Tag Archives: Super PAC

More on the Moore Win in Alabama;
Tennessee’s Corker to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 28, 2017 — Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, twice removed from the court for disobeying federal court orders that violated his conservative principles, scored a robust victory Tuesday night over appointed Sen. Luther Strange in the special Republican Alabama Senate run-off election. Judge Moore now advances to the Dec. 12 special general election against the Democratic nominee, former US Attorney Doug Jones.

Sen. Strange went down to a 55-45 percent crushing defeat, just as pre-election polls predicted.

The Moore victory was expansive in that he took 63 of the state’s 67 counties, losing only in the Birmingham area (Jefferson and Shelby Counties), Huntsville (Madison County), and Sumter County in the western part of the state that hugs the Mississippi border. Moore racked up big wins in Montgomery, Mobile, and Dothan, and scored well over 60 percent in all rural areas.

Turnout was up from the first election. In August, 423,282 people voted in the Republican primary. Tuesday night, more than 480,000 individuals cast ballots in the Moore-Strange race, an increase of 13.5 percent for the run-off. The upsurge is unusual, as run-off participation normally falls below the numbers recorded in the primary.

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Alabama Battle Lines Drawn

By Jim Ellis

July 14, 2017 — Now, just about a month away from the Alabama US Senate special primary election, we are seeing the first political patterns that begin to define the Republican primary race.

To review, the seat became vacant when Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) was appointed US attorney general. In a controversial move, embattled Gov. Robert Bentley (R) tabbed state Attorney General Luther Strange (R) to replace Sessions. The appointment was controversial from the start because Bentley was reportedly under investigation by Strange’s office.

Gov. Bentley, who was facing impeachment from his own Republican base in the state legislature, saw the process grind to a halt when Strange asked the legislative leadership to allow him to complete his investigation to determine if the governor actually misused state funds when engaged in an extra-marital affair. Strange later said that he never confirmed such an investigation was actually underway, but he publicly asked the legislative leaders to halt, and that helped him earn him the appointment. Bentley was then in position to appoint the new attorney general who would decide whether to continue the stealth investigation into his own potential wrongdoing.

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Primary Preview

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 2, 2016 — Today, voters in four states go the polls to choose nominees for their federal and state races. Intra-party contests in Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington will be decided. The Tennessee primary will follow on Thursday.

Kansas

The day’s most competitive primary challenge is underway in the 1st District, where one of the conservative Freedom Caucus’ most outspoken members, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Fowler/Western Kansas), faces one lone, serious challenger, Dr. Roger Marshall (R). Sen. Jerry Moran (R) and Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Overland Park/Kansas City) face only minor opposition in their respective campaigns.

The 1st District stretches from the Colorado border east through three-quarters of Kansas’ land mass. Including cities such as Manhattan, Hutchinson, Salina, Dodge City, Garden City, and Liberal, KS-1 is a conservative, agriculture-dominated CD. Rep. Huelskamp, who won a crowded open seat nomination fight in 2010, also received a primary challenge in 2014 and prevailed 56-44% over Alan LaPolice who only managed to spend just over $160,000.

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Post-Primary Race Previews – California

By Jim Ellis

June 13, 2016 — The June 7 primary results set the stage for several interesting California general election campaigns. Tomorrow, we will review the other June 7 primary states and their key general election contests.

The competition to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) features two Democrats advancing to the general election for the first time in state history. Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana) placed first and second in the jungle primary field of 34 Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Harris’ 40 percent performance was stronger than polling projected, while Rep. Sanchez’s 19 percent of the joint vote fulfilled her forecast.

Without any suspense as to whether or not the Democrats will hold the Boxer seat, it is unlikely the national Democratic Party apparatus or outside Super PACs will involve themselves in the race. This should be more of a help to Sanchez than Harris. Though Harris is the clear favorite to win the general election, Rep. Sanchez has the correct profile for a modern day California statewide candidate.

Hailing from southern California, where approximately 60 percent of the state’s residents live and a region starved for a statewide office holder, Sanchez, coming from Orange County, has the opportunity to make geography a political asset.

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Bush Surging in NH?

Jan. 29, 2016 — A new Emerson College Polling Society New Hampshire presidential primary poll suggests former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is moving into second place among Republicans ahead of his principle establishment rivals, governors John Kasich (R-OH) and Chris Christie (R-NJ).

According to the ECPS survey results (Jan. 25-26; 373 likely New Hampshire GOP primary voters), Donald Trump maintains a large lead over the Republican field posting 35 percent preference. Bush followed with 18 percent, just ahead of Gov. Kasich’s 14 percent standing. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) scores nine percent; Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) eight percent; and Gov. Christie just five percent among the polling respondents.

