state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend). The governor is a clear favorite for re-election.


Continue reading

The Primaries Through May:
Setting November, Part I

By Jim Ellis
the-primaries
May 24, 2018
— We have now completed primaries in 13 states. Therefore, we can review the key run-off and general election pairings that these primaries produced. Today we’ll look at Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska and North Carolina. Tomorrow we’ll go over the states of Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia.


Arkansas: Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) is a lock for re-election. Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) is a clear favorite over state Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock).


Georgia: Republicans will see a gubernatorial July 24 run-off between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The winner faces former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D) in the open general election. In the House, Democrats are forced into run-offs in District 6 and 7. The winners will be clear underdogs to Reps. Karen Handel (R-Roswell) and Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville).


Idaho: Lt. Gov. Brad Little (R) is a heavy favorite over state Rep. Paulette Jordan (D-Moscow) in the open governor’s race. Former state Sen. Russ Fulcher (R) will succeed Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Eagle/Boise) in the open 1st District.


Continue reading

Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky
and Texas Primary Results

By Jim Ellis

2018-elections-open-seatsMay 23, 2018 — Yesterday, voters in four states cast their votes in nomination elections. Today, we look at the results from Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Texas.

ARKANSAS

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) easily won re-nomination for a second term with 70 percent of the vote and now faces former non-profit executive Jared Henderson (D) in what is expected to be an easy run for re-election.

The most significant Arkansas race is in Little Rock’s 2nd Congressional District. With the Democratic establishment’s backing, state Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) scored an outright victory last night, capturing 59 percent against three Democratic opponents. By earning a majority of the total votes cast, Tucker avoids a run-off and automatically advances into the general election. He will now face two-term US Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) in November.


GEORGIA

Gov. Nathan Deal (R) is ineligible to seek re-election, so the open governor’s race tops the election card this year.

Continue reading

Today’s Primary Previews

By Jim Ellis

2018-elections-open-seatsMay 22, 2018
— Another four states will host regular primaries tonight. Today, we preview Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas.

ARKANSAS

The Natural State features a rather quiet election cycle, but a couple of key primaries are on the docket for today.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) seeks re-nomination for a second term and faces only minor opposition from gun range owner Jan Morgan. Former non-profit executive Jared Henderson is expected to win the Democratic primary. Gov. Hutchinson is the prohibitive favorite for re-election in the fall.

With no Senate race in Arkansas this year, the four House races, possibly with one exception, appear to yield little in the way of serious competition.

Reps. Rick Crawford (R-Jonesboro) and French Hill (R-Little Rock) are unopposed for re-nomination. Reps. Steve Womack (R-Rogers) and Bruce Westerman (R-Hot Springs) drew only minor opposition.

Only Rep. Hill looks to have a serious opponent in November. State Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock), who has raised over $600,000 and had almost $240,000 in his campaign account through the pre-primary May 2nd report, is a credible candidate. He is expected to win the nomination, with the only question being whether one of his three Democratic opponents can force a run-off.

In any race where no candidate receives a majority vote, the top two advance to a June 19 run-off.


GEORGIA

Gov. Nathan Deal (R) is ineligible to seek re-election, so the open governor’s race tops the election card this year.

The Fox5 news outlet in Atlanta sponsored a pre-primary poll (May 15-16; 522 likely Georgia Democratic primary voters, 515 likely Georgia Republican primary voters) and found former state House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams topping former state Rep. Stacey Evans by a large 58-19 percent margin in the Democratic primary. Abrams is expected to win outright tonight.

On the Republican side, going to a run-off appears likely as the Fox5 poll finds Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle drawing 31 percent followed by Secretary of State Brian Kemp with 20 percent. State Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta) is third at 14 percent, and businessman Clay Tippins attracting 12 percent support. State Sen. Michael Williams (R-Cumming) then registers only five percent preference.

Georgia also has no Senate race in 2018, but does have 14 incumbent House members all seeking re-nomination and re-election. Each is expected to win re-nomination.

Two primaries of note occur in Districts 6 and 7. Rep. Handel winning the most expensive congressional race in history back in June (likely exceeding a combined $50 million) means she is attracting several Democratic opponents vying for the nomination in order to challenge her in the regular election. Since special election nominee Jon Ossoff chose not to seek a re-match, the leading contenders among the four Democratic candidates appear to be former news anchor Bobby Kaple and businessman Kevin Abel who have raised a combined $1.1 million for the primary campaign. Gun control activist Lucy McBath could draw enough support to force Kaple and Abel into a July 24 run-off election.

