Monthly Archives: September 2016

Key House Races; Key Polls

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 30, 2016 — Now that all political contests are in full campaign mode, we can report new numbers on five of the most hotly contested House race conversion opportunities for both parties.

AZ-1

One of the few truly swing congressional districts in the country, the expansive eastern Arizona 1st District is again the site of what should be a toss-up political contest. With Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) vacating the seat to run for Senate, the resulting general election matchup between former state Sen. Tom O’Halleran, who served a portion of his time in the legislature as a Republican, and controversial Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu (R) will be interesting to watch.

While Mitt Romney carried the 1st by a margin of 50-48 percent, a new Global Strategy Group survey (Sept. 22-25; 400 likely AZ-1 voters) finds Hillary Clinton topping Donald Trump, 46-43 percent. The same sample then yields a 45-38 percent O’Halleran lead.

The seven-point Democratic congressional margin equals what the GSG found in August, but the electorate has shifted. While more Republicans now support Babeu, Independent voters are trending toward O’Halleran.

A Democratic victory here, however, merely holds one of the party’s 188 seats and does not cut into the Republican majority.

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The Outliers

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 29, 2016 — Early on debate day, Gravis Marketing made news with the release of their Minnesota poll. But their companion effort in North Carolina is equally noteworthy. Both illustrate trends inconsistent with all other pollsters, meaning the studies may be blazing new territory and they are simply wrong.

The Minnesota survey (Sept. 23; 906 likely Minnesota voters) surprisingly finds Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump tied at 43 percent apiece with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson pulling four percentage points. Considering that Minnesota last went Republican in a presidential race 44 years ago (1972; Nixon vs. McGovern), and before then when Dwight Eisenhower was president, it would be hard to conceive of Trump taking the state. Not even Ronald Reagan could win here back in 1984, meaning that Minnesota is the only state that opposed Reagan in both of his elections. (The District of Columbia also opposed Reagan twice, but DC is obviously not a state.) Therefore, a place with such a strong Democratic history is unlikely to switch in 2016.

In contrast, Survey USA for KSTP television in St. Paul reported the results from its Sept. 16-20 poll (625 likely Minnesota voters). Their data produced a 46-39-6 percent Clinton advantage, which is more consistent with previous polls and historical voting trends.

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A Centennial Swing

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 28, 2016 — Even before the first presidential debate was complete, we began seeing some political movement particularly in one critical battleground state.

In the 21st Century, the states of Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, and Nevada have been traditionally regarded as the swing battleground pool in the presidential race. In the last two elections, all but North Carolina voted Democratic. Such a pattern was continuing to take hold in Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada, though the 2013-14 elections did show Republican gain. Most of this particular shift, however, was attributable to voter turnout patterns instead of any ideological shift toward the GOP.

Now in the presidential general election, the political tide is beginning to turn in several of these states. Colorado, a place that had clearly been trending Democratic in the previous few elections and appeared poised to easily vote for Hillary Clinton earlier in the cycle is now exhibiting signs that Donald Trump is at least in position to contend for the Centennial State’s nine electoral votes.

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Conflicting Signals

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 27, 2016 — As the presidential candidates debated last evening, other political news is also is bubbling to the surface. In three House races, recent conflicting polling data in two and the respective party operatives seeing things much differently in a third yield contradictory analyses.

NH-1

As we’ve reported many times before, the NH-1 race this year represents the fourth consecutive campaign between Rep. Frank Guinta (R-Manchester) and former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D). Guinta won in 2010 and 2014, Shea-Porter in 2012. This year promises to be close again in the New Hampshire district that has defeated more incumbents during the last 10 years than any other congressional seat.

Guinta became vulnerable virtually from the point of his winning the seat back in 2014. A Federal Election Commission violation proved to be a major setback for him in the off-year, but he rebounded to the point of barely winning his primary on Sept. 13 (a 629-vote margin). Democrats rate NH-1 as one of their best conversion opportunities in the nation.

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New State Data

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 26, 2016 — While the national polls continue to yield a basic tie between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the state totals are the real determining factor and we have significant new data from key targets this week.

To re-cap, if the election were today it appears Clinton would win possibly with as few as 272 Electoral Votes as compared to Trump’s 266. The latter’s coalition would include the states of Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and Nevada along with the 2nd Congressional District of Maine all converting from the 2012 electoral map. Most polls suggest that Trump is currently leading or has a strong chance of winning these entities on Election Day.

Florida, arguably the most important swing state, reported two very different polls this past week. The latest, from Suffolk University (Sept. 19-21; 500 likely Florida voters), finds Trump leading by a single point, 44-43 percent. But, earlier in the week, Florida’s St. Leo University released a survey (Sept. 10-15; 502 Florida adults) that projects Clinton holding a significant 49-44 percent Sunshine State advantage.

