June 30, 2015 — Saturday’s meeting of the Virginia Republican State Central Committee (SCC) was thought to be the venue for adopting the convention presidential nominating option, but a surprise secret ballot vote changed the committee’s direction.
Eighty-two SCC members participated in the Staunton, Va. meeting to determine the apportionment system for the state’s 49 Republican presidential delegates. Though a primary was held in 2008, Virginia has typically been known as a convention state. Most of the state Republican nominees have been chosen in this fashion before assemblages usually exceeding 12,000 individuals.
Things started to unravel for the pro-convention contingent when a motion was made to convene in executive session for purposes of considering a measure to allow a secret ballot vote on the question of convention or primary, instead of employing the traditional roll call method. When the vote to adopt a secret ballot procedure passed on a 41-39 vote with two abstentions, it became apparent that the primary forces had a shot at carrying the day. When tabulated, the vote for a primary system was adopted 42-39, with one member abstaining. Continue reading >
June 29, 2015 — There has been some skepticism expressed about whether Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) can successfully run for both the Republican presidential nomination and re-election to his current position. A new survey suggests that at least this particular Kentucky polling segment doesn’t seem to mind his simultaneous campaigns.
Public Policy Polling (June 18-21; 1,108 KY registered voters) finds that Sen. Paul should have little difficulty in securing a second six-year term. If the election were today, and his opponent is outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear (D), the senator would enjoy a full 10-point, 49-39 percent, advantage over the retiring chief executive. It is conventional political wisdom that Beshear would be the strongest possible general election opponent to Sen. Paul and, if so, these polling results undoubtedly cast the Kentucky Democratic leadership into a state of despair.
Not only is Gov. Beshear trailing Sen. Paul, but the former has given no indication of even considering making such a challenge. Ineligible to seek a third term this year, it appears that the governor is heading toward political retirement rather than gearing up for a new campaign. Continue reading >
June 26, 2015 — Former Sen. Kay Hagan (D), who unseated then-Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) in 2008 only to lose six years later to Sen. Thom Tillis (R), 47-49 percent, Wednesday announced that she would not challenge Sen. Richard Burr (R). Polling consistently made her the strongest Democrat to challenge the two-term incumbent Republican, but even she was nowhere near upset position.
Democrats do not yet have a viable candidate in the state that has defeated the most senators since the 1960s.
Red and Blue Recruitment
As we approach the midway point of the off-year, it is a good time to check how the two parties are faring in regard to candidate recruitment. A quick, cursory glance tells us that each side has a success ratio of about .500. Continue reading >
June 25, 2015 — Despite universal media condemnation and being the butt of almost every joke on the late night TV circuit after officially launching his presidential campaign last week, international businessman Donald Trump has already moved into second place according to a new poll of New Hampshire Republican voters.
The Suffolk University Political Research Center (June 18-22; 500 highly to moderately likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters) finds Trump jumping from the low single-digits to moving ahead of every opponent but one, and trails former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush by just three points.
Obviously, some members of the New Hampshire electorate do find Trump’s brash and blunt style attractive. He has been making appearances throughout the state, and is clearly having at least a modicum of success.
The fact that he could make such a quick move also reveals extreme fluidity within the massive field of Republican candidates. It is important to remember that, among the unwieldy group of almost 20 contenders, no candidate even touches 15 percent. Additionally, even individuals receiving one and zero votes are still within 15 points of topping the field. Continue reading >
June 24, 2015 — This week, Quinnipiac University brings us the general election preferences from 970 to 1,191 respondents who were questioned in the critical Senate states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Earlier, the university pollsters released partisan primary Senate data from their June 4-15 polls in each of those places. The early results favor Democrats in Florida and Ohio, and Republicans in Pennsylvania.
The Sunshine State poll tested the four most likely 2016 open seat Senate participants: Representatives Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6), Alan Grayson (D-FL-9), Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18), and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R). In all scenarios, the Democrats perform better. None of the candidates, however, is well known. Of the group, Rep. Grayson is most familiar but 62 percent of the respondents have yet to hear of him. The least known is Rep. DeSantis who only 19% of the polling sample can identify.
The biggest spread, 40-28 percent, belongs to Rep. Murphy over Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera. The closest early contests are six-point spreads: Rep. Grayson over the lieutenant governor, and the same Orlando Democrat topping DeSantis by an equal margin. Continue reading >
June 23, 2015 — Over the weekend, Democratic strategist Maria Cardona was giving undue credence to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) leftward challenge to Hillary Clinton, all the while claiming to support the latter candidate. She even stated on the ABC This Week program that Sanders could actually upset Clinton in the first two voting states, Iowa and New Hampshire.
