Monthly Archives: December 2016

Closing the Book

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 23, 2016 — Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season. This will be the final update of the 2016 election cycle. We will return at the beginning of 2017. Thank you for being a loyal Ellis Insight follower.

With the final election numbers having been reported in every state, we can now begin to delve below the numerical surface in order to highlight certain key electoral facts.

Despite the news media reporting on Election Night that the 2016 presidential turnout was low, the post-election data reveals a completely different story. With over 14 million votes received, counted, and recorded after Election Day, turnout swelled to 136,645,381 voters, the highest raw number count in American history. This shatters the previous record set in 2008 of 131,426,292 participating individuals.

Election Day, turnout swelled to 136,645,381 voters, the highest raw number count in American history.

The 2016 total doesn’t include participating individuals who failed to vote for president. Adding those voters mean that 138,884,863 people came to the polls or mailed a 2016 general election ballot.

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One More Special

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 22, 2016 — President-Elect Donald Trump’s selection of four-term South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-Lancaster) as Office of Management and Budget Director adds one more special congressional election to the growing number of second season political campaigns.

The SC-5 special election means that five House seats are headed for a replacement vote in addition to maybe a pair of Senate contests. Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-KS-4), Tom Price (R-GA-6), and Ryan Zinke (R-MT-AL) will leave their House seats pending confirmation to posts in the Trump Administration. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA-34) has resigned his position to become California Attorney General, replacing Sen.-Elect Kamala Harris (D).

The Palmetto State’s 5th District is now a safe Republican seat, made so in the 2011 redistricting plan. Before Mulvaney, Rep. John Spratt (D-Rock Hill) held the district bordering North Carolina just south of the Charlotte metropolitan area for 14 terms, first winning in 1982. After Rep. Mulvaney converted CD-5 to the Republican column in 2010 upon Spratt announcing his retirement, the GOP legislature strengthened the seat for the new incumbent. This was accomplished by moving several Democratic communities into Rep. Jim Clyburn’s (D-Florence) 6th District. The latter seat is now the only Democratic district among the state’s seven seats.

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Yes, No & Maybe

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 21, 2016 — We haven’t even entered the new year yet, and already a rather long list is formulating of individuals either announcing candidacies for other offices, saying they won’t run for certain positions, or refusing to rule out future options.

The following have publicly stated their plans to seek a different office in 2018:

Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL) – Indicated her desire to run for governor but will make a formal announcement when her husband’s prostate cancer treatment is completed. Gov. Rick Scott (R) is not eligible to seek a third term.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) – Outgoing Rep. Grayson, who lost the 2016 Senate Democratic primary to Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), says he will challenge Rep. Dan Webster (R) in the safely Republican 11th District. The two faced each other six years ago in the former 8th District, a marginal Orange County seat, and Webster won 56-38%.

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Hamilton Electors Crushed

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 20, 2016 — According to state Electoral College counts from yesterday’s announced votes, it appears Donald Trump has officially won the presidency. The secret ballot results will be read before the Congress on Jan. 6, and at that time the presidential outcome, at long last, will become final.

The group calling itself “The Hamilton Electors”, whose goal was to convince at least 37 GOP electors to eschew Trump in favor of another Republican candidate, failed miserably as predicted. In fact, two of the key organizers, Colorado electors Polly Baca, a state senator, and teacher Bob Nemanich were replaced by the state officials because they were openly planning to violate Colorado’s law that requires electors to support the candidate who earned at least a plurality of the state’s election votes.

The state officials went to federal court to block Baca and Nemanich from voting for someone other than Hillary Clinton, the candidate who received 48.2 percent of the vote in the Nov. 8 Election Day vote. Yesterday, all nine Colorado electors, sans Baca and Nemanich’s participation, voted for Clinton.

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Electoral College Vote: Not Yet Over

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 19, 2016 — Today is the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December after a national election, which therefore means the Electoral College convenes and will cast their official votes for the offices of president and vice president of the United States.

While Donald Trump earned 306 electoral votes from citizenry participation on Nov. 8, there is no specific guarantee that he will secure that many official votes. Nor are all of Hillary Clinton’s 232 electoral votes necessarily locked down.

As we have covered in previous updates, a group of Democratic electors, calling themselves “The Hamilton Electors”, will culminate their activities today. The group is named after Federalist Papers’ Essay #68, largely credited to Alexander Hamilton, that advises electors to exercise strong judgment in casting their official presidential vote because they speak for the entire nation.

The group is also referencing Hamilton’s section that encourages the electors to protect against “foreign powers [to] gain[ing] an improper ascendant in our councils.” Obviously, this passage is being quoted to help support the claims about Russian election “hacking” that is attracting so much post-election political media coverage.

