Monthly Archives: June 2014

Why New Mexico Matters

The first benchmark in the 2016 presidential contest could actually come later this year in New Mexico. While it is still very uncertain as to who will be the next Republican presidential nominee, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez may already own the inside track to becoming the GOP’s Vice Presidential nominee. Assuming she’s re-elected this year, it’s hard to imagine a female Hispanic governor from one of three legitimate swing states – at a time when Republicans are in desperate need of increased support from women, Hispanics, and voters from marginal political states –  Continue reading >

Hagan Struggles in North Carolina

The conservative Civitas Institute tested the North Carolina electorate (National Research, June 18-19 & 22; 600 registered North Carolina voters – live calls, 25 percent cell phone users) and found that Sen. Kay Hagan (D) is leading her Republican opponent, state House Speaker Thom Tillis, but her advantage is tentative.

The 42-36 percent result again posts Hagan in the low 40s, very bad territory for any incumbent. The fact that she has a six-point edge over Tillis is obviously an improvement from her prior poll standing, but this probably has more to do with an unpopular state legislature than Tillis, personally. It appears the House Speaker’s numbers always tumble when this legislature is in session, as it is now. The fact that he is one of the body’s key leaders, however, is a major negative, so Tillis’ ballot test deficit certainly cannot be discounted.

Sen. Hagan is generally considered to be the most vulnerable of all Democratic incumbents standing for re-election. She represents one of only two states that changed its 2008 vote away from Barack Obama, and doesn’t have the president on the ballot with her as she did six years ago to maximize the important minority voter  Continue reading >

Cochran Victory Reverses History

Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R) amazing comeback victory in Tuesday’s run-off election in Mississippi changed political voting history in three ways.

First, the Cochran campaign and their allies increased the number of voters who participated in the nomination process, something not thought practically possible. In the June 3 primary, 313,483 people voted in the Republican senatorial primary. On Tuesday, 376,323 ballots were cast, meaning a minimum of 62,840 individuals who did not vote in the primary participated in the  Continue reading >

Cochran Defies Pollsters; Lankford, Clawson, Rangel Win

Mississippi

Defying all pollsters’ projections, veteran Sen. Thad Cochran rebounded from his under-performance in the June 3 primary election to win the Mississippi run-off campaign. State Sen. Chris McDaniel came within one-half percent of claiming the Republican nomination in the primary vote, but failed to capitalize on his early momentum.

Virtually all published polling projected the 42-year congressional veteran to be falling significantly behind his Tea Party-backed Republican challenger. Yet, the actual results gave the incumbent a 51-49 percent victory, a margin of 6,373 votes out of the 372,000-plus ballots cast, some 60,000 more than were recorded in the primary. Therefore, the secondary election campaign defied not only the pollsters who almost unanimously predicted a McDaniel win going away, but also voter history that virtually always sees an incumbent lose a run-off election when forced into one. Additionally, this run-off produced more  Continue reading >

Decision Day in Six States

Mississippi

Voters will be casting ballots in six states, and the Mississippi Republican run-off contest between Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel gains top national billing. Most polling suggests that McDaniel, who placed first in the primary with 49.4 percent of the vote, is favored to capture the party nod. His victory would unseat a veteran Republican senator who was first elected to Congress in 1972.

FL-19

Another US House special election will be decided today as GOP businessman Curt Clawson is poised to win Florida’s 19th Congressional District, left vacant by freshman Rep. Trey Radel’s (R) resignation. Clawson, armed with $2 million of personal money and strong backing from various Tea Party groups, easily won the Republican nomination on April 22. The former Purdue University basketball player will cruise to victory against Democrat April Freeman in the safely Republican seat anchored in the Ft. Myers/Cape Coral area. He will be sworn into office later this week, and then immediately begin running for a full term.  Continue reading >

Rep. Rangle Seeks 23rd Term; Tiahrt a Long Shot

Veteran Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY-13) seeks a 23rd term in the House this year, and tomorrow’s New York Democratic primary will determine his fate. Rangel again faces state Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D), the man he beat by just over 1,000 votes in 2012. Both men’s political position appear to have improved in this election. Rangel is past an ethics scandal and Espaillat has earned serious endorsements from key New York City Democratic constituencies.

