Monthly Archives: November 2016

Political Overtime – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 30, 2016 — Aside from the two Louisiana run-off elections on Saturday, all of the US House campaigns have now been projected. As expected, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA-49) was confirmed as the winner of his re-election campaign, the last remaining undecided contest. Statistically, not enough votes remain to overturn the congressman’s 2,348 district-wide vote margin. Rep. Issa defeats retired Marine Corps Colonel Doug Applegate (D) with at least 50.4 percent of the vote, even though he scored only 47 percent in the anchor county of San Diego.

More information is forthcoming about the presidential election re-count requests for Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which are attracting more than their share of national attention. Green Party nominee Jill Stein, now joined by the Hillary Clinton Campaign, initiated the move to re-verify the electoral counts but the effort is already running into trouble.

Because there is no evidence of computer hacking or voting machine doctoring, as Stein portends, the Wisconsin Elections Commission rejected her request for a hand re-count, so now the minor candidate is suing to overturn that ruling. The mechanical re-count will move forward, however, if Stein pays $3.5 million to finance the process today.

In Pennsylvania, local election authorities say there will be no re-count because Stein missed the filing deadline.

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Political Overtime – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 29 2016 — One campaign remains officially uncalled, the California congressional race between Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and challenger Doug Applegate (D), a retired Marine Corps Colonel. Three more, the Louisiana run-offs for Senate and a pair of US House districts, will be settled this Saturday in the state’s secondary election.

In California’s 49th CD, the latest count finds Rep. Issa continuing to lead Applegate at this writing, but the margin is tightening as expected. With approximately 30,000 votes remaining to be counted in this marathon process, Issa has 154,057 votes as compared to 151,633 for Applegate. Issa racked up 60.5 percent of the vote in Orange County but, unfortunately for the congressman, that entity comprises only 23 percent of the entire district vote. In the dominant San Diego County portion, Applegate has a 53-47 percent advantage that has held up virtually throughout the counting process.

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Setting the Record Straight

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 28, 2016 — With Thanksgiving and the long weekend having just passed, it’s a good time to correct some misconceptions about the 2016 election.

The media has long reported that voter participation levels dropped below the most recent elections, suggesting that the Nov. 8 vote was in the low turnout realm. But as we now know, more than 13 million votes have been processed since Election Day, and such a proclamation is no longer true.

Absentee, provisional, and overseas ballots have streamed into the tabulation centers across the country and are now assimilated into the various state counts. The California and Washington systems also allow voters to postmark their mail ballots on Election Day instead of requiring them to be received by Voting Day as is the case in virtually every other state; overseas ballots are excepted for late arrival in all places.

Due to California and Washington, literally millions of ballots went unreported on Election Night. In fact, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and challenger Doug Applegate (D) are still in an unresolved election in California’s 49th Congressional District as of this writing. Before the long Thanksgiving break, the secretary of state reported that more than two million ballots statewide remain to be processed.

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Bera Wins; Issa Close; More Jockeying

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 23, 2016 — The Associated Press yesterday projected California Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove/ Sacramento) the winner in the hotly contested CA-7 District campaign, even though there are approximately 43,000 ballots still left to count.

Rep. Bera has pushed his lead to 6,008 votes over Sacramento County Sheriff Doug Jones (R) at the end of the day’s counting. This means, with what will likely be just under 300,000 total votes cast in the district, that Jones would need approximately 57 percent of the outstanding ballots to overtake Bera. While not impossible, the projection appears legitimate considering that Jones has yet to lead this race.

The Bera victory means the Democrats are assured of at least 194 seats in the new Congress. Republicans are guaranteed of 239. The GOP looks to win the second of two Louisiana run-off elections, after wrapping up the first (District 3) on November 8th when two Republicans advanced to the general election run-off. The LA-4 contest is projected to go Republican on Dec. 10.
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Louisiana Run-off Numbers

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 22, 2016 — With the Dec. 10 run-off election fast approaching for the open Louisiana US Senate race and two congressional campaigns, new data has been released into the public domain.

