Tag Archives: Rhode Island

The Senate Picture – Re-cap

34-in-cycle-us-senate-seats

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 28, 2017 — During the Thanksgiving holiday week, we previewed all 34 current Senate races. Today, we wrap-up with the often-described 30,000-foot national overview perspective.

The Alabama special Senate election scheduled for Dec. 12 will tell us a great deal about the coming regular cycle. While the Roy Moore-Doug Jones race is not likely to provide a voting trend preview since the contest has been tainted with scandal, it will signal whether or not the Democrats own a path to the Senate majority.

If Democrat Jones wins the Alabama special, it would give his party 49 seats, thus making their two primary Republican conversion targets in Arizona and Nevada enough to claim majority status, assuming all 25 of their defense seats are held, which, of course, is no easy task. If Republican Moore can hold Alabama, despite being jettisoned by the national GOP leadership, that would secure the Republican majority because such an outcome relegates Democrats’ chances of netting the three GOP seats they need within the regular cycle as highly unlikely.

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The Senate Picture – Part III (Of III)

34-in-cycle-us-senate-seats-3-of-3

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 27, 2017 — Wrapping up our holiday recap of the 2018 Senate races — we finish our coverage with Ohio through Wyoming.

• Ohio: State Treasurer Josh Mandel (R), who held Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) to a 51-45 percent win in 2012 during the same election when President Obama led the ticket in Ohio, returns for a re-match next year. Mandel must first get past wealthy investment banker Michael Gibbons in the Republican primary, but appears well positioned to do so. A Brown-Mandel race could again develop into a major campaign, as the Republican’s ability to run a strong statewide race has improved during the last six years. In 2014, Mandel was re-elected state Treasurer with 59 percent of the vote.
Rating: Lean D

• Pennsylvania: Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) runs for a third term after seeing President Trump and fellow Sen. Pat Toomey (R) win close Keystone State contests last year. It is conceivable that Sen. Casey will be in a tighter re-election campaign cycle than five years ago when he scored a 54-45 percent victory. Since Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton) entered the race, the GOP Senate candidate field has decreased with two contenders, state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth/Jefferson Hills) and businessman Jeff Bartos, departing to run for other offices. The general election could be competitive, but Rep. Barletta may have a difficult time re-constructing President Trump’s winning coalition. The congressman may find a very rough going in the Philadelphia suburbs as did President Trump, which means developing a winning statewide base becomes highly challenging. Like the president posted, Rep. Barletta will need a record rural turnout in order to win.
Rating: Likely/Lean D

• Rhode Island: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D) appears poised for an easy re-election run next year, particularly with Republican attention focused upon a much more competitive governor’s race.
Rating: Safe D

• Tennessee: Sen. Bob Corker (R) is retiring after two terms, but Republicans are still in strong position to hold the seat. Democrats are attempting to recruit former Gov. Phil Bredesen, but he is not likely to become a candidate even though saying a decision about running will be made shortly. Republicans will likely feature a GOP primary between Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) and former two-term Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Crockett County) that will be very competitive in early August, but sure to produce a strong general election contender.
Rating: Likely R, and Safe R if Bredesen does not run.

• Texas: Though eventual Democratic nominee Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) will be able to raise a large amount of national money, he will be no match for Sen. Ted Cruz (R), who is seeking his second term. O’Rourke is a capable candidate who can wage a respectable campaign, but Texas voting history and Cruz’s strength within the Republican base will still yield him a victory at least in high single-digits.
Rating: Likely R

• Utah: Two major questions dominate this campaign: will Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) seek an eighth term, and if not, does former presidential nominee Mitt Romney come forward to replace him. Sen. Hatch continues to say he plans on running, but always leaves the retirement door open particularly if Romney says he will run. Either way, the seat remains in the Republican column, as Utah Democrats are too weak to field a strong statewide candidate. It is probable that the GOP dynamic will not crystallize until well after the first of next year.
Rating: Safe R

• Vermont: Sen. Bernie Sanders will again appear on the Vermont ballot as an Independent even though he was a major contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. Regardless of his party designation, he is safe for re-election in his small state, which likely features the most liberal constituency in the country.
Rating: Safe I

• Virginia: Particularly after the Democrats’ strong showing in the 2017 Virginia gubernatorial election, Sen. Tim Kaine (D) is a heavy favorite for re-election as he seeks a second term on the heels of losing as the Democrats’ Vice Presidential nominee. At this point, controversial Republican Corey Stewart, the Prince William County Board chairman who ran strongly in the GOP gubernatorial primary, is Sen. Kaine’s leading opponent but Republicans desire a more viable candidate. Speculation is increasing that Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-McLean) might run especially with the Democrats turning in such a strong performance in her Northern Virginia district earlier this month. So far, there is no indication that Rep. Comstock will reverse course to enter the statewide contest, however.
Rating: Likely/Safe D

