Tag Archives: John McCain

The Presidential Debates Loom

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 1, 2020 — The Presidential Debate series looms on the political horizon, and controversy is beginning to swirl even though the first forum is still a month away.

The first in a series of currently three presidential debates is set for Sept. 29.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week that Democratic nominee Joe Biden shouldn’t debate President Trump. “I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with him, nor a debate in terms of the presidency of the United States,” she was quoted as saying at a news conference.

At the end of July, former Bill Clinton news secretary Joe Lockhart wrote for CNN.com that Biden shouldn’t debate the president. “Whatever you do, don’t debate Trump. Trump has now made more than 20,000 misleading or false statements according to the Washington Post,” Lockhart penned as public advice to Biden.

Some on the Republican side argue that these Democratic leaders are beginning to lay the groundwork for Biden to avoid the debates because of concerns their candidate would fare poorly opposite President Trump.

For his part, Biden says he will debate the president, and become his own “fact checker on the floor.” He will also begin holding campaign events after Labor Day. In an Aug. 28 interview with the Associated Press, Biden said he’ll “meet people where it matters – not at irresponsible rallies or staged for TV to boost egos, but real people’s communities, in real local businesses, in their lives.” Biden further said he’ll “hold events consistent with the state rules about crowd sizes and other regulations.”

The first debate is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 29, the second on Thursday, Oct. 15, and the final forum culminates a week later on Oct. 22. The vice presidential debate between incumbent Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 7.

The debates have proven important in the past and always draw large audiences. According to the Pew Research Center, even the first televised debate, between then-Sen. John F. Kennedy and then-Vice President Richard Nixon, drew over 66 million viewers usually on black and white televisions, at a time when the US population was just under 181 million people, or approximately 55 percent of today’s total populace.

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The Maine Event

By Jim Ellis

Maine Congressional Districts

May 20, 2020 — The small state of Maine, with its two congressional districts, is going to attract a great deal of political attention between now and the election. Not only is the Pine Tree State one of the firewalls for Republican Senate majority hopes, the domain, one of two places that splits its electoral votes, will likely play a major role in determining the presidential election outcome, as well.

Maine and Nebraska divide their electoral votes such that the winning statewide candidate earns two electoral votes, while the victor in each congressional district is awarded one EV for as many districts as they carry. Maine, as mentioned, has two districts, and Nebraska three.

These districts came into play both in 2008 and 2016, when Barack Obama carried the 2nd District of Nebraska against John McCain in the former year, and Donald Trump took the 2nd District of Maine opposite Hillary Clinton in 2016. While neither CD became a factor in determining each of those elections, these CDs breaking differently than their state in a tight national election could result in the Electoral College ending in a tie.

The 48 other states and the District of Columbia use the winner-take-all system. Any state could divide their electoral votes like Maine and Nebraska, but those are the only two who choose the split vote method.

In the current presidential election scenarios, whether or not President Trump again carries ME-2 could determine if he is re-elected. Under one scenario, former vice president Joe Biden could win the national race even if he failed to carry Wisconsin so long as he takes the 2nd District of Maine and 2nd District of Nebraska. Doing so, along with winning the other swing states that touch a Great Lake, meaning Michigan and Pennsylvania, he would secure exactly 270 electoral votes, the bare minimum to claim national victory.

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Texas Turnout

By Jim Ellis

Map of US Congressional districts in Texas

March 16, 2020 — There is some budding political chatter promoting a theory that the 2020 Texas primary turnout numbers suggest Democrats are poised for a good election later this year in the Lone Star State, but a deeper dive into the numbers and patterns doesn’t clearly support such a conclusion.

The turnout theory loses its steam when actually comparing the participation numbers not only with 2020 Republican turnout and understanding that the GOP has a virtually unopposed presidential candidate for its nomination, but also when overlaying recent political history.

When studying the numbers, one sees that the 2008 Democratic primary’s participation rate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton far exceeded the numbers posted in this year’s primary, which was held on March 3 – Super Tuesday. In 2008, we see that 33.2 percent of the registered voters participated in one of the major party primaries. This year, the combined turnout represented 25.2 percent of the registered voter pool.

And, 12 years ago, according to figures published in this March 6 Texas Tribune article, two-thirds of those voters chose a Democratic ballot to vote in the Obama-Clinton primary versus just one-third who entered the Republican primary to support John McCain over former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee.

