Tag Archives: President Trump

Pennsylvania Rep. Marino to Resign

By Jim Ellis

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

Jan. 21, 2019 — Five-term Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport) announced that he is leaving Congress next week to accept a professional position in the private sector. Marino was first elected to the House in 2010, after serving five years as the US Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and 11 years as District Attorney of Lycoming County.

In the Republican wave election of 2010, Marino ousted then-Rep. Chris Carney (D) by a 55-45 percent margin and has averaged 66.1 percent of the vote in his subsequent re-elections. The 2018 Pennsylvania court-ordered redistricting plan re-numbered his 10th Congressional District to 12 and created a seat where 68 percent of the constituency carried over from the previous district.

In 2017, President Trump nominated Rep. Marino as the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, commonly referred to as the nation’s “drug czar.” But the congressman withdrew his name when experiencing some negative reaction during the confirmation process.

The 12th District will now go into a special election cycle. After the seat becomes officially vacant on Jan. 23, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) will have 10 days to issue a writ of election to fill the newly open seat. The various political parties will meet in special conventions to choose their nominees, with the winners proceeding to an election date that the governor will assign. It is most likely he will schedule the 12th District special to run concurrently with the Pennsylvania municipal primary, which is calendared for May 21.

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Senators’ Approvals vs. Votes

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 13, 2018 — Reviewing documentation from the 2018 US Senate races, it appears there is at least a tangential correlation between an incumbent senator’s pre-campaign approval rating and the vote percentage garnered on Election Day.

(Click on image to go to full story at Morning Consult.)

The Morning Consult public affairs firm routinely surveys senators and governors to produce approval indexes for every member. Their 3rd Quarter 2018 sampling was publicly released on Oct. 10, one month before the election and just at the beginning of prime time campaigning.

Looking at the 32 incumbent senators who were on the ballot in November, the mean average increase from the individual’s approval score to the final vote percentage is 9.6 points when using the Morning Consult favorability index as our constant and the median is nine points.

The senator dropping the furthest from approval to vote percentage, down five points, was Maine Sen. Angus King (I), but the number is a bit deceiving. King scored a 58 percent positive approval rating in mid-October, but only received 53 percent in the election. Because the senator is an Independent and the Democrats with whom he caucuses did file their own candidate, the next closest opponent scored 35 percent. Therefore, his political standing still proved strong.

On the other end of the spectrum, the senator who improved the most from an upside-down favorability index rating to the vote was New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez (D). While his October index was a poor 31:46 percent favorable to unfavorable, the worst by far among the 32 senators standing for re-election, he was successfully re-elected, 54-43 percent, over retired pharmaceutical company CEO Bob Hugin (R).

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Yet Another Election

By Jim Ellis

Appointed Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), left, and Democrat challenger Mike Espy

Nov. 27, 2018 — The 2018 election cycle’s final contest comes today in Mississippi. The special run-off campaign between appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) and former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi congressman, Mike Espy (D), will decide if the 116th Congress will feature a Senate that brandishes a 53-47 Republican majority or a lesser 52-48.

The run-off occurs because no candidate received an absolute majority in the Nov. 6 special jungle primary. The special election is necessary because Sen. Thad Cochran (R) resigned for health reasons in the middle of his final term in office, thus necessitating an appointed replacement and this confirming electoral vote for the winner to serve the balance of the term. Whether Sen. Hyde-Smith or Espy wins today, there will be another election in the regular 2020 cycle for the full six-year term.

In the first vote, Sen. Hyde-Smith placed first, but barely, with a 41.5 percent plurality compared to Espy’s 40.6 percent, a difference of 8,284 votes from more than 883,600 ballots cast. The third-place finisher, Tea Party activist state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), captured the remaining 16.4 percent with Independent Tobey Bartee picking up the final 1.4 percent. Once the run-off began, Sen. McDaniel announced his support of Sen. Hyde-Smith, which should go a long way toward unifying her Republican base.

Controversy in this run-off campaign arose when Hyde-Smith made several unforced errors. Making statements about wanting to be present at a lynching, visiting a Confederate Museum where she donned a uniform, and now under attack for attending what was commonly referred to as a “segregation academy” for high school has put the appointed senator clearly on the defensive.