• Washington: Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) has yet to even draw an opponent as she prepares a run for a fourth term.
Rating: Safe D

• West Virginia: A major Republican primary is brewing between Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-Huntington), with the winner facing Sen. Joe Manchin (D) next fall. Though West Virginia has moved decidedly to the right since the turn of the century and President Trump posted 69 percent here last November, Sen. Manchin remains at least a slight favorite for re-election. A minor Democratic primary challenge from the left should help the senator continue better craft his centrist image.
Rating: Lean D

• Wisconsin: Though Republicans have seen their fortunes greatly increase here during the past seven years, the field challenging Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) has been slow to develop. Businessman Kevin Nicholson (R) is active and receiving heavy support from outside financial sources, but the Republican conservative base is looking elsewhere. State Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) is in the race and figures to be a significant candidate. With the Wisconsin primary not occurring until August, Sen. Baldwin has the luxury of having a long time to prepare for what should be an active general election campaign cycle.
Rating: Lean D

• Wyoming: The big question surrounds whether Sen. John Barrasso draws a GOP primary challenge from Blackwater Security firm founder and international businessman Erik Prince, brother of US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, or mega-conservative donor Foster Friess. Chances are neither will run, meaning Sen. Barrasso has little trouble in securing a second full term.
Rating: Safe R

Senate ’18 Updates – Part III

By Jim Ellis

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

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

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

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

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Early Voting: Definitive?

By Jim Ellis

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

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

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

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

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Reuters: Trump Up In
Electoral College

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 20, 2016 — The Reuters/Ipsos “States of the Nation” project finds Donald Trump taking a surprising 243-242 electoral vote lead over Hillary Clinton, but are the individual state projections reliable? Many news sources covered the weekend story, yet it appears that the R/I numbers leave much to be desired. In fact, they show several states going for a candidate either for the first time in this election cycle, or in a manner that other data fails to substantiate.

Reuters/Ipsos is using a huge pool of almost 16,000 respondents, which allows them to segment results for most states. They are also casting several turnout models, and then calculating various Electoral College scenarios based upon the percentage of individual voter groups expected to participate in the November election.

The model forecasting the one-vote Trump advantage features an overall 60 percent turnout ratio among eligible voters, 43 percent for all minority groups, 59 percent African-American participation, and 69 percent from Anglo males. Even with his Electoral College edge, the Reuters/Ipsos results still find Trump trailing Clinton in the national popular vote by a 40-45 percent margin, however.

Questionable conclusions occur in several states. First, addressing the entities where Reuters/Ipsos did not have a large enough respondent sample to determine a trend, several have a clear and decided voting history. Adding Democratic Rhode Island and the District of Columbia’s electoral votes to Clinton’s total would increase her share to 249. For Trump, all other polling data supported by a long vote history would yield both Alaska and Wyoming to him. This would add another six votes to the Republican’s national total, thus leading the adjusted national split to a 249-249 tie.

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House Races: The Florida Bellwether

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 7, 2016 — The general election campaigns are just about set. Now into September, just two primary days remain (Sept. 8: Massachusetts — Sept. 13th: Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island) and only in New Hampshire’s 1st District – a seat that has defeated more incumbents than any district in the nation since 2006 – and the open Delaware at-large CD is there any remaining nomination uncertainty.

Looking at the entire House, the current majority stands at 246 Republicans, 186 Democrats, with three vacancies. Two of the seats with no current Representative are Democratic, that of the late Rep. Mark Takai (D-HI-1) and PA-2, which Rep. Chaka Fattah-D resigned after being convicted on federal corruption charges. The remaining position, coming open today, belongs to Kentucky Republican Ed Whitfield (R-KY-1). The congressman announced a year ago that he would not seek a 12th term and last week made public his plans to leave the House early. All three seats will remain with their respective parties, meaning the effective partisan division is 247R-188D.

In order to re-capture the House majority they lost in the 2010 election, the Democrats must first secure all 188 of their own seats, and then convert 30 Republican districts just to obtain a one-seat margin of control. No statistical forecasting suggests that such an outcome is in sight.

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Trump, Hillary Closing In;
Van Hollen, McGinty Post Solid Wins

By Jim Ellis

April 27, 2016 — Donald Trump exceeded expectations in last night’s eastern regional primary and looks to have won 112 of the available 118 delegates in the five voting states (Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island). He needed at least 103 to stay on course for a first-ballot nomination victory.