However, these numbers are unsubstantiated. No other survey research organization has detected such a Bush forward drive. Though the Polling Society is comprised of students from Emerson College in neighboring Massachusetts, their track record has been impressive, coming closer to the actual final result in the 2013 Virginia governor’s race than the professional firms, for example. The American Association for Public Opinion Research extended the organization membership status in recognition of their previous work.

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Already Nasty in Louisiana

Oct. 30, 2015 — Just two days after the Louisiana gubernatorial jungle primary, run-off participants Sen. David Vitter (R) and state Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) and their allied Super PACs, are wasting no time launching hard-hitting attack ads in anticipation of the Nov. 21 general election.


It was clear the secondary campaign period was going to yield a nasty political affair, and the first ads may have already exceeded expectations. Edwards, knowing that Vitter would have to hit him hard because the latter has such poor approval ratings, comes out of the gate with an offensive defense of his record (above), predicting that Vitter will lie about him while simultaneously harpooning the senator throughout script.


But, the Super PAC ads go for the jugular. Gumbo PAC, a local trial lawyer financed anti-Vitter committee, features a well-conceived ad (above) comprised of clips from losing Republican gubernatorial candidates, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, with a two-fold purpose.

First, it shows Republican candidates viciously attacking a top GOP office holder in order to cement Vitter’s negative image, and second, reminding Angelle and Dardenne of their strong public anti-Vitter sentiments makes it more difficult for both to now endorse their Republican colleague, something that the sitting senator needs to better unite his party.


The Republican Governors Association immediately took to the airwaves to attack Edwards with the predicted strategic point of tying the Democratic gubernatorial nominee to an unpopular President Obama (above). They extend the political assault to include Edwards’ vote in the legislature to increase his own pay, what they say is cutting education funding, and then adding a new issue, that of the Democrat supporting “welfare for illegal aliens.”

The pre-election polling suggested that Edwards held what could be a substantial advantage over Sen. Vitter in the gubernatorial general election. But, those polls were taken before Edwards became an attack target. Shortly, we shall see what kind of an effect the ad messages are having upon the two-man race.

This governor’s contest could also change the 2016 US Senate campaigns, as we have previously discussed. Vitter’s seat is in-cycle next year and, should he become governor, the new chief executive will appoint his own successor. Such an individual will then be able to seek election to a full term as an appointed incumbent, an advantage that should negate most Republican opposition.

Should Vitter lose, which is now a distinct possibility, the senator will be faced with a tough decision whether to seek re-election. Seeing him fumble the governor’s race, the Democrats will come back with a strong campaign, thus possibly putting the seat in play. For Republicans to retain Senate control, the last thing they need is making what should be a safe seat competitive in a hotly contested national election cycle.

Biden Out; Hillary Wins

Oct. 22, 2015 — Despite media reports predicting that Vice President Joe Biden would enter the presidential race early in the week, yesterday he officially announced that he will not, saying his “window of opportunity had closed.”

As we had stated here earlier, Biden had three obstacles to overcome, none of which appeared easy to traverse. First, to which he referred in his Rose Garden announcement, the time was fast elapsing when he could reasonably develop a campaign from the ground up, in terms of building both a fundraising and grassroots political organization.

Because of his longstanding career in national politics, Biden wouldn’t have been starting a national campaign at political ground zero, but would have been uncomfortably close. The vice president already realized that he was likely past the point of no return to compete in Iowa and New Hampshire, thus leaving South Carolina as the state where he could make his first stand against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT). This would have made generating any serious momentum very difficult when already two highly publicized voting events would be completed before a Biden campaign even realistically began.

Second, constructing an organization that could raise millions of dollars quickly in $2,700 maximum increments during such a short time frame would also have been an arduous task regardless of his current political position. Yes, Super PACs would have quickly formed to support him and could have bundled large sums in short order, but he would still need a sizable amount of funding to directly control. As we know, candidates and their staffs can have no say in how Super PAC money is spent.

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Biden: Not Quite Yet

Oct. 21, 2015 — Twitter has been chirping recently with “insider” tweets that Vice President Joe Biden had decided to enter the 2016 presidential campaign. The Washington Post even ran a draft article quoting unnamed sources denoted with a notation of “XXX” that Biden had made his final decision. It wasn’t long before the editors quickly withdrew the piece, claiming it had been inadvertently placed. Hours later it was determined that the VP is not yet launching his official presidential effort.

The decision is a tough one because Biden is clearly not in a position to simply announce for president and expect everyone to flock to him. In fact, he has several major obstacles to overcome to win the nomination and it is doubtful that he can.

First, all of the early national polling suggests his entrance in the race would only earn him support in the high teens to low 20s, slightly trailing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT), and about 20-plus points behind front-runner Hillary Clinton.

The Monmouth University poll results, for example, released only Monday and fielded after the first Democratic presidential debate (Oct. 15-18; 1,012 adults, 340 self-identified Democrats or Democratic Party leaners), is typical of the numbers we see.

