Poll: Newsom in Trouble

By Jim Ellis

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D)

July 30, 2021 — The University of California at Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies released their latest Golden State survey that finds Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) strength in the upcoming recall election dissipating.

According to UC Berkeley, among likely voters, 47 percent would vote to recall Gov. Newsom and 50 percent would not, clearly the closest ballot test result seen to date. The recall election is scheduled for Sept. 14, and voters will first choose whether to remove the governor from office before choosing a replacement among 46 ballot qualified candidates. The replacement candidates’ votes count only if a majority supports removing the subject from office, in this case Gov. Newsom.

The Berkeley poll (July 18-24; 5,795 registered California voters; 3,266 likely California recall election voters, online) finds Newsom in trouble only among likely voters, those screened as almost certain to participate in the recall election. Within the entire polling sample, he returns to safe territory as the respondents break only 36-51 percent for removing him from office.

The major difference is partisanship. The parties, as one might guess, break in polarized fashion. A total of 91 percent of Democrats would vote against the recall while 95 percent of Republicans favor removal.

The independent and minor party sectors become interesting, however. Among the large No Party Preference group, 46 percent would vote to recall Newsom and 50 percent would not. The combined minor parties, which only account for approximately six percent of the electorate are breaking hard for the recall position. Within the minor party segment, 68 percent would vote to remove as compared to only 30 percent supporting the retain option.

Among Republicans, 90 percent say they are enthusiastic about the election, while 58 percent of Democrats say the same. Among the substantial segment in the “No Party Preference” or independent category, 53 percent say they are enthusiastic.

The polling analysis suggests that the governor’s fundamental problem is that Democrats are “almost unanimous” in their belief that he will win the recall election. This substantially explains the Democrats’ lack of solid enthusiasm for the irregular Sept. 14 stand-alone election.

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Ellzey’s Upset Win in TX-6

Texas state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie) tallied an upset win in the TX-6 special election Tuesday.

By Jim Ellis

July 29, 2021 — Texas state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie) tallied an upset win in the TX-6 double-Republican special runoff election Tuesday, defeating the race’s nominal favorite, Susan Wright, widow of the late Congressman Ron Wright (R-Arlington).

While polling and endorsements suggested a Wright victory – the most recent public poll from American Viewpoint released last week projected Wright holding a 10-point, 44-34 percent, advantage – the Ellzey win should be viewed as a mild upset. This is the third election in the four in which Rep-Elect Ellzey was a candidate where he considerably exceeded expectations.

Jake Ellzey, an airline pilot, rancher, and Iraq and Afghan War veteran, first came on the political scene with a surprising second-place finish in the 2018 open seat 6th District congressional primary, forcing then-Tarrant County Tax Assessor Wright into a secondary runoff election. Mr. Wright was viewed as a clear favorite in the follow-up vote but managed only a 52-48 percent win, with Ellzey again out-performing polling and projections. He then immediately came back an easily won an open seat primary and general election in a safe Republican state House of Representatives district.

When Rep. Wright passed away, the special election drew 23 candidates including Ms. Wright and state Rep. Ellzey. Local forecasters were expecting Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez to secure a runoff position against Ms. Wright, possibly even perhaps finishing in first position, but Ellzey again surprised the analysts by edging Sanchez for second place. In the underdog role again, Ellzey recorded a 53-47 percent win.

Several noteworthy points came from the race. First, turnout was very low, only a 38,994 unofficial participation figure. This compares to 78,374 cast ballots in the special jungle primary for a drop-off rate of just over 50 percent. Considering that this was a double-Republican runoff and Democrats had little reason to vote since they had no candidate, such a small return voter figure is not particularly surprising.

Second, the early vote and election day vote proportion were virtually identical. Both Rep. Ellzey and Ms. Wright doubled their early vote total almost exactly. Conversely, in the jungle primary, Ellzey recorded over 70 percent of his total vote in the early phase, while Ms. Wright drew only 42 percent of her aggregate share from those voting prior to election day. Therefore, Ellzey significantly improved his election day operation.

Third, the big change from the jungle primary to the runoff election was the vote from Tarrant County, the district’s largest local entity. In the initial election, Ms. Wright ran strong in rural Navarro County and Ellzey did likewise in his home county of Ellis. This pattern remained consistent Tuesday night.

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Ohio Specials Prelude

By Jim Ellis

OH-11

July 28, 2021 — Voters in north Texas went to the polls yesterday to decide the double-Republican runoff in their state’s vacant 6th District, but there is unfolding action in the two Ohio special elections right now. The Buckeye State’s vacant CD’s will culminate with partisan primary elections next week, on Aug. 3.

First, the Mellman Group, polling for the Democratic Majority for Israel PAC (July 13-17; 400 OH-11 likely Democratic primary voters, live interview), sees the multi-candidate contest in the Cleveland-Akron seat that has evolved into a race between two candidates getting even closer.

