Tag Archives: New York

Senate ’18 Updates – Part III

By Jim Ellis

March 21, 2017 — Today, we continue to examine the latest happenings for the coming 2018 Senate campaigns.

• New Mexico:
The open governor’s race is attracting most of the early political attention in the Land of Enchantment. Once the field to replace term-limited Gov. Susana Martinez (R) solidifies itself, it’s possible we could see more interest develop for opposing first-term Sen. Martin Heinrich (D). Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, US Rep. Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs), and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry are all potential Republican gubernatorial candidates. So far, only State Labor Commissioner Mick Rich (R) is an announced US Senate candidate.

• New York: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) is preparing for re-election to a second six-year term in 2018. Presidential overtones will affect this race, as the senator is being mentioned as a possible national Democratic candidate. Little in the way of Republican Senate opposition is forming against her right now.

• North Dakota: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) attracted a great deal of media attention when President Trump first interviewed her for Agriculture Secretary during the post-election transition period. A 50-49 percent winner in 2012, Heitkamp defeated one-term at-large US Rep. Rick Berg (R), and now she prepares for a second term possibly against another at-large congressman. Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) says he will decide whether to run for the Senate “in the next few months.” Obviously, a Heitkamp-Cramer race would be a hard fought contest, but it is far from certain that the congressman will make the challenge. This is clearly a race to watch, and a top Republican conversion target, especially if Rep. Cramer decides to run.

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Polarized, or Not?

By Jim Ellis

March 1, 2017 — Much is being made about President Trump’s early job approval ratings. Almost across the board, they are low, and particularly so for a new national chief executive, which has naturally attracted media attention.

In their late February report about political polarization, the Gallup polling organization, which began testing presidential job approval back in the Truman Administration and has regularly continued the practice ever since, argues that polarization among the self-identified Republicans and Democrats is a major obstacle for President Trump to overcome. They further make the point that this is not a new phenomenon, as partisan approval polling detected similar numbers for presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

The Gallup analysis, on and around the Feb. 20 time frame, found President Trump’s job approval rating to be 42 percent. When they looked at the two previous presidents, also hitting 42 percent approval rating at certain points in their own presidencies, Gallup found the level of partisan support and opposition among Democrats and Republicans for the president of their own party was virtually identical.

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Democrats Play Offense

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 1, 2017 — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), in a memo from Executive Director Dan Sena, on Tuesday released their first 2018 target list of who they believe are the vulnerable Republican US House members. A total of 59 districts occupy the list; some that make sense, while others are long shots to say the least.

Included are eight freshmen members: representatives Brian Mast (FL-18), Jason Lewis (MN-2), Ted Budd (NC-13), Don Bacon (NE-2), John Faso (NY-19), Claudia Tenney (NY-22), Lloyd Smucker (PA-16), and Scott Taylor (VA-2). The freshman targets’ win percentages span from a low of 43.7 percent (Tenney) to a high 61.3 percent (Taylor), with an average of 51.9 percent among the eight.

Within the entire group of 59 targets, only five failed to reach majority support in their districts: representatives Tenney (43.7 percent), Lewis (46.9 percent), Will Hurd (TX-23; 48.3 percent), Martha Roby (AL-2; 48.8 percent), and Bacon (48.9 percent).

In the 59 Republican CDs, Hillary Clinton’s performance was better than former President Obama’s 2012 showing in 23 of them, her best Republican district being Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s South Florida FL-27, where the 2016 Democratic nominee garnered 58.6 percent. Sophomore Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s neighboring 26th District was her second-best seat. Here, Clinton tallied 56.7 percent of the vote.

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Election 2016: Urban vs. Rural

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 26, 2017 — Now that the election returns are official and divided into congressional district and county totals, we can now see exactly how the presidential election unfolded.

It became clear from early Election Night totals that Donald Trump won the national vote because of his performance in the outer suburbs and rural areas in the 30 states that he carried over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. His margins there, largely because of turnout, were enough to compensate for Clinton’s larger-than-expected advantages in the major cities and inner suburbs.

