Category Archives: Election Analysis

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.

Additionally, the isolated campaigns below should be the most competitive 2020 districts because the Republicans have won 75.5 percent of the federal political contests (an aggregate 102 of 135: three congressional races and two presidential apiece, but not counting 2018) since the last redistricting (2011) created the current CD configurations. Therefore …

The 27 most vulnerable Democratic protection races are as follows (the number in parenthesis is the member’s 2018 victory percentage):


  • AZ-1 – Tom O’Halleran (54%)
  • CA-21 – T.J. Cox (50)
  • CA-39 – Gil Cisneros (52)
  • CA-45 – Katie Porter (52)
  • CA-48 – Harley Rouda (53)
  • FL-26 – Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (51)
  • GA-6 – Lucy McBath (50)
  • IL-14 – Lauren Underwood (52)
  • IA-1 – Abby Finkenauer (50)
  • IA-3 – Cindy Axne (49)
  • KS-3 – Sharice Davids (54)
  • ME-2 – Jared Golden (50)
  • MI-11 – Haley Stevens (52)
  • MN-2 – Angie Craig (53)
  • NH-1 – Chris Pappas (53)
  • NJ-3 – Andy Kim (50)
  • NJ-7 – Tom Malinowski (52)
  • NM-2 – Xochitl Torres Small (51)
  • NY-11 – Max Rose (52)
  • NY-19 – Antonio Delgado (50)
  • NY-22 – Anthony Brindisi (50)
  • OK-5 – Kendra Horn (51)
  • SC-1 – Joe Cunningham (51)
  • TX-7 – Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (52)
  • UT-4 – Ben McAdams (50)
  • VA-2 – Elaine Luria (51)
  • VA-7 – Abigail Spanberger (50)

 

In the succeeding 10 districts, Republicans have won every federal race with the lone exception of the 2018 congressional contest. These should be considered the first-level targets. They are:

First-Level Targets


  • GA-6 (McBath)
  • IL-14 (Underwood)
  • MI-11 (Stevens)
  • NM-2 (Torres Small)
  • NY-22 (Brindisi)
  • OK-5 (Horn)
  • SC-1 (Cunningham)
  • UT-4 (McAdams)
  • VA-2 (Luria)
  • VA-7 (Spanberger)

 

Under the present political situation, considering the strength of the new incumbent and the district voting history with particular emphasis on its latest trends, the following

Frontline Democratic Representatives should arguably be considered lesser targets at least for right now:


  • CA-10 – Josh Harder (52%)
  • CA-25 – Katie Hill (54)
  • CA-49 – Mike Levin (56)
  • CO-6 – Jason Crow (54)
  • IL-6 – Sean Casten (54)
  • MI-8 – Elissa Slotkin (51)
  • NV-3 – Susie Lee (52)
  • NV-4 – Steven Horsford (52)
  • NJ-2 – Jeff Van Drew (53)
  • NJ-5 – Josh Gottheimer (56)
  • NJ-11 – Mikie Sherrill (57)
  • PA-7 – Susan Wild (53)
  • PA-8 – Matt Cartwright (55)
  • PA-17 – Conor Lamb (56)
  • TX-32 – Colin Allred (52)
  • WA-8 – Kim Schrier (52)

 

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.

Upon the news of Rep. Woodall’s retirement becoming public, Ms. Bourdeaux confirmed that she would again become a candidate. Previously, 2018 contender David Kim, owner of a learning center chain of businesses who lost the Democratic run-off to Bourdeaux by only 569 votes, and attorney Marqus Cole had already announced that they would battle for the 2020 party nomination. Democratic state Reps. Sam Park (D-Lawrenceville) and Brenda Lopez Romero (D-Norcross) also confirm that they are considering the congressional race now that the seat will be open.

The potential Republican candidate field could be even larger than that of the Democrats, which would almost inevitably lead to a run-off election once the original primary concludes. Most multi-candidate primaries advance to a secondary election in states like Georgia that require party nominees to obtain majority support.

Among the early Republican names being mentioned are US Attorney B.J. Pak, state Sens. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), and P.K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville), along with ex-state Rep. Scott Hilton and former state Sen. David Shafer, among others, according to Tamar Hallerman of the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper.

