Category Archives: House

North Carolina Polling Review:
Under-Estimating the GOP Vote

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 13, 2019 — The recent North Carolina special elections’ polling appears slightly flawed, containing a pattern that came to the forefront in the previous presidential race. The weakness: under-estimating the Republican vote. Doing so became a major discussion point within the research community after they cumulatively missed the 2016 Trump-Clinton race but did not regularly appear in most of the subsequent midterm campaigns.

In the two North Carolina special elections that were decided on Tuesday night, the winning Republican candidates exceeded the published polling projections. The same pattern also occurred in Pennsylvania back in late May when Rep. Fred Keller (R-Middleburg), while predicted to win comfortably, garnered a considerably larger vote percentage than projected when he scored a 68 percent special election victory.

Four different polls were publicly released during the week preceding Tuesday’s North Carolina elections. Only RRH Elections sampled the 3rd District and tested the eventual winner, state Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville), against former Greenville mayor, Allen Thomas. The polling result projected Murphy to a 51-40 percent lead. He won 62-37 percent, meaning RRH under-estimated Murphy’s strength and over-estimated Thomas’.

The survey was conducted during the Aug. 26-28 period, two full weeks before the election, which means the situation on the ground could have certainly changed during the intervening time between the poll and the vote. Advertising was heavy during the campaign’s final two weeks, and the survey could not account for which campaign would be more adept at turning out its vote.

Three polls, from three different survey research firms, were released for the more competitive 9th CD at irregular times, and here RRH was the closest to the actual result. Their study was also conducted over the Aug 26-28 period, and it correctly forecast a close Dan Bishop win. At the time, RRH saw a 46-45 percent spread in favor of Bishop over Democrat Dan McCready, and the actual result was 50.7 – 48.7 percent.

Harper Polling, also testing during the same Aug. 26-28 span, missed. They projected McCready to be holding a five point, 51-46 percent advantage. At the time, we mentioned that their sample contained 56 percent female respondents, which could have been a major reason for the Democratic skew.

The final poll from a lesser known firm, co/efficient, also came very close to the actual result, projecting a 44 percent tie between the two candidates over a much later Sept. 5-6 period, but this result may have come through happenstance.

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Republicans Sweep the North Carolina Special Elections

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 12, 2019 — Republican special election candidates Greg Murphy and Dan Bishop won their respective congressional campaigns Tuesday night in different parts of North Carolina.

North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District

Murphy, a state representative from Greenville, was an easy winner in the 3rd District, as expected. He recorded a 62-37 percent win over former Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas (D) in taking 16 of the district’s 17 counties and falling in Hyde County by just 43 votes. Rep-Elect Murphy now replaces the late congressman, Walter Jones (R-Farmville), who passed away in February.

For the special election, 113,607 individuals cast their ballots, some 40 percent fewer than the number voting in the 2018 regular election even though Rep. Jones was unopposed. In the presidential election year of 2016, congressional race turnout exceeded 323,000 voters.

North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District

The hotly contested election occurred to the southwest in the 9th District, the seat left vacant all year because the 2018 result was never certified because of voter fraud allegations in Bladen County. Today, the district finally has a new representative. Bishop, a state senator from Charlotte, slipped past Democratic businessman Dan McCready despite being outspent $5 million to $2 million — though the outside group spending, particularly from the National Republican Congressional Committee, added at least another $2 million to the Bishop support effort.

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NC Special Elections Decided Today

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District

Sept. 10, 2019 — Voters in eastern and south-central North Carolina will go to the polls today to fill the state’s two vacant congressional seats. The 3rd Congressional District is open because Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville) passed away in February. The 9th District will finally get a representative after going vacant for this entire Congress. As we remember, the 2018 electoral result was not certified due to voter fraud allegations; hence, the calling of this new election.

North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District

The 3rd District, which includes the Outer Banks area that Hurricane Dorian recently hit, hosts the cities of Jacksonville, New Bern, and part of Greenville within the 17-county region. It should remain in Republican hands. The seat has performed strongly for the GOP, including a 60-37 percent win for President Trump in 2016. Jones represented the district since his original election in 1994, when he unseated then-Rep. Martin Lancaster (D) in the Republican landslide of that year. Rep. Jones averaged 74.5 percent of the vote in the four elections of the present decade.

