Monthly Archives: August 2016

Rep. Brown Loses; McCain, Rubio Win; All Others

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 31, 2016 — A look at overnight primary results:

Senate

Veteran Sen. John McCain (R) won his re-nomination campaign last night in Arizona, but with a lesser majority than expected. McCain topped former state Sen. Kelli Ward, 52-39 percent, which proved worse than his GOP primary margin six years ago (56 percent). Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) was unopposed on the Democratic side. The rather tepid McCain victory last night increases her chances in the general election.

Sen. Marco Rubio rebounded strongly from his failed presidential campaign with a 72 percent victory in his statewide Republican primary yesterday. More than 1.4 million Republican voters cast ballots in Florida’s nomination contest. Businessman Carlos Beruff, who spent more than $8 million of his own money on his campaign, finished a distant second with only 19 percent support.

Sen. Rubio now advances to the general election to face, as expected, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter) who won his Democratic primary with 59 percent of the vote. Controversial Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Orlando), who was close early in the campaign, fell to only 18 percent, just ahead of also-ran candidate Pam Keith, an attorney and Navy veteran (15 percent). About 300,000 fewer Democrats than Republicans participated in the primary election. Sen. Rubio has been consistently gaining momentum, so he begins the general election as the slight favorite.

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Primary Preview – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 30, 2016
— Today, we cover the second half of the competitive Florida campaigns, with just a word about Arizona. The Washington Post ran an article yesterday chronicling Sen. John McCain as being “in the fight of his life.” It does not appear that McCain is in any danger of losing the primary today, and his general election polling puts him in his strongest position of this election cycle. Therefore, the Post story seems ill timed.

Also in Arizona, and not covered yesterday, despite a moderate independent expenditure leveled against Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Prescott), the congressman is also expected to easily survive his primary challenge. Gosar’s opponent, former local official Ray Strauss (R), has attracted just over $100,000 in support of his own campaign, far less than the independent expenditure. The general election will not be competitive.

Florida

• FL-9: The new 9th District, which stretches from east Orlando south through Kissimmee, west to Winter Park and then east to the Yeehaw Junction, is a few points less Democratic than the seat Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) currently represents. His departure to the Senate race makes this one of seven open Florida congressional districts. While Alan Grayson will not represent this district in the next Congress, another Grayson may. A poll released last week found the congressman’s new wife, physician Dena Grayson, leads the Democratic primary field, thus making her at least a slight favorite. Former congressional aide Susannah Randolph and state Sen. Darren Soto are the other viable candidates in the Democratic field. Today’s Dem primary victor will win the seat in November. Safe Democratic

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Primary Preview – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 29, 2016 — Arizona and Florida voters go to the polls tomorrow in what has become the most important of the late summer primaries.

Today, we cover Arizona and half of the competitive Florida campaigns. Tomorrow, the remaining Sunshine State races will be updated. Resulting from the court-ordered mid-decade redistricting changes and an unusually large number of open seats, competition is developing in no less than 17 of the state’s 27 congressional districts. Both states also host critical Senate contests.

Arizona

• Senate: Sen. John McCain (R) is seeking a sixth term after originally winning in 1986, four years after his initial election to the House. What was thought to be a potentially competitive Republican primary at the outset seemingly fizzled when McCain drew a lesser primary opponent. For a time, it appeared that either Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Mesa) or Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills/Scottsdale) might enter the statewide contest, but neither chose to do so. In fact, Rep. Salmon would later decide to retire altogether.

Former state Senator Kelli Ward, who resigned her position in order to spend her full energies in challenging McCain, has raised about $1.5 million, but it would likely require more in the way of resources and outside support to deny the veteran incumbent and former Republican presidential nominee a re-nomination victory. Expect Sen. McCain to do better than his 56 percent Republican primary performance in 2010.

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Topsy Turvy Florida

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 26, 2016 — Yesterday, we reported about a Florida shock poll from St. Leo University that projected Donald Trump to be lagging 14 percentage points behind Hillary Clinton, but already the situation has changed.

