Category Archives: Senate

Early Senate 2022 Previews:
Florida & North Carolina

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 14, 2021 — Regardless of how many in-cycle Senate seats – there are 34 in the 2022 election cycle – come into political play, we can count on seeing Florida and North Carolina once again hosting crucial battleground campaigns.

Florida is always consistent in their close vote totals, particularly when remembering the 2000 presidential campaign — and pollsters, while typically forecasting tight finishes, have often missed the outcomes. In fact, the cumulative polling community has predicted close Democratic victories in the last four key statewide elections: two presidential (2016 & 2020), one senatorial (2018), one gubernatorial (2018), and been wrong on each occasion.

Since 2016, inclusive, Florida has hosted eight statewide races with Republicans winning seven. Yet, their average cumulative vote percentage for these eight victorious campaigns was just 50.7 percent, with the high point being 52.0 percent (Sen. Marco Rubio-R, 2016). Democrats recorded the low winning total: 50.04 percent — 6,753 votes from 8,059,155 votes cast; agriculture commissioner, 2018; winner Nikki Fried (D) vs. Matt Caldwell (R). The aggregate average among the statewide contests in these three most recent election years is 50.7 – 47.9 percent in the GOP’s favor.

With this background, Sen. Rubio will presumably seek a third term next year against what will surely be a highly competitive Democratic opponent. At this point, most of the speculation surrounds two Democratic House members, neither of whom has closed the door on either running for the Senate or challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) as he seeks a second term.

Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) and Val Demings (D-Orlando) are the two most prominently mentioned prospective contenders, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see one run for Senate and the other for governor. It is less likely that we would see a primary developing between the pair in one of the races.

Other names being floated are Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg), who is always mentioned as a potential statewide candidate because he previously served both as attorney general and governor and lost two other statewide campaigns. Other potential contenders are Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) and former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Miami). The state’s lone Democratic office holder, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, is more often associated with running for governor as opposed to the Senate contest.

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2022 Senate Outlook

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 13, 2021 — Now that we know Democrats will have a bare 50-50 majority with the vice president breaking the tie, it’s an appropriate time to look ahead to the next election in order to see which party might have the initial advantage.

In an ironic bad news/good news scenario for Republicans, because the party lost the Georgia runoff elections and their majority, the GOP now has further winnable 2022 targets in order to attempt to regain the chamber advantage.

In the new election cycle, a total of 34 Senate seats will be on the ballot. Adding the 2020 final results, we see that 20 Republicans will be defending theirs seats in 2022 as compared with 14 Democrats. The ’22 cycle also includes two reruns from 2020 as both Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA), winners of special elections, will again be on the ballot in order to secure respective six-year terms.

Reviewing political voting trends for the past six years in each of these states reveals that now the Democrats actually have more senators seeking re-election (4-3) than Republicans where the four-year major statewide vote average is under 50 percent.

Averaging five data points: the partisan vote percent from the individual senator’s most recent election, the two presidential campaigns (2020 and 2016), the state’s other Senate election, and the most recent gubernatorial vote provides us a partisan mean average vote from the immediate past four-year period.

Doing so finds that Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly (AZ), Maggie Hassan (NH), Catherine Cortez Masto (NV), and Raphael Warnock (GA) see their party’s cumulative four-year average dropping under 50 percent.

Republicans have three such Senate situations. Sens. Pat Toomey (PA), Ron Johnson (WI), and Richard Burr (NC) all represent states where their party’s average vote total drops under the majority mark for the tested period. Already, Sens. Toomey and Burr have announced they will not seek re-election, leaving at least two of the Republicans’ three most vulnerable seats in an open situation.

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Definitive Georgia Data

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 12, 2021 — Now that the 159 county returns have been published for the Georgia Senate runoffs and a third more obscure statewide Public Service Commission race, we can see just why the Democrats won the two Senate contests.

The fact that Republican Public Service Commissioner Lauren McDonald was re-elected with the same type of vote margin that saw both Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock win allows us to see just where the federal Republican statewide vote was deficient.

As we know, all of these contests were extremely tight. Rev. Warnock had the strongest victory margin among the three, but even his was only 51-49 percent. The final Ossoff victory spread was 50.6 – 49.4 percent, and McDonald, the lone Republican victor, won in the same percentage neighborhood, 50.4 – 49.6 percent.

