Tag Archives: New Hampshire

Why Arizona is So Pivotal

By Jim Ellis

Does Arizona hold the key in a Trump-Biden election?

Sept. 16, 2020 — For several reasons, the Grand Canyon State of Arizona is possibly the most important state on the political map to determine the ultimate presidential election outcome.

Primarily, Arizona is one of five core states that President Trump must win to form a foundation for a favorable remaining state coalition map. The other four, geographically from west to east, are Texas, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina. Should Joe Biden break through in any one of these five states, he will likely win the national election.

At this point, Arizona appears to be the most precarious of the Trump core states. While the President’s numbers are improving here, the September polls find him trailing Biden in all six publicly released surveys from a range of one to nine points among likely voters, with a mean average of Biden plus-4, and a median of Biden plus-3.5.

The five states are so critical to President Trump, or any Republican national candidate, because, as a unit, they yield a relatively easy remaining victory map. Carrying the five southern sector domains and assuming no leakage in Ohio or Iowa, and even while not winning Nevada or New Hampshire, the GOP nominee then claims the presidency with a victory in any one of the key Great Lakes states: Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin. For a Democrat to win under this scenario, he or she would be forced to sweep the aforementioned quartet.

President Trump won the 2016 Electoral College vote 306-232, which means he can relinquish a net 36 electoral votes in 2020 and still win the national election. Under the scenario of him taking either Wisconsin or Minnesota, along with keeping Arizona, he would defeat Biden with exactly 270 electoral votes. This model also assumes he wins the 2nd Congressional District from both Nebraska and Maine, the two states that split their electoral votes. He won both in 2016. Under this scenario, Michigan and Pennsylvania would go to Biden.

Arizona, now potentially teetering toward the Democrats, is critical to the president’s prospects because Trump cannot afford to trade it for one of the western Great Lakes States, either Minnesota or Wisconsin. Such a loss would force the president to win two of the four Great Lakes, but only one could be Minnesota or Wisconsin since those two states have 10 electoral votes and Arizona has 11.

Therefore, simply put, losing Arizona because of its 11th electoral vote would mean that Trump would be forced to carry either Michigan or Pennsylvania in addition to one of the other three remaining Great Lakes States. A further scenario involving Trump losing Arizona and replacing it with both of the 10-electoral vote states (MN and WI) could result in the election ending in a 269-269 tie. This would force a tiebreaker to be decided in the US House of Representatives.

Let’s look at the chances of Trump winning Arizona by comparing his current standing to where he was at this point in 2016. Looking at the Real Clear Politics polling archives, we find that 19 Arizona polls were conducted during the entire 2016 election cycle. In 2020, just since the July 4th holiday break, 25 surveys were publicly reported in the Grand Canyon State.

Four years ago, at the end of August through mid-September, two individual polls came from Gravis Marketing (Aug. 25-27, 2016) and NBC News/Marist College (Sept. 6-8, 2016). These surveys yielded Trump four and one-point leads, respectively. Shortly thereafter, the trend began to turn Hillary Clinton’s way. The OH Predictive Insights survey (Sept. 28-30, 2016) found the two candidates tied at 42 percent apiece, while Emerson College (Oct. 2-4, 2016) and the Arizona Republic newspaper poll (Oct. 10-15, 2016) detected consecutive leads for Clinton of two and five points.

Therefore, Arizona did not turn toward Trump for good until the Monmouth University survey in late October (Oct. 21-24, 2016), which put him just one point ahead. Going into the election from that point, and remembering the 2016 election was on Nov. 8, Trump led in the final four polls from a two to five-point margin. He would eventually win the actual vote count by 3.6 percentage points, 48.7 – 45.1 percent, meaning a raw vote margin of 91,234 votes of more than 2.573 million ballots cast.

Because of Arizona’s fast population growth, the state has changed in four years. During that interval, the overall population expanded five percentage points to 7,278,717 individuals according to the Census Bureau’s July 2019 estimate, the latest available.

Minorities, specifically Hispanics and blacks, account for approximately 69 percent of the population gain, thus at least partially explaining Biden’s improved prospects in the state. Overall, Hispanics represent 31.7 percent of the overall Arizona population, and blacks 5.2 percent, as compared to the non-Hispanic white position receding to 54.1 percent.

The population changes suggest that this already tight political state will likely become even closer as we head for Nov. 3.

New Hampshire Results

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 9, 2020 — The New Hampshire nomination vote was held yesterday, ironically very late in an election cycle in which this state was the first to host a presidential primary. The results unfolded as generally predicted.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen stands for a third term and was easily re-nominated with 94 percent of the vote against a weak Democratic opposition field. On the Republican side, businessman Bryant “Corky” Messner, who has already loaned his campaign approximately $4 million, defeated retired Army general Don Bolduc with a 51-42 percent victory margin. Sen. Shaheen is a clear favorite for the general election, but upsets are a frequent occurrence in New Hampshire politics, so no victory can be taken for granted.

A close election here is possible again. In Sen. Shaheen’s two federal election victories, her win percentages were only 51.6 and 51.5 percent in 2008 and 2014, respectively. Additionally, in the 2002 campaign, as the sitting governor, she lost to then-US Rep. John E. Sununu (R), 51-46 percent. Returning for the 2008 race she unseated her former opponent, and then six years later defeated former Massachusetts US Sen. Scott Brown (R) who launched a new Senate bid from his neighboring state.

The last election for the state’s other Senate seat was also very close. In 2016, then-Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) unseated Sen. Kelly Ayotte, 48.0 – 47.8 percent, a margin of just 1,017 votes from more than 739,000 ballots cast.