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Mia Love Falls in UT-4

Utah Rep. Mia Love (R-Saratoga Springs)

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 21, 2018 — It appears the final undecided House race has now come to at least an unofficial end, and the result is a bit surprising.

Some, including me, were predicting the culminating vote tabulation trend in Utah’s UT-4 District would favor incumbent US Rep. Mia Love (R-Saratoga Springs), based upon her overwhelming performance from the late votes in the 4th District’s two rural counties and the more populous Utah County. But the substantial number of remaining ballots in Salt Lake County proved decisive in that Democratic nominee Ben McAdams over-performed, which flipped the race back in his direction as the count concluded.

On election night, it appeared that Rep. Love had been defeated when she fell almost 9,000 votes behind as Salt Lake County was being tabulated. But she came roaring back when the outlying counties’ votes were counted. As the late votes were finally being recorded, Love rebounded to forge a 1,615 district-wide vote edge. Her advantageous situation was precarious, however, as thousands of same-day registration, absentee, and provisional votes still remained in Salt Lake County.

Yesterday, those latter votes were counted while Love found herself slightly under-performing within the last group of Utah County votes. She garnered only 66 percent in the final Utah County vote pool, below the 74% she was posting in previous totals within this entity.

According to local reports, this meant that Democrat McAdams, the Salt Lake County mayor, could overtake the congresswoman should he score approximately 59 percent from the remaining votes. This, he did, and then some, as McAdams erased MLove’s previous lead and ended the counting day with a 739-vote advantage.

McAdam’s surge was largely due to approximately 9,000 same-day registrants, many of whom were coming to the polls to vote for the medical marijuana ballot proposal that passed the state 53-47 percent but was overwhelmingly approved in Salt Lake County. It is evident that a strong majority of these voters supported McAdams.

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The (Mostly) Final Election Results

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 7, 2018
— The long 2018 midterm election cycle drew to a close last night and, as predicted, split government will return to Capitol Hill. Republicans held the Senate and saw their majority grow as Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Joe Donnelly (IN), and Claire McCaskill (MO) 2018-mid-term-election-results-graphicfell to Republican challengers. Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) likely will be forced into a recount to see if his just-under 40,000 vote advantage will be enough to unseat Sen. Bill Nelson (D).

The Montana race is undecided as Sen. Jon Tester (D) is on the precipice of losing but the outstanding vote suggests he could survive by a very small margin. The razor-thin Arizona race is a must-hold for the GOP. Democrat Jacky Rosen defeated Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller, and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin (D) fought back a tough challenge from Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R).

If all of these follow their current trends, Republicans will gain a net of four seats and increase their majority margin to 55-45. If Montana and Arizona go Democratic, the division would slip to 53R-47D. In any event, it appears likely that the Republicans will gain two to four seats.

The new Senate will maintain their new majority split once the Nov. 27 run-off election is held and decided in Mississippi. In that new secondary election, appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) will face former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi congressman, Mike Espy (D). Sen. Hyde-Smith placed first in the Nov. 6 preliminary vote and ended with 41.5 percent of the vote, not close to secure the majority support that would have elected her outright and just ahead of Espy’s 40.6 percent. State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville) was third with 16.4 percent, likely denying Hyde-Smith the opportunity to win in the first round. He is eliminated from further competition.

As predicted, the House did flip to the Democrats and leadership elections will soon be held to determine who will replace retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). It is perceived that California’s Nancy Pelosi will again become the speaker after serving from 2007-11 and losing the post when the Republicans secured the majority in the 2010 election.

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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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Is Donnelly Faltering in Indiana?

By Jim Ellis

Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D)

Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D)

Oct. 25, 2018 — With only four 2018 Indiana Senate polls conducted before September, this campaign was the least surveyed toss-up race in the country, but that is changing. We now see a plethora of polling being released in October. In what appeared to be a contest trending toward Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) the results now appear to be turning.

In mid to late September, Ipsos Reuters (Sept. 12-20; 1,181 Indiana voters; online) and Fox News (Sept. 29-Oct. 2; 695 likely Indiana voters) found Sen. Donnelly leading former state representative and international businessman Mike Braun (R), 46-43 and 43-41 percent, respectively.