The statement tells us a couple of things. First, if Cardona’s comments were part of a defined campaign strategy, they would signal a move typical of Clinton political efforts. The many national Clinton presidential quests have always handled adversity by directly addressing a particular issue or area of weakness, and then creating a spin opposite of conventional perception.
For example, the pre-Clinton campaign leaked months ago that the former Secretary of State and First Lady’s brain trust believe that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush would be the strongest candidate the Republicans could field against Hillary Clinton. They site his fundraising ability and universal name identification as the reasons. Translation: Bush is exactly who the Clinton strategists want to run against. In a race about the past, early polling suggests that the Clinton era beats the Bush era, especially during the period of President George W. Bush. In fact, the Jeb Bush profile is one with which the Clinton people are very comfortable in painting contrast. Continue reading >
June 22, 2015 — Quinnipiac University released the second part of their June 4-15 polling set for the key swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The follow-up data covers the early primary polling results for each place. The sample sizes are small: 458 Republicans and 378 Democratic primary voters in Florida, 434R; 388D in Ohio, and 413R; 402D for Pennsylvania, which of course decreases reliability.
That being the case, the three Republican polling leaders are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the Sunshine State, Ohio Gov. John Kasich in his home domain, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for Pennsylvania. But, in all cases, the margins are small and the field is bunched close together. In the aggregate, the three states account for 236 delegates — FL: 99 Winner-Take-All; OH: 66 likely Winner-Take-All; PA: 71 likely Loophole (voters select individual delegates) — which represent 9.5 percent of the entire Republican nominating universe.
In Florida, Bush tops Sen. Rubio by only two points, 20-18 percent. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker trails in third place with nine percent. Dr. Ben Carson and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are next with seven and six percent, respectively. All other candidates finish at five percent and below. Continue reading >
June 19, 2015 — On the surface, the numbers from three key polls look good for former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton (D), but the underlying figures tell a different story.
Quinnipiac University released simultaneous polls in a trio of key states, places where the pollster says no candidate since 1960 has been elected without carrying two of the three. Hence, respondents in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania were randomly queried. The questions were posed during the June 4-15 period and the sample sizes ranged from a low of 970 (PA) to a high of 1,191 (OH). The format included hypothetical ballot tests between Clinton and various Republican candidates, in addition to asking personal favorability and political environment questions.
Clinton does well on the ballot tests. In Florida, she leads both Sunshine State GOP favorite sons Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio. Clinton tops Bush 46-42 percent, and Rubio 47-44 percent. Her best performances are against Ohio Gov. John Kasich (13-point spread), and Gov. Chris Christie (NJ), Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) and ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee (AR), each by 11 percentage points. Continue reading >
June 18, 2015 — As promised, international businessman Donald Trump, claiming his personal wealth will reach $10 billion, announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination before what he claimed were thousands of people at his palatial Trump Towers in New York City. The media estimated the in-room audience to be less than 1,000. The Trump spokesperson claimed others were listening throughout the building and watching the television presentation on the streets below.
Trump is not expected to be particularly competitive. Consistently, his favorability numbers are the worst of any Republican candidate by a large margin; in some polls his negatives triple his positive rating.
Trump saying that he will be “ … the greatest jobs president that God ever created,” and that he doesn’t “…need anybody’s money. It’s nice. I don’t need anybody’s money. I’m using my own money. I’m not using the lobbyists. I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich, I’ll show you that in a second. And by the way, I’m not even saying that in a braggadocio … that’s the kind that’s the kind of thinking you need for this country.” Continue reading >
June 17, 2015 — Just as former Florida governor and presidential son and brother Jeb Bush formally declared his national candidacy, several new polls were released all pointing to Republicans’ having no clear leader. The surveys provide further evidence that the underpinnings for a brokered convention continue to solidify.
Monmouth University (June 11-14; 1,002 adults; 351 likely Republican voters) released the results of their national poll, while the Morning Consult group (weekly surveying equaling 2,000 respondents; combination of live phone interviews and online responses) simultaneously tested the Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina Republican electorates.
National polls, particularly in nomination contests, are not particularly useful because the contests are state-based. But, they can be a good momentum indicator. In this instance, Monmouth, using a very small 351-person sample segment, finds Dr. Ben Carson leading the group of 16 candidates but with just 11 percent preference. Continue reading >
June 16, 2015 — We witnessed a great many political “noes” this weekend, as Iowa Republicans voted to do away with their famous August straw poll event, and two potential major Senate candidates announced they would not run next year.
