Category Archives: Election Analysis

Roby Wins Run-off

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery)

Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery)

July 19, 2018 — Alabama voters went to the polls Tuesday to settle run-off elections, and the only congressional race on the ballot featured a Republican contest in the state’s southeastern 2nd District.

Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery), who fared poorly in the June 5th GOP primary in scoring only 39 percent of the vote against four opponents – a clear danger sign for any incumbent – rebounded to post a 68-32 percent victory over former one-term Rep. Bobby Bright, the man Roby unseated back in 2010. At the time, Bright served as a Democrat. He changed parties and entered the Republican primary to challenge Rep. Roby and forced a political re-match eight years after the original contest.

The 2nd District is comprised of 14 southeastern Alabama counties and part of Montgomery County. The largest communities are the cities of Montgomery (part), Dothan, and Enterprise. Roby carried all 15 local entities within a turnout of just over 71,000 voters. The congresswoman spent over $1.5 million, after obtaining more than $1 million in just the 2nd quarter. Her fundraising totals $2.2 million since the beginning of the campaign cycle.

In contrast, Bright raised just $406,000 through the June 27 pre-election report, and almost $309,000 of that total came in the form of a candidate loan.

Roby is a former Montgomery City Council member who decided to challenge then-Rep. Bright in the 2010 election. She defeated him that year, 51-49 percent, in the Republican wave election. Two years later, she scored 64 percent in her first re-election campaign, followed by a 67 percent win in 2014. Her victory margin dropped to 49-40 percent in 2016, largely because she came out against then-candidate Donald Trump after the Access Hollywood videotape became public.

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Governors’ Ratings

By Jim Ellis

To see the full-size map, go to governing.com

To see the full-size map, click on the image above
or go to governing.com

July 18, 2018 — A new set of governors’ race ratings were released from the Governing.com website, and while nine of the 36 campaigns are placed in the toss-up category, it is arguable that possibly two others could be added.

The governors’ races are of note because, primarily, 2018 is a redistricting election, meaning the state chief executives elected this year, for the most part, will hold veto power when the new congressional and state legislature districts are re-drawn in 2021 following the impending 2020 national census.

Additionally, the two parties are in exact opposite positions in defending seats when comparing the governors’ campaigns to those in the US Senate. While Democrats must risk and defend 26 Senate states, Republicans must protect the identical number of governors’ mansions.

According to governing.com, eight states are now in toss-up mode:

Alaska: Gov. Bill Walker (I); Party Primary, Aug. 21

Colorado (Open): Treasurer Walker Stapleton (R) vs. Rep. Jared Polis (D)

Connecticut (Open): Party Primary, Aug. 14

Florida (Open): Party Primary, Aug. 28

Iowa: Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) vs. Businessman Fred Hubbell (D)
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Feinstein Loses

By Jim Ellis

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

July 17, 2018 — Five-term Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) lost the official California Democratic Party endorsement to her general election rival and fellow Democrat, state Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), this past weekend in Oakland, attracting an embarrassing seven percent of the vote among the Democratic Party delegates.

Sen. Feinstein knew she was headed for defeat within the party structure formal endorsement process, so she was campaigning for the delegates to vote “no endorsement.” This ploy garnered more votes than she received, as 28 percent of the delegates supported the party taking no official action in the Senate race. Thus, Sen. de Leon received 65 percent of the delegate vote, exceeding the minimum threshold of 60 percent to claim the party endorsement.

The action means that de Leon will be designated the official party candidate on the ballot, obviously an unusual situation for a challenging Democrat opposing an incumbent of the same party. So unusual, in fact, that in no other race where two Democrats are facing each other in the general election, from the statewide contests through the state assembly races, did the party delegates choose the challenger over the incumbent.

In winning the party endorsement, Sen. de Leon will be entitled to direct party funding and access to the state party’s fundraising and voter databases. Though having access to these resources should result in him raising an estimated several hundred thousand dollars, such an amount is just a drop in the bucket as to what a candidate in the nation’s most populous state needs in terms of financial resources necessary to compete.

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Crowley: Still on the Ballot

By Jim Ellis

Democrat-Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Democrat-Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

July 16, 2018 — As has been extensively covered in the national media, Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez upset 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens) in the June 26 New York federal primary, but the winner is now claiming the defeated congressman may still oppose her in the general election.

