Biden Still in Driver’s Seat, But Down in New York; Maloy Still Struggles in Utah; Filing Closes in Delaware

By Jim Ellis — Friday, July 12, 2024

President

President Joe Biden / Photo by Gage Skidmore

President Biden: Still in the Driver’s Seat — While pressure continues to mount on President Joe Biden to withdraw from his re-election candidacy, some still believe there is a way to change the rules at the Democratic National Convention to allow a free vote of the delegates. Doing so will be highly unlikely, however, because Biden’s total delegate vote includes 1,581 individuals not bound by party rules but rather state law. Therefore, those delegates will not be free.

To win the party nomination, a candidate must have 1,968 votes. This means from the remaining delegates, the president would need only keep 387 of the “freed” 2,368 delegates who are already pledged to vote for him. This factors into just 16.3 percent of the non-state law bound delegates.

The party would also have the option of changing the convention rules to allow the Super Delegates to vote on the first ballot, something they cannot currently do. The Super Delegates are officially called PLEO (Party Leader Elected Official) votes. There are 747 of these individuals. To add them, however, the non-PLEO delegates would have to vote to dilute their own power. It is unlikely a majority of the non-PLEO delegates will vote in such a manner even if this unlikely choice is presented.

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New York: Biden’s Poll Deficit — The political situation continues to deteriorate for President Biden. As reported on X from journalist Jacqueline Sweet, Democratic polls that won’t be published apparently report that the president is trailing in two potential Democratic conversion districts by double-digit margins, seats that he carried in 2020.

The two are NY-17 and NY-19 that freshmen Reps. Mike Lawler (R-Pearl River) and Marc Molinaro (R-Red Hook) currently represent and won with close margins. As a point of reference, Biden carried the 17th with a 54-44 percent margin in 2020, and a 51-47 percent split in NY-19.

UT-2: Canvass Period Begins; Recount to Follow — Utah US Rep. Celeste Maloy (R-Cedar City) is not out of the woods yet from her close Republican primary race against businessman Colby Jenkins, conducted on June 25. The Utah election officials finally finished the end count, and what was a 309-vote margin for Maloy has dropped to 214 votes.

The process is not yet finished. The election staff must conduct a canvass to certify a final vote. Since the current margin is now within the range where a recount can be requested, Jenkins says he will do so after the canvass. This means the counting and recounting process could drag on until the end of July.

States

Delaware: Candidate Filing Closes — Candidate filing has now closed for the late Delaware primary scheduled for Sept. 10. Though the state features an open Senate and at-large House seat, little in the way of competition will be seen either in the Democratic primary or general election.

US Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Wilmington) is a lock for the party nomination and the November election and will replace retiring Sen. Tom Carper (D) in the next Congress. State Sen. Sarah McBride (D-Wilmington) is the prohibitive favorite to win the party primary and the November election to replace Rep. Blunt Rochester. Upon election, she will become the first transgender individual elected to Congress.

The only competition appears to occur in the open governor’s race as incumbent John Carney (D) is ineligible to seek a third term. Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, New Castle County Executive Matt Mayer, and National Wildlife Federation CEO Collin O’Mara are all competing for the Democratic nomination. The eventual primary winner will then punch his or her ticket to the governor’s mansion.

Polls Say Biden Better Than Others vs. Trump, But Biden Losing in Solid Dem California District; Split Poll in Wisconsin; Dead Heat in AZ-1

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, July 11, 2024

President

Trump vs. Biden – how the candidates match up.

National Polls: Biden, Better Than Others — Emerson College, after releasing their swing state results two days ago, publicized their latest national data (July 7-8; 1,370 registered US voters; multiple sampling techniques) that tested former President Donald Trump against President Joe Biden, and then individually opposite other supposed potential replacement presidential nominees.

Paired with President Biden in the head-to-head ballot test, Trump posts a 46-43 percent advantage. If Vice President Kamala Harris were the party nominee, Trump would lead by a much larger 49-43 percent. Opposite California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Trump advantage is 48-40 percent, and it extends to 48-38 percent if Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) were his opponent.

Once again, we see further evidence that despite the negative talk surrounding President Biden since the CNN presidential debate, he still appears to be the Democrats’ strongest option.

Rep. Mark Takano: Biden Losing in His District — Reports are circulating that California Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside) is quoting from a poll of his CA-39 district that apparently shows President Biden losing among the congressman’s constituents. Assuming the accuracy of the poll, this would be a significant data point. President Biden carried the district 62.0 – 35.8 percent in 2020, and Rep. Takano won re-election here in 2022 with 57.7 percent of the vote in the post-redistricting 39th District.