In looking at the country’s largest metropolitan statistical areas, we find that Clinton scored an average 59.9 percent of the vote, when averaging her percentage performance in the nation’s 10 most populous urban regions. This compares to President Trump’s 35.8 percent. Keep in mind that the national popular vote percentage total was 48.1 – 46.0 percent.

In the rural areas surrounding these specific urban centers, the numbers dramatically changed. Counterbalancing the Clinton margins in the metroplexes, Trump’s lead in the outer suburban and rural regions in the states he carried was roughly equivalent to the former secretary of state’s urban advantage but with greater turnout. In the corresponding Trump state rural regions, the new president averaged 56.8 percent as compared to Clinton’s 39.7 percent.

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House Becoming Clearer

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 4, 2016 — The late turnout trends, as influenced greatly by how the presidential race is closing, may well be increasing Republican/right-of-center voter participation. If so, this will have great effect upon the House races, potentially holding down Democratic gains because more heavily contested GOP incumbents will survive.

Looking at all House as we head into the final weekend of campaigning, it appears that 226 seats are rated as Safe Republican, Republican Favored, or Lean Republican. Democrats look to have 189 seats where their candidates are rated as safe, favored or leaning to their party.

The remaining 20 are toss-up campaigns. Sixteen of these are in current Republican CDs, while the remaining four are Democratic.

Included in what we can refer to as the “decided count”, are five Republican seats headed to the Democratic column and one Dem seat returning to the GOP. Four of these six turning districts are directly related to the mid-decade redistricting process in Florida and Virginia.

The one Democratic seat going Republican is the open northern Florida seat of retiring Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee). Because the adjacent 5th District was drawn to elect a minority candidate in a drastically different manner than the previous 5th District, a major chunk of Rep. Graham’s Democratic base was removed from her 2nd District. Without a reasonable place to run for re-election, Graham retired after one term, but we will likely see her in the 2018 open governor’s race. The new 2nd District will go to Dr. Neal Dunn, who won a two-point Republican primary victory in late August. Under the new draw, the GOP nomination is tantamount to election in the fall.

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Early Voting: Definitive?

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 31, 2016 — Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia have some form of what is commonly called “no excuse” early voting, and some of those release the number and type of ballots being returned well before Election Day. Can this provide us an insight into how the election is already unfolding?

There are many analytical pieces now in the public domain featuring many different conclusions. It doesn’t appear likely, however, that the early voting numbers are really telling us much. It appears that no matter what your electoral preference, you can find an early voting analysis that supports your individual political outlook.

Therefore, with so many more voters projected to take advantage of the early voting process, it’s difficult to make comparisons between this election and those from the past. It is likely that either a majority of 2016 voters, or close to one, will cast their ballots prior to the actual Nov. 8 Election Day, up from approximately 40 percent in the last presidential election.

Forty states have some type of no-excuse early voting procedure, including every individual entity west of the Mississippi River. Six states: Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, South Carolina, and Virginia, technically allow early voting, but one must indicate a coming absence from the home area during the Election Day period in order to cast an early ballot.

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The Money Factor

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 21, 2016 — Breaking information is now allowing us to categorize the recent rhetoric from strategists’ in both parties. The newly released Federal Election Commission financial disclosure reports and accompanying media spending figures give us a pretty clear indication about which races are truly hot, versus those that can be classified as pretenders.

The 3rd quarter disclosure reports are available for most campaigns but some of the Senate contests, such as the critical Missouri and Indiana races, have not yet been processed and released to the public.

According to a Politico report, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has reserved more media time than their Republican counterpart, the National Republican Senatorial Committee. But, most of the Republican Senate candidates report more cash-on-hand than their Democratic opponents, thus making the resource deficit a bit less pronounced.

