Tag Archives: Arkansas

Polarized, or Not?

By Jim Ellis

March 1, 2017 — Much is being made about President Trump’s early job approval ratings. Almost across the board, they are low, and particularly so for a new national chief executive, which has naturally attracted media attention.

In their late February report about political polarization, the Gallup polling organization, which began testing presidential job approval back in the Truman Administration and has regularly continued the practice ever since, argues that polarization among the self-identified Republicans and Democrats is a major obstacle for President Trump to overcome. They further make the point that this is not a new phenomenon, as partisan approval polling detected similar numbers for presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

The Gallup analysis, on and around the Feb. 20 time frame, found President Trump’s job approval rating to be 42 percent. When they looked at the two previous presidents, also hitting 42 percent approval rating at certain points in their own presidencies, Gallup found the level of partisan support and opposition among Democrats and Republicans for the president of their own party was virtually identical.

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Follow the Money

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 4, 2016 — The Wesleyan Media Project released their campaign advertising study for the 2016 election cycle and, focusing on their Senate data that Kantar Media/CMAG compiled, the information gives us strong clues as to which races are the most important to each party. The report also provides clues as to which media campaigns and strategies are working and those that are lacking.

The study tracked ads run in 20 states featuring Senate general election campaigns, from a high of 18,265 ads aired (Pennsylvania) to a low of 18 (Kansas). The tested period spanned from Aug. 19 to Sept. 15. In the 20 states, an aggregate of 104,522 ads aired in the various markets. Those backing Republican candidates or opposing Democratic contenders accounted for approximately 53 percent of the total study period buy.

Though Pennsylvanians have seen the greatest number of Senate ads, the most money spent during the period was in New Hampshire ($16.9 million). This is because the overwhelming number of ads purchased was in the expensive Boston media market.

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Senate Re-Set

By Jim Ellis

July 8, 2016 — Returning from this week’s 4th of July break and preparing for the late season primaries, now is a good time to review the 2016 Senate picture:

Nominees

Alabama: Safe R
Sen. Richard Shelby (R) vs. Ron Crumpton (D) – non-competitive

Arkansas: Likely R
Sen. John Boozman (R) vs. Connor Eldridge (D) – moderately competitive

California: Open Seat (Sen. Barbara Boxer-D; retiring) Safe D
AG Kamala Harris (D) vs. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D) – competitive

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Competitive House Primaries

By Jim Ellis

March 31, 2016 — The anti-Washington political sentiment is more than just a factor in the presidential race. The feeling is permeating the early congressional nomination campaigns, particularly among Republicans, and House incumbents are taking serious notice.

So far six states have held their congressional primaries: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio and Texas, and though no incumbent has lost many have deflected competitive intra-party challenges, while several others loom on the horizon. In the six states that have nominated their 2016 congressional candidates, including four with run-off systems, none has even been cast into a secondary election. The closest two results came in Texas and Illinois, where veteran representatives Kevin Brady (R-TX-8) and John Shimkus (R-IL-15) won respective 53 and 60 percent re-nomination victories.

The most serious current primary campaigns are occurring in North Carolina, now scheduled for June 7 after a court-mandated major redistricting plan forced the state to move its congressional primaries from March 15.

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Smashing Turnout Records

By Jim Ellis

March 21, 2016 — Republican leaders who don’t think Donald Trump will fare well in the general election might examine the updated primary turnout statistics as a prediction clue. Largely due to Trump’s candidacy, in 15 of the 19 states that have so far held primaries in conjunction with Democratic contests, more people have chosen to vote on the Republican side, and in record numbers.

Turning the clock back to 2008, it was possible to see the burgeoning support base for then-candidate Barack Obama based upon his success in Democratic primaries. His advantage was largely tied to him exciting new people and motivating them to vote.

Eight years ago, confining our analysis only to the 19 states that have held 2016 primaries in which both parties have held electoral events, 60.5 percent of the people from those elections chose to cast a ballot in the Democratic primary. Using this strong backing as a launching pad into the general election, then-Sen. Obama went forward to win a convincing general election victory, capturing 53 percent of the national popular vote compared to Arizona Sen. John McCain’s (R) 46 percent.

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Bloomberg Super Tuesday Poll;
Arizona Rep. Salmon To Retire

Feb. 29, 2016 — Last week during the Republican presidential debate from the University of Houston, Donald Trump made reference to “loving” a Bloomberg Poll forecasting the candidates’ prospects for the upcoming Super Tuesday primaries. But the poll does little to provide much useful information.

Bloomberg News and the Purple Strategies consulting firm again teamed up to release a political survey. But this online poll, which questions 1,254 respondents over the Feb. 22-24 period in the seven “SEC Primary” states – the name given for Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, all that are holding primary elections on March 1 and most of which belong to the Southeastern Conference collegiate sports league – as one unit. Therefore, the conclusions reflect a region result that has no relevance in how people in the individual states will vote or apportion delegates.

