Monthly Archives: February 2015

Strickland Announces in Ohio; Chances? Walker Cruising

FEB. 27, 2015 –Seventy-three year old former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s (D) announcement that he will challenge first-term Sen. Rob Portman (R) was expected yet still surprising.

Clearly the defeated former governor is attempting to take advantage of what he believes will be a 2016 Democratic presidential victory not only nationally, but in Ohio as well. Such a finish could reasonably sweep in a Democratic Senate candidate on presidential coattails, of this we know.

While the former governor has six terms in Congress to his credit and another four years as the state’s chief executive, he is no stranger to losing. In fact, he lost four House races in addition to his re-election as governor. Strickland won for the first time on his fourth try for Congress, some 16 years after he originally ran.
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Senate ’16 Taking Shape

With several political moves being made this week and last, some of the key 2016 US Senate races are already coming together. Below is a quick recap of the states where action is presently occurring:

Alaska – Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R): Democrats’ first choice is former Sen. Mark Begich (D). Bypassing a race to reclaim his former position as mayor of Anchorage, Begich has instead formed a new consulting firm. He has not yet ruled out a run against Sen. Murkowski, so this potential challenge remains alive.

Arizona – Sen. John McCain (R): A budding Republican primary challenge for the 2008 GOP presidential nominee seems assured. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ-5) may be the strongest potential Republican challenger, and is moving toward running. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ-9) is a possible Democratic contender, more likely to run if Salmon progresses with his intra-party challenge.
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Cruz, Walker Up in Texas;
Bush, Perry Still Lagging

FEB. 25 — The University of Texas and the Texas Tribune news publication teamed to release a poll of potential Republican 2016 primary voters (YouGov; Feb. 6-15; 1,200 Texas adults; 547 sampled-matched Republican primary voters) and found home state Sen. Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leading the pack by a relatively substantial margin.

Falling back into single digits were former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Texas’ longest-serving governor, Rick Perry. Thus, we see one more political survey attesting to Gov. Walker’s strength and ex-Gov. Bush’s early weakness.

The UT/Tribune polls have previously not been particularly reliable, but in this instance they teamed up with the international survey research company, YouGov, which has generally produced credible results around the world. This poll, however, appears to have its flaws.
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Feingold Returning to Wisconsin Senate Race? Special Set in the NY-11

FEB. 24 – Likely signaling a return to elective politics former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) late last week officially resigned his US State Department position, a necessary step for anyone planning to announce a political candidacy. It has long been surmised that Feingold would seek a rematch with the man who unseated him in 2010, first-term Sen. Ron Johnson (R).

Feingold was originally elected to the Senate in the Clinton presidential year of 1992, after spending 10 years in the Wisconsin state legislature. He defeated then two-term incumbent Sen. Bob Kasten (R) with a 53-46 percent victory margin. Six years later he faced then-Rep. Mark Neumann (R-WI-1) in what proved to be a much closer race than originally predicted. Feingold scored a close win over Neumann, 51-48 percent. He won a much easier 55-44 percent victory in 2004 before losing 47-52 percent to Johnson in the Republican wave year of 2010. President Obama then appointed him as a special US envoy to the African Great Lakes region.

Sen. Johnson has been commonly viewed as one of the more vulnerable Republicans standing for re-election in 2016. Wisconsin is a volatile political state, but historically has voted Democratic. Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) three consecutive wins and Johnson’s victory five years ago, however, suggest that the state is becoming highly competitive. In fact, since 2010, inclusive, Republicans have actually won four of the six Wisconsin statewide federal races. So, Feingold cannot expect an easy road back to the Senate.
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Blunt Draws a Challenge in Missouri; Dems’ Recruit Senate Challengers

FEB. 23, 2015 – Missouri Democrats successfully landed their top choice to challenge first-term Republican Sen. Roy Blunt. Secretary of State Jason Kander, an Afghanistan and Iraq War veteran, made public yesterday his plans to seek the US Senate seat next year.

jason-kanderKander, 33, a former two-term state Representative from the Kansas City metropolitan area, won a close 2012 race for Secretary of State – ironically, a position Blunt himself held from 1985-1993 – defeating Republican Shane Schoeller by just over 39,000 votes out of more than 2.6 million ballots cast.

He will face an uphill battle against Sen. Blunt, one of the best prepared and battle tested of Republican incumbents. Winning a landslide 54-41 percent victory against then-Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) in 2010, Blunt is now chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee in the new Republican majority. Elected to the House from the southwestern 7th Congressional District in 1996, he quickly rose to the position of Chief Deputy Majority Whip, and was elected both Majority and Minority Whip.
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Marist Poll Shows Bunched GOP Pack Struggling to Reach Double Digits

NBC/Marist conducted a series of polls in the first three presidential nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina finding a host of Republican candidates all jumbled near the top in each place.

The surveys were commissioned during the Feb. 3-10 period. In Iowa, 320 potential Republican caucus goers were sampled; the number was 381 in New Hampshire and 450 for South Carolina. Democrats also were polled but their results did not provide any new or particularly significant information.