As we detailed in our own report about the 14th Congressional District result, Rep. Crowley could still force a general election campaign because he became the Working Families Party nominee on the same night that he was losing the Democratic Party nomination. Under New York election law, candidates may simultaneously appear on the ballot as the nominee of more than one party.

The congressman, however, still maintains that he is not running but simultaneously has refused to resign from the WFP line — even when the party leadership asked him to do so.

Ocasio-Cortez is accusing the congressman of launching a minor party general election effort because he has, according to her, refused to follow through on scheduled calls to discuss his support for her despite his public comments to the contrary. Crowley said, via Twitter, that it is Ocasio-Cortez’s people who have “not followed through,” with scheduling the appointments.

Swept up in the national media coverage that has engulfed her since denying Rep. Crowley re-nomination, Ocasio-Cortez is already moving onto the national stage and still challenging the party establishment. She has already dispersed staff members to Delaware to help US Senate candidate Kerri Harris who is challenging Sen. Tom Carper in the Sept. 6 Democratic primary. She is doing the same for Bernie Sanders activist Brent Welder, one of the far left candidates hoping for the chance to unseat GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder in Kansas.

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Gauging the Enthusiasm Gap

By Jim Ellis

i-vote-i-countJuly 13, 2018 — Much has been written over the past few elections cycles about voting enthusiasm and whether it is a predictive political factor. It has been seemingly apparent that the party members most interested in participating in an election, most particularly for a midterm or special election vote, generally see its candidates enjoy the greater success.

Yesterday, we looked at the extensive just-released Survey Monkey-Axios Media data that covered 13 US Senate races. The combined number of states also hosts a minimum of 15 competitive US House races. To re-cap, while the Survey Monkey analysts posted results under various turnout models in each of the tested states, it generally became clear about which candidate has the current advantage from the Senate contests in question.

Democrats were performing well in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions, where incumbents in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and West Virginia all held substantial leads over their Republican opponents.

The GOP held the upper hand in Indiana and North Dakota challenge races. In the South, Republican Gov. Rick Scott looks to be topping Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, and US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has opened a substantial lead over Tennessee former Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Turning to the West, Democrats are moving ahead in both Arizona and Nevada and securely lead in Montana.

The Missouri contest between Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) stretches from a five-point Democratic lead all the way to a five-point Republican advantage depending upon the turnout model.

The Survey Monkey pollsters tested voter enthusiasm in all 13 states. They asked the following question:

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US Senate: 13 Telling Polls

By Jim Ellis

capitolJuly 12, 2018 — The Survey Monkey organization polling for the Axios Media news and information website went into the field during the June 11 – July 2 period to test US Senate campaigns in 13 different states. All of the most competitive races were studied, including the 10 Trump states where a Democratic senator is standing for re-election this year.

The cumulative result actually brings some good news to both parties, but Republicans fare better because the representative predictive models suggest the GOP is in position for a net gain of at least one seat even while falling behind in their two key defense states of Arizona and Nevada.

Though the survey sampling period is long, the three-week time frame is the period consumed to survey all 13 states. Survey Monkey begins with a regular sampling universe of 3,000,000 individuals who have agreed to participate in their polls. For this project, 12,677 registered voters participated from a high of 1,280 in Arizona to a low of 457 from North Dakota. The sample size in the largest state tested, Florida, was 1,080. All of the surveys were weighted to reflect the demographic and political trend history for each state. The polling error factor for each place ranged between 4.5 and 5.5 for all states but North Dakota. In the latter, the error factor was 7.5.

There are several bright spots for both parties. Democrats fare better on the question of voter enthusiasm, which is consistent with data results recorded in virtually every poll conducted over the past year. Regarding intent to vote across the board in these Survey Monkey polls, however, both parties record about equal numbers. Overall, President Trump’s job approval scores have greatly improved. Looking at the combined 13-state universe, the president scored a 50:49 percent job approval ratio, going from a high of 60:39 percent in Tennessee to a low of 44:55 percent in Pennsylvania. But, even his lowest rating is an improvement from where he stood earlier in the election cycle.

According to the SM numbers, Democrats are in position to convert both the Arizona and Nevada races. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) leads all three individuals competing in the Republican primary. Her strongest opponent, unsurprisingly, is US Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson). In the various modeling scenarios, Sinema posts leads of between one and six percentage points over Rep. McSally and far greater margins over the other two GOP candidates.

