Category Archives: Primary

Candidate Filings Completed in Battleground State of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 21, 2020 — While the Democratic presidential debate of a couple nights ago is getting most of the political news coverage, Democrats and Republicans completed their filings to run for office in one of the country’s major political battlegrounds, the Keystone State of Pennsylvania.

While the state will be one of the most important in the presidential race, it also yields a significant political playing field for the House of Representatives. There is no Senate or gubernatorial election in Pennsylvania this year.

From their 18 House districts, we see only three incumbents drawing primary opposition, and only one of the intra-party challengers appears credible. The state primary is April 28.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) has one primary challenger, investment company executive Andrew Meehan, but he had raised only $35,000 through the end of last year. It is assumed that Meehan has personal wealth, but whether or not he invests in his own long-shot campaign is as yet unknown.

Freshman Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Swarthmore) draws Democratic opposition from businessman Lou Lanni, but he does not appear politically credible. Raising only $8,000 through the end of last year, Lanni is not running a competitive campaign. With little to fear from Republicans in this district, Rep. Scanlon appears to have an easy run for her first re-election.

The most interesting primary likely lies in Pittsburgh. Veteran Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pittsburgh) faces two Democratic opponents, one of whom looks credible. While pastor Janis Brooks does not appear to be a competitive primary contender, attorney Gerald Dickinson, on the other hand, had already raised $173,000 at the end of the year, all from individual contributors. It is still very doubtful that Rep. Doyle will be denied re-nomination, but this is the one primary campaign to watch for a developing challenge.

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Special Election Nominees Chosen
In WI-7: Tiffany (R), Zunker (D)

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 20, 2020 — Wisconsin Republican state Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) and Wausau School Board member Tricia Zunker (D) won their respective party primaries Tuesday night and now head to the special general election scheduled for May 12. The winner of the succeeding contest replaces resigned Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau) in WI-7 who departed Congress earlier in the year for family reasons.

Sen. Tiffany recorded a 57-43 percent win over Army veteran Jason Church who was previously a staff member for Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). Church, who lost both legs in Afghanistan, made military service the centerpiece of his campaign. Sen. Tiffany was originally elected to the state assembly in 2010. He won his state Senate seat in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016.

Zunker was an easy winner on the Democratic side, amassing a landslide 89-11 percent victory margin in a race where she became the obvious consensus candidate early in the process.

Sen. Tiffany now becomes the heavy favorite to win the seat in May. The northern Wisconsin region has transformed into a dependable Republican area after this district laid in Democratic hands from early 1969 all the way to the beginning of 2011 in the person of former House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey.

Over his five elections here, Rep. Duffy averaged 57.9 percent of the vote. President Trump carried the 7th with a 58-37 percent majority, which was a substantial upgrade over Mitt Romney’s 51-48 percent performance. The Republican trend has clearly grown as the decade progressed.

Turnout in the primary election greatly favored the Republican candidates. When the final count is tabulated, the combined GOP participation factor looks to be well over 76,000 as compared to the Democratic total of just over 40,000 votes. The turnout ratio is another factor that provides Sen. Tiffany with a major advantage heading into the special general election.

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Sessions in Trouble

By Jim Ellis

Former US attorney general and Alabama senator, Jeff Sessions (R)

Feb. 13, 2020 — Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy conducted a new poll (Feb. 4-6; 400 likely Alabama Republican primary voters) of the Alabama Senate race and though former US attorney general and ex-Alabama senator, Jeff Sessions, still leads in what is a tightening Republican primary, peeling away the underlying data suggests that he could find rough going in an inevitable run-off election.

The M-D results find Sessions leading only 31-29 percent over former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) trails with 17 percent, but well ahead of former Alabama Supreme Court chief judge and 2017 special election Senate nominee Roy Moore who posts just five percent support.

Sessions’ numbers have declined significantly since he entered the race, obviously suggesting a downward trend pointing to a more serious situation when further seeing that his name identification is universal.

