Tag Archives: Sen. Rob Portman

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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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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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: 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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Obstacles Overcome;
New Polls Again Close

By Jim Ellis

July 20, 2016 — A final last-gasp effort at denying Donald Trump the Republican nomination was easily slapped down the other day. The Never Trump forces were dealt a crushing loss last week in the Convention Rules Committee (only hitting the 20 percent mark in one vote), but returned to make a move against adopting the rules on the convention floor. This motion, too, was easily defeated on a voice vote.

The Never Trump group was never large enough to become a major threat, and went the way of all such challenges when supported by only a small minority. Therefore, the delegates will nominate Donald Trump and Mike Pence on Wednesday night, with the presidential acceptance speech on Thursday night in accordance with normal national convention procedure.

Midwest Polls

CBS/YouGov has conducted panel back Internet-based surveys of more than 24,017 registered voters in 19 states since September 2015. The July 15-16 edition covered voters in the swing Midwestern domains of Iowa (998 previously questioned registered voters), Michigan (1,201 PQRVs), and Ohio (1,104 PQRVs).

Once again, we continue to see data producing very tight margins in the swing states and the CBS/YouGov data is no exception. Michigan is normally not a politically marginal state in presidential elections, going for the Democratic nominee in the last six national campaigns, but voters have elected Republican governors, a majority of the congressional delegation, and given the GOP substantial advantages in both houses of the state legislature in several elections during this same time period.

The new CBS/YouGov data finds Trump leading Hillary Clinton 40-39 percent in Iowa, but trailing 39-42 percent, and 40-44 percent in Michigan and Ohio, respectively. All of these numbers suggest virtual ties between the two candidates because the results fall within the polling margin of error.

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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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Ohio Filings

Dec. 21, 2015 — With several states holding concurrent primaries (with the presidential election) in March, candidate filing deadlines are passing. The Ohio candidates became official at the end of this week.

Sen. Rob Portman (R) will face two minor Republican opponents before competing with former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) in the general election. Strickland has one credible Democratic opponent, Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld who repelled pressure from party leaders to exit the race. One minor Democratic contender also filed. Two Independents and a Green Party candidate will also present themselves on the US Senate ballot.

In the House races, 15 of the 16 incumbent Ohio congressmen will seek re-election. Only the 8th District of resigned Speaker John Boehner (R) will be open and settled in a special election. The special primary will be held concurrently with the regular nomination contests on March 15, with the related general on June 7. Eighteen Republican candidates filed for the safe GOP seat just north of Cincinnati. Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds, state Sen. Bill Beagle, and state Rep. Tim Derickson appear to be the top GOP candidates. The eventual winner will square off against the lone Democrat who filed, party activist Corey Foister.

Four congressmen, three Republicans and one Democrat, drew primary opposition, but only one is a serious challenge, while another may develop.

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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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Democracy Corps: Four-State Senate Data

Nov. 12, 2015 — The Democracy Corps, a liberal political research group founded and run by James Carville and national Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, just released their new study on four pivotal Senate races. The organization, Women’s Voices Women Votes Action Fund is a co-sponsor of this particular survey. Though the analysis spin was pro-Democratic Party for the upcoming election, the actual numbers suggest something that’s not quite as conclusive.

The purpose of the four state poll — conducted during the Oct. 24-28 period of 400 likely voters in each domain — Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin — was to demonstrate the power of what they are terming the “RAE Coalition” (defined as the progressive “Rising American Electorate”). The demographic groups comprising this subset are unmarried women, people of color, and millennials (those born in the early 80s to the early 2000s). The premise is that this coalition now claims a majority of people in each of these states. The Democrats’ problem is that the aforementioned demographic segments have low voter participation rates.

Interestingly, the Democracy Corps poll, as it relates to ballot questions for each tested state, actually produced better Republican numbers than most other recent polls. This is particularly true in Ohio and Colorado.

The pollsters, Greenberg Rosner Quinlan Research, developed a two-way race in each state and, in two instances (Colorado and Florida), picking potential candidates who may, or may not, be on a general election statewide ballot.

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The Ohio Senate Race:
A Strange Beginning

Oct. 16, 2015 — So far, the Ohio Senate campaign has begun as the new election cycle’s most peculiar contest. Sen. Rob Portman (R), seeking a second term, is leading in every aspect of the campaign but the polls. According to the last four surveys, former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) has a small edge over the Ohio senator, who was previously the Director of the US Office of Management and Budget, and a Cincinnati congressman.

Just last week the Harstad Strategic Group, polling for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, released early September data giving Strickland a 46-43 percent lead over Sen. Portman. Interestingly, Quinnipiac University, polling at the end of September and into early October, found exactly the same split: again Strickland topping Portman, 46-43 percent.

