Monthly Archives: January 2016

Bush Surging in NH?

Jan. 29, 2016 — A new Emerson College Polling Society New Hampshire presidential primary poll suggests former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is moving into second place among Republicans ahead of his principle establishment rivals, governors John Kasich (R-OH) and Chris Christie (R-NJ).

According to the ECPS survey results (Jan. 25-26; 373 likely New Hampshire GOP primary voters), Donald Trump maintains a large lead over the Republican field posting 35 percent preference. Bush followed with 18 percent, just ahead of Gov. Kasich’s 14 percent standing. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) scores nine percent; Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) eight percent; and Gov. Christie just five percent among the polling respondents.

However, these numbers are unsubstantiated. No other survey research organization has detected such a Bush forward drive. Though the Polling Society is comprised of students from Emerson College in neighboring Massachusetts, their track record has been impressive, coming closer to the actual final result in the 2013 Virginia governor’s race than the professional firms, for example. The American Association for Public Opinion Research extended the organization membership status in recognition of their previous work.

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Sen. Paul Draws Opponent

Jan. 28, 2016 — With the clock running down to just hours for Democrats to find a credible opponent for Sen. Rand Paul (R), Lexington Mayor Jim Gray (D) submitted his candidate declaration papers Tuesday and will be placed on the May 17 Democratic primary ballot.

Mayor Gray, who runs the second largest city-county consolidated government region in the state, had been a national recruitment target ever since former Gov. Steve Beshear (D) and Louisville Metro Mayor Greg Fischer (D) declined to run. Though six other Democrats had already become senatorial candidates, none can be considered major contenders, thus Gray begins the race with the inside track for the party nomination. Though starting from scratch, Gray could be in position to give Paul serious competition should the latter’s presidential campaign become a debacle.

Originally expected to be one of the major contenders in at least the Iowa Caucuses, Sen. Paul will likely finish in the lower tier in Monday’s first presidential vote, with not much better prospects for New Hampshire. The Kentucky presidential caucus, changed from a primary to allow Paul to simultaneously run for president and Senate, will be held March 5. The senator needs a good showing in his home state to remain alive in the presidential contest, and to shore up his internal base for a re-election campaign.

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Iowa Democrat Candidates:
The Polls Can’t Predict

Jan. 27, 2016 — Now less than a week before the Iowa Caucuses, five new polls of the Democratic presidential contest, all conducted within the same time period, arrive at very different conclusions. Three of the surveys find Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-D/VT) leading former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while two arrive at the opposite result.

All five polls — from CNN, the Emerson College Polling Society, CBS/YouGov, Fox News, and the American Research Group (ARG) — studied the Iowa Democratic electorate from Jan. 15-24. The sampling universes ranged from 258 likely Democratic Caucus attenders to 490 projected participants.

The Emerson College Polling Society, which is a group of students from Emerson College in Massachusetts who have established such a record of accuracy that the American Association of Public Opinion Research has granted them membership, employs the smallest sample size at 258 self-identified Democratic voters, while CBS/YouGov’s 490-person polling universe was the largest.

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Bloomberg Considers Another Run

Jan. 26, 2016 — For the third time, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is considering a potential Independent run for president.

The New York Times is reporting that Bloomberg has hired a team of political consultants to begin examining his ability to qualify for the ballot as an Independent candidate in all 50 states. Doing so is no easy feat –- the major parties constructed and passed laws at the state level that effectively limit easy ballot qualification to the Democrats and Republicans -– and the Times reports the advisors are telling Bloomberg that he would have to launch his effort no later than March if he is to have any chance of attaining national ballot placement.

The same reports suggest that Bloomberg would be willing to spend as much as $1 billion of his personal fortune – his personal wealth is estimated to be in the $41 billion range – on a national campaign. But, can even a well-funded Independent have any chance of winning the presidency? Probably not.

We turn back to 1992, the last time an Independent attracted any significant vote. Then, businessman Ross Perot, running on the Reform Party ticket, captured 19 percent of the popular vote nationally, the best third party candidate showing since Teddy Roosevelt tallied 27 percent as the Progressive Party nominee in 1912.

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A Democratic Dark Horse?

Jan. 25, 2016 — With her poll numbers dropping, a majority of people saying they don’t trust her in every survey, and national polling giving Donald Trump a 244-213 Electoral Vote lead with states holding 81 votes in undecided territory (according to the Statespoll.com organization), Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s campaign machine is floundering.

Alternative Bernie Sanders is even weaker. Ohio governor and presidential candidate John Kasich (R), when asked about a potential Sanders’ nomination, quipped that “we (Republicans) would win all 50 states if that were the case.” He is exaggerating of course, but clearly Sen. Sanders would be a severe underdog to the Republican nominee and could possibly finish as poorly as George McGovern did in 1972 when he lost to President Richard Nixon with only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia credited to his column.

