Monthly Archives: December 2014

Grimm Hangs on Despite Odds Against Him; Deep South Regional Primary Concept Reportedly Gaining Traction

Happiness to all as we enter the year-end holiday period. In honor of the season, we will take a brief publication hiatus for the next few days but be back at the beginning of the new year. Thank you for a great 2014 and enjoy the time with your loved ones.

NY-11

Two days ago it was predicted that New York Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) would plead guilty to one count of tax evasion, and then soon resign his House seat possibly as a way to avoid incarceration. The prediction proved half true.

Grimm did, in fact, plead guilty in federal court to one count of tax evasion from an enterprise occurring prior to his entering Congress. His sentencing is now scheduled for June 8, but the representative stated he does not intend to resign from office.

It is likely just a matter of time before he is forced to do so, however, either by having to report to prison or, simply because his status as a convicted felon may disqualify him from congressional service because he will no longer be an elector. Voting privileges are suspended until the completion of a sentence even if the penalty consists only of probation and paying a fine.

In any event, it appears Grimm will take the oath of office for a new term and continue to execute his duties at least until early June. This means that any special election to be Continue reading >

A Grimm Solution

Despite being under indictment for 20 counts of various financial felony charges, New York Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY-11) was handily re-elected (53-41 percent) to a third term in office last month, but he soon may be forced to resign.

Reports emanating from New York City indicate that Grimm will plead guilty to one count of felony tax evasion at a hearing later today. He obviously hopes to avoid a prison term, though a sentence of between 24 and 30 months appears highly possible.

Clearly, if he goes to prison Rep. Grimm will be forced to resign his congressional office, and most likely the felony guilty plea will make it legally impossible for him to continue even if he isn’t incarcerated. To become a congressional candidate, one must legally qualify as an elector. Since he will lose his voting privileges upon conviction, Grimm will no longer qualify to serve in Congress.

A pending resignation means Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) will schedule a special election to fill the subsequent vacancy. The 11th District comprises all of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn. Almost two-thirds of the district includes Staten Island, which gives us an indication as to why favorite son Grimm did so well in this district despite his legal problems. Ironically, despite his indictments becoming a major issue in the just-completed campaign, his 2014 performance was the strongest of his three winning efforts for the seat.
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Immigration Politics: The White House Task Force on New Americans

Fox News ran a story over the weekend quoting “Republican strategists” as saying that the new White House Task Force on New Americans is targeting specific numbers of legal non-citizen immigrants in 10 states with the underlying purpose of increasing Democratic voter registration. They complain the Task Force is fast-tracking people in this category for citizenship to make them eligible to participate in the 2016 presidential election in order to increase the Democratic Party advantage.

The Task Force’s stated goal is to help “welcome” the new immigrants and more seamlessly assimilate them into American society. The administration is emphasizing national economic benefits as the reason for making it easier to qualify the legal immigrants for citizenship. They argue that the immigrant population represents 13 percent of the national population, slightly larger than the African American share, but comprises 16 percent of the workforce, and is responsible for creating 28 percent of all new businesses. About half of those in the legal immigrant category are Hispanic, with Asians being the second largest group.

Though voting privileges will be part of attaining citizenship, the 10 states chosen – because 75 percent of the legal immigrants reside in these places – are almost exclusively not swing political states. It is clear that seven of the 10, and maybe as many as nine, are established Electoral Vote havens for one party or the other.
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Conversion Opportunities Lie Ahead for Senate Democrats; McSally Wins – Officially

As 2014 closes, we’re taking a quick look ahead at the 34 in-cycle US Senate seats for 2016. The tables have turned in that it is the Democrats who will have to convert Republican seats in order to recapture their lost majority. With Republicans having to defend 24 of the 34 Senate states, the Democrats will have plenty of conversion opportunities. They will need to win all 10 of the seats they currently hold and convert five Republican seats to reach 51 senators. Should the Democrats hold the White House in the presidential election, the Senate conversion number will drop to four because the Democratic vice president will then be able to break a 50-50 deadlock.

Of the senators who preliminarily say they will seek re-election, four (senators Richard Shelby (AL), John McCain (AZ), Charles Grassley (IA) and Barbara Mikulski (MD), will be 80 years old or older at the time of the next election. Another six will be 70 or older.

