Monthly Archives: July 2016

The Ryan Primary

By Jim Ellis

July 29, 2016 — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) faces a Wisconsin primary challenge that is beginning to show movement, and he’s responding. While there is little chance Ryan loses re-nomination on Aug. 9, his opponent, businessman Paul Nehlen (R), is scoring points.

The Speaker, conscious of avoiding the political campaign mistakes that cost former Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA-7) his seat in Congress, responded this week with a positive ad television buy (above).

Cantor’s mistake was attacking his Republican opponent, now Rep. David Brat (R-Glen Allen). The Majority Leader’s offensive provided Brat’s insurgent campaign enough credibility to attract meaningful attention, resulting in significant numbers listening to his message.

Continue reading

Indiana’s Holcomb Defeats
Two US Reps; GA-3 Results

By Jim Ellis

July 28, 2016 — Suddenly, the Democrats seemed well positioned to potentially claim a new senator and governor from normally Republican Indiana.

Tuesday, appointed Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, the former chairman of the Indiana Republican Party, won the special vote to replace vice presidential nominee Mike Pence as the party’s gubernatorial standard bearer. He now faces former state House Speaker John Gregg (D) in the general election. Gregg held Pence to a 49-46 percent victory in 2012.

The party’s State Committee, comprised of the state party officers and congressional district chairs and vice chairs from all nine districts, has the responsibility of filling statewide ballot vacancies. With Gov. Pence departing on the final day that the party could begin replacement proceedings, the State Committee leadership scheduled the secret ballot vote for Tuesday, though they had 30 days to take action.

Continue reading

The Trump Bounce

By Jim Ellis

July 27, 2016 — Though last week’s Republican convention had its political hiccups, Donald Trump appears to have received the bump that he and his campaign hierarchy had desired.

A series of new polls were released Monday, all conducted between the July 21-24 period, just after the Republican conclave ended.

CBS News (July 22-24; 1,118 US registered voters) finds Trump leading Hillary Clinton, 44-43 percent in a head-to-head ballot test, and 40-39-12 percent when Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson is included.

CNN (July 22-24; 882 US registered voters) produced a bit better split for Trump. They see the now official Republican nominee holding a three-point head-to-head edge, 48-45 percent, and a larger 44-39-9-3 percent margin when Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein are added to the polling questionnaire.

Continue reading

Kaine; Wasserman Schultz’s Problems

By Jim Ellis

July 26, 2016 — Hillary Clinton’s choice of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her vice presidential running mate became official over the weekend, and it tells us several things about her campaign.

First, she appears to have taken the politically safe route in tabbing the more centrist Kaine, a senator, former governor, and ex-chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Second, the move suggests that she feels comfortable with her November prospects and base support, since Kaine does not have great appeal to the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren left. Additionally, his selection doesn’t appear to have direct pull within the minority communities, though Kaine speaking fluent Spanish will undoubtedly be highlighted whether or not it attracts any actual votes.

The real reasons for picking him, however, are that Sen. Kaine is unlikely to make any major mistake on the campaign trail, and he proves an important asset in converting his home swing state, Virginia, to the Democratic column. The Old Dominion (13 Electoral Votes) has been considered battleground territory in the 21st Century’s presidential elections, breaking twice for each party.

Continue reading

The Other Primaries

By Jim Ellis

July 25, 2016 — Though the presidential nomination process is just about complete, the primary season is far from finished. With the Republican convention now in the books and the Democrats just about to begin, we take our focus away from the national election to recap what still remains in the states.

Beginning early next week, 22 states still must fully nominate congressional candidates, and in some cases gubernatorial candidates, for the fall election.

Below is a summary of the races to be decided:

July 26: (Georgia, Indiana)

The GA-3 run-off between Republicans Mike Crane and Drew Ferguson will end, with the winner eventually succeeding retiring Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Grantville).

Continue reading

Takai Passes;
VP Announcement Coming

By Jim Ellis

July 22, 2016 — In May, freshman Rep. Mark Takai (D-Aiea/Honolulu) announced his pancreatic cancer had spread, thus preventing him from seeking a second term. Sadly, Mr. Takai, 49, succumbed to the disease Tuesday morning. Hawaii’s 1st District will remain vacant most likely until the election unless Gov. David Ige (D) decides to schedule a special election before November. Former Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) is the prohibitive favorite to succeed the late congressman.

VP

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has scheduled two major rallies in Tampa on Friday and Miami, Saturday, and reports indicate that she will name her vice presidential selection at the latter event. Her choice will largely tell us a how she views her own general election prospects.