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Supreme Politics

By Jim Ellis

July 11, 2018 — President Donald Trump’s choice of US Circuit Judge of the DC Court of Appeals Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will likely fundamentally change the 2018 Senate election cycle.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh at the White House, where President Trump nominated him to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. | C-SPAN

Judge Brett Kavanaugh speaks at the White House, where President Trump announced Monday that Kavanaugh would be his nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. | C-SPAN

With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) already publicly indicating that he is planning to keep the Senate working through August, the Supreme Court confirmation process now guarantees such will happen. With majority Republicans having leverage over the confirmation hearings and vote schedule, we can expect a great deal of politics will be accompanying the legal rhetoric that awaits us during the remaining summer months.

The Senate political map helps Judge Kavanaugh in his confirmation battle. Both sides will mount crushing pressure on those members perceived as swing votes, and the eventual targets will be backed into such a position where it will be impossible to avoid political damage once their eventual vote is cast. The three Democrats who supported Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch when he was confirmed on April 7, 2017 are:

  • Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
  • Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)

The three will naturally be the top targets for this confirmation battle, and there is a strong chance that each will also vote for Judge Kavanaugh. Already trapped in tough re-election battles, these senators will be hard-pressed by both sides pushing them to vote for or against Kavanaugh; but considering their respective states voted for President Trump in margins of 19 (IN), 36 (ND), and 43 (WV) percentage points suggests the density of pressure to support the nominee will overwhelm the opposition.

After last night’s announcement, Sen. Manchin issued a statement saying he is particularly interested about Judge Kavanaugh’s position on healthcare issues, especially those affecting people with pre-existing conditions as they relate to healthcare insurance coverage. Sen. Manchin says over 800,000 people in his state of West Virginia fall into this category.

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Opposing Florida Gubernatorial
Candidates Both Ahead by 17 Points …

By Jim Ellis

Florida state Agriculture Commissioner and former US Congressman Adam Putnam (left) -- ahead by 17 percent; US Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach) leading by 17 percent

Florida state Agriculture Commissioner and former US Congressman Adam Putnam (left) — ahead by 17 percent according to polling; US Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach) — also ahead by 17 percent

July 10, 2018 — It’s not particularly unusual to find a political race where different pollsters see separate leaders in an election contest, but the open Florida Republican primary governor’s campaign may be setting a new standard.

As Ryan Nichol of the Florida Politics Blog reports, a new Remington Research poll (July 2-5; 2,900 likely Florida Republican primary voters via automated response) finds US Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach) leading state Agriculture Commissioner and former US Congressman Adam Putnam 43-26 percent in the upcoming open Aug. 28 Republican primary.

What’s unusual about this survey conducted for the Tenth Amendment Project, a group supporting DeSantis, is that the result provides the opposite margin when compared to two other recent independent news organization political polls that both project Putnam to be substantially ahead — one of which by the same 17-point spread that Remington sees for DeSantis. Another poll posts the Putnam advantage at 15 percentage points.

Marist College, conducting their poll for NBC News (June 17-21; 1,083 Florida adults, 947 registered Florida voters, 326 likely Florida Republican primary voters, 344 likely Florida Democratic primary voters via live telephone interviews), found Putnam’s edge to be 38-21 percent, which is similar to the Fox News survey (Anderson Roberts Research [D] and Shaw & Company Research [R]; June 15-19; 901 likely Florida Republican primary voters via live telephone interview) that forecast Putnam leading 32-17 percent.

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Recapping the US House Open Seats — Part II: Nevada Through West Virginia

By Jim Ellis

the-primariesJuly 9, 2018 — With the election of Republican Michael Cloud (R-Victoria) to fill the vacant southeast Texas district (TX-27; Farenthold resignation) the total number of open House seats was reduced from 65 to 64. Within that group, 42 seats are currently Republican held, 21 are Democratic; one seat is new, created by Pennsylvania redistricting and left open when Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) decided to run in a paired incumbent race with Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) instead of opting for the new Republican-dominated western Pennsylvania CD-14.

Among the 63 House members who have either passed away, resigned, lost their primaries, or are not seeking re-election, 23 chose to run for another office. Some of their political fates are decided, while others remain active campaigners. We we’ll look at those who became candidates for other offices and report on their current status. On Friday we examined Arizona through Minnesota. Today we’ll review Nevada through West Virginia.

