Tag Archives: Jim Ellis

Nevada’s Polling Contradiction

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 19, 2018 — A new survey was just released covering the two Nevada statewide campaigns, and the results are curious.

Gravis Marketing tested the Silver State electorate (Sept. 11-12; 700 likely Nevada voters) and finds consistency with other polling in one race but projects a major change in the other.

Nevada Senate candidate, Rep. Jacky Rosen (D) and Sen. Dean Heller (R)

Nevada Senate candidate, Rep. Jacky Rosen (D), and Sen. Dean Heller (R)

According to Gravis, Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) holds a 47-45 percent lead over Sen. Dean Heller (R) in the US Senate campaign. Such a conclusion is well within the range of other published data.

Just as Gravis was beginning their survey process, Suffolk University was ending theirs (Sept. 5-10; 500 likely Nevada voters), and they saw Rep. Rosen holding a similarly close 42-41 percent edge. Suffolk also surveyed in late July (July 24-29; 500 likely Nevada voters) and found Sen. Heller clinging to a one-point 41-40 percent lead. All of these consistent findings suggest the Senate race has been, and continues to be, a pure toss-up.

But the same Gravis polling sample produced a radically different conclusion for the open governor’s race. All other previous data found Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak (D) and Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) locked in a close battle. The same two previous polls cited above for the Senate race, Suffolk University’s Sept. 5-10 survey and their July 24-29 study, actually found Sisolak ahead only 37-35 percent in the former, while Laxalt actually led 42-41 percent in the earlier poll.

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Health Care Politics

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 18, 2018 — In virtually every poll, health care is mentioned in the top three of the most important issues across the country. Therefore, ad themes attacking the problem from both ends of the political spectrum are now regularly appearing in every competitive congressional campaign.

The Democrats are zeroing in on Republican incumbents, in particular, on the pre-existing condition issue claiming that the GOP is trying to eliminate insurance coverage for those having previous health problems. The Dems support this argument by pointing to the Affordable Care Act repeal vote.

(Dr. Kim Shrier ad)

Republicans are now mounting an offensive against the pitch that many Democrats are promoting when they call for expanding Medicare coverage for everyone as the solution to the nation’s health insurance problem.

Both the campaigns themselves and various independent expenditure groups are attacking from both angles, and four ads presented below are typical examples of what we are seeing across the nation.

Washington Democrat Kim Shrier is running for the Seattle area district from which Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Auburn) is retiring. She is a pediatrician, so naturally healthcare is a key theme for her campaign. Dr. Shrier is opposing Republican former state senator and statewide nominee Dino Rossi in what is clearly a toss-up campaign.

Rossi and Dr. Shrier topped a field of 12 candidates in the Washington jungle primary held on Aug. 7. The Republican, by far the most well-known candidate of the group, placed first with 43.1 percent of the vote. Dr. Shrier nipped fellow Democrat Jason Rittereiser, 18.7 – 18.1 percent to advance into the general election. But, in the aggregate, Democrats earned slightly more votes than Republicans in the district-wide primary vote 50.2 – 47.2 percent.

One of Dr. Shrier’s healthcare campaign ads is included above as a good example of how Democrats are attacking Republicans, particularly over the pre-existing condition issue. Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Overland Park) goes on the attack against his opponent, former White House fellow (Obama Administration) and professional Mixed Martial Arts boxer Sharice Davids (D), over her promoting “Medicare for all” and claims that such will lead to the elimination of private health insurance.

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The Polling Machine

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 17, 2018 — In news that got pushed aside because of all of last week’s primaries, the Siena College Research Institute entered into a polling partnership with the New York Times to survey what the news organization spokespeople indicate will be nearly 100 US House campaigns. The Times’ statement also says more people will be “talked to (in sampling groups) than ever before.”

sienna-college-research-institute-jim-ellis-insightThe other interesting twist is that the results will be published in real time, meaning readers can see the responses as they are being recorded. The full sample is targeted to be in the 500 range per congressional district, a very healthy size. But readers should be cautioned about trying to project a pattern before the individual respondent universe is fully developed.

Siena College has been the featured New York Times pollster for several election cycles, concentrating on New York races. They regularly poll the state to test a governor’s approval rating, and how the electorate rates certain state-related and federal issues, along with conducting candidate ballot tests.

The 538 political analytics organization, which rates national, regional, and local pollsters, among other research, awards Siena an A grade in both the 2016 and 2018 election cycles, saying they have called 82 percent of the races correctly from 66 political surveys (60 in the 2016 election cycle, and six this year).