Now, Florida Atlantic University releases its new data finding Trump actually ahead of Clinton, 43-41 percent. Confirming that trend, the Florida Chamber of Commerce also reported their new data, taken over the Aug. 17-22 period (sample size not available). This poll also finds Trump leading, 44-41 percent.

Methodologically, the set-up between the St. Leo and FAU surveys is similar, though there is no evidence that FAU uses online polling and St. Leo exclusively does. The latter organization’s poll directors were in the field from Aug. 14-18, FAU, Aug. 19-22. The St. Leo sampling universe began with 1,500 Florida adults and winnowed to 1,380 likely voters. FAU’s sample size was 1,200 registered voters. Thus, the time periods and sample sizes are similar.

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Trump’s Troubling Florida Poll

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 25, 2016 — The St. Leo University Polling Institute dropped a shock poll on the Donald Trump campaign a couple days ago, but the numbers appear inconsistent when comparing other available data.

The Florida poll finds Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by a whopping 52-38 percent margin when counting those individuals leaning to both candidates. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson receives eight percent, and the Green Party’s Jill Stein attracts just over two percent support. Without leaners, Clinton’s margin is 48-34-6-2 percent consecutively over Trump, Johnson, and Stein. But, these numbers are far from what other pollsters are finding within the Sunshine State.

The St. Leo survey (Aug. 14-18; 1,500 Florida adults, 1,380 likely Florida voters), conducted online “ … uses cutting-edge online methodology … [that draws a] sample from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups.” The quoted passage comes from the institute’s official methodology explanation. St. Leo is a 16,000-plus student Catholic liberal arts university located 35 miles northeast of Tampa that was originally established in 1889, and re-established in 1959. Their Polling Institute was initiated in December of 2013.

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Senate Trends

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 24, 2016 — While national pollsters are detecting a tightening presidential race, the US Senate campaigns are also beginning to reveal some potentially defining trends.

Safe Republicans & Democrats

Of the 34 in-cycle US Senate campaigns currently underway in 2016, half of them are in the safe category and won’t change. Nine Republican senators and eight Democrats are assured of re-election:

Republican senators: Shelby (AL), Murkowski (AK), Crapo (ID), Moran (KS), Hoeven (ND), Lankford (OK), Scott (SC), Thune (SD), Lee (UT)

Democrat sentors: California (Open Boxer), Maryland (Open Mikulski); Blumenthal (CT), Schatz (HI), Schumer (NY), Wyden (OR), Leahy (VT), Murray (WA)
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New Wasserman Schultz Poll

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 23, 2016 — The Democratic National Convention controversy surrounding former national party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has dissipated, but her Democratic congressional primary battle against law professor Tim Canova is running in high gear.

With the vote coming on Aug. 30, the South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper and Florida Atlantic University together sponsored a survey of 400 likely Democratic primary voters in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. The poll, administered by the Business and Economics Polling Initiative, suggests that Wasserman Schultz will likely win re-nomination, but she may find the final tally uncomfortably close.

According to the respondent group, polled during the Aug. 17-19 period, Rep. Wasserman Schultz leads Canova 50-40 percent, but delving into the poll suggests some interesting patterns that could lead to a much closer final result.

Despite Wasserman Schultz’s national problems, Democrats in her district, as evidenced by this 400-member polling sample, still view her relatively favorably. By a margin of 58:35 percent, these Democrats have a positive impression of the congresswoman. Canova scores in similar territory. The same group rated him 46:22 percent favorable to unfavorable.

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House in Flux?

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 22, 2016 — Several analysis articles have appeared in the last few days indicating that the House majority might well be in play for the Democrats. Is this reality, wishful thinking, or just a partisan rhetorical ploy to engage the party base?

To re-cap, the Republicans have their largest House majority since the 1928 election, currently standing at 247-R to 186-D, with two Democratic vacancies. In order for the Democrats to secure even a one-seat majority, they would have to re-elect incumbents and candidates in all 188 of their current districts and then convert 30 Republican positions.