In none of the polls did any Republican candidate exceed 20 percent of the intra-party vote. Furthermore, no less than three and not more than five individuals found double-digits in the trio of surveys. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee led Iowa with only 17 percent. Jeb Bush finished first in New Hampshire at 18 percent, while South Carolina favorite son Lindsey Graham, the state’s senior US senator, topped the Marist result in his home territory with a similar 17 percent standing.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and neurosurgeon Ben Carson were the other candidates to reach the double-digit plateau in at least one state. All 11 tested candidates fell within 18 percentage points from top to bottom in the three studies.
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Kitzhaber Resigns in Oregon;
NRCC Announces Patriots

In this Jan. 12, 2015 photo, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber kisses fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, after he is sworn in for an unprecedented fourth term as governor in Salem, Ore.  (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

In this Jan. 12, 2015 photo, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber kisses fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, after he is sworn in for an unprecedented fourth term as governor in Salem, Ore. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

FEB. 16, 2015 — Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), seeing his conflict of interest scandal involving his longtime fiancé cost him key political support, announced that he will resign his office this Wednesday. Because Oregon has no lieutenant governor, Secretary of State Kate Brown (D) will replace the four-term chief executive. Dr. Kitzhaber, a physician, is the only person in Oregon state history to be elected to the top office four separate times.

Though not legally married to the governor, Cylvia Hayes serves as Oregon’s First Lady. Her failure to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees from environmental organizations with business before the state, after Kitzhaber promised complete compliance with the Oregon disclosure laws for he and Ms. Hayes, began his downfall. Gov. Kitzhaber won re-election last November even after his conflict of interest with Hayes became common knowledge. But, the situation re-intensified during the past three weeks.
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The Frontline Candidates

FEB. 13, 2015 — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released its first group of Frontline program incumbents for the 2016 election cycle. These 14 representatives are viewed to be the most vulnerable of Democratic House incumbents, and a group that the DCCC is highlighting for increased outside support.

Some are more endangered than others, in addition to a group of four who is at least entertaining the idea of running statewide next year. Not having an incumbent in these marginal districts may be the Committee leadership’s greatest fear.

Clearly Competitive (in vulnerability order)

NE-2: Rep. Brad Ashford is likely the most endangered Democratic incumbent. The new congressman unseated eight-term Rep. Lee Terry (R-Omaha) in a vote that may have been more about the previous incumbent’s unpopularity than Ashford. The 2016 race, in a year when the district should vote Republican at the presidential level, could be more difficult for Ashford than his original election.

FL-2: Freshman Rep. Gwen Graham ran a strong campaign against a weak Republican incumbent. She will undoubtedly draw strong opposition, and the district will almost assuredly go Republican for president. The national trends at the time of the next election will play heavily upon how this congressional race unfolds.
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Republicans: Headed for
an Open Convention?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker delivers his speech at Chatham House in central London, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015.  (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker delivers his speech at Chatham House in central London, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

FEB. 12, 2015 — A new poll provides us an early clue about how spoiler candidates could force the Republican nomination into an open convention.

TargetPoint Consulting (Jan. 30-Feb. 3; 400 SC Republican primary voters) finds Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leading the GOP pack of candidates in a preliminary poll, finishing one point ahead of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) in their new survey of South Carolina Republican primary voters. Both just barely top the double-digit mark (Walker 12 percent; Graham 11 percent), but still fare better than the other candidates including ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee (10 percent), who finished second in the 2008 South Carolina primary, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (9 percent).

Though the difference among the candidates is negligible, the fact that Bush cannot break away from single-digits is significant. A recent Iowa poll (Selzer & Company for the Des Moines Register) also projected Gov. Walker leading with Bush similarly mired in the middle of the pack. These poll results provide further evidence that the Republican nomination battle is wide open.

Sen. Graham has been publicly toying with the idea of entering the presidential race and promises a decision by the middle of this year. Aside from this poll of his home state electorate, he hasn’t even registered in surveys conducted in other states. Still, it is regional, or favorite-son candidates like he, who could play a major role in determining who ultimately does win the nomination.
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The Tri-State Q-Poll Shows
Electorate Optimism

FEB. 11, 2015 — Quinnipiac University released the results of a three-state poll, covering the critically important presidential domains of Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio.

The most interesting finding is how optimistic the people comprising the sampling cells are, particularly in Florida and Ohio. Such a tone is much different from what has been the norm for the past nine years.

All three polls were conducted during the Jan. 22 – Feb. 1 time period.

Pennsylvania

The Q-Poll surveyed 881 Pennsylvania registered voters, and tested Sen. Pat Toomey (R) as he begins his quest for a second term. At this point former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7), who lost to Toomey 49-51 percent in the 2010 Senate race, is the only announced major Democratic contender.