Should the Democratic situation turn even worse in the coming few weeks, we could see increased speculation that a dark horse candidate, say Vice President Joe Biden, who is making public comments about regretting his decision not to run this year, might yet attempt to snatch the presidential nomination away from both Clinton and Sanders.

But, is such a scenario where Biden or some other candidate could yet enter the race and be successful actually realistic? Clearly, the answer is no.

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Jolly Way Up in Wild Poll; Trump, Too

Jan. 22, 2016 — Florida Atlantic University yesterday released a Sunshine State poll that finds Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) opening up a large lead in the open Republican Senate primary, but the results breed skepticism.

The survey, taken during the Jan. 15-18 period of 1,108 Florida voters appears methodologically sound. The sample size is reasonable, though 345 Republican primary voters used for the Senate sample is a bit small for a state the size of Florida. The geographical division is cast evenly among the northern, central, and southern regions, which is constant. Yet, the ballot test results are way out line with anything previously published.

In several earlier polls, with no candidate having strong statewide name identification, Rep. Jolly, his congressional colleague Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6), and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera all fell below 20 percent, and were within just a few points of each other.

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Kasich Surging in New Hampshire; Sanders’ Lead Clear

Jan. 21, 2016 — The new American Research Group (ARG) poll (Jan 15-18; 600 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters) finds Ohio Gov. John Kasich forging his way into second place for the Feb. 9 New Hampshire Republican primary, and narrowing the gap between he and leader Donald Trump.

According to the data, Trump’s support has risen to 27 percent on the ARG scale, while Gov. Kasich has soared to the 20 percent mark. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) leads the group in the middle, but by only a single point: 10-9-9-8-5 percent, over Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), respectively.

The survey reveals Kasich’s strongest showing to date in a place outside of Ohio. The Buckeye State chief executive has been working hard in New Hampshire, virtually forsaking Iowa in hopes of scoring a better-than-expected performance in the first-in-the-nation primary state. Should this late polling trend be verified, it would appear that he could achieve such an objective.

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The Open Seats

Jan. 20, 2016 — Considering six new House retirements were announced just before Christmas and early into the New Year, it’s a good time to review exactly which states and districts are open for the 2016 election:

Senate – 6 Total (3R; 3D)
California: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) – retiring – Safe Democrat
Florida: Sen. Marco Rubio (R) – running for President – Toss-Up
Indiana: Sen. Dan Coats (R) – retiring – Likely Republican
Louisiana: Sen. David Vitter (R) – retiring – Likely Republican
Maryland: Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) – retiring – Safe Democrat
Nevada: Sen. Harry Reid (D) – retiring – Toss-Up
• Likely R: (2)
• Safe D: (2)
• Toss-Up: (2)

House – 37 Total (22R; 15D)

AZ-1: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) – running for Senate – Toss-Up
CA-20: Rep. Sam Farr (D) – retiring – Safe D
CA-24: Rep. Lois Capps (D) – retiring – Lean D
CA-44: Rep. Janice Hahn (D) – running for local office – Safe D
CA-46: Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D) – running for Senate – Safe D
DE-AL: Rep. John Carney (D) – running for Governor – Likely D
FL-6: Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) – running for Senate – Likely R
FL-9: Rep. Alan Grayson (D) – running for Senate – Likely D
FL-11: Rep. Rich Nugent (R) – retiring – Safe R
FL-13: Rep. David Jolly (R) – running for Senate – Lean D
FL-18: Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) – running for Senate – Toss-Up
GA-3: Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R) – retiring/Gov (’18) – Safe R
IL-8: Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D) – running for Senate – Safe D
IN-3: Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R) – running for Senate – Safe R
IN-9: Rep. Todd Young (R) – running for Senate – Likely R
KY-1: Rep. Ed Whitfield (R) – retiring – Safe R
LA-3: Rep. Charles Boustany (R) – running for Senate – Safe R
LA-4: Rep. John Fleming (R) – running for Senate – Safe R
MD-4: Rep. Donna Edwards (D) – running for Senate – Safe D
MD-8: Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) – running for Senate – Safe D
MI-1: Rep. Dan Benishek (R) – retiring – Lean R
MI-10: Rep. Candice Miller (R) – retiring – Safe R
MN-2: Rep. John Kline (R) – retiring – Toss-Up
NV-3: Rep. Joe Heck (R) – running for Senate – Likely R
NY-3: Rep. Steve Israel (D) – retiring – Lean D
NY-13: Rep. Charlie Rangel (D) – retiring – Safe D
NY-19: Rep. Chris Gibson (R) – retiring/Gov (’18) – Lean R
NY-22: Rep. Richard Hanna (R) – retiring – Lean R
OH-8: Rep. John Boehner (R) – resigned – Safe R –
           Special Election – March 15; June 7
PA-8: Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R) – retiring – Lean R
PA-16: Rep. Joe Pitts (R) – retiring – Likely R
TX-15: Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D) – retiring – Safe D
TX-19: Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R) – retiring – Safe R
VA-2: Rep. Scott Rigell (R) – retiring – Toss-Up
VA-5: Rep. Bob Hurt (R) – retiring – Likely R
WA-7: Rep. Jim McDermott (D) – retiring – Safe D
WY-AL: Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R) – retiring – Safe R
• Safe R: (10); Likely R: (5); Lean R: (4); Total R: (19)
• Safe D: (9); Likely D: (2); Lean D: (3); Total D: (14)
• Toss-Up: (4)

