Tag Archives: President Obama

Biden’s Strong Rebound, and a
Michigan Senate Surprise

By Jim Ellis

March 21, 2019 — Earlier this week, Emerson College Polling released a survey of Wisconsin Democrats that found Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) leading former Vice President Joe Biden, 39-24 percent, but an even newer Emerson offering detects that the tables have already turned.

According to the latest Emerson Michigan poll (March 7-10; 743 registered Michigan voters; 317 likely Michigan Democratic presidential primary voters), it is Biden who is claiming 40 percent support within the Democratic sample, while Sen. Sanders pulls 23 percent. As is the case with the Wisconsin poll, California Sen. Kamala Harris is third, well back with 12 percent, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) follows with 11 percent. All others fall into low single digits. New entry Beto O’Rourke was not included on the survey questionnaire.

The results are not surprising. Biden has long been a favorite of the private sector unions, which are a strong force in Michigan politics. Additionally, President Obama, with Biden on the ticket, ran strongly here. In 2012, he defeated Mitt Romney, 54-45 percent. The former Republican nominee’s father, George Romney, is a past governor of Michigan. Four years earlier, Obama’s margin over John McCain was an even greater 57-41 percent.

Michigan is an important state on the Democratic nomination circuit, eighth largest of the 57 voting entities. Currently scheduled for a March 10 primary, the Wolverine State is awarded 125 elected delegates, ballooning to an aggregate 147 when Super Delegates are added to the total. The Super Delegates, or party leaders, may not vote on the first ballot, but are eligible if more than one roll call becomes necessary.

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PA-12 NOMINEE KELLER IMMEDIATELY HITS OPPONENT, PELOSI, SANDERS, CORTEZ

Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court (click on image to see full size)

By Jim Ellis

Pennsylvania state Rep. Fred Keller
(R-Mifflinburg)

March 5, 2019 — On Saturday, during a seven-hour marathon special district convention marked with controversy, the central Pennsylvania Republican delegates chose state Rep. Fred Keller (R-Mifflinburg) as the party nominee for 12th District Congressman Tom Marino’s (R-Williamsport) vacated seat. Marino resigned from the House at the end of January due to professional and health reasons.

Gov. Tom Wolf (D) scheduled the replacement special election for May 21. Under Pennsylvania election law, the various political parties call a district convention or meeting for purposes of choosing a special election nominee. Originally, 24 potential Republican candidates expressed interest in running, but only 14 were successful in having their names placed into nomination before the 200-plus assembled delegates.

After Rep. Marino’s unexpected announcement, Democrats responded quickly and re-nominated their 2018 candidate, local college professor Marc Friedenberg, who advances into the special general election hoping to perform better than he did against Marino. In November, Friedenberg lost 66-34 percent while spending just over $90,000 on his federal campaign.

Saturday’s convention became controversial once the Club for Growth organization began sending mailers to the delegates attacking state Rep. Jeff Wheeland (R-Williamsport), over his record on tax issues as a legislator first elected in 2014. Prior to gathering in Williamsport, Wheeland appeared as the candidate most likely to become the delegates’ choice.

But, the convention was rocked when the representative’s stepson distributed a letter detailing how Wheeland abused he and his mother. The combination attack was enough to drive Wheeland from the race just before the fourth ballot, yielding the victory for Keller.

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Ohio: Contrasting Polls

By Jim Ellis

state-of-ohio-mapNov. 1, 2018 — The Buckeye State of Ohio is viewed as one of the country’s quintessential swing states. In 2016, however, the state exceeded polling and even Republican expectations in their presidential vote, as President Trump won a decisive 52-44 percent victory over Hillary Clinton.

Some suggested the Trump vote was an indication that the state could be moving more definitively to the political right, but new surveys suggest the Buckeye electorate is returning to its previous swing vote history.

Still, Ohio proves a reliable national political barometer. In both 2008 and 2012, the electorate here voted for President Obama after twice after backing President George W. Bush in his two elections. The state previously favored President Bill Clinton in his two successful national campaigns. In fact, the last time Ohioans failed to vote for the winning presidential candidate came in 1960 when the state awarded its electoral votes to Republican Richard Nixon in his national losing effort against John F. Kennedy.