Siena records an average polling error rate of 4.9 percent, and concentrates on the live phoner method that includes conducting some respondent interviews on cell phones. The 538 organization records a Siena bias factor toward the Democrats of just 0.1 percent, which ties for one of the lowest in the polling universe and behind only Iowa’s Selzer & Company and Fairleigh Dickinson University, which scored a perfect 0.0 percent bias factor rating.

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Rhode Island Results

By Jim Ellis

RHODE-ISLANDSept. 13, 2018 — The Ocean State conducted the final primary before the general election yesterday, and Gov. Gina Raimondo was successfully re-nominated in the Democratic primary. But her victory margin wasn’t particularly impressive.

Now, all states with the exception of Louisiana have held their federal nomination elections. Because the Bayou State leaders desire a system that allows candidates to win an office in one election – by obtaining majority support – such a procedure is only legally possible when that one election is scheduled concurrently with the regular general vote. For those who fail to achieve majority support, the top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, advance into a Dec. 8 run-off to determine the final outcome.

In Rhode Island, Gov. Raimondo scored a 57-33 percent re-nomination victory percentage against former Secretary of State Matt Brown, with a turnout basis of just over 116,000 Democratic primary voters. Minor candidate Spencer Dickinson captured the remaining nine percent of the vote. The fact that almost 43 percent of Democratic voters chose a candidate other than their sitting governor is obviously not a good sign for her as Gov. Raimondo now embarks upon a general election campaign.

But her positive spin is that Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, was also the party nominee in 2014, win the Republican primary again last night. His victory percentage last night was virtually the same as the governor’s — about 56.5 percent — but from a small Republican voter base of just under 33,000 individuals. State House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan, who was running to ung’s right, took 40 percent of the GOP vote.

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Delaware Primary Results

By Jim Ellis

DelawareSept. 7, 2018 — The First State voters chose their nominees last night, the 47th state to do so in the current election cycle. The nominating election was basically a non-event despite media reports attempting to hype the challenger’s chances. Sen. Tom Carper (D) scored almost a 2:1 victory over socialist Democrat Kerri Harris. Sen. Carper, running for a fourth term, posted a 65-35 percent win from a turnout of just over 83,000 Democratic voters.

The three-term incumbent will now face the GOP winner from last night, Sussex County Councilman Rob Arlett who thrashed two minor GOP candidates with 67 percent of the vote. The general election is not competitive and Sen. Carper will easily win a fourth term in November.

In the House race, freshman Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Wilmington) was unopposed for re-nomination. In the Republican primary, floral contractor Scott Walker scored a 53-47 percent win over teacher and actor Lee Murphy. As in the Senate race, this House campaign will be non-competitive and Congresswoman Rochester will easily win a second term on Nov. 6.

MA-3: A Sleeper?

Massachusetts congressional districts

Massachusetts congressional districts


By Jim Ellis

Aug. 27, 2018 — One of the few interesting remaining primaries in this 2018 election cycle is the open northern Massachusetts congressional race a week from tomorrow featuring 10 Democratic candidates all attempting to succeed retiring Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell).

A new University of Massachusetts at Lowell and Boston Globe survey of the impending MA-3 Democratic primary (Aug. 14-21; 849 MA-3 registered voters, 553 MA-3 likely Democratic primary voters) finds ex-Boston mayoral chief of staff Dan Koh forging into the lead, but with only a 19-13-13 percent edge over former ambassador to Denmark, Rufus Gifford, and state Sen. Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover) as the state’s Sept. 4 partisan primary draws near.

But other candidates could possibly make a run, too. Business consultant Lori Trahan posts eight percent in the poll, and while state Rep. Juana Matias (D-Lawrence) has just six percent, she is dominant within the district’s Hispanic community. In such a crowded campaign with a low voter turnout, any candidate with a major support base must be taken seriously. The other five candidates each register four percent and below.

But there could be more to this campaign than the winner of a crowded primary going on to easily take the general election in what should be a safe seat for the dominant party in the district, in this case the Democrats.

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Dead Heats in New Nevada Senate Poll

By Jim Ellis

Nevada Senate candidate, Rep. Jacky Rosen (D) and Sen. Dean Heller (R)

Nevada Senate candidates: Rep. Jacky Rosen (D) and Sen. Dean Heller (R)

Aug. 2, 2018 — A new Suffolk University survey (July 24-29; 500 likely Nevada voters) returns numbers that again show Sen. Dean Heller (R) and Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) falling within the margin of polling error with neither candidate attracting majority support.