The GOP front-runner captured a majority in every state, ranging from a high of 64 percent in Rhode Island to a low of 55 percent in Maryland. More importantly, he swept the winner-take-all by congressional district states in Connecticut and Maryland, winning each of the combined 13 congressional districts. Not only did Trump win every district and thus score backdoor winner-take-all victories in the congressional district domains along with adding the one at-large winner-take-all state (Delaware) to his column, he went so far as to win every county in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

The April 26 primaries came on the last day that featured more than two states — until we reach the nomination finale on June 7. That day, an additional five states will host primary voting, including California. With its 172-delegate contingent, the Golden State is the nation’s largest delegation and will likely decide whether Trump can score a first-ballot victory or if the nomination battle falls into a contested convention.

For the Democrats, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton placed first in four of the five states and easily expanded her delegate take. Sen. Bernie Sanders took the Rhode Island primary, and came close in Connecticut, but Clinton easily captured the bigger states of Maryland and Pennsylvania. She also won a strong victory in Delaware. In all, Clinton likely captured about 200 delegates according to preliminary counts, well beyond the 27 percent she needs to average from the outstanding delegate pool in order to clinch the nomination.

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The Stretch Drive Begins Now

By Jim Ellis

April 22, 2016 — Donald Trump’s major New York Republican primary win on Tuesday (he captured 90 of the state’s 95 delegates, exceeding expectations by at least 10 convention votes) revives talk of a first ballot victory, but is such speculation realistic?

The evening propelled Trump to 847 bound delegates, or 390 away from clinching the GOP presidential nomination. In the remaining 15 states that will complete the primary/caucus process, the Republican front-runner must secure 57 percent of the outstanding convention votes in order to score a first-ballot victory without the aid of unbound delegates.

On April 26, voters in five eastern states will visit the polls. The aggregate bound delegate contingent hailing from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island through their various apportionment systems is 112. The minimum combined number Trump must secure is 92 from these states.

His 83 percent available delegate quota from the eastern pool is high for two reasons. First, he is heavily favored in all five states headed into Election Day. Second, he must run up the score in the east to neutralize at least three states where he likely won’t do well: Indiana (May 3), Nebraska (May 10) and South Dakota (June 7). Since Nebraska and South Dakota are Winner-Take-All states, it is probable that Trump will be shut out in both places.

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New York Landslide a Precursor?

By Jim Ellis

April 20, 2016
— Donald Trump exceeded expectations last night in New York by capturing what appears to be 90 of the Empire State’s 95 delegates. Needing to score approximately 80 delegates to get back on track for a long-shot first ballot victory at the Republican National Convention in July, Trump did significantly better in his home state than pre-election projections foretold.

Trump garnered 60.5 percent of the statewide vote, making this the first time he has scored a majority in a primary. Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) was second with 25.1 percent, while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz could manage only a 14.5 percent vote total.

Ironically, the only one of the 62 counties Trump failed to carry was New York County, or Manhattan Borough, which is his home. Gov. Kasich took Manhattan, and won the remaining five NY delegates.

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Cruz Wins in Wyoming;
McCain Ties in Arizona

Wyoming

By Jim Ellis

April 19, 2016 — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) scored another victory in a Republican state convention system that features no direct voting. Like North Dakota and Colorado, Wyoming has historically chosen its delegates through the state convention process, and did so again over the weekend.

Earlier in the process, county caucuses chose 12 of the state’s 29 national convention votes. On Saturday, the state convention delegates elected the remaining 14 national delegates. The final three are the Republican National Committee members: the state GOP chairman, the national committeeman, and national committeewoman.

The end result is 23 delegates for Sen. Cruz versus one for national front-runner, Donald Trump. The others remain uncommitted or attached to other candidates. But, Wyoming is one of the unbound delegations, meaning the members can still change their votes unless subsequent party directives and rules enforce pledged loyalty.

According to the GreenPapers.com political information website, Trump now leads Cruz 758-558 in the national delegate count. This means Trump needs another 479 votes to clinch the nomination. To win on the first ballot, Trump would have to claim just over 62 percent of the outstanding 769 Republican delegates.

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Why Cruz Visited The Bronx

By Jim Ellis

April 11, 2016 — Many people are questioning why Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) went to The Bronx last week in preparation for the April 19 New York primary, a little over a week from now.

Significantly trailing both front-runner Donald Trump and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) in the latest released polling (Monmouth University; April 2-3; 302 likely New York Republican primary voters; Trump 52 percent, Kasich 25 percent, Cruz 17 percent), which is consistent with earlier data in the public realm, it appears that the senator may not be using his limited time wisely in visiting a place with so few Republican voters. But, there is a method to Cruz’s “madness”.

