Category Archives: Polling

Graham Getting Close

(Former South Carolina state Democratic Party chairman, Jaime Harrison’s negative ad on opponent Sen. Lindsey Graham (R))

By Jim Ellis

March 27, 2020 — A new statewide South Carolina political survey finds Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) falling into a surprisingly close race with former state Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison. According to the Brilliant Corners Research and Strategies firm (March 3-11; 804 likely South Carolina general election voters), Sen. Graham’s lead over Harrison has dwindled to just 47-44 percent.

Several points about this survey. First, the Brilliant Corners operation is a relatively new firm, one that we are only seeing for the first time, and the entity doesn’t even have a reliability rating from the FiveThirtyEight statistical operation that evaluates all polling firms. Therefore, little exists with which to compare their work. Second, this poll is not in line with other published data and, third, the survey was already two weeks old before publishing.

The other two surveys released this year both give Sen. Graham double digit polling margins. East Carolina University went into the field in early February (Jan. 31-Feb. 2; 1,756 registered South Carolina voters) and projected the senator to be holding a 51-38 percent lead over Harrison. NBC News/Marist College followed a couple of weeks later (Feb. 18-21; 2,382 registered South Carolina voters) and found a similar ballot test result, 54-37 percent, in the senator’s favor.

On the other hand, the national Democrats believe this is a sleeper race for them, and based upon Harrison’s prolific fundraising, they might be right. At year’s end, Harrison had raised an impressive $7.6 million with no candidate investment. That amount cost a fair amount to raise, however, as he was left with $4.7 million in his account to begin the election year.

This is a far cry from the gross amount obtained, but is still more than enough to already run a credible campaign effort in a smaller state with inexpensive media markets. Accounting for likely outside spending and considerably more that Harrison will raise, the South Carolina Senate campaign could become an “A” level race in terms of competitive effort.

Continue reading

CA-25: Pondering Questions

By Jim Ellis

California Congressional District 25

March 24, 2020 — Political observers are asking many questions about the special election in California’s 25th Congressional District, the seat that former Rep. Katie Hill (D) resigned late last year, particularly after seeing a new ballot test poll enter the public domain.

In the special California primary held on March 3, a dozen candidates, six Democrats and six Republicans, battled one another either to secure majority support or one of two runoff positions for the May 12 runoff vote. Under California election law, if a candidate attracts majority support, the individual would be elected outright to serve the balance of the current term. If not, the top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, advance to a runoff election. It is the latter scenario that occurred here.

In addition to the special election, a second vote was held on March 3 for the regular succeeding term. In this contest, 13 candidates were on the ballot, the 12 aforementioned contenders along with Independent Otis Lee Cooper.

Not surprisingly, the two individuals finishing first in the special election also qualified for the general election. They are: freshman state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall) and defense contractor and Iraq War veteran Mike Garcia (R). The election totals in the two contests are somewhat different, however.

The final totals are still not tabulated. According to the Secretary of State’s office, 313,739 ballots statewide remain uncounted with virtually no progress being made last week. In the 25th District, approximately 5,500 votes await counting in order to be added to the published totals. The final tabulation will not change the first- and second-place finisher status, however.

Interestingly, despite the special and regular vote being held at the same time and on the same ballot, almost 4,000 more people voted in the special election than in the regular primary. Percentage-wise, approximately 39 percent of the district’s registered voters cast a ballot in the special while 38 percent did so for the regular primary. Statewide, the turnout measured just under 45 percent of the registered voters for the regular primary that included a contested Super Tuesday presidential vote.

Continue reading

Montana’s Competitive Races

By Jim Ellis

Montana

March 23, 2020 — Today, Montana has the reputation of being a Republican state, and GOP candidates have won more races here than their Democratic counterparts of late, but the latter party is far from moribund in Big Sky Country. As an at-large political domain with a sizable number of statewide offices, Democrats have had plenty of opportunities to win.

Montana holds its major statewide races in the presidential election year as opposed to the mid-term. In the state’s seven major statewide offices, Republicans currently enjoy a 5-2 edge, though Democrats hold the governorship and a US Senate office. In the 2012 election, however, the outcome was completely reversed as Democrats took five of the same seven positions.

With this background, a just-released research survey from Public Policy Polling (March 12-13; 903 registered Montana voters) tested a newly formed US Senate race between first-term Sen. Steve Daines (R) and Gov. Steve Bullock (D), along with the open at-large congressional contest. Both parties have contested primaries for the House, but state auditor and former US Senate nominee Matt Rosendale (R) and former state representative and 2018 congressional nominee Kathleen Williams (D) appear to be the favorites to win their respective party nominations.