Siena College released a pre-primary poll (June 14-18; 707 likely Democratic primary voters) posting the congressman to a 47-34 percent lead over Sen. Espaillat at the beginning of the primary campaign’s final week. The result for Rangel is a bit better than one might have expected considering the closeness of the 2012 election.

On a cautionary note, Siena College has badly missed New York City races in the past, suggesting their sample draws may not be particularly accurate. Therefore, these numbers could be inflated. The true answer will become known tomorrow night.

KS-4 – Pompeo vs. Tiahrt

Late last month, former Rep. Todd Tiahrt announced his Aug. 5 Republican primary  Continue reading >

Young, Zaun Battle at Iowa’s GOP Convention

Going into the post-primary Iowa District 3 Republican convention, called to select a nominee because no candidate reached 35 percent in the June 3 primary, we knew that anything could happen. Therefore, it is hard to call former Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) chief of staff David Young a surprise winner, but the new nominee’s previous finish of fifth in the primary election and fourth on the first convention ballot Saturday certainly didn’t make him the favorite.

As so often happens in convention politics, a pattern develops where the early front-runner loses to someone with coalition-forming ability coming from well behind. And this very scenario played out in Des Moines over the weekend.

With 497 Republican delegates voting on the fifth and final ballot, Young scored a 55 percent victory (276-221) over state senator and 2010 congressional nominee Brad Zaun, who landed as the first place-finisher in the primary as well as on four convention ballots. Though Zaun out-polled the other five primary candidates with 24.6 percent of the vote, he was nowhere near obtaining the necessary 35 percent to win the nomination.

For his part, though Sen. Zaun says he will fully support Young in the general election,  Continue reading >

“The President” Admonishes Georgia Rep. Kingston in Ad

Approaching the half-way point in the Georgia Senate Republican run-off, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1) has released a second ad in what now appears to be a series of messages that use a President Obama impersonator. In the primary, the campaign showed pictures of Obama on the phone as if he were leaving a voice mail for Rep. Kingston. The crux of the message has “Obama” telling the south Georgia congressman that he (Obama) doesn’t want him in the Senate.
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Anything Could Happen at Saturday’s Iowa Convention

Before Tuesday’s important June 24 primary that will decide Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R) fate among many other candidates in six states, a different nominating event will take place. Tomorrow, Republican convention delegates in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District (Des Moines/Council Bluffs) will meet to choose a US House nominee to succeed retiring Rep. Tom Latham as the party standard bearer. Under state election law, if no candidate receives at least 35 percent of the primary vote a post-election convention is called to choose a nominee. The delegates have no limitations over who they can choose.

In the June 3 primary, a very tight contest was held among six candidates, five of whom placed in double-digits. In first position with 25 percent of the vote, but a full 10 percentage points away from winning the nomination, was former state senator and 2010 congressional nominee Brad Zaun. Businessman Robert Cramer was second at 21 percent, followed by Secretary of State Matt Schultz registering 20 percent, association executive Monte Shaw notching 17 percent, and David Young, the former chief of staff to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who was originally in the US Senate race,  Continue reading >

Vacated Whip Position Draws Most Interest in GOP House Leadership Elections Today

With Rep. Eric Cantor’s (R-VA-7) Republican primary defeat now settling in, the Republican Conference will meet later today to choose his replacement as Majority Leader. Since Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23) is a lock to move into Cantor’s position, the competitive battle for the vacated Whip position is drawing the most interest.

Though Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID-1) is challenging McCarthy, the outcome of this internal race is already a foregone conclusion. The Whip’s campaign features Chief Deputy Majority Whip Peter Roskam (R-IL-6), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA-1), and a late entry, Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana.

The question to be answered is whether the Republican Conference as a whole will simply follow the normal leadership succession with McCarthy and Roskam, or will the most conservative wing stand together and choose someone whom they can claim credit for electing, thus simultaneously paying attention to the right flank and the party’s dominant southern vote base.
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NRCC Spending Targets Perceived Opportunity; Polls Show a Surly N.C. Electorate

The National Republican Congressional Committee just released their upcoming media buys, which total $18 million across 26 different districts. Much more will be spent, but this opening public salvo provides us a window into where the committee sees opportunity or the need to defend.

