The House $ Tree

By Jim Ellis

April 19, 2019 — The Federal Election Commission reports are now in the public domain for first quarter 2019, and the amount of money being raised early suggests we could be headed for another record spending year in the 2020 campaigns.

While most incumbent House members show somewhat less than $500,000 in their accounts, many possess multimillion-dollar campaign war chests. In most cases, those comprising this latter group have been accumulating their funds for years without having to spend much on their own re-election efforts.

A handful of members, 36 to be exact, had strong first quarters defined as raising over $500,000 in the first 12 weeks of the new calendar year. Of the three dozen, and predictably so, many are in House leadership positions such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who obtained $1.7 million since the new year began.

The quarter’s top fundraiser, however, was House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), who gathered in $2.46 million. And the range among the 36 most prolific fundraisers stretched from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ (R-WA) $503,000 to Scalise’s aforementioned total. In all, 24 of the top House fundraisers are Democrats versus 12 Republicans.

Cash-on-hand is another very important category in assessing political strength, and here we see 41 members (29 Democrats; 12 Republicans) who brandish bank accounts in excess of $1.5 million.

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New Senate $ Figures

By Jim Ellis

April 18, 2019 — The first of eight quarters comprising the 2020 election cycle is now complete and, with that, most of the first Senate financial disclosure reports have been published. Below are the latest available cash-on-hand figures for the 31 in-cycle senators who are seeking re-election.

As you can see, the overwhelming number of incumbents are in strong financial position with Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R) having more in the bank than anyone. He will need a large war chest because Texas is such an expensive state.

In 2018, Beto O’Rourke, who was challenging Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) before declaring his presidential candidacy, raised over $80 million — some $34 million more than his incumbent opponent. Combined, the two banked over $125 million, not counting substantial independent expenditures that helped both men.

Not surprisingly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) raised more money than anyone else in the first three months of 2019 — some $7.991 million, exceeding Sen. Cornyn but by just over $200,000.

The low-end senator is rather surprising, since she is again likely headed for a competitive campaign. Posting numbers that would even be low for a US House race, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) raised only $232,239 for the quarter and has just $218,703 in the bank.

The senator is again expected to face former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi congressman, Mike Espy (D). The two battled each other in the 2018 special election, with Sen. Hyde-Smith prevailing 54-46 percent in the Nov. 27 run-off. Hyde-Smith was appointed to fill the balance of Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R) final term. Cochran resigned his seat due to health reasons.

All of the following figures are current through March 31, 2019, with the exception of four senators: Cory Booker (NJ), Mike Rounds (SD), Ben Sasse (NE), and Tina Smith (MN). It is probable all reports were filed, but the Federal Election Commission has not yet published their numbers. Sen. Booker’s 1st-quarter fundraising is for his presidential effort, which is unofficially reported to exceed $5 million.

Below are the financial numbers from the highest
cash-on-hand senator to the lowest:

 
STATE
 
INCUMBENT
CASH-ON-HAND
(MARCH 31, 2019)
TEXAS John Cornyn (R) $7,407,942
KENTUCKY Mitch McConnell (R) $5,569,222
SOUTH CAROLINA Lindsey Graham (R) $4,619,235
VIRGINIA Mark Warner (D) $4,155,337
MAINE Susan Collins (R) $3,807,811
MASSACHUSETTS Ed Markey (D) $3,536,133
LOUISIANA Bill Cassidy (R) $3,448,675
COLORADO Cory Gardner (R) $3,414,5
GEORGIA David Perdue (R) $3,282,091
ALABMA Doug Jones (D) $3,094,916
MICHIGAN Gary Peters (D) $3,056,598
NORTH CAROLINA Thom Tillis (R) $2,920,475
ARKANSAS Tom Cotton (R) $2,831,908
IOWA Joni Ernst (R) $2,815,962
MONTANA Steve Daines (R) $2,547,795
ILLINOIS Dick Durbin (D) $2,433,345
ARIZONA Martha McSally (R) $2,108,915
ALASKA Dan Sullivan (R) $2,042,051
OREGON Jeff Merkley (D) $1,902,741
RHODE ISLAND Jack Reed (D) $1,803,356
NEW HAMPSHIRE Jeanne Shaheen (D) $1,521,776
NEBRASKA Ben Sasse (R) $1,361,057*
NEW JERSEY Cory Booker (D) $1,340,448*
WEST VIRGINIA Shelley M. Capito (R) $1,201,127
IDAHO Jim Risch (R) $1,157,171
DELAWARE Chris Coons (D) $1,063,646
OKLAHOMA Jim Inhofe (R) $887,344
WYOMING Mike Enzi (R) $544,216
SOUTH DAKOTA Mike Rounds (R) $511,538*
MINNESOTA Tina Smith (D) $433,782*
MISSISSIPPI Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) $218,703

*1st Quarter figures not yet published; numbers are through Dec. 31, 2018 for Booker, Rounds, Sasse, T. Smith

Judge Moore Leads Again in Alabama

By Jim Ellis

Are we about to see the return of Judge Roy Moore in the 2020 Alabama Senate race?