This year, 12.8 percent of the registered Texas voters chose the Democratic primary versus 12.4 percent who picked a Republican ballot even though there was no competitive GOP contest. Furthermore, the combined 25.2 percent total participation factor is actually the second-lowest turnout in the past four elections.

Most importantly, however, as a gauge toward predicting general election turnout and result, while two-thirds of the 2008 voters chose the Democratic ballot in the primary in the largest percentage turnout of the century, Republican John McCain would later post a 55-44 percent general election victory within the Texas electorate.

While Democratic statewide turnout did exceed the number of Republicans voting early or visiting the polls this year, the difference was minuscule. A total of 2,071,745 individuals voted in the Democratic primary while 2,008,385 participated on the Republican side. Since the presidential race was likely the turnout driver, the fact that a highly charged Democratic primary among several competitive contenders barely out-polled a Republican race where the incumbent president was virtually unopposed is of no tangible significance as a predictor of general election preference.

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Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City/Kingsport)

Jan. 7, 2020 — The House open seat total reached 40 over the weekend as veteran Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City/Kingsport) announced that he will not seek a seventh term later this year. Rep. Roe is the former mayor of Johnson City, Tenn., and ostensibly entered federal office when he defeated first-term Congressman David Davis in the 2008 Republican primary.

Roe initially pledged to serve only five terms. He changed his mind and successfully sought re-election in 2018 saying that he had unfinished business as chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. As we know, the Democrats would go onto win the majority that year, thus relegating Roe to the committee’s ranking minority member position. Losing the chairmanship virtually eliminated the foremost reason for him remaining in Congress.

The 1st District is one of the safest Republican seats in the country. The last time a Democrat was elected to the House from easternmost Tennessee dates all the way back to 1878. The longest-serving representative from the region is former Rep. Jamie Quillen (R) who held the seat for 34 years after his original election in 1962.

The 1st District occupies the eastern tail of the Volunteer State. It contains 11 counties and part of Jefferson, a domain it shares with the 2nd District that is anchored in Knoxville. The largest 1st District population centers surround the cities of Johnson City and Kingsport. Sevier County, with a population figure of just under 90,000, is the third largest segment. It contains the cities of Sevierville and the tourist centers of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in the district’s southern sector.

The TN-1 electorate votes heavily Republican. President Trump carried the seat 77-20 percent in 2016. Mitt Romney defeated President Obama here, 73-26 percent, and John McCain recorded a 70-29 percent victory margin in 2008. In his six victorious congressional elections, Rep. Roe averaged 77.8 percent of the vote in what were always lightly contested general election campaigns.

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Rep. Yoho to Retire; Texas Filings

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 12, 2019 — Keeping his pledge to serve only four terms in the House, Florida Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Gainesville) announced in a local radio interview earlier this week that he will not seek re-election next year. Also, the 2020 Texas candidate filing deadline came on Monday, and lists of the qualifying candidates are now becoming public.

REP. YOHO, FL-3

Florida Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Gainesville)

There had been some speculation brewing as to Yoho’s plans for 2020 with some suggesting he might eschew his original pledge. Making this now the 37th open House seat and second in Florida, potential candidates will have until May 1 to file for the Aug. 25 primary.

The eventual Republican nominee will clearly have the inside track to hold this seat for the GOP. Florida’s 3rd District is strongly, and consistently, Republican. President Trump scored 56.2 percent of the vote in 2016. This number is almost identical to the 56.6 percent that Mitt Romney posted against President Obama in 2012, and John McCain’s 54.6 percent that he garnered in the 2008 presidential election.

Rep. Yoho has averaged 61.0 percent of the vote here over four elections, but the district was significantly changed in the 2015 mid-decade court-ordered redistricting plan. In the current configuration, Yoho averaged almost exactly what the Republican presidential candidates scored: 57.2 percent in his two elections since the boundary alteration.

The 3rd District occupies five whole counties and parts of a sixth. The major population center is the city of Gainesville in Alachua County. The remaining portion of the CD is nestled squarely in the north/central section of the Florida peninsula.

Three Republicans had already announced their candidacies, but none seems particularly viable. The contender raising the most money through the Sept. 30 financial disclosure period is businesswoman Amy Pope Wells, but her receipts showed just under $40,000 raised for the campaign with a cash-on-hand figure of just under $8,500.

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