In the 7th District, four-term Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville) looks to be facing a credible general election challenge, from either learning center chain CEO David Kim, former state Budget director Carolyn Bourdeaux, or software developer Ethan Pham. Combined, the group had raised a cumulative $1.5 million prior to the May 2 pre-primary campaign disclosure filing.


KENTUCKY

With no governor or senator on the ballot this year, the six House races lead the Kentucky 2018 ticket. All six congressmen, five Republicans and one Democrat, are seeking re-election and none have serious primary opposition tomorrow.

The most interesting race is the 6th District Democratic primary where Lexington-Fayette Mayor Jim Gray and retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, a veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, are in a spirited battle among a field of six candidates.

Mayor Gray raised $1.3 million before the May 2nd pre-primary filing deadline. Col. McGrath had brought in an impressive $2.0 million, but had already spent all but $300,000 as the candidates turned for the final three weeks that were remaining in the primary campaign.

Tomorrow’s winner faces three-term Rep. Andy Barr (R-Lexington), who’s raised over $2.48 million for this campaign and has $2.31 million cash-on-hand. This will be a competitive race in the fall regardless of who claims the Democratic nomination tomorrow night.


TEXAS

Thirteen significant Lone Star State political run-offs will be decided today, thus ending the nomination process that began with the Texas primary election back on March 6.

In the governor’s race, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and businessman Andrew White, the son of the late former Texas Gov. Mark White (D), do battle for the Democratic nomination. Sheriff Valdez placed first in the March 6 vote with 43 percent versus White’s 27 percent, but she failed to reach the majority plateau. Therefore, the two were forced into today’s run-off. Originally, nine Democrats were on the ballot. The winner faces Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who is the prohibitive favorite for re-election.

TX-2: This Houston suburban seat yields a Republican run-off contest between state Rep. Kevin Roberts (R-Houston) and retired Navy officer Dan Crenshaw. The Republican winner will be the prohibitive favorite to win the seat in the fall and replace retiring Rep. Ted Poe (R-Atascocita).

TX-5: Retiring Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Dallas) leaves a Republican run-off to decide his successor. State Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Kaufman County) received 30 percent in the March 6 election and now faces former Hensarling campaign manager and political fundraiser Bunni Pounds, who the congressman publicly supports. Pounds attracted 22 percent in the field of eight candidates. The Republican nominee will be the heavy favorite in November. He or she will oppose former Terrell City Councilman Dan Wood (D) in the general election.

TX-6: Tarrant County Tax Assessor and former congressional staff member Ron Wright (R) came within five percentage points of clinching the nomination outright in March. He now faces the distant second place finisher, pilot Jake Ellzey, in today’s vote. Wright is the heavy favorite for the GOP nomination and the seat.

TX-7: In the first significant Democratic run-off of the evening, Rep. John Culberson (R-Houston) will find out whom he will face in what could become a competitive general election. Attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, who most of the Democratic Party establishment backs, placed first in March with a 29-24 percent margin over author Laura Mosher. A close finish is expected tonight.

TX-21: This San Antonio-Austin district is the second of three seats where both parties are holding run-off electoral contests. For the favored Republicans, former Ted Cruz chief of staff Chip Roy topped a field of 18 candidates with 27 percent of the vote. He now faces businessman and frequent candidate Matt McCall who captured 17 percent. Roy is favored to ultimately replace retiring Rep. Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio), who won his first congressional election in 1986. The Democratic race features aerospace engineer Joseph Kopser and Baptist Minister Mary Wilson. Wilson placed first in the March 6th primary with 31 percent of the vote, followed closely by Mr. Kopser’s 29 percent.

TX-23: In the state’s one true swing district that stretches from San Antonio to El Paso, Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) runs for a third term. Since it’s origination, this district has seen all six of its previous representatives suffer a defeat at the polls. In the Democratic run-off, former US Trade official Gina Ortiz Jones, who captured 42 percent of the vote in the first election, strives to win the nomination against educator and former San Antonio City Council candidate Rick Trevino. Trevino pulled 17 percent support in the field of five original Democratic candidates. Jones is favored to win tonight. We can expect another toss-up campaign for the fall.

