Tag Archives: Texas

Election Day Is Here

2018-elections-open-seatsBy Jim Ellis,

Nov. 6, 2018 — At long last, the 2018 midterm Election Day has arrived. Democrats appear well positioned to capture the House of Representatives, but the question of how big a majority margin we will see remains. The large number of dead-even campaigns heading into today suggests that a small majority margin is the most likely outcome.

Republicans, largely because Democrats are defending 26 of the 35 Senate races, should hold control but, again, to what degree? Will their 51-49 margin increase? It appears they will successfully unseat North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D), but will Arizona and Nevada both hold for them, allowing more substantial gains? Does Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D-El Paso) new-found celebrity status and national fundraising prowess allow him to overcome Texas voting history to unseat first-term senator and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz? These and many other yet-to-be determined answers will be uncovered late tonight.

Several races may not finish tonight. Today is also the first time Louisiana voters will go to the polls during this cycle. Without a formal nomination process, the Bayou State consolidates its primary and general election into one vote. Therefore, if a candidate receives an absolute majority tonight, that individual is elected. If not, the top two finishers will advance to a Dec. 8 run-off. With no governor or Senate election on the ballot and little competition within the state’s six House districts, it appears likely that all congressional incumbents will win tonight. Next up, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), possibly facing US Sen. John Kennedy (R), will defend his position in the 2019 odd-numbered year election.

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The Final Outlook

2018-elections-open-seatsBy Jim Ellis

Nov. 6, 2018 — Election Day has arrived, but it is likely that a majority of those planning to vote have already done so. Early voting totals are way up in most of the 37 states that employ a pre-election ballot casting procedure in comparison to the 2014 midterm election.

According to the University of Florida’s United States Elections Project, 25 of the 37 states report receiving more early votes than they did four years ago. None, however, is larger than Texas where early voting has already exceeded that grand total votes cast in 2014. The same also has occurred in Nevada, but it’s less surprising since the last midterm aggregate turnout there was unusually low.

In Texas, just under 4.9 million votes already have been received. In 2014, the aggregate early and Election Day vote was 4.72 million. In 2014, 44 percent of the total vote was cast early. If this same pattern occurs, the current election total turnout will exceed the 2016 presidential level participation figure of 8.96 million votes, however it is unlikely that will happen. How the increased turnout will affect the election outcome is undetermined at this point, but the high number of first-time voters suggest that Democrats could improve their typical standing.

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National Early Voting Report

By Jim Ellis

i-vote-i-countOct. 31, 2018 — Now more than halfway through the early voting period in the 37 states that offer early voting options for the populace, some places are turning in record participation rates. Each state has various nuances in their early voting procedures, so comparing the early reports to each other is of little value. Going back to contrast the current 2018 reported numbers with how that particular state voted in the last midterm election (2014) does have significance, however.

Already, in the latest available reports according to the United States Election Project administered by the personnel at the University of Florida, seven states are reporting more received early voting ballots than were recorded for the entire 2014 pre-election period. They are:

• Tennessee – 162.3% more ballots (1,029,846 versus 634,364 recorded in 2014)
• Texas – 144.3% increase (2,980,915 versus 2,066,368 recorded in 2014)
• Indiana – 127.9% increase (292,726 versus 228,932 recorded in 2014)
• Nevada – 122.5% increase (372,455 versus 304,005 recorded in 2014)
• Georgia – 111.1% increase (1,188,636 versus 1,069,912 recorded in 2014)
• Minnesota – 106.0% increase (249,909 versus 235,808 recorded in 2014)
• Delaware – 103.2% more ballots (8,550 versus 8,288 recorded in 2014)


An additional seven states have so far recorded better than 85 percent of their early voting total in comparison to their entire 2014 pre-election voting universe:

• North Carolina – 97.1% of previous (1,140,657 versus 1,174,188 recorded in 2014)
• Virginia – 94.2% of previous total (191,755 versus 203,556 recorded in 2014)
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With Media Focused on O’Rourke, Cruz Maintains Consistent Edge

By Jim Ellis

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) | Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso)

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) | Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso)

Oct. 25, 2018 — The Texas Senate race has become the premier political contest of this midterm election. With Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) becoming a national celebrity due to constant media attention, and now with record fundraising, this election has stretched beyond Texas and evolved into a national campaign.

