Tag Archives: Mississippi

Mississippi’s Dead Heat

By Jim Ellis

Mississippi state flag

Feb. 7, 2019 — The open Mississippi governor’s race will be decided later this year, and a new Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey (Jan. 30-Feb. 1; 625 registered Mississippi voters) finds Attorney General Jim Hood (D) and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) locked in a virtual tie. The Republican incumbent, Gov. Phil Bryant, is ineligible to seek a third term.

While Hood, a four-term AG, holds a slight 44-42 percent edge, Reeves has closed the original six-point spread that Mason-Dixon first found in their December 2017 poll (Hood 43 percent; Reeves 37 percent). In April of last year, M-D projected Hood’s advantage to be 44-39 percent.

But, winning the popular vote is not all that’s required to win a Mississippi statewide race. In similar fashion to a presidential candidate needing to score a victory in the Electoral College, a Mississippi gubernatorial candidate must not only record the most votes in the statewide aggregate count, he or she must also win a majority of the 122 state House districts.

Currently, Republicans hold a 72-46 split in the state House with four vacancies. Thus, it would appear Reeves would have a strong opportunity to capture at least a bare majority 63 House districts, assuming the statewide count is close. If no candidate carries a majority of state House districts, the state House members would then vote to decide the election between the top two finishers.

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The Early Senate Maneuvers

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 23, 2019 — Though it is only January of the off-year, already early moves are being made in anticipation of an active 2020 US Senate campaign cycle. With 34 in-cycle Senate races on the ballot, as many as 16, at this point, could become competitive in either the primary or general election.

Below is a quick synopsis of the latest happenings in several states:


OPEN SEATS

• Kansas: The open seat is Kansas is already active with backroom discussions. After first indicating that he would not leave his current position to run for the Senate, pressure is being put on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to re-consider his decision to stay out of the battle to succeed the retiring Sen. Pat Roberts (R).

Facing a badly split Republican Party in the Sunflower State, many GOP leaders at the state and federal level believe that Pompeo would be the best candidate to unify the disparate factions, which would enable him to easily hold the seat in the general election. This, after the party just lost the governorship.

• Tennessee: Former Gov. Bill Haslam (R) left office on Saturday and says he will decide in the next few weeks whether to seek retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (R) open seat. No one has yet come forward to announce his or her candidacy — the prospective field presumably frozen until Haslam makes public his political plans. Should the former governor decide to run, he would quickly become a prohibitive favorite in the Republican primary and general election.
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Kentucky Gubernatorial Race
Challengers Emerging

By Jim Ellis

Unpopular Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R)

Jan. 9, 2019 — Blue Grass State politics are beginning to boil, all centered around the 2019 governor’s race. With the candidate filing deadline fast approaching on Jan. 29 for the May 21 statewide primary, several individuals are announcing that they will challenge unpopular Gov. Matt Bevin (R), including a Republican state legislator who is expected to make his formal declaration today.

Though the governor has said he intends to seek a second term, and did so again a week before Christmas, the fact that he has yet to file a 2019 campaign committee has fueled speculation that he may decide to retire. Bevin was elected in 2015 with a relatively substantial 52.5 – 43.8 percent victory over then-Attorney General Jack Conway (D) after upsetting then-agriculture commissioner and now US congressman, James Comer (R-Tompkinsville), by just 83 votes in a May Republican primary that drew almost 215,000 voters.

Bevin’s popularity ratings, however, have largely been upside-down throughout his tenure in office. According to the Morning Consult quarterly national gubernatorial approval rankings that were released just before the November elections in mid-October, Gov. Bevin ranked 46th on the nationwide list, with a 30:55 percent positive to negative ratio.

None of those finishing below the Kentucky governor on that particular scale in October remains in office. The least popular, according to the survey, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), was ineligible to seek a third term last November. Republican Kevin Stitt replaced her. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) did not seek a third term and Democrat Ned Lamont held the office. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) was defeated for re-election, and Alaska Independent Gov. Bill Walker withdrew before the election because his political situation was hopeless.

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Senate 2020: The Second Tier – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 14, 2018 — Looking ahead to the 2020 US Senate cycle, eight states are clearly in the first tier, but there is budding action occurring in a secondary set of places, also. Today, we look at the first group of prospects.

With Republicans having to defend 22 of the 34 in-cycle seats, six are at the top of their protect list: (in alphabetical order) Arizona special, Colorado (Sen. Cory Gardner), Georgia (Sen. David Purdue), Iowa (Sen. Joni Ernst), Maine (Sen. Susan Collins), and North Carolina (Sen. Thom Tillis).