The responses to a statewide poll suggest that state Treasurer John Kennedy (R) has developed a commanding lead over Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell. The 4th Congressional District sample is also large enough to project state Rep. Mike Johnson (R) with a clear advantage, but the 3rd District contest between two Republicans could bring a surprising conclusion.

The Atlanta based Trafalgar Group surveyed the state electorate (Nov. 14-17; 2,200-plus likely Louisiana run-off voters; 600-plus in each of congressional districts 3 and 4; via interactive voice response system) and found four-term treasurer Kennedy staked to a strong 58-35 percent advantage. Without adding the individuals leaning to one of the candidates Kennedy’s margin is 48-27 percent.

In the 4th District congressional race, GOP candidate Johnson is opening up a large 59-35 percent lead over Democratic attorney J. Marshall Jones. This is not particularly surprising since the western state district is solidly Republican (2012: Romney 59 percent; Obama 40 percent), and has not been represented by a Democrat since Buddy Roemer (D-Bossier City) vacated the seat back in 1988 to become governor.

Jones placed first in the jungle primary largely because he was the only Democrat in a field of eight candidates. The coalescing of Democratic votes meant that a 28 percent showing was enough for him to capture the first run-off position. But, 70 percent of the individuals supported a Republican candidate, thus giving credence to Trafalgar’s polling result that makes Johnson a big favorite for the December secondary election.

The double Republican 3rd District run-off is the more interesting contest, however. Here, retired police captain Clay Higgins, who spent just over $200,000 for the jungle primary, leads state public service commissioner and ex-lieutenant governor Scott Angelle, 50-42 percent. Angelle, who expended more than $1.3 million and placed a strong third in the 2015 governor’s race, finished first in the jungle primary but with only a 29-26 percent margin over Higgins while 10 other candidates lagged behind.

Magellan Strategies (Nov. 15-16; 400 LA-3 likely run-off voters) also tested this congressional race and found Higgins’ advantage to be an even stronger 50-32 percent.

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Jockeying for Position

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 21, 2016 — Already, there is a lot of talk about various senators considering races for governor in their respective states, while at least one term-limited governor publicly muses about running for Senate.

With 38 governors’ races coming to the forefront in the next 24 months — two (New Jersey, Virgninia) in 2017 and 36 in 2018 — we already know that 20 of these states, due to term limits, will choose new governors.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) cannot succeed himself after four years at the state’s helm. Virginia is still the only state in the country that limits its governors to just one term. In New Jersey, Republican Gov. Chris Christie is ineligible to seek a third term. There is a chance, should Christie obtain an appointment from the Trump Administration, that Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) would ascend to the governorship and be in a position to run as an appointed incumbent, however.

In the coming even-numbered year 36 gubernatorial chairs are in-cycle. Eighteen state chief executives are barred from seeking a third term (15 Republicans; 3 Democrats), while eight GOP governors and six Democrats can run for re-election. Alaska Independent Gov. Bill Walker is also eligible for a second term.

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Update: Outstanding Races

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 18, 2016 — California’s two uncalled congressional races are still not complete because of a counting process moving at what feels like a glacial pace.

In Sacramento County’s 7th District, Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) is in a political overtime situation for the third consecutive election. The latest count finds the congressman garnering 119,448 votes (51.0 percent) as compared to Sheriff Scott Jones’ (R) 114,646 tallies (49.0 percent). Despite being 10 days beyond the election, an estimated 67,000+ District 7 ballots await tabulation.

With Bera leading here by 4,802 votes, and assuming the outstanding ballots estimate is correct, Jones would need to garner at least 53.5 percent of uncounted votes to overtake the incumbent. Since these ballots are mail-only, either from the regular mail, provisional, or overseas voting options, it is unlikely that the remaining tallies are from a particular set of precincts or region. This means it is difficult to gauge whether these votes are predominantly Democratic or Republican. Rather, the mailed votes are probably dispersed uniformly throughout the district.

The 7th CD is wholly contained within Sacramento County and occupies 49.54 percent of the local entity’s territory. Since the county election officials report that 136,644 ballots remain to be processed, simply taking half of the number allows us to arrive at the conclusion that approximately 67,000 ballots are destined for the 7th District.