Other than the 2018 congressional election, the 7th District has performed as a reliable GOP district. President Trump carried it 51-45 percent in 2016, but he was the low performer among national Republican presidential nominees. Mitt Romney’s margin was 61-37 percent four years previous over President Barack Obama, and John McCain registered a 59-40 percent spread against then-Sen. Obama in 2008.

Prior to his close call in November, Woodall averaged 63.8 percent of the vote in his other four congressional victories. Therefore, it remains to be seen if the 2018 congressional race is an anomaly or a harbinger of new developing voting patterns.

The 7th District is comprised of approximately 70 percent of two Atlanta suburban counties, Gwinnett and Forsyth, with about 80 percent of the population residing in the former. The people live in generally small communities with Lawrenceville and Duluth being the largest, and they only report about 30,000 residents apiece. Other towns include Norcross, Buford, Grayson, Suwanee, and Cumming.

Woodall becomes the third House member to announce that he won’t be seeking re-election next year. Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Rob Bishop (R-UT) are the other two.

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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Mississippi’s Dead Heat

By Jim Ellis

Mississippi state flag

Feb. 7, 2019 — The open Mississippi governor’s race will be decided later this year, and a new Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey (Jan. 30-Feb. 1; 625 registered Mississippi voters) finds Attorney General Jim Hood (D) and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) locked in a virtual tie. The Republican incumbent, Gov. Phil Bryant, is ineligible to seek a third term.

While Hood, a four-term AG, holds a slight 44-42 percent edge, Reeves has closed the original six-point spread that Mason-Dixon first found in their December 2017 poll (Hood 43 percent; Reeves 37 percent). In April of last year, M-D projected Hood’s advantage to be 44-39 percent.

But, winning the popular vote is not all that’s required to win a Mississippi statewide race. In similar fashion to a presidential candidate needing to score a victory in the Electoral College, a Mississippi gubernatorial candidate must not only record the most votes in the statewide aggregate count, he or she must also win a majority of the 122 state House districts.

Currently, Republicans hold a 72-46 split in the state House with four vacancies. Thus, it would appear Reeves would have a strong opportunity to capture at least a bare majority 63 House districts, assuming the statewide count is close. If no candidate carries a majority of state House districts, the state House members would then vote to decide the election between the top two finishers.

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Two New Polls Show Tracking Trends In 2020 Presidential Race

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 6, 2019 — The Emerson College Polling Institute and Monmouth University just released two presidential polls, the former of Iowa voters, the latter, a national study.

The Emerson poll (Jan. 30-Feb. 2; 831 registered Iowa voters, 260 likely Iowa Democratic caucus attenders) finds former Vice President Joe Biden leading Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Bernie Sanders (I-D/VT), 29-18-15 percent, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) posts 11% support.

The other candidates land in single digits: ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) at six percent; Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) both with four percent; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has three percent; while former HUD Secretary Julian Castro posts two percent, and ex-Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) each register one percent support.

The results are consistent with previous polls conducted of the Iowa Caucus sampling universe even though the Democratic sample in this survey is very low.

During the period of Jan. 25-27, Monmouth University tested a national sample of 735 registered US voters from a pool of 805 adults to determine perceptions mostly of the Democratic candidates, but also queried the aggregate respondent universe about President Trump.

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Northam on the Edge

The racially charged photo compilation above appeared in the 1984 yearbook of the medical school Gov. Ralph Northam attended with his name on the page.


By Jim Ellis

Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam

Feb. 5, 2019 — Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam continues to reel, and many believe the increasing pressure upon him to resign will force him from office within the next 48 hours.

Northam defeated former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, 54-45 percent, in the 2017 statewide election. His term will expire at the beginning of 2022.

The number of Democrats publicly opposing Northam over the publication of a racially charged medical school year book picture increased substantially over the weekend, capped by a joint pro-resignation statement issued from Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, along with House Education & Labor Committee chairman Bobby Scott (D-Newport News).

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who Northam served as lieutenant governor, and Congressional Black Caucus member Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) also joined the chorus of detractors in addition to Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez, former Vice President Joe Biden, several other presidential candidates, and ex-Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder, the state’s first African American governor who was elected in 1989.

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A Pennsylvania Gerrymander or Not?

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 4, 2019 — As more final voting data becomes available about the 2018 electoral patterns, new local analysis articles are being distributed that allow us to better understand why the results unfolded as they did.

Emily Previti published a piece for Pennsylvania’s Keystone Crossroads media site at the end of last week that details just how the congressional outcome might have changed if the state Supreme Court had not altered the Pennsylvania federal map.

