Tag Archives: North Carolina

More on the Illinois Primary Results

By Jim Ellis

March 22, 2018 — Tuesday night’s big stories in the Illinois primary were Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) having a difficult time in winning a close Republican primary, and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs) just barely surviving his Democratic primary challenge. Venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker successfully captured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination with a margin greater than polling had predicted.

Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) | RGA

Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) | RGA

Gov. Rauner scored only a 51.5 – 48.5 percent win over state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) in a primary result that finds the state chief executive’s GOP political base eroding. While spending over $60 million in the primary campaign against just $3 million-plus for Ives, the 20:1 resource advantage only proved good for a three percentage point win with still 294 precincts not fully reporting as of this writing. The 351,086 to 330,227 vote totals represent 97 percent of the recorded voting universe. Mathematically, however, there are not enough uncounted votes remaining in Ives’ areas of strength for her to overcome the current statewide deficit.

In the 3rd District House race, seven-term Rep. Lipinski appears to have scored a narrow victory with almost all Cook County precincts reporting. Lipinski carried Cook County with 51.7 percent, a total that will likely rise a bit once all the votes are counted. His opponent, media consultant Marie Newman, won Will County with 58.6 percent of the vote and took the district’s sliver of DuPage County with a mere 55 to 34 vote margin. But, her 1,256 vote lead coming into Cook County was not substantial enough to defeat Lipinski there, which resulted in her district-wide loss.

Lipinski is one of the few remaining Blue Dog Democrats, while Newman enjoyed support from the Bernie Sanders’ wing of the Democratic Party along with major backing from national liberal organizations. The turnout will exceed 90,000 voters once all of the ballots are recorded. When all totals are official, the voter turnout percentage here will hover somewhere in the 45-50 percent range.

In other key congressional races, the Democratic primary in the state’s 6th District has flip-flopped back and forth in a very close contest between financial advisor Kelly Mazeski and clean energy company executive Sean Casten. Mazeski initially was in the lead but in the end, Casten pulled ahead when all 640 precincts were able to report vote totals. Casten captured about 30 percent of the vote (18,863) to Mazeski’s 26.5 percent (16,686). Five other candidates were on the ballot, and cumulatively they garnered 44.2 percent of the vote. Now Casten will challenge veteran Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton) who was unopposed in his primary.

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An Open Review – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 6, 2018 — With so many House retirements coming into focus within the past several weeks, it is a good time to review the list of 53 districts heading into their next election without an incumbent on the ballot.

Of the 53, Republicans currently hold 37 seats versus just 16 for the Democrats. Here’s the breakdown of how things look regarding all 53 seats right now:


  • Safe Republican (19)
  • Likely Republican (6)
  • Likely Democrat (6)
  • Safe Democrat (6)
  • Lean Republican (5)
  • Lean Democrat (3)
  • Toss-up (8)

This configuration could change drastically if the Pennsylvania map is re-drawn in a court-ordered redistricting. The state Supreme Court has declared the Keystone State map a political gerrymander and has ordered a new plan drawn by Feb. 15.

The state Senate President Pro Tempore is responding, however, that the legislature will not comply with the court order to turn over statistical data need to draw a new map because the state court did not cite the legal provisions violated in making the current plan a gerrymander. Additionally, the US Supreme Court is sending signals that it may try to involve itself even though this case is filed against the Pennsylvania Constitution and not its federal counterpart. We can count on major action coming here within the next several days.

Furthermore, the US Supreme Court is in the process of deciding the Wisconsin political gerrymandering case, which will also affect active lawsuits in Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia; in Pennsylvania, the political gerrymandering lawsuit realm is not directly part of this group because its case is filed within the state court system. But the Republicans have petitioned the federal high court to look at this case for other legal reasons.