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Already, an Open Seat

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 17, 2016 — This week also brings us the 2018 election cycle’s first open seat. South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem (R-AL) announced that she will run for governor in the next election. Incumbent Dennis Daugaard (R) is ineligible to run for a third term under South Dakota election law, so the open seat is guaranteed.

The timing of her announcement, extremely early in the brand new election cycle, directly related to a new South Dakota election law. Beginning today, a new campaign finance initiative, passed by voters last week, takes effect. This will limit to $4,000 the amount an individual or entity can contribute to a South Dakota statewide candidate. By officially declaring herself a candidate Tuesday, Noem can still transfer all $1.9 million remaining in her congressional campaign account to her new gubernatorial campaign committee. Obviously, this will give her a major advantage in preparing for a different statewide run.

The congresswoman can count on drawing tough primary and general election opponents, however. Attorney General Marty Jackley (R) has also indicated his intention to run, and many others are soon likely to follow suit.

We can now expect a spirited battle for the open at-large congressional race, particularly in the Republican primary. Even though this race has almost one and one-half years remaining before any votes are cast, the new 2018 election cycle is apparently already underway.

The GOP Unites

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 16, 2016 — Though the media has obsessed over stories about internal Republican skirmishes for the past four years, the House GOP Conference came together yesterday in a strong show of unity just as the Democrats begin to see division in their own ranks.

In the GOP leadership elections, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) was re-nominated for the House’s top post without opposition, with his re-election bid seconded by the congressional liaison to the incoming Trump Administration, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY-27).

The other incumbent party leaders, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA-1), and Republican Conference chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-5) were also re-elected without opposition, all enjoying at least tacit support from the president-elect.

In the major contested internal battle, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) claimed the National Republican Congressional Committee chairmanship with a 60 percent victory over Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX-25). Stivers replaces Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR-2), who was ineligible to seek a third term in the position.

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The Uncalled Races

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 15, 2016 — The state of Michigan, in the presidential race, and both CA-7 and CA-49 remain uncalled. The reasons for the long delay in finalizing the tallies are detailed below.

The unofficial final Michigan election totals stand at 2,279,210 for Donald Trump and 2,267,373 for Hillary Clinton, a difference in the Republican’s favor of 11,837 with all votes received and counted. The state has not declared even an unofficial winner because a re-count can still be requested. Under Michigan procedure, elections within a percentage point are not called unless the re-count options are exhausted.

This week, as in virtually every state, the official county canvasses are beginning, in which tabulations in the 83 counties are verified and readied for official certification. Once the numbers are confirmed, the election results will be finalized for all Michigan elections held Nov. 8. Should Trump maintain his lead, his national electoral vote total will swell to 306 versus Hillary Clinton’s 232.

In California, votes are still being received. The Golden State, similar to the procedure used in Washington, allows mailed ballots to be postmarked on Election Day. The other two states that rely totally or heavily on mailed ballots, Oregon and Colorado, require the votes to be received on Election Day. This year, the CA deadline for receiving the ballots was moved, because of the Veterans Day holiday on Nov. 11, to yesterday, Nov. 14.

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The State Picture

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 14, 2016 — While there were no significant weekend changes in the uncalled federal races — Michigan remains outstanding in the presidential race (Trump ahead 47.6 – 47.3 percent there), and and we still have two undecided California congressional campaigns (Rep. Ami Bera, D-CA-7, leads Sheriff Scott Jones 50.6 – 49.4 percent; Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA-49, has a 51.0 – 49.0 percent advantage over retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate) — we do have virtually complete state race results.

The legislatures and governors are an important influence at the federal level because in most instances these bodies and officials determine congressional redistricting. With live challenges in Alabama, North Carolina, and Virginia, and a possible re-draw of central Texas this coming year, it is not too early to monitor party strength in the newly elected state legislatures.

As we covered in the post-election report series, Republicans earned at least a net gain of two gubernatorial chairs. They converted governors’ mansions in Missouri (Eric Greitens), New Hampshire (Chris Sununu), and Vermont (Phil Scott), while potentially losing North Carolina (Attorney General Roy Cooper-D leading Gov. Pat McCrory-R, but the race is not officially called).