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The Last Senate Race

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 23, 2016 — The open Louisiana Senate campaign has not yet drawn much national attention, but that appears to be changing and in a big way. A new poll underscores just how close the contest is getting in the midst of surprising revelations.

Because the state’s jungle primary runs concurrently with the November general election, the action among the 24 candidates who will appear on the ballot is just now beginning to sizzle. Straight from the annals of what are always colorful Louisiana campaigns, the current race has is now tinged with prostitution and even murder.

Last week, controversy erupted when author Ethan Brown released his new book “Murder in the Bayou”, which details the demise of the “Jeff Davis 8”, the apparently related individual killings of sex workers in Jefferson Davis Parish.

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Dueling Rifles

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 22, 2016 — Within the past week, the gun issue took center stage in the Missouri Senate campaign, and the candidates’ ad war is now drawing serious national attention.

Democratic nominee Jason Kander caused a stir with his response featuring him assembling an AR-15 rifle blindfolded (above), all the while defending himself against an NRA attack ad and points from Sen. Roy Blunt (R) accusing him of failing to support the 2nd Amendment. Yesterday, Blunt returned fire with an equally clever ad (below).

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Arizona House Winner;
Key House Polls

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 21, 2016
— The Aug. 30 Arizona primary gave us the closest congressional primary of this entire election cycle. At the evening’s end, former Go.Daddy.com executive Christine Jones appeared to have enough of a margin to secure the 5th District Republican primary nomination in order to succeed retiring Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Mesa).

Originally, the preliminary Election Day count gave Jones an 876-vote lead. Later that evening, it dropped to 576 votes. We now know that 576 was not quite enough. By the time the absentee and provisional votes were counted, Jones had lost all of her lead and state Senate President Andy Biggs had forged ahead by just nine votes from more than 85,000 cast ballots.

After the official canvass, which ended Sept. 12, the Biggs’ lead had expanded to a whopping 16 votes. The re-count then began, and Biggs gained again, this time reaching a 27-vote edge. This last known total will stand, as yesterday Ms. Jones conceded the election. She will take no further action to prolong the contest.

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Reuters: Trump Up In
Electoral College

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 20, 2016 — The Reuters/Ipsos “States of the Nation” project finds Donald Trump taking a surprising 243-242 electoral vote lead over Hillary Clinton, but are the individual state projections reliable? Many news sources covered the weekend story, yet it appears that the R/I numbers leave much to be desired. In fact, they show several states going for a candidate either for the first time in this election cycle, or in a manner that other data fails to substantiate.

Reuters/Ipsos is using a huge pool of almost 16,000 respondents, which allows them to segment results for most states. They are also casting several turnout models, and then calculating various Electoral College scenarios based upon the percentage of individual voter groups expected to participate in the November election.

The model forecasting the one-vote Trump advantage features an overall 60 percent turnout ratio among eligible voters, 43 percent for all minority groups, 59 percent African-American participation, and 69 percent from Anglo males. Even with his Electoral College edge, the Reuters/Ipsos results still find Trump trailing Clinton in the national popular vote by a 40-45 percent margin, however.

Questionable conclusions occur in several states. First, addressing the entities where Reuters/Ipsos did not have a large enough respondent sample to determine a trend, several have a clear and decided voting history. Adding Democratic Rhode Island and the District of Columbia’s electoral votes to Clinton’s total would increase her share to 249. For Trump, all other polling data supported by a long vote history would yield both Alaska and Wyoming to him. This would add another six votes to the Republican’s national total, thus leading the adjusted national split to a 249-249 tie.

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Detecting a Senate Swing

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 19, 2016 — During the past few days a series of new independent polls were released in key Senate states and, for the most part, the results portend a clear shift toward Republican candidates. These results transforming into a cumulative anomaly remain a possibility, but it is too early to tell if what we’re seeing is just a quirky blip or the beginning of a sustaining trend.

The CNN/ORC Florida poll (Sept. 7-12; 788 likely Florida voters) projects a major swing in favor of Sen. Marco Rubio (R), 54-43 percent over Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter).

CNN/ORC also surveyed Ohio (Sept. 7-12; 769 likely Ohio voters) and detected a similar push in favor of Sen. Rob Portman, except larger: 58-37 percent. The Bloomberg/Selzer poll (Sept. 9-12; 802 likely Ohio voters) active during the same sampling period echoes the latter survey. Their Portman margin is 53-36 percent. Former Gov. Ted Strickland is Sen. Portman’s Democratic opponent.

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The Final Results

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 16, 2016 — After two very close New Hampshire Republican primaries were left with remaining votes to count, both received closure.