Right now, several seats are projected to be competitive, and both Democrats and Republicans are eying individuals they would characterize as dream challengers.

For Democrats, the two most competitive incumbent protection contests will be Nevada and Colorado. New Senate Minority Continue reading >

Will Another Bush Take Root With the Electorate?; The AZ-2 Recount

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced yesterday that he will indeed form a political action committee for purposes of testing his viability in a campaign for president, thus following in his father’s and brother’s footsteps. The announcement is hardly a surprise based upon Bush’s political moves of the preceding weeks.

The other potential candidates who spoke about a potential Jeb Bush candidacy – Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), businessman Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and previous 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney – are unanimously moving forward with their own political plans regardless of whether or not the legacy candidate enters the race.

Since Republican voters have a history of always turning to their heir apparent in the presidential race, the more establishment-oriented potential candidacies of Bush and Romney must be taken seriously. If they both enter the race, along with adding New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to the mix, the more centrist voters will likely be split, thus possibly opening the door for fresher candidates like Sen. Paul, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and others.

When looking at the general election match-ups, a Romney/Bush style candidate may be exactly what the Democrats are looking for despite the Hillary Clinton camp’s comments about what a formidable Continue reading >

House Reruns Passed Over

With the AZ-2 race at last drawing to a close in the Tucson area (Martha McSally-R vs. Rep. Ron Barber-D), the political lineup for the 114th Congress is virtually finalized. Though McSally’s 161-vote lead in the original tally is obviously close, it is likely to hold since Arizona election law has no provision to challenge votes. Therefore, we can now delve more deeply into the 2014 electoral patterns.

One area worthy of examining is how former members attempting to return to the House fared. Often times, incumbents run for a different office, are defeated, or retire, and at a later date decide to launch a political comeback. In the 2014 cycle, a dozen former members ran campaigns to obtain their former positions. Looking at how this group fared could be an indicator as to what we might expect in 2016. In virtually every election cycle, there are individuals in this category.

Of the 12 ex-House members attempting to return, only two, Bob Dold (R-IL-10) and Frank Guinta (R-NH-1) were successful. The other 10, all running as Republicans with the exception of former representatives Joe Baca (D-CA-31) and Hansen Clarke (D-MI-14), were defeated. One of the unsuccessful former members, ex-Rep. Gene Taylor (MS-4), ran as a Republican in 2014, but served in the House for 11 terms as a Democrat. Baca, Clarke and Taylor all fell in their respective primaries, as did GOP former representatives Clyde Holloway (LA-5) and Todd Tiahrt (KS-4). The others: ex-representatives Doug Ose (CA-7), Charles Djou (HI-1), Bobby Schilling (IL-17) Continue reading >

Even More Presidential Candidates Emerge

Almost everyday now, a new individual is mentioned as someone considering a potential run for president in 2016. The latest to be attracting some attention are two big state Republican governors both named Rick. Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Michigan state chief executive Rick Snyder are reportedly floating national trial balloons, testing whether they might be viable GOP presidential candidates next year.

Though both are clearly considered long shot candidates at best, they do have several key obvious positives. First, they are governors, which has historically been the best office from which to successfully run for the White House. Second, if either were to capture the nomination, their home states should give them a key boost on the general election map, particularly in Gov. Scott’s case because a Republican realistically cannot win a presidential election without carrying Florida. Third, both have a fundraising base that could quickly reach national proportions.

But, both Scott and Snyder also possess clear negatives. Though they won re-election to a second term last month in their respective competitive states, neither did so impressively. Florida being the quintessential swing domain always yields a close race, but Scott’s 48-47 percent victory margin, virtually identical to his 49-48 percent win four years ago over then-Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink (D), should have been stronger against an opponent Continue reading >

Pessimism Abounds Among Electorate

A new USA Today/Pew Research poll (Dec. 3-7, 1,507 adults; 408 Republicans, 445 Democrats, 574 Independents) tested a representative American sampling group about their attitudes and impressions toward national political institutions, now that we have moved into a post-election period.