Though the media continually promotes O’Rourke, extensive polling has only put him ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz (R) just once during the entire election cycle. Despite O’Rourke raising an eye-popping $38 million during the last quarter, an all-time record for any Senate race, Cruz’s margins are actually growing.

During this calendar year, 35 polls have been conducted of the Texas Senate race from 19 different polling firms. In only one, an online survey from Ipsos Reuters in early to mid-September (Sept. 6-14; 992 Texas respondents), did Rep. O’Rourke score an advantage over Sen. Cruz. In that poll, the El Paso congressman led 47-45 percent.

While Sen. Cruz held an advantage in the other 34 polls, his margin was typically small. His average support factor is 45.6 percent. He hits 50 percent or more in only 13 of the surveys. Rep. O’Rourke records an average of 41.1 percent and reaches 50 percent in one survey. While these numbers and margins clearly show weakness for an incumbent, as we pointed out when covering Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) in similar columns earlier this week, Sen. Cruz is demonstrating growth as the early voting period begins and Election Day draws nearer in contrast to the others who appear to be losing momentum.

In the last 10 polls, covering the Oct. 1-21 period from 10 different pollsters, Sen. Cruz averages 50.2 percent preference and posts majority support in seven of the 10 studies. Rep. O’Rourke averages 45.2 percent, leads in none, and obviously never reaches 50 percent. While Cruz maintains a consistent edge, O’Rourke remains in position if not to score an upset, at least to record the best Democratic statewide percentage since 1990, which was the last time a Democratic candidate won a Texas statewide office.

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Surprising Q3 Financial Disclosures

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 19, 2018 — The third quarter financial disclosure reports are now public, and more details are readily available. Thus, we are able to learn about various record-setting fundraising efforts.

FEC-moneyIn addition to Texas US Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke (D) attracting $38 million in the third quarter, an all-time record for any such campaign, several House candidates also reported financial numbers that have never been seen for district-level politics.

In the third quarter of 2018, nine House contenders exceeded raising $3 million, eight Democrats and one Republican.

In California’s 22nd District, incumbent Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was the top Republican fundraiser and appears to have accumulated more financial resources for the entire campaign than any other congressional candidate of either party. In the quarter, Rep. Nunes raised $3.14 million. For the campaign, he has exceeded the $10.5 million mark.

But his Democratic opponent, attorney Andrew Janz, brought in over $4 million for the quarter, the only congressional candidate in the US to do so, and an all-time record for a quarter. He still trails Rep. Nunes in overall receipts (Janz posted $7.13 million for the campaign), however. Together, this campaign leads the nation in combined fundraising with over $17 million. For a regular cycle congressional campaign – not including the special elections we saw earlier that became national contests – this, too, is likely an all-time record for a House contest.

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The CBS/YouGov Series

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 9, 2018
CBS News and the YouGov international online pollster again teamed to test four key US Senate races as part of the former’s Battleground Tracker series and finds Republican and Democratic candidates both leading in two states. All of the polls were conducted between Oct. 2-5. The polling margin of error ranges from 3.4 to 3.9 percent. The responses were submitted online and not via live telephone operators.

CBS News/YouGov Poll

CBS News/YouGov poll results (click image above to see full results posted on CBSNEWS.com)

In Arizona (1,010 registered Arizona voters), Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) continues to lead Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) by a small plurality. According to this poll, which is consistent with other known data, Sinema claims a 47-44 percent edge.

Regarding the economy, 80 percent of the Arizona respondents believe the economy is very good (26 percent) or somewhat good (54 percent). Rep. McSally is viewed as the stronger candidate on immigration, crime, and gun policy. Rep. Sinema is considered to be the stronger candidate with regard to healthcare, which is the most important issue cited.

The respondents are breaking evenly about supporting or opposing President Trump, though his job approval is an upside down 46:53 percent favorable to unfavorable.

CBS/YouGov then surveyed Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D) chances of winning re-election in New Jersey (1,009 registered New Jersey voters). Here, the senator scores a 49-39 percent advantage, one of the better reported polls for him during this election cycle.

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Forecasting the Results – Part II

By Jim Ellis

2018-democrat-house-majority-breakdown-text-graphicOct. 8, 2018 — The Democrats need to convert a net 24 seats to secure a one-seat majority in the US House on Election Day, Nov. 6. Many reports quote the number 23 as what is necessary to win control, but the new Pennsylvania map will yield one seat coming back to the Republicans — the new open 14th District — thus pushing the total up to 24.