Democrats look to be defending two top targets: Alabama (Sen. Doug Jones) and New Hampshire (Sen. Jeanne Shaheen).

But developments are occurring, or could occur, in a series of other states, some of which could become highly competitive under the right circumstances.

• KANSAS: Sen. Pat Roberts (R) faced strong competition six years ago, and whether or not he decides to seek a fifth term is unclear at this point. With Democrats just winning the governor’s campaign here, it is possible there could soon be renewed interest in challenging for what is traditionally a safe Republican seat.

• KENTUCKY: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is on the ballot again in 2020. He won his last two competitive campaigns with 56 and 53 percent of the vote in 2014 and 2008, respectively. Potential candidates likely won’t come forward until the 2019 statewide campaigns, including the governor’s race, are completed.

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Hyde-Smith Wins in Mississippi

By Jim Ellis

Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R)

Nov. 28, 2018 — The 2018 election cycle ended in Mississippi last night as appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), overcoming several campaign gaffes and misstatements, defeated former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi congressman, Mike Espy (D), by a 54-46 percent margin from a robust turnout of what will exceed 880,000 voters.

In comparison, back on Nov. 6, Sen. Roger Wicker (R) was re-elected from a turnout of just over 936,000 individuals. Wicker’s vote total of 547,540 is roughly 73,000 tallies more than Hyde-Smith’s 474,471 unofficial total, but she outpaced Espy by more than 69,000 votes.

In what was predicted to be a relatively small special election turnout, the actual participation number, and a figure that will likely grow once remaining provisional and absentee ballots are fully counted, rather surprisingly exceeds 93 percent of the number participating in the general election just past.

Sen. Hyde-Smith carried 51 of the state’s 82 counties. Aside from the Columbus area in eastern Mississippi, Hyde-Smith swept most of the northern counties, ran very strong in the northeast counties, particularly in and around the city of Tupelo, as well as taking 14 counties from the southeastern group, including the six that directly border the Gulf of Mexico.

Espy virtually swept the western counties, those that largely comprise the 2nd Congressional District. This is the seat that he initially won in 1986, and which Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Bolton) currently holds.

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Yet Another Election

By Jim Ellis

Appointed Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), left, and Democrat challenger Mike Espy

Nov. 27, 2018 — The 2018 election cycle’s final contest comes today in Mississippi. The special run-off campaign between appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) and former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi congressman, Mike Espy (D), will decide if the 116th Congress will feature a Senate that brandishes a 53-47 Republican majority or a lesser 52-48.

The run-off occurs because no candidate received an absolute majority in the Nov. 6 special jungle primary. The special election is necessary because Sen. Thad Cochran (R) resigned for health reasons in the middle of his final term in office, thus necessitating an appointed replacement and this confirming electoral vote for the winner to serve the balance of the term. Whether Sen. Hyde-Smith or Espy wins today, there will be another election in the regular 2020 cycle for the full six-year term.

In the first vote, Sen. Hyde-Smith placed first, but barely, with a 41.5 percent plurality compared to Espy’s 40.6 percent, a difference of 8,284 votes from more than 883,600 ballots cast. The third-place finisher, Tea Party activist state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), captured the remaining 16.4 percent with Independent Tobey Bartee picking up the final 1.4 percent. Once the run-off began, Sen. McDaniel announced his support of Sen. Hyde-Smith, which should go a long way toward unifying her Republican base.

Controversy in this run-off campaign arose when Hyde-Smith made several unforced errors. Making statements about wanting to be present at a lynching, visiting a Confederate Museum where she donned a uniform, and now under attack for attending what was commonly referred to as a “segregation academy” for high school has put the appointed senator clearly on the defensive.

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Florida Ends; Others Called

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 20, 2018 — In a final result where the candidates were divided by less than two votes per precinct statewide, Gov. Rick Scott (R) defeated Sen. Bill Nelson (D) in the hotly contested Florida Senate race that proved a Herculean battle both before and after the election.

With the original vote falling within a half-percent margin, a mandatory machine recount commenced. Since it produced a separation of less than one-quarter percent between the two candidates, a mandatory hand recount began of the “under and “over votes”, i.e., those ballots where a voter either didn’t make their selection clear or appears to have marked more than one contender in the same contest.

Yesterday, when the afternoon hand count deadline produced a 10,033 vote margin for Gov. Scott, Sen. Nelson conceded the race and ended the seven lawsuits that had been filed by various parties contesting pools of votes and the post-election counting process.