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Another Special Looms

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 16, 2015 — Already, calling potentially five special elections may be necessary even before the new 115th Congress convenes. Now, a sixth is on the political horizon now that Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT-AL) has been nominated as US Interior Secretary.

As we have detailed in previous Updates, Sen. Jeff Sessions’ Alabama seat could go to a special election after an interim appointment is made, and the North Dakota Senate seat will definitely go before the voters if president-elect Donald Trump chooses Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) as Agriculture Secretary.

In the House, three seats will be vacated either before or just after the new Congress begins. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA-34) has already resigned his seat to accept Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) appointment as attorney general, replacing Sen.-Elect Kamala Harris (D). The KS-4 and GA-6 districts will be opened when Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Wichita) and Tom Price (R-Roswell) are confirmed as CIA Director and Secretary of Health & Human Services, respectively.

So far, all of the seats, including the North Dakota Democratic Senate seat, should easily go Republican in special elections. The Montana at-large seat, however, may well become competitive.

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Special Elections Mounting — House

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 15, 2016 — Just as the 2016 election cycle ended with the Louisiana run-off elections last Saturday, a new round of voting is about to begin.

President-Elect Donald Trump’s selection of Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT-AL) as Interior Secretary adds yet another future special election to the growing number of House and Senate odd-numbered year electoral contests.

In addition to Zinke, President-Elect Trump has selected House colleagues Tom Price (R-GA-6; Health and Human Services) and Mike Pompeo (R-KS-4; CIA Director) for Administration appointments. In California, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has appointed Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA-34) to replace Sen.-Elect Kamala Harris (D-CA) as the state’s Attorney General. All of these members will be resigning their current seats immediately before taking their new offices.

Here’s how things are beginning to formulate in the House (we looked at the Senate yesterday):

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Special Elections Mounting – Senate

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 14, 2016 — Just as the 2016 election cycle ended with the Louisiana run-off elections last Saturday, a new round of voting is about to begin.

President-Elect Donald Trump’s selection of Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT-AL) as Interior Secretary adds yet another future special election to the growing number of House and Senate odd-numbered year electoral contests.

In addition to what could well become a competitive Montana statewide election in approximately 100 days or so, as many as five other campaigns will be calendared within approximately the same time frame depending upon individual state election laws.

With Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) appointed as Trump’s Attorney General-designate, and with speculation being rampant that Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) will become Agriculture Secretary, two new senators and a trio of US House members will be chosen.

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2016 Electoral Quick Facts

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 13, 2016 — On the day that the states are reporting their official results to the Electoral College, it is an appropriate time to analyze some of the more interesting results.

In the presidential contest, six states switched their votes from the Democrats and President Obama (2012) to the Republicans and Donald Trump this year.

Wisconsin went Republican for the first time since 1984; Michigan and Pennsylvania from 1988; while Florida, Iowa and Ohio are back in the Republican column after voting Democratic in the last two consecutive elections.

Now that the Louisiana run-offs are complete, we can begin to analyze the composition of the new House and Senate.

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A Bayou Sweep

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 12, 2016 — Republicans completed the 2016 election cycle with a sweep of Saturday’s Louisiana run-off races. In the US Senate race, state Treasurer John Kennedy (R) easily defeated Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D), 61-39 percent, as expected.

State Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City) will replace outgoing Rep. John Fleming (R-Minden/Shreveport). He defeated Democratic attorney Marshall Jones, 65-35 percent, in a race that also contained little in the way of suspense.

Finally, in the double Republican 3rd CD, Lafayette retired police captain Clay Higgins out-polled Public Service Commissioner and former gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle, 56-44 percent. Higgins will replace Rep. Charles Boustany (R-Lafayette) in the new Congress. Both Fleming and Boustany ran unsuccessfully for US Senate.

In the Senate race, Kennedy captured 55 of the state’s 64 parishes. The result here was never in doubt. Kennedy placed first in the Nov. 8 jungle primary, 25-17 percent over Campbell among 24 candidates. The qualifying Democratic candidate, who has run and lost before in statewide and congressional races, could never attract outside funding support, even from the national Democratic Party apparatus.

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CA-34: The Battle Begins; Iowa Governor

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 9, 2016 — Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) has yet to resign his seat after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) officially appointed him to replace Senator-Elect Kamala Harris (D) as California’s Attorney General, but already a crowded field to replace him is forming.

The 34th is a heavily Democratic district that features a 64.1 percent Hispanic population, and will almost assuredly evolve into a run-off between two Democrats.

Immediately upon Rep. Becerra being tabbed as the appointment, former state Assembly Speaker John Perez (D) declared his congressional candidacy. His action has hardly scared anyone away, however. State Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D) then announced his candidacy, as did labor union activist Wendy Carillo (D). Also in the running is former Los Angeles City Council aide Sarah Hernandez (D), who claims she has put together more than $100,000 for a congressional run.

