Monthly Archives: June 2011

Perry, Giuliani Rise in National Poll

In conducting a nationwide poll for McClatchy Newspapers, Marist College (NY) found, rather extraordinarily, that three of their top four Republican nomination ballot test finishers are not even official candidates. The poll, conducted over the June 15-23 period of 1,003 adults (801 registered voters; 308 self-identified Republicans or Republican-leaning Independents), placed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in first position with 19 percent – yet another national survey where the ostensible front-runner doesn’t top 20 percent – while former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Texas Gov. Rick Perry follow with 13 percent apiece. Former vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin finishes fourth with 11 percent and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) is next with 8 percent. All other candidates are in mid to low single digits.

Neither Giuliani, Perry, nor Palin are announced candidates. It is believed that the former mayor will enter the race, probably after the September 11 10-year anniversary memorials are concluded. Signs are pointing to Gov. Perry also becoming a candidate, but not for several more weeks. Question marks continue to surround Ms. Palin’s plans, though there is no evidence that she is taking tangible steps toward building a campaign operation.

The fact that no active candidate other than Mr. Romney cracks the top four suggests dissatisfaction with the current field of candidates, as evidenced by the non-candidates doing so well. Expect the GOP field to change significantly during the latter half of this year.
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Hahn Attacking in California

The next special congressional election is two weeks away in California and Democratic nominee Janice Hahn appears nervous. The general election phase of this contest should be an easy run for any Dem, and was viewed as such ever since Republican Craig Huey slipped through the jungle primary election instead of the favored Debra Bowen (D), California’s Secretary of State. CA-36 is solidly Democratic. The worst number posted by the party’s presidential candidate since 1996 is 57 percent, and the region routinely elects liberals to virtually every political position. But Hahn isn’t acting like a runaway winner. She just aired a new ad attacking Huey as an “extremist politician” followed up with a more positive commercial about her own career. The latter ad surprisingly does not mention she’s a Democrat, instead choosing to emphasize that she has “never held partisan office.”

Several weeks ago Ms. Hahn, a Los Angeles City councilwoman who has previously lost a race for Congress (1998) and another for lieutenant governor (2010), surveyed the district but refuse to publicize the results even while tepidly claiming that she led Huey “beyond the margin of error.” These actions suggest that the CA-36 special election is much closer than anyone would have originally believed. Hahn will still likely win this race, but it’s probable she will under-perform the Democratic average.

Even if the councilwoman does prevail on July 12, the road to re-election may be quite difficult. The new Palos Verdes East seat, as the 36th has been named in the new redistricting plan, covers many of the same communities – Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Torrance – but the new seat possesses a much more Republican complexion. While Barack Obama carried the new Palos Verdes East seat with 53.6 percent of the vote, under the old 36th district boundaries, the president’s number topped 64 percent. In the very close race for attorney general in 2010, an election the Democratic nominee carried by less than one percentage point statewide, the Republican nominee actually scored a 45-41 percent plurality within the Palos Verdes East boundaries.

While Ms. Hahn now surprisingly finds herself in a competitive race, it is likely she will face a difficult re-election challenge even if July 12 brings her success. The Palos Verdes East seat looks like another of the more competitive districts that the new California Citizens Redistricting Commission constructed.
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New Mexico Senate Poll Shows a Tight Race

Public Policy Polling conducted a survey of the New Mexico electorate (June 23-26; 732 registered New Mexico voters) regarding the open seat race to replace the retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D). The results show Democrats with a measurable advantage, but in a much tighter contest than recent New Mexico voting history would likely yield.

Turning to the ballot test questions, Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM-1), an announced Senatorial candidate, out-duels former 1st district Rep. and Senatorial candidate Heather Wilson (R) by just five percentage points, 47-42 percent. He leads Lt. Gov. John Sanchez (R) by a similar 45-39 percent. State Auditor Hector Banderas (D) scores in the same neighborhood as Heinrich against the two Republicans.

Interestingly, relating to job approval and personal popularity, the data shows the two Democratic candidate posting an average +5 points in positive territory, which are mediocre scores, while the two Republican contenders are upside down by the same margin.