The Pennsylvania high court ruled about a year before the last election that the 2011 redistricting legislative package was a political gerrymander in relation to the state’s constitution. The court then instituted new boundaries for the 2018 and 2020 elections, designed to bridge the gap until the next census, reapportionment, and redistricting processes begin again.

The court majority reasoned that the previous congressional map routinely yielding a 13R-5D congressional result was out of sync with a statewide electorate that usually favors Democrats, among other reasons. Yet, according to the Previti article, such may not have been the case.

Click on above map to see full story and interactive map at the Keystone Crossroads media site.

After overlaying the new court-imposed 18-district congressional map (above) that returned a 9R-9D result from the previous 12R-6D delegation split (the division changed when Democrat Conor Lamb won an early 2018 special election in a previously Republican 18th CD), Previti concludes that the same 9-9 split we see today may well have occurred even under the previous map.

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The Policy Divide in 2019

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 31, 2019 — The Pew Research Center for US Politics and Policy released the results of its annual “Public’s Priorities” survey (Jan. 9-14; 1,505 US adults) and found areas of both consistencies and great change from within the aggregate responses.

In terms of stability, the top priorities remain almost unchanged from last year:

  • The Economy
  • Healthcare Costs
  • Education
  • Terrorism
  • Social Security
  • Medicare

However, the stark partisan divide among some of these and other issues is worthy of further examination.

For example, while 70 percent of the respondents believe the economy should be a top priority for the president and Congress, there is a 15-point gap between the positions of Republicans and Democrats. On the GOP side, 79 percent said the economy should be a top priority, while only 64 percent of Democrats agreed.

The ratio is reversed when contemplating healthcare costs. While 77 percent of Democrats said this should be a top governmental priority, only 59 percent of Republicans answered the same.

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American Electorate Tracking Poll:
A Look at The Underlying Numbers

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 29, 2019 — In the past couple of days, the new Morning Consult American electorate tracking poll (Jan. 18-22 — 1,996 US registered voters; 35 percent self-identified Democrats, 33 percent Independent, 32 percent Republican) captured media attention because it released a national Democratic presidential primary ballot test.

The results concluded that former Vice President Joe Biden is leading Sen. Bernie Sanders 17-12 percent while 19 other candidates or potential candidates all fell into single digits. (Some reports indicated Biden’s edge over Sanders was 26-16 percent, but this was done by eliminating some minor candidates and extrapolating the remaining preference votes among the major candidates. The actual polling results for the entire field are the ones quoted in the first sentence of this paragraph.) But, the figures are largely irrelevant because the ballot test was asked of the whole respondent pool and not just the Democrats and Independents who lean Democratic.

The inclusion of the Republican and Republican-leaning Independents certainly would skew this data, thereby not accurately depicting where the candidates stand among Democrats, and more particularly, Democratic primary voters and likely caucus attenders. This makes the results highly questionable as they relate to where national Democrats are headed in choosing a presidential nominee.

The ballot test, however, was just one query of 82, an extensive segmented questionnaire that, for the most part, provides us interesting and useful issue data.

While President Trump is clearly in what could be the lowest point of his presidency in terms of popularity and job approval – Morning Consult finds him with a 40:57 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio – those highly negative opinions don’t necessarily carry through to other Republicans.

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Special Election Called in PA

By Jim Ellis

Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court (click on image to see full size)

Jan. 29, 2019 — While most of the special election banter surrounds the still undecided North Carolina situation (NC-9), the first new election of the year has just been scheduled.

With Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino’s (R-Williamsport) surprise announcement earlier this month that he was resigning from the House, a move he made official on Jan. 23 to accept a position in the private sector, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has already called the replacement special election to fill the new vacancy.

As expected, Gov. Wolf made the 12th District special election concurrent with the Pennsylvania statewide municipal primary, which is scheduled for May 21. There will be only the one election, and the candidate receiving the most votes, regardless of percentage attained, will serve the balance of the current term.

In the meantime, the 15 county chairmen from the qualified political parties will schedule a convention in the district to choose their respective nominee. Generally, the convention is weighted to accurately reflect the population spread throughout the district. Therefore, the most populous counties within the 12th CD, Lycoming and part of Centre that together possess 29 percent of the district’s population, will likely have a commensurate number of votes at the special nominating convention.

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