A Curious New Retirement

Jan. 19, 2016 — Rep. Scott Rigell’s (R-VA-2) announced retirement last week is surprising not just because it was unexpected. Since the Virginia redistricting situation that directly affects the southeastern part of the state is not fully decided, the political timing of such a declaration is precarious.

Clearly, Rigell’s decision not to seek a fourth term is being done for personal reasons and not political ones. His official statements suggest he has a “sense of accomplishment” regarding his service in Congress, and that “it’s time to come home.” If politics were involved, he would postpone a retirement announcement until the district lines are finalized, particularly because his 2nd District fares quite differently under the two redistricting plans.

The new court-ordered Virginia map would make Rep. Randy Forbes’ (R-VA-4) district virtually unwinnable for a Republican, but actually reinforces, from a GOP perspective, the Rigell seat and that of neighboring Rep. Robert Hurt (R-VA-5). Interestingly, Hurt, also after three terms, announced his retirement just before Christmas.

But Virginia redistricting is far from settled despite the lower court’s action to institute their map. Republican appellants are asking the US Supreme Court to stay the lower court decision until the high court, itself, hears arguments on the new plan and renders its own decision.

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Both Parties Virtually Tied

Jan. 15, 2016 — A plethora of polling is underway in Iowa, now just 19 days away from voters casting the first ballots of the 2016 election cycle. The new surveys are consistently finding that both party contests have tightened substantially.

For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton had been breaking away from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) since mid-September, but the most recent polls, those conducted since the beginning of this month and year, are making the political atmospherics uncomfortable for the former Secretary of State and First Lady. Sen. Sanders has seen a resurgence of Iowa support forming behind his candidacy, and he has now pulled into a virtual tie with Clinton.

Since New Years Day, five pollsters surveyed the Hawkeye State Democratic electorate and found Clinton leading in only three of the five studies. According to NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist College, Quinnipiac University, American Research Group, and Public Policy Polling, the spread between the two candidates now sits in a range of only three to six percentage points. Their sample sizes swing from 422 likely Democratic Caucus attenders to 600 from Jan. 2 through the 12th.

The fifth pollster, Gravis Marketing, reported their new findings yesterday. Surveying 461 likely Democratic Caucus attenders earlier this week (Jan 11-12), Gravis projects Clinton’s advantage again soaring to 57-36 percent, or back in the scope of what we were seeing in mid-September through the end of 2015. Since Gravis derives a much different conclusion than the other four pollsters surveying in the same time frame with similar methodologies, it is reasonable to consider that their latest poll could be an anomaly. We will find out for sure on Feb. 1.

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Florida Redistricting: The Latest

Jan. 14, 2016 — The Florida court-ordered redistricting saga continues with new developments regularly changing the political atmospherics. Back in early July, the Florida state Supreme Court struck down eight of the state’s congressional districts – four Republican-held; four Democratic – for reasons of “partisan gerrymandering.”

The map has been changed, enacted, and now fully reported. Since the exact boundaries have found their way into the public domain, we can now see that virtually the entire state has been affected. Mandating boundary alterations in eight districts translated into changing 24 of the state’s 27 CDs. The only three to remain intact are a trio of Republican seats: FL-1 (Rep. Jeff Miller-Pensacola; northwest Florida Panhandle); FL-8 (Rep. Bill Posey; Cape Canaveral to Vero Beach); and FL-19 (Rep. Curt Clawson; Ft. Myers-Cape Coral to Marco Island).

One, Rep. Patrick Murphy’s (D-Jupiter) 18th District (Ft. Pierce to West Palm Beach), saw less than a one percent change. The two districts altered the most are Rep. Corrine Brown’s (D-Jacksonville) 5th District and GOP Rep. Dan Webster’s 10th CD (Orlando).

The Brown seat that formerly stretched from Jacksonville to Orlando, touching Gainesville and Sanford along the way, now encompasses territory from Jacksonville to Tallahassee. It is still heavily African American, but the original region has been divided over six districts. The largest portion of the 2011-drawn seat, a 40.1 percent population segment, is actually in Orlando. Her Jacksonville anchor maintains just 38.2 percent of the former FL-5 constituency.

