Tag Archives: Sen. Pat Toomey

Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent
Announces Departure

By Jim Ellis

Sep. 12, 2017 — A day after Pennsylvania conservative state Rep. Justin Simmons (R-Coopersburg) officially declared his Republican primary challenge to Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Allentown), the congressman announced that he would not seek an eighth term in the House.

It is unlikely the Simmons challenge forced Dent from Congress, but the overall political climate certainly contributes to his retiring. Dent has been one of President Trump’s top Republican critics. The congressman, age 57, reminded his supporters, however, that he originally planned to only serve five or six terms and will be in elective office for 28 consecutive years once his final term in the House comes to a close at the beginning of 2019. He was originally elected to the state House of Representatives in 1990, serving until his election to the state Senate in 1998, and then to Congress in 2004.

Democrats will now be looking to target the open 15th District, which stretches from the Allentown-Bethlehem area all the way west on Interstate 78 to the outer reaches of Harrisburg. The 15th District was more of a swing district before 2011 redistricting, however. Now, it performs as a reliably Republican seat.

The Allentown-Bethlehem district was solidly in Democratic hands from 1952 through 1978, when Republican Don Ritter upset eight-term Democratic Congressman Fred Rooney (D-Bethlehem) in that latter year. Ritter would represent the Lehigh Valley until 1992 when he lost to Democrat Paul McHale. McHale (D-Bethlehem) then retired after serving three terms. In 1998, businessman Pat Toomey (R-Allentown) converted the seat for the GOP and held it for three terms until he unsuccessfully challenged then-Republican Sen. Arlen Specter in the 2004 GOP primary.

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A New Senate Contender
In Pennsylvania?

By Jim Ellis

May 5, 2017 — There is renewed interest from Republicans in challenging Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey Jr., but the Senate campaign is still slow to materialize. Fresh from President Trump’s and Sen. Pat Toomey’s simultaneous but highly different wins in 2016, the GOP now has recent political victory paths from which to chart a new Senate campaign against the two-term Democratic incumbent.

This week, a new potential candidate may be coming onto the scene but, if so, he will have to quickly jump-start his campaign apparatus. Four-term Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton/Luzerne County) confirms that he is considering entering the Senate race, but his campaign treasury is a long way from being ready for a statewide campaign.

In many ways, President Trump and Sen. Toomey ran strategically opposite campaigns, yet both were able to win close Keystone State elections. The Trump strategy was to increase turnout, meaning the Republican vote in the outer suburbs and the rural areas, in order to counter the substantial Democratic margins coming from the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh metro areas.

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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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Late Breakers

By Jim Ellis

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

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

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

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

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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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More Senate Movement

By Jim Ellis

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

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

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

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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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Differing Data

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 17, 2016 — The presidential map has swung significantly toward Hillary Clinton in the past week, which is of little surprise considering the revelations surrounding Donald Trump. If the election were today, our count projects Clinton to receive 338 electoral votes as compared to only 200 for Trump.

As has been the case since the beginning of this campaign, in order to win the national election Trump must carry the states of Florida, Ohio and North Carolina in order to develop a base that melds into a winning coalition. Before the videotape flap, Trump held the advantage in his three staple states. This week, however, he has fallen behind in each place, albeit by small, single-digit margins.

While it is mandatory for Trump to carry Florida, Ohio and North Carolina, Clinton can win the national election without any of the three. But, should Trump rebound fully in the aforementioned, he is still not done. In addition to carrying the 23 states that have voted Republican in every presidential election in this century – all are unanimous with the one exception of Indiana, which voted for President Obama in 2008 by one percentage point — Trump needs an additional 17 electoral votes in order to actually win the election.

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Predicting a Wave

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 13, 2016 — Democrats are attempting to get atop of what they perceive as a growing wave in response to Donald Trump’s potential collapse, but they are missing several components necessary to creating such an outcome.

During the past two days Democratic leaders and strategists have begun to predict a landslide Hillary Clinton win, a majority in the US Senate, and now an impending wave large enough to carry their House candidates to success.

In the Senate, as we know, Democrats need to hold all 10 of their in-cycle seats, and then convert at least four Republican states to re-capture the majority. Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana all look like impending Democratic victories. Nevada Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3), in the one state Democrats are risking, continues to hold a small lead but his advantage over former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) is tenuous.

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (R) are both highly vulnerable and could easily lose, as could North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr (R). Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R) sees better trends developing in his state at the presidential level, but Democrats are using a strong performance in the open governor’s race as a potential springboard to unseating the one-term senator and former US House Majority Whip. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman (R), Arizona Sen. John McCain (R), and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) look to be stemming the adverse tide. But, all of the aforementioned races could easily change one way or the other in the final four weeks.