The senator now completes a political career in which he served in elective office for 42 of the past 46 years as a state representative, US congressman, state insurance commissioner, and US senator. Counting his combined time in the House and Senate, Nelson will have served 30 years as a federal lawmaker when he leaves office in January.

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Election Day Is Here

2018-elections-open-seatsBy Jim Ellis,

Nov. 6, 2018 — At long last, the 2018 midterm Election Day has arrived. Democrats appear well positioned to capture the House of Representatives, but the question of how big a majority margin we will see remains. The large number of dead-even campaigns heading into today suggests that a small majority margin is the most likely outcome.

Republicans, largely because Democrats are defending 26 of the 35 Senate races, should hold control but, again, to what degree? Will their 51-49 margin increase? It appears they will successfully unseat North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D), but will Arizona and Nevada both hold for them, allowing more substantial gains? Does Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D-El Paso) new-found celebrity status and national fundraising prowess allow him to overcome Texas voting history to unseat first-term senator and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz? These and many other yet-to-be determined answers will be uncovered late tonight.

Several races may not finish tonight. Today is also the first time Louisiana voters will go to the polls during this cycle. Without a formal nomination process, the Bayou State consolidates its primary and general election into one vote. Therefore, if a candidate receives an absolute majority tonight, that individual is elected. If not, the top two finishers will advance to a Dec. 8 run-off. With no governor or Senate election on the ballot and little competition within the state’s six House districts, it appears likely that all congressional incumbents will win tonight. Next up, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), possibly facing US Sen. John Kennedy (R), will defend his position in the 2019 odd-numbered year election.

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The Democrats’ Path

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 25, 2018 — Most of the contemporary political talk surrounds the Democrats’ ability to gain the US House majority, but is there a viable path for a power shift in the Senate? Their road to a new Senate majority is much rockier than for the House, but at least a mathematical chance of that becoming reality does exist.

senate 2018 midterm election competitionLast week we reviewed the status of the 17 states that see legitimate competition for the in-cycle Senate seats. Now, looking at the latest Fox News Senate ratings, we can draw some conclusions about the Democrats’ victory chances.

It is important to remember that the minority Dems must defend 26 of the 35 in-cycle Senate races in the current election cycle. Thus, the party’s least complicated path is to run the table of their current 26 seats, and then take two of the five GOP states where they are fielding credible opposition candidates. Doing so would give the Dems a 51-49 majority.

But, this is easier said than done. According to Fox, and virtually all other media prognosticators, one of the Democratic seats, North Dakota, is already leaning to the Republicans, while three more (Florida, Indiana, and Missouri) reside in the “Toss-up” column.

Of the nine seats the Republicans need to defend, three reside in the Toss-up category (Arizona, Nevada, and Tennessee), while one is classified as a Lean Republican (Texas), and the remaining five (Nebraska, the two Mississippi seats, Utah, and Wyoming) are rated as Likely Republican. (Fox does not use a “safe” designation. The best a candidate of either party can achieve from a Fox News political rating is “likely.”)

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Senate Recap – Part I

By Jim Ellis

US Senate makeup

Current US Senate makeup

Sept. 21, 2018 — From the 35 US Senate in-cycle races it is clear that the major contests are narrowing to 16 competitive political battles. A 17th campaign, the one in California between Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) and state Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), is also competitive, at least to a degree, but since both candidates are Democrats the outcome will not alter the partisan composition. Therefore, the Golden State does not factor into the battle for the Senate majority.

Today, we look at eight of the races and provide a quick update on the latest developments. Concentrating on the 16, if Republicans win any four they will hold at least a bare majority.


ARIZONA

The race between Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) and Martha McSally (R-Tucson) has been flip flopping in the polls. Seven polls have been released in September. Rep. Sinema has led in five by an average of 3.4 percentage points. Rep. McSally took the lead in two surveys, with a mean of two percentage points.

A new independent group entitled Defend Arizona has launched a series of ads attacking Sinema that highlight previous statements advocating leniency for men who engage in child prostitution when the latter individual looks older than her age. How this line of attack will affect the race remains to be seen.


FLORIDA

Sen. Bill Nelson (D) is facing the strongest challenge of his career from Gov. Rick Scott (R). This race has been frequently polled, and no September study gives either man a lead of more than two points. Three polls project a Scott lead of one or two points. One survey gives Sen. Nelson a one-point edge, and a fifth study finds the two candidates deadlocked in a flat tie at 49 percent apiece.