The Republican special election nominee, state Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville), is favored to defeat former Greenville mayor Allen Thomas, who won the Democratic nomination outright at the end of April. The latest available polling yielded a low double-digit lead for Murphy.

The 9th District begins in Charlotte, encompassing approximately 20 percent of Mecklenburg County, and continues to annex Union – the most Republican county and largest population entity – Robeson, Richmond, Scotland, and Anson counties along with parts of Cumberland and Bladen. The final county, Bladen, was the site of the voter fraud allegations in the last regular election.

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Three More to Retire From Congress

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 6, 2019 — Yet another Texas Republican House member has decided not to seek re-election next year, but additionally, two representatives from other states, including the second-longest serving member and a 20-year Democratic congresswoman, also made similar announcements late Wednesday.

In Texas, five-term Rep. Bill Flores (R-Bryan) becomes the fifth Lone Star State GOP congressman to voluntarily end his congressional career. Veteran Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls), who was first elected in 1978 and is second in seniority only to Alaska Rep. Don Young (R-At-Large), also released a statement saying that he will not seek a 22nd term next year. And 10-term California Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) was the third to delcare retirement. She indicated it is time for her to again live full-time back in the Golden State.

Neither Flores, Sensenbrenner, nor Davis faced difficult re-election campaigns, so electoral politics is certainly not driving these decisions. In his five House victories, Flores averaged 64.8 percent of the vote, including obtaining 62 percent when he ousted veteran incumbent Chet Edwards (D-Waco) back in 2010. Rep. Sensenbrenner posted a 66.5 percent average over the last four elections, while Davis recorded a similar 64.1 percent mean during this decade’s elections.

All three of these districts should remain in the controlling party’s hands. President Trump carried TX-17 with a 56-39 percent margin, though that was down from Mitt Romney’s 60-38 percent victory spread four years earlier. Trump’s victory spread in WI-5 was 57-37 percent, but only 30-64.5 percent in CA-53.

The Central Texas district is home to eight whole counties and parts of four others. The seat has three population anchors, the Waco/McLennan County region, Bryan-College Station, the home of Texas A&M University, and the Pflugerville area of Travis County, just north of Austin. Crawford, Texas, the home site of former President George W. Bush’s ranch, is also found within the district confines and located west of Waco.

Sensenbrenner’s western Milwaukee largely suburban district contains all of Washington and Jefferson Counties, and parts of Waukesha, Milwaukee, Dodge, and Walworth Counties. In addition to what will be 42 years of service in the House at the end of his tenure, Rep. Sensenbrenner also spent four years in the Wisconsin state Senate.

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Rep. Shimkus to Retire

Illinois Rep. John Shimkus (R-Collinsville)

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 4, 2019 — Twelve-term Illinois Rep. John Shimkus (R-Collinsville), a key member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, announced over the Labor Day weekend that he will not seek re-election next year, becoming the latest GOP House member to join the increasing line of incumbents voluntarily not returning for the next Congress.

Rep. Shimkus’ retirement makes his IL-15 the 18th open House seat for the next election, including the two September 10th North Carolina special elections. Of this group, Republicans currently hold 14 of the 18 seats, with the vacant NC-9 — one of those currently in special election and the district that featured a disputed 2018 electoral result — previously in the GOP column as well.

Shimkus, in his written statement, said, “[A]s Illinois candidates begin to circulate petitions next week, now is the time for me to announce that I will not be seeking re-election.

“It has been the honor of my lifetime to be asked by the people of Illinois to represent them in our nation’s capital. Each day I have tried to do this as best as I possibly could, and my success lies squarely at the feet of my incredible staff in Illinois and Washington, DC.”

IL-15 is a safe Republican district. President Trump carried the seat, 71-24 percent, in 2016. Four years earlier, Mitt Romney’s margin was 64-34 percent, and John McCain won here 55-43 percent in 2008. Therefore, over the course of time, the 15th has become more Republican. In his four elections in this district configuration, Shimkus has averaged 78.6 percent of the general election vote.

The district is predominantly located in the eastern sector of the state, hugging the Indiana border and traveling due south all the way to Kentucky. It then stretches west to almost the other side of the state in order to annex the Collinsville area, an outer St. Louis metro area community where Shimkus resides.

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