Back in 2009, when asked whether the country was more politically divided than in the past respondents answered that it was, but only by a 46-45 percent margin. The latest data finds that 81 percent believe America is more ideologically divided, as compared to just 15 percent who say it is not. And, 77 percent say they believe the nation will become either even more divided or stay at this same apparently unbridgeable level. Additionally, 71 percent say that such a situation hurts the country “a lot”, with an additional 16 percent believing that seeing such a starkly divided ideological nation is “somewhat” harmful.

The pollsters then asked respondents to name the most important problem facing the country. Of those who answered, 76 percent (71 percent of Democrats, 78 percent among Republicans, and 80 percent from the Independent sector), said they believe President Obama and Republican congressional leaders will make little or no progress in solving the issue they identified, regardless of the topic.

In terms of job approval, 42 percent gave President Obama a positive rating as compared to just 22 percent who have a similar impression of Congress. This marks Continue reading >

New North Carolina Numbers … Already

The calendar is obviously not stopping Public Policy Polling from examining the impending 2016 campaign. In the company’s home state of North Carolina, an electorate they survey monthly, both Sen. Richard Burr (R) and Gov. Pat McCrory (R) are scheduled to stand for re-election.

In polling the state, PPP looked at defeated Sen. Kay Hagan as the Democrats’ most prominent 2016 candidate, at least for the Senate seat. The outgoing senator has not yet commented about what her future political plans may include, but her presence on a hypothetical ballot is a good indicator against which to measure Burr’s political strength.

For governor, the top Democrat appears to be four-term Attorney General Roy Cooper. Previously mentioned as a possible candidate for other statewide positions, Cooper has stayed put for what will be 16 years, racking up strong re-election percentages while doing so. At the present time he appears to be preparing for a gubernatorial run.

PPP’s Dec. 4-7 survey (823 registered North Carolina voters) finds Sen. Burr leading Hagan 46-43 percent. He scores identical 44-38 percent marks when paired with state Treasurer Janet Cowell (D) and current US Transportation Secretary and former Charlotte mayor, Anthony Foxx (D). Neither of the latter individuals has given any indication that they are considering launching a senatorial campaign challenge, however.
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Inconsistent Turnout/Voting Patterns

As more and more election data makes its way into the public domain, the less sense some key voting patterns seem to be making.

Last week we reported on the turnout patterns for all 50 states and made the observation that voter participation dropped in 35 states when comparing the 2014 mid-term election to the 2010 mid-term. At the time, 2010 was considered to have yielded a low voter model, even in a mid-term election context.

The main conclusion being drawn from the aggregate data is that we may be returning to a similar electoral pattern that we saw in the pre-Reagan era, where Republicans did well in low turnout elections and Democrats excelled when voter participation was higher. This pattern has clearly taken hold since 2006. But, we find more to the 2014 turnout model when looking beyond a cursory overview.

Senate

As we know, the Senate races dominated the political landscape in this past election and saw Republicans gain nine seats to create a new 54R-46D majority (counting the two Independents who caucus with the Democrats). One would figure that, when overlaying the aforementioned observation, the GOP victories came because turnout dropped lower than even four years ago. In fact, the exact opposite is true.
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What Boxer’s Retirement Would Mean

News reports are circulating that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) will soon announce she will not seek re-election in 2016. Boxer will turn 76 years old just days after the 2016 election. She has halted fundraising, is not hiring a campaign staff, and, now that she’s in the minority without a committee chairmanship, it appears that these aforementioned signs clearly suggest she will complete her legislative career at the end of the current term.

This means a great deal of California political action is likely to soon come our way. The Golden State has not seen an open Senate seat since Boxer first won in 1992. So, especially among Democrats who dominate California politics, we can predict a very lively campaign beginning immediately upon Boxer making her plans official.

The state’s top-two nominating system means a free-for-all is on tap for the June 2016 qualifying election, with some chance that two Democrats could advance to the general election.

On the other hand, splitting the Democratic vote among a large number of candidates in June could lead not only to a Republican advancing to November, but actually finishing first. In the last two primary elections, the GOP has run relatively well, mostly due to poor turnout among Democratic voters. But, an open presidential election year coupled with an incumbent-less US Senate race would likely Continue reading >

Cassidy Wins Louisiana in a Landslide; Republicans Also Take CDs 5 & 6

Louisiana Senate

The Louisiana run-offs were held Saturday night and, as expected, three-term Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) lost a landslide re-election bid. With just under 1.3 million people participating, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) claimed a 56-44 percent victory margin.