Gov. Chris Sununu (R) is running for a third two-year term – New Hampshire and neighboring Vermont are the only two states that mandate two-year gubernatorial terms – and was easily re-nominated with 90 percent of the Republican primary vote. The Democrats, however, featured a more competitive contest, with state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes (D-Concord) apparently topping Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, 51-49 percent, but with several precincts still outstanding. It is likely the Feltes margin will hold, though it is still mathematically possible for the final outcome to switch.

Turnout in the state was interesting because of its inconsistency between the two statewide offices, which is unusual. In the governor’s race, more Republicans than Democrats voted, so far 129,404 to 124,697 with further ballots to count. The Senate campaign, however, featuring a Democratic incumbent, saw a reversal of the turnout model. In that race, more Democrats have voted so far, 133,729 to 122,676.

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New Hampshire Primary Today

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 8, 2020 — Winding through the final state primaries, voters in the Granite State cast their ballots today in order to nominate candidates for US Senate, governor, and two congressional districts. After today, only three primaries remain: next Tuesday in Delaware and Rhode Island, and the Louisiana jungle primary that runs concurrently with the general election.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen stands for a third term this year and draws only minor opposition on the Democratic ballot. On the Republican side, businessman Corky Messner, who has already loaned his campaign approximately $4 million, is favored to top retired Army General Don Bolduc.

Messner certainly has the resources to run a competitive race against Sen. Shaheen, but there is no question she is a heavy favorite in the general election. Prior to being elected to the Senate in 2008, Shaheen served three two-year terms as governor but lost her first Senate bid opposite then-US Rep. John E. Sununu (R) in 2002.

Since the turn of the century, however, New Hampshire has been one of the most volatile political states, and swingingly wildly from the top of the ticket all the way down the ballot has become a frequent occurrence. Therefore, incumbents from both parties can never be considered completely safe.

Gov. Chris Sununu (R) stands for a third two-year term – New Hampshire and neighboring Vermont are the only two states that mandate two-year gubernatorial terms – and faces only Franklin City councilwoman and radio talk show host Karen Testerman and a man named Nobody, who frequently runs for New Hampshire political office as a Republican or a Libertarian Party member.

The Democrats feature a two-way gubernatorial nomination race between state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes (D-Concord) and Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky. New Hampshire’s unique Executive Council is a five-member panel elected in districts and serve as gubernatorial advisors and a check on the governor’s power. The Executive Council has veto power over pardons, nominations and large state contracts. Polling suggests a close race.

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Senate Sleepers in Minnesota
and South Carolina

By Jim Ellis

Are incumbents Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN), left, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in re-election trouble?

Sept. 8, 2020 — At the beginning of the 2020 election cycle, it appeared that Sens. Tina Smith (D-MN) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) were set for re-election. That no longer appears to be the case.

Polling is now consistently showing close races in the two states, and Sen. Smith’s recent comments about the police have seemingly moved her re-election campaign closer to the toss-up category according to a just-released Harper Polling survey.

Looking at the HP data (Aug. 30-Sept. 1; 50 likely Minnesota voters via live interview), Sen. Smith’s ballot test edge has dropped to just 43-41 percent over former US Rep. Jason Lewis (R).

In May, Harper found Sen. Smith posting a 46-35 percent advantage over Lewis. After this release, Public Policy Polling forecast a 48-39 percent split toward the end of July. Lastly, Emerson College published what appears to be precursor data to the latest Harper findings. The Boston-based university poll (Aug. 8-10; 73 likely Minnesota voters) found a three-point split between the two contenders, 48-45 percent, again in Sen. Smith’s favor.

To the southeast of liberal Minnesota, in conservative South Carolina, veteran Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) has also fallen into a competitive contest with former state Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison, who had raised an incredible $29 million for his smaller state race through the end of June.

The most recent poll we have seen from the Palmetto State was released at the beginning of August. Quinnipiac University (July 30-Aug. 3; 91 registered South Carolina voters) detected a 44-44 percent tie between Sen. Graham and Harrison. From mid-July through the beginning of August, six surveys were conducted, including the Quinnipiac study, and Sen. Graham’s average lead was only 2.8 percentage points.

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Minnesota: A Player

By Jim Ellis

May 27, 2020 — Most of this year’s political attention will be focused on the presidential election’s top tier states of Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin, but a second-tier domain could also become a political player, at least according to a new poll.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, surveying for the Star Tribune newspaper, along with Minnesota Public Radio and KARE Television Channel 11 (May 18-20; 800 registered Minnesota voters) finds former vice president Joe Biden, as expected, leading President Trump. The margin between the two contenders, however, is a relatively close 49-44 percent.

Minnesota has been the most loyal domain for Democratic presidential nominees. The last time the state’s electorate voted Republican for the nation’s top office occurred all the way back in 1972 when President Richard Nixon carried the North Star State over then-Sen. George McGovern (D-SD). In 1984, President Ronald Reagan came close to beating former vice president and ex-Minnesota senator Walter Mondale but fell 3,761 votes short. The next closest Republican finisher was President Trump in 2016, losing in a 1.5 percentage point spread.

The Trump campaign has already said publicly they plan to make Minnesota a target, along with New Hampshire – another Hillary Clinton state that was close (46.8 – 46.5 percent) – a result that would give Trump a huge boost if he were to convert any state that went against him four years ago.

The Mason-Dixon Minnesota poll divides in stark fashion. The Minneapolis-St. Paul area, specifically noted as Hennepin and Ramsey counties in this survey, breaks for Biden, 62-29 percent. The rest of the metro area, defined as the Twin Cities’ outer suburbs, posts a much closer 48-44 percent Biden edge.

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