Trump mentioned it in the debate because the data finds him leading his Republican competitors region-wide, 37-20-20-8-6 percent over senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, and Gov. John Kasich, respectively, but does little to portray anything of significance since the states are not voting as a unified block.

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Democratic Race Tightens

Jan. 13, 2016 — Several new polls are showing a tightening of the Democratic presidential campaign nationally, and for the upcoming Iowa Caucus (Feb. 1) and New Hampshire primary (Feb. 9). But, is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s grasp on the party nomination threatened? We think, not.

The new Investors Business Daily/TIPP poll, which, the New York Times rated as the most accurate of the 23 pollsters they tested in the 2012 presidential campaign, posted their latest national results. The survey (Jan. 4-8; 967 “Americans”) finds Clinton leading Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) by her smallest margin in months, 43-39 percent. The last 10 national polls, not including this most recent IBD/TIPP data, finds the former First Lady’s advantage averaging approximately 55-33 percent.

The IBD/TIPP poll appears inherently flawed. First, surveying “Americans” tells us that not all of the respondents are registered voters. Second, the overall sample of 967 participants contains only 378 likely Democratic primary voters, which is the fundamental segment for determining the Clinton-Sanders ballot test. Keep in mind, however, this group of less than 400 people is supposed to represent the nation.

Such a sample may be adequate for a lone congressional district, but falls far short of the number necessary for forming accurate national conclusions. Therefore, standing alone this poll should be discarded, but it does serve as a potential base point from which to begin judging what may be a developing trend.

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Ohio Filings

Dec. 21, 2015 — With several states holding concurrent primaries (with the presidential election) in March, candidate filing deadlines are passing. The Ohio candidates became official at the end of this week.

Sen. Rob Portman (R) will face two minor Republican opponents before competing with former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) in the general election. Strickland has one credible Democratic opponent, Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld who repelled pressure from party leaders to exit the race. One minor Democratic contender also filed. Two Independents and a Green Party candidate will also present themselves on the US Senate ballot.

In the House races, 15 of the 16 incumbent Ohio congressmen will seek re-election. Only the 8th District of resigned Speaker John Boehner (R) will be open and settled in a special election. The special primary will be held concurrently with the regular nomination contests on March 15, with the related general on June 7. Eighteen Republican candidates filed for the safe GOP seat just north of Cincinnati. Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds, state Sen. Bill Beagle, and state Rep. Tim Derickson appear to be the top GOP candidates. The eventual winner will square off against the lone Democrat who filed, party activist Corey Foister.

Four congressmen, three Republicans and one Democrat, drew primary opposition, but only one is a serious challenge, while another may develop.

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Early Primary Races

Dec. 2, 2015 — The early presidential calendar brings March congressional primaries to seven states. Instead of doubling the election cost with a stand-alone presidential primary followed by a commensurate state nomination event later in the year, several legislatures decided to move their entire cycle to an unusually early calendar slot.

The March primary states, aside from Texas and Illinois, which normally hold their nomination voting then, are: Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Ohio.

March 1

Alabama: Sen. Richard Shelby faces Republican primary opposition from four opponents, one of whom, businessman Jonathan McConnell, could self-fund a campaign should he choose to do so. This is a good example of where the short time frame hurts potential challengers. Sen. Shelby should have little problem disposing of his competition to win re-nomination for a sixth term. Should Shelby fall below 50 percent, a run-off election would be held on April 12.

All seven House members are seeking re-election. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL-1), Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL-2), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL-3) and Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL-4) all face Republican opposition. All are favored to win without a run-off.

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In Arkansas, Dems Concede Three of Four Races

Nov. 11, 2015 — Candidate filing closed in Arkansas Monday night, the second state to qualify their upcoming slate of political aspirants, and already Democrats have virtually conceded all of the state’s congressional seats for the 2016 election. Three Republican representatives: Rick Crawford (R-AR-1), Steve Womack (R-AR-3), and Bruce Westerman (R-AR-4), will run without Democratic opposition next fall. This, in a state where the Dems controlled three of the four congressional positions as late as 2010. Republicans captured all four districts only in 2012.

The one incumbent facing general election competition will be freshman Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock), in the 2nd District. Though this seat is marginally Republican today, it has elected many more Democrats than Republicans throughout its history. French likely will face former Little Rock School Board president Dianne Curry (D) in the general election.

Representatives Crawford, Womack, and Westerman face only Libertarian opposition, and all three are therefore guaranteed re-election. Rep. Hill has also drawn Republican primary competition, in the person of educator Brock Olree. Rep. Hill is a prohibitive favorite to win both re-nomination and re-election.

The lack of any Democratic congressional ticket tells us that the party establishment could not convince prospective candidates that former Secretary of State and Arkansas First Lady Hillary Clinton will be a major draw at the presidential nominee come next November. The lack of a strong undercard also says that the state party leaders, and possibly those at the national level, are conceding former President Bill Clinton’s home state without a fight. The trends in the past three elections have been so strongly Republican that it is unlikely such a swing will begin to sway back to the Democrats anytime soon.