Some believe that Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s presence on the statewide ticket as the Democratic gubernatorial nominee will help Sen. Nelson, others believe it will hurt. Those arguing that Gillum helps say that he will increase minority turnout, and that Nelson will tangentially benefit because such voters would likely vote straight Democratic. Those believing Gillum is a negative indicate that he will be portrayed as being too far left, which could be an impetus to spur more conservatives to vote.


INDIANA

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) faces former state representative and international businessman Mike Braun (R). Fox News conducted the only September poll in this race. Among likely voters, Braun had a two-point lead. But the registered voter universe tipped the scale toward Sen. Donnelly by a margin of just one point.

This is one more race that is a pure toss-up as we approach the last month of campaigning.


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Reviewing the Latest Senate Data

1200px-Seal_of_the_United_States_Senate.svgBy Jim Ellis

Aug. 23, 2018 — With 43 state electorates now having chosen nominees (most recently Alaska and Wyoming on Tuesday), it’s a good time to check just how the top Senate races are performing as the calendar turns towards Labor Day.

Currently, the national political map yields 16 Senate races where both parties have the potential to win. Below is a recap snapshot of the 11 competitive states where public polls have been released from mid-July to the present:


ARIZONA
Emerson College Polling (likely to be released yesterday or today)
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) — 50%
Rep. Martha McSally (R) — 42%

OH Predictive Insights (July 23-24; 600 likely Arizona voters)
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) — 48%
Rep. Martha McSally (R) — 44%

Note: The Arizona primary is Aug. 28. Rep. Sinema is a lock for the Democratic nomination, and all polling shows Rep. McSally leading beyond the margin of error for the Republicans.


CALIFORNIA
Public Policy Institute of California (July 8-17; 1,020 likely California voters)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) — 46%
St. Sen. Kevin de Leon (D) — 24%

Note: While the California race is not in play from a partisan standpoint, the campaign has competitive potential between the two Democratic contenders.


FLORIDA
Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies (July 24-25; 625 likely Florida voters)
Gov. Rick Scott (R) — 47%
Sen. Bill Nelson (R) — 44%

Florida Atlantic University (July 20-21; 800 registered Florida voters)
Gov. Rick Scott (R) — 44%
Sen. Bill Nelson (R) — 40%

Note: The Florida primary is Aug. 28. Both Sen. Nelson and Gov. Scott are sure winners in their respective nomination campaigns.
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Breaking Polls

the-primariesBy Jim Ellis

Aug. 20, 2018 — Now with 41 states having officially moved into general election campaign mode and two more, Alaska and Wyoming, voting on Tuesday, new November surveys and a key primary election poll were all just released into the public domain.
Looking at the two Senate special elections, the just-completed Minnesota primary yielded, as expected, appointed Sen. Tina Smith (D) advancing into the general election against Republican state Sen. Karin Housley (R). The Emerson College polling institute went into the field just before the primary vote, and released their data as the voting concluded.

According to the Emerson results (Aug. 8-11; 500 likely Minnesota general election voters conducted electronically), Sen. Smith jumps out to a small 32-28 percent lead over Housley when the two are paired in the now-official general election match-up. While 40 percent are not yet professing a choice, largely because both candidates have low name identification, we can expect this race to become a top-tier Senate campaign as the time progresses towards Election Day.

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Hyde-Smith Up in Mississippi

Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R)

Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R)

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 13, 2018 — A new Triumph Campaigns survey for the Y’all Politics blog (July 30-31; 2,100 likely Mississippi registered voters, 25 from each of the state’s four congressional districts) tested the two Mississippi US Senate campaigns. The results reveal interesting data for appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), who has been on the job since her April 9 induction ceremony after being appointed to succeed veteran Sen. Thad Cochran (R). The state’s senior senator, who amassed 40 years of service in the Senate, stepped down for health reasons.

According to the Triumph results, Sen. Hyde-Smith would lead former US Agriculture secretary and congressman Mike Espy (D), state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), and Independent Tobey Bartee, 41-27-15-1 percent in the statewide ballot test.

The new senator fares best in south and east congressional districts, numbers 3 and 4. The two Republicans do particularly well in the Biloxi-Gulfport anchored 4th District where the senator records 42 percent support and McDaniel has 24 percent, while Espy drops to 17 percent. Statewide, the preliminary data suggests that Hyde-Smith and Espy would move into a secondary run-off election.

