Category Archives: Senate

New Arizona Data

By Jim Ellis

Arizona Senate candidate, retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D), and Sen. Martha McSally (R)

Jan. 10, 2020 — Public Policy Polling conducted a study of the Arizona electorate (Jan. 2-6; 760 registered Arizona voters) to test the highly important impending US Senate race between appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) and retired astronaut Mark Kelly, the presumed Democratic nominee.

PPP also ran ballot tests involving President Trump paired individually against the major Democratic presidential contenders. Even though Arizona is a critical state in the 2020 presidential general election, the early projection numbers are not particularly salient because the contest has yet to begin in earnest, but the Trump results do provide a credibility foundation to analyze the PPP Senate numbers.

The Senate ballot test shows, as does every other previous survey of this race, that the McSally-Kelly battle is within the polling margin of error. The PPP numbers, at 46-42 percent in Kelly’s favor, project a four-point spread between the candidates, which is a bit more separation than revealed in past Arizona surveys.

Both Kelly and McSally have been near the top of national Senate fundraising charts, so it is clear that each will have plenty of resources to communicate their specific campaign messages in addition to expected independent expenditures that will come into the state to aid and attack both candidates. It is already clear that the Arizona Senate race will become a national campaign.

At this point, the Grand Canyon State campaign looks to be the Democrats’ best conversion opportunity, and a victory for them becomes even more important to offset what is likely a predicted loss for Sen. Doug Jones (D) in Alabama. With the Democrats needing a net gain of at least three seats, or four depending upon the presidential race outcome, every swing seat becomes critical for both parties.

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New Poll: Jones vs. Sessions

By Jim Ellis

Former Senator and US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions (R)

Jan. 8, 2020 — JMC Analytics and Polling just released their December statewide Alabama poll (Dec. 16-18; 525 likely Alabama voters) testing Sen. Doug Jones (D) against the Republican senatorial field including former senator and US attorney general Jeff Sessions.

Though JMC segmented demographics and geography within the polling universe they surprisingly did not identify partisan leanings. Therefore, it becomes difficult to see just how Republicans, Democrats, and Independents individually break and whether or not Sessions’ past public feud with President Trump is hurting him among GOP base voters.

The ballot test results, however, lead us to conclude that the former senator’s support within the Trump universe may be somewhat weak largely because he does no better than lesser known Republican candidates.

Sen. Jones is clearly the most vulnerable of the 11 Democratic incumbents standing for re-election in the 2020 cycle, not including Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey’s Democratic primary challenge from Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Newton). Considering that Republicans have a 53-47 advantage in the Senate and must defend 23 of the 35 in-cycle seats, re-taking Alabama is critically important to Republican majority goals.

According to the JMC data, Sessions would lead Sen. Jones, 46-41 percent, which is a credible showing for a Democrat in Alabama irrespective of incumbency. Pairing with the other Republican candidates produces similar results. Against former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville (R), Sen. Jones would trail 40-47 percent. If US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) were the GOP nominee, the spread would be 44-40 percent in the Republican’s favor.

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The North Carolina Filings

All the best for a wonderful holiday season.
Ellis Insight daily updates will return on Jan. 3, 2020.

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 24, 2019 — Candidate filing in the Tar Heel State closed Friday, and the North Carolina political contestants are now set for the March 3 Super Tuesday state primary. In addition to the presidential race, North Carolina voters will choose nominees for governor, US Senate, 13 congressional races, the state constitutional offices, and state legislature.

No surprises came from the presidential filings, though 38 individuals filed to run for the nation’s highest office. Twenty of the 38 are minor party candidates, however. Fifteen Democrats are running, including all of the major contenders. President Trump draws Republican primary opposition from former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld and Illinois ex-congressman Joe Walsh.