According to Suffolk, Sen. Heller leads Rep. Rosen by a bare 41-40 percent margin, meaning the two are virtually tied. This is the first poll since mid-April that projects the senator to any kind of an advantage, but even the four surveys in between, all of which favored Rep. Rosen, showed margin spreads in the realm of two to six points. Of the eight polls publicized for this race during the entire election cycle, in only one, the April Survey Monkey study, did either candidate ever reach the 50 percent mark (Rosen, 50-44 percent; Survey Monkey; April 2-23; 1,332 Nevada registered voters in the Survey Monkey pool).

Suffolk also tested the state’s open governor’s race, and found an equally tight contest. Here, Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt posts a 42-41 percent tally over Democratic Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak. In the one previously released post-primary general election poll, from Gravis Marketing (June 23-26; 630 likely Nevada general election voters), an almost identical result was projected: Laxalt leading 43-41 percent.

The Nevada Senate race is one of the most important in the nation this year, and one of two main Democratic conversion targets (the open race in Arizona is the other). Winning this race is the only gateway to the Democrats potentially gaining the Senate majority, thus we can expect to see major political action in this state for the remaining prime campaign months.

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Previewing Tennessee Thursday

By Jim Ellis

Tennessee state flag

Tennessee state flag

July 26, 2018 — Next Thursday, Volunteer State voters head to the polls in the only place that holds its statewide primary on a day other than a Tuesday or Saturday. The Aug. 2 Tennessee political card features some intense races, including an open US Senate and governor’s race, along with three open-seat House races in addition to one significant incumbent challenge.

Though the Senate race is open and will be hard fought through November, the primary is set for both parties so we won’t see the usual uptick in activity here next week. Former two-term Gov. Phil Bredesen has the Democratic nomination sewn up, as does US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) on the Republican side.

In the open governor’s race, US Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) and businessman Randy Boyd appear to be the two front-runners, and the two are zeroing in on each other. Boyd, and fellow candidate Bill Lee, are both being hit over making past contributions to Democratic candidates. Rep. Black, running as the most conservative candidate, is taking flack for her role in an unpopular Congress. Former Nashville Mayor Karl Deen and state House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley), emphasizing his “Tennessee Always” slogan, are the top Democratic candidates. But, the real battle to replace term-limited Gov. Bill Haslam (R) lies in Thursday’s Republican primary.

Though many names will appear on the ballot in Tennessee’s nine congressional races, only a few candidates are legitimately competitive.

Reps. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City), Chuck Fleischmann (R-Chattanooga), Scott DesJarlais (R-South Pittsburg), and Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) all have primary opponents, but none appear particularly strong. In the case of Reps. Fleischmann and DesJarlais, both face an easy primary run for the first time in their congressional careers.

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The Georgia Run-off

By Jim Ellis

Georgia-mapJuly 25, 2018 — Peach State voters went to the polls yesterday, in a place where Republicans will choose a gubernatorial nominee while Democrats pick congressional candidates in Atlanta suburban districts 6 and 7.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp defeated Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination. His landslide victory produced a more dramatic point spread than even the most optimistic poll for Kemp had predicted. In the May 22 Republican statewide primary, Lt. Gov. Cagle placed first in a field of six candidates with 39 percent of the vote. Placing second in the gubernatorial primary was Secretary of State Kemp with 26 percent of the vote. Under Georgia election law, to win a party nomination, a candidate must receive majority support. Because no one in the Republican primary topped 50 percent, the top two finishers advanced to yesterday’s run-off.

Kemp scored a crushing 69.4 – 30.6 percent win over Cagle, even though the latter began the race as the favorite for the nomination and placed first in the primary election. In that electoral contest, Cagle carried 123 of the state’s 159 counties. To best illustrate how far he dropped during the two-month run-off period, Cagle managed to win only two counties last night, Monroe, just north of Macon, and small Stephens County, a northeast Georgia political entity that hugs the South Carolina border.