Initially, not all 188 Democratic seats are secure. In fact, at least one is surely coming the GOP’s way. After the court-mandated mid-decade redistricting operation in Florida, the 2nd District became a virtual Republican gimme seat. Freshman Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee) choosing not to seek re-election guarantees a Republican victory.

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Indiana Poll: Republicans Gaining, Bayh Up

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 19, 2016 — Monmouth University (Aug. 13-16; 403 likely Indiana voters; 351 drawn from registered voters list; 52 random digit dial cell phone responses) released their new Indiana voter survey and the results report varying degrees of Republican improvement, though the polling sample may skew slightly toward the GOP.

Indiana is a very important 2016 political state. Among the 23 states that appear to be bedrock Republican for the presidential race — and must all vote for Donald Trump if he is to have any chance of winning the national election — Indiana is the only one to stray away from the party nominee in this century. In 2008, Hoosier State voters chose Barack Obama over John McCain by a 50-49 percent margin.

Therefore, with Indiana being a must-win Republican state for Trump, it likely factored into Trump’s decision to choose its governor, Mike Pence, as his vice presidential running mate.

We continue to see strong evidence that the Democratic move to replace former Rep. Baron Hill (D-Bloomington) for ex-senator and governor Evan Bayh, just hours before the ballot finalization deadline, has made the state pivotal in determining which party controls the new Senate majority. Prior to the Bayh move, it appeared that Rep. Todd Young (R-Bloomington) was cruising to a general election victory, thus keeping retiring Sen. Dan Coats’ (R) seat in the GOP column.

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Cheney Results In;
Alaska Primary Decided

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 18, 2016 — Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice president, US defense secretary, and five-term Wyoming congressman, Dick Cheney, successfully captured Wyoming’s open seat Republican congressional nomination Tuesday night. The first-place finish, though nowhere close to garnering a majority of the votes cast, is enough to earn her the primary victory. Becoming the GOP nominee is tantamount to winning the seat in November since Wyoming will undoubtedly vote Republican once again this year.

Cheney scored 40 percent of the vote, far ahead of second-place finisher Leland Christensen’s 22 percent. The latter is a veteran state senator. Placing third was state Rep. Tim Stubson (17 percent), followed closely by attorney Darin Smith (15 percent). Five minor candidates came after Smith with college professor Mike Konsmo, obtaining under two percent of the vote, being the largest vote-getter within the also-ran group.

In 2014, Cheney aborted a challenge to veteran Republican US Sen. Mike Enzi and controversy arose that the candidate, who has lived in Virginia most of her life, was not a true Wyoming resident, nor was she and her family committed to living there. Cheney’s regular presence in the state and actually residing there after the 2014 election cycle put her in strong position to run for the at-large US House seat once incumbent Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Cheyenne) decided not to seek a fifth term.

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Johnson, Stein Likely Out

By JIm Ellis

Aug. 17, 2016 — The Commission on Presidential Debates has now provided more specific criteria pertaining to who will be invited to participate in the four presidential and vice presidential debates that are scheduled to begin Sept. 26.

Long ago, the commission members decided that the main qualification for national debate series participation is an arbitrary standing derived from a number of previously undetermined political surveys. Earlier reports indicated that only candidates obtaining 15 percent popular support as determined from the designated polls would be included.

Yesterday, in little way of surprise, the commission members announced that the official debate polls will be: ABC News/ Washington Post, CBS News/New York Times, CNN/Opinion Research, Fox News and NBC News/Wall Street Journal.

These polls, all using the same methodology in terms of sample size – normally around the 1,000 registered voter mark nationally – will likely continue to produce similar numbers. Therefore, it will be very difficult for Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, and almost impossible for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, to consistently reach the 15 percent plateau.

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Hawaii Nominates Candidates;
Alaska, Wyoming to Follow

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 16, 2016 — Hawaii’s primary voters went to the polls over the weekend to nominate their state and federal general election candidates.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D) easily won re-nomination from the Democratic Party, recording just over 80 percent of the vote to secure his bid for a full term. He now faces the Republican primary winner, John Carroll, a former state senator who is a frequent federal candidate. Sen. Schatz will have little trouble winning the general election. He was appointed to the seat when Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) passed away in 2012, and won the 2014 special election to serve the balance of the current term.