New York has a complicated Republican delegate apportionment system. For a candidate to qualify for any of the 11 at-large delegates, he must break the 20 percent vote threshold. If, on the other end of the spectrum, a candidate exceeds a statewide majority the at-large delegates then become Winner-Take-All.

The 27 congressional districts are designed in similar fashion. If a candidate breaks the 50 percent barrier in an individual district, that seat’s three delegates are all awarded to the top finisher. If the district winner falls between 20 and 50 percent, he wins two delegates and the person in second position receives one.

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Following Up on the
Big Wisconsin Wins

By Jim Ellis

April 7, 2016 — Both senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) handily exceeded expectations in Wisconsin Tuesday night. Cruz, in particular, had an impressive night, hovering around the 50 percent mark throughout the counting and finished just a point under the majority threshold. Donald Trump notched only 34 percent, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) came up way short with just 14 percent.

Wisconsin is a Winner-Take-All by congressional district state, and it is in the all-important delegate count where Cruz came close to running the table. Except for the two western state congressional districts, 3 (Rep. Ron Kind; D-La Crosse) and 7 (Rep. Sean Duffy; R-Wausau), the Texas lawmaker swept the state including the Madison-anchored 2nd District where Kasich appeared to be favored going into the election. Therefore, Sen. Cruz scored a 36-6 delegate apportionment victory over Trump, with Kasich being shut out.

The result should be seen as a significant setback for Trump, just as it is becoming clear that he will face a serious degradation in delegate support if the convention deadlocks and multiple ballots are required.

Reports emanating from states such as Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Dakota and Arizona suggest that the delegate composition from these places, once the members are released according to their individual state law or party rule, will back away from Trump and head toward Cruz or possibly another candidate if others can be introduced into the process at the convention.

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Inching Closer To
A Contested Convention

By Jim Ellis

March 16, 2016
— Last night, the major step toward the Republicans ending in a contested, or brokered, convention occurred. Ohio Gov. John Kasich won his home state, claiming its 66 Winner-Take-All delegates.

Though Donald Trump had a strong night, placing first in the other four states and carrying the Northern Marianas’ Winner-Take-All territorial caucus the day before (nine delegates), he still has a difficult task to commit the majority of Republican delegates before the Republican National Convention begins on July 18.

At this point, the votes of 1,489 Republican delegates are either committed to a candidate or will go to the convention as unbound. This means 983 delegates remain. Of the 983 delegate votes, 152 would be unbound according to individual state party rule; hence, they become the Republican version of “Super Delegates”. The remaining 831 will be committed, or bound, votes.

To win the nomination, Trump must secure 57.3 percent of the remaining delegates. But, to officially clinch the nomination before the convention, he would need 67.7 percent of the bound delegates. Both percentages may be out of reach, considering he has committed just 45.3 percent of the available votes to this point. Now with only two opponents remaining, his take of the available delegate pool will naturally grow – but to what extent?

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Approaching Reapportionment

Even with the new Congress being officially installed today, it is still not too early to begin looking toward future elections.

Though reapportionment and redistricting are still six years away, some definitive population patterns are present. If the trends continue, we could gain early knowledge about which states may be gaining and losing congressional districts based upon the future 2020 census. Such information will certainly affect how politics plays out in these affected states during the remainder of the decade.

The Census Bureau just announced its year-end totals for 2014, and we find a United States total population of 318.9 million people, the third highest country total in the world, but far behind second place India’s 1.2 billion inhabitants.

Of note, the 2014 year-end report confirmed a domestic trend that had been building for many years, that of Florida moving into third place over New York in terms of state aggregate population. North Carolina also surpassed Michigan to become the ninth largest US state.

The fastest growing states during the past year, in terms of raw number, are not particularly surprising. Texas, which gained four seats in the 2010 reapportionment, again leads the nation in new residents. California, Florida, Georgia, and Arizona are next in order.
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Tierney Out in Mass.; Tepid Victories Elsewhere

Massachusetts

In the last major primary of the 2014 election cycle, nine-term Rep. John Tierney (D-MA-6) became the fourth US House member to lose renomination this year, thus ending his congressional career. Iraq War veteran Seth Moulton denied Tierney the opportunity of continuing as the Democratic standard bearer with a substantial 49-41 percent victory spread against a sitting incumbent.

The Tierney defeat is really a term late. With his wife being convicted of federal tax fraud for filing illegal returns associated with her brothers’ illicit off-shore Internet gambling business several months prior to the 2012 election, Tierney barely escaped losing to former state Sen. Richard Tisei (R). The congressman won re-election 46-45 percent, even after he stopped campaigning and spending money with weeks remaining in the election cycle because he thought he was finished. Though a surprise comeback winner in 2012, his inherent political weakness made him highly vulnerable against a strong Democratic primary opponent this year.
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