But, that’s not all. In Quinnipiac’s August version, they posted Strickland to a 44-41 percent advantage following their late June study that gave the former governor an even larger 46-40 percent margin. It was commonly viewed at the time that this first data finding Strickland with the edge was potentially an anomaly, but seeing other findings that supported the original result requires further examination before such a conclusion could be drawn. The last public poll to show Portman ahead came in early June from Public Policy Polling. In that survey the senator held a 43-41 percent lead.

The ballot test tilting toward Strickland makes little sense when we see that the same polls reported the incumbent’s personal favorability and job approval scores as being good. While the June Q-Poll found Strickland up six points, Portman scored a job approval of 49:28 percent and a personal rating of 43:21 percent.

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The Speaker Race and its Effect on Elections; Pennsylvania
and Ohio Senate Data

Oct. 12, 2015 — Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA-23) surprise announcement that he has dropped out of the Speaker’s race was, of course, big news at the end of last week, but how will the change in House leadership affect the 2016 general election?

To a large extent, it’s too early to tell, especially with the new Speaker election not yet being scheduled and without knowing the identities of all the eventual candidates. Will the McCarthy withdrawal have much of an effect concerning how Republicans fare at the polls at the end of next year? No. But certainly the eventual John Boehner replacement will have a great deal of influence over how the House Republican campaigns unfold.

At this writing, there does seem to be a push, led by outgoing Speaker Boehner, to convince Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-1), chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee and the 2012 Republican Vice Presidential nominee, to enter the internal Speaker’s campaign. At this point, Ryan continues to reject all such suggestions, but he does appear to be one of the few members who has a chance of uniting the Republicans in order to capture the 218 votes needed for victory.

With Ryan’s drive to enact economic policy, a much better chance would exist for him to develop an agenda for Republican candidates nationally to promote and rally around. Having such a platform would help crystallize the campaign and ensure the maximum number of House GOP electoral victories. No agenda has been present in the past two campaigns, which precludes more positive, issue-oriented campaigning.

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Portman and Toomey Numbers

Aug. 28, 2015 — New Ohio and Pennsylvania Senate data just entered the public domain. Last week, Quinnipiac University released their presidential polling results for the three key swing states: the aforementioned two, and Florida. Now they publicize the secondary data from the Aug. 7-18 sampling period (Ohio – 1,096 registered voters; Pennsylvania – 1,085 registered voters).

Ohio Senate

The Ohio results are a bit confusing. While Sen. Rob Portman (R) enjoys a hefty 42:19 percent personal favorability ratio and a 45:26 percent job approval score, he rather surprisingly trails ex-Gov. Ted Strickland (D) 41-44 percent. The former Ohio chief executive, who fell to current incumbent John Kasich (R) in 2010, has a 44:32 percent personal mark, respectable, but not as good as Portman’s total.

This is the second released survey that places Portman behind Strickland. Quinnipiac also conducted that poll (June), finding a 46-40 percent Democratic advantage.

The ballot test(s) could be the result of a partisan skew, or simply an anomaly. What does ring true, however, is that the Ohio Senate race will be close. As was the case in 2010, Portman had a slight lead for most of the campaign but pulled away for good in the final two weeks to defeat then-Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D), by a substantial 57-39 percent margin.

The race financials are not so close. Sen. Portman, one of the better Republican political fundraisers in the country, banked more than $5.7 million since the beginning of the year with over $10 million cash-on-hand. Strickland is far behind, raising $1.7 million since entering the race but having only $1.2 million in his campaign account.

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General Election Polls Break Down Dem / GOP Strongholds

June 24, 2015 — This week, Quinnipiac University brings us the general election preferences from 970 to 1,191 respondents who were questioned in the critical Senate states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Earlier, the university pollsters released partisan primary Senate data from their June 4-15 polls in each of those places. The early results favor Democrats in Florida and Ohio, and Republicans in Pennsylvania.

Florida

The Sunshine State poll tested the four most likely 2016 open seat Senate participants: Representatives Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6), Alan Grayson (D-FL-9), Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18), and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R). In all scenarios, the Democrats perform better. None of the candidates, however, is well known. Of the group, Rep. Grayson is most familiar but 62 percent of the respondents have yet to hear of him. The least known is Rep. DeSantis who only 19% of the polling sample can identify.

The biggest spread, 40-28 percent, belongs to Rep. Murphy over Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera. The closest early contests are six-point spreads: Rep. Grayson over the lieutenant governor, and the same Orlando Democrat topping DeSantis by an equal margin.
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