Author Archives: Jim Ellis

THE UPCOMING NC-3 SPECIAL ELECTION;
WILL A REPUBLICAN PREVAIL IN
A STATE THAT LEANS DEMOCRATIC?

North Carolina Congressional Districts


By Jim Ellis

March 1, 2019 — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced the special election schedule for his state’s 3rd Congressional District, vacant since 13-term incumbent Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville) passed away on Feb. 10.

Candidate filing will close March 8, a short official period largely because eight individuals have already declared their candidacies. The partisan primary elections will be held April 30, followed by runoff elections, if necessary, on July 9. A secondary election will occur if no candidate receives at least 30 percent of the vote in their respective nomination election.

Should all parties nominate on April 30, then the special general will move to July 9. Otherwise, the final vote will be held Sept. 10. It is presumed that the State Board of Elections members, who have the power to schedule the succeeding District 9 election because no general election winner was certified, will follow the governor’s lead on Monday and schedule that special election within these same schedule guidelines.

With six Republicans, including three sitting state representatives already in the race, and more likely to come, the chances of the GOP being forced to hold a runoff election are extremely high.

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As Joe Goes, So Go the Democratic Presidential Contenders

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden: is he in or out of the 2020 presidential campaign?

Feb. 28, 2019 — A new national Morning Consult poll (Feb. 18-24; 15,642 registered US voters likely to vote in a Democratic primary via online questionnaire) finds former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders pulling away from the rest of the Democratic presidential field.

Sen. Sanders is clearly getting a boost from his formal announcement. According to the Morning Consult regular tracking, he is up six points from just before he became an official candidate. It remains to be seen if his rise begins a trend or is just a polling blip because of increased media attention.

Overall, the MC data finds Biden’s national lead among the segmented Democratic voters dropping to just two points over Sen. Sanders, 29-27 percent. But, the pair are now well ahead of the remaining contenders. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) drops a point in her own support, meaning she lost a net seven percent to Sanders from the last poll. Her new national total is 10 percent, three points ahead of both Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and former US Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX).

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Colorado & Hickenlooper —
Decisions, Decisions

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 27, 2019 — Saying he’s “not cut out to be a senator,” former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) said that he will either run for president in 2020 or no office at all. He further stated that, “Senators don’t build teams. Senators sit and debate in small groups … But I’m not sure that’s my — I’m a doer. That’s what gives me joy.”

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper – not running for Senate (Photo Moritz Hager)

While Hickenlooper is definitive that he won’t enter the Democratic senatorial primary to challenge first-term GOP incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner, he also has made lesser-than-expected moves toward entering the presidential race.

With already a dozen Democrats either officially entering the race or forming exploratory committees, and ex-Vice President Joe Biden set to announce his decision about becoming a candidate in the coming month, Hickenlooper, with low national name identification, may be waiting too long to generate a serious effort. Therefore, the more time that passes, the greater the chances of this ex-two-term governor and Denver mayor not being on the ballot at all in 2020.

The Monday announcement was certainly good news for Sen. Gardner. Possibly in the most vulnerable position of any Republican senator standing for re-election in 2020 – largely because his state has voted decidedly Democratic in the past several elections – the Colorado and national party leadership had hoped to recruit Hickenlooper into the Senate race. Most political observers clearly believe he would be Gardner’s strongest general election challenger.

Right now, mostly minor candidates have announced for the senate in Colorado. The two most prominent Democratic figures are former state House speaker and defeated US Senate and congressional candidate Andrew Romanoff, and ex-state senator and defeated gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston, who finished third in the 2018 party primary that nominated current governor, Jared Polis.

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Tracking Trump’s Approval Ratings
Against Electoral College Results

2016 Electoral College Results map (270toWin)


By Jim Ellis

Feb. 26, 2019 — Already beginning to project where the states might fall in the 2020 presidential election, the Gallup organization released a 50-state survey tracking study Friday that summarizes their cumulative research collected throughout the past year.

Gallup finds President Trump slightly improving his standing over a similar project conducted from their aggregate 2017 data. Meanwhile, the Civiqs polling organization projects, as do all other pollsters, that Trump’s job approval remains upside-down. In the good news category for the president, however, the latter organization finds that he is viewed more positively than either of the national political parties.

Nationally, Trump carries a 44:52 percent job approval ratio according to the Civiqs poll of registered voters (polled continually from Oct. 12, 2015-Feb. 23, 2019; 181,729 responses during that multi-year tracking period). The Democratic Party, however, posts a lesser 39:52 percent rating, while the Republican Party lags behind both the president and their political party counterpart. The GOP registers a poor 26:60 percent index.