CA-39 sits wholly within Riverside County and contains the city of Riverside. It is a largely minority district. The Voting Age Population figure for Hispanics is 58.5 percent as compared to 22.4 percent for non-Hispanic Whites. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as D+23. The Dave’s Redistricting App statisticians calculate a 61.6D – 36.4R partisan lean based upon vote history. The Daily Kos Elections statisticians rank CA-39 as the 111th-safest seat in the country. Though national polling doesn’t suggest that the president is in dire political straights, a poll such as this in a safe Democratic congressional district may.

Senate

Wisconsin: Another Split Poll — Again, we see the familiar pattern from a survey where former President Trump is leading in a state as is the Democratic Senate candidate. A Republican polling firm and a Democratic survey research operation again combined efforts to conduct a Wisconsin poll for the AARP organization (Fabrizio Ward & Impact Research; June 28-July 2; 1,052 likely Wisconsin voters; live interview & text). They found former President Trump leading President Biden by a 44-38 percent margin. (The CNN presidential debate was June 27.) When moving to the Senate race, however, it is the Democratic candidate, incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who leads by a similar margin, 50-45 percent.

This pattern of Trump running well ahead of the Republican Senate candidate is present in several other states. This could be due to the voters being more familiar with the incumbent Democrat, or potentially the participants deliberately splitting their ticket so as not to give Trump too much power.

It will be interesting to watch what the Republican strategists do to break this syndrome, and whether their approach will work. For the GOP to maximize their opportunities on a favorable national Senate map, they must secure multiple conversion seats in order to protect themselves against favorable Democratic maps in the 2026 and 2028 election cycles.

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AZ-1: Dead Heat Dem Primary — Arizona’s 1st Congressional District will feature a very tight contest between Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills) and whomever the Democrats nominate from their crowded Aug. 6 primary election. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the 1st CD as R+7, but the Daily Kos Elections statisticians project the seat as the 18th most vulnerable in the Republican Conference. President Biden won here in 2020 by a narrow 50.1 – 48.6 percent margin.

A recent Noble Predictive Insights survey of the 1st District likely Democratic primary voters (June 25-27; 420 respondents; text) see ballot test results that place almost all of the candidates in position to win the upcoming party primary. The eventual winner will move into a toss-up general election campaign against Rep. Schweikert who won re-election two years ago with only a 50.4 – 49.6 percent margin against businessman Jevin Hodge. Hodge chose not to seek a rematch despite his strong showing in the 2022 campaign.

Former Arizona Democratic Party chairman Andrei Cherni and ex-state representative and physician Amish Shah are tied for first place with just 16 percent of the vote apiece according to the Noble poll. Following closely with 14 percent is former news anchor Marlene Galan Woods, the widow of late Attorney General Grant Woods (D). Investment banker Conor O’Callaghan then trails with eight percent support. A full 35 percent say they are undecided. Therefore, this primary will become a political shootout in the closing weeks.

RFK Jr. Off Colorado Ballot;
Cruz’s Lead Dwindles in Texas; Baldwin Up in Wisconsin; Mondaire Jones Fails to Win Nomination

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, July 10, 2024

President

2024 Libertarian Party nominee, Chase Oliver.

Colorado: National Libertarians Rebuff State — The Colorado Libertarian Party’s plan to replace the Libertarian national nominee, Chase Oliver, with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on their state ballot has been thwarted. The national office has already sent the official nomination papers to the Colorado Secretary of State designating Oliver as the party’s nominee. Colorado authorities have declared the form, signed by the national Libertarian Party Secretary, as legal and valid. Therefore, it will be Oliver, and not Kennedy, who will appear on the Colorado ballot in November.

Senate

Texas: Cruz’s Lead Dwindles in New Poll — The Manhattan Institute conducted a poll of likely Texas voters (June 25-27; 600 likely Texas general election voters; live interview & text) asking electoral questions and probing the respondents on their positions involving transgender issues.

While the respondents self-identified as conservative by a 44-21 percent division over liberal, Sen. Ted Cruz (R) could only muster a 46-43 percent lead over Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas). This, while former President Donald Trump was leading President Joe Biden within the same polling universe, 45-36 percent.

