Behind the Polls: Is Warren Really Up?

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 10, 2019 — The publication, Market Watch, carried a story that the Drudge Report included on their daily national site yesterday indicating that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) had topped former Vice President Joe Biden in four of five most recent national polls, but they didn’t cover the entire polling picture. (Market Watch story: A new front-runner for the 2020 Democrats? Warren edges Biden in average of polls)

The MW story cited Warren leading Biden in the Quinnipiac University survey (Oct. 4-7; 646 registered US voters), the Investors Business Daily/TIPP Poll (Sept. 26-Oct. 3; 341 registered US voters), The Economist/YouGov study (Sept. 28-Oct. 1; 602 likely US Democratic primary voters), and the Monmouth University (Sept. 23-29; 434 registered US voters) survey. Her aggregate edge fell between one and four percentage points, yet neither candidate broke 30 percent in any of the polls.

“With Biden facing questions over the Ukraine and China because of the Trump impeachment inquiry, and Sen. Sanders now experiencing health problems, Sen. Warren could soon be establishing herself as the clear front-runner and person to beat …”

The only other highlighted survey came from Politico/Morning Consult (Sept. 30-Oct. 6; 16,529 likely US Democratic primary voters) that actually found the former vice president continuing to lead by his typical 12-point margin, 33-21 percent, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recording 19 percent support.

The story’s premise is that these polls suggest that Sen. Warren has already caught Biden and that she may well be the new national Democratic leader. There are several reasons why this might not be the correct conclusion, however.

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Impeachment in the States

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 9, 2019 — The Civiqs polling firm, as covered in the Daily Kos Elections site, has been testing all 50 states regarding impeachment in a national tracking survey that attracted 150,070 online respondents from May 16 through Oct. 6. The latest numbers suggest that 51 percent of those respondents favor impeaching President Trump, while 45 percent oppose. But, it is in the breakdown of the states’ numbers where the true political story is being told.

Looking at the 50 individual states, it is no surprise that the respondents from almost all of the places that voted for Hillary Clinton support impeachment. But at this point, it appears President Trump has the potential of losing some of his coalition states. Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin all are now leaning toward impeachment.

Whether a person would or would not vote for an impeached president is not necessarily indicative about how their state would vote regarding a 2020 national candidate, but it does appear to be a reasonable gauge.

Arizona, a normally reliable Republican state but one that appears to be moving leftward, has 11 electoral votes. The Civiqs poll finds the Arizona respondents supporting impeachment 50-46 percent. The Michigan sample favors the impeachment inquiry, 51-45 percent. The Wolverine State has 18 electoral votes. Wisconsin, with 10 votes, also sees its Civiqs respondents currently favoring impeachment by a tight 49-47 percent margin.

Nevada, a Clinton 2016 state, and Iowa, a Trump state, are in flat ties according to Civiqs’ impeachment track. If the electoral vote count were based upon these results, the presidential election might come down to one state, or could even conceivably evolve into a 269-269 tie.

It is impossible to predict what twists and turns we will see before the impeachment issue is settled, nor can anyone accurate forecast how the electorate will respond. Right now, at least the Civiqs state tracking operation slightly favors the Democratic position on the impeachment question, but most of the margins are tight enough to quickly change.

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Democratic National Convention Shaping Up to be Historic

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 8, 2019 — At this point, Democratic presidential primary patterns are beginning to reveal themselves.

The February First Four states are becoming a hodgepodge of political strength with both Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and/or Bernie Sanders (I-VT) potentially stealing Iowa and New Hampshire away from national front-runner Joe Biden. That means the former vice president may have his back up against the proverbial wall when the campaign streams into Nevada, the third voting state whose caucus participants will convene on Feb. 22. He may well need a victory there, before getting to South Carolina and his southern states political oasis.

As the new Fox News South Carolina Democratic primary poll shows (Sept. 29-Oct. 2; 803 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters), Biden’s lead is very strong in the Palmetto State at 41-12-10 percent over Sens. Warren and Sanders, respectively. These numbers are commensurate with his standing in other recently polled southern domains.

But new data coming from delegate-rich states that are not frequently polled give us a further perspective about just how the nomination drama might unfold.