If Ms. Clinton chooses either Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) or Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), it will be an indication that she feels weak on her left flank. Adopting a running mate from the ideological left will signify that she believes her support among the Bernie Sanders’ wing of the Democratic Party needs reinforcing. Such a move would be designed to help attract the 43% of the Democratic primary electorate who supported Sanders earlier this year.

Continue reading

The Big Swings

By Jim Ellis

July 21, 2016 — If we use the 2012 presidential map as the starting point for projecting the current campaign’s outcome, we can see that the race could literally be determined in three large swing states. If Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump maintain the states that President Obama and Mitt Romney each won four years ago with the exception of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, such a configuration would result in a Trump national victory.

To review, President Obama received 332 Electoral Votes, winning 26 states and the District of Columbia. Romney took 24 states for a total of 206 Electoral Votes. The grand total for Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania is 67 Electoral Votes, meaning Trump winning all three would give him 273 national votes and ultimate victory. It takes 270 Electoral Votes to win the Presidency.

A Trump victory is also dependent upon him carrying the 22 states that have gone Republican in every presidential election of this century, and Indiana, which strayed only in 2008 when then-Sen. Barack Obama carried the Hoosier State by one percentage point. The addition of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to the ticket should help in that regard, if any is needed.

Continue reading

Obstacles Overcome;
New Polls Again Close

By Jim Ellis

July 20, 2016 — A final last-gasp effort at denying Donald Trump the Republican nomination was easily slapped down the other day. The Never Trump forces were dealt a crushing loss last week in the Convention Rules Committee (only hitting the 20 percent mark in one vote), but returned to make a move against adopting the rules on the convention floor. This motion, too, was easily defeated on a voice vote.

The Never Trump group was never large enough to become a major threat, and went the way of all such challenges when supported by only a small minority. Therefore, the delegates will nominate Donald Trump and Mike Pence on Wednesday night, with the presidential acceptance speech on Thursday night in accordance with normal national convention procedure.

Midwest Polls

CBS/YouGov has conducted panel back Internet-based surveys of more than 24,017 registered voters in 19 states since September 2015. The July 15-16 edition covered voters in the swing Midwestern domains of Iowa (998 previously questioned registered voters), Michigan (1,201 PQRVs), and Ohio (1,104 PQRVs).

Once again, we continue to see data producing very tight margins in the swing states and the CBS/YouGov data is no exception. Michigan is normally not a politically marginal state in presidential elections, going for the Democratic nominee in the last six national campaigns, but voters have elected Republican governors, a majority of the congressional delegation, and given the GOP substantial advantages in both houses of the state legislature in several elections during this same time period.

The new CBS/YouGov data finds Trump leading Hillary Clinton 40-39 percent in Iowa, but trailing 39-42 percent, and 40-44 percent in Michigan and Ohio, respectively. All of these numbers suggest virtual ties between the two candidates because the results fall within the polling margin of error.

Continue reading

Hoosier Musical Chairs

By Jim Ellis

July 19, 2016 — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s selection as Donald Trump’s Republican vice presidential nominee begins an unusual succession process. Immediately, the members of the Indiana Republican Party’s State Committee must take action to choose replacement nominees for what is becoming a series of vacancies.

Friday was the state deadline to finalize the November ballot. Up until noon on July 15, candidates throughout Indiana could withdraw after winning the May 3 primary, leaving the affected political party structure in charge of selecting replacements. Never has the ballot deadline created such an active period.

Somewhat lost in the deadline flurry of activity surrounding Pence’s ascension to the national ticket, was the Democratic move earlier in the week when party leaders were able to convince ex-Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN-9) to withdraw from the Senate race and allow former senator and governor, Evan Bayh (D), to step in as the replacement.

Continue reading

Trump’s VP Selection

By Jim Ellis

July 18, 2016 — Donald Trump had scheduled an announcement Friday in New York to introduce who would be his vice presidential running mate. A plethora of media reports suggested that he would select Indiana Gov. Mike Pence over former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The reports were right. Gov. Pence withdrew from the governor’s race before the noon CDT, for that was the established deadline when the ballots became final under Hoosier State election law. Once a vacancy is registered, the Indiana Republican Party has 30 days to name a replacement for the gubernatorial ballot, and already at least three individuals have informed the party leadership that they are candidates. Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb and representatives Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) and Todd Rokita (R-Clermont) are withdrawing from their respective campaigns, but the ones not chosen could conceivably be reinstated in order to keep their present ballot position.

Choosing Pence makes sense for Trump, at least from the standpoint that the conservative Indiana governor will help unite the Republican base. Though Trump’s GOP support numbers in national polling appears on par with Hillary Clinton’s backing within the Democratic Party universe in most polls, the bedrock Republican states, particularly in the central and Rocky Mountain regions of the country, are a slightly different story.