April 17, 2019 — Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy just surveyed the Alabama electorate (April 9-11; 625 registered Alabama voters), testing Sen. Doug Jones’ (D) pre-campaign political strength and the fledgling potential Republican candidate field.

The Alabama Senate race may be the most important in the 2020 cycle. If the majority Republicans unseat Sen. Jones, who was the beneficiary of former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore imploding in the 2017 special election to replace Sen. Jeff Sessions (R), they will increase their chamber advantage to 54-46 at a time when the party has to defend 10 more seats than their Democratic counterparts. If they fail to convert and Sen. Jones is re-elected, the Democrats will exponentially increase their odds of re-capturing Senate control.

Though the M-D poll did not pair Sen. Jones with potential Republican nominees, they do provide us some important information. On the question of whether Sen. Jones deserves to be re-elected, a majority response of 50 percent say he should be replaced. Conversely, 40 percent believes he should be re-elected.

The senator’s job approval ratio is virtually dead even, with 45 percent of the respondents providing positive comments about how he is performing in Washington versus 44 percent who believe he is not performing well. Jones is viewed positively in the Birmingham metro area (48:41 percent), and very positively in the Montgomery region (71:21 percent). In all other Alabama geographic sectors, he is perceived negatively with his worst numbers coming in eastern Alabama where the ratio drops to 35:53 percent.

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Another House Retirement Ahead

By Jim Ellis

Iowa Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) to retire

April 16, 2019 — Seven-term Iowa Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) announced Friday that he will not seek re-election in 2020. Loebsack, a former college professor, first came to Congress in the 2006 election when he unseated GOP Rep. Jim Leach in a major upset victory.

Since his first re-election, Loebsack has generally faced Republican competition, but the GOP has never been able to elevate a challenge against him to top-tier status. Still, in his seven elections, Rep. Loebsack recorded only a 53.7 percent average victory margin. Last November, he defeated Republican Chris Peters, who also ran in 2016, 54-42 percent.

Iowa’s 2nd District occupies the southeastern quadrant of the four congressional districts in the state under a mapping plan that divided the territory geographically by quarters. The two largest 2nd District population centers are the cities of Davenport (102,000 population) and Iowa City (74,000).

Politically, the 2nd looks to be the strongest Democratic district of the state’s four seats, but the electorate did support President Trump with a 49-45 percent margin. Previously, however, President Obama ran strong here in both of his national campaigns, carrying the district 56-43 percent in 2012 and 57-42 percent during his initial 2008 campaign.

With President Trump needing to win Iowa next year, it is clear that his campaign will attempt to maximize right-of-center turnout in IA-2, meaning a potential Republican open seat congressional candidate should get an indirect boost. Now, with no Democratic incumbent running to defend the seat, this district figures to become a key GOP conversion opportunity.

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New Polls Show 2020 Presidential Candidates Drifting in & Out of Lead

By Jim Ellis

April 15, 2019 — We reported upon polling data (Change Research and Emerson College) last week that suggested Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) had edged ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden and is even out-polling Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren in their respective home states of California and Massachusetts, but newly released figures already show variation.

Two polls reverse Sanders’ early positive trend including one from his neighboring state of New Hampshire. In 2016, Sen. Sanders easily outpaced Hillary Clinton (47-28 percent with 25 percent voting for an uncommitted slate) to win the first-in-the-nation primary in that election year.

Monmouth University recently surveyed the Iowa Democratic electorate (April 4-9; 351 likely Iowa Democratic caucus participants) and found former VP Biden leading Sen. Sanders by a substantial 27-16 percent margin, as South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg catapults into third place with nine percent. Sens. Harris and Warren then follow with seven percent apiece. Ex-Texas congressman, Beto O’Rourke, is next with six percent, and the remainder of the field posts four percent or less.

Almost simultaneously, St. Anselm’s College polled their home state (April 3-8; 326 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters) and found Biden leading in New Hampshire, too. Here, the support percentages are 23-16-11-9-7-6 percent, respectively, for Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg, Warren, Harris, and O’Rourke.

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