Four new state surveys were released at the end of last week with clear separation only detected in Arizona. Data coming from California and Ohio show dead heats among the three major candidates. Additionally, the latest Wisconsin poll gives Biden only a small lead.

The first three states in this group will vote in March, on Super Tuesday (March 3, California), March 10 (Ohio), and March 17 (Arizona). The fourth state’s electorate, Wisconsin, will cast their ballots on April 7.

Change Research (Oct. 27-28; 396 likely Arizona Democratic primary voters) finds that Arizona is polling as one of the ex-vice president’s weakest states and the only one that shows a relatively competitive four-way race. The Change results finds Sen. Warren claiming a significant lead with 35 percent support, ahead of Sen. Sanders’ 19 percent, Biden’s 15 percent, with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg making a viable appearance with 13 percent preference.

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Hunter Reeling

California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 7, 2019 — In addition to his legal woes, indicted California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) now appears to have severe political problems according to a new just-released CA-50 district study.

A Survey USA poll conducted for the San Diego Union-Tribune (Sept. 27-Oct. 2; 592 likely CA-50 voters; 671 respondents were asked favorability questions about the top four candidates, but the electoral questions were asked only of those who described themselves as likely voters) tested the seven announced candidates for the March 3 California jungle primary.

The S-USA results find Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, the 2018 party nominee who held Rep. Hunter to a four-point win, holding 31 percent support. Former San Diego City councilman and mayoral and congressional candidate Carl DeMaio (R) follows with 20 percent, ex-Rep. Darrell Issa, who recently announced his candidacy records 16 percent, while Rep. Hunter posts only an 11 percent preference factor.

Rather surprisingly, state Sen. Brian Jones (R-Santee), also a recent candidate but a public official who represents almost 90 percent of the 50th District, records a very low four percent. The two independent candidates have three percent combined.

It is no surprise that Campa-Najjar is leading. In a crowded field with only one candidate from a particular party, it becomes a simple strategy to coalesce the party members behind the lone contender. While Campa-Najjar will almost certainly advance to the general election in this type of jungle format with so many candidates splitting his opposition party vote, we also must see that 52 percent of the poll respondents chose a Republican candidate. This obviously bodes poorly for the sole Democrat in the general election.

The setup here is similar to last year’s open 49th District, the adjacent seat from which Rep. Issa retired. In the June 2018 election, Republican Diane Harkey finished first by an eight-point margin in a field of 16 candidates but, in the general with only two contenders, it was Democrat Mike Levin who recorded a 56-44 percent victory.

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The Politics of Scheduling

Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 4, 2019 — Earlier, it was reported that Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) is going to re-schedule the special election to replace resigned Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Wausau), and now we have more information.

At first glance, we see an instance where a state election law conflicts with a federal statute, which national government officials apparently brought to the governor’s attention after he made public the original voting schedule. Wisconsin special election law creates a 28-day period between special primary and general, while the federal MOVE Act, designed to provide some uniform structure for overseas and military voters stationed abroad, mandates at least 45 days be placed between elections.

The governor is reportedly looking at two scenarios, and both will move the special cycle to a much later time frame. Instead of Jan. 27, the original special general date (the special primary was slated for Dec. 30), the new general will likely either be concurrent with the April 7 presidential and statewide primary, or May 5. Due to the federal law requirements and the current state election calendar, the governor cannot schedule both the special primary and general to coincide with the already-set state election timetable.

Now for the politics: Wisconsin has a regular statewide election in the early part of the even-numbered year where judges and many local officials are elected in addition to other selected officeholder positions. In this particular April 7 election, the same day as the presidential primary, Republican state Supreme Court Judge Dan Kelly is running for a full 10-year term. Key Democratic leaders counseled the governor to schedule the election early so a large Republican turnout from a strong Republican congressional district did not hurt the party’s effort to unseat the high court judge.

On the other hand, Democratic turnout is likely to be very large on April 7 because voters are coming to participate in the presidential primary. Using this reasoning, the Democrats’ chances of upsetting the GOP in the special congressional election would be much greater even though the seat has performed well for the Republicans throughout this decade.

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