Two new polls were released this week that paint different pictures of the Ohio electorate’s current state. Some of the results are curious to the point of questioning the polling reliability or not being able to adequately determine how the governor’s race will end and failing to understand the wide discrepancy in US Senate polling projections.

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The Nevada Sway

By Jim Ellis

Nevada-mapOct. 17, 2018 — A new Emerson College poll (Oct. 10-12; 625 likely Nevada voters) projects Sen. Dean Heller (R) to a 48-41 percent lead over freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson), which is the largest lead for either candidate since the June 12th primary.

For most of the election cycle, this race has been rated as a toss-up campaign, but most prognosticators believed it would eventually tilt toward the Democrats yielding a challenger victory.

Viewed as a state trending Democratic because of Hillary Clinton’s 48-45 percent victory in the most recent presidential campaign added to President Obama winning here in both of his elections: 52-46 percent over Mitt Romney, and in a 55-43 percent landslide over John McCain, the 2014 Republican sweep from the governor’s race through the state legislative campaigns has generally been disregarded as an anomaly.

Outgoing Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) has strong approval ratings and would clearly be a re-election favorite if the state did not have a term limit law. The governor is playing an interesting role in this year’s campaign. He is featured prominently in Sen. Heller’s advertising but refuses to endorse Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) as his successor because the latter man refuses to support the Sandoval tax program, which is becoming the governor’s legacy as Nevada’s chief executive.

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Dead Heats in New Nevada Senate Poll

By Jim Ellis

Nevada Senate candidate, Rep. Jacky Rosen (D) and Sen. Dean Heller (R)

Nevada Senate candidates: Rep. Jacky Rosen (D) and Sen. Dean Heller (R)

Aug. 2, 2018 — A new Suffolk University survey (July 24-29; 500 likely Nevada voters) returns numbers that again show Sen. Dean Heller (R) and Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) falling within the margin of polling error with neither candidate attracting majority support.

According to Suffolk, Sen. Heller leads Rep. Rosen by a bare 41-40 percent margin, meaning the two are virtually tied. This is the first poll since mid-April that projects the senator to any kind of an advantage, but even the four surveys in between, all of which favored Rep. Rosen, showed margin spreads in the realm of two to six points. Of the eight polls publicized for this race during the entire election cycle, in only one, the April Survey Monkey study, did either candidate ever reach the 50 percent mark (Rosen, 50-44 percent; Survey Monkey; April 2-23; 1,332 Nevada registered voters in the Survey Monkey pool).

Suffolk also tested the state’s open governor’s race, and found an equally tight contest. Here, Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt posts a 42-41 percent tally over Democratic Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak. In the one previously released post-primary general election poll, from Gravis Marketing (June 23-26; 630 likely Nevada general election voters), an almost identical result was projected: Laxalt leading 43-41 percent.

The Nevada Senate race is one of the most important in the nation this year, and one of two main Democratic conversion targets (the open race in Arizona is the other). Winning this race is the only gateway to the Democrats potentially gaining the Senate majority, thus we can expect to see major political action in this state for the remaining prime campaign months.

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Mountain Polling

By Jim Ellis

the-primariesJune 25, 2018 — The Utah state primary is tomorrow, and we have finally seen a poll testing former presidential nominee Mitt Romney in his run for the open Senate seat that the venerable Orrin Hatch (R) is vacating after what will be 42 years of legislative service. In New Mexico, Carroll Strategies released a statewide survey last week of 1,199 of the state’s registered voters and segmented the respondents into the state’s three congressional districts. We look at the upcoming primaries in both states:

Utah Senate

According to the Hinckley Institute at the University of Utah (June 11-18; 654 registered Utah voters, 356 likely Utah Republican primary voters), Romney has a commanding lead as the campaigns enter the final days before Republican voters choose their nominee. In late April, state Democratic convention delegates nominated Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson as the party standard bearer, so there is no Democratic Senate primary on Tuesday.

The polling results find the 2012 Republican presidential nominee leading state Rep. Mike Kennedy, a Provo physician who outpaced Romney among delegates at the Republican state convention, by a whopping 65-23 percent margin. Therefore, little doubt exists that we will see a sizable Romney victory this coming Tuesday night.