Sen. Thom Tillis sees only minor Republican primary opposition and now is a cinch for re-nomination. Businessman Garland Tucker was expected to run a competitive primary race but decided to end his effort prior to the filing deadline. When Rep. Mark Walker (R-Greensboro) was drawn out of a winnable district in the court-mandated redistricting plan, he began considering entering the Senate race. The congressman, however, ultimately decided to wait a cycle and looks to run for Sen. Richard Burr’s (R) open seat in 2022.

Five Democrats filed for the Senate, but the nomination battle is realistically between former state senator Cal Cunningham, who is the party leadership favorite, and state Sen. Erica Smith (D-Gaston). The eventual Democratic nominee will face Sen. Tillis in what promises to be a competitive general election in a state that has defeated more incumbents in the modern political era than any other place.

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Senate – Early Primaries

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 19, 2019 — With candidate filing deadlines for the early primaries either passed or soon upcoming, it is a good time to review the Senate forecasts for the March through May state nomination campaigns.

MARCH

Former Senator and US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions (R)

• Alabama: A hot Republican primary will occur on Super Tuesday, March 3rd, featuring former US Attorney General and ex-senator Jeff Sessions attempting to regain the position he resigned to accept his appointment from President Trump.

The most recent polling suggests the primary will go to an April 14 run-off election, possibly between Sessions and retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville. US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile), ex-state Supreme Court Chief Judge and 2017 Senate nominee Roy Moore, along with state Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Shelby County) are also in the race and all but Mooney are still alive for the second run-off slot.

The eventual winner, assuming it is not Judge Moore who lost the special election after Sessions resigned, will be favored against Sen. Doug Jones (D) in the general election. Winning the Alabama race is critically important for Republicans to hold their majority.

• Arkansas: With the consensus Democratic candidate deciding to withdraw immediately after filing, the party is left without a challenger to first-term Sen. Tom Cotton (R). Though the state leadership could have chosen a new nominee in convention, the Arkansas Democratic chairman announced they are unable to field a candidate. Therefore, Sen. Cotton is a cinch for re-election facing only minor party opposition.

• Illinois: Sen. Dick Durbin (D) seeks a fifth term next year facing no primary competition on March 17, and only minor opponents for the fall campaign. In a full turnout presidential election year in a strongly Democratic state, Sen. Durbin is a sure winner in 2020.

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Deadlines Ahead in Ohio,
North Carolina 2020 Campaigns

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 17, 2019 — Interesting decisions await as candidate filing deadlines are approaching this week in Ohio (Dec. 18) and North Carolina (Dec. 20) for their respective March 17 and March 3 primaries.

The Ohio political situation, originally thought to be relatively mundane without a Senate campaign and little competition within the congressional delegation, may be changing.

In the 1st District, veteran Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati), who lost this district in 2008 after first going to Congress in 1995 and then re-claiming the seat in 2010, again faces what will likely be a competitive re-election battle. In 2018, Chabot defeated Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval by a 51-47 percent count, despite the Democratic nominee spending over $4 million for his campaign. Expected to file for the Democrats this year are healthcare executive Kate Schroder and US Air Force Reserve officer Nikki Foster.

The new potential contest coming onto the political scene emanates from the Youngstown area as Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren), who was an early presidential candidate but failed to generate any major attention, appears to be attracting strong opposition for the first time since he won his original congressional election in 2002.

Now reportedly moving toward challenging Rep. Ryan are former Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who fared poorly in the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary, and ex-state Rep. Christina Hagan who scored over 40 percent of the vote against freshman Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River/Medina) in the last nomination campaign from the neighboring 16th District.

Though both women have the ability to attract people and resources to their political efforts, the 13th CD is reliably Democratic and Congressman Ryan would be tough to dislodge. President Trump fared better than most Republicans here in 2016, but still lost 44-51 percent. President Obama, in both 2008 and 2012, topped 62 percent and Rep. Ryan has averaged 67.8 percent of the vote over his nine-term congressional career.

Still, House members who run for president often have a difficult time in their next re-election effort, so it remains to be seen if a credible challenge against the veteran congressman could develop legs.

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