An early October survey from American Viewpoint (Oct. 7-10; 800 likely Indiana voters) reversed the trend, posting Braun to a 44-40 percent lead. After that, a series of three surveys from a trio of independent polling firms, all conducted between October 12-16, found Sen. Donnelly regaining the lead.

In consecutive order, Gravis Marketing (377 likely Indiana voters), Survey USA (816 likely Indiana voters), and Vox Populi (783 likely Indiana voters) posted Donnelly to leads of four (44-40 percent), one (41-40 percent), and eight (44-36 percent) percentage points, respectively.

The two latest surveys, again from American Viewpoint (Oct. 14-17; 800 likely Indiana voters) and a new one from Mason Strategies (Oct. 15-20; 600 likely Indiana voters), find Braun seesawing back into the lead. American Viewpoint yields the Republican a 44-40 percent advantage, while Mason Strategies sees Braun up 47-43 percent.

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New Nevada Data

By Jim Ellis

Nevada-mapOct. 11, 2018 — The new NBC News/Marist College survey (Sept. 30-Oct. 3; 920 NV residents; 780 registered Nevada voters; 574 likely Nevada voters) detects movement toward the Republicans in the two major Nevada statewide races (governor and senator), while keeping both contests in the pure toss-up column.

Marist College is an “A” rated pollster from the 538 statistical analysis organization and has partnered with NBC News since the 2012 election. Already releasing several statewide polls this year, Marist tested the Nevada electorate knowing that Sen. Dean Heller (R) is embroiled in a tough re-election campaign against freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson), while the open governor’s race, featuring Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) and Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak (D), had begun to turn toward the latter.

According to the NBC/Marist ballot test results, Sen. Heller posts a 46-44 percent edge among likely voters and an almost identical 45-43 percent within the registered voter sample. When the Libertarian Party nominee is added and a question asking whether any of the candidates are satisfactory, Sen. Heller maintains the lead, 44-42 percent, with eight percent going to Libertarian Tim Hagan, and another two percent saying they want “none of these candidates.” Among registered voters, the respondents split 42-41-8-3 percent in Sen. Heller’s slight favor, with Rep. Rosen closely following, and Hagan and “none of the above” trailing respectively.

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Forecasting the Results – Part II

By Jim Ellis

2018-democrat-house-majority-breakdown-text-graphicOct. 8, 2018 — The Democrats need to convert a net 24 seats to secure a one-seat majority in the US House on Election Day, Nov. 6. Many reports quote the number 23 as what is necessary to win control, but the new Pennsylvania map will yield one seat coming back to the Republicans — the new open 14th District — thus pushing the total up to 24.

As stated Friday, our forecasts listed below are based upon a series of factors, including current polling numbers, voter history, candidate personal and job approval favorability, fundraising, other races on the state ballot that could drive turnout, and outside issues such as the confirmation vote to for Judge Brett Kavanaugh to become a Supreme Court Justice, which could change the turnout model, etc.

According to our new analysis, the Democrats are on the cusp of converting the requisite number of Republican seats to take a bare majority and seeing their caucus become significantly larger. At this point, the Democratic gain range appears to reach 23 on the low side and 35 at the apex.

Looking at the country by state and region, it appears the Democrats will do well in the Midwest, in particular. The Great Lakes region that delivered President Trump his surprise victory appears to be snapping back to the Democrats in the midterm House races. Michigan looks particularly good for them at both the statewide and district levels.

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VA-10: Momentum Change;
Dems: Eye-Popping Dollars

By Jim Ellis

Virginia state Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Loudoun County (left) | Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-McLean (right)

Virginia state Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Loudoun County (left) | Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-McLean (right)

Oct. 4, 2018 — Recently, signals were developing that Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock’s (R-McLean) campaign status against state Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D-Loudoun County) was trending poorly to the point that she was becoming one of the most endangered incumbents in the nation. Now, the political winds appear to be changing.

In June, Monmouth University released a survey that found the congresswoman dropping behind her Democratic opponent by a substantial margin, 50-41 percent, under a standard midterm turnout model; President Trump’s approval rating was severely upside down; and rumors were circulating that the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) was looking to cancel its multi-million dollar media air time reservation.