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How Trump Won Florida

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 11, 2016 — It was often discussed that Florida is the most important state on the Republican presidential map. Because the only big state that Republicans can count on is Texas, the generic GOP nominee must win Florida because there is simply no way to build a “gettable” coalition of states equaling 270 electoral votes that doesn’t include the Sunshine State’s 29. Therefore, after securing the 23 states that usually vote Republican in the presidential campaign, any winning GOP state plan must start with Florida.

The Tampa Times published an article yesterday that broke down the votes and showed the areas and demographics that made the difference for Donald Trump. With Hillary Clinton actually outperforming President Obama’s 2012 total in Miami-Dade and the Orlando area, Trump made up the deficit, and then some, in Tampa Bay and the rural regions.

Combined, Clinton racked up 134,000 more votes than President Obama did in Miami and Orlando four years ago, yet he won the state and she lost.

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More Races Called

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 10, 2016 — As outstanding and absentee votes continue to be tallied, more races are being decided. Yesterday’s biggest development was concluding the year long toss-up battle between New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) and Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) in what proved to be a laboriously slow counting process. With the election dust finally settling, we now see a victory for Gov. Hassan. From more than 707,000 votes cast, her unofficial victory margin appears to be just 716 votes.

Sen. Ayotte’s loss means the Republican majority margin will likely end at 52-48, since the Dec. 10 Louisiana run-off election will probably yield a John Kennedy (R) win. Kennedy, the four-term state treasurer, placed first on Tuesday night in a field of 24 candidates followed by Democrat Foster Campbell, a Louisiana public service commissioner and multiple-time statewide candidate.

This isn’t an easy race for Kennedy, however. Often, after one party wins a national election an emotional let down can occur in a quick subsequent vote, and a lack of enthusiasm allows the losing party to rebound. Additionally, we merely have to retreat to October 2015 to find the last time the Democrats won a Louisiana statewide election (governor’s campaign: John Bel Edwards-D defeated Sen. David Vitter-R).

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The Ultimate Upset

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 9, 2016 — Donald Trump once again defied the odds and scored possibly the biggest upset in presidential history. The final count is likely to bring him near 300 electoral votes, almost the opposite position that most predicted.

Trump won 29 states and the 2nd District of Maine. Hillary Clinton took 21 states and the District of Columbia. It is possible that Clinton will still place first in the national popular vote, which will be the second time that has happened in this century. As you might remember, George W. Bush also won the Electoral College in 2000, but not the popular vote.

It will take awhile for the numbers to finalize and clear analysis to begin. Below is a quick re-cap of the Senate and House data.

Senate Results

Republicans held their Senate majority, which could go as high as a total of 53 seats. That would mean they would lose only one seat as long as they win the Louisiana run-off on Dec. 10 (they will be favored to do so) and as long as Sen. Kelly Ayotte hangs on to her small lead in New Hampshire (which now looks unlikely).
• Illinois
Sen. Mark Kirk (R) fell to Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Hoffman Estates), 40-54%.
• New Hampshire
Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) leads Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) by a scant 700 votes with counting now at the 100% mark. Nothing yet has been officially declared, however, as of our publishing time. We will have further information later today.

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Today’s the Day

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 8, 2016 — At long last, the 2016 election cycle draws to a close this evening, as we have finally reached Election Day.

The final polls show ending momentum for Hillary Clinton. Ten surveys reported results, all with sampling periods ending Nov. 6. Nine of the 10 find Clinton leading the presidential race by an average of 3.6 percentage points. Her margin stretches from two to six points.

The Electoral College projections appear to put Clinton in the low 300 electoral vote range, well beyond the 270 needed to clinch the presidency. Donald Trump appears to be on the upswing in North Carolina, Iowa, and Ohio, but he would also need victories in Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and the 2nd Congressional District of Maine to secure a minimum electoral vote victory. Though both parties have invested major time commitments during the last few days in Pennsylvania, the state seems destined to support Ms. Clinton by a discernible margin.

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