Continue reading

Confirmation & Conflict

By Jim Ellis

July 15, 2016 — New just-released Senate polls either confirm or contradict other data that we covered earlier in the week.

An unusual identical confirmation occurred in Iowa, where two pollsters arrived at the exact same result when testing the contest between Sen. Charles Grassley (R) and former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge (D). Wednesday, NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist College released their Hawkeye State poll of 822 registered voters, and the Senate results determined Grassley to be leading Judge, 52-42 percent.

As noted earlier this week, Monmouth University (July 8-11; 401 registered Iowa voters) projected the exact same 52-42 percent spread. This gives us a solid indication that Sen. Grassley has increased his lead to low double-digits after taking a dip over the Supreme Court hearing controversy.

Continue reading

A Polling Quintet

By Jim Ellis

July 14, 2016 — Five states have just reported key post 4th of July US Senate polls. From California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, and Nevada, new independent data was recorded for very important statewide races.

California

There is no suspense over which party will win the open Golden State Senate seat. In California’s top-two jungle primary system, Democrats qualified two candidates to advance to the general election for the first time in state history. Either Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) or Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46) will replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) next year.

The California Field poll (June 8- July 2; 956 registered voters) was reported just after the July 4th break, and though it features a very long sampling period, the Senate results are not particularly surprising. Harris, who placed first in the jungle primary with 40 percent of the vote leads the first general election poll with 39 percent as compared to Rep. Sanchez’s 24 percent.

Harris, the more well known of the two having been elected to statewide office, leads among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. If Sanchez is to win, she must to develop a coalition of Southern California voters, Hispanics, and Republicans in order to overtake San Francisco’s Ms. Harris. The Attorney General’s early lead in Los Angeles County is 41-29 percent, while its 36-22 percent in the southern counties outside of LA.

Continue reading

Hello, Good Bayh

By Jim Ellis

July 13, 2016 — The big political news on Monday saw the Democrats engineering a surprise Senate comeback. Former Indiana senator and governor, Evan Bayh, confirmed he will now enter the Hoosier State’s open federal statewide campaign. Earlier, ex-US Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN-9), who won the Democratic nomination in the May 3 Senate primary, withdrew from the race thus allowing the party leaders to name his replacement. The candidate swap had to be completed before close of business on July 15, the state deadline for ballot qualification.

It’s a strong Democratic move clearly in two ways, but the Bayh political re-entry also places him in a potentially awkward position.

First, the Democratic leaders needed to find a way to make the open Indiana race competitive. It was painfully clear that Hill, whose campaign was basically moribund, was failing to give Republican nominee Todd Young, the current 9th District congressman, a serious run, so they opted for ex-Sen. Bayh.

Second, though at the time of his exit from the political scene six years ago Democratic leaders were incensed that Bayh would not part with any of the $9-plus million he kept in his campaign account, they are now pleased to see this huge asset for their new candidate and party.

Continue reading

The Senate Pairings

By Jim Ellis

July 12, 2016 — The US Senate campaigns have attracted a great deal of attention in this election cycle, and they are likely to gain even more as the election cycle progresses. Along with the presidency, control of the legislative chamber is at stake and either party can claim a national victory.

At this point, 11 races are in the Toss-up, Lean Republican, or Lean Democratic categories. Interestingly, except for the New Hampshire campaign, the races appear to fall into five neat pairs. Therefore, the following couplings help us view the national Senate picture:

• Illinois and Wisconsin: Incumbent Republicans Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) are clearly in the most vulnerable of political positions. Both senators trail their Democratic opponents, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) and former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), respectively, in all polls. The Illinois voting patterns are decidedly Democratic, and particularly so in presidential years, and Kirk is behind by mid-single digits in every public poll. It is possible his margin worsens.

The Wisconsin numbers are more erratic, with Sen. Johnson recently trailing from between one to 11 points. It is clear that these two states are the top Democratic conversion opportunities, and both must be won if the party is to re-take the majority they lost in the 2014 election.

Continue reading

Pew: A Mixed-Message Poll

By Jim Ellis

July 11, 2016 — The Pew Research Center for US Politics and Policy late last week released the results of their major benchmark presidential campaign survey, and found high levels of interest matched with a very low degree of candidate choice satisfaction.

The Abt SRBI data firm, the company that regularly conducts the ABC News/ Washington Post polls, administered the survey that sampled 2,245 adults, 1,655 of whom are registered voters, from all 50 states over the June 15-26 period.

Though the poll directors asked a ballot test query, the questionnaire’s main purpose was to determine issues and attitudes. The 51-42 percent Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump spread, and the 45-36-11 percent margin with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson included, however, appears to lean a bit more to Clinton’s favor than the average aggregate responses among national polls.

Continue reading