Monthly Archives: November 2014

Breaking Down the 2014 Election by CD

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families. The PRIsm Political Update will return on Monday, Dec. 1. Don’t eat too much!!

Cross Districts

The 2014 election increased the universe of federal “cross-districts”.

In the 2012 presidential election, voters in 411 congressional districts uniformly chose a US House member of the same party as they supported for president. This means only 24 CDs elected a representative belonging to the opposite party of the candidate they backed for the nation’s top office. In 2012, 16 districts elected a Republican representative while simultaneously supporting President Obama; conversely, eight CDs chose a Democratic congressman while voting for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

In 2014, we see a slightly different pattern. The total number of cross-districts rose to 31, but 404 still elected a House member consistent with the party of their previously chosen presidential candidate. Twenty-six of those CDs elected a Republican House member earlier this month, even though those casting ballots supported President Obama two years earlier. Voters in only five incoming House districts backed Romney in 2012, but elected a Democratic Representative in the current election; two Continue reading >

“First” Presidential Primary Poll Yields Interesting Numbers

Though election results rarely resemble survey research data that is conducted more than a year in advance, early polling still provides benchmarks from which to begin analyzing a particular future campaign; in this case a presidential contest that promises to be, perhaps, the most wide open, interesting, and exciting political forum of the modern era.

As we stated many times during the immediate past pre-election coverage, 2016 campaign activity begins right after the mid-term voting concludes. Consistent with that axiom, the Purple Insights organization – the survey research arm of the Purple Strategies consulting firm – conducted a “first in the nation” presidential primary poll for Bloomberg Politics and St. Anselm’s College (NH). The survey was commissioned during the Nov. 12-18 period, interviewing 989 New Hampshire general election voters, including 407 previous Republican primary voters and 404 past Democratic primary voters.

Purple Insights tested 18 different political figures, 17 of whom have been linked to the upcoming presidential race. The only person not in the national category is New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R), who will stand for re-election in the next cycle. She scored a strong 47:27 percent favorability ratio, and a 28:42 percent positive to negative score among Democratic primary voters. The latter rating is actually quite Continue reading >

Louisiana Polls Show Definitive Trends

JMC Analytics, a Louisiana polling staple, conducted two surveys for the upcoming run-off election: one for the US Senate contest and other in the open Baton Rouge congressional district. Both campaigns will be decided on Dec. 6. The third federal run-off election, that in the state’s 5th Congressional District, was not tested.

Senate

Like all other pollsters, JMC finds Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6), the challenger, holding a big lead over incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu (D). The automated poll of 754 Louisiana registered voters who participated in the Nov. 4 election was conducted on Nov. 20. The ballot test yields Cassidy a 53-38 percent lead, the fifth post-election poll to find the Baton Rouge Congressman holding a double-digit advantage.

But the underlying result is actually a bit worse for Landrieu. Posing a follow-up question to those saying they were undecided, in order to determine the direction they are leaning, the group breaks 55-40 percent in Cassidy’s favor.

The third question queried the respondents’ impression of Landrieu’s leadership on the Keystone Pipeline issue, her sponsored legislation that failed by one vote in the Senate lame duck session, and drew the support of only 13 other members of her party. Twenty-nine percent stated that she used her clout effectively, while 39 percent said she did not. The remainder were undecided or had no opinion.
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McCain Targeted by Both Democrats and Republicans

In the past few days, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) made another public statement about his political plans for 2016, underscoring that he is leaning toward running for another term. The Arizona senator, who you will also remember as the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, will be 80 years old at the time of the next election and would be running for his sixth consecutive term in office. But it already appears that potentially he will have to overcome a double challenge two years from now in order to continue his career in elective politics.

Already, Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ-6), who was easily re-elected to his Scottsdale-anchored congressional district two weeks ago after defeating then-Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ-3) in the post-redistricting 2012 Republican primary (after the Arizona Redistricting Commission plan drastically changed the latter’s district boundaries), is considering mounting a Republican primary challenge to McCain.