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The Senate Reset

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 20, 2016 — It’s now inside of three weeks before the election, and hearing leaders of both parties claim they could control the Senate in the next Congress, it’s time to take a step back and see where the candidates actually stand.

To re-cap, Republicans are risking 24 seats as compared to the Democrats’ 10. In order to re-capture the majority they lost in 2014, the Dems must retain all 10 of their defensive seats, and then convert at least four Republican states if Hillary Clinton is elected president and five if she is not.

The Democrats appear safe in nine of their 10 seats: California (open-Barbara Boxer), Colorado (Michael Bennet), Connecticut (Richard Blumenthal), Hawaii (Brian Schatz), Maryland (open-Barbara Mikulski), New York (Chuck Schumer), Oregon (Ron Wyden), Vermont (Patrick Leahy), and Washington (Patty Murray).

The Republicans appear headed for victory in 14 of their defensive states: Alabama (Richard Shelby), Alaska (Lisa Murkowski), Arkansas (John Boozman), Georgia (Johnny Isakson), Idaho (Mike Crapo), Iowa (Chuck Grassley), Kansas (Jerry Moran), Kentucky (Rand Paul), North Dakota (John Hoeven), Ohio (Rob Portman), Oklahoma (James Lankford), South Carolina (Tim Scott), South Dakota (John Thune), and Utah (Mike Lee).

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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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Key House Races; Key Polls

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 30, 2016 — Now that all political contests are in full campaign mode, we can report new numbers on five of the most hotly contested House race conversion opportunities for both parties.

AZ-1

One of the few truly swing congressional districts in the country, the expansive eastern Arizona 1st District is again the site of what should be a toss-up political contest. With Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) vacating the seat to run for Senate, the resulting general election matchup between former state Sen. Tom O’Halleran, who served a portion of his time in the legislature as a Republican, and controversial Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu (R) will be interesting to watch.

While Mitt Romney carried the 1st by a margin of 50-48 percent, a new Global Strategy Group survey (Sept. 22-25; 400 likely AZ-1 voters) finds Hillary Clinton topping Donald Trump, 46-43 percent. The same sample then yields a 45-38 percent O’Halleran lead.

The seven-point Democratic congressional margin equals what the GSG found in August, but the electorate has shifted. While more Republicans now support Babeu, Independent voters are trending toward O’Halleran.

A Democratic victory here, however, merely holds one of the party’s 188 seats and does not cut into the Republican majority.

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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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Senate Trends

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 24, 2016 — While national pollsters are detecting a tightening presidential race, the US Senate campaigns are also beginning to reveal some potentially defining trends.

Safe Republicans & Democrats

Of the 34 in-cycle US Senate campaigns currently underway in 2016, half of them are in the safe category and won’t change. Nine Republican senators and eight Democrats are assured of re-election:

Republican senators: Shelby (AL), Murkowski (AK), Crapo (ID), Moran (KS), Hoeven (ND), Lankford (OK), Scott (SC), Thune (SD), Lee (UT)

Democrat sentors: California (Open Boxer), Maryland (Open Mikulski); Blumenthal (CT), Schatz (HI), Schumer (NY), Wyden (OR), Leahy (VT), Murray (WA)
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House in Flux?

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 22, 2016 — Several analysis articles have appeared in the last few days indicating that the House majority might well be in play for the Democrats. Is this reality, wishful thinking, or just a partisan rhetorical ploy to engage the party base?

To re-cap, the Republicans have their largest House majority since the 1928 election, currently standing at 247-R to 186-D, with two Democratic vacancies. In order for the Democrats to secure even a one-seat majority, they would have to re-elect incumbents and candidates in all 188 of their current districts and then convert 30 Republican positions.

Initially, not all 188 Democratic seats are secure. In fact, at least one is surely coming the GOP’s way. After the court-mandated mid-decade redistricting operation in Florida, the 2nd District became a virtual Republican gimme seat. Freshman Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee) choosing not to seek re-election guarantees a Republican victory.

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