The top incumbent defense is found in Colorado’s 6th District, where three-term Rep. Mike Coffman (R) faces former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D) in a battle where the combined candidate fundraising total already exceeds $6 million. The NRCC bought media time in the Denver broadcast market worth $3.3 million.

The 6th District race is turning into the most expensive congressional campaign in the country. Located in the eastern and northeastern Denver suburbs, the 6th is now a marginal political district that is beginning to trend more Democratic despite it electing a Republican congressman. Coffman was re-elected in a post-redistricting 2012 campaign, but with only 48 percent of the vote. The midterm  Continue reading >

Challenges for Incumbents Continue

Yesterday, we covered several polls that showed incumbents – senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Mark Udall (D-CO) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA), in addition to Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) – trailing their challenger opponents (Incumbent Surprises Lining Up, June 16). Today, that trend continues.

Mississippi

The run-off election to decide Mississippi’s Republican senatorial nominee is just a week away, and the polling company inc./Woman Trend for the Citizens’ United organization (June 12-13; 501 likely Mississippi Republican run-off voters) commissioned a survey, which finds challenger Chris McDaniel beginning to pull away from Sen. Thad Cochran. The results yield McDaniel a 52-40 percent margin. If leaners to each candidate are removed, the total becomes 47-37 percent in favor of the challenger.

Some interesting findings are included in the survey report. First, both men brandish a 93 percent loyalty factor within their own voter base. That is, 93 percent of the respondents saying they will vote either for  Continue reading >

An Array of Surprises Lining up for Incumbents

On the heels of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning Republican primary loss last week in Virginia, a series of new polls and developments suggest further surprises could be on the political horizon …

LA-5

First, in Louisiana, scandal-tainted Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA-5), who announced that he would not seek a second term after being caught in an extra-marital affair, stated in a local radio interview this week that he is having second thoughts about retiring and is now leaning “55-45” in favor of running again. This development certainly merits further attention.

State Sen. Neil Riser (R), whom McAllister defeated in the 2013 special election after then-Rep. Rodney Alexander (R) resigned, has not yet committed to the race but is certainly leaning toward running based upon his public comments. The Louisiana filing deadline, because the jungle primary runs concurrently with the November general election, isn’t until Aug. 22, so much time remains for both men, and others, to finally decide upon their 2014 electoral  Continue reading >

Further Examination of Cantor’s Loss; Two Wildly Divergent Oregon Senate Polls

More is being learned about House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R) primary election loss in Virginia’s 7th CD. As is true for almost all political outcomes, there is more than one answer to explain this result and, not surprisingly, multiple elements contributed to the final conclusion.

While the immigration issue seems to be taking top billing as the principal reason for Cantor losing, in reality, it likely only played a secondary role. The fact that challenger and victor David Brat used the issue to his advantage – characterizing Cantor as supporting amnesty for illegal aliens – certainly helped color the Majority Leader in a negative light, but such a radical final electoral result cannot simply be explained as an extreme reaction to a controversial issue.

Contrast this outcome with that of Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R) campaign in South Carolina. Graham was more identified with the immigration reform issue, and hails from a more conservative domain than Cantor’s central Virginia congressional district. Yet, the senator won a surprisingly large re-nomination victory on the same  Continue reading >

Leadership Election Run-down

With House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA-7) resigning his position after losing the primary election on Tuesday – he’ll leave the leadership on July 31st – Republican Conference replacement elections have been quickly scheduled for June 19. This leaves little time for a campaign to develop, but within a closed voting universe where everyone knows all participants an elongated campaign time segment is unnecessary.

Currently, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23) has announced his intention to run for Cantor’s position with the outgoing Leader’s backing. Meanwhile, House Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-5) stated that she will remain in her current post. The same is true for House Budget Committee chairman and former vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-WI-1).

The Texas delegation is deciding who, if anyone, to back from their delegation against McCarthy – either Rules Committee and former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX-32) or Financial Services  Continue reading >