Tag Archives: NJ-2

Changes in House Race Ratings

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 6, 2020 — With the presidential race in a state of flux because of President Trump’s COVID diagnosis, it’s a good time to adjust House ratings in races where we see movement.

Freshman Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach) and Michelle Steele (R) battle in CA-48.

In our prognostications, we move one of our 21 previous toss-up races from that category and into Lean Democratic group.

In California’s 48th District, freshman Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach) defends what was formerly a safe Republican seat. Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel is the Republican general election qualifier and viewed as a strong contender.

Relentless media attack ads against her wealthy husband’s business dealings in China has put her on the defensive, however, which is never a good position for a challenger. At least for the time being, with now less than a month to go until Election Day, this race looks to be trending toward the Lean Democratic column.

We see more action in the “lean” sectors. Three Lean Democratic rated races are moving into the Toss-up grouping, while eight Lean Republican contests are likewise transferring to the most competitive category.

• FL-27: A Republican move in general has been detected in South Florida, which makes the re-match between freshman representative and former Health & Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala (D-Miami) and Spanish language news broadcaster Maria Elvira Salazar (R) more competitive.
In 2018, Shalala was elected with a 52-46 percent victory margin. The only published poll for this race was released at the beginning of September from the 1892 research organization (Oct. 2-6; 400 likely FL-27 voters, live interview) and it gave Salazar a surprising 48-45 percent advantage, and Democrats have not promoted any countering data.

• IA-1: A new survey from Basswood Research for the Congressional Leadership Fund (Sept. 26-28; 400 likely IA-1 voters) finds Iowa freshman Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Dubuque) and former television news anchor and state Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Cedar Rapids) now locked in a dead heat at 45 percent apiece.
The result is a considerable improvement for Hinson who had been trailing prior to this poll, but the latest numbers are reflective of the competitive nature of this eastern Iowa district that has flipped back and forth between Democratic and Republican representation during the decade.

• PA-17: According to reports from the district and the latest released public poll (OnMessage; Sept. 2-3; 400 likely PA-17 voters), Pennsylvania challenger Sean Parnell (R) has seized the momentum against Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburg). The OnMessage results find Parnell pulling to within one point (45-44 percent) of Rep. Lamb who, in 2018, won a 56-44 percent victory over then-Rep. Keith Rothfus (R). This is certainly a race to watch in a district where President Trump scored a two-point victory in 2016.
Most of the action moving into the toss-up category occurs for Democratic candidates. Below we see eight races moving from Lean Republican to Toss-up.

• AZ-6: Arizona Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills/Scottsdale) agreeing that he committed eleven ethics and campaign finance violations has certainly put him on the defensive, particularly since his win percentage dropped to 55-45% in 2018. He had averaged 62.7% of the vote in his three previous re-election campaigns.
We have seen four public polls released here since August began, and both Rep. Schweikert and challenger Hiral Tipirneni (D), a physician who had previously run in the adjoining 8th District, were each leading in two of the four surveys. The margin between the two candidates fell between two and four points. Rep. Schweikert is clearly in trouble here, giving the Democrats a strong opportunity to convert this Republican seat.

• CA-25: California Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita) won a surprisingly large 10-point victory in the May 12 special election. The latest poll, however, finds Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall) climbing back into the lead, again making this a toss-up campaign. The most recent survey comes from the Democratic firm, Normington Petts (Sept. 21-23; 400 likely CA-25 voters) and pushes Smith to a 51-45 percent advantage when leaners to each candidate are included. In late August, another Democratic pollster, the Global Strategy Group (Aug. 26-30; 400 likely CA-25 voters), gave Garcia a one-point, 46-45 percent, edge.

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Plethora of House Polls Released; All Tell Unique Stories

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 14, 2020 — In the past several days, 14 polls in 13 competitive House districts were publicly released, and they all tell a unique story. The synopsis is below (in alphabetical order):


CO-3:
• GQR Research – Mitsch Bush (D) 43%; Boebert (R) 42%

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (Aug. 3-6; 400 likely CO-3 voters) went into the field to test Democratic candidate Diane Mitsch Bush versus Republican Lauren Boebert, who unseated Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) in the June Republican primary.

The result here is not particularly surprising considering that Boebert was a shocking upset winner in the GOP primary. Mitsch Bush has a huge cash advantage, but Republicans will likely rally around Boebert in a district where President Trump should comfortably win.


IL-13:
• RMG Research – Londrigan (D) 43%; Rep. Davis (R) 41%

After seeing the 2018 election between Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) and challenger Betsy Dirksen Londrigan (D) evolve into a 50.3 – 49.6 percent result, the pair returns for Round 2. The RMG poll (July 27-Aug. 7; 400 likely IL-13 voters), though over a very long sampling period, finds what has been clear for some time, that the 2020 edition will yield another tight race.


IN-5:
• WPA Intelligence – Spartz (R) 47%; Hale (D) 40%

The new WPA Intelligence poll (Aug. 4-6; 400 likely IN-5 voters) produces the opposite result of a survey we saw from the GBAO research organization in late June (June 25-28; 500 likely IN-5 voters). The latter study projected Democratic former state representative and ex-lieutenant governor nominee Christina Hale topping Republican state Sen. Victoria Spartz, 51-45 percent.