TX-27: Resigned Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) leaves an open seat and a June 30 special election in his wake. Tonight, both parties will host run-off elections. Republicans are favored to hold the seat, and former Water Development Board chairman Bech Bruun and ex-Victoria County Republican Party chairman and media production company owner Michael Cloud are vying for the party nomination.

TX-31: A spirited Democratic run-off is taking place in Williamson and Bell Counties, as Afghan War veteran and author M.J. Hegar faces Dr. Christine Mann, a physician. In the primary, Hegar garnered 45 percent versus Dr. Mann’s 34 percent. The winner then begins an uphill challenge against eight-term veteran Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock).

TX-32: In 2016, 11-term Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Dallas) had no Democratic Party opposition. This year, seven Democrats competed in the primary, and two advanced into the run-off election. Civil Rights attorney and former Tennessee Titans NFL football player Colin Allred opposes former Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary Lillian Salerno for the party nomination. In the March 6 primary, Allred earned 38 percent support while Salerno took 18 percent. Allred is favored today and, with its changing demographics, this general election campaign will be more competitive than in immediate past years.

Two New Senate Polls
From Indiana and Rhode Island

By Jim Ellis

gravis-marketing-Anzalone-Liszt-Grove-ResearchMay 21, 2018 — Gravis Marketing went into the field two days after the Indiana primary ended to test the new general election pairing between Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) and former state representative and businessman Mike Braun (R). According to the poll (May 10-15; 400 likely Indiana voters), the race has already lapsed into a dead heat.

Forecast as a toss-up all the way to November, Gravis finds Braun, who scored a 41-30-29 percent Republican primary plurality victory over Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/ Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie), respectively, edging Sen. Donnelly by a single point on the first ballot test, 45-44 percent.

When respondents leaning to both candidates are added, Gravis reports that Braun is up 47-46 percent. The pollsters pushed the undecideds to make a choice, but the secondary responses reportedly break 19-13 percent for Sen. Donnelly, while the remaining 69 percent maintain they are still undecided. Adding these totals into the decided ballot test appear to produce a 46-46 percent split, but the Gravis analysis gives Braun the one-point lead. Regardless of the mathematical fine-tuning, these results conclude that the Indiana Senate race is already in pure toss-up mode.

Sen. Donnelly posts a 41:40 percent favorable to unfavorable job approval score. This includes 11 percent who say they strongly approve and 18 percent who strongly disapprove. In comparison, President Trump posts a 47:47 percent score, with 24 percent strongly approving and 35 percent strongly disapproving. Indiana’s junior senator, Todd Young (R-IN), was also comparatively tested and recorded a 36:34 percent favorability index (ine percent strongly favorable; 15 percent strongly unfavorable). Hoosier State Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) fared best in the Gravis poll, however. His job approval index is 54:30 percent, with 16 percent and seven percent strongly approving and disapproving, respectively.

Continue reading

The Post-Primary Landscape:
Nebraska, Idaho & Oregon

By Jim Ellis

2018-elections-open-seatsMay 18, 2018 — In Nebraska, Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) and Sen. Deb Fischer (R) are poised to score strong re-election victories. The same for Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Lincoln) and Adrian Smith (R-Gering/West-Central NE).

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion/Omaha) will face non-profit executive Kara Eastman (D) after she upset former Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Omaha) in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. This 2nd District campaign will be competitive. In 2016, Rep. Bacon ousted then-Rep. Ashford, 49-48 percent.

Turning to Idaho, Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who topped Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Eagle/ Boise) in the Republican gubernatorial primary, opens as the favorite to replace three-term retiring Gov. Butch Otter (R). He will face state Rep. Paulette Jordan (D-Moscow) who upset 2014 gubernatorial nominee A.J. Balukoff in a landslide Democratic primary result.

In Rep. Labrador’s open 1st District, former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Russ Fulcher easily won the Republican primary, thus ensuring his seat in the next Congress. In the 2nd District, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) is the prohibitive favorite for re-election.

All five Oregon congressional districts are secure for each incumbent seeking re-election. The governor’s race featuring incumbent Kate Brown (D), running for her first full term in office after succeeding resigned Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) and then winning a 2016 special election, and state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) has potential to be competitive, but the governor is the clear favorite to win in November.

