Tag Archives: National Republican Congressional Committee

Setting the 2020 Stage – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 3, 2018 — The election of Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) as the new Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chair at last week’s House Democratic Conference, and Rep. Tom Emmer’s (R-MN) previous selection to lead the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) for the coming election cycle means the national players are coming into focus for the next campaign year.

Bustos topped Washington Reps. Denny Heck (D-Olympia) and Suzan DelBene (D-Medina/Redmond) 117-83-32 in the conference election to officially head the DCCC. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) was also a candidate, but he is hospitalized recovering from a bacterial infection and was unable to attend the meeting. He failed to convince the membership to postpone the internal election.

With a partisan division of 235D – 200R in the 116th Congress, the Republicans will need a net gain of at least 18 seats to re-take the House majority. With 43 seats that flipped from Republican to Democrat in the November election, the field would appear ripe for GOP challenge efforts.

The first category that we cover today is comprised of the most obvious seats that will be battleground districts in 2020. A total of 18 seats can currently be considered for this category and again figure to be among the most competitive districts in the next election cycle.

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VA-10: Momentum Change;
Dems: Eye-Popping Dollars

By Jim Ellis

Virginia state Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Loudoun County (left) | Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-McLean (right)

Virginia state Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Loudoun County (left) | Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-McLean (right)

Oct. 4, 2018 — Recently, signals were developing that Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock’s (R-McLean) campaign status against state Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D-Loudoun County) was trending poorly to the point that she was becoming one of the most endangered incumbents in the nation. Now, the political winds appear to be changing.

In June, Monmouth University released a survey that found the congresswoman dropping behind her Democratic opponent by a substantial margin, 50-41 percent, under a standard midterm turnout model; President Trump’s approval rating was severely upside down; and rumors were circulating that the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) was looking to cancel its multi-million dollar media air time reservation.

Now, things have picked up for Comstock. Yesterday, Monmouth released their new survey for this district (Sept. 26-30; 374 likely VA-10 voters), and it shows her gaining strength when compared to their June data. Still, Wexton leads in all three of their projected turnout models, but it is clear that the momentum is moving in Comstock’s direction.

Under the standard midterm participation model, the Wexton lead is 50-44 percent. If the turnout is low, her margin dips to 50-46 percent. And, if a “Democratic surge” actually takes hold of the electorate, the margin increases to 53-42 percent.

Though Rep. Comstock is behind under all turnout models, her standing has improved in each since June, and reports from inside her campaign suggest the numbers might be even better. Under the standard turnout model forecast in June, the Comstock gain is a net three percentage points. Within the low turnout model, she gains a net five points, and even her standing vis-a-vis the “Democratic surge” is better, by a net two percent.

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The Spending Clues

By Jim Ellis

nrcc-dcccSept. 28, 2018 — The old saying, “put your money where your mouth is,” certainly applies to campaign politics, and we have new evidence of that. Currently, there is much conjecture and banter about which candidates are going to win various House races, including media prognosticators making predictions about how the Nov. 6 election will unfold, but a better clue as to what the party leaders actually believe can be found in their spending reports.

Looking at the most recent independent expenditures from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) tells us which races the party leadership believes are their top current priorities. For a full report on all recent expenditures, check the Daily Kos Elections blog, Daily-Kos-Elections-Live-Digest-9-26.

Though the latest expenditure reports tell us which are the hot, undecided races, they don’t provide the entire picture. Media market size and previous expenditure amounts also must be considered, particularly the former. For example, a $378,000 DCCC media buy in the 2nd District of Kansas is major, whereas spending $375,000 in Nevada’s 3rd District wholly contained in the expensive Las Vegas market isn’t nearly as large even though the dollar amounts are equivalent.