Now, things have picked up for Comstock. Yesterday, Monmouth released their new survey for this district (Sept. 26-30; 374 likely VA-10 voters), and it shows her gaining strength when compared to their June data. Still, Wexton leads in all three of their projected turnout models, but it is clear that the momentum is moving in Comstock’s direction.

Under the standard midterm participation model, the Wexton lead is 50-44 percent. If the turnout is low, her margin dips to 50-46 percent. And, if a “Democratic surge” actually takes hold of the electorate, the margin increases to 53-42 percent.

Though Rep. Comstock is behind under all turnout models, her standing has improved in each since June, and reports from inside her campaign suggest the numbers might be even better. Under the standard turnout model forecast in June, the Comstock gain is a net three percentage points. Within the low turnout model, she gains a net five points, and even her standing vis-a-vis the “Democratic surge” is better, by a net two percent.

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NJ-11: Rebounding

By Jim Ellis

Navy veteran and attorney, Mikie Sherrill

Navy veteran and attorney, Mikie Sherrill

Sep. 3, 2018 — A new poll suggests that conventional wisdom about how a northern New Jersey district will vote next month might be inaccurate.

For quite some time, the common belief has been that retiring Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s (D-Morristown) seat will convert to the Democrats in the person of attorney and Naval Academy graduate Mikie Sherrill.

An internal National Strategy poll for the Jay Webber (R) campaign (Sept. 24-27; 400 likely New Jersey voters), however, now finds the GOP nominee drawing much closer to Sherrill, to the point where he is within the polling margin of error. According to National, the ballot test finds Sherrill leading, 46-43 percent.

Published polls here have been few and far between. Right after the primary, the money count so favored Sherrill that the prognosticators began making a Democratic victory in this open Republican district a foregone conclusion.

Sherrill had already raised over $4.2 million before the end of June and held just under $3 million in the bank. This compared to Webber having less than $200,000 cash-on-hand. His fundraising was slow to gain momentum, and he had to spend in order to win the party nomination in the June 5 primary, hence his low post-primary financial total. The dollar count led to the principle idea that Sherrill was becoming a lock. Since that time, Webber’s fundraising has moved well into seven digits.

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Will He Stay Or Will He Go?
New Duncan Hunter Poll Released

By Jim Ellis

California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine)

California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine)

Oct. 1, 2018 — One of the more interesting asides for the coming election is whether the two indicted congressmen, California’s Duncan Hunter and New York’s Chris Collins, can still win re-election. Since the House partisan division may be close, every seat is of critical importance particularly to Republicans who are attempting to hold their tenuous majority and risk both of these seats.

Monmouth University just released their new poll in California’s 50th Congressional District, testing Rep. Duncan Hunter’s political strength. As you may remember, Hunter is under federal indictment for campaign finance violations.

According to the Monmouth data (Sept. 22-26; 401 potential CA-50 voters who have cast a ballot in at least one of the last four primary or general elections or have newly registered to vote since January 2016), Hunter still has majority support in a district that President Trump carried, 55-40 percent.

Monmouth has been testing different turnout models in all of their latest polls. They look at all registered voters, a standard midterm model, and one that features a “Democratic surge.” In this poll, as in many other Monmouth surveys around the country, the tested Democratic candidate performs better under the registered, or “all voters” model, than under a Democratic surge, so it’s unclear as to the value of the latter test framework.

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The Spending Clues

By Jim Ellis

nrcc-dcccSept. 28, 2018 — The old saying, “put your money where your mouth is,” certainly applies to campaign politics, and we have new evidence of that. Currently, there is much conjecture and banter about which candidates are going to win various House races, including media prognosticators making predictions about how the Nov. 6 election will unfold, but a better clue as to what the party leaders actually believe can be found in their spending reports.

Looking at the most recent independent expenditures from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) tells us which races the party leadership believes are their top current priorities. For a full report on all recent expenditures, check the Daily Kos Elections blog, Daily-Kos-Elections-Live-Digest-9-26.

Though the latest expenditure reports tell us which are the hot, undecided races, they don’t provide the entire picture. Media market size and previous expenditure amounts also must be considered, particularly the former. For example, a $378,000 DCCC media buy in the 2nd District of Kansas is major, whereas spending $375,000 in Nevada’s 3rd District wholly contained in the expensive Las Vegas market isn’t nearly as large even though the dollar amounts are equivalent.