But these numbers are not particularly unusual because the same trend among the three polling subjects has been consistent for many months. The more telling conclusion is that the deviation factor among the approval ratings has remained constant for well over a year, suggesting that the electorate continues locked in a highly polarized and negative status.

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Alabama Senate Race Begins

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Bradley Byrne, a Republican, formally announced his candidacy for the Senate.

Feb. 25, 2019 — One of the critical 2020 US Senate contests is beginning to take shape. Over the past few days, Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) formally announced his statewide candidacy with the goal of opposing Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, who won the controversial 2017 special election that attracted national attention.

The Jones victory, defeating beleaguered Republican Roy Moore, a former state Supreme Court Chief Justice, represented the first time a Democrat won an Alabama statewide federal election since incumbent Sen. Howell Heflin secured his final term in 1990.

Prior to that, Richard Shelby, then a Democratic congressman, unseated Republican Sen. Jeremiah Denton in 1986. Shelby then switched to the Republican Party immediately after the 1994 election. Prior to the Denton victory on the same night that Ronald Reagan was first elected president, no Republican had won an Alabama seat for more than 100 years.

The Yellowhammer State Senate race could well be the lynchpin to determining which party will control the chamber after the 2020 election. With the electoral map favoring the Democrats because Republicans must defend 22 of the 34 in-cycle seats, including the Arizona special Senate election, Alabama becomes a virtual “must-win” for the GOP.

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Sanders’ Problem as an Independent

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — an Independent, not a Democrat

Feb. 22, 2019 — A day after announcing his entry into the 2020 presidential campaign, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders jumped off to a strong start, raising a reported $6 million in just his first 24 hours as a repeat candidate. But, a technical problem also looms in the distance.

Last year, the Democratic National Committee adopted a new party rule that states any future presidential nominee must be an official Democratic Party member or, if an office holder, must have served as a Democrat. Sen. Sanders meets neither requirement.

Vermont has no party registration, so he is not a party member in that regard, and has continually, including during the present time, represented Vermont as an Independent. In fact, when offered the Vermont Democratic senatorial nomination for his re-election campaign in 2018, Sanders turned down the overture.

The fact that Sanders is still not a Democrat is confirmed when looking at the list of unpledged delegate slots, those commonly referred to as “Super Delegates.” An unpledged delegate is one who can vote as he or she pleases and is not subject to any binding vote law their particular state may have enacted.

Those who qualify as Super Delegates are Democratic National Committee members (430), every elected Democratic US senator (45), the two District of Columbia “Shadow” senators, all elected Dems in the House of Representatives (235 at the present time), the four Democratic delegates to the US House (District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands, and the US Virgin Islands), and all of the party’s elected governors (26, including the District of Columbia mayor, and the territorial governors from American Samoa and Puerto Rico).

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With Sanders Now a Democratic
Presidential Candidate,
What is His Path to Victory?

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-D/VT)

Feb. 21, 2019 — Calling Donald Trump “the most dangerous president in modern American history,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-D/VT) announced his 2020 presidential campaign through You Tube and email this week.

His further virulent attack on President Trump was softened by his call to unite America under his presidential campaign, with a goal, he stated, of recruiting more than 1 million volunteers to participate in a grassroots message delivery operation.

The rhetoric notwithstanding, where is Sen. Sanders’ path to the Democratic nomination? This will only be the second time in his long career where he has actually entered Democratic Party primaries. Has his political opportunity window closed as many believe to be the case?

Though the senator is now 77 years of age and would be 79 when sworn into office, should he win the presidency next year, he still has strong support within the youngest segment of the American electorate. He also attempts to appeal to racial minorities, union workers, and climate change activists as the core constituencies of a political base that he believes can expand and carry him to the nomination.

But, unlike 2016, when he battled eventual nominee Hillary Clinton one-on-one through all of the primaries and to the Democratic National Convention only to lose 60-40 percent on the first ballot roll call, he does not have the Democratic left all to himself.

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New York, 2020: A Political Hotbed?

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-Bronx) upset in the 14th District Democratic primary during the last cycle has awakened the New York left.

Feb. 20, 2019 — The state of New York, which generally features mostly non-competitive congressional campaigns in its 27 districts may see a very different 2020. Already, individuals are making preliminary political moves in at least 18 of the 27 CDs, including many budding primary challenges.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-Bronx) upset of then-Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens) in the 14th District Democratic primary during the last cycle has awakened the New York left. Now, it appears several other New York City veteran Democrats could face their own 2020 primary challenge.