With a significant double-digit margin between the top two poll finishers and Rep. Byrne, it becomes highly likely that both Sessions and Tuberville would advance to a run-off election. Neither is positioned to win the nomination outright, however. With Sessions nowhere close to a majority and, after considering his long political history in the state and 100% name identification among Republican primary voters and his current tepid ballot test numbers, it would not be surprising to see Tuberville overtake him in a one-on-one battle.

Another clue that Sessions has political problems is his favorability index as detected in the Mason-Dixon poll. According to their cell responses, Sessions carries a 49:18 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio among Republican primary voters, which looks positive on the surface, but after overlaying the pervasive name ID percentage it becomes clear that half of the respondents fail to have a positive impression.

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Sanders, Buttigieg, Klobuchar

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 12, 2020 — At the beginning of this presidential campaign, the odds would have been very long to bet that neither former VP Joe Biden nor Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren would earn bound delegate votes from the nation’s first primary in New Hampshire, but that is exactly what happened last night.

All night long, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former mayor, Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) placed first, second, and third, and with all three of these contenders easily exceeding the 15 percent delegate apportionment threshold in both the at-large vote and in the two congressional districts, it is they who split the state’s 24 first ballot delegates.

Sen. Sanders ran just under 26 percent in first position, while Buttigieg was close behind with just over 24 percent, and Sen. Klobuchar hovered consistently around the 20 percent mark throughout the evening. Sen. Warren fell just short of 10 percent while Biden, who for most of the early campaign cycle was polling near the top of the candidate heap, dropped all the way to fifth place recording just about 8.5 percent of the vote.

While this is a crushing performance for both Warren and Biden, it is actually worse for the Massachusetts senator. Biden still has a base in the southern states and with so few delegates being chosen in Iowa and New Hampshire – 65 total from a 3,979 first ballot universe – he can easily soar to the top with a string of southern state victories on Super Tuesday.

Sen. Warren, on the other hand, has what now appears to be few opportunities for wins. Her home state of Massachusetts is on the Super Tuesday calendar and has 91 first-ballot delegates, but her performance in the interim will have to improve to make her competitive even there. The next state, Nevada, must become a point of emphasis for her to show viability because she has never demonstrated significant polling strength in the south.

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New Hampshire Primary Today

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 11, 2020 — At long last, the New Hampshire nomination election has arrived, and voters have already begun casting their ballots in what is often referred to as the “first in the nation primary.” The initial state in a line of 48 primaries (the other nine states and territories have caucuses), just how important is today’s vote in determining who wins the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination?

Considering the split Iowa vote where it appears that five different candidates will be awarded a certain number of first-ballot national convention delegate votes ranging from 14 to one, New Hampshire’s 24 aggregate delegates will not likely alter the current race trajectory; therefore, multiple candidates will still be battling through Nevada and South Carolina before Super Tuesday with no one having a clear early path to majority support.

First-ballot victory at the Democratic National Convention in July can only come when one candidate top 50 percent of delegate support. Therefore, regardless of the importance media analysts attempt to assign this New Hampshire race in terms of a momentum boost, it is the delegate numbers that will still tell the story.

Coming from Iowa, former South Bend mayor, Pete Buttigieg, looks to earn 14 delegates with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) close behind with 12. Now, Sen. Sanders’ team is requesting a partial recount in Iowa that might earn him an extra delegate or two, but it is doubtful the Iowa Democratic Party, with a party leadership still reeling over the vote counting debacle, will grant their request.

Continuing the projected delegate apportionment, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) would earn eight bound delegate votes, former vice president, Joe Biden six, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, one.

Polling suggests that Sen. Sanders will place first tonight, but several candidates look to break the 15 percent threshold to also qualify for bound delegate votes. Polling finds scenarios where Buttigieg, Warren, Biden, and even Klobuchar will surpass the minimum threshold, though it is unlikely that all will do so. In fact, with Biden’s early support evaporating before our eyes, it is possible that he will fall short of 15 percent tonight meaning that he would be shut out of delegate votes. Though Sen. Klobuchar appears to be closing fast, it is also likely that she finishes under 15 percent.

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