That being the said, the districts where the DCCC is spending more than $500,000 in current expenditures are:
• VA-10: Against Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-McLean) – $567,000
• MN-1: Open seat defense district – $539,000
• WA-8: Open seat conversion opportunity – $518,000
• NV-4: Open seat defense district – $508,000
• MN-8: Open seat defense district – $500,000

The NRCC is spending similar amounts but not as much in:
• WA-8: $484,000
• FL-26: Protecting Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Miami) – $435,000
• VA-10: $422,000

Obviously, the VA-10 and WA-8 races are very hot because both districts are at the top of each party’s expenditure lists.
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Health Care Politics

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 18, 2018 — In virtually every poll, health care is mentioned in the top three of the most important issues across the country. Therefore, ad themes attacking the problem from both ends of the political spectrum are now regularly appearing in every competitive congressional campaign.

The Democrats are zeroing in on Republican incumbents, in particular, on the pre-existing condition issue claiming that the GOP is trying to eliminate insurance coverage for those having previous health problems. The Dems support this argument by pointing to the Affordable Care Act repeal vote.

(Dr. Kim Shrier ad)

Republicans are now mounting an offensive against the pitch that many Democrats are promoting when they call for expanding Medicare coverage for everyone as the solution to the nation’s health insurance problem.

Both the campaigns themselves and various independent expenditure groups are attacking from both angles, and four ads presented below are typical examples of what we are seeing across the nation.

Washington Democrat Kim Shrier is running for the Seattle area district from which Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Auburn) is retiring. She is a pediatrician, so naturally healthcare is a key theme for her campaign. Dr. Shrier is opposing Republican former state senator and statewide nominee Dino Rossi in what is clearly a toss-up campaign.

Rossi and Dr. Shrier topped a field of 12 candidates in the Washington jungle primary held on Aug. 7. The Republican, by far the most well-known candidate of the group, placed first with 43.1 percent of the vote. Dr. Shrier nipped fellow Democrat Jason Rittereiser, 18.7 – 18.1 percent to advance into the general election. But, in the aggregate, Democrats earned slightly more votes than Republicans in the district-wide primary vote 50.2 – 47.2 percent.

One of Dr. Shrier’s healthcare campaign ads is included above as a good example of how Democrats are attacking Republicans, particularly over the pre-existing condition issue. Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Overland Park) goes on the attack against his opponent, former White House fellow (Obama Administration) and professional Mixed Martial Arts boxer Sharice Davids (D), over her promoting “Medicare for all” and claims that such will lead to the elimination of private health insurance.

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The Polling Machine

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 17, 2018 — In news that got pushed aside because of all of last week’s primaries, the Siena College Research Institute entered into a polling partnership with the New York Times to survey what the news organization spokespeople indicate will be nearly 100 US House campaigns. The Times’ statement also says more people will be “talked to (in sampling groups) than ever before.”

sienna-college-research-institute-jim-ellis-insightThe other interesting twist is that the results will be published in real time, meaning readers can see the responses as they are being recorded. The full sample is targeted to be in the 500 range per congressional district, a very healthy size. But readers should be cautioned about trying to project a pattern before the individual respondent universe is fully developed.

Siena College has been the featured New York Times pollster for several election cycles, concentrating on New York races. They regularly poll the state to test a governor’s approval rating, and how the electorate rates certain state-related and federal issues, along with conducting candidate ballot tests.

The 538 political analytics organization, which rates national, regional, and local pollsters, among other research, awards Siena an A grade in both the 2016 and 2018 election cycles, saying they have called 82 percent of the races correctly from 66 political surveys (60 in the 2016 election cycle, and six this year).

Siena records an average polling error rate of 4.9 percent, and concentrates on the live phoner method that includes conducting some respondent interviews on cell phones. The 538 organization records a Siena bias factor toward the Democrats of just 0.1 percent, which ties for one of the lowest in the polling universe and behind only Iowa’s Selzer & Company and Fairleigh Dickinson University, which scored a perfect 0.0 percent bias factor rating.

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