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The Pre-Redistricting Wars

redistricting-2018By Jim Ellis

Jan. 23, 2018 — Though we are in the fourth election cycle of the decade, the 2011 redistricting fights are still continuing. The US Supreme Court has been dealing with redistricting cases from five states, but it all could come to a head soon.

The lawsuits first break down into the familiar racial gerrymandering claims, which have been in the courts in some fashion or another since the Voting Rights Act was created in 1965. Currently, the topic of political gerrymandering is hot as both parties are pursuing live complaints against their opponents for drawing congressional and state legislative boundaries to maximize the political standing of one party to the unfair detriment of the other.

The major political gerrymandering case comes from Wisconsin and will likely set the tone for other such suits in Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and possibly Maryland. Democrats are bringing the action in the first four states, while Republicans are challenging Maryland’s 6th Congressional District.

Obviously, the high court is getting involved to craft a new set of rulings relating to both racial and political gerrymandering before the entire country goes into a 50-state redistricting round upon completion of the 2020 census. Therefore, election results in 2018 and 2020 to establish incumbency both in the House of Representatives and the state legislatures become critically important.

Last week, the US Supreme Court stayed the most recent North Carolina lower court redistricting ruling. The three-judge panel invalidated the maps, determining that majority Republicans engaged in political gerrymandering. In the last election cycle the Tar Heel State boundaries were also re-drawn to remedy what the panel cited as racial gerrymandering reasons, but the Democrats were unable to make a dent in the Republicans’ 10R-3D delegation advantage.

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Texas Redistricting Recap

texas-congressional-districts-27-35By Jim Ellis

Jan. 16, 2018 — Late last week, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear the Texas Republicans’ appeal of a San Antonio three-judge panel’s ruling that declared two of the state’s districts: TX-27 (Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi) and TX-35 (Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin) unconstitutional for racial gerrymandering reasons.

Though we have now entered the decade’s fourth election cycle, we see four separate gerrymandering cases from the 2011 redistricting cycle still before the nation’s high court. It’s possible the top judicial panel has agreed to hear these cases, two brought by Republicans and two by Democrats, in order to make clear redistricting statements before the 2020 census sends us into the next full national redistricting cycle, a 50-state procedure that will consume most of 2021.

The major lawsuit that the court has already heard but has not yet announced a ruling, is the Wisconsin political gerrymandering case. There, Democrats claimed majority Republicans discriminated against them when the lines were drawn for partisan political reasons. The Supreme Court has never before ruled that political gerrymandering is unconstitutional. It is unknown exactly when the court’s ruling will be announced, but it is a virtual certainty that the release date will come before the current term ends at the end of June.

For the second time in two consecutive election cycles, the North Carolina lines have been invalidated. The congressional boundaries were re-drawn before the 2016 election for racial gerrymandering reasons. Now, the Democrats are returning with their political gerrymandering case. In the last re-draw, the state’s 10R-3D congressional delegation partisan ratio remained in tact.

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Arizona Senate Activity;
North Carolina Map … Again

Former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 11, 2018 — Former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio made a political move regarding the open Senate race on Tuesday, just as Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) was scheduling a series of statewide “events” for Friday.

The controversial ex-sheriff, who President Trump pardoned earlier in the year just before his sentencing for a contempt of court conviction, announced his candidacy for Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R) open seat. Many, however, including Sen. Flake himself, do not believe that Arpaio will follow through with his candidacy. The former sheriff, who was defeated for re-election in 2016, has frequently said he was going to launch a statewide campaign but ultimately backed away from doing so. As an aside, should Arpaio be elected at 85 years of age, he would become the oldest freshman senator in American history.

Rep. McSally’s Friday appearances are reported to be a Senate announcement tour. Since Sen. Flake announced his retirement, it has been expected that McSally would become a Senate candidate.

Ironically, should Arpaio run, the big beneficiary might actually be McSally. With ex-state Sen. Kelli Ward in position to attract the more conservative Arizona primary voter, Sheriff Arpaio’s presence, complete with his virtually universal name identification and well-known border protection positions, would clearly split the former legislator’s political base. In a state with no secondary run-off election system, this would likely allow McSally the opportunity of winning the nomination without having to secure a majority vote.