Post-Primary Pennsylvania:
Setting the Stage

By Jim Ellis

New Pennsylvania Congressional Map - Philadelphia Area

New Pennsylvania Congressional Map – Philadelphia Area | Click on map to see full-size Philadelphia area congressional line up

May 17, 2018 — Now that the dust is settling from the May 15 Pennsylvania primary, we can firmly look at which of the races have already produced November winners and the match-ups for what will be key toss-up races.

Keystone State voters chose nominees for the statewide offices and congressional races where incumbents and candidates ran for the first time in newly drawn districts.

The governor’s race will feature incumbent Democrat Tom Wolf seeking a second term against York Republican state senator and businessman Scott Wagner. With Gov. Wolf’s job approval improving after a rocky first two years in office, he is clearly favored for re-election in the fall.

Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) runs for a second term against Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton). Barletta tallied a 63 percent Republican primary victory on Tuesday, setting up the general election contest. Sen. Casey is favored for re-election, and it remains to be seen if Rep. Barletta can attract the attention and financial support to make this a top-tier challenge race.

The Pennsylvania primaries produced Tuesday winners who have virtually punched their tickets to Washington in districts that heavily favor their political party. Aside from incumbents Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia), Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster), Tom Marino (R-Williamsport), Glenn Thompson (R-Howard), Mike Kelly (R-Butler), and Mike Doyle (D-Pittsburgh) securing re-election, the following non-incumbents will also head to DC after the general election:

• District 4 (Montgomery County) – State Rep. Madeleine Dean (D)
• District 5 (Delaware County) – Ex-local official Mary Gay Scanlon (D)
• District 9 (East-Central PA) – Former Revenue Comm. Dan Meuser (R)
• District 13 (Central PA) – Dr. John Joyce (R)
• District 14 (Southwest PA) – State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R)

Races that heavily favor a particular candidate, yet still feature competition:

• District 6 (Chester County) – Chrissy Houlahan (D) vs. Greg McCauley (R)
• District 10 (Harrisburg/York) – Rep. Scott Perry (R) vs. George Scott (D)

The following are the highly competitive districts that will dominate the Pennsylvania congressional campaign landscape in the fall:

• District 1 (Bucks County) – Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R) vs. Scott Wallace (D)
• District 7 (Allentown/Bethlehem) – Marty Nothstein (R) vs. Susan Wild (D)
• District 8 (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre) – Rep. Matt Cartwright (D) vs. John Chrin (R)
• District 17 (Allegheny County) – Rep. Keith Rothfus (R) vs. Rep. Conor Lamb (D)

Mostly Predictable Primary Results;
Some Close, One Major Upset

By Jim Ellis

2018-elections-open-seatsMay 16, 2018 — Voters in Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Idaho, and Oregon went to the polls yesterday and chose nominees for the general election.

Pennsylvania

In the Keystone State, state Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York) topped a field of three candidates with 44 percent of the vote, and will face Gov. Tom Wolf (D) in November. Wolf, running for a second term, is a clear favorite in the general election. US Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton) scored a 63 percent win in the Republican senatorial primary, earning the right to challenge two-term incumbent Bob Casey Jr. (D). Likewise, the senator begins the now official general election in the favorite’s position.

In the new 14th District — which became an open seat because special election winner Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) decided to challenge Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) in the new politically marginal 17th District rather than run in this CD that contains 57 percent of the constituency that just elected him in March — Rick Saccone, the GOP state representative and special election nominee who lost to Lamb previously in the special, again lost. This time state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Bethel Township) won the Republican nomination with 55 percent of the vote, and he will easily take the seat in November.

Elsewhere, the Pennsylvania congressional races went generally as expected, though the new 7th District sees a Republican primary that could potentially go to a re-count between Lehigh County Commissioner and Olympic Gold Medalist (cycling) Marty Nothstein, who appears to have won, and former County Commissioner Dean Browning. The two are separated by just 304 votes of more than 31,000 ballots cast. In the interesting Democratic primary, Allentown Solicitor Susan Ellis Wild topped the field, capturing 33 percent of the vote. She defeated long-time Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli (30 percent), and Bernie Sanders-endorsed candidate Greg Edwards (26 percent), an Episcopal pastor. The general election promises to be tight and hard fought.

In the open 13th District (Rep. Bill Shuster retiring), the Republican primary winner would hold the seat come November. Thus, Altoona dermatologist John Joyce becomes the prohibitive favorite in the general election. He placed first with just 22 percent of the vote, followed by state Sen. John Eichelberger (20 percent), state Rep. Stephen Bloom (18 percent), retired Army Colonel Doug Mastriano (16 percent), and frequent candidate Art Halvorson (15 percent).