Most of the disparity came from Sen. Cruz’s upside-down favorability index, which found a nine-point deficit when comparing those who have a favorable opinion of the two-term senator to those who do not (42:51 percent). While Rep. Allred has a positive favorability index, 33:21 percent, almost half of the respondents (45 percent) stated they are unfamiliar with the congressman.

Wisconsin: Sen. Baldwin Expands Advantage — SoCal Research, polling for the On Point Politics blog (June 30-July 2; 490 registered Wisconsin voters) finds Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) expanding her previously smaller lead to a double digit margin, 50-38 percent, over businessman Eric Hovde (R).

The poll, however, seems flawed. First, only 490 registered voters were sampled, a small number for a state with eight congressional districts. Second, the survey’s respondent universe was comprised of 37 percent self-identified Republicans and only 32 percent who aligned themselves with the Democratic Party. A total of 30 percent consider themselves Independents. While Wisconsin does not register voters by political party, this split appears too favorably Republican when compared with the electorate’s voting history, one that consistently delivers razor thin general election margins.

Surprisingly, such a sample gives Democrat Baldwin her best numbers since mid-May. For a Republican-favorable sample, this ballot test appears inconsistent. Comparing to the presidential contest, which is consistent with other polling, former President Trump records a one-point, 44-43 percent, edge over President Biden.

House

NY-17: Jones Loses Working Families Ballot Line — After a recount of the New York Working Families Party 17th Congressional District primary, candidate Anthony Frascone, as formally announced Monday, has officially won the party nomination and will appear on the November ballot.

Former New York Democratic Congressman Mondaire Jones was expected to win the nomination but failed to do so. In New York, the minor parties can award their ballot line to a major party candidate.

The fact that Jones will not have votes coming from the Working Families Party line will likely benefit freshman Rep. Mike Lawler (R-Pearl River), who is fighting to win re-election in a Hudson Valley-anchored district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+7 and carries a 56.6D – 41.3R partisan lean according to the Dave’s Redistricting App statisticians. In 2022, Lawler upset then-Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D) with a slight 49.3 – 48.6 percent victory margin.

MO-1: Rep. Bush Gaining Dem Leader Support — Over the July 4th holiday, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones (D) endorsed Rep. Cori Bush’s (D-St. Louis) bid for renomination on Aug. 6. She faces a strong challenge from former St. Louis County prosecutor Wesley Bell. Rep. Bush is viewed as highly vulnerable in the Democratic primary. Unlike when Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) was denied renomination on June 25, the House Democratic leadership is coming to Rep. Bush’s aide in united fashion. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-MA), and House Democratic Conference Chairman Pete Aguilar (D-CA), all signed a group endorsement statement for the congresswoman.

While Rep. Bowman’s defeat appeared evident for several weeks, the St. Louis Democratic battle looks to be a much tighter contest. Heavy outside spending is again present in this race, but not to the degree that we saw at a commensurate point against Rep. Bowman. This is still a battle to watch early next month. Rep. Bush, while vulnerable, is in a stronger political position than her fallen “Squad” colleague.

Surprising Swing State Polling

SWING STATES: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Polling

Bloomberg News, partnering with the Morning Consult public affairs organization, released post-debate polling data in the seven key swing states during the July 4th holiday break. The survey results raised eyebrows in several ways.

Morning Consult conducted the studies in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. They surveyed voters from July 1-4 in Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. In Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the sampling period was extended to a fifth day, expanding the interview time to July 1-5.

The sampling universe in each state spanned from a low of 452 registered voters (Nevada) to a high of 794 registered voters (Pennsylvania). In each case, the respondent universe was selected through a stratified sampling process and the individuals answered the survey questions online.

In each state, the pollsters tested President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump with Independents Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and usually a combination of the other independent or minor party candidates, Jill Stein (Green Party), Dr. Cornel West (Independent), and Chase Oliver (Libertarian Party). The pollsters also asked a follow-up question that isolated Biden and Trump in a one-on-one pairing.

The Bloomberg/Morning Consult analysis indicated that the debate, contrary to the opinion of many television news pundits and several Democratic officials who are calling for President Biden to withdraw from the race, has changed little in terms of the political horse race among the states that will largely determine the November outcome.

This may or may not be the case, and further research is needed to better determine where the national election stands. Though President Biden was detected as leading in two states, Michigan and Wisconsin, over 55 percent from the aggregate seven-state sample stated their belief that he should withdraw from the campaign. This number includes 58 percent responding in such a manner from the Independent segment and 29 percent who self-identify as Democratic participants.