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A New Republican Governor

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 7, 2017 — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice made national news the other night at President Trump’s rally in Huntington, WV, when the Democratic state chief executive took the stage to announce that he is switching to the Republican Party.

When addressing the Trump rally, Justice said, “like it or not, but the Democrats walked away from me … West Virginia, I can’t help you anymore by being a Democratic governor.”

The move now gives Republicans control of the entire West Virginia governmental apparatus, owning both houses of the state legislature and the governor’s office. Factoring Justice’s party change, the GOP holds the West Virginia chief executive post for the first time since Gov. Arch Moore (R) was defeated for re-election in 1988. There are now 26 states where Republicans control the legislature and governor’s office, including Nebraska where the legislature only has one ostensibly non-partisan legislative chamber but is clearly overwhelmingly Republican. In contrast, Democrats have full power in only five states.

The development means the Democrats drop to holding just 15 governors, an all-time low number for the party. Republicans, on the other hand, reach their historical apex with 34 governors as party members. The 50th governor, Bill Walker of Alaska, is an Independent.

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Looking at the House

By Jim Ellis

June 27, 2017 — For a brief instant, until Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT-3) resigns later this week, the House has a full compliment of 435 members, which means now is a good time to survey 2018 election cycle prospects.

There has been a great deal of speculation, particularly before the GA-6 special election that Democrats had hoped to win, that Republicans are in danger of losing their majority in the coming regular election. But, what do the numbers actually say?

In looking at the overall picture much depends upon realistic chances that congressional district maps in Pennsylvania and Texas could be changed via redistricting court rulings before the next election. Should this happen in the two states, certain districts currently rated safe or likely to go to one party or the other could be significantly altered. Therefore, this pair of domains with large Republican majorities (Pennsylvania: 13R-5D; Texas: 25R-11D) could become 2018 electoral wild cards.

Since the post-reapportionment maps were finalized after the 2010 census, three states: Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, have been re-drawn. The three new maps combined resulted in Democrats gaining a net of two seats, an increase far below what was projected. Potential exists for further re-drawing in Wisconsin and again in North Carolina, but the US Supreme Court agreeing to hear the former state’s political gerrymandering lawsuit now makes the timing for any court-directed map changes in the two places more difficult to implement for the coming election.

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America’s Ideology

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 6, 2016 — The Gallup organization conducted a month long poll (Jan. 20-30) of almost 200,000 respondents (177,788 US adults) to determine where America stands ideologically. They find that the country still leans decidedly to the right, but not as strongly as in past years.

The three most conservative states are Wyoming (35-point difference between those self-identifying as conservative as opposed to liberal: 49 percent conservative – 14 percent liberal), Mississippi (31-point difference; 46-15 percent), and North Dakota (31-point difference; 43-12 percent).

The three most liberal states are all in the New England region: Vermont (14-point difference; 40 percent liberal – 26 percent conservative), Massachusetts (8-point differential; 33 percent liberal – 25 percent conservative), and Connecticut (4-point difference; 31 percent liberal – 27 percent conservative).

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The State Picture

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 14, 2016 — While there were no significant weekend changes in the uncalled federal races — Michigan remains outstanding in the presidential race (Trump ahead 47.6 – 47.3 percent there), and and we still have two undecided California congressional campaigns (Rep. Ami Bera, D-CA-7, leads Sheriff Scott Jones 50.6 – 49.4 percent; Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA-49, has a 51.0 – 49.0 percent advantage over retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate) — we do have virtually complete state race results.

The legislatures and governors are an important influence at the federal level because in most instances these bodies and officials determine congressional redistricting. With live challenges in Alabama, North Carolina, and Virginia, and a possible re-draw of central Texas this coming year, it is not too early to monitor party strength in the newly elected state legislatures.