As stated Friday, our forecasts listed below are based upon a series of factors, including current polling numbers, voter history, candidate personal and job approval favorability, fundraising, other races on the state ballot that could drive turnout, and outside issues such as the confirmation vote to for Judge Brett Kavanaugh to become a Supreme Court Justice, which could change the turnout model, etc.

According to our new analysis, the Democrats are on the cusp of converting the requisite number of Republican seats to take a bare majority and seeing their caucus become significantly larger. At this point, the Democratic gain range appears to reach 23 on the low side and 35 at the apex.

Looking at the country by state and region, it appears the Democrats will do well in the Midwest, in particular. The Great Lakes region that delivered President Trump his surprise victory appears to be snapping back to the Democrats in the midterm House races. Michigan looks particularly good for them at both the statewide and district levels.

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TX-31: Carter vs. Hegar

TX-31 -- The 31st Congressional District in Texas

TX-31 — The 31st Congressional District in Texas


By Jim Ellis

Sept. 26, 2018
–For the first time since his original election to the House back in 2002, Texas Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock) has drawn a top-tier Democratic challenger.

Consultant and Afghanistan War veteran M.J. Hegar (D) is giving the veteran congressman all he can handle, but a new Democratic poll finds him still hanging onto to a lead despite absorbing over $1 million in money spent opposing him.

Some of Hegar’s expenditures included financing an introductory 3:29 minute promotional video that went viral nationally and attracted well over 2.8 million views. The video, mostly about Hegar’s military career and being wounded in action, her life after the service, and the battle to allow women in combat, also created a fundraising bonanza.

Much of the money was used to tangentially hit Rep. Carter because Hegar first had to clear a four-person Democratic primary and run-off, an election that saw her placing first in the primary (44 percent), and then scoring a 62-37 percent win in the Democratic run-off vote.

The Anzalone Liszt Grove Research firm just released their second 31st District poll and the first since July. The survey (Sept. 16-20; 500 likely TX-31 voters) finds Rep. Carter leading Hegar, 46-42 percent. In July, the congressman’s margin was 48-39 percent.

The analysis indicates that Hegar is the candidate who is moving forward because she has shaved a net five percentage points from the previous lead but, considering that her campaign has been on offense and Carter defense suggests that the race could have moved more substantially.

The ALG analysis also points out that Hegar has more room to grow because her hard and soft name identification is 60 percent. Yet, they illustrate that Carter’s 63 percent name ID is weak for an incumbent. They omit to conclude, however, that the congressman can also better define himself among the 37 percent that do not possess a clear opinion of him, more of whom are more likely to be his voters than hers.

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The Democrats’ Path

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 25, 2018 — Most of the contemporary political talk surrounds the Democrats’ ability to gain the US House majority, but is there a viable path for a power shift in the Senate? Their road to a new Senate majority is much rockier than for the House, but at least a mathematical chance of that becoming reality does exist.

senate 2018 midterm election competitionLast week we reviewed the status of the 17 states that see legitimate competition for the in-cycle Senate seats. Now, looking at the latest Fox News Senate ratings, we can draw some conclusions about the Democrats’ victory chances.

It is important to remember that the minority Dems must defend 26 of the 35 in-cycle Senate races in the current election cycle. Thus, the party’s least complicated path is to run the table of their current 26 seats, and then take two of the five GOP states where they are fielding credible opposition candidates. Doing so would give the Dems a 51-49 majority.

But, this is easier said than done. According to Fox, and virtually all other media prognosticators, one of the Democratic seats, North Dakota, is already leaning to the Republicans, while three more (Florida, Indiana, and Missouri) reside in the “Toss-up” column.

Of the nine seats the Republicans need to defend, three reside in the Toss-up category (Arizona, Nevada, and Tennessee), while one is classified as a Lean Republican (Texas), and the remaining five (Nebraska, the two Mississippi seats, Utah, and Wyoming) are rated as Likely Republican. (Fox does not use a “safe” designation. The best a candidate of either party can achieve from a Fox News political rating is “likely.”)

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Senate Recap – Part II

By Jim Ellis

US Senate makeup

US Senate makeup

Sept. 24, 2018 — Today we continue our look at the most competitive 17 US Senate contests with our second and final installment. To take a look at our Part I recap, please see our writeup this past Friday at: Senate Recap – Part I.