The results show Toomey residing in better re-election position than depicted in other early surveys. According to Quinnipiac, the senator has a job approval index of 43:25 percent positive to negative. Fellow Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D) registered a similar 40:24 percent favorability ratio. On the ballot test, Toomey scores a healthy 45-35 percent advantage over Sestak.
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Advantage Republicans, or Democrats? Look to the
President’s Job Performance

President Barack Obama speaks during a summit on cybersecurity and consumer protection, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Barack Obama speaks during a summit on cybersecurity and consumer protection, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

FEB. 10, 2015 — University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato and two others published an article that is still running in the Politico newspaper (The GOP’s 2016 Edge), but their conclusion is open to debate. They argue that the eventual Republican presidential nominee may have a slight advantage in next year’s election, yet analyzing the most recent voting data seems to point in the opposite direction.

According to Sabato and colleagues: “At this early stage, does either party have an obvious edge? Around the time of the GOP-dominated midterms, it seemed logical to say the Republicans held the advantage. Not because their strong performance in congressional and gubernatorial races has any predictive value — ask President Romney about how well 2010’s midterms predicted the future — but because President Barack Obama’s approval rating was mired in the low 40s. Should Obama’s approval be low, he’ll be a drag on any Democratic nominee, who will effectively be running for his third term.”

Doesn’t the actual voting pattern established in the two Obama elections supersede their observation about presidential job performance? Remembering, that voters in only two states, Indiana and North Carolina, changed their allegiance during those two election periods (both from President Obama to Mitt Romney), and that 48 states and the District of Columbia voted consistently, suggests a new prototype may have formed. This is further supported by the fact that 47 states and DC voted consistently during the George W. Bush years.
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Tragically, One More Special Election

The late Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R, MS-1). Photo Courtesy Facebook

The late Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R, MS-1). Photo Courtesy Facebook

MS-1

FEB. 9, 2015 — The news that three-term Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R) tragically succumbed to a cancerous brain tumor on Friday at the age of 56 now means the northern Mississippi congressional district joins NY-11 in the 2015 special election category.

Under Mississippi law, Gov. Phil Bryant (R) has 60 days to schedule the succeeding vote, and the election date must be no sooner than 60 days from the time Bryant acts. It is conceivable that the special vote can be linked to the state’s regular 2015 elections, but that would mean waiting until August.

The seat should remain in Republican hands, but the last time this district went to special election (May, 2008) Democrat Travis Childers scored an upset victory. Then-Rep. Roger Wicker (R) had been appointed to the Senate replacing resigned Sen. Trent Lott (R), thus necessitating a special congressional election.
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How Can the Democrats Lose in 2016?

FEB. 6, 2015 — According to the National Journal, the next Democratic nominee should win the Presidency in 2016. The magazine editors are publishing a series of articles that examine the demographic and voting trends of key swing states in the country’s various geographic regions, showing how the most recent patterns benefit the Democrats. But, the analysis fails to tell the entire story.

The articles show that important shifts in such states as Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada are cementing what were reliable Republican entities into the exact opposite status. But, under at least one certain scenario, switching as little as one Democratic state to the GOP would change the projected national outcome … even if the Journal analysis is correct and Democrats continue to carry the aforementioned swing states.

Looking at the early version of the 2016 map, it appears that the eventual Democratic nominee can count on carrying 16 states for a total of 196 Electoral Votes. Conversely, Republicans can reasonably tally 23 states in their column for a base EV total of 179. Adding another 33 votes from the former swing states of Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada brings the adjusted Dem total to 229, or just 41 votes shy of victory.
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The Strategy Behind Electing the First Latino US Senator in California

FEB. 5, 2015 — After an immediate flurry of electoral activity dominated California politics once Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) announced her retirement, the open Senate race has slow-tracked, but its current, more passive status will soon change.

The California Latino Legislative Caucus is an organization comprised of Latino state legislators. This past week, they took the unusual step of sponsoring a political poll to test the viability of a single Latino candidate in the open Senate field. Currently, Attorney General Kamala Harris, an African American, has announced her candidacy and is quickly putting together a united northern California coalition. But, Hispanics want their own candidate and their leaders believe uniting behind one individual could carry that person to victory in November of 2016.

This week, the organization’s leadership released the results of their Garin Hart Yang Research poll (Jan. 27-29; 600 CA registered voters). Conclusion: Harris begins the campaign as the top Democrat, but she’s nowhere near a cinch to win the seat.
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Q-Poll: Hillary Cruising

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to a crowd in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Liam Richards)

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to a crowd in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Liam Richards)

FEB. 4, 2015 — It is commonly believed that the path to the White House travels through big swing states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. If so, former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton is in strong shape less than two years before the next presidential vote.

Quinnipiac University went into the field to test the general electorates in these three critical places and found Clinton doing very well against the tested Republican candidates. The results, though too early to be a relevant predictor of any actual voting trend in November of 2016, provide us at least two important indicators.

First, the poll tells us that Clinton’s early low-key approach to this campaign is working. She has deliberately delayed forming a presidential committee, and kept a very low public profile. The Q-Poll results tell us that, so far, such a strategic move is paying dividends.
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