The Iowa Republican Party began the straw poll event in August of 1979, as a way to showcase their first-in-the nation caucus contest. Over the years, the event attracted major media attention and was generally viewed as the first official contest of the respective presidential campaign cycle. In the most recent years, it became the Iowa GOP’s top fundraising event for their entire election season. But, over this past weekend, the Iowa Republican Party Executive Committee voted 17-0 to end the famous informal poll.
Several reasons exist for the event’s elimination, which previously drew thousands to Iowa State University in Ames, the traditional event venue. First, the straw poll was never a good predictor as to who would win the Caucus event. For example, then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) placed first in the 2011 straw poll, which proved to be the high point of her campaign. Basically she was not heard from in a serious way after that. In fact, of the six straw poll events, only once did the outright August vote correctly foretell the actual Caucus winner (George W. Bush in 2000). Continue reading >
June 15, 2015 — It’s very possible that a large number of the nation’s congressional districts will be re-drawn before the next census; the key unanswered question is, will most of it happen before the next regular vote, or will the district line adjustment process be pushed forward to the 2018 election cycle?
The US Supreme Court has been active in cases involving the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and methodology used to draw congressional districts. They first struck down a key VRA section in the Shelby County (AL) case that virtually eliminated the pre-clearance requirement associated with Voting Rights Act, Section V. This took a great deal of redistricting power away from the federal government (Department of Justice) and strengthened the states.
Awaiting a decision to be released before the end of the month is the Arizona congressional commission case. In this instance, Grand Canyon State Republicans filed suit against the voter-created special redistricting commission that has power to create state legislative and congressional districts. The Arizona Republicans are challenging the legitimacy of the commission itself, arguing that the US Constitution gives power to redistrict the House of Representatives only to the state legislatures.
Legal experts suggest the Arizona Republicans have a 50/50 chance of prevailing, and most agree the final vote will be 5-4, one way or the other. Continue reading >
June 12, 2015 — A new poll of Florida Republicans gives us an early perspective on the largest Republican Winner-Take-All state (99 delegates) and it’s two favorite sons, former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio. The results represent yet a further warning sign for Bush, and could be a prelude for the future.
The St. Leo University Polling Institute from Pasco County went into the field during the May 25-31 period and interviewed 535 Florida adults, 410 of who are judged as likely voters. The Republican and Democratic cell segments are extremely small, however. Only 146 respondents are likely GOP primary voters and 166 reside in the latter political party group. This creates a major error factor in relation to survey conclusions about each party’s nominating situation.
From what information is available, St. Leo’s finds that former Gov. Bush holds a 30-24 percent lead over Sen. Rubio with all other GOP candidates well below the 10 percent threshold.
But the mere six-point lead for the state’s former two-term chief executive hardly tells the full story. In March, the Institute found Bush ahead of Rubio 31-16 percent. Therefore, the senator has gained a net nine points in what could well turn into a two-candidate state race. Continue reading >
June 11, 2015 — The Republicans’ first choice to succeed retiring Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, will take a pass. In an announcement made Tuesday, Gov. Sandoval, who never showed any real interest in running for the Senate, formally stated that he will not seek the seat.
Sandoval, who wants to complete his second term as Nevada’s chief executive said, “My undivided attention must be devoted to being the best governor, husband and father I can be. For these reasons, I will not seek the United States Senate seat that will be available in 2016.”
All attention now turns to Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3). While it was no secret that Sandoval was a long shot to run for the Senate at best, GOP leaders simultaneously courted Heck, and it is apparent that a Senate campaign announcement from him will soon be forthcoming. At that point, in what will likely be a marathon general election campaign, the battle between Heck and presumed-Democratic nominee Catherine Cortez Masto (former attorney general) will begin. Continue reading >
June 10, 2015 — Last October, an Eastern District of Virginia special three-judge panel declared VA District 3 (Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Richmond/ Norfolk) unconstitutional. According to the ruling, the draw packed African Americans, thereby diluting the black community’s influence in other districts even though the map was constructed to the dictates of the Voting Rights Act and previous court decisions.
The Republican appeal went to the US Supreme Court, which in turn sent the congressional plan back to the court of origination in order to determine the next course of action. The Supreme Court is using an Alabama state legislative case to chart new ground in relation to minority district redistricting and appears to be returning maps from cases before them back to the lower courts with instructions to add specifics.
The federal Virginia panel took action late last Friday and sent the map to the legislature with instructions to re-draw the 3rd District. As is the case with all redistricting, changes to one CD will affect at least two and possibly several districts. Most likely, Rep. Randy Forbes (R) will find his 4th District significantly changed, much to his chagrin. Continue reading >