Mellman’s ballot test finds former state senator and ex-Bernie Sanders for president national co-chair Nina Turner leading Cuyahoga County ouncilmember and local Democratic Party chair Shontel Brown by a tightening 41-36 percent spread with the momentum again flowing toward the latter woman. The remaining 11 candidates all split an aggregate five percent, with the remainder categorized as undecided/don’t know/refused to answer.

We can expect a very active final week as the candidates continue attempting to convince their voters to cast early ballots or visit the polls a week from tomorrow. The eventual Democratic nominee will become the prohibitive favorite heading into the Nov. 2 special general election. The winner will replace former Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland) who resigned the seat upon her confirmation as Housing & Urban Development Secretary in President Biden’s cabinet.

Mellman’s most recent effort delivered the closest result from a Democratic polling firm. Compared to their June poll, Brown is the beneficiary of a net 19-point swing. In the June poll, Mellman found a 50-26 percent spread in favor of Turner. In early July, Normington Petts, polling for the Brown campaign, also detected movement toward their client. They forecast a 43-36 percent result, certainly in the same realm as the Mellman poll conducted more than a week later. The original Mellman poll came in April and found Turner more than doubling Brown’s support, at 42-19 percent.

The primary campaign is dividing along the past Democratic primary presidential lines. The Bernie Sanders’ group, including the candidate himself, has endorsed Turner, along with the Justice Democrats PAC associated with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and their individual congressional supporters.

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TX-6 Special Election Today

By Jim Ellis

Susan Wright, favored in today’s TX-6 special election

July 27, 2021 — The late Texas US Rep. Ron Wright’s (R-Arlington) replacement will be chosen today as the double-Republican special congressional runoff election draws to a conclusion. The late congressman’s widow, Susan Wright (R), is favored over state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie), but low turnout elections often produce surprising results.

From a partisan context, the race is anti-climactic since we already know a Republican will claim the seat and expand the House Republican conference total to the 212 mark. Democrats hold 220 seats.

Two more vacant House seats will largely be decided next Tuesday when voters in two Ohio districts will go to the polls in partisan primary contests. In each case, winning the party nomination is virtually tantamount to claiming the seat, so it is highly likely that the two parties will split the elections. The Ohio nominees, however, will have to wait until Nov. 2 for their final vote. The special election season will conclude on Jan. 11, 2022, when South Florida voters will choose a successor to the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Delray Beach) in the state’s 20th District.

As is generally the case in special elections, voter turnout is the critical factor. The Texas Secretary of State has released the 6th District early voting participation numbers, and we see 20,534 ballots having been cast through July 23. In the May 1 jungle primary election, 45,259 people voted early, or 57.7 percent of the total voting universe for that election (78,471).

So far in this runoff, only 4.2 percent of the registered voter universe of 493,077 individuals have cast their ballot. Considering that 65.4 percent of Ellzey’s vote came via early voting in the special primary as compared to 47.2 percent for Wright, the low early totals should prove a benefit to the latter candidate.

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New Special Election Data

By Jim Ellis

Susan Wright

July 26, 2021 — The Texas 6th District special election to replace the late Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington) is scheduled for Tuesday, and the Susan Wright campaign has just released the results of their most recent American Viewpoint poll.

According to AV (July 19-21; 400 TX-6 likely runoff voters, live interview), Wright, the late congressman’s widow who placed first in the original May 1 special jungle primary, leads state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie) by a 44-34 percent count with 12 percent saying they are undecided. The sample’s remaining ten percent apparently didn’t answer the ballot test question since they appear unsegmented.

The Wright pollsters argue in their survey synopsis that the ballot test numbers are actually stronger than presented for underlying reasons. Among the voters who rate themselves as most enthusiastic about voting in the special election (a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 having the highest level of enthusiasm), Wright expands her lead to 54-33 percent.

The pollsters reason the most enthusiastic voters, in this case ones who rated themselves at or between 8 to 10 on this scale, are the most likely group to vote. On the negative side, however, this segment is small. Only 8 percent of the entire sampling universe rated themselves in the highest positive category.

Drilling further into the polling sample’s core, American Viewpoint finds that among the respondents who said they are “certain to vote,” Wright leads Ellzey, 51-33 percent.

Where the state representative scores higher in this double-Republican runoff contest is among the Democrats who choose to participate. Here, Ellzey leads 44-31 percent. The pollsters conclude that Democrats who are motivated to vote largely want to make a statement in supporting the candidate that former President Donald Trump did not endorse…in the 6th District race, Ellzey.

Among what the pollsters describe as the “Trump Movement Republicans,” presumably those who have a positive impression of the former president and generally are inclined to back his endorsement choice, favors Wright by a 61-28 percent spread.

Rep. Ellzey first ran for office in 2018, when he opposed Wright in the 6th District open seat regular congressional election. Underestimated in the primary election, Ellzey finished second and forced Wright, then the Tarrant County Assessor, into a runoff. With Wright favored, Ellzey reduced the former man’s margin of victory to 52-48%, again exceeding expectations.

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