Even Ocasio-Cortez, who has angered many establishment Democrats with some of her actions and comments, could also see primary competition as rumors of a return match for Crowley, who remains as the Queens Borough Democratic Party chairman, begin to swirl.

In terms of potential Democratic primary challenges, individuals are coming forward to at least begin talking about developing a potential campaign. Those targeted include Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn), Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), Carolyn Maloney (D-New York City), Jose Serrano (D-Bronx), and Eliot Engel (D-Bronx). And, Ocasio-Cortez even listed new House Democratic Conference chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) as an incumbent for the Justice Democrats organization, apparently much to the chagrin of the rest of the NY Democratic delegation.

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Poll: Harris Underwhelms in CA

By Jim Ellis

Declared presidential candidate, Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris of California.

Feb. 19, 2019 — A new Change Research poll was just released of the California Democratic presidential electorate and should former Vice President Joe Biden enter the race, he apparently would fare quite well in Sen. Kamala Harris’ home state.

According to the survey (Feb. 9-11; 948 likely California Democratic presidential primary voters) Biden and Sen. Harris would actually tie at 26 percent apiece. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-D/VT) closely trails with 20 percent.

Considering the delegate proportionality rules, the two men would score a handsome number of committed delegates in Sen. Harris’ own backyard if this poll happens to correctly predict what could happen a year from now.

California is projected to send 495 delegates to the July 2020 Democratic National Convention, the largest contingent from any state. If Sen. Harris is to become a first-tier presidential candidate, she will have to reap a major delegate bounty in her home domain. Thus, merely breaking even with Mr. Biden would certainly be considered a disappointment in her quest for the nomination.

The rest of the field trails badly. No one, aside from the top three, even breaks into double-digits. In this survey, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) is fourth with eight percent, followed by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren who posts a paltry seven percent, ahead of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) with three percent, while former Housing & Urban Development secretary Julian Castro holds a two percent preference.

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The Game Within the Game:
Arizona Senate Race Heats Up

By Jim Ellis

Retired astronaut Mark Kelly, a Democrat, announced his candidacy for the party nomination for the Arizona Senate.

Feb. 15, 2019 — Intrigue is already building in the Arizona US Senate special election. On Tuesday, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, a Democrat, announced his candidacy for the party nomination. The next day, he claimed more than $600,000 had come pouring into his campaign literally overnight after making his declaration. Kelly, you remember, is the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Tucson) who was tragically shot in 2011 but miraculously survived a bullet passing through her head.

While many might take his brandishing the financial number as signaling appointed Republican Sen. Martha McSally that he is going to run a tough and well financed campaign, at this point the move is likely first directed toward his potential Democratic opponent.

US Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) was first elected in 2014 to replace then-Rep. Ed Pastor (D-Phoenix) who retired. Rep. Gallego has publicly stated on several occasions that he is considering running for the Senate in 2020. In fact, on Kelly’s announcement day, the congressman tweeted a message saying that he is still interested in running and will decide shortly.

According to Arizona sources, Gallego would like to hold his announcement until the Phoenix mayoral special election concludes next month. A special election is necessitated for that office because then-Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) was elected to succeed Kyrsten Sinema in the 9th Congressional District seat.

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Biden Remains Ahead of the Pack

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 14, 2019 — A new Morning Consult national survey of Democratic presidential primary voters again finds former Vice President Joe Biden leading an ever-growing pack of hopefuls vying for the opportunity of facing President Trump in the 2020 general election.

The survey (Feb. 4-10: 11,627 registered voters who say they may vote in a Democratic presidential primary or attend a party caucus; 517 “early primary state” voters from Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina), finds the former VP and long-time Delaware senator holding a 29-22-13 percent lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) and California Sen. Kamala Harris.

Sixteen more candidates or potential candidates were included in the poll, but none could crack double-digits. In the second tier, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) pulled eight percent, closely followed by former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) with seven percent, and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) who attracted five percent support. All of the others fell in between three percent and zero, inclusive.

Looking at only the four early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina (derived from an aggregate respondent group of 517 self-identified Democrats in those places), the order of candidates in the top tier doesn’t change, and Biden extends his lead to 33-21-11-10 percent over Sens. Sanders, Harris, and Warren. Sen. Booker gains one point to six percent, while ex-Rep. O’Rourke falls to five percent. No one else exceeds two percent.

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Numbers Continue to Grow in 2020
Democratic Presidential Field

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden: Will he jump into, or stay out of, the 2020 presidential race?

Feb. 13, 2019 — Major action is beginning to occur within the Democratic presidential field. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) announcement entering the race on Sunday means that now 11 individuals are official candidates or have working exploratory committees. Expect more to be on the way.