Schweikert, as a House freshman in 2013, quickly angered the GOP leadership and found himself as one of three members to be removed from a plum committee assignment. The Arizonan had been a member of the Financial Services Committee, but was summarily removed. So he is no stranger to controversy. Schweikert said he will begin serious consideration of potential future political moves, including a Continue reading >

House Races Conclude; Landrieu Reeling

CA-7, CA-16

The two outstanding California House races are now finished. Both Democratic incumbents Ami Bera (D-CA-7) and Jim Costa (D-CA-16) have officially pulled out close victories.

Despite the Republicans chalking up their largest majority since the 1928 election, the Bera and Costa wins mean the Democrats actually gain one seat in the lopsided California delegation. This result was made possible because of five other very close wins in San Diego (Rep. Scott Peters over GOP challenger Carl DeMaio), Ventura County (freshman Rep. Julia Brownley barely surviving against Assemblyman Jeff Gorell), and San Bernardino (the open Republican seat where Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D) scored a tight 51-49 percent win over GOP candidate Paul Chabot).

With counting of absentee ballots just about complete, some 15 days after the election itself, Rep. Bera has now increased the lead he just took to 1,432 votes, a number that the national and local news media deems insurmountable for former Rep. Doug Ose (R) to overcome based upon the number of ballots still remaining to be counted.

In Fresno, the race is even closer with only a few more ballots left to count in Democratic strongholds. Rep. Costa, like Bera in Sacramento, trailing for most of the post-election period has now assumed an Continue reading >

The Polling Report Card

As we all know, a plethora of polls were conducted throughout the country but some proved much more accurate than others. By and large, virtually every pollster correctly forecasted the races in Colorado and South Dakota, but fared very poorly in Kansas and Virginia.

Of the late polls taken, usually the last five immediately prior to the election, we look at which pollsters did the best and worst in the most competitive Senate campaigns.

Alaska
• Actual result: Dan Sullivan (R) 48%; Sen. Mark Begich (D) 46% – +2 points
• Closest Pollster: Public Policy Polling (Nov. 1-2): Sullivan, 46-45% – +1 point
• Worst Poll: Ivan Moore & Assoc (Oct. 24-26): Begich 48-42%; missed by 9 points

Arkansas
• Actual result: Rep. Tom Cotton (R) 57%; Sen. Mark Pryor (D) 40% (+17)
• Closest Pollster: University of Arkansas (Oct. 21-27); Cotton 49-36% – +13 points
• Worst Poll: Opinion Research Assoc (Oct. 25-26); Pryor 45-44%; missed by 18 points

Colorado
• Actual result: Rep. Cory Gardner (R) 49%; Sen. Mark Udall (D) 46% (+3)
• Closest Pollster: The final Public Policy Polling, Quinnipiac University, and YouGov surveys were all between one and three points
• Worst Poll: None; all of the Colorado participating pollsters correctly predicted the final trend.
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2016 Match-Ups … Already!

Now that the 2014 election is finally ending, speculation begins to build around the next in-cycle group of seats.

With Gov. Sean Parnell (R) conceding defeat to Independent Bill Walker in Alaska and the two outstanding California congressional races likely soon ending in razor-thin wins for representatives Ami Bera (D-CA-7) and Jim Costa (D-CA-16), the 2014 cycle will conclude on Dec. 6 when the Louisiana run-offs are decided. Then, we can look forward to almost non-stop coverage of the impending presidential race in addition to frequent US Senate analyses.

Since Republicans will have a majority of either 53 or 54 seats depending upon whether Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) or Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) wins the Louisiana campaign, the GOP will likely be forced to defend 24 of 34 states up for election in two years. Therefore, Democrats will have ample opportunity to reclaim their lost advantage, which is the storyline we can expect to hear from the major media outlets.

With this backdrop, some senators are already drawing speculation about potential opponents. Illinois is likely at the top of the Democrats’ target list since the state votes heavily with their party, particularly in presidential years. Sen. Mark Kirk (R) started the ball rolling early this week by stating unequivocally that he intends to seek Continue reading >

Rounding Out the New Members

With the 2014 election cycle nearly complete, we can now begin to study the House and Senate freshman class composition.

If Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) defeats Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) in the Louisiana run-off – he’s the favorite to win, despite her incumbency, with internal polls showing him ahead by as many as 16 percentage points – the Senate freshman class will feature 13 members, 12 of whom are Republican.

Of the baker’s dozen, again including Cassidy, five won their seats by defeating incumbents. Former Attorney General Dan Sullivan (Alaska), representatives Tom Cotton (Arkansas), Cory Gardner (Colorado), Cassidy (Louisiana), and state House Speaker Thom Tillis (North Carolina) are, or will be, the Republican challenger victors.

In the recent past, the House of Representatives had not proven to be a particularly favorable political position from which to launch a statewide run. This current cycle reversed that trend. In fact, a majority of the new members, seven, come to the Senate via the House: representatives Cotton, Gardner, Cassidy, Gary Peters (D-MI-14), Steve Daines (R-MT-AL), James Continue reading >

Landrieu, McSally Still Seek Final Results; Sights Already Set on Reid for 2016; Leadership Elections Underway

Landrieu: Kicking into high gear for the Louisiana Senate run-off election, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) is already badly trailing in a new Magellan Strategies poll (Nov. 12; 1,197 registered Louisiana voters via automated response). The survey, conducted for Rep. Bill Cassidy’s (R-LA-6) statewide campaign, finds the congressman leading the endangered senator by a huge 57-41 percent clip.

The Landrieu campaign scoffs at the automated nature of the poll, claiming the methodology is not as accurate as live phoning. While such a premise is certainly the prevailing train of thought among political professionals, the actual reliability numbers suggest something far different: that the automated approach is improving by the day and can be just as accurate as the live “phoner” approach. If that’s so in this case, then Sen. Landrieu is likely headed toward defeat on Dec. 6.

If Cassidy wins, the Senate party division will be 54R-46D, a total gain of nine seats for the Republicans in the 2014 election.

McSally: As predicted yesterday, the final count in the 2nd District of Arizona did yield at least a preliminary victory for challenger Continue reading >

More Overtime Races End

As has been the case during this entire week, covering the 13 various campaigns went to political overtime – that is post-election ballot counting, or voting, that could alter the final outcome – has been the dominant political subject.

So far, Democrats have been the beneficiaries of the late counting, winning four of the races and appear headed for three more wins. Republicans claimed one state, and are well positioned for a second win. The GOP then looks to sweep the three Louisiana campaigns that are in post-election run-offs scheduled for Dec. 6.

Several more races were called late yesterday.


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McSally on Threshold; Sullivan Expands Lead; Fresno Hangs in the Balance

With most political overtime races trending toward the Democrats, Tuesday’s fortunes looked more favorably upon Republicans.

AZ-2: In Arizona’s 2nd District, it appears that challenger Martha McSally (R), who lost a bitterly close campaign two years ago, will win an even tighter battle this year.

The final count nears and McSally is clinging to a bare 133-vote lead, but it may be enough to unseat Rep. Ron Barber (D). All of the ballots are now tabulated with the exception of about 200 in Pima County. Since this entity is divided among three congressional districts (59 percent of the county is in District 2), it is likely that only between 110-120 of those votes are from the undecided CD. Even if Barber were to attract 60 percent of this number, he would still fall between 100 and 110 votes short of victory.

While it now appears evident that McSally will lead after all of the votes are tabulated and recorded, the closeness of the finish means that an automatic recount will be conducted. Rarely do recounts change the candidates’ finish order, but only a 100-vote spread of more than 215,000 cast ballots does suggest that eligibility challenges to individual voters could exceed that margin. Still, with Republicans in a strong House majority, the body itself must seat all of its members, and McSally’s chances of becoming the ultimate victor here are now Continue reading >

Already Two Open Seats for 2016

Just a week has passed since the 2014 election ended and we already have two US House retirement announcements. Representatives Charlie Rangel (D-NY-13) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA-8) have already made public their intention not to seek re-election in 2016.