Elsewhere, those predicted to win prior to voting came through in either hotly contested primary campaigns, or now face competitive or potentially competitive general election pairings:

PA-1: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) draws investment fund CEO Scott Wallace, grandson of former US Vice President Henry Wallace. Wallace garnered 56 percent against two opponents. This will be a highly competitive seat in the general election.

PA-4: In the new 4th District, state Rep. Madeleine Dean crushed her opponents including former US Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D), who actually finished dead last with just 11 percent of the vote. Dean scored a 73 percent victory and will win the safely Democratic seat in November.

Continue reading

May Primaries: Round 2

By Jim Ellis

New Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court (click on image to see full size)

New Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court (click on image to see full size)

May 15, 2018 — Voters in four more states go to the polls to choose their nominees today. Today, we examine those four states as voting gets underway in the Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon and Pennsylvania primaries.

Pennsylvania

Voters in the Keystone State go to the polls throughout the day to choose partisan nominees for governor, US senator, and representatives in their 18 new US House Districts.

The governor and Senate contests are not stirring up much intrigue as neither Gov. Tom Wolf (D) nor Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) face any Democratic primary opposition. On the Republican side, state Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York) seems to have the inside track against businessman Paul Mango and former Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce president Laura Ellsworth. In the Senate GOP contest, US Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton) appears primed to defeat state Rep. Jim Christiana (R-Monaca) for the opportunity to challenge Sen. Casey in November. Both Democratic incumbents are currently favored to win new terms.

PA-1: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) will easily win re-nomination against a minor Republican candidate. Democrats have three candidates vying for advancement to the general election. Though the district remains 93 percent intact after the state Supreme Court re-drew the Pennsylvania CDs, and contains all of Bucks County, this race has toss-up potential.

PA-2: Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia) is running in the eastern downtown district, now fully contained within Philadelphia County. Rep. Boyle will have little trouble securing this seat in tonight’s Democratic primary and in the general election. Half of Rep. Boyle’s previous 13th District comprises new District 2.

PA-3: Freshman Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia) seeks re-election in a slightly different district, as 80 percent of his former constituents are re-cast into the new 3rd CD. Evans will easily be re-elected in both today’s primary and the general.

PA-4: The new 4th is comprised of parts of five previous districts, and now contains most of Montgomery County with a sliver of Berks County. Former US Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D) is attempting a comeback here, but it appears state Rep. Madeleine Dean has the advantage in the Democratic primary. The new 4th is safely Democratic in the general election.

Continue reading

Top-Two “Jungle Primary” Reverberations

By Jim Ellis

May 14, 2018 — Back in 2010, when initiators created the movement to change the California primary system to feature a jungle format — where the top two finishers advance to the general election regardless of the percentage of vote they attained or party affiliation — they had hoped their ultimately successful ballot initiative would favor candidates closer to the political center. Approaching the June 5, 2018 primary, however, we see that this top-two system might produce quite different and possibly unintended outcomes.

California Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (CA-480

California Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (CA-48)

In a pair of competitive Southern California Republican congressional districts, recent polling suggests that Democrats could find themselves on the outside looking in for the November election despite having high hopes of converting the two seats.

The districts are CA-48, where veteran 15-term US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) seeks to be part of another two-year congressional session, and CA-49, the open Orange/San Diego County seat from which Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) is retiring.

The pair of early May polls, one from Change Research (CA-48) and the other Benenson Strategy Group (CA-49), reveals that two Republicans could potentially advance to the general election in both districts, thus preventing Democrats from competing in the general election. Though it’s mathematically possible that two Dems could also progress to November in both places, the latter scenario is less likely because the GOP holds a voter registration edge in each CD.

California Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-49)

California Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-49)

In the 48th, Republicans have a 10-point 40.7-30.1 percent registration advantage over Democrats with an additional 24.5 percent declaring No Party Preference, meaning the latter are Independents. In the 49th, the GOP advantage is a lesser 36.7–31.1 percent with 26.6 percent not stating a party preference. Therefore, without coalescing the Democratic vote in each district behind one strong candidate, the chance plainly exists that Republicans could potentially slip two contenders in through the proverbial backdoor. In both the 48th and 49th, too many Democratic candidates are strong enough so as to prevent such a base unification.