Obviously, there is little difference among these races and, as we covered previously, the county returns throughout the state show a strong similarity in the Senate totals, thus proving the voters perceived the candidates as being a team. McDonald’s victory, however, does show at least some ticket-splitting tendency was present as enough voters returned to the Republican column to allow him to win re-election.

The drop-off turnout percentage from the general election to these Senate runoffs is the lowest in Georgia political history. The final runoff participation figure recorded a high of 4,474,447 voters, or 90.3 percent of the number voting in the regular Senate elections. Typically, secondary election turnout drops by about one-third. With so much on the line in these runoffs, however, the voters responded in kind.

The key to the election, however, appears to be the percentage turnout in the counties. Democrats maximized their strength to a greater degree, which proved to be the key difference in the Senate runoff outcomes.

Across the board, McDonald ran ahead of the Senate Republicans in virtually every county, but generally only exceeded the other two statewide GOP candidates by less than a percentage point. This slight increased vote spread, however, was enough to turn close losses into a tight victory for the GOP state official.

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The Democrats Take Georgia

By Jim Ellis

Documentary filmmaker Jon Ossoff (D), left, is poised to defeat incumbent Sen. David Perdue (R) in the Georgia runoff elections. Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) is projected as winner over appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R).

Jan. 6, 2021 — In a rather surprising finish, it appears the Democrats will win both of yesterday’s Georgia runoff races and clinch a 50-50 majority in the US Senate (with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote).

Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) has been projected a 50.6 percent winner over appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) to claim the special election, while documentary filmmaker Jon Ossoff (D) is poised to defeat incumbent Sen. David Perdue (R).

The races are extremely close, as correctly predicted in polling. Rev. Warnock’s margin is currently 53,430 votes from a current turnout of 4,401,162 votes with a projected 98 percent of the vote reporting. The Ossoff spread is even closer. He leads Sen. Perdue by 16,370 votes of 4,401,064 cast ballots, a margin of 50.2 – 49.8 percent. The latter race has not been declared, but it is clear, when looking at where the outstanding ballots remain, that Ossoff will increase his percentage.

The runoff campaigns, made necessary under Georgia election law that requires majority support to win office, came down to a turnout battle within the evenly split state. Democrats did just slightly better than Republicans in getting their votes to the polls, and that made the final difference.

It is likely that the African American vote that appears key. In the early voting trends, black voter participation comprised an estimated 32.6 percent of the voting populace in the runoffs versus 29.8 percent in the regular election. Clearly, this increase was enough to change the outcome of both campaigns. In the regular election, Sen. Perdue missed winning outright by just one-quarter of a percentage point, and the entire Republican special election field outpolled the entire Democratic candidate group by just over 47,000 votes.

We clearly have a record voter turnout for this Georgia runoff election. In the past, these types of contests have produced drop-off rates of approximately one-third of the number of people who voted in the regular election. In this 2020 runoff, understanding that the numbers will increase by approximately 90,000 more votes when all ballots are processed and counted, the turnout will likely reach in the neighborhood of 90 percent of the total number of people who voted on Nov. 3.

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Georgia Runoffs Underway Today

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 5, 2021 — At long last, the 2020 US Senate election cycle will end today, and the determination of which party will hold the chamber’s majority for the next two years will likely become known late tonight.

To recap, Sen. David Perdue (R) and documentary filmmaker Jon Ossoff (D) battle for the in-cycle seat with the winner being awarded a six-year term. The special election winner, the race between appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) and Rev. Raphael Warnock (D), will serve the final two years of the term that resigned Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) won back in 2016. The seat will be in-cycle for the full six-year term in 2022.

The 2020 regular election outcome, current polling, and the early/mail voting count all suggest very close results to unfold this evening.

To re-cap:

2020 Regular Election Tallies – Nov 3, 2020

Seat A
Sen. David Perdue (R) 2,462,617 49.73%
Jon Ossoff (D) 2,374,519 47.95%
Shane Hazel (Lib) 115,039 2.32%
Total Cast 4,952,175
Seat B
Raphael Warnock (D) 1,617,035 32.90%
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) 1,273,214 25.91%
18 Others (D/R/I) 2,024,112 41.19%
Total Votes
Total R Vote 2,426,120 49.37%
Total D Vote 2,377,712 48.38%
Total I Vote 110,529 2.25%
Total Cast 4,914,361

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