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Democratic Race Tightens

Jan. 13, 2016 — Several new polls are showing a tightening of the Democratic presidential campaign nationally, and for the upcoming Iowa Caucus (Feb. 1) and New Hampshire primary (Feb. 9). But, is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s grasp on the party nomination threatened? We think, not.

The new Investors Business Daily/TIPP poll, which, the New York Times rated as the most accurate of the 23 pollsters they tested in the 2012 presidential campaign, posted their latest national results. The survey (Jan. 4-8; 967 “Americans”) finds Clinton leading Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) by her smallest margin in months, 43-39 percent. The last 10 national polls, not including this most recent IBD/TIPP data, finds the former First Lady’s advantage averaging approximately 55-33 percent.

The IBD/TIPP poll appears inherently flawed. First, surveying “Americans” tells us that not all of the respondents are registered voters. Second, the overall sample of 967 participants contains only 378 likely Democratic primary voters, which is the fundamental segment for determining the Clinton-Sanders ballot test. Keep in mind, however, this group of less than 400 people is supposed to represent the nation.

Such a sample may be adequate for a lone congressional district, but falls far short of the number necessary for forming accurate national conclusions. Therefore, standing alone this poll should be discarded, but it does serve as a potential base point from which to begin judging what may be a developing trend.

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Retirements 2016: House Changes?

Jan. 12, 2016 — Just before Christmas, and including three more such announcements that occurred last week, five House members made public their intention not to seek re-election in the fall. The sudden jump in the number of congressmen choosing either to retire from politics or run for a different office now makes 2016 an average election cycle when examining the vacancy rate.

Representatives Richard Hanna (R-NY-22), Robert Hurt (R-VA-5), Jim McDermott (D-WA-7), Steve Israel (D-NY-3), and Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA-3) all making their political plans known in the last three weeks creates a total of 36 open seat elections for the coming year (21R-15D); an average number based upon 21st Century electoral trends, and a return to normalcy. The last two election cycles have yielded an unusually large open seat numbers: 62 in 2012, and 48 in 2014.

Interestingly, heavy competition appears to be building in only a small number of these incumbent-less US House campaigns. Based upon our internal calculations, only three of the 36 open seats are in the pure toss-up category, those of representatives Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1), Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) and John Kline (R-MN-2). Another six, three for each party, can be considered in the “Lean” category. This means, at our early point in the campaign cycle, that only nine open districts, or one-quarter of the total number, are not definitively headed toward one party camp or the other.

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Yet Another Retirement;
Virginia Update

Jan. 11, 2016 — Rounding out the week is our third House retirement announcement, this time from Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Coweta County), a 12-year congressional veteran. The congressman will serve the remainder of this term and then potentially begin a campaign for the open governor’s position in 2018. Incumbent Nathan Deal (R) will be ineligible to seek a third term that year.

Westmoreland, who is in no political danger within the confines of the 3rd District and was unopposed in the last election, said it would not be fair to his current constituency to run for another office while ostensibly representing them in Washington.

Georgia’s 3rd District is located southwest of Atlanta, stretching from the Alabama border to the northeast almost directly into The ATL’s dominant outer suburban ring. The district’s largest population centers are LaGrange, Carrollton, and Griffin, along with the Pine Mountain region. It is a heavily Republican seat, as evidenced from Mitt Romney obtaining 66 percent voter support in the 2012 presidential contest. This, and the fact that few Democrats hold any office in the region, makes it clear that the Republican nomination contest will determine Westmoreland’s successor.

The Georgia state primary is scheduled for May 24, with the all-but-certain run-off slated for July 26. We can expect a large field of Republican candidates. Rep. Westmoreland’s retirement means that 36 seats will be open in the 2016 election cycle, 21 currently in Republican hands.

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Cruz Edging Trump in California

Jan. 8, 2016 — The California Field Poll was released early this week and the results show a surge for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential race, but their conclusions are largely irrelevant. California polling can’t accurately project the state’s all-important delegate count, hence the statewide ballot test total is less important here than in other places.

Despite Republicans performing poorly in California since the turn of the century, the Golden State still sends the largest delegation to the Republican National Convention (172). The California apportionment system yields a more open contest than most states because finishing first statewide is worth only 10 at-large delegates.

As in six other states (Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, South Carolina and Wisconsin), California apportions upon congressional district vote in addition to the aggregate statewide total. Since the Golden State possesses 53 CDs, California primary day actually yields 54 separate elections: one in each congressional district in addition to the statewide tally. The candidate placing first in each individual district, regardless of vote percentage or raw total, is awarded three delegates in winner-take-all fashion.

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