As we covered in the post-election report series, Republicans earned at least a net gain of two gubernatorial chairs. They converted governors’ mansions in Missouri (Eric Greitens), New Hampshire (Chris Sununu), and Vermont (Phil Scott), while potentially losing North Carolina (Attorney General Roy Cooper-D leading Gov. Pat McCrory-R, but the race is not officially called).

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Late Breakers

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 8, 2016 — A late surge in two races adds even more drama to the already tight array of US Senate contests.

Weekend polling suggests that a pair of campaigns, which for months looked to be headed toward the Democratic column, have now potentially moved into toss-up situations.

Three polls were just released for the Indiana Senate race, where former senator and governor Evan Bayh (D) is attempting a comeback after retiring in 2010. Bayh has enjoyed a consistent lead over Rep. Todd Young (R-Bloomington) in the open seat race to succeed retiring Sen. Dan Coats (R) since joining the campaign in mid-July. Originally, Bayh began the contest with a 21-point lead. As late as Oct. 13, the Monmouth University poll still posted him to a six-point lead.

Now, we see a trio of surveys all coming to different conclusions. The latest Monmouth survey (Oct. 27-30; 402 likely Indiana voters) finds the two candidates tied at 45 percent apiece. On the heels of this poll, Gravis Marketing (Oct. 30-Nov. 1; 399 registered Indiana voters) sees Sen. Bayh re-claiming the lead, 40-37 percent. But, the most current survey, the Howey Politics poll (for WTHR television; released Nov. 4; 600 likely Indiana voters), actually finds Rep. Young catapulting to a five-point advantage, 46-41 percent. If this trend is accurate, and continues, the concluding result could be a mild shocker.

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Still Not Over

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 7, 2016 — Though the Granite State of New Hampshire possesses only four electoral votes, it can potentially end as the most critical entity in Tuesday’s presidential election, at least according to Donald Trump’s recent comments. After Hillary Clinton had been maintaining a discernible lead here since the national conventions concluded, four new polls are now projecting New Hampshire going back into the toss-up range.

If Trump is to make a final run at national victory, he must first lock down all 23 states that normally vote Republican in a presidential contest. With his standing improving in Utah and Arizona, this initial objective appears within his grasp. After securing the base, he must win Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Iowa, Nevada, and then one more state. Therefore, his victory path is still difficult to attain.

The new American Research Group (Oct. 31-Nov. 2; 600 likely New Hampshire voters) and WBUR-MassINC study (Oct. 29-Nov. 1; 500 likely New Hampshire voters) studies provide Trump with some surprisingly good Granite State news. New Hampshire-based ARG sees a 48-43-4-1 percent Trump advantage over Clinton, Libertarian Gary Johnson, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, while MassINC projects the Republican taking a 40-39-10-3 percent lead as Johnson actually touches double digits. The Boston Globe/Suffolk University data (Oct. 31-Nov. 2; 500 NH likely voters) finds the two tied at 42 percent apiece. The UMass Lowell poll (Oct. 28-Nov. 2; 695 likely New Hampshire voters) also sees a 42-42-5-2 percent tie. All of this portends a major swing in Trump’s favor.

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Senate Still in Limbo

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 3, 2016 — Entering the last week of campaigning, the Democrats are on the cusp of re-claiming the Senate majority they lost in 2014, but virtually no competitive outcome is yet secure.

The latest Hillary Clinton email revelations may cause irregular Republican turnout to increase, which should help the GOP Senate candidates. A demoralized Republican voter base, thinking that Donald Trump would have no chance to prevail against Clinton, is about the only way Democrats could have gained a wave effect, but that is no longer expected.