NEVADA (NV-3): Freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) is skipping her first re-election campaign and instead enters the US Senate contest to challenge Sen. Dean Heller (R). Both she and Sen. Heller easily won their respective party nominations on June 12. The latest Gravis Marketing poll gave Rosen a 45-41 percent general election lead. The Senate race is expected to remain as a toss-up campaign all the way to Election Day.


NEW MEXICO (NM-1 & 2): Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) and Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs) oppose each other in the open governor’s race after both became their respective party nominees on June 5. The first two post-primary polls staked Grisham to leads between 9-13 percentage points.


NORTH DAKOTA (ND-AL): After Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) announced he would seek re-election, he suddenly decided to change course and pivoted into a Senate challenge against incumbent Heidi Heitkamp (D). Both won unanimous party convention support, which paved the way for easy June 5 nomination victories. The first post-primary poll actually places Rep. Cramer three points ahead of Sen. Heitkamp in what promises to be a hard-fought general election.


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Recapping the US House Open Seats — Part I: Arizona through Minnesota

By Jim Ellis

the-primariesJuly 6, 2018 — Last Saturday’s election of Republican Michael Cloud (R-Victoria) to fill the vacant southeast Texas district (TX-27; Farenthold resignation) reduced the total number of open House seats from 65 to 64. Within that group, 42 seats are currently Republican held, 21 are Democratic; one seat is new, created by Pennsylvania redistricting and left open when Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) decided to run in a paired incumbent race with Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) instead of opting for the new Republican-dominated western Pennsylvania CD-14.

Among the 63 House members who have either passed away, resigned, lost their primaries, or are not seeking re-election, 23 chose to run for another office. Some of their political fates are decided, while others remain active campaigners. We we’ll look at those who became candidates for other offices and report on their current status. Today we’ll examine Arizona through Minnesota. On Monday we’ll review Nevada through West Virginia.

Arizona 2 & 9: Reps. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) are both running for the Senate and may oppose each other in the open general election. Rep. McSally is engaged in a three-way Republican primary that will be decided on Aug. 28. Rep. Sinema is the consensus Democratic Senate nominee. Polling shows McSally as the favorite to win the Republican nomination. Early general election pairings find Sinema leading the race from 7-11 points.


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California Poll Shows Nunes-Janz
Race As Being Competitive

By Jim Ellis
ca-22-devin-nunes-california-map
July 5, 2018
— A new Public Policy Polling survey conducted for the liberal group, End Citizens United (June 22-24; 632 registered California voters) of the race in CA-22, finds Democratic challenger Andrew Janz closing the gap between he and veteran Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare/ Fresno) as the pair advance toward the November general election. According to the PPP results, Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who is leading the House oversight of the Justice Department’s Russia campaign collusion investigation, leads Janz, 49-41 percent.

The poll suggests that Janz, an attorney and first-time candidate who had already raised over $1.8 million through the middle of May, is competitive in the central California congressional district. However, as we look more closely at the poll, it is also important to note that the sponsoring organization, End Citizens United, is in no way supportive of Rep. Nunes, could be a vehicle for an independent expenditure supporting Janz, and we see that push questions were offered in order to form a specific conclusion.

After the initial ballot test question was asked, if the reported questionnaire order was, in fact, how the queries were presented to the individual 22nd District respondents, a series of statements were recited to the respondents that cast negative aspersions over Rep. Nunes accepting campaign contributions from “corporate special interests,” and saying that Janz will accept no such money.

The actual verbiage is as follows: “Andrew Janz is not taking any money from corporate special interests. His campaign is primarily funded by real people. If elected, Andrew Janz will work for the people of the Central Valley, not special interests in Washington. Devin Nunes has accepted over $600,000 in corporate PAC money and voted to give corporations a massive tax cut while raising taxes on thousands of Central Valley families. Having heard this, let me ask you again: The candidates for Congress this November are Democrat Andrew Janz and Republican Devin Nunes. If the election was today, who would you vote for?”

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New Nevada Poll Numbers Are Mixed

By Jim Ellis

Nevada-mapJuly 3, 2018 — Gravis Marketing released their latest Nevada statewide poll (June 23-26; 630 likely Nevada voters “using an online panel of cell phone users and interactive voice responses”), and the findings provide some uptakes for both political parties.