The eventual Democratic nominee should win this open seat, but Republicans still have the ability of making Land of Enchantment statewide races close. The PPP numbers suggest this race could become highly competitive.
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Romney and Pawlenty Already Faltering?

Selzer & Company, a survey research firm headquartered in Iowa that routinely polls for the Des Moines Register newspaper, released some surprising results from their latest study (June 19-22; 400 likely Iowa Caucus participants). According to the data, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, upon whom many analysts and media outlets already bestow the “front-runner” tag, leads upstart Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) by a razor-thin 23-22 percent count within this particular polling universe. Businessman Herman Cain placed third with 10 percent.

Perhaps the biggest surprise found in this study, however, is the poor showing from former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who captured just 6 percent of the respondents’ support despite his heavily targeting the state. Pawlenty was thought to be a top-tier candidate but so far has failed to excite the Republican voting base, including conservative donors and activists. Additionally, any regional bump he might get because he hails from a neighboring state (Iowans have proven to be regionally parochial in their past voting history) is apparently being snatched away by Bachmann, who is also from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

This latest Iowa Caucus poll is again proving that the Republican presidential nomination contest is still a wide open political battle that will produce many surprises before a winner is ultimately crowned next August at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
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California Congresswoman Woolsey Retires

Today, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-6) formally announced that she will not seek an 11th term in Congress next year. Woolsey, a former Petaluma, Calif. city councilwoman before coming to Washington, first entered the House in 1992 replacing then-Rep. Barbara Boxer (D) who won election to the Senate that same year.

Ms. Woolsey becomes the 14th House member who is choosing to step aside in 2012, but only the second to retire. The other dozen are running for higher office. Oklahoma Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK-2) is the only other member who, so far, is voluntarily opting to leave politics.

Congresswoman Woolsey is one of the most liberal members of the House. She is the chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House and has consistently aligned herself on the far left spectrum of the Democratic Party. She came to fame for being the first former welfare recipient to win election to Congress. Since then, another member, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), also claims the same distinction.

The new California redistricting map radically alters Woolsey’s 6th district. Previously anchored in the Bay Area’s Marin County, CA-6 covered only the aforementioned locality and part of Sonoma. Under the California Citizens Redistricting Commission’s 2011 congressional redistricting plan, the Woolsey district will now stretch all the way from Marin to the Oregon border, taking in a large portion of Rep. Mike Thompson’s (D-CA-1) current territory. The new North Coast district is heavily Democratic but has a considerably different constituency for Woolsey. The congresswoman would likely have held the seat, but she could have been vulnerable in a Democratic primary to a state or local official more familiar with the new district. It does not appear, however, that the re-map is the driving reason why the 73-year-old veteran representative will be walking away from her position.

Considering the major redistricting shake-up that is proving challenging for more than a third of California incumbents from both parties, Woolsey’s retirement is likely the first of several more. Seeing his district split six different ways, House Rules Committee chairman David Dreier (R-CA-26) is a retirement possibility. So are Reps. Pete Stark (D-CA-13), Lois Capps (D-CA-23), Elton Gallegly (R-CA-24), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-34). While none of the aforementioned has specifically said they will leave Congress, their new districts will either be substantially different from their current seats, or politically unfavorable to them in a primary or general election. After years of representing safe districts, being thrown into a seriously competitive situation late in their careers may send some or all of these members packing.

Since the Woolsey retirement had been rumored for some time, two Democrats had already begun assembling a congressional campaign, and others will likely follow. State Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D) said he would not run against the congresswoman, but was beginning to raise money for a federal race in case she decided not to seek re-election. Through March 31, Huffman had raised $123,000 for his potential federal campaign.

In addition to Assemblyman Huffman, author and leftwing activist Norman Solomon had also announced his candidacy, once again presuming the Woolsey retirement. He did not file a financial disclosure report in the first quarter.

Now that Ms. Woolsey has made her plans official, expect other state legislators, Marin and Sonoma County local officials, and individuals from the newly added smaller north coastal counties, to seriously consider making congressional bids. Regardless of who eventually wins the Democratic primary in the newly configured district, that person will succeed Ms. Woolsey as the region’s Representative. Should the proposed lines actually become the final district boundaries, rate the North Coast seat as “Safe Democratic.”
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