Pre-election polls suggested that Kemp would win the run-off last night, as the latest publicly released survey research studies found him leading the lieutenant governor in a range between three and 18 points. The latest poll came Monday from the Trafalgar Group (July 21-22; 1,177 likely Georgia Republican run-off voters) and found Kemp topping Cagle 59-41 percent when leaners were included.
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Against Pelosi? Maybe Not

By Jim Ellis

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

July 24 2018 — Several media stories have already been written about Democratic House candidates reportedly saying they will not support Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for leadership elections scheduled in November. Their actual utterances require closer examination, however.

The Vox news organization tallied the list of such candidates earlier in the month and found 25 who they record as stating opposition to Rep. Pelosi. But examining the actual candidates’ statements indicate that most are leaving themselves some wiggle room when it comes to actually voting against her, while many others in this group are simply not in a strong position to win.

According to Vox, the following Democrats have clearly stated their intention not to support Pelosi for a leadership position, including Speaker:

AR-2: State Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock)
Opponent: Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock)
Race Outlook: Likely Hill
• Tucker is running a television ad opening with a statement that he will not vote for Nancy Pelosi.


CA-39: Retired Naval Officer Gil Cisneros
Opponent: Former Assemblywoman Young Kim (R)
Incumbent: Rep. Ed Royce (R-Yorba Linda) – retiring
Race Outlook: Toss-up
• When asked in a Politico interview if he would support Pelosi, Cisneros answered, “No.” Then he thanked her for serving California, but said new leadership is needed.


ME-2: State Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston)
Opponent: Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Oakland/Bangor)
Race Outook: Poliquin Favored
• Vox quotes Golden in an interview with the Lewiston Sun Journal as saying he has “no intention of voting for Nancy Pelosi. None at all.”


NC-9: Businessman Dan McCready
Opponent: Baptist former Pastor Mark Harris
Incumbent: Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) – defeated in Republican primary
Race Outlook: Toss-up
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West Viginia Poll: The SCOTUS Effect

By Jim Ellis

July 23, 2018 — The Trafalgar Group surveyed the West Virginia US Senate campaign (July 13-16; 1,158 likely West Virginia general election voters) and tested — for what may be the first time any pollster has done so since President Trump officially nominated Appeals Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy — how the impending Supreme Court confirmation vote will affect a US Senate election.

Trafalgar’s initial ballot test response is consistent with other released polls regarding the race itself. That is, Sen. Joe Manchin (D) leads Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) 50-40 percent when the question is first posed. For the past month, all West Virginia surveys have delivered results in a similar range.

Polling chart courtesy Trafalgar Group

Polling chart courtesy Trafalgar Group. Click on the Trafalgar Group link or the graphic above to see more details.

However, the question also was asked of each individual respondent how he or she would would view the Senate race through the prism of whether or not Sen. Manchin would vote for or against confirming Judge Kavanaugh for the US Supreme Court. How much would the answer to that question sway a voter? The answer is: greatly.

At this point, the senator has not yet indicated how he will vote. Immediately after the nomination became public, Sen. Manchin stated that he wanted Judge Kavanaugh to complete the hearing process and publicly answer specific questions (Sen. Manchin is not a member of the Judiciary Committee).

According to Trafalgar, should he vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court, Sen. Manchin’s support within the electorate would substantially grow. However, if he opposes the judge, his campaign against Morrisey falls into the toss-up category.

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Feinstein Loses

By Jim Ellis

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

July 17, 2018 — Five-term Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) lost the official California Democratic Party endorsement to her general election rival and fellow Democrat, state Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), this past weekend in Oakland, attracting an embarrassing seven percent of the vote among the Democratic Party delegates.

Sen. Feinstein knew she was headed for defeat within the party structure formal endorsement process, so she was campaigning for the delegates to vote “no endorsement.” This ploy garnered more votes than she received, as 28 percent of the delegates supported the party taking no official action in the Senate race. Thus, Sen. de Leon received 65 percent of the delegate vote, exceeding the minimum threshold of 60 percent to claim the party endorsement.

The action means that de Leon will be designated the official party candidate on the ballot, obviously an unusual situation for a challenging Democrat opposing an incumbent of the same party. So unusual, in fact, that in no other race where two Democrats are facing each other in the general election, from the statewide contests through the state assembly races, did the party delegates choose the challenger over the incumbent.

In winning the party endorsement, Sen. de Leon will be entitled to direct party funding and access to the state party’s fundraising and voter databases. Though having access to these resources should result in him raising an estimated several hundred thousand dollars, such an amount is just a drop in the bucket as to what a candidate in the nation’s most populous state needs in terms of financial resources necessary to compete.

