Monthly Archives: September 2015

Vitter Wavering; Leadership Update

Sept. 30, 2015 — The last few released polls have been sending warning signals to Louisiana Sen. David Vitter (R) in his quest to win the 2015 open governor’s race. The brand new Clarus Research Group survey conducted for the Louisiana Advocate and WWL-TV (released Sept. 27; 800 registered Louisiana voters) again finds the two-term senator and former House member struggling.

According to the CRG data, Vitter and Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards would tie at 24 percent in the Oct. 24 jungle primary, and then advance to the Nov. 21 run-off election. Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle (R) is next with 15 percent, with Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R) just behind at 14 percent support. These results are consistent with many other recently released studies.

But, it is the run-off match-ups that are most interesting, particularly in relation to how Sen. Vitter fares. In each instance, the senator would trail his opponent in a head-to-head contest.

Against Edwards, Sen. Vitter falls behind 41-45 percent. If Angelle were to qualify, he would lead Vitter 40-35 percent. Finally, even against Lt. Gov. Dardenne, who has been last in jungle primary polling for months, Vitter would again be behind. In this configuration, Dardenne would actually lead by the largest margin of all, 42-35 percent.

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Succeeding Boehner: What We Know

Sept. 29, 2015 — Much speculation is surrounding Speaker John Boehner’s impending resignation, but what facts are confirmed? Several House members are already testing their viability in potential races for Majority Leader or Whip because, at this time, it appears Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23) will run for, and be elected, Speaker.

Boehner will resign the speakership and his OH-8 House seat on Oct. 30. His decision to leave the leadership and congressional position he has held since first winning in 1990, after serving three terms in the Ohio state legislature, is obviously motivated by many factors.

The resignation announcement, however, comes just days after reports surfaced that Democrats were prepared to “save” Boehner in a vote whether to continue his speakership. Since Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC-11) had filed a motion to vacate the chair, a vote would be taken. The Democrats, either delivering the required number of votes to ensure a Boehner win or, more likely, abstaining so that the Speaker’s plurality would become a majority. Such an outcome would have realistically doomed him, leaving him virtually powerless.

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Bloomberg Poll Explains Trump

Sept. 28, 2015 — A new Bloomberg Politics poll conducted by Iowa-based Selzer & Company (Sept. 18-21; 1,001 adults) at least partially explains Donald Trump’s apparent sudden appeal. The poll asks pointed questions about how the respondents perceive various issues, and the results provide supporting data as to why Trump’s message is striking chords with many prospective voters.

In a previous update, we discussed the Bloomberg/Selzer Democratic primary ballot test (375 likely Democratic primary voters – a sample too small to adequately draw national conclusions). This new data reveals that a bare majority would now choose a Dem candidate other than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Additionally, their underlying issue questions provide us a relatively sound base from which to analyze potential voting patterns.

The key questions surround America’s greatness, a subject that has become the theme of Trump’s national campaign. From his slogan “let’s make America great again”, it becomes obvious that Trump no longer thinks the country is heading toward its apex. According to the Bloomberg/Selzer data, the majority of respondents share that opinion. Their question is reproduced below, with response percentages in adjoining parenthesis:

Do you think the United States today is:
• Greater than it has ever been (6%)
• Equally great as it has been in the past (20%)
• Falling behind (47%)
• Failing (25%)
• Not sure (2%)

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New Poll Spells Trouble for Democrats

Sept. 25, 2015 — Bloomberg News released a survey yesterday delivering more bad news to the beleaguered Hillary Clinton campaign. According to their poll of 1,001 adults, 375 of who are likely Democratic primary voters (conducted by Selzer & Company of Des Moines, Iowa; Sept. 18-21), only 33 percent say the former Secretary of State is their first choice to be the party presidential nominee. Vice President Joe Biden follows closely with 25 percent preference, with Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I/D-VT) 24 percent nipping at the VP’s heels.