NEVADA

Sen. Dean Heller (R) is embroiled in an intense re-election battle with freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) as the two compete for a toss-up Senate seat. Heller won here in 2012 by a single percentage point over then-Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Las Vegas), but that was in the election when President Obama carried Nevada, 52-46 percent.

Polls go back and forth between the senator and congresswoman, but neither leads beyond the margin of polling error. Since the beginning of September three polls have been released, and the average spread between the contenders is just two points. This is a pure toss-up election and, as a Republican defense seat, one of the most important campaigns in the nation.


NEW JERSEY

The Garden State is often a teaser for Republicans, meaning polls routinely suggest their candidates will fare better than actual results portend. The Senate race between incumbent Bob Menendez (D) and pharmaceutical CEO Bob Hugin (R) is likely no exception. Though several polls have indicated the race is competitive, it is probable that Sen. Menendez will pull away and score a comfortable win.

Polling has been scarce. The most recent survey was released in mid-August from Quinnipiac University (Aug. 15-20; 908 registered New Jersey voters) and projects the senator to be leading Hugin, 43-37 percent. Obviously, Menendez corruption trial that ended in the case against him falling apart and being dropped has taken a toll on his favorability index, but it is doubtful that even a 29:47 percent positive to negative personal approval rating (aforementioned Q-Poll) would cost him the election.


NORTH DAKOTA

If polling were the only factor in determining race outlook, then North Dakota would be the Republicans’ best conversion opportunity. Though polls have been anything but plentiful, those that have been published find at-large Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) leading incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D).

The most recent study came in early September from Fox News (Sept. 8-11; 701 likely North Dakota voters) and finds Rep. Cramer holding a 48-44 percent advantage. This is the first survey release since the beginning of July.

The North Dakota race is a strong Republican conversion opportunity, but though Cramer appears to have a discernible edge right now, this contest is far from over.


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Texas Sen. Ted Cruz Rebounds

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Sept. 20, 2018 — A new Quinnipiac University poll (Sept. 11-17; 807 likely Texas voters) finds that Sen. Ted Cruz (R), after languishing in a rather prolonged syndrome where he was only posting small single-digit leads over US Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso), has opened a much larger advantage in his campaign for re-election.

The latest Q-Poll finds Sen. Cruz now topping Rep. O’Rourke, 54-45 percent, his strongest advantage since two polls (Gravis Marketing and YouGov) put him nine and 10 points ahead in early July.

It remains to be seen whether this Quinnipiac poll proves to be an outlier. Up until this release, seven Texas statewide polls had been conducted since early July, all with a mean average of 3.4 percentage points separating Cruz and O’Rourke, but always in the senator’s favor.

This poll suggests that Texas is one of the most polarized states in the country. Both parties produce almost unanimous support for their individual nominee. Sen. Cruz, by a whopping margin of 94-6 percent, commands Republican support. By the same token, Rep. O’Rourke sees virtually the same split forming behind him among Democrats, 94-4 percent. The Independents are leaning toward O’Rourke, 51-47 percent, but the larger number of Lone Star State Republican voters catapults Cruz into a comfortable lead.

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Reviewing the Latest Senate Data

1200px-Seal_of_the_United_States_Senate.svgBy Jim Ellis

Aug. 23, 2018 — With 43 state electorates now having chosen nominees (most recently Alaska and Wyoming on Tuesday), it’s a good time to check just how the top Senate races are performing as the calendar turns towards Labor Day.

Currently, the national political map yields 16 Senate races where both parties have the potential to win. Below is a recap snapshot of the 11 competitive states where public polls have been released from mid-July to the present:


ARIZONA
Emerson College Polling (likely to be released yesterday or today)
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) — 50%
Rep. Martha McSally (R) — 42%

OH Predictive Insights (July 23-24; 600 likely Arizona voters)
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) — 48%
Rep. Martha McSally (R) — 44%

Note: The Arizona primary is Aug. 28. Rep. Sinema is a lock for the Democratic nomination, and all polling shows Rep. McSally leading beyond the margin of error for the Republicans.


CALIFORNIA
Public Policy Institute of California (July 8-17; 1,020 likely California voters)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) — 46%
St. Sen. Kevin de Leon (D) — 24%

Note: While the California race is not in play from a partisan standpoint, the campaign has competitive potential between the two Democratic contenders.