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US Senate Candidate Ratings

By Jim Ellis

daily-kos-fox-news-pollingJune 19, 2018 — Two organizations just released 2018 US Senate race ratings, and though the differences are few it is worth analyzing the aggregate comparison.

Fox News and the Daily Kos Elections site published their updated ratings at the end of last week. Fox is a bit different in that they do not distinguish a “safe” race from one where the current favorite is a “likely” winner. Therefore, they have only five categories instead of the traditional seven.

While both organizations place eight Senate races in their Toss-up category, there are differences. The most glaring variance appears to be the Nevada race featuring Sen. Dean Heller (R) and Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson). The other is the Tennessee open campaign that finds Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) and former governor, Phil Bredesen (D), vying to replace retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R). The Tennessee primary is not scheduled until Aug. 2, but there is no doubt that both will advance into the general election.

Daily Kos rates the Nevada race a toss-up, but Fox favors Rep. Rosen as it puts the campaign into the Lean Democratic column. The Fox rating is curious in that current polling is tight, Sen. Heller is the incumbent, winning in 2012 even though President Obama scored a 52-46 percent victory in the state over Mitt Romney, and he also has three other statewide conquests to his credit, as secretary of state, dating back as far as 1994.

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A False Alarm in Virginia

By Jim Ellis

Virginia Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Scottsville/Charlottesville)

Virginia Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Scottsville/Charlottesville)

May 29, 2018 — The news media was filled with stories last week that freshman Virginia Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Scottsville/Charlottesville) was about to announce his retirement. And Late last week, Rep. Garrett fueled such talk in telling the media that he would hold a news conference to address his status. But the speculation proved overblown when Garrett clarified, in what was described as a long and rambling news availability, that he will seek a second term in the fall.

Rep. Garrett, who parted ways with his chief of staff last week and who is not known for being an aggressive fundraiser, partially fed into the idea that he would not seek re-election. Through April 8, Garrett had only $133,275 in his campaign account. Observers invariably drew a comparison with his Democratic opponent, journalist Leslie Cockburn. She has raised more than $715,000 but only has $271,113 remaining. Cockburn does have the wherewithal to self-fund her campaign to a significant degree, however.

Before the Garrett retirement flap, Democrats were looking at this race as a second-tier potential target. Garrett won the 2016 election with 58 percent of the vote against Albemarle County Supervisor Jane Dittmar, another Democratic candidate who was originally believed to be competitive and did, in fact, spend over $1.3 million on her campaign.

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Primary Previews

By Jim Ellis

2018-elections-open-seats-185May 8, 2018 — Today’s elections kick-off the prime time of primary season, with voters in four states — Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia — choosing nominees for November. Here is an outlook for each of the states:

Indiana

With no governor’s race on the ballot this year, the Republican Senate nomination campaign tops the Indiana political card, which is one of the more interesting campaigns in the country. Here, Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie) are battling former state representative and Meyer Distributing and Meyer Logistics companies’ owner Mike Braun for the right to face first-term Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in November. Donnelly has no opposition for his party nomination.

Braun has gained national notoriety for his campaign, which has strategically melded both congressmen into basically one person. The Braun Campaign ads have characterized Reps. Rokita and Messer as being part of the Washington “swamp”, concentrating negatively on their budget and trade votes, as well as casting them as professional politicians. He even goes so far as to brandish two cardboard cutouts of the congressmen where they are dressed exactly alike and says they are both lawyers who never practiced, instead spending their entire careers in politics.

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Florida Senate Race: Now Official

By Jim Ellis

Gov. Rick Scott (R)

Gov. Rick Scott (R)

April 11, 2018 — Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) made official what everyone believed was happening for more than a year: launching a challenger offensive against three-term Sen. Bill Nelson (D).

Gov. Scott entered elective politics in the 2010 election and said he never intended to assimilate himself into the way state politics has traditionally been run and claims to have kept that promise. He said in his announcement statement Monday that his intention is to have the same attitude toward going to Washington.