Hernandez’s former boss is LA City Councilman Jose Huizar (D). Already a poll has been fielded testing potential special election candidates. Public Policy Polling surveyed just after the Becerra appointment announcement (Dec. 1-2; 369 CA-34 registered voters), and found Huizar leading the pack of purported candidates with 22 percent of the vote. Huizar, however, says he will not become a congressional candidate.

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More on Louisiana

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 8, 2016 — A new, but questionable, poll was released from Tulane University covering the open Louisiana Senate run-off campaign to be decided this Saturday. The poll (Nov. 8-18; 960 Louisiana adults) finds state Treasurer John Kennedy (R) leading Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D), 60-40 percent. Incumbent Sen. David Vitter (R), who last year was defeated in a run for governor, is retiring.

A great deal is wrong with this survey. First, though the poll was completed on Nov. 18, it was only released this past Tuesday, Dec. 7, thus the time lag may not reflect the current race status. Second, the sampling period is 11 days, which is too long of a response window. Third, there is no proper screen for registered voters, let alone likely participants. Fourth, the first sampling day was the regular Election Day, which potentially skews responses, and fifth, the pollsters pushed sampling group participants into making a choice only between the two candidates, not allowing for an undecided position.

All that being said, the 60-40 split is still relatively consistent with the few other polls we have seen for this race. All indications point to a Kennedy victory Saturday evening. If successful in his quest for the Senate, the partisan division for the new body will be 52R-46D-2I.

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The Electoral College

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 7, 2016 — Is the Electoral College doomed, or coming into a new sphere of relevance? As we know, Hillary Clinton out-polled Donald Trump in the popular vote, now by some 2.3 million people as the totals are becoming finalized, but she failed to secure an Electoral College victory. Therefore, numerous efforts have begun to either change Electors’ votes or eliminate the system entirely.

The Gallup organization just completed a poll, as they did after the 2000 election when Al Gore suffered a similar fate at the hands of George W. Bush. Their recent results are surprising, especially when considering the tenor of the media arguments.

According to Gallup (Nov. 28-29; 1,021 US adults), 49 percent of the respondents would like to see the US Constitution amended to elect the president through an aggregate vote of the citizenry. Those in favor of keeping the current system totaled 47 percent.

In actuality, this result is a huge improvement for the pro-Electoral College segment. Just a week after the 2000 election, during the Nov. 11-12 period, Gallup conducted a similar survey and found 61 percent wanting to scrap the Electoral College versus only 35 percent status quo supporters.

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The Last Campaigns

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 6, 2016 — The marathon 2016 election cycle will come to a close on Saturday with the Louisiana run-off elections. The US Senate race and two congressional elections were forced to secondary contests, and Republicans appear poised to sweep the trio.

New Senate polling data again shows Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy holding a commanding lead with majority support. According to the new Southern Media & Opinion Research poll (Nov. 28-30; 500 likely Louisiana run-off voters) Kennedy leads his run-off opponent, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D), 52-38 percent.

Kennedy has a favorability rating of 57:35 percent positive to negative versus Campbell’s 46:44 percent. Kennedy runs strong in the five Republican congressional districts, losing only in the New Orleans-anchored 2nd CD. He posts best in the 1st (Slidell, Metairie, St. Bernard, Jefferson Parishes), 4th (Shreveport, Bossier City, Minden, Nachitoches), and 5th CD (Monroe, Alexandria, Bogalusa), recording around a 30-point spread in each. Campbell has a 40-point margin in the 2nd District (New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Plaquemine).

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Picking Democratic Senators;
Rep. Becerra Tapped for A.G.

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 5, 2016 — Donald Trump may be looking to find cabinet members who bring him immediate tangible policy and political benefits. A new prospective appointee, if chosen, would even increase the president-elect’s strength in the United States Senate.

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) made her way to New York yesterday to speak with Trump. If the president-elect tabbed her for an administration position, it would allow him to reach out to Democrats while simultaneously paving the way for incoming Gov. Doug Burgum (R) to appoint a Republican to replace her. Assuming John Kennedy (R) wins the Louisiana Senate run-off on Dec. 10, as expected, replacing Heitkamp would boost the Senate Republican Conference to 53 members.

The senator won a close upset victory in 2012, defeating one-term at-large Rep. Rick Berg (R) by a one-point margin. She is now preparing for what is likely to be a highly competitive 2018 re-election bid, but accepting a position in the Trump Administration would obviously require her to resign the Senate seat. With North Dakota voting patterns now going solidly Republican – Trump received 63 percent in the Nov. 8 election compared to 58 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012, and John McCain’s 53 percent eight years ago – Republican conversion prospects in a post-appointment election would be bright should Heitkamp depart.

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