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Out of Control Polls

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 3, 2016 — There likely has not been a Senate race polled more extensively than the North Carolina contest between Sen. Richard Burr (R) and former state Rep. Deborah Ross (D), but this week’s survey set literally defies explanation.

According to three different polls, Sen. Burr has opened a wide lead over Ross, or the reverse is evident, or possibly the third scenario, resulting in the two becoming virtually tied, is actually the accurate alternative.

Based upon new Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research survey numbers (Sept. 10-19; 400 likely North Carolina voters as part of a 1,600 person sample from four states), Sen. Burr now leads the contest by an extraordinary 16 points, 46-30 percent. Keep in mind, this is no planted Republican poll. GQR is a Democratic firm that released an August poll actually projecting Ross as the race leader.

During the same time frame, Republican pollster Gravis Marketing, in a poll we covered earlier in the week (Sept. 23; 624 likely North Carolina voters), surprisingly gave Democrat Ross her largest advantage of the election cycle, 48-39 percent. Also during the same polling period, High Point University Research Center (Sept. 17-22; 404 likely North Carolina voters) sees the senator and Ross in virtually a tied situation, with Burr leading only 45-43 percent.

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The Outliers

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 29, 2016 — Early on debate day, Gravis Marketing made news with the release of their Minnesota poll. But their companion effort in North Carolina is equally noteworthy. Both illustrate trends inconsistent with all other pollsters, meaning the studies may be blazing new territory and they are simply wrong.

The Minnesota survey (Sept. 23; 906 likely Minnesota voters) surprisingly finds Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump tied at 43 percent apiece with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson pulling four percentage points. Considering that Minnesota last went Republican in a presidential race 44 years ago (1972; Nixon vs. McGovern), and before then when Dwight Eisenhower was president, it would be hard to conceive of Trump taking the state. Not even Ronald Reagan could win here back in 1984, meaning that Minnesota is the only state that opposed Reagan in both of his elections. (The District of Columbia also opposed Reagan twice, but DC is obviously not a state.) Therefore, a place with such a strong Democratic history is unlikely to switch in 2016.

In contrast, Survey USA for KSTP television in St. Paul reported the results from its Sept. 16-20 poll (625 likely Minnesota voters). Their data produced a 46-39-6 percent Clinton advantage, which is more consistent with previous polls and historical voting trends.

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Senate: Critical States, Critical Polls

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 13, 2016 — New polls were just released in states that will define which party controls the Senate in the next Congress.

Five polls, four from Quinnipiac University, are now in the public domain from Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. If these latest polls prove correct, the Senate majority would be decided in Nevada and New Hampshire, two toss-up states that were not included in the released data.

Florida

The first Q-Poll gives further evidence that Sen. Marco Rubio (R) is expanding his slight lead over Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter). According to the data from Quinnipiac’s September Florida statewide poll (Aug. 31-Sept. 7; 601 likely Florida voters), Sen. Rubio has extended beyond the polling margin of error and now records a 50-43 percent advantage.

Any problem he had with Republicans based upon his poor Florida performance against Donald Trump in the March 15 presidential primary appears to be resolved. This Q-Poll finds him attracting 89 percent of Republicans as opposed to losing just six percent of them. This brings him to partisan parity with Rep. Murphy, who captures the Democratic vote with a similar 91-7 percent. Rubio is doing very well among Independents, taking this group 53-37 percent.

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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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Two Intriguing State Polls

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 1, 2016 — While Hillary Clinton was officially accepting the Democratic nomination last week in Philadelphia, a new Pennsylvania poll provided her with some encouraging news even as other data from a reliable Democratic state produced a much different conclusion.

Massachusetts’ Suffolk University surveyed the Pennsylvania electorate (July 25-27; 500 likely Pennsylvania voters) and revealed conclusions not found in previous polling data. While other pollsters have generally determined that Clinton and Donald Trump are running within a few points of each other, this new data suggests a much larger lead for the newly crowned Democratic nominee.

According to the Suffolk results, Clinton leads Trump, Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, 46-37-5-2 percent, quite a departure from the Quinnipiac University poll (June 30-July 11; 982 registered Pennsylvania voters), for example, which posted a six-point Trump lead.

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Confirmation & Conflict

By Jim Ellis

July 15, 2016 — New just-released Senate polls either confirm or contradict other data that we covered earlier in the week.

An unusual identical confirmation occurred in Iowa, where two pollsters arrived at the exact same result when testing the contest between Sen. Charles Grassley (R) and former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge (D). Wednesday, NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist College released their Hawkeye State poll of 822 registered voters, and the Senate results determined Grassley to be leading Judge, 52-42 percent.

As noted earlier this week, Monmouth University (July 8-11; 401 registered Iowa voters) projected the exact same 52-42 percent spread. This gives us a solid indication that Sen. Grassley has increased his lead to low double-digits after taking a dip over the Supreme Court hearing controversy.

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