NY-13: Before his last Democratic primary election in June, Rep. Rangel, embroiled in another close contest with state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, made a public statement that the 2014 election campaign would be his last. After his general election victory, he has now confirmed that he will not run for a 24th term in 2016.

The Democrats will keep the seat because the 13th District is one of their safest seats in the country (Obama ’12: 95 percent). Potential Democratic candidates are Espaillat, for the third time, former Gov. David Paterson, state assemblyman and Manhattan Democratic Party chairman Keith Wright, state Sen. Bill Perkins, and former assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, a former congressional candidate. In 1970, Rangel defeated Powell’s father to first claim the Harlem-based congressional district.

PA-8: Back in 2004 when Rep. Fitzpatrick was first elected to the House, he made a pledge to serve just four terms in Congress. He then was defeated in 2006, only to return in 2010. Now re-elected in 2012 and 2014, he will complete eight non-consecutive years at the end of the succeeding term. Therefore, he announced Continue reading >

More Races Called: Updates

On Friday and over the weekend, six more uncalled US House campaigns officially ended. Democrats took five of the group, with the majority GOP getting a winner in central Washington State’s double Republican battle.

MD-6: As was expected when freshman Rep. John Delaney (D) moved ahead of challenger Dan Bongino (R) by about 2,000 votes with only around 5,000 remaining to count, the end quickly followed. Bongino conceded to Delaney picking up 48 percent of the aggregate vote as compared to the incumbent’s 50 percent, a margin of 2,269 votes. Considering this is a strong Democratic seat, Bongino’s close performance is a surprise and only Delaney’s strong margin from Montgomery County saved him from a shocking defeat.

CA-9: The first of three California races to be finalized is not a particular surprise, as Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) was finally projected the winner in his San Joaquin County district. This race had never been on the political board, but challenger Tony Amador (R) made it a battle. McNerney, with still votes remaining to be counted, is likely to win a final 52% of the vote.

CA-17: The double-Democrat battle between Rep. Mike Honda and former Obama Administration official and high tech attorney Ro Khanna is also over. The victory goes to Rep. Honda who wins an Continue reading >

The Run-offs are on in Georgia and Louisiana

Georgia and Louisiana are the only two states that hold post-general election run-offs. In Louisiana, the state primary is concurrent with the general election and features all candidates appearing on the same ballot. Thus, if a contender exceeds 50 percent of the vote, the person is elected outright. In Georgia, all party nominees must obtain an absolute majority to secure election. Therefore, remembering that Georgia has a run-off system for primary nomination, it is conceivable that a candidate would have to endure four separate elections in order to claim a political office.

In 2014, despite many predictions that both the Georgia Senate and governor’s race would be forced into a post-election run-off, neither were. Businessman David Perdue (R) captured the Senate seat with 53 percent, the same percentage in which Gov. Nathan Deal (R) secured re-election. Therefore, the “second generation of Democrats”, meaning Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former US Sen. Sam Nunn (D), and Jason Carter, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, both failed to fulfill pre-election expectations.

And, with seven of the state’s 14 congressional district incumbents running Continue reading >

Rounding Up the Outstanding Races

With states allowing a greater volume of absentee balloting, elections take much longer to call. Several remain in abeyance, waiting either for final votes to arrive or an arbitrary date for which to begin counting. Many of these races are in California, where hundreds of thousands of mail ballots remain uncounted.

Senate

In the Senate, aside from the Louisiana run-off now scheduled for Dec. 6, Alaska and Virginia are not yet officially called but the outcome in both cases is clear.

In the Last Frontier, it’s just a matter of time before GOP nominee Dan Sullivan is declared the winner. Waiting to count the votes from the state’s vast outlying areas, incumbent Sen. Mark Begich (D) would have to attract almost two-thirds of the remaining ballots. With a Sullivan lead over 8,000 votes, Begich trailing for the last few weeks in polling, and the very real Republican wave that we witnessed last night, it is a sure bet that we can add this incumbent to the list of defeated Democratic senators.
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