Three more Democrats, men who we have yet to hear much from, confirmed that they in fact are taking serious steps to potentially enter the presidential field just a couple days ago. US Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) told media sources that they both may become candidates. Ryan is going so far as to travel to Iowa and New Hampshire later this week. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is also making a trip to the Granite State, site of the first-in-the-nation primary, but he has, at least until now, been categorized in the “less than likely to enter” group.

Former Vice President Joe Biden continues to hover above the active candidates with a great deal of speculation surrounding his potential candidacy. Many believe he will soon enter the race, but just as many are also predicting that he will ultimately decline to run.

The McClatchy news organization, owner of 31 local newspapers that stretches from California to North and South Carolina, published an analysis article early this week from DC Bureau reporter Kevin Roarty summarizing his interviews of 31 Democratic strategists who largely believe that Biden might actually prove to be a weaker candidate than Hillary Clinton.

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House Democrats Release “Frontline Program” Targeting Perceived
Vulnerable GOP CDs

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 12, 2019 — Countering the previously announced National Republican Congressional Committee Patriot Program targeting list, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released their Frontline Program protection listing late last week.

Since the Democrats are now in the House majority, their list is wholly defensive in nature while the Republicans are the minority challengers, a juxtaposition of roles from the past four election cycles. Of the 44 Frontline defense districts, 43 are also GOP Patriot Program targets. The lone exception is Connecticut freshman Jahana Hayes (D-Wolcott), a former national Teacher of the Year award winner who won a 56-44 percent victory in her maiden general election campaign.

The targeting organizational programs are important because both official political party apparatuses help the candidates with fundraising, a campaign element where Democrats overwhelmed Republicans in the 2018 election cycle. Therefore, it is likely that the Patriot Program is more important to the previously identified GOP members than the Frontline operation is to the Democratic incumbents, most of whom raised multi-millions in their own right.

Comparing the lists, the 43 top Democratic protection members who are also found on the Republican register could more realistically be narrowed to 27 campaigns that should reasonably be placed in the highest vulnerability category.

In 19 of the 27, President Trump carried the district over Hillary Clinton, and four years earlier Mitt Romney topped President Obama in 17 of the CDs. The Republicans had won all three post-redistricting congressional elections (2012, ’14, ’16) in 22 of the 27 districts prior to the 2018 vote.

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Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall to Retire:
A Look at the Seat’s 2020 Contenders

By Jim Ellis

Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville)

Feb. 11, 2019 — Five-term Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville), who survived the closest raw vote election of any winning incumbent last November (419 votes from just over 280,000 ballots cast against former state Senate committee staff director Carolyn Bourdeaux), announced late last week that he won’t seek re-election in 2020.

This opens a seat that was obviously highly competitive in the ’18 election cycle, but this lone result might not tell the entire story.

Only at the very end of the election cycle did Rep. Woodall launch a campaign, previously believing that his seat would perform as a safe Republican enclave just as it had since its inception under the 2001 redistricting plan, and then reconfigured in the 2011 remap. Then-Congressman John Linder (R) represented the district at the time and until his retirement before the 2010 election, always enjoying landslide re-election percentages.

Woodall was badly outspent by challenger Bourdeaux, falling behind her by a 2:1 ratio as his campaign posted less than $1.5 million in direct expenditures.

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The Campaign Begins

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 8, 2019 — President Donald Trump used his State of the Union Address on Tuesday night to informally begin his re-election drive.

While some theorized that the president might decide not to seek a second term as we got closer to the primaries, the text of his speech told us just the opposite. In fact, instead of being a State of the Union Address, his subject matter and delivery made it closer to a campaign announcement speech.

In addition to using the address to frame the beginning of his re-election effort, the president also outlined what will likely become his key strategic tenets. In other words, he showcased the speech to begin painting the picture of his Democratic opponents that he wants the electorate to see.

It was clear from his emphasis points that Trump intends to create a clear contrast between he and the Democrats, and certainly the future party nominee whomever that may be, by attempting to position himself as the center-right candidate and driving his opponents into the far left ideological realm.

He also displayed the key points that will likely serve as the foundation for his campaign offensive: increasing jobs, economic prosperity, and the number of small businesses; re-emphasizing his America First theme with both the country’s allies and adversaries in relation to foreign affairs and trade issues; and, how the Trump Administration has made the world a safer place because of its foreign policy decisions and initiatives.

The president also used the speech as a tool to put the Democrats on the defensive, and even apparently shocked them at least a couple of times if their initial reaction is any indication.

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