That being the said, the districts where the DCCC is spending more than $500,000 in current expenditures are:
• VA-10: Against Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-McLean) – $567,000
• MN-1: Open seat defense district – $539,000
• WA-8: Open seat conversion opportunity – $518,000
• NV-4: Open seat defense district – $508,000
• MN-8: Open seat defense district – $500,000

The NRCC is spending similar amounts but not as much in:
• WA-8: $484,000
• FL-26: Protecting Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Miami) – $435,000
• VA-10: $422,000

Obviously, the VA-10 and WA-8 races are very hot because both districts are at the top of each party’s expenditure lists.
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The Healthcare Attacks

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 27, 2018 — Now that the economy is rolling, surveys are beginning to show that jobs and taxes are lesser campaign issues.

Some state and district polls indicate that the economy is dropping from the most important issue commonly cited all the way down to number three. Depending on the district or state location, immigration moves into the second slot, while healthcare now becomes the top concern. Most research consistently finds these three issues, in some order, as the most important set of topics that could move voters in an election, however.

Therefore, it is not surprising to see the two major party congressional arms attacking their opponents about healthcare, but from very different perspectives. The method of attack is becoming prevalent in virtually all of the top campaigns.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) ad attacking Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) in a suburban Chicago race

Democrats, usually using the DCCC as their message delivery entity, though the House Majority PAC, which is the Democrats’ main outside organization commonly involved in congressional races, is also a major part of the attack portfolio, hits Republican incumbents for voting to end coverage for pre-existing conditions.

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Balancing the Scale

By Jim Ellis

March 30, 2018 — The Hill newspaper released an article entitled, “GOP Seeks to Avoid Dem Upset in Arizona” Wednesday, but there is little empirical evidence to suggest that any such result is in the offing.

Is Arizona Republican candidate Debbie Lesko facing defeat by Democrat Hiral Tipirneni ?

Is Arizona Republican candidate Debbie Lesko (above) facing defeat by Democrat Hiral Tipirneni?

The Hill correspondents Ben Kamisar and Lisa Hagen report that the national Republican political apparatus in the form of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Republican National Committee, and the Congressional Leadership Fund (the latter organization loosely affiliated with Speaker Paul Ryan), are investing a combined $570,000 to protect what should be a safe seat. The spending reference somehow provides substantiation that Democrat Hiral Tipirneni is potentially positioning herself to defeat former state Senate President Pro Tempore Debbie Lesko in the April 24 special election to replace resigned Rep. Trent Franks (R-Peoria).

Fresh from a stinging loss in the western Pennsylvania special election, Republican House members and rank and file supporters would rebel if the political committees were not taking this impending race seriously. Therefore, the ingestion of what is a modest amount of money when compared to previous special election spending has much more to do with covering internal political bases than any reference suggesting trouble for Lesko.

Moreover, even in their own copy, the authors quote numbers from Democratic pollster Lake Research for the Tiperneni campaign that find Lesko’s lead registering 14 percentage points. The Republican campaign confirms, according to the article, that their internal polls also show a double-digit lead. The survey spread is then contrasted with President Trump’s 21-point victory from this district to suggest that Lesko is under-performing.

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GA-6: Ossoff vs. Handel

By Jim Ellis

April 20, 2017
— Democrat Jon Ossoff came within a relative whisker of capturing the 6th District special election contest last night against 17 other candidates. In an election night that featured a laboriously slow count from Fulton County, Georgia, which experienced technical problems throughout the day, Ossoff tallied 48.1 percent of the vote, just two points away from winning the seat.

Turnout was unusually high for a special election, and the 6th will likely have the highest participation factor of the five special congressional contests occurring throughout the early summer. With the vote totals still a bit sketchy because of the Fulton County problems, and final tallies potentially changing, it appears that just over 192,000 voters will have cast ballots. Compare this to the 28,731 who voted in the California special congressional election on April 4, and the 120,897 participants in the Kansas special held last week. In the regular 2016 general election, 326,005 individuals voted in the congressional election.

Karen Handel, the Republican former Secretary of State placed a solid second and advances to the June 20 run-off election with Ossoff. Her percentage of just about 20 percent almost doubled the vote of the third place finisher, businessman and local city councilman Bob Gray.