In the state’s jungle primary that runs concurrently with the national general election, Louisiana increased turnout more than any other state when compared to the 2010 mid-term election. A total of 16.4 percent more Louisianans voted in 2014 than four years ago. Conversely, only 15 states produced more voters this year than in 2010. With more than 1.472 million voting in the November jungle primary, Sen. Landrieu placed first, but with just 42 percent of the vote. In the combined party primary vote, 56 percent chose a Republican candidate, while 43 percent voted for a Democrat. Therefore, the aggregate primary totals proved a precursor to the almost identical run-off result.

Rep. Cassidy’s victory in the Senate race means that the Republicans gained nine seats in the 2014 election cycle and gives them a 56-44 majority in the new 114th Congress. Five Democratic incumbents, including Sen. Landrieu, were defeated.

In her 2008 victory (52-46 percent) over Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy, Continue reading >

Election Turnout Down in 2014; Louisiana Run-off Tomorrow

Now that states are beginning to report their certified election numbers, we can better gauge the 2014 turnout patterns. It appears that over eight million fewer people voted in this mid-term election than did in 2010. This is a large number to be sure, but much of the participation fall-off comes from places that featured little in the way of competitive elections.

Thirty-five states are reporting turnout figures that are lower than their respective voter participation tabulations for 2010. This is a substantial number in any event, but even more so when one is cognizant of the fact that virtually all states have increased population and higher registered voter totals now than they did four years ago. Conversely, 15 states saw an increase in aggregate voter turnout when compared to 2010.

The three states with the steepest turnout drop are Missouri, California and Nevada.

The Show Me State found 34.2 percent fewer people voting in this past election than in the last mid-term, but that is likely due to the fact that the only statewide contest was for the office of auditor, and none of the eight congressional races were viewed as competitive heading into Election Day. With California Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) re-election being a foregone conclusion and no Golden State US Senate contest, mid-term turnout in America’s largest state dropped 27.6 percent. California did have a host of competitive congressional contests, but they were not enough to balance the Continue reading >

More Midwest Maneuverings

Indiana

Gov. Mike Pence (R), whose name appears from time to time on the ever-growing list of Republicans considering a presidential run, appears to be drawing at least one name opponent for the 2016 Indiana statewide race. The Hoosier State is one of 11 entities to hold their gubernatorial vote in the presidential election year, thus putting a potential crimp into any plan the governor may have about entering the national campaign.

Most believe Pence will seek re-election to a second term, especially since political heavyweights Evan Bayh, the Democratic former governor and senator, and former gubernatorial nominee John Gregg have both said they will not run for governor in 2016.

But, former US Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN-9) is making moves to suggest that he will enter the contest. Hill is leaving his DC lobbying firm and moving back to Indiana and reportedly is setting a financial budget as to what he will require to launch and conduct a competitive campaign.

Hill served 10 non-consecutive years in the House, and belongs to a small group of members who have twice lost their seats as incumbents. Hill was originally elected to the House in 1998, and fell to businessman Mike Sodrel (R) in the Bush re-election year of 2004. Undaunted, he ran once more two years later and re-claimed the seat in the 2006 Democratic landslide. But, in the Republican wave of 2010, Rep. Hill once Continue reading >

Potential Presidential Candidates Decide on Next Steps

Two informal pronouncements were made yesterday from potential presidential candidates, with a rather odd statement coming from a third. The first two comments came from a pair of US senators who surprisingly indicated that they plan to seek another term in their current political position.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) informed potential national supporters that he has decided not to run for president and will instead seek re-election to the Senate seat he won in 2010. Before returning to Congress, Portman served as President George W. Bush’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget after a short stint as the administration’s US trade representative. Before that, Portman was elected to six terms in the House of Representatives.

In a state just to the south of Portman’s Ohio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul appears intent on running for two political jobs: his current Senate position, and for president. Paul has a serious problem in trying to do both, however, as Kentucky election law does not allow an individual to appear on the ballot for more than one office.

The bid for Republicans to gain control of the Kentucky state House of Representatives failed, thus ending any chance of changing the state election law to allow candidates to simultaneously seek two offices.

Without having the ability to alter the election statute, another potential way exists Continue reading >