According to the Gravis results, Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) assumes a 45-41 percent lead over Sen. Dean Heller (R) in the critical US Senate race, while Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt edges Democratic Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, 43-41 percent in the open governor’s race.

We see mixed results throughout the poll on the underlying questions, thus leading one to believe that the two key Nevada campaigns are pure toss-ups.

Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) continues to post approval ratings that make him the most popular public official in the state. The Gravis favorability index posts the governor at 62:29 percent positive to negative. President Trump, not surprisingly from a state that he lost 48-45 percent, has a 43:53 percent upside-down job approval ratio. Interestingly, however, his approval numbers among Hispanics are dead even, with 46favorability approving of his job performance and an additional 46favorability disapproving. His numbers among White/Caucasian respondents are similar to what is found among Hispanics, 49:50favorability.

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Examining The Tuesday Turnout

By Jim Ellis

the-primariesJune 29, 2018 — In continuing the effort to monitor primary turnout as a potential indicator of how the general election may unfold and whether a Democratic wave is forming, today we examine the preliminary participation numbers from the June 26 primaries.

Previously, in the 26 states where primaries were held, it appears that a normal turnout pattern had developed. Generally, more Democrats were voting in the states that typically vote Democratic, while more Republicans participated in those places where Republican candidates win the greater number of offices. In the five pure primary (non-run-off) states that held primaries on Tuesday, such a pattern continued. Utah was not included in the following analysis because the state did not feature any political contest where both Democrats and Republicans held a primary vote.

Democrats decisively turned out more people in Maryland (the Senate Democratic primary attracted 560,477 votes while the Republicans only produced 169,047), as one would expect, since the Free State is one of the strongest Democratic entities in the country. Conversely, more Republicans than Democrats voted in the Oklahoma primary (452,194 to 395,038 in the gubernatorial race), and that ratio, too, was anticipated.

Colorado, generally considered a swing state but one moving toward the Democrats in most elections, again saw more Democrats participating in Tuesday’s election. In the open governor’s race, 627,839 Democrats voted in the gubernatorial primary as compared to 493,445 Republicans. Once more, these numbers are predictable and represent a rather normal voter turnout pattern.

While talk of a “blue wave” continues and polls continue to show that more Democrats are interested and enthused about the coming midterm elections in the fall, such is not apparent in actual voting behavior within the two largest and most prolific Democratic states. In California, as we previously reported, while more Democrats than Republicans voted in the statewide jungle primary, in the seven targeted congressional districts more people voted for Republican candidates in six of those seven.

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Critical NJ Race in Toss-Up Mode

By Jim Ellis

Navy veteran and attorney, Mikie Sherrill

Navy veteran and attorney, Mikie Sherrill (D) | Photo from campaign ad

June 28, 2018 — Democrats have high hopes of converting a northern New Jersey seat that has only elected Republicans during the past 34 years, and a new Monmouth University poll (June 22-25; 406 NJ-11 registered voters) projects a toss-up 11th District contest. The two major party nominees, chosen in early June, are state Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morristown) and attorney and Navy veteran Mikie Sherrill (D).

Monmouth polling is experimenting with new sampling methods that involve three different turnout projection models. Their full sample, or “potential” voter model is one that tests only people who have voted in at least one election since 2010 or who are newly registered voters. The second model is what they term a “standard midterm” sample, and the third is in place to monitor a “Democratic surge,” if such were to develop.

The latter phrase has been used frequently in polling and in political commentaries, but there is little evidence of a substantial increase in Democratic primary voting from most states. At this point, national turnout models based solely upon 2018 primary voter turnout suggest a pattern that is closely aligned with a typical midterm performance. So far, more Democrats have been voting in states that normally vote Democratic, and more Republicans are participating in places where GOP candidates dominate.

New Jersey state Assemblyman Jay Webber (R) | Photo from campaign ad

New Jersey state Assemblyman Jay Webber (R) | Photo from campaign ad

According to the full sample model, Democrat Sherrill leads Republican Webber by a scant 40-38 percent. Under the typical midterm model, the Democratic advantage increases to four points, 44-40 percent, but is still within the polling margin of error. Under their potential “Democratic surge” model, which may well prove illusionary when actual votes are counted, Sherrill increases her advantage to 45-39 percent.

The sample is weighted, but the draw does include more Independent voters (plus-three percent) than the raw percentage district total, and is four points less Democratic. But, the weighting formula is supposed to neutralize such discrepancies.

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