The Change Research survey (May 2-3; 590 likely CA-48 jungle primary voters) finds Rep. Rohrabacher leading the field of four tested candidates (though a total of 16 candidate names will appear on the primary ballot, including three Democrats and one Republican who have withdrawn, but too late to erase their ballot positions). Rohrbacher is in front in the poll with just 27 percent of the vote, followed by Democratic scientist Hans Keirstead, who has 19 percent, and ex-state assemblyman and former Orange County Republican Party chairman Scott Baugh, with 17 percent. Democrat Harley Rouda, a businessman and attorney, garners 11 percent support.

Continue reading

The Turnout Report:
Signs of a “Blue Wave”?

By Jim Ellis

May 10, 2018
— Looking at the voting patterns for Tuesday’s primaries in the four states holding elections, we see little evidence of the reported “blue wave” often discussed in media analyst reports — meaning a surge in Democratic Party voter turnout — but there is also sparse information to determine specific participation trends in many of the noted places.

state-of-ohio-mapOhio has the most complete data to compare totals for midterm elections dating back to 2006. On Tuesday, 1,506,777 people voted in the two major party primary elections, with just about 55 percent recorded in the Republican gubernatorial contest. The current grand total was the second largest participation figure in the four midterms since 2006, inclusive. The 1.506 million aggregate total was second only to the 2006 turnout that saw 1.626 million Ohioans voting. This year, both parties featured open gubernatorial primaries, each with a clear leader heading into Election Day.

In all four of the tested Ohio midterms, more people voted in the Republican primary. The 54.9 percent participation factor when measuring the two parties against each other on Tuesday night was the second highest of the sampled four. Only the Republicans’ 56.0 percent participation rate in 2014 was stronger. To put the current rate in perspective, the GOP low occurred in 2006 when 50.8 percent of primary voters cast a Republican ballot. In the succeeding general election, Democrat Ted Strickland would win the governor’s campaign, making the result consistent with the higher Democratic primary participation rate.

In the Buckeye State House races, eight of the 16 districts featured primary elections for both parties. In each of the districts holding primaries for both parties, the political entity controlling the seat before the election saw more people vote in that party’s primary. The most significant race was the special primary election in the 12th District, the seat former Rep. Pat Tiberi (R) vacated to return to the private sector. There, 23,902 more people voted in the Republican primary, thus providing some tangible support for predicting the state Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) is favored to win the seat in the Aug. 7 special general vote.

Continue reading

Big Primary Results

By Jim Ellis

2018-elections-open-seats-185May 9, 2018 — Voters in four states made their preliminary electoral statements known last night, choosing nominees in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia in the 2018 election cycle’s first multi-state primary event. The night included defeating the first incumbent of the electoral season, North Carolina three-term Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte), and nominating two Senate nominees in what could become first-tier Republican challenger campaigns.

Indiana

One of the more interesting contests heading into yesterday’s voting was the Indiana GOP Senate primary where three major contenders were vying for the right to advance into the general election and face first-term Sen. Joe Donnelly (D). There, former state representative and national distribution company owner Mike Braun attempted to seamlessly drape both Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie) in the algae of the Washington swamp, with the two House members retaliating that Braun is a former Democrat with a voting record that supported raising taxes 47 times.

Considering that Braun proved successful in winning the nomination last night, his strategy and clever advertising campaign worked but, in the aggregate, almost 60 percent of the Republican primary electorate still voted for one of the two congressman. In the end, Braun captured 41.2 percent of the vote, enough of a plurality to claim the nomination. Rep. Rokita was second with 30 percent, while Rep. Messer was a very close third, getting 28.8 percent of the GOP vote. Braun swept virtually all of the counties outside of Congressional Districts 4 and 6, which belong to Reps. Rokita and Messer, respectively.

A Donnelly-Braun general election will be highly competitive, as now the new Republican nominee will make the incumbent senator the focal point of his anti-Washington swamp, politics-as-usual campaign strategy. The Indiana race now becomes one of the premier GOP challenge targets in the country.

In the House races, while Braun ran strongly throughout most of the state, he failed to provide familial coattails. His brother, Steve Braun, fell to state Rep. Jim Baird (R-Greencastle) in a 36-29 percent spread from a 4th District GOP electorate that exceeded 80,000 votes. Baird will easily win the general election and come to Washington as Rep. Rokita’s replacement in the western state congressional district that touches the outer Indianapolis suburbs.