Worth in the neighborhood of $140 million and willing to spend a large amount of his personal wealth on his political campaigns, Gov. Scott had the luxury of waiting until relatively late in the cycle to launch his expensive statewide campaign. While the governor consistently said he would make his political plans known once the regular state legislative session ended, a loosely connected Super PAC was brandishing his accomplishments as Florida’s chief executive over the past year, and rallying support for Scott’s state issue agenda. So, this future Republican Senate nominee was very much in the middle of the Florida political scene even though he was not an announced candidate.

To no one’s surprise, the Florida Senate race figures to be a razor-thin contest. Since the famous 2000 presidential campaign when the national result depended upon the final Sunshine State vote (George W. Bush prevailed by an official 537 vote margin from more than 5.8 million cast ballots), and through four more one-point statewide campaigns in the ensuing presidential, governor and Senate races, Florida voting has become synonymous with very tight elections.

Two of those three one-point victory races went to Gov. Scott. He won in 2010, defeating then-state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink by a 1.2 percent margin, and was re-elected with one-point spread over former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat who now serves in the US House of Representatives.

Except for a four-year break, Sen. Nelson has been in elective office consistently since winning his first election in 1972. He served three terms in the Florida House of Representatives, 12 years in the US House, and then ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1990, losing in the Democratic primary to US Sen. Lawton Chiles who would win the position later that year.

Sen. Nelson returned four years later with a victory in the treasurer, insurance commissioner, and fire marshal statewide office and was twice elected to that post. He then ran for the Senate in 2000, defeating then-US Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Orlando), who would later be elected state attorney general. Sen. Nelson topped US Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Sarasota) for his first re-election in 2006, before beating then-US Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-Ft. Myers) for his third US Senate victory on the same day that President Obama was re-elected.

Comments coming from Democratic activists concede that Gov. Scott was successful in winning two surprise victories for governor, but say that he has never faced as formidable an opponent as Sen. Nelson.

This assessment is open to question. When he first won in 2010, Scott, who would defeat McCollum for the Republican nomination, was the clear underdog. At the time, Sink was promoted as the best possible candidate the Democrats could field, so it was never believed that she was any second-tier contender.

Though Crist was a flawed candidate from his debacle in the 2010 US Senate race when he left the Republican Party and tried to run to Marco Rubio’s left as an Independent before switching to the Democrats in order to run for governor four years later, he still had universal name identification and was able to raise and spend almost $50 million on his campaign. Thus, the argument that Scott didn’t face anyone as tough as Nelson seems overblown.

Though we don’t likely need proof that the Nelson-Scott race will be close at the political finish line, we only have to examine the public polling for confirmation. Since August of 2017, 17 polls have been released of the proposed Senate race from 10 different pollsters. The results find Sen. Nelson leading in nine of the surveys, while Gov. Scott has the advantage in seven, and one was a flat tie. In 11 of those polls, the margin between the two candidates was four percentage points or less.

Rep. Elizabeth Esty to Retire;
An Analysis of the Now Open CT-5

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D, CT-5)

Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D, CT-5)

April 4, 2018 — Three-term Connecticut Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Cheshire/Waterbury), under fire for not responding to her chief of staff’s sexual and physical abuse of another staff member that even included a restraining order being issued, announced Monday that she would abandon her run for re-election.

When it surfaced that Rep. Esty allowed the chief to remain in his position for three months after the legal situation came to her attention, she began to suffer heavy criticism for not acting sooner to dismiss him. Several media editorial boards and local Democratic state legislators began calling upon her to resign. The congresswoman’s retirement announcement did not include a statement of resignation, however. Therefore, at this point, it appears she will serve the balance of the term.

Under the present Connecticut map, the 5th District is the most politically competitive in the state. Rep. Esty was first elected in 2012, winning a close 51-49 percent general election victory over then-state Sen. Andrew Roraback (R). She succeeded Christopher Murphy (D) who left the House to successfully run for the Senate. He seeks a second term this year.

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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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An Open Review – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 7, 2018 — Continuing our look at the 53 open seats, today we look at those in the Lean R & D categories. It is here where Democrats will have to score big if they are to claim the House majority.

2018-elections-open-seatsThe US Supreme Court declined to hear the Pennsylvania Republicans’ arguments earlier this week to move the live redistricting case to the federal level. To review, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the current congressional map a political gerrymander, but without citing any election law statute violations. State Senate Republicans are refusing to provide the court with their requested data until the legislative bodies are informed about what is legally wrong with the current map.