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Pennsylvania’s Rep. Pitts to Retire;
A Rundown of Ala., Ark. Filings

Nov. 10, 2015 — On Friday, veteran Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Joe Pitts, first elected to the US House in 1996 after spending 24 consecutive years in the state legislature, announced that he will not seek re-election next year. Pitts’ retirement means that 27 seats are now open in the 2016 election cycle — 16 from Republican districts compared to 11 Democratic.

The congressman serves on the Energy & Commerce Committee, where he is fifth in seniority and chairs the Health Subcommittee. His 16th District is anchored in the cities of Reading and Lancaster, though the congressman hails from Kennett Square just north of Wilmington, Del. The seat is reliably Republican, though the Democrats could become competitive with the right candidate. Mitt Romney carried the district 52-46 percent in 2012, but then-Sen. Barack Obama slipped passed John McCain here four years earlier, 50-49 percent.

The name most mentioned as a potential successor is Republican state Sen. Lloyd Smucker. Lancaster County Commissioner Scott Martin (R) is also a prospective candidate, but reports suggest that he is more likely to seek Smucker’s open state Senate seat should the latter run for Congress.

Alabama, Arkansas Filings

Alabama — With early presidential nomination events occurring in March, some states are holding their 2016 primaries concurrently. Two of those, Alabama and Arkansas, feature the earliest filing periods in the country. Alabama closed Friday, while Arkansas ended Monday.

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Breaking Down the Senate Races

Oct. 8, 2015 — Gov. Maggie Hassan’s (D-NH) announcement Monday that she will challenge Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) changes the national Senate picture. Adding New Hampshire to the most highly competitive category is certainly an advantage for the Democrats but, even so, they are still short of obtaining what they need to recapture the Senate majority they lost in 2014.

As we know, 34 Senate seats are in-cycle for 2016, 24 of which majority Republicans hold. In order to gain control, Democrats must protect all 10 of their seats and convert four Republican states.

Looking ahead as to where the campaigns might find themselves in political prime time, those key eight weeks before the election, we’ve put together the following categories to show how the races break down state to state: Continue reading

Breaking Senate Action

Sept. 11, 2015 The post Labor Day period is already bringing clarity to various Senate races, including several within the last day or two.

North Dakota

Speculation surrounding Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) jumping into the open North Dakota governor’s race was put to bed earlier this week. Sen. Heitkamp announced that she will not enter the state campaign and instead will complete her first senate term. Heitkamp was elected in 2012 and comes in-cycle three years from now.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee leadership was concerned that Heitkamp would run for governor. Though she would not have risked her Senate seat to run, had she been victorious, a new succession law the legislature and Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) adopted this term takes the appointment power away from the governor pertaining to Senate vacancies. Instead, their action now requires calling an immediate special election. The chances of Republicans being able to convert an open North Dakota seat in a special 2017 vote would be very high, hence the importance of the national party leaders prevailing upon Sen. Heitkamp to forego a gubernatorial bid.

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What Boxer’s Retirement Means; An “SEC” Primary?

At the end of 2014, California Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) provided strong hints that she would not seek a fifth term in 2016. Yesterday, she made that decision official. In a video hosted by her grandson, Sen. Boxer announced that she will not be a candidate for the Senate next year, thus ending what will be a 34-year-career in Congress.

The succeeding election now marks the first time since Boxer originally won in 1992 that California will host an open US Senate campaign. A plethora of Democrats are expected to enter the statewide fray. The most interesting dynamic will be the interplay between political allies Gavin Newsom, the state’s lieutenant governor, and California Attorney General Kamala Harris. It would be surprising to see the two close colleagues challenge each other, but stranger things have happened in politics. It is also possible that neither will run. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is apparently not giving serious consideration to the Senate race. One potential major contender who is seriously looking at becoming a candidate is former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Another mayor drawing attention is Sacramento’s Kevin Johnson, a former NBA professional basketball player.
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Grimm Hangs on Despite Odds Against Him; Deep South Regional Primary Concept Reportedly Gaining Traction

Happiness to all as we enter the year-end holiday period. In honor of the season, we will take a brief publication hiatus for the next few days but be back at the beginning of the new year. Thank you for a great 2014 and enjoy the time with your loved ones.

NY-11

Two days ago it was predicted that New York Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) would plead guilty to one count of tax evasion, and then soon resign his House seat possibly as a way to avoid incarceration. The prediction proved half true.

Grimm did, in fact, plead guilty in federal court to one count of tax evasion from an enterprise occurring prior to his entering Congress. His sentencing is now scheduled for June 8, but the representative stated he does not intend to resign from office.

It is likely just a matter of time before he is forced to do so, however, either by having to report to prison or, simply because his status as a convicted felon may disqualify him from congressional service because he will no longer be an elector. Voting privileges are suspended until the completion of a sentence even if the penalty consists only of probation and paying a fine.

In any event, it appears Grimm will take the oath of office for a new term and continue to execute his duties at least until early June. This means that any special election to be Continue reading >