In this special election, where the winner will fill the balance of the current term, all candidates will appear on the concurrent general election ballot. If no candidate receives majority support, the top two finishers will advance to a run-off election a few days after Thanksgiving, on Nov. 27.

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Rep. Crowley Gone? Not So Fast . . .
Our Seven-State Primary Breakdown

By Jim Ellis

Democrat-Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Democrat-Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

June 27, 2018 — In the surprise of last night’s voting, 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens), the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and the Queens County Democratic Party, lost his Democratic re-nomination battle to self-proclaimed Democrat-Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez last night, but he may not be finished. Since Rep. Crowley has already secured the Working Families and Women’s Equality Party ballot lines, he also advances into the general election.

While Ms. Ocasio-Cortez will command the Democratic line and college professor Anthony Pappas has the Republican position, the independent and minor parties will play a major role in this 14th District general election. With independent filing deadlines still to come, much can happen before the Nov. 6 ballot is actually finalized. At this point, Elizabeth Perri has the Conservative Party line and James Dillon the Reform Party designation. But, with Crowley and Ocasio-Cortez presumably doing battle for all of the left-of-center votes, suddenly the right-of-center lines become more valuable. A unifying of the three lines under one candidate, which is still possible, would allow a single, more conservative contender to be more competitive in this new situation.

The 14th Democratic primary turnout was low, what looks to be about 28,000 votes when all are counted, and Ocasio-Cortez received 57.5 percent compared to Rep. Crowley’s 42.5 percent. Interestingly, Crowley is the chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party, which gives him control over how the party will spend it money to support its new nominees, including Ocasio-Cortez.

The 14th CD contains parts of Queens and The Bronx, including the communities of Flushing (part), Throgs Neck, Jackson Heights, and College Point. The citizen age voting population is 39.9 percent Latino, 31.6 percent, Non-Hispanic White, 14.5 percent Asian, and 13.9 percent African American. The general election campaign becomes interesting to say the least.


COLORADO

The Centennial State vote went as expected. In the governor’s race, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) defeated a series of four candidates to win the Democratic nomination and advance into the general election. He scored a 45-25-23-7 percent victory over former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, the official party endorsed candidate, ex-state Sen. Mike Johnston, and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne. Polis will now face state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who won the Republican nomination, defeating former state Rep. Victor Mitchell and two others. The open general election will be competitive. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

In the House races, also as expected, former University of Colorado Regent Joe Neguse easily won the Democratic primary and becomes a prohibitive favorite to replace Rep. Polis in the US House.

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Big Primary Results

By Jim Ellis

June 6, 2018 — Voters chose their general election nominees in eight states last night with most races ending as predicted, though a few surprises also occurred. Here’s the rundown:

ALABAMA

the-primariesGov. Kay Ivey scored an outright Republican primary victory, defeating Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, state Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile), and two others. The governor scored 56 percent of the GOP primary vote. She will now face Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox in the general election. Maddox defeated former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, 55-29 percent, in last night’s Democratic primary. None of the other four candidates even reached 10 percent support.

In House races, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) placed first in her multi-candidate primary, but scored only 39 percent support. She will now advance to a July 17 run-off election with party-switching former Democratic Congressman and ex-Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright, who recorded 28 percent of the vote. In 2010, Roby unseated then-Democratic incumbent Bright, so the run-off will be a re-match of sorts. Her low vote total suggests that Rep. Roby is in danger of losing re-nomination in the secondary election. The winner faces business analyst Tabitha Isner who won the Democratic primary with 60 percent of the vote. Either Roby or Bright will be favored in the general election after the run-off concludes.

In the other challenged primary race, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) notched a 61-39 percent win over businessman Clayton Hinchman. Earlier, this looked to be a significant challenge, but Rep. Brooks easily secured re-nomination.


CALIFORNIA

The California tabulation is incomplete as votes can still be received through Friday. Ballots postmarked yesterday will count as long as they reach the county elections office by 5 pm on Friday. Therefore, some second place finishes in the various races are somewhat undetermined though the current leader for the final general election qualifying position will likely hold on through the final counting phase.

As expected, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) finished first (33 percent) in the open governor’s race and advances into the November general election. Republican attorney and former presidential candidate John Cox (26 percent) clinched second place making both the state GOP leadership and Newsom happy. The Republicans needed a statewide candidate in the general election to help with voter turnout for the down ballot races, while Newsom clearly wanted a Republican against him in the general as opposed to another Democrat. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa finished third (13 percent) and state Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) was fourth (10 percent). In all, 27 individuals received votes for governor in the state’s jungle primary format.

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