Tag Archives: Sen. Mark Kirk

2016 Electoral Quick Facts

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 13, 2016 — On the day that the states are reporting their official results to the Electoral College, it is an appropriate time to analyze some of the more interesting results.

In the presidential contest, six states switched their votes from the Democrats and President Obama (2012) to the Republicans and Donald Trump this year.

Wisconsin went Republican for the first time since 1984; Michigan and Pennsylvania from 1988; while Florida, Iowa and Ohio are back in the Republican column after voting Democratic in the last two consecutive elections.

Now that the Louisiana run-offs are complete, we can begin to analyze the composition of the new House and Senate.

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Today’s the Day

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 8, 2016 — At long last, the 2016 election cycle draws to a close this evening, as we have finally reached Election Day.

The final polls show ending momentum for Hillary Clinton. Ten surveys reported results, all with sampling periods ending Nov. 6. Nine of the 10 find Clinton leading the presidential race by an average of 3.6 percentage points. Her margin stretches from two to six points.

The Electoral College projections appear to put Clinton in the low 300 electoral vote range, well beyond the 270 needed to clinch the presidency. Donald Trump appears to be on the upswing in North Carolina, Iowa, and Ohio, but he would also need victories in Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and the 2nd Congressional District of Maine to secure a minimum electoral vote victory. Though both parties have invested major time commitments during the last few days in Pennsylvania, the state seems destined to support Ms. Clinton by a discernible margin.

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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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The Latest Trends

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 24, 2016 — With the presidential race appearing just about wrapped up, the Senate races are taking the center stage for competitiveness. Some of the races are changing.

The first section identifies competitive races that now appear set:

Arizona – Sen. John McCain (R) now looks to be a strong bet for re-election, as he leads Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) in all polling. Additionally, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) has pulled its media money, sending it to other states.

Illinois – Sen. Mark Kirk (R) appears in no position to overcome the strong Democratic trends that he faces. Therefore, Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s (D-Hoffman Estates) advantage should hold through Election Day, and she will become the new senator when the Congress convenes in January.

Iowa – Veteran Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) continues to cement his lead over Lt. Gov. Patty Judge (D). Neither party is emphasizing the race and the only October poll recorded (Des Moines Register/Selzer & Company; Oct. 3-6; 642 likely Iowa voters) again projects Sen. Grassley’s lead as approaching 20 points (53-36 percent).

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Four Races Appear Done

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 5, 2016 — The two political parties continue to make financial decisions with regard to Senate race funding. More became public at the beginning of this week, as both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) canceled major ad buys in several states, again telling us how the respective party organization leaders believe several key campaigns will end on Nov. 8th.

In two instances, according to the Daily Kos Elections page, the DSCC reduced media buys in states where their candidates are challengers. Most of the time, such a move would suggest that prospects are yielding favorable conclusions for the Republican incumbents. In Wisconsin and Illinois, however, the opposite appears true.

The moves suggest that leadership in both parties believes that former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) will unseat GOP Sen. Ron Johnson. Last week the DSCC released a major part of their final electronic media reservation ironically saying that Feingold is secure because he continues to hold an uncontested polling lead.

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Follow the Money

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 4, 2016 — The Wesleyan Media Project released their campaign advertising study for the 2016 election cycle and, focusing on their Senate data that Kantar Media/CMAG compiled, the information gives us strong clues as to which races are the most important to each party. The report also provides clues as to which media campaigns and strategies are working and those that are lacking.

The study tracked ads run in 20 states featuring Senate general election campaigns, from a high of 18,265 ads aired (Pennsylvania) to a low of 18 (Kansas). The tested period spanned from Aug. 19 to Sept. 15. In the 20 states, an aggregate of 104,522 ads aired in the various markets. Those backing Republican candidates or opposing Democratic contenders accounted for approximately 53 percent of the total study period buy.

Though Pennsylvanians have seen the greatest number of Senate ads, the most money spent during the period was in New Hampshire ($16.9 million). This is because the overwhelming number of ads purchased was in the expensive Boston media market.

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Senate Trends

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 15, 2016 — A plethora of new swing state Senate polls have been conducted and already released in August, and both parties are getting some good news in specific races.

The two states ripe for electing a senator from a different party are Illinois and Wisconsin. Such has been known for the better part of a year, and the latest polls are no exception to the developing trends.