Conversely, former President Trump hit an all-time high in a Pennsylvania survey, as Bloomberg/Morning Consult detected a seven-point advantage when the two presumptive nominees were tested in a head-to-head question. Staying with the Pennsylvania head-to-head, the Trump support number reached 51 percent, which is the only such result for either candidate within the whole seven-state survey series. In two other states, Arizona and Nevada, Trump reached the 48 percent plateau on the head-to-head question. President Biden reached as high as 48 percent in only one state, Michigan, again in response to the head-to-head question.

In Arizona, Trump led Biden by seven percentage points when the independent and minor party candidates were included. His lead dropped to three points in the head-to-head question. The seven points represented an improvement here for Trump, though he has led in all 20 Arizona polls conducted since Jan. 1.

The Georgia numbers still favored Trump but appeared to be down a bit from other recent surveys. As in Arizona, Trump has led in every poll conducted here (17) since the first of this year.

Michigan has been back and forth all year, usually by a point or two. This Bloomberg/ Morning Consult poll, however, stakes Biden to one of his better showings, leading Trump by six points within the multiple candidate field and five in the head-to-head pairing.

Nevada is the third state where Trump has led or been tied in all 2024 surveys (17). In the Bloomberg/MC poll, his numbers are still strong. Within the multiple candidate field, Trump holds a six-point lead as compared to a plus-3 margin in the head-to-head.

North Carolina is another state where Trump continues to poll well. In the Bloomberg/MC study, he leads the multiple candidate field by two points, and three over Biden in the head-to-head. This from a state where he led in only 25 percent of the 2020 polls yet carried the final total by just over a percentage point.

As previously mentioned, Trump scores his best head-to-head number of the cycle (plus-7) in the Bloomberg/MC Pennsylvania poll. From the multiple candidate field, his lead is three percentage points.

Wisconsin is the other state where Biden forges a current lead according to the Bloomberg/MC data. Here, the president has a two-point edge within the multiple candidate field and three over Trump in the head-to-head.

As we have seen, several of the data segments produced unusual patterns, meaning more information is needed to obtain a better post-debate picture of how the electorate is responding. Even though this polling series generally shows Biden rebounding from the debate, it appears that former President Trump would convert four states (Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania) and keep North Carolina, which would allow him to exceed the 270 electoral vote threshold (287 EVs) and claim the presidency.

Sheehy Up in Montana; New Mexico Senate Race Tightens; Fong’s Opponent Drops Out; Nevada Abortion Initiative on Ballot

By Jim Ellis — Monday, July 8, 2024

Senate

Retired Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy

Montana: Sheehy Up Beyond Margin of Error — After not finding much polling data for this critically important Senate race during the early part of the election cycle, we are now seeing plentiful surveying activity. The latest poll comes from Torchlight Strategies for the Common Sense for America conservative political action committee. The study (June 22-26; 649 registered Montana voters) sees retired Navy SEAL and aerospace company CEO Tim Sheehy (R) leading three-term Sen. Jon Tester (D), 47-41 percent. Two recent surveys from Public Opinion Strategies and Fabrizio Lee & Associates both cast the Senate race as a dead heat.

Consistent with the two other most recent polls, former President Donald Trump is staked to a large lead in the Torchlight survey. The result finds Trump topping President Joe Biden, 51-35 percent. With such a strong Republican lead at the top of the ticket, thus setting the turnout model, it will be difficult for Sen. Tester to overcome what will likely be late Republican election momentum in this state.

New Mexico: Senate Race Tightens — As the presidential race grows tighter and expands into several unlikely states, a new 1892 polling organization survey (June 19-24; 600 likely New Mexico voters) posts President Biden to only a one-point New Mexico lead over Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I), 43-42-8 percent, in a state that last went for a Republican presidential nominee in 2004.

In the Senate contest, 1892 projects Sen. Martin Heinrich (D), on the ballot seeking a third term, to only a 46-42 percent advantage over former hedge fund CEO Nella Domenici, the daughter of the late six-term New Mexico US Sen. Pete Domenici (R). This is a long-shot Republican conversion opportunity that is beginning to draw more political interest.