Turning to the eastern 6th District, in a highly expected result, Vice President Mike Pence’s older brother, Greg Pence, easily captured the Republican nomination for Rep. Messer’s open seat. His 65 percent victory over four opponents sends him into a general election campaign that he will surely win in November.

North Carolina

All local political observers were following the two Republican US House incumbents facing strong challengers. As mentioned in the introduction, Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) became the first House member in this fledgling election cycle to be denied re-nomination. Pittenger, who came within just 134 votes of losing the 2016 GOP primary, could not overcome former pastor Mark Harris this year. Harris, a 2014 US Senate candidate, ran two years later for the post court-mandated redistricting seat that changed 60 percent of the district just before the 2016 primary.

Though it looked like Rep. Pittenger would have an easier road to re-nomination this year, the opposite proved true. Harris won the party nomination, 48.5–46.2 percent, a margin of 814 votes of more than 35,000 primary votes cast. Harris will now face the new Democratic nominee, businessman Dan McCready who is already on record saying he won’t vote for Nancy Pelosi as House speaker if he wins in November. The 9th District, which stretches from Charlotte to Fayetteville, posted a 54-43 percent victory for President Trump. Rep. Pittenger won re-election in 2016 with 58 percent of the vote. Though the numbers stack up well for Republicans in this district, with McCready already raising $1.9 million for the primary, it makes this contest competitive and may become a targeted Democratic challenge race.

Moving to the Outer Banks region, veteran Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville), also facing serious competition, scored a 43 percent victory to win what he says will be his last term. The fact that he had two opponents who pulled virtually equal support allowed Jones to win again with just a plurality. He faces no competition in the general election, which means last night’s victory assures him of re-election in the fall.

In the Greensboro area, as expected, University of North Carolina at Greensboro trustee Kathy Manning, another challenger who has raised well into seven figures, easily advanced into the general election last night with 70 percent of the vote. She will face freshman Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) in another November race that appears more competitive than the regional voting history might suggest. Budd garnered 56 percent in his first general election. The congressman was unopposed last night in the Republican primary.

Ohio

The Ohioans voted as expected last night. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) scored a 47-32 percent win over investment banker Mike Gibbons to win the 2018 Republican Senate nomination. The congressman now advances against two-term Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in November.

Originally a gubernatorial candidate, Renacci made the smart switch to the Senate race after attorney general and former US Sen. Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted voluntarily formed a ticket to effectively clinch the nomination in the early part of the year. All of these strategic moves proved prescient, as DeWine easily won the gubernatorial election last night, 60-40 percent over Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor (R); Rep. Renacci secured the Senate nomination.

In the 12th District special election, state Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) out-paced Liberty Township Trustee Melanie Leneghan by a single percentage point (29-28 percent) and topped a field of seven other candidates to win the Republican nomination and advance to the Aug. 7 special election. Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor easily won the Democratic nomination. The 12th is a reliably Republican seat, and with a 24,000-vote edge in total turnout last night, Sen. Balderson becomes the clear favorite to win the special general. Both men also were nominated for the full two-year term in November.

Looking at Rep. Renacci’s open Cleveland-Akron area 16th District, technology executive and former NFL football player Anthony Gonzalez defeated conservative state Rep. Christina Hagan (R-Marlboro Township) 53-41 percent to win the Republican nomination. Gonzalez will now face healthcare company executive Susan Moran Palmer, who captured the Democratic nomination. The former Indianapolis Colts and Ohio State Buckeye wide receiver is the favorite to win the seat in November.

West Virginia

In the other premier Senate contest of the evening, media reports that disgraced former coal company CEO Don Blankenship was making a serious move on the Republican nomination proved erroneous as two-term Attorney General Patrick Morrisey won the GOP primary with a 35-29 percent margin over US Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-Huntington). Placing third with 20 percent of the Republican vote was Blankenship. AG Morrisey won the right to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin in the general election. The incumbent defeated a Democratic primary challenger from his left, environmentalist Paula Jean Swearingen, 70-30 percent.

Morrisey swept the northern and central portions of the state, with Rep. Jenkins dominating south West Virginia, the site of his congressional district. Blankenship won four small counties. The Manchin-Morrisey Senate election now becomes a top-tier Republican challenge race.