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Crowley: Still on the Ballot

By Jim Ellis

Democrat-Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Democrat-Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

July 16, 2018 — As has been extensively covered in the national media, Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez upset 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens) in the June 26 New York federal primary, but the winner is now claiming the defeated congressman may still oppose her in the general election.

As we detailed in our own report about the 14th Congressional District result, Rep. Crowley could still force a general election campaign because he became the Working Families Party nominee on the same night that he was losing the Democratic Party nomination. Under New York election law, candidates may simultaneously appear on the ballot as the nominee of more than one party.

The congressman, however, still maintains that he is not running but simultaneously has refused to resign from the WFP line — even when the party leadership asked him to do so.

Ocasio-Cortez is accusing the congressman of launching a minor party general election effort because he has, according to her, refused to follow through on scheduled calls to discuss his support for her despite his public comments to the contrary. Crowley said, via Twitter, that it is Ocasio-Cortez’s people who have “not followed through,” with scheduling the appointments.

Swept up in the national media coverage that has engulfed her since denying Rep. Crowley re-nomination, Ocasio-Cortez is already moving onto the national stage and still challenging the party establishment. She has already dispersed staff members to Delaware to help US Senate candidate Kerri Harris who is challenging Sen. Tom Carper in the Sept. 6 Democratic primary. She is doing the same for Bernie Sanders activist Brent Welder, one of the far left candidates hoping for the chance to unseat GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder in Kansas.

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Gauging the Enthusiasm Gap

By Jim Ellis

i-vote-i-countJuly 13, 2018 — Much has been written over the past few elections cycles about voting enthusiasm and whether it is a predictive political factor. It has been seemingly apparent that the party members most interested in participating in an election, most particularly for a midterm or special election vote, generally see its candidates enjoy the greater success.

Yesterday, we looked at the extensive just-released Survey Monkey-Axios Media data that covered 13 US Senate races. The combined number of states also hosts a minimum of 15 competitive US House races. To re-cap, while the Survey Monkey analysts posted results under various turnout models in each of the tested states, it generally became clear about which candidate has the current advantage from the Senate contests in question.

Democrats were performing well in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions, where incumbents in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and West Virginia all held substantial leads over their Republican opponents.

The GOP held the upper hand in Indiana and North Dakota challenge races. In the South, Republican Gov. Rick Scott looks to be topping Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, and US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has opened a substantial lead over Tennessee former Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Turning to the West, Democrats are moving ahead in both Arizona and Nevada and securely lead in Montana.

The Missouri contest between Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) stretches from a five-point Democratic lead all the way to a five-point Republican advantage depending upon the turnout model.

The Survey Monkey pollsters tested voter enthusiasm in all 13 states. They asked the following question:

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Supreme Politics

By Jim Ellis

July 11, 2018 — President Donald Trump’s choice of US Circuit Judge of the DC Court of Appeals Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will likely fundamentally change the 2018 Senate election cycle.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh at the White House, where President Trump nominated him to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. | C-SPAN

Judge Brett Kavanaugh speaks at the White House, where President Trump announced Monday that Kavanaugh would be his nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. | C-SPAN

With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) already publicly indicating that he is planning to keep the Senate working through August, the Supreme Court confirmation process now guarantees such will happen. With majority Republicans having leverage over the confirmation hearings and vote schedule, we can expect a great deal of politics will be accompanying the legal rhetoric that awaits us during the remaining summer months.

The Senate political map helps Judge Kavanaugh in his confirmation battle. Both sides will mount crushing pressure on those members perceived as swing votes, and the eventual targets will be backed into such a position where it will be impossible to avoid political damage once their eventual vote is cast. The three Democrats who supported Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch when he was confirmed on April 7, 2017 are:

  • Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
  • Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)

The three will naturally be the top targets for this confirmation battle, and there is a strong chance that each will also vote for Judge Kavanaugh. Already trapped in tough re-election battles, these senators will be hard-pressed by both sides pushing them to vote for or against Kavanaugh; but considering their respective states voted for President Trump in margins of 19 (IN), 36 (ND), and 43 (WV) percentage points suggests the density of pressure to support the nominee will overwhelm the opposition.

After last night’s announcement, Sen. Manchin issued a statement saying he is particularly interested about Judge Kavanaugh’s position on healthcare issues, especially those affecting people with pre-existing conditions as they relate to healthcare insurance coverage. Sen. Manchin says over 800,000 people in his state of West Virginia fall into this category.

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