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Louisiana’s Vitter in Trouble

Oct. 16, 2015 — The latest Louisiana gubernatorial campaign survey, from KPLC Television/ Raycom Media and released Wednesday, projects Sen. David Vitter (R) to be in real trouble in his quest to become the state’s chief executive, which is reflected in the above negative ad (see the Vitter campaign response below).

The 2015 governor’s race – voters will go to the polls to decide the jungle primary on Oct. 24, with the top two advancing to a Nov. 21 general election – has been extensively polled. Sen. Vitter, despite winning two previous statewide elections and both without run-offs, has never polled particularly well but excelled when the actual votes were counted. He wasn’t projected to win the 1999 special congressional election, nor did surveys predict his outright win in the 2004 Senate race. But, these latest numbers appear to reveal tangible problems for the incumbent Senator in attempting to transfer to state office.

The KPLC/Raycom survey (Oct. 7-13; 602 registered Louisiana voters, 400 likely gubernatorial primary voters) finds Vitter trailing state Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) in jungle primary ballot tests. This is not particularly unusual because four other September statewide primary election studies from three different pollsters also find the senator trailing his chief Democratic opponent.

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Fischer Surges to Win Nebraska Primary

font size=”2″>It seemed like a 20-plus point swing in less than 10 days was too much to possibly be true, but the We Ask America poll that detected Nebraska state Sen. Deb Fischer moving ahead of Attorney General Jon Bruning in the Republican Senatorial primary proved accurate. Despite leading all the way until the very end of the campaign, Bruning fell to Fischer 41-36 percent, with 19 percent going to state Treasurer Don Stenberg.

The victorious state legislator will now face former senator Bob Kerrey, who won the Democratic primary with 81 percent of the vote. Both will vie for the right to replace retiring Sen. Ben Nelson (D) in November.

Once again, conservative outside groups and individual Super PAC backers were able to bring down a front-runner who they deemed unacceptable. Yet, this election campaign is different. In the 2010 and early 2012 primary elections, in places like Nevada, Colorado, Alaska and Indiana, the incumbent or perceived favored candidate failed because they were to the left of the preferred candidate; but not last night in Nebraska.

Clearly the onslaught of ads aimed at perceived front-runner Bruning, probably totaling over $1 million in a small media market state, took their toll against him. The killer attack point was the charge he gained ownership in companies that he regulated in his official position and, as a result, became personally wealthy. With all sides pounding Bruning, the issue stuck, though he vehemently argued that all of his actions were completely legitimate.

And with Fischer gaining the endorsements of Sarah Palin, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE-1) and former governor Kay Orr, she got the credibility she needed not only to overcome Bruning, but also Stenberg, as well. Stenberg, a perennial candidate who won a statewide election in 2010, attracted the support of Sen. Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, which accounted for more than $700,000 of the outside money infused into the race. The Senate Conservatives goal was to boost Stenberg ahead of Bruning. While we now know that Bruning fell, Stenberg moved little.

Democrats will now make the argument that since the GOP early favorite again failed their party is now in better shape to make a run in the general election. Clearly, with former senator Kerrey as their official nominee, they have a credible candidate. But, in actuality, because the ethical issues dogging Bruning proved lethal to him, the attorney general coming through this campaign, damaged, and limping across the finish line with a close win would have been the least favorable position for Republicans. Now, with the most conservative nominee in this most conservative of states, Kerrey and the Democrats no longer have the issues they had against Bruning.

Oregon and Idaho also held congressional primaries last night, and the results produced no surprises as all incumbents easily won their renomination contests.

Conflicting Texas Senate Polls

A Super PAC supporting Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s (R) US Senate bid has released its own polling data to counter Public Policy Polling’s latest survey that showed the Texas GOP battle tightening.

According to the Dresner Wickers Barber Sanders polling firm, conducting a survey for the Conservative Republicans for Texas organization, Dewhurst enjoys a 51-16-7-2 percent advantage over former Texas solicitor general Ted Cruz, Dallas ex-mayor Tom Leppert, and college football ESPN analyst Craig James, respectively. The poll was taken over the April 27-30 period of 400 likely Texas Republican primary voters.

The Public Policy Polling data, as previously released and reported, showed the same candidate order but in a much different numbering sequence. According to their 400-person study (also of likely Texas Republican primary voters) taken a little over a week before, April 19-22, Dewhurst had only a 38-26 percent lead over Cruz with Leppert scoring 8 percent and James 7 percent.

Both polls were taken over a weekend period, though the PPP survey completed more calls during weekdays. Polling results tend to differ when asked of people on a weekend versus during the work week because a different pool of respondents are typically available. Additionally, the Dresner poll was taken after Dewhurst ran some pointed negative ads against his opponent, Cruz, who is seemingly gaining the strongest foothold against the lieutenant governor.