With Reps. David McKinley (R-Wheeling) and Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) running unopposed for re-nomination, the congressional action was in Rep. Jenkins’ open 3rd District where state House Majority Whip and farmer Carol Miller (R-Cabell County) topped a field of six other Republican candidates, including two sitting state delegates, one former delegate and congressional nominee, and an ex-West Virginia Republican Party chairman to win a close nomination campaign. She begins the general election in the favorite’s position against state senator and Iraq War veteran Richard Ojeda (D-Holden/Logan) who easily won the Democratic primary.

Primary Previews

By Jim Ellis

2018-elections-open-seats-185May 8, 2018 — Today’s elections kick-off the prime time of primary season, with voters in four states — Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia — choosing nominees for November. Here is an outlook for each of the states:

Indiana

With no governor’s race on the ballot this year, the Republican Senate nomination campaign tops the Indiana political card, which is one of the more interesting campaigns in the country. Here, Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie) are battling former state representative and Meyer Distributing and Meyer Logistics companies’ owner Mike Braun for the right to face first-term Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in November. Donnelly has no opposition for his party nomination.

Braun has gained national notoriety for his campaign, which has strategically melded both congressmen into basically one person. The Braun Campaign ads have characterized Reps. Rokita and Messer as being part of the Washington “swamp”, concentrating negatively on their budget and trade votes, as well as casting them as professional politicians. He even goes so far as to brandish two cardboard cutouts of the congressmen where they are dressed exactly alike and says they are both lawyers who never practiced, instead spending their entire careers in politics.

Continue reading

Ohio Poll: Heading for Primary Day

By Jim Ellis

state-of-ohio-mapMay 7, 2018 — Tomorrow’s primary featuring voting in Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia is now only a day away; Berea, Ohio’s Baldwin Wallace University just released a new survey of the Buckeye State electorate.

Though the poll possesses significant flaws, the primary results for both parties seem consistent with other published data, even though such publicly released information is sparse.

The Baldwin Wallace poll (April 24-May 2; 811 registered Ohio voters — 333 likely Ohio Democratic primary voters, 323 likely Ohio Republican primary voters) is unusual in several ways.

First, the nine-day polling sample is, on average, three times too long and thus negatively affects overall reliability.

Second, and more damaging, is the huge over-sampling of female voters in the respondent sample. Some 59 percent of those polled are female leading women to dominate every polling segment. For example, on the question of political ideology, more women then men say they are very liberal (60.3 percent), liberal (60.0 percent), moderate (57.3 percent), conservative (53.6 percent), and very conservative (52.8 percent), thus yielding a female majority in every category. Since women traditionally poll more liberal than men, this poll skews definitively to the left.

Another unusual aspect associated with the Baldwin Wallace research is the administrators not testing 2018 general election pairings even though they move forward to begin examining the 2020 Ohio presidential campaign.

Continue reading

Lamborn Reinstated in Colorado;
Similar Problems Emerge in MI-1

By Jim Ellis

Six-term GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs)

Six-term GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs)

May 4, 2018 — A Colorado federal court judge has reinstated Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) to the 5th Congressional District Republican primary ballot in a ruling that was issued late Monday night. The judge indicated that the state’s law requiring petition circulators to be Colorado residents is unconstitutional.

Earlier, the state court declared that some of Rep. Lamborn’s petition signatures were disqualified because certain paid petition circulators were not Colorado residents. Therefore, all signatures obtained by the non-qualified circulator(s) were declared ineligible even though the individual signers met the proper legal requirements. The rejected number took Lamborn below the minimum 1,000 valid petition signatures necessary for ballot placement; hence, his disqualification from the primary election.

The Lamborn Campaign responded with a federal lawsuit citing the First Amendment rights of both the signers and circulators to participate in the political process. The judge agreed with the plaintiff’s argument, which is consistent with several other similar past rulings from other states.

There is likely to be an appeal filed, but the situation must be finally resolved before May 12, the state’s deadline for printing the June 26 primary ballots.

The 5th District contains all of El Paso County and the city of Colorado Springs along with Chafee, Fremont, and Teller counties and a small portion of Park County. The seat is solidly Republican, meaning the GOP nomination process is the determining factor regarding who represents the district. State Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) and El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, who was the 2016 Republican US Senate nominee, are opposing the six-term congressman for the party nomination.

Continue reading