Illinois Senate Democratic nominee Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) released her internal Normington Petts research firm poll (Aug. 1-4; 800 likely Illinois general election voters) projecting a 44-37 percent Duckworth lead over Sen. Mark Kirk (R). Marquette University Law School, again polling the Wisconsin electorate (Aug. 4-7; 805 registered Wisconsin voters) as they have done regularly since the 2012 election, finds former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) topping incumbent Ron Johnson (R), 53-42 percent. This result swings a net of six points in Feingold’s favor when compared to the institution’s July survey. At that time, Feingold led 49-44 percent.

All the key Republican defense battleground states reported new August numbers. The good news for Democrats comes in Pennsylvania where challenger Katie McGinty (D) made a significant gain on Sen. Pat Toomey (R), to the point where several polls find her building a small lead.

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Illinois Files

Dec. 7, 2015 — Candidate filing for the 2016 Illinois election calendar has now closed, meaning we have a slate of Democratic and Republican candidates for all federal offices.

In the US Senate contest, both parties have three candidates. Sen. Mark Kirk is seeking a second term on the Republican side. He faces two minor primary challengers in management consultant James Marter and former congressional candidate Liz Pahlke. The Democrats, as expected, are Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8), state Sen. Napoleon Harris, and Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp. The general election will feature Sen. Kirk and Rep. Duckworth.

House Primaries

Turning to the House races, eight incumbents drew primary challenges, three of which appear formidable.

In Chicago’s 1st District, veteran Rep. Bobby Rush has drawn a trio of Democratic primary opponents. The most serious is Chicago Alderman Howard Brookins Jr. In the last election, Brookins circulated nominating petitions in anticipation of a Rush retirement announcement, but then chose not to file when the congressman decided to seek re-election.

This year, it was thought he might be following that same path but he did not. Brookins is in the contest and will make the challenge. It is doubtful that he can deny Rep. Rush re-nomination. Even President Obama failed to do so back in 2000. Obama, then a state senator, drew only 30 percent against the strong incumbent. The other 1st District Democratic challengers are frequent candidate Harold Bailey and former congressional candidate Patrick Brutus.

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Illinois Sen. Kirk Attacks Duckworth;
Comstock’s Interesting Challenger

Dec. 3, 2015 — Sen. Mark Kirk (R) just launched a major media attack against Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8), this one regarding the Syrian refugee issue. The ad (above) is telling because it provides us a glimpse into the Kirk campaign research and strategy.

Targeting the congresswoman now conveys the assumption that Rep. Duckworth will win the Democratic nomination on March 15. This is a rather obvious conclusion due to her perceived political strength and because her two primary opponents, though potentially formidable under different circumstances, both occupy the same demographic and geographic segments. State Sen. Napoleon Harris and Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp are each African American and hail from the state’s largest city.

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Early Primary Races

Dec. 2, 2015 — The early presidential calendar brings March congressional primaries to seven states. Instead of doubling the election cost with a stand-alone presidential primary followed by a commensurate state nomination event later in the year, several legislatures decided to move their entire cycle to an unusually early calendar slot.

The March primary states, aside from Texas and Illinois, which normally hold their nomination voting then, are: Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Ohio.

March 1

Alabama: Sen. Richard Shelby faces Republican primary opposition from four opponents, one of whom, businessman Jonathan McConnell, could self-fund a campaign should he choose to do so. This is a good example of where the short time frame hurts potential challengers. Sen. Shelby should have little problem disposing of his competition to win re-nomination for a sixth term. Should Shelby fall below 50 percent, a run-off election would be held on April 12.

All seven House members are seeking re-election. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL-1), Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL-2), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL-3) and Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL-4) all face Republican opposition. All are favored to win without a run-off.

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New Hampshire Senate Race is
Suddenly a “Toss Up”

Oct. 7, 2015 — New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) announced Monday that she will challenge Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) next year. Rumors abounded since the time Hassan was re-elected to a second two-year term that she would in fact make the move to the Senate race. Recently, however, it appeared that the chances of her giving up the governorship in order to challenge the Republican incumbent were becoming lesser. So, the announcement came as a mild surprise.