The difference in the two polls suggest a net 23 point swing in Dewhurst’s favor. This is seemingly too large a movement in too short a time with too little action to support such a turn.

Public Policy Polling, known as a Democratic firm but one that now releases regular independent polls from around the country, represents no particular candidate in the Texas Senate race. The Conservative Republicans for Texas back Dewhurst, which leads to questions about methodology and further asks at what point did the questions appear in the interview schedule. In other words, and this is something that we do not know from the available information, were these figures derived from the answers to push questions? If so, then the results should be discounted.

The key question is not whether Dewhurst finishes in first place, because he very likely will. The point the polling cannot definitively determine is whether he can win the nomination outright on May 29, or whether Cruz forces him into a July 31 run-off election. Dewhurst likely will not fare well in a run-off, since the most well-known candidate being forced to a second election – by definition because a majority of the people chose someone else – often leads to defeat. It is this type of an invariably low turnout run-off scenario that scares the Dewhurst people.

Watch Dewhurst make a major outright victory push between now and May 29th, which, if successful, will clinch the Republican nomination. In all practicality, because the Democrats appear weak in the general election, such a victory would also secure the Senate seat itself.

In terms of resolving the conflict between the Public Policy Polling and Dresner surveys, it is more likely that the PPP data comes closer to accurately depicting the actual campaign picture than does the Dewhurst Super PAC prognostication. Their methodological consistency and reliability appears to be superior.

Winning the “Not Romney Primary”

Now that most of the dust has settled from the first-in-the-nation caucus for the GOP presidential nomination, it may be a good time to provide additional texture to the popular political punditry concerning the current state of the GOP presidential nomination contest. Sorting out the true meaning of an election is rarely done well during the night of the contest itself, and so it is with Iowa in 2012.

The major media and the “political punditariat” always are inclined to follow the horse race aspect of any campaign. As media consultant Mike Murphy humorously said recently on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program, “the pool of national political reporters are like a bit like a Tyrannosaurus – 30 feet tall, sharp teeth, red meat-eating, with small brains, but they can follow movement.”

Watching only the shiny moving objects this past Tuesday would indicate that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney very narrowly won the Iowa Caucus over former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. The real importance of the Iowa Caucuses, however, may not be his eight-vote victory. Rather, the truly significant aspect is the winnowing of the field in the “Not Romney primary.”

In fact, Romney’s difficulty in cracking through an apparent support ceiling among GOP primary voters and caucus participants has led to a virtual parade of aspirants to the “Not Romney” mantle in this year’s nomination contest.

After Iowa, it seems clear that Mr. Santorum has become the true leader of the GOP’s “Not Romney” primary contest.

All of the political air that had filled the Palin-Trump-Bachmann-Perry-Cain-Gingrich bubble had to go somewhere and in Iowa that somewhere was to the campaign of Rick Santorum, the only contestant not to have a turn at being the “Not Mitt Romney” candidate. His timing was fortuitous, message clear and pitch-perfect for Iowa Caucus goers, and he failed to implode as others had done before him.

At this writing it’s becoming increasingly clear that Mr. Romney has a current “floor” of about 18-23 percent of the Republican primary electorate and a hard “ceiling” ranging from 25 (Iowa, South Carolina, Georgia) to 40 percent (New Hampshire, Michigan, Massachusetts), depending upon the state. In a six- or seven-candidate caucus or primary field, that’s almost always enough to finish in the top three, and sometimes first. As the field winnows, however, a hard ceiling of 25-40 percent rarely prevails.

It seems clear that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will now turn his rhetorical fire toward Romney, which seems unlikely to improve his own standing, but will very likely hurt his target, thus making him more vulnerable to a Santorum charge.

Performance in the nomination contests through Super Tuesday will largely be expectation-driven. The punditariat has already begun saying that should Romney score less than 40-45 percent in New Hampshire, he will have insufficient momentum to be successful in South Carolina, Florida and the Super Tuesday states of the South. Santorum has been in the low single digits in New Hampshire (and elsewhere) and his impressive showing in Iowa already is being discounted as a “one-state wonder” in some quarters. If, however, the Pennsylvanian places second in the Granite State and Romney finishes in the 30s rather than the 40s, the fight for the nomination will essentially become a two-man race.

The serial movement of conservatives from one “Not Romney” candidate to another, and the former governor’s lack of growth among self-described conservatives suggests that he has emerged as their least favorite option. This is anything but a catbird seat for someone hoping to win the GOP presidential nomination. Romney does have large amounts of campaign and Super PAC money, but conservative dollars are sitting on the sidelines just waiting to flow to the eventual “Not Romney” primary contest winner.

The days and weeks ahead will put all remaining GOP candidates to the test. Considering all that we’ve seen so far, how this ends is anyone’s guess.