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CA-20: Rep. Fong’s Opponent Suspends — Through various elections and court challenges, newly elected California US Rep. Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) has already secured his seat for a full term in the next Congress. Last week, Fong’s lone general election opponent, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux (R), who finished behind Fong in the regular and special primary elections before losing 61-39 percent in the May 21 special general election, announced that he is suspending his regular general election campaign and endorses the new incumbent for re-election.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates CA-20, the seat of former US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R), as R+31 making it the safest Republican seat in California. The fact that Fong had placed ahead of Sheriff Boudreaux three times suggested that him winning re-election in November was becoming a virtual certainty.

States

Nevada: Abortion Initiative Qualifies –– Silver State election officials yesterday announced that the initiative to codify the state’s abortion law into the Nevada Constitution will be on the general election ballot. The Secretary of State confirmed that the movement proponents had gathered the necessary valid petition signatures to put the measure before the voters.

Under Nevada election law, initiatives must qualify in consecutive elections. Therefore, even if this abortion related measure passes in 2024, it will return for a second vote in 2026. National Democratic strategists want abortion propositions on the ballot because they will likely spur turnout among some lower propensity left-of-center voters. The Nevada Democratic strategists will highlight their candidates’ support for this particular ballot measure, in order to increase support for President Biden, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and the party’s congressional nominees.

More States in Play

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, July 3, 2024

President

MORE SWING STATES IN PLAY: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin (and possibly Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New Mexico)

Recent polling data suggests that several surprising states are becoming competitive. In addition to Minnesota and Virginia, the former of which has been close for weeks and the latter showing dead heat signs within the last 14 days, four more states are now returning tight polling numbers.

As has been the case since the beginning of the year, Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada have been reporting strong numbers for former President Donald Trump. In fact, the 19 polls conducted in Arizona since Jan. 1 finds Trump leading in each. The Georgia data projects a similar pattern. There, 16 surveys have been conducted in 2024, again with Trump leading in all. The Nevada numbers report the same pattern as Georgia.

It’s also been common political knowledge that the three key Great Lakes states, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, have been in the toss-up category throughout the current year. Recently, the three have all leaned towards Trump, and likely will report an exaggerated trend at least for the short-term post-debate period.

If the Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada trends hold through the election, and Trump converts all three, he would only need one more state of any size to win the national election. Now, it appears several others are coming into the observance realm.

New polling finds the race coming into dead heat territory in Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New Mexico, all of which have been Democratic strongholds for years.

The last time Maine and New Jersey went for a Republican presidential candidate occurred in 1988, when the states’ electorates supported George H.W. Bush over Michael Dukakis. New Hampshire last voted Republican in 2000 for George W. Bush against Al Gore, while New Mexico supported the latter Bush in 2004 opposite John Kerry. The previously mentioned Minnesota hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1972, while Virginia, like New Mexico, also favored then-President Bush over Kerry 20 years ago.

St. Anselm College on Monday released their latest New Hampshire poll (June 28-29; 1,700 registered New Hampshire voters; online) and sees Trump taking a 44-42-4 percent lead over President Joe Biden and Independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The co/efficient firm tested the New Jersey electorate (June 26-27; 810 likely New Jersey voters; live interview & text) and these results also show Trump ahead in an unlikely state, 41-40-7 percent.

The New Mexico data still finds President Biden leading, but barely. The 1892 polling organization (June 19-24; 600 likely New Mexico voters) posts Biden to only a one-point lead, 43-42-8 percent over Trump and Kennedy.

In Minnesota, a place where the two presidential candidates have consistently battled in polls to within three-point margins for most of the year, Emerson College (June 13-18; 1,000 registered Minnesota voters; multiple sampling techniques) recently projected Trump to a one-point edge.

The Critical Insights firm tested the Maine electorate (June 12; 609 registered Maine voters; live interview and online) and found Trump recording a one-point advantage in this state as well, 41-40 percent, with 19 percent going to other candidates. Maine features a Ranked Choice Voting system, so even if Trump manages to secure plurality support in the regular election, he would likely lose in the Ranked Choice rounds.

Fox News conducted the most recent Virginia poll (June 1-3; 1,107 registered Virginia voters; live interview) and this solidly Democratic state, too, turned in a ballot test within dead-heat range. According to the Fox results, Biden would hold a very slim 42-41-9 percent edge.

Typically, a Democratic presidential nominee would not have to exert much effort to hold these aforementioned states in the party column. The fact that they are currently in toss-up range, and all the studies but the New Hampshire poll were conducted before Thursday’s CNN presidential debate, suggests that the electoral map is legitimately becoming more expansive.

At least for the short term, it appears evident that the campaign will expand beyond the traditional seven swing states that have been the deciding factors in the last two elections.