FLORIDA
Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies (July 24-25; 625 likely Florida voters)
Gov. Rick Scott (R) — 47%
Sen. Bill Nelson (R) — 44%

Florida Atlantic University (July 20-21; 800 registered Florida voters)
Gov. Rick Scott (R) — 44%
Sen. Bill Nelson (R) — 40%

Note: The Florida primary is Aug. 28. Both Sen. Nelson and Gov. Scott are sure winners in their respective nomination campaigns.
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Recapping the US House Open Seats — Part II: Nevada Through West Virginia

By Jim Ellis

the-primariesJuly 9, 2018 — With the election of Republican Michael Cloud (R-Victoria) to fill the vacant southeast Texas district (TX-27; Farenthold resignation) the total number of open House seats was reduced from 65 to 64. Within that group, 42 seats are currently Republican held, 21 are Democratic; one seat is new, created by Pennsylvania redistricting and left open when Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) decided to run in a paired incumbent race with Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) instead of opting for the new Republican-dominated western Pennsylvania CD-14.

Among the 63 House members who have either passed away, resigned, lost their primaries, or are not seeking re-election, 23 chose to run for another office. Some of their political fates are decided, while others remain active campaigners. We we’ll look at those who became candidates for other offices and report on their current status. On Friday we examined Arizona through Minnesota. Today we’ll review Nevada through West Virginia.

NEVADA (NV-3): Freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) is skipping her first re-election campaign and instead enters the US Senate contest to challenge Sen. Dean Heller (R). Both she and Sen. Heller easily won their respective party nominations on June 12. The latest Gravis Marketing poll gave Rosen a 45-41 percent general election lead. The Senate race is expected to remain as a toss-up campaign all the way to Election Day.


NEW MEXICO (NM-1 & 2): Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) and Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs) oppose each other in the open governor’s race after both became their respective party nominees on June 5. The first two post-primary polls staked Grisham to leads between 9-13 percentage points.


NORTH DAKOTA (ND-AL): After Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) announced he would seek re-election, he suddenly decided to change course and pivoted into a Senate challenge against incumbent Heidi Heitkamp (D). Both won unanimous party convention support, which paved the way for easy June 5 nomination victories. The first post-primary poll actually places Rep. Cramer three points ahead of Sen. Heitkamp in what promises to be a hard-fought general election.


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Cloud Wins Special in Texas

By Jim Ellis

Michael Cloud (R) | Photo from campaign ad

Michael Cloud (R) | Photo from campaign ad

July 2, 2018 — Perhaps the most unique special election from a long series of 2017-18 irregular voting contests just wrapped up this weekend in southeast Texas, capping a subdued political battle that attracted little national attention.

Former Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) is one of several members to be forced from office because of sexual harassment allegations. Already announcing that he would not seek re-election because of a settlement reached with a female employee that was financed through the special congressional taxpayer funded account created years ago to settle internal employee relations incidents, Farenthold then quickly resigned from Congress when it became apparent that the House Ethics Committee was going to fully investigate his situation.

Rep. Farenthold’s exit meant the committee would no longer have jurisdiction to consider an ethics complaint because the incumbent’s mid-term departure meant the committee could not pursue a private citizen.

Under Texas election law, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) was forced to quickly call a special election to fill the balance of the term. His state’s vacancy procedure did not afford him the opportunity of making the special election concurrent with the regular vote as Govs. Rick Snyder (R-MI) and Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) did when House members in their states resigned (Rep. John Conyers, D-MI) or suddenly passed away (Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-NY).

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The Primaries Through May:
Setting November, Part II

the-primariesBy Jim Ellis

May 25, 2018 — With primaries having been completed in 13 states we review the key run-off and general election pairings that these primaries produced. Today we’ll look at Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia. Yesterday we reviewed Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska and North Carolina.


Ohio: A competitive open governor’s race is underway, featuring Attorney General and former US Sen. Mike DeWine (R) and ex-Attorney General Richard Cordray (D). Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) begins the general election in the favored position over Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth). A special election in the 12th District between state Sen. Troy Balderson (R) and Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor (D) occurs on Aug. 7. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) defends his seat against Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval. Former NFL football player and businessman Anthony Gonzalez (R) is heavily favored to succeed Rep. Renacci in the open 16th District.


Oregon: The only competition here is occurring in the governor’s race, where incumbent Kate Brown (D) runs for her first full term against state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend). The governor is a clear favorite for re-election.


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