According to the current WPA data, Sen. Spartz, a Ukrainian immigrant, now holds a 47-40 percent advantage. The latter numbers are more consistent with the district’s voting history. Incumbent Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) is retiring.


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What The Van Drew Switch Means

By Jim Ellis

NJ-2 Freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew

Dec. 18, 2019 — We can expect an official announcement coming this week that freshman New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis Township) will become a Republican. Seeing most of his staff resign over this past weekend is the clearest indication that the speculation surrounding the congressman’s impending political move will in fact occur.

What does Van Drew’s switch mean for the House outlook in 2020? After the 2018 cycle House were finally tabulated, including the 2019 special elections to fill vacancies, the Republicans were tasked with converting a net 18 seats to obtain a bare one-vote majority.

Such a calculation has changed, however. The North Carolina court-mandated redistricting plan, the state’s third in this decade, will cost the Republicans at least two seats, meaning the GOP majority conversion number increases to 20. The Van Drew switch now reduces that number to 19, assuming each party holds their two vacant seats that will be decided in special elections prior to the regular 2020 general election.

Van Drew decided to switch parties due to his opposition to the Trump impeachment plans, but the underlying related reason points to some of his key county Democratic chairmen indicating they would support an intra-party challenge against him. New Jersey political parties are strong, and a Democratic chairman opposing one of his own incumbents would be taken seriously. The party endorsements in this state carry tangible benefits, including a particular advantageous ballot placement. An incumbent not receiving the party endorsement goes a long way to seeing such an office holder replaced.

The Republican move doesn’t solve all of Rep. Van Drew’s political problems, however. Upon hearing the party switching speculation, venture capitalist David Richter stated that not only is he remaining in the Republican primary to face Van Drew, but he is prepared to spend $1 million of his own money to win the nomination. On the Democratic side, college professor Brigid Callahan Harrison announced that she will run for the party nomination, and others are expected to soon follow her lead. It is clear that Rep. Van Drew will face both a competitive Republican primary and general election to secure a second term.

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An Impeachment Casualty in NJ?

By Jim Ellis

NJ-2 Freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew

Dec. 2, 2019 — There are many moving parts to the impeachment inquiry against President Trump, and not all of the flying political shrapnel will hit the intended target. In some instances, the issue could backfire against a few Democratic members for various reasons.

An example of that involves one of the two Democrats to vote against the impeachment inquiry. Freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis Township/Cape May) is a former state legislator, serving in Trenton for 16 years before winning the 2nd District congressional seat last November. He replaced retired congressman Frank LoBiondo (R), who owned NJ-2 for a dozen terms.

Van Drew’s victory was expected because the Republicans failed to field a strong candidate, yet his 53-45 percent margin was a bit underwhelming considering he was rated a general election prohibitive favorite. Furthermore, Democrats converted four Republican districts in this state alone last year, leaving the GOP with just one congressman from New Jersey’s 12 districts.

As a result of Congressman Van Drew not believing sufficient evidence existed against Trump to warrant an impeachment inquiry, local Democrats are now beginning to stir about a potential primary challenge. Such a move might gain legs if the various county Democratic Party chairmen, powerful officials in New Jersey politics, recommend the party endorsement for a candidate other than their incumbent.

The party-endorsed candidate is given preferential placement to the point where opponents are even listed on a different part of the ballot. Therefore, losing the party endorsement, if that were to occur, is particularly damaging to an incumbent.

The political situation here intensified just three weeks ago in the 2019 elections when Rep. Van Drew’s appointed state Senate successor stood before voters who would choose a more permanent replacement. Despite the Democratic candidates within the legislative district running as “Team Van Drew”, they all lost to Republican opponents. Naturally, this does not help the Congressman should he draw a significant Democratic challenge.

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Looking at the Opens

2018-us-house-open-seatsBy Jim Ellis

Jan. 19, 2018 — Considering the large number of House retirements that came swiftly late last year and just as 2018 began, it is a good time to review the 49 seats that will have no incumbent running in the next election.

Three of the current vacancies are in special elections that do not run concurrently with the regular election calendar, and will operate under the following schedules:

• AZ-8: (Rep. Trent Franks-R) – Primary: February 27 | General: April 24
• PA-18: (Rep. Tim Murphy-R) – One election: March 13
• OH-12: (Rep. Pat Tiberi-R) – Primary: May 8 (concurrent with state primary) | General: August 7

Republicans are expected to hold all three seats.

While the GOP is risking 34 of the 49 open seats, most should easily remain in the Republican column. Eighteen of the 34 are considered safely Republican, while another six reside in the “Likely Republican” category. An additional five are in the “lean Republican” category The remaining five are clear political battlegrounds and are “Toss Ups,” several of which are ripe for Democratic conversion.

But seeing that only five of 34 open Republican seats rest in the highly competitive category, it will not be enough for Democrats to create the wave election that they are already expecting. Therefore, they will have to build serious and expensive campaigns in the five “Lean R” seats, and further expand their resources into the Likely Republican category in order to score long-shot upsets.

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