Particularly troubling for Clinton is that a majority of surveyed Democrats, when including minor candidates Jim Webb (former Virginia senator; two percent), and Martin O’Malley (ex-Maryland governor and Baltimore mayor; one percent), are definitively choosing another candidate.

Here, as in many Republican national polls we’ve seen, the 375-person sample size is too small to draw a highly accurate conclusion. Though the results appear in a consistent range with other recent polling, it is not fair to base assumptions on this high-error factor data. But, we do know the internal party trends are now turning against the former New York senator and First Lady, meaning she must somehow launch a new offensive to reverse her momentum slide.

Could Utah be a Conduit for a
Romney Nomination?

Sept. 25, 2015 — Possessing fewer than three million inhabitants, the small state of Utah will command a unique position at the Republican National Convention. As one of only seven Winner-Take-All states, plus the four small territories that will also cast their entire slate (9 delegates apiece) for an individual candidate, the Beehive State delegation (40 delegates) is key to helping determine who becomes the Republican presidential nominee.

Yesterday, state Republican chairman James Evans upped the ante. He suggested that favorite son and 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney could still be nominated next year even if he doesn’t enter the Republican primaries. How? A deadlocked convention could turn to him.

We have discussed the possibility of the Republicans going to a brokered convention for several months. With Donald Trump now the race leader and demonstrating that he can pull in the 30 percent neighborhood, there is little way the international businessman could cobble together a 50 percent coalition. Accounting for polls revealing that at least a quarter of the Republican electorate will vote against him under any circumstance, it becomes mathematically unfeasible for Trump to claim a first ballot victory. And, if Trump can’t get there with a support level greater than any other candidate, then who can?

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New GOP House Data

Sept. 24, 2015 — The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) commissioned Harper Polling (HP) to conduct surveys in presumed vulnerable incumbent districts for next year. In five of the situations where the Democrats have already recruited credible candidates, the preliminary data is favorable for the party office holders. Still, an eventual shift in the political tide could easily make these campaigns highly competitive for 2016.

The quintet of released polls feature representatives Martha McSally (R-AZ-2), Mike Bost (R-IL-12), Tim Walberg (R-MI-7), Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21), and John Katko (R-NY-24).

Rep. McSally won the closest of all 2014 elections, a 167-vote victory over then-Tucson Democratic incumbent Ron Barber. Though the Harper data projects McSally with a discernible lead, there is little question that the succeeding 2016 contest will again be close.

All four of these polls were conducted during the Sept. 12-16 period. In Arizona’s 2nd District, 484 likely general election voters were sampled. The sample’s partisan division was a reflective 39 percent Democratic, 36 percent Republican, 25 percent Independent, which is an accurate depiction of the district as a whole. Today, HP finds Rep. McSally holding almost identical leads over her two Democratic opponents, both of whom have state legislative experience.

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Walker Leaves the Stage;
New Pennsylvania Senate Data

Sept. 23, 2015 — The rise and fall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ultimately proved meteoric in both directions. After rising to the top of the Republican presidential heap earlier in the year, the nominal former front-runner yesterday departed the presidential race.

His decline, largely at the hands of current GOP front-runner Donald Trump, was as far and fast as his original ascension. All recent polls positioned him dropping to three percent or below, about 1/6th the size of his original support base, but the latest CNN/ORC survey (Sept. 17-19; 924 national registered voters; 444 likely Republican primary voters) portended rock bottom. The CNN study revealed that Walker failed to even record a percentage point.

How does Walker leaving the race affect the remaining candidates? If he has his way, others would follow his lead exiting the contest in order to allow those with the true ability to overtake Trump and unify the conservative movement the opportunity to do so.

Walker’s mistakes did not occur on the actual campaign trail. Rather, they were strategic and administrative in nature. Waiting too long to officially enter the race, failing to stand out at the debates, and spending too much money on staff overhead proved to be his downfall even though he uttered only minor public gaffes.

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Different Methodologies,
Same Result

Sept. 22, 2015 — Two national media polls were released this weekend. Though the methodologies employed in each survey were very different, both arrived at remarkably similar conclusions.