The state is also hosting an open governor’s race, but the PPP poll did not test that campaign. The progressive left group End Citizens United sponsored the Public Policy Polling survey, and they sampled a universe that contained 37 percent self-identified Republicans, 32 percent Democrats, and 31 percent who describe themselves as Independents. It’s difficult to compare this sampling universe with the actual state electorate because Montana does not have party registration and the state features an open primary system.

That being said, the ballot test finds Sen. Daines and Gov. Bullock locked in a 47-47 percent tie, with an almost identical conclusion for a hypothetical pairing between Rosendale and Williams (45-45 percent).

Continue reading

Biden Poised to Have Potentially Defining Day in Today’s Primaries

Former VP Joe Biden

By Jim Ellis

March 10, 2020 — During the early prognostication phase regarding the Democratic presidential nomination campaign, the two most important primary dates appeared to be March 3, Super Tuesday, and March 17. The latter date is important because more than 60 percent of the first ballot would be locked into place once St. Patrick’s Day voting ends.

That actually may not now be the case, however. Rather, the clinching primaries may be today.

The March 10 elections, featuring six states, haven’t attracted much attention, but the half-dozen results tonight could be the defining moment for coalescing around a new nominee.

Looking at today’s voting in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Washington, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) looks to have his back up against the wall. It would be hard to see him continuing in viable fashion if he fails to win all of the day’s northern states, and particularly Michigan, which has 125 first-ballot bound delegates.

Late polling, however, is suggesting that former vice president Joe Biden may sweep the six states, and that might be what he needs to at least unofficially clinch the party nomination.

Three late Michigan surveys, from a place where Sen. Sanders held the lead over the Democratic field and slipped past Hillary Clinton in 2016, 50-48 percent, suggest the electorate is now turning toward Biden in a big way. In fact, the Target Insyght poll taken on Sunday, typically not a good polling day, through an automated voice response system (March 8; 600 likely Michigan Democratic primary voters) finds Biden outpacing Sen. Sanders by 41 percentage points, a breathtaking turnaround from pre-Super Tuesday research studies. The TI result finds the Biden split over Sanders at 65-24 percent.

Others don’t show this level of separation, but they are projecting Biden to be developing a substantial advantage. YouGov (March 6-8; sample size not disclosed) finds the Biden margin to be 54-42 percent. Monmouth University (March 5-8; 411 likely Michigan Democratic primary voters) sees a 15-point Biden advantage, 51-36 percent. Michigan-based pollster EPIC-MRA (March 4-6; 400 likely Michigan Democratic primary voters) finds a similar 51-27 percent. All suggest a big Wolverine State night for Biden, the exact opposite of what Sen. Sanders needs to rebound.

Continue reading

With Warren Out, Projecting
the Future Trajectory of
the Democratic Candidacy

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 6, 2020 — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) yesterday announced that she was suspending her presidential campaign, which became an eventuality when she finished third in her home state primary last Tuesday. Her exit helps evolve the Democratic presidential contest into a two-way affair.

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Can Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) win a two-person race when starting behind in the delegate count?

With political endorsements regularly being announced for former vice president Joe Biden during the post-Super Tuesday period, and momentum clearly behind his reinvigorated campaign, Sen. Sanders appears to have his political back against the figurative wall.

Currently, the unofficial delegate standing according to The Green Papers statistical website, a group that fully extrapolates the count in conjunction with Democratic National Committee apportionment rules, projects Biden to hold 656 bound first-delegate votes as compared to Sanders’ 584, an obvious difference of 72, which is a much better position than the media is currently portraying.

The March 10 primaries, which have not received much attention to date largely because most of the six states voting are relatively small, will become very important. Combined, the states possess a total of 352 bound first-ballot delegates led by Michigan’s 125 votes. The other states are Idaho (20 delegates), Mississippi (36), Missouri (68), North Dakota (14), and Washington (89).

From a national perspective, Sen. Sanders may well be in a position of having to score first-place finishes in four of these states. In the remaining two, Mississippi and Missouri, Biden has run strong in their region so there is little reason to believe that Sen. Sanders will be particularly competitive in either state.

The Vermont lawmaker has done well in traditionally Republican states among Democratic voters, so his chances in small Idaho and North Dakota should be strong.

Continue reading