Most of the polls released before the special jungle primary appeared flawed because they were not listing all of the candidates. Thus, there was some potential that the surveys over-stated Ossoff’s strength, but such was not the case. They also consistently showed the four competitive Republicans are closely bunched together in low double-digits, but Handel distinctly out-performed most of those estimates.

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New Frontline Program Incumbents

By Jim Ellis

March 9, 2017 — In February, the National Republican Congressional Committee announced the first round of its Patriot Program, the system where GOP House members help raise funds to support those in the most politically marginal districts. Now, the Democrats have countered.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s leadership has included 19 incumbents in their Frontline Program’s first wave, an usually large number.

Of the 19, 10 should be considered truly vulnerable top-tier targets. They are:

• Tom O’Halleran – AZ-1 – 50.7% win percentage – Trump district
• Stephanie Murphy – FL-7 – 51.5%
• Charlie Crist – FL-13 – 51.9%
• Brad Schneider – IL-10 – 52.6%
• David Loebsack – IA-2 – 53.7% – Trump district
• Rick Nolan – MN-8 – 50.2% – Trump district
• Josh Gottheimer – NJ-5 – 51.1% – Trump district
• Carol Shea-Porter – NH-1 – 44.3% – Trump district
• Jacky Rosen – NV-3 – 47.2% – Trump district
• Sean Patrick Maloney – NY-18 – 50.8% – Trump district

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NRCC Releases 2018 Targets

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 10, 2017 — In late January the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released their list of 59 current Republican House targets, and now the GOP committee leadership has countered in publicizing their own group of 36 politically marginal Democratic incumbents.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) released the targets this week, and their primary offensive list is not particularly surprising. It naturally includes the 12 Democratic districts that President Trump carried, before adding two dozen of which some are certainly more vulnerable than others.

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The GOP Unites

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 16, 2016 — Though the media has obsessed over stories about internal Republican skirmishes for the past four years, the House GOP Conference came together yesterday in a strong show of unity just as the Democrats begin to see division in their own ranks.

In the GOP leadership elections, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) was re-nominated for the House’s top post without opposition, with his re-election bid seconded by the congressional liaison to the incoming Trump Administration, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY-27).

The other incumbent party leaders, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA-1), and Republican Conference chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-5) were also re-elected without opposition, all enjoying at least tacit support from the president-elect.

In the major contested internal battle, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) claimed the National Republican Congressional Committee chairmanship with a 60 percent victory over Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX-25). Stivers replaces Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR-2), who was ineligible to seek a third term in the position.

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It’s Already Beginning


By Jim Ellis

Oct. 18, 2016 — Last week we predicted that Senate and House Republicans would soon begin distancing themselves from Donald Trump and start making the argument that voters should not invest all political power with unpopular Hillary Clinton. Already, we see such a move.

In New York’s open politically marginal 22nd District, the National Republican Congressional Committee just launched a new ad (above) for GOP Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, who is currently locked in a difficult three-way battle with Democratic local official Kim Myers, and wealthy, self-funding Independent Martin Babinec. The spot explains how Tenney will “stand up to Hillary Clinton just like she’s always stood up to Gov. Cuomo,” thereby at least indirectly conceding that the former Secretary of State and First Lady will become president.

The NRCC spokespeople deny that the committee’s leadership is “changing strategy or assuming that Trump will lose.” Irrespective of the political organization’s public position, however, initiating such a message does portend a Trump defeat, but is an understandable retreat in a state that will vote overwhelmingly for Clinton. The thought process behind the ad attempts to take advantage of the fact that even though Clinton is well positioned for victory, her favorability index is poor, and trepidation about her becoming the nation’s chief executive certainly exists even among those supporting her.

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The Real Races

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 10, 2016 — Last week, we concentrated on how the major party committees and principal outside organizations are spending their advertising money, and what their dollar commitments mean in terms of forecasting wins and losses.

The expenditures, backed with plausible polling, reveal those candidates the party strategists regard as contenders who can actually win or incumbents in need of substantial assistance. The spending charts also clearly identify the Republican members and candidates that the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) leadership is willing to sacrifice in order to support their internal leadership preferences.