In the meantime, the court has already appointed a special master from Stanford University to draw a new plan, and moved the congressional candidate filing deadline from March 6 to March 20. Additionally, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is already saying he will veto the legislature’s map, so all of these developments suggest that a new, Democrat-friendly map will likely be in place before the 2018 elections.

In our overview of the current House open seat configuration, two of the Pennsylvania seats are either in the Lean D category (PA-7; Rep. Pat Meehan-R) or Lean R (PA-15; Rep. Charlie Dent). With a new map likely to collapse most, if not all, of the four open Republican seats, it is likely that both of the aforementioned districts will find themselves in the Democratic column after the next election.

Currently, the Lean Democrat column consists only of Republican seats. In addition to PA-7, and probably adding at least PA-15 post-redistricting, retiring GOP Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) are leaving seats that are also trending toward the Democratic side of the political ledger.

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The Ohio Ins and Outs

Ohio-congressional-districtsBy Jim Ellis

Jan. 15, 2018 — Since the turn of the century, the state of Ohio has become crucial in deciding national elections, and its status for 2018 is no exception. This week, several key moves were made that began to define the general election ballot even before candidate filing closes and the May 8 primary is conducted.

The Senate race was shaken last week when state treasurer Josh Mandel (R), the 2012 Senate nominee who had the inside track to again win the Republican primary in order to force a re-match with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), unexpectedly announced he was dropping out of the race due to a newly diagnosed health condition for his wife. Though investment banker Michael Gibbons was still in the race, a Republican void existed in a campaign that has all the underpinnings of becoming highly competitive. Even with President Obama leading the Democratic ticket and carrying Ohio six years ago, Mandel managed to hold Sen. Brown to only a 51-45 percent re-election victory.

Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth), who had been competing in the governor’s race, announced late last week that he would switch to the Senate campaign. The Republican gubernatorial primary underwent significant change in November, and both Renacci and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor found themselves on the outside looking in. Because attorney general and former US senator, Mike DeWine, and Secretary of State Jon Husted, the candidates who were running 1-2 in early polling, decided to join forces and form a ticket, the odds of either Taylor or Renacci upsetting the race leader, DeWine, grew to long-shot proportions.

While Taylor remains in the governor’s race, Renacci has now bolted for the Senate campaign to hopefully compete against Sen. Brown. The incumbent is clearly taking his re-election campaign very seriously, as the coming financial disclosure report will show his cash-on-hand figure to be already approaching $10 million. With Renacci’s ability to self-fund a statewide campaign and Republicans looking fondly on President Trump’s eight-point victory in Ohio, the eventual GOP nominee – whether it’s Rep. Renacci, Gibbons, or another late-entry candidate – will command the resources necessary to match whatever Brown and his Democratic allies spend.

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The Daily Retirement Briefing

California Rep. Darrell Issa

California Rep. Darrell Issa

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 12, 2018 — California Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Vista) latest re-election, a 1,621-vote victory over retired Marine Corps Colonel Doug Applegate (D) in CA-49, proved to be the closest US House result in the nation during 2016, but there will not be a re-match this year.

Rep. Issa announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election to a 10th term, becoming the 48th House member to take this action in the current election cycle. With Arizona Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) reportedly primed to declare her Senate candidacy today, the number will quickly grow to 49. Issa’s action directly follows that of fellow California Rep. Ed Royce (R-Yorba Linda/ Fullerton), who announced on Monday that he won’t run for a 14th term.

Both men faced difficult re-election battles, as do five other California Republicans that Democrats are targeting. Because President Trump fared so poorly in California, the Democratic strategists believe the same pattern will carry over into the midterm cycle. But, such a result remains to be seen.

Though Republicans are clearly in worse position without Rep. Royce running again, that might not be the case concerning Issa’s. With his negatives growing and a close call in the previous election, the party might actually fare better with a fresh face, particularly when the Democrats do not have a clear alternative. Though Applegate is running again, he is facing a stiff challenge from at least two other Democrats, wealthy attorney Mike Levin, and former US State Department and United Nations official Sara Jacobs. Real estate investor Paul Kerr rounds out the current Democratic field.

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