The move increases the Democrats’ chances of re-taking the Senate because they put another state in play. This is clearly now a toss-up race, featuring two veteran statewide candidates in the most unpredictable of political states. No place has defeated more federal incumbents since 2006 than New Hampshire. Beginning with Jeanne Shaheen’s (D) victory over then-Sen. John E. Sununu (R) nine years ago, the electorate has subsequently unseated six congressional incumbents while only re-electing three during this five-election period.

The New Hampshire political tides have also been strong. Except for the governor’s office, which has remained primarily in Democratic hands, the state has swept out the entire slate of both party office holders almost routinely in the past 10 years.

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Illinois Numbers: Kirk, President

July 31, 2015 –Public Policy Polling surveyed the Illinois electorate (July 20-21; 931 registered Illinois voters; 409 likely Illinois Democratic primary voters; 369 likely Illinois Republican primary voters) and found each party spinning the Senate numbers very differently.

According to the data, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) scores a 42-36 percent edge over incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk (R).  Democrats obviously are claiming that Kirk is one of the weakest of GOP senators standing for election next year since their challenger already holds an outright lead.  The data indicates that Duckworth and the Democrats are taking advantage of a series of gaffes that the first-term incumbent recently uttered.  Republicans, on the other hand, point to the fact that Kirk is only six points down.  They argue that his negatives from the controversial statements will only have a short-term effect.

Kirk also finds himself in upside-down job approval territory, notching a poor 25:42 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio.  Rep. Duckworth, on the other hand, records a 34:23 percent positive score.  Though the non-responding/refused to answer factor (43 percent) is high for the Duckworth question, her total name identification is strong for a lone House member in a large population state.

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Surprising Choice in Virginia; Strange Poll in Illinois

June 30, 2015 — Saturday’s meeting of the Virginia Republican State Central Committee (SCC) was thought to be the venue for adopting the convention presidential nominating option, but a surprise secret ballot vote changed the committee’s direction.

Eighty-two SCC members participated in the Staunton, Va. meeting to determine the apportionment system for the state’s 49 Republican presidential delegates. Though a primary was held in 2008, Virginia has typically been known as a convention state. Most of the state Republican nominees have been chosen in this fashion before assemblages usually exceeding 12,000 individuals.

Things started to unravel for the pro-convention contingent when a motion was made to convene in executive session for purposes of considering a measure to allow a secret ballot vote on the question of convention or primary, instead of employing the traditional roll call method. When the vote to adopt a secret ballot procedure passed on a 41-39 vote with two abstentions, it became apparent that the primary forces had a shot at carrying the day. When tabulated, the vote for a primary system was adopted 42-39, with one member abstaining.
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A Lot of Noes

June 16, 2015 — We witnessed a great many political “noes” this weekend, as Iowa Republicans voted to do away with their famous August straw poll event, and two potential major Senate candidates announced they would not run next year.

President

The Iowa Republican Party began the straw poll event in August of 1979, as a way to showcase their first-in-the nation caucus contest. Over the years, the event attracted major media attention and was generally viewed as the first official contest of the respective presidential campaign cycle. In the most recent years, it became the Iowa GOP’s top fundraising event for their entire election season. But, over this past weekend, the Iowa Republican Party Executive Committee voted 17-0 to end the famous informal poll.

Several reasons exist for the event’s elimination, which previously drew thousands to Iowa State University in Ames, the traditional event venue. First, the straw poll was never a good predictor as to who would win the Caucus event. For example, then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) placed first in the 2011 straw poll, which proved to be the high point of her campaign. Basically she was not heard from in a serious way after that. In fact, of the six straw poll events, only once did the outright August vote correctly foretell the actual Caucus winner (George W. Bush in 2000).
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While Other Candidates Opt In,
Four Decide to Opt Out of Running

April 13, 2015 — While individuals such as Hillary Clinton and senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) are officially becoming presidential candidates, several potential US Senate and House candidates pursued a different course over the weekend.

Florida Senate

For Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater (R), Sen. Rubio’s presidential announcement appeared to provide him an opening to run for what will now be an open US Senate seat next year. But, Atwater is rather surprisingly backing away from entering the race.

Despite early polls suggesting he might be the strongest Republican who could attempt to succeed Rubio and with supporters already forming a federal Super PAC on his behalf, Atwater, citing family considerations, announced over the weekend that he will not enter the Senate race next year.
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