NBC News ran an online survey and CNN/ORC conducted one of their regular research studies of the post-debate national Republican electorate. The two found confirmation of what was developing before the debate – the trio of never-elected Republicans: Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, and businesswoman Carly Fiorina attracting more than bare majority support – also happening after the forum.

According to NBC Online, 54 percent of the GOP primary voting sample chose one of the non-politicians. The top elected or former elected official, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, scored a mere eight percent. CNN/ORC reported a similar finding: 53 percent, with one elected official, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, actually breaking into double-digits at 11 percent.

NBC developed their 5,113 person polling sample with SurveyMonkey on Sep. 16-18, from a pool of more than the three million people who answer SurveyMonkey questions each day. The NBC officials classify this as a “non-probability survey” that was demographically weighted with data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Of the 5,113 adult sample, 2,070 are registered or self-identified Republican voters. The reported GOP segment ballot test responses follow:

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Rep. Neugebauer to Retire;
Fiorina Shock Poll

Sept. 21, 2015 — West Texas Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Lubbock) became the fifth House member this month to announce his retirement, making public his decision yesterday. The congressman is not exercising his prerogative to seek an eighth term in the House, and will end his congressional career when the legislative session concludes at the beginning of 2017.

Neugebauer was first elected in a 2003 special election, replacing resigned-Rep. Larry Combest (R-Lubbock) who had left the House mid-term from his agriculture dominated district. Combest was the former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee when he retired from Congress.

Neugebauer, previously a Lubbock City Councilman, won a difficult special election in a very different 19th CD. At the time, both the cities of Lubbock and Midland were housed in the same CD. Neugebauer defeated Midland businessman Mike Conaway (R) in that election, but the latter would then win his current post-redistricting 11th District in 2004. Conaway is now the current House Agriculture Committee chairman.

The same redistricting plan that elected Conaway forced the just-elected Neugebauer into a district with 13-term Rep. Charlie Stenholm (D-Abilene). But, the new boundary configuration was not kind to the veteran Democrat, and the freshman handily defeated him 58-40 percent. Rep. Neugebauer would never again experience a close election.

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Florida Shock Poll;
Rep. Benishek to Retire

Sept. 17, 2015 — Tuesday, before last night’s Republican debate, Public Policy Polling released their new Florida survey (Sept. 11-14; 814 registered Florida voters; 377 likely Republican Florida primary voters; 368 likely Democratic Florida primary voters) and delivered what could be haunting news to both former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio. The new ballot test result finds Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson leading the pair of home state politicians.

According to the PPP numbers, Trump takes 28 percent of the Florida Republican vote, followed by Dr. Carson who secures 17 percent. Trailing in third place with only 13 percent support from his home state GOP electorate is Bush, while Sen. Rubio drops to 10 percent. Though the percentages are not as dramatic as polls witnessed in Iowa and New Hampshire earlier in the week, Trump and Carson total 45 percent of the Sunshine State GOP vote. The third outsider candidate who is part of the trio never holding an elective office, Carly Fiorina, garners seven percent from this sampling universe, which again gives the never-electeds a majority (52 percent).

Looking at the delegate count, the Florida winner takes the primary season’s biggest prize because the state’s 99 Winner-Take-All delegates would be assigned to the person finishing first, regardless of the percentage attained.

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Sanders, Trump Gaining Strength

Sept. 16, 2015 — Two new major media polls were released yesterday that show Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders opening up a lead in Iowa as well as New Hampshire, while Donald Trump is expanding his Republican advantage virtually everywhere.

The ABC News/Washington Post national survey (Sept. 7-10; 1,003 adults; 821 registered voters; 356 registered or leaning Democrats; 342 registered or leaning Republicans in combined telephone and online contact) finds former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leading Sen. Sanders and Vice President Joe Biden 42-24-21 percent, respectively. These numbers confirm almost to the digit the figures Monmouth University reported last week in their national survey.