Two years ago, interim-Sen. Schatz defeated then-Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) for the party nomination, but the former congresswoman now appears headed back to Washington. She won a landslide Democratic primary victory Saturday (74.6 percent) for her former congressional seat.

With the general election now just a formality in the heavily Democratic 1st District, Hanabusa will join the current Congress upon winning the concurrent special held in conjunction with the regular election on Nov. 8. Hanabusa will fill the remainder of the late Rep. Mark Takai’s (D-Aiea) first and final term in office. The congressman passed away from pancreatic cancer on July 20.

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Senate Trends

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 15, 2016 — A plethora of new swing state Senate polls have been conducted and already released in August, and both parties are getting some good news in specific races.

The two states ripe for electing a senator from a different party are Illinois and Wisconsin. Such has been known for the better part of a year, and the latest polls are no exception to the developing trends.

Illinois Senate Democratic nominee Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) released her internal Normington Petts research firm poll (Aug. 1-4; 800 likely Illinois general election voters) projecting a 44-37 percent Duckworth lead over Sen. Mark Kirk (R). Marquette University Law School, again polling the Wisconsin electorate (Aug. 4-7; 805 registered Wisconsin voters) as they have done regularly since the 2012 election, finds former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) topping incumbent Ron Johnson (R), 53-42 percent. This result swings a net of six points in Feingold’s favor when compared to the institution’s July survey. At that time, Feingold led 49-44 percent.

All the key Republican defense battleground states reported new August numbers. The good news for Democrats comes in Pennsylvania where challenger Katie McGinty (D) made a significant gain on Sen. Pat Toomey (R), to the point where several polls find her building a small lead.

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Trump Trends

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 12, 2016 — Despite major media coverage to the contrary, Donald Trump’s polling standing in comparison to Hillary Clinton appears to be improving nationally, and in certain key states. Other surveys point to Clinton sustaining her large leads.

The latest national poll, from Bloomberg News/Selzer & Company (Aug. 5-8; 1,007 adults, 749 likely US voters) finds Trump pulling back to within four points of Clinton, 44-40 percent, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson attracting a nine percent share, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein obtaining a four percent preference vote.

A day earlier, the UPI/C-Voter survey (Aug. 2-8; 993 likely US voters) came out with Clinton also maintaining a four-point advantage over Trump, 49-45 percent. In this survey, the third-party candidates were not included on the ballot test questionnaire.

Twenty-four hours before the UPI poll was released, NBC/Survey Monkey publicized the results of their latest large sample national poll (Aug. 1-7; 11,480 registered US voters). While showing a 10-point, 51-41 percent spread in a head-to-head question, the margin declines to six points (44-38-10-4 percent) when Johnson and Stein are added. The polls including the third party candidates are more realistic because Johnson will appear on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, while Stein has so far qualified in 27 states and is awaiting a favorable petition decision in an additional 10.

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Ryan Crushes; Other Results

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 11, 2016
— House Speaker Paul Ryan recorded an 84-16 percent landslide victory against Republican primary opponent Paul Nehlen Tuesday night in southern Wisconsin. Nehlen was on his way to approaching the $1 million mark in campaign expenditures, but it did little to help expose any weakness in the Ryan political base.

Ryan followed the lead of his predecessor, former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-8), when faced with a similar primary circumstance in 2014. Boehner re-invented himself as the local congressman for that particular race, returning to his roots in western Ohio and never mentioning his GOP opponent in ads or speeches. In fact, never did Ryan even indicate that he was the House Speaker, instead confining his personal description to that of local congressman.

Nehlen attacked heavily on immigration and trade, but it was Ryan’s years of work in the district and never losing touch with his political base and core constituency that allowed him to record such a big primary victory. In fact, the current Speaker actually ran 13 points ahead of the former Speaker’s final primary performance against a more difficult political opponent.

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