In the 1st Congressional District, Rep. Frank Guinta (R-Manchester) barely survived his re-nomination challenge. He recorded a 46-45 percent, 649-vote victory over businessman Rich Ashooh. Since the latter man conceded the race, there will be no re-count and Guinta advances to the general election to again face former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-East Rochester) and three independent and minor party candidates.

This will be the fourth consecutive campaign between the two political principals. Guinta defeated Shea-Porter in 2010 and 2014, while she won in 2012. NH-1 has defeated more incumbents during the last 10 years than any congressional district in the country. The 2016 version promises to again be a difficult general election campaign, albeit a shortened one considering the lateness of the New Hampshire primary. Guinta’s 46 percent showing within his own party is clearly a sign of major political weakness, which does not bode well for him in the general election.

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New Hampshire’s Wild Ride; DE, RI

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 15, 2016 — Tuesday night’s Granite State primary featured a pair of very close Republican races, one involving an incumbent. It is unclear if either the governor’s contest or the 1st Congressional District race will go to a re-count once the final accounting is recorded.

The Senate nominations, however, are decided. Sen. Kelly Ayotte scored a 79 percent victory in her Republican primary against former state Sen. Jim Rubens and three minor candidates. Gov. Maggie Hassan was unopposed for the Democratic Senatorial nomination. This race will go a long way to deciding which party controls the new Senate majority.

In the 1st Congressional District, before an electorate that has unseated more incumbents than any other CD during the last ten years, incumbent Rep. Frank Guinta (R-Manchester) appears to have barely won re-nomination. From a turnout that broke 55,000 voters, Guinta held just a 661 vote lead over businessman Rich Ashooh with four precincts still outstanding. The congressman’s margin was only a plurality (46 percent), as three minor candidates drew enough support to keep both leaders below the 50% majority mark.

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The Last Primary Day

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 14, 2016 — Yesterday marked the end of the congressional primary season as voters in Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island went to the polls to choose the 2016 cycle’s final House and Senate nominees.

Delaware

At-large Rep. John Carney (D-Wilmington) is leaving the House to pursue the open governor’s position and little doubt remains about the outcome in the state house race. Rep. Carney was unopposed for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and will replace term-limited Gov. Jack Markell (D) as the party standard bearer. For the GOP, Republican state senator and former state treasurer nominee Colin Bonini easily out-polled his lone opponent, minor candidate Lacey Lafferty, a retired police officer. Rep. Carney will be a heavy favorite to win the governorship in the general election.

The more interesting contest was the battle to succeed Rep. Carney as the Democratic congressional nominee. A six-candidate race culminated in victory for one contender. Former state Labor Secretary Lisa Blunt Rochester (D) was widely considered the favorite and that showed when she won by 19 points over the closest challenger.

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Senate: Critical States, Critical Polls

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 13, 2016 — New polls were just released in states that will define which party controls the Senate in the next Congress.

Five polls, four from Quinnipiac University, are now in the public domain from Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. If these latest polls prove correct, the Senate majority would be decided in Nevada and New Hampshire, two toss-up states that were not included in the released data.

Florida

The first Q-Poll gives further evidence that Sen. Marco Rubio (R) is expanding his slight lead over Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter). According to the data from Quinnipiac’s September Florida statewide poll (Aug. 31-Sept. 7; 601 likely Florida voters), Sen. Rubio has extended beyond the polling margin of error and now records a 50-43 percent advantage.

Any problem he had with Republicans based upon his poor Florida performance against Donald Trump in the March 15 presidential primary appears to be resolved. This Q-Poll finds him attracting 89 percent of Republicans as opposed to losing just six percent of them. This brings him to partisan parity with Rep. Murphy, who captures the Democratic vote with a similar 91-7 percent. Rubio is doing very well among Independents, taking this group 53-37 percent.

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The States Tighten

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 12, 2016 — As the national popular vote pulls into a virtual dead heat, polls released yesterday in the critical swing states suggest that a similar pattern is occurring in the individual voting entities, too.

To re-cap the Electoral College map, in order to win the national campaign Donald Trump must keep the 24 states Mitt Romney claimed in 2012, including key swing North Carolina, and then win Florida and Ohio. President Obama won both of these latter states in each of his national campaigns. For her victory configuration, Hillary Clinton need only preserve 80 percent of the states that Obama won twice.

Once Trump secures the Romney coalition plus Florida and Ohio, he then must take at least one more state totaling more than 16 Electoral Votes, to reach the minimum victory threshold of 270 Electoral Votes. Adding Pennsylvania, for example, would award Trump the presidency.

Quinnipiac University publicized four state polls yesterday, covering each key swing entity. In Florida and Ohio, the Q-Poll finds Trump returning to parity with Hillary Clinton. He trails in North Carolina, however. Though still behind in Pennsylvania, the research projects him pulling back to within five points of her and halving the deficit he faced in the August Pennsylvania Quinnipiac survey.

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