It appears that nine of 10 Democratic in-cycle states will remain in party control. Only Nevada is competitive on their side of the ledger. Republicans look to have 15 safe seats of their own, with another five: Arizona (Sen. John McCain), Iowa (Sen. Chuck Grassley), Georgia (Sen. Johnny Isakson), Florida (Sen. Marco Rubio) and Ohio (Sen. Rob Portman) all trending either strongly or nominally their way.

Democrats are in favorable position to convert incumbent Republican states in Illinois (Rep. Tammy Duckworth-D, unseating Sen. Mark Kirk-R) and Wisconsin (former Sen. Russ Feingold-D, re-claiming the seat he lost to Sen. Ron Johnson-R in 2010), in addition to being favored in the open Indiana seat (former Sen. Evan Bayh-D ahead of Rep. Todd Young-R).

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North Carolina & New Hampshire – Tables Turning

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 27, 2016 — It is very possible that the US Senate majority, if not the presidential race, will be decided when the hard fought races in New Hampshire and North Carolina conclude.

In the past two weeks, New Hampshire polling trends have been suggesting that the top of the ticket is becoming a lock for Hillary Clinton, which should be very important for down ballot Democrats. During the past 10 years the Granite State electorate has consistently voted top-to-bottom sweeps for one party or the other, so a big Clinton New Hampshire victory is a positive sign for all other Democratic candidates here. But, a new poll shows a potential breaking of this paradigm.

The latest University of Massachusetts/YouGov poll, conducted during the Oct. 17-21 period and interviewing 848 individuals that narrowed to 772 likely voters, found Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) assuming a three point, 46-43 percent, re-election advantage over Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan that grew to 48-44 percent when “leaners” were added to the calculation.

Conversely, in the equally close and important US Senate race to the south, the latest Tar Heel State polls had been pointing to small but consistent leads for Republican incumbent Richard Burr. The release of a North Carolina university poll from the New York Times/Siena College (Oct. 20-23; 792 likely North Carolina voters), however, posts challenger Deborah Ross (D) ahead of Sen. Burr (R) by a scant one-point margin, 47-46 percent.

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Pressure Point Races

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 26, 2016 — It is widely believed that Republicans will keep the House majority in the Nov. 8 election, though Democrats will gain seats. Determining the party division change level is a point of conjecture, however.

Most believe Democrats will gain between 12-15 seats. More optimistic party strategists think they could top 20 districts. Taking the majority would require a net of more than 30 seats, because it also appears a small number of seats are poised to convert to the Republicans.

The Donald Trump presidential scenario continues to unfold, and while some polls actually show him creeping closer on the national popular vote track (Tied – IBD/TIPP, Oct. 18-23, 815 likely US voters; Trump +2 – Rasmussen Reports, Oct. 19-23, 1,500 likely US voters), the all-important state numbers continue to project Hillary Clinton leading in the critical states of Florida and Nevada, while the North Carolina numbers bounce about. Understanding that Trump needs all of the aforementioned states – not to mention each of the 23 normally Republican states, and he has trouble at least in Utah and Arizona – his victory prospects continue to dim daily.

The question looming over the down-ballot races is whether Republican turnout will be demoralized to the point of allowing Democrats to form a wave even though they are following an unpopular Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket.

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More Senate Movement

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 25, 2015 — Entering the final two weeks of campaigning, the Senate majority is still in limbo even though Hillary Clinton is breaking away in the presidential campaign.

Republicans hope to hold the Senate largely by relying on taking a majority of independent voters and banking on a significant group of ticket-splitters. Though partisanship has been at all-time high levels among self-identified voters of both parties, the Republicans believe this year is different because Clinton, despite building what appears to be an unstoppable majority in the presidential campaign, may have very short coattails.

The fact that her overall favorability numbers are still upside-down creates the highly unusual situation of people voting for someone who they ostensibly don’t like. Therefore, it is unlikely a Democratic wave election will occur around someone whose negatives exceed her positives. Thus, the argument to balance the presidential outcome by voting Republican for the Senate and House may be a salient one.

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