The Daily Kos Elections website staff members have constructed a chart to track the media spending of the two major US House support committees, the NRCC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and a key outside organization specifically supporting individual Democratic and Republican candidates. Daily Kos is tracking the House Majority Fund on the Democratic side and the Congressional Leadership Fund for the Republicans.

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House Polls: Developing Trends

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 6, 2016 — A number of important House polls have already come into the public domain this week and, together, they provide us some clues about what we can expect in November.

New surveys across the country from east to west, beginning in New Jersey and New York, then traveling through Iowa, and into Nevada and California provide some good news for certain Democratic challengers, but not nearly enough to make a sizable dent in the 59-seat Republican majority.

For the Democrats to make any credible run at the GOP majority, they must score multiple seat gains in New York, Florida, and California, plus taking back what should be Democratic seats in Iowa and Nevada.

Their run against seven-term incumbent Scott Garrett (R-NJ-5) appears to be gaining serious legs. The Democrats are pounding Garrett for his social issue views, and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) finds itself in a difficult position about whether to help an incumbent who withheld his own party dues because the committee supports gay candidates.

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Conflicting Signals

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 27, 2016 — As the presidential candidates debated last evening, other political news is also is bubbling to the surface. In three House races, recent conflicting polling data in two and the respective party operatives seeing things much differently in a third yield contradictory analyses.

NH-1

As we’ve reported many times before, the NH-1 race this year represents the fourth consecutive campaign between Rep. Frank Guinta (R-Manchester) and former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D). Guinta won in 2010 and 2014, Shea-Porter in 2012. This year promises to be close again in the New Hampshire district that has defeated more incumbents during the last 10 years than any other congressional seat.

Guinta became vulnerable virtually from the point of his winning the seat back in 2014. A Federal Election Commission violation proved to be a major setback for him in the off-year, but he rebounded to the point of barely winning his primary on Sept. 13 (a 629-vote margin). Democrats rate NH-1 as one of their best conversion opportunities in the nation.

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They’re At It Again

By Jim Ellis

May 27, 2016 — Now the Republicans are doing it.

Before the May 10 Nebraska primary, we detailed how the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was running television ads under their own acronym, advising Omaha Republican voters about who was the most conservative candidate. As we chronicled, the Democrats’ ploy to promote former state senator and Douglas County Commissioner Chip Maxwell because they believed him to be the weaker contender, had little effect since retired Gen. Don Bacon (R) won a landslide Republican nomination victory.

Now, Republicans are replicating the tactic in California. Feeling they have a chance to advance a pair of Republicans in the open June 7 CA-24 jungle congressional primary, the National Republican Congressional Committee, under the disclaimer “NRCC”, is now attempting to “educate” the Democratic electorate about who is the more liberal candidate.

The new ad targets Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, who the NRCC and most political analysts believe is the strongest Democratic candidate. The 24th District is open this year because veteran Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) is retiring.

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New GOP House Data

Sept. 24, 2015 — The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) commissioned Harper Polling (HP) to conduct surveys in presumed vulnerable incumbent districts for next year. In five of the situations where the Democrats have already recruited credible candidates, the preliminary data is favorable for the party office holders. Still, an eventual shift in the political tide could easily make these campaigns highly competitive for 2016.

The quintet of released polls feature representatives Martha McSally (R-AZ-2), Mike Bost (R-IL-12), Tim Walberg (R-MI-7), Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21), and John Katko (R-NY-24).

Rep. McSally won the closest of all 2014 elections, a 167-vote victory over then-Tucson Democratic incumbent Ron Barber. Though the Harper data projects McSally with a discernible lead, there is little question that the succeeding 2016 contest will again be close.

All four of these polls were conducted during the Sept. 12-16 period. In Arizona’s 2nd District, 484 likely general election voters were sampled. The sample’s partisan division was a reflective 39 percent Democratic, 36 percent Republican, 25 percent Independent, which is an accurate depiction of the district as a whole. Today, HP finds Rep. McSally holding almost identical leads over her two Democratic opponents, both of whom have state legislative experience.

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