Monthly Archives: December 2011

Iowa Confusion – Anything Can Happen

Public Policy Polling published a new survey of Iowa Republican Caucus voters as part of their ongoing tracking program. The study (Dec. 16-18; 597 likely Iowa GOP Caucus attenders), now gives Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) a 23-20-14 percent lead over Mitt Romney and ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Several things to make note of regarding this data: First, Mr. Paul is now surging to the top of the heap. This means his loyal band of committed supporters become even more important as the field of candidates begin to bunch together before the final stretch run. Secondly, it is clear the attacks launched against Gingrich over the airwaves by the Paul and Romney campaigns are taking a toll upon the former Georgia representative, particularly without an in-kind response. But, there is more to these results.

The lower tier of candidates is also creeping up. For the first time, a poll shows Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum all in double-digits. All three are tied in this poll, commanding 10 percent. It is the first time a distinct upward move has been detected for Santorum, in particular.

The fact that the race is getting closer from top to bottom could suggest that the Iowa campaign is far from over, even though the vote is just two weeks from today, with Christmas and New Year’s in between. Much more will unfold here very shortly.

Updates From Texas, West Virginia

Texas Senate: Sanchez Drops Bid

While former NFL football player Craig James (R) appears to be headed into the Texas Senate race, another candidate is departing. Retired Gen. Ricardo Sanchez (D) who officially launched his Senatorial campaign back in May, now says he will not run.

Sanchez experienced a difficult time launching his campaign from a fundraising perspective and in attempting to kick his effort into high gear. After recently sustaining huge personal losses due to a fire that cost him his personal residence, the retired military officer said it was simply not the right time for him to enter elective politics, particularly for a long shot statewide attempt.

Republicans are strong favorites to hold the open seat. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) is retiring.

WV-1: Oliverio Out

Former state Sen. Mike Oliverio (D), who lost one of the closest elections (49.6-50.4 percent) of the 2010 election cycle to freshman Rep. David McKinley (R), has withdrawn from the 2012 contest. In May of 2010, Oliverio upset 14-term Rep. Alan Mollohan in the Democratic primary largely because of the incumbent’s vote in favor of the Cap & Trade legislation, an issue that is wholly unpopular in northern West Virginia coal country. In September, Mr. Oliverio announced that he would seek a re-match with Rep. McKinley.

Oliverio gave no reason for changing his mind, only saying that he would be an “active citizen” instead of a candidate for public office. In the three months of his latest campaign effort, he had only raised $11,000 and still carries a debt of $27,000 from the 2010 race.

Remaining in the race is Democratic activist Susan Thorn. WV-1 changed little in redistricting. The McKinley-Oliverio re-match was considered a toss-up, but the congressman will certainly be favored if Thorn becomes the eventual Democratic nominee.

Two Polls; Two Drop-Outs

NM-1 Poll

Public Policy Polling surveyed the upcoming open New Mexico Senate race (Dec. 10-12; 500 New Mexico registered voters; 309 New Mexico Democratic primary voters). Their latest data gives Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM-1) a 47-40 percent edge over former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM-1). If Lt. Gov. John Sanchez were to become the Republican nominee, Heinrich would beat him 48-37 percent.

In the Democratic primary between Heinrich and state Auditor Hector Balderas, the congressman leads that battle 47-30 percent. The Republican primary featuring Wilson and Sanchez was not tested.

The results are about what one would expect at this time. New Mexico is a relatively competitive state, much more so at the presidential level than in the state contests, and it leans to the Democrats. Normally, the Democrat holds the lead early and the Republican gains strength as the election draws near. The fact that Rep. Heinrich only leads Ms. Wilson by seven points in a small-sample poll and still falls below the 50 percent mark suggests that this could become a highly competitive general election campaign. The New Mexico seat is open because Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D) is retiring after five terms.

OR-1 Poll

Public Policy Polling was also in the field in Oregon’s 1st Congressional District for the upcoming special election to be decided on Jan. 31. Their poll (Dec. 13-14; 979 OR-1 likely special election voters) gives former state Sen. Suzanne Bonamici (D) an expected 52-41 percent lead over 2010 Republican nominee Rob Cornilles, a local sporting goods executive.

The data breaks down exactly as one would predict: Democrats overwhelmingly support Bonamici (89-6 percent), while Republicans are just as strong for Cornilles (88-5 percent). Liberals and conservatives each strongly break toward the Democratic and Republican candidate, respectively. The two points that prove interesting and potentially determinative – and there is one plus for each candidate – are that women are going heavily for Bonamici (57-36 percent) while men break evenly (47-47 percent), and Independents are trending toward Cornilles (46-40 percent).