The most troubling finding for Clinton in this study is her declining support among women. Compared to the July ABC/Washington Post poll, her allegiance among females has fallen 29 percentage points.

For the Republicans, again similar to the Monmouth findings in the previous week, Trump leads Dr. Ben Carson 33-20 percent, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in third place with a small eight percent preference. Again, the three Republicans who have never held an elective office, Trump, Carson, and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, together command 55 percent of the Republican electorate.

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Perry Done; Maryland Senate
Candidate News

Sept. 15, 2015 — Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry wound up leading the Republican presidential candidates, but not in the way he planned. Last Friday, Perry became the first contender to suspend his campaign, thus effectively ending his presidential aspirations.

Money was the chief reason for the early exit, as his direct campaign had virtually no resources to keep operating. Ironically, his outside PAC did have the finances, but the non-coordinated effort could not legally keep the Perry mother ship alive.

The former governor may have actually ended his 2016 presidential campaign in July from two years past when he decided not to seek a fifth term as Texas’ chief executive.

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LaHood Wins; GOP Coalition Building

Sept. 14, 2015 — The last US House vacancy was officially filled last night when Illinois state Sen. Darin LaHood (R) easily won the special election in the Peoria-anchored district left vacant when then-Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL-18) resigned over improper expenses.

LaHood, the son of former representative and US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, had an easy run from the beginning of the special election cycle. With no strong opponents filing in either the Republican primary or for the general election, the Peoria state senator’s pre-candidate filing operation positioned him as a consensus candidate virtually from the beginning.

LaHood garnered 69 percent of the vote against educator Rob Mellon (D), sweeping an 18th District that travels around and among the cities of Peoria, Springfield, and Normal before encompassing the rural region to the Missouri border.

The final turnout of 50,747 voters is a little more than half the average total of what we generally see for a special congressional election. The fact that this low-key campaign produced virtually no competition left no doubt about the final conclusion, hence the low voter participation rate.

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Breaking Senate Action

Sept. 11, 2015 The post Labor Day period is already bringing clarity to various Senate races, including several within the last day or two.

North Dakota

Speculation surrounding Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) jumping into the open North Dakota governor’s race was put to bed earlier this week. Sen. Heitkamp announced that she will not enter the state campaign and instead will complete her first senate term. Heitkamp was elected in 2012 and comes in-cycle three years from now.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee leadership was concerned that Heitkamp would run for governor. Though she would not have risked her Senate seat to run, had she been victorious, a new succession law the legislature and Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) adopted this term takes the appointment power away from the governor pertaining to Senate vacancies. Instead, their action now requires calling an immediate special election. The chances of Republicans being able to convert an open North Dakota seat in a special 2017 vote would be very high, hence the importance of the national party leaders prevailing upon Sen. Heitkamp to forego a gubernatorial bid.

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Hillary Falling Not Only in Iowa and New Hampshire, But Across U.S.

Sept. 10, 2015 — A pair of newly released surveys is now providing what may be a true depiction of the current Democratic presidential field.

Though there has been a great deal of discussion and speculation about whether Vice President Joe Biden will join the presidential contest, most national studies were not including him on their national ballot test questions. The state polls that did feature him, along with Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT), did not discover much in the way of Biden support, however. Yesterday, Monmouth University released a new poll that provides plausible answers as to where the VP stands in relation to Clinton and Sanders.

Though Clinton has been under the gun for weeks about her private email server and what has become her lagging campaign, the slippage in her standing when compared to the other candidates wasn’t particularly evident in national surveys, or those covering the early voting states’ electorates. Two NBC/Marist College surveys just reported their Iowa and New Hampshire findings, and they foresee a front-running candidate who is beginning to hemorrhage politically.

The Monmouth poll (Aug. 31 – Sept. 2; 1,099 US adults; 339 likely Democratic primary voters) finds Clinton now dropping below a majority within the Democratic cell sample, a first for a national poll in this election cycle. Monmouth projects Clinton having 42 percent support, followed by Biden with 22 percent, and Sen. Sanders close behind scoring 20 percent.

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