The fact that the district is overwhelmingly Democratic and the party apparatus and liberal special interest groups are spending heavily for Bonamici while the Republican/conservative side has yet to step up for Cornilles, suggests that the former will handily win this seat if the current trends continue.

The position is open because Rep. David Wu (D-OR-1) resigned earlier in the year.

Redistricting Updates: Illinois, Ohio & Pennsylvania

A quick update on the redistricting front in a few states:

Illinois

The federal three-judge panel in Illinois rejected the Republican lawsuit against the state’s new 18-district congressional map. This means the Democrats’ maximum map will stand and elections throughout the decade will be conducted in these districts. The GOP’s last option is to appeal this decision. All Voting Rights Act cases are appealed directly to the US Supreme Court. The Democrats could gain as many as four seats in the Land of Lincoln next year.

Ohio

The Ohio Republicans were able to secure a two-thirds vote in each house of their legislature to pass their altered congressional redistricting map. The legislation must now go to Gov. John Kasich (R) for his signature. The new plan only slightly changes the Columbus area and leaves the remaining boundaries intact. The state loses two seats in reapportionment.

Three sets of incumbent pairings will occur. Democrats Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH-10) will face each other in new District 9 that stretches from Toledo to Cleveland. Reps. Mike Turner (R-OH-3) and Steve Austria (R-OH-7) are paired in new District 10. And, finally, Reps. Betty Sutton (D-OH-13) and Jim Renacci (R-OH-16) are opposing each other in new District 16. In addition to the pairings, one former member, ex-Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-OH-6), has already announced his intention to seek a re-match with freshman Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH-6) in the revamped 6th District, which will be more friendly to a Republican candidate.

The plan is designed to elect twelve Republicans and four Democrats. The congressional primaries are now re-instated for March 6, as was originally intended. With Texas now almost assuredly moving to later in the year, the Ohio congressional primaries will now be the first in the nation.

Pennsylvania

A day after the proposed Pennsylvania congressional redistricting map was released to the public, it passed through the state Senate, but by only one vote. It must now clear the state House of Representatives and be signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett (R).

The map is designed to elect possibly as many as 13 Republicans in the 18 districts. Seven of the districts are strongly Republican. In five more, GOP incumbents are present, but President Obama carried the particular district in 2008. The five holding the marginal seats are: Reps. Jim Gerlach (CD 6 – Obama: 53), Pat Meehan (CD 7 – Obama: 51), Mike Fitzpatrick (CD 8 – Obama: 53), Charlie Dent (CD 15 – Obama: 52), and Joe Pitts (CD 16 – Obama: 50). In one seat, the new 12th CD that features a pairing of Democratic Reps. Jason Altmire (D-PA-4) and Mark Critz (D-PA-12), President Obama only tallied 45 percent of the vote, meaning that the winner of what promises to be a tough Democratic primary will also face a highly competitive general election. The Pennsylvania primary is scheduled for May 17.

Kentucky Rep. Davis Retires; Utah Rep. Matheson Jumps Districts

Kentucky GOP Rep. Geoff Davis surprisingly announced that he won’t seek a fifth term in his 4th Congressional District next year, opening what will likely be a safe Republican seat and a position on the Ways & Means Committee in the next Congress.

Davis, a former US Army Ranger and prosperous independent businessman, is retiring due to family considerations. In 2004, after running a close but unsuccessful campaign against Rep. Ken Lucas (D-KY-4) two years earlier, Davis defeated Nick Clooney, father of actor George Clooney, by more than 30,000 votes to win the seat. He then repelled Lucas’ comeback bid by eight points in the Democratic year of 2006, and cruised to big re-elections in 2008 and 2010. Mr. Davis becomes the 25th member and seventh Republican to make public his plans not to run for the House in 2012. He is the 11th to retire. The others are seeking a different office.

The KY-4 District is strongly Republican and expected to remain in GOP hands even after the new congressional map is drawn. John McCain received 60 percent of the vote here in 2008. Former President George W. Bush scored 63 and 61 percent in 2004 and 2000, respectively.

After exploring for several months whether to challenge Sen. Orrin Hatch or Gov. Gary Herbert, Utah 2nd District Rep. Jim Matheson (D) announced that he will seek re-election in 2012, but from new District 4. The Utah Republican plan is to attempt to win all four of the state’s congressional seats – the Beehive State gained one district in reapportionment – and Matheson feels his best chance of winning re-election lies in the new 4th, rather than his current 2nd District.

Republican state Reps. Stephen Sandstrom and Carl Wimmer had already announced for the 4th. It will be interesting to see if they stay in this seat now that Matheson has declared, or if they will hop over to the vacant 2nd. In any event, Mr. Matheson has a difficult road to re-election.