Monthly Archives: July 2012

McCotter Resigns, Chaos Reigns

Thaddeus McCotter

Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI-11) abruptly resigned from the House on Friday, indicating the “nightmarish” six weeks he just experienced is driving a wedge between his professional duties and family. McCotter began this election cycle by launching an ill-fated run for president that captured no attention. He ended his national bid after six weeks. Failing to secure the proper number of re-election petition signatures to qualify for the Michigan ballot, McCotter announced he would run a write-in campaign for the Republican congressional nomination, but then quickly changed course and decided to retire at the end of the current Congress. Now, he has left the House altogether.

Since candidate filing closed before it became apparent that McCotter’s petitions were invalid, the Republicans are left with only Tea Party activist and educator Kerry Bentivolio as an official ballot-qualified candidate. Local Republican leaders and activists are rallying around former state Senate majority leader Nancy Cassis’ write-in effort in order to promote a stronger nominee for the general election. The Michigan primary is Aug. 7. Democratic physician Syed Taj seems to have the inside track for his party’s nomination. The GOP should be able to hold the seat, but clearly the campaign situation here has fallen into chaos.

House Realignment Scorecard

The conventional wisdom during the past 18 months was that Democrats were going to make modest gains in the post-redistricting House, but such prognostications are changing. Considering the re-maps from a national perspective without regard to campaign competition factors, the Republicans are the ones who now appear to have the slight advantage.

The outlook is changing because none of the major Republican seat-risk situations appear to be producing multiple losses. Neither the New York, Florida, California, Virginia, nor Texas map is, on the surface, going to add large numbers of new Democratic House members solely because of plan configuration.

Since we now know where the new seats are going and where the lost districts are coming from, more complete analyses can be rendered. While the straight numbers suggest that Democrats must score a net gain of 25 districts to re-capture the House majority by a single seat, the adjusted post-redistricting number actually increases that figure to 29.

The basis for such a conclusion is in accounting for the 12 seats that have shifted states along with several obvious conversion districts. Other factors are equally as viable in projecting an overall House partisan balance figure, but how competitive various seats are in states like California and New York can be debated in another column. For now, looking at the placement and displacement of the new seats, along with what appear to be some obvious open-seat campaigns going decidedly toward either a Democratic or Republican nominee, lead us to a +4 Republican gain figure.

Let’s first look at the multiple-seat gain or loss states, which tend to be a wash in terms of partisan divide. In Texas, the biggest gainer, the new seats of TX-25, 33, 34, and 36 are headed for a 2R-2D split. In Florida, their two new districts, FL-9 and FL-22, look to be leaning Democratic (certainly so for FL-22), but the campaign evolving in the new 9th puts the outcome in question. Republicans have recruited a strong candidate in local county commissioner John Quinones, while the Democrats are again tapping controversial one-term ex-Rep. Alan Grayson who was defeated for re-election in 2010.

On the multiple-seat reduction side, both Ohio and New York also appear to be neutralizing themselves between the parties. Both sides look to lose one net seat in each state.

But it is among the single-seat gaining and losing states where the GOP has scored well. The Republicans look to be coming out on top in gainers like Georgia (GA-9), South Carolina (SC-7), and Utah (UT-2). Democrats will have a slight edge in Arizona’s new district (AZ-9), and are likely winners in Nevada (NV-4), and Washington (WA-10).

In the states losing congressional representation, while New York and Ohio don’t give either party a clear advantage, Democrats are forced to absorb the loss in Massachusetts (MA-10), New Jersey (NJ-13), Michigan (MI-15), Pennsylvania (PA-4), and Missouri (MO-3). Republicans take the hit in Illinois (IL-19) and Louisiana (LA-7).

The GOP looks to be headed for conversion victories in Arkansas (AR-4, Rep. Mike Ross retiring), Oklahoma (OK-2, Rep. Dan Boren retiring), and likely in Indiana (IN-2, Rep. Joe Donnelly running for Senate). They will also gain three to four seats in North Carolina, but those are neutralized by what appear to be similar gains for Democrats in Illinois. All totaled, before the campaigns hit their stretch drive, it is the GOP that now enjoys a slight post-redistricting advantage and makes a 2012 House majority change even more remote.

Rangel Won – Or Did He?

Rep. Charlie Rangel, (D, NY-13)

As has been projected and reported – and conceded by challenger Adriano Espaillat – 21-term Rep. Charlie Rangel won the Democratic primary for the new 13th Congressional District of New York on primary night, June 26. Now, however, doubts surround the election result.

The New York state Supreme Court held a hearing yesterday to oversee the counting at Espaillat’s request. New vote totals now show the 45-40 percent margin decreasing to 44-42 percent, a spread of just 802 votes. According to state election officials, 2,494 ballots remain to be counted, mostly provisional paper ballots from voters claiming to be registered but who were not on the voting rolls, and 776 absentee ballots. All of the provisional voters must be verified as truly being registered.

Espaillat is too far behind, considering the reported number of ballots remaining, to overtake Rangel. Even if this were a two-way race (there are five total candidates), Espaillat, a sitting New York state senator, would have to tally just over 62.3 percent of the outstanding ballots to make up the 802-vote deficit. Unless there are more ballots to count – and on election night itself when Rangel had been declared the winner, a full 15 percent of the NY-13 precincts were reporting zero votes tabulated – there is no likely mathematical progression that allows such a conclusion from what we now know. But, many things can happen in post-election counting of close results.

In the end, it is probable that Rep. Rangel will be declared the official winner, but such a happening could be weeks away if a full investigation is launched. An official pronouncement of the exact uncounted vote number is expected on Thursday.

Polling the Other Side in Wisconsin Senate Race

It doesn’t often happen that one major party candidate releases a poll of the other party’s primary, but that is exactly what Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-2), the consensus Wisconsin Democratic Senate nominee, just did.

Not surprisingly, the Baldwin poll shows something different than the numerous Wisconsin Senate polls already in the public domain. According to her Feldman Group poll (June 19-21; 507 Wisconsin GOP primary voters via Interactive Voice Response system) it is venture capitalist Eric Hovde who has now pulled even with former governor Tommy Thompson and forged well ahead of former representative Mark Neumann (R-WI-1) and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald.

Hovde is committing millions of his own money to the race and positioning himself to the right of the field. There is no question that his spending will make him a factor in the campaign, but it is questionable as to whether he has rundown Thompson at this point in time. According to the Feldman Group poll, Hovde actually holds a 27-26-13-9 percent lead over the former governor, Neumann, and Fitzgerald, respectively.

It is unlikely that the Feldman poll is correct. For the past year, six different public polls have been released from three independent pollsters and all show ex-governor Thompson with a formidable Republican primary lead. Though none of them project him topping the majority mark, they all post him to spreads between six and eighteen points.

The latest survey, from Marquette Law School (June 13-16; 344 Wisconsin GOP primary voters), taken in virtually the same time period as the Baldwin poll, tells a much different story. This study posts Thompson to a 34-16-14-10 percent lead over Neumann, Hovde, and Fitzgerald.

A couple of key points must be examined about the Baldwin poll. First, the numbers tell the story Baldwin wants told, but that may not be the precise election status. Since most of the general election surveys give Thompson a growing lead over her, it would be in Baldwin’s interest to see him defeated in the Republican primary. The same polls that indicate she is trailing Thompson by a relatively substantial margin have her running even or slightly ahead of the other GOP candidates. Ms. Baldwin usually fares best against Hovde, the man her poll now casts to be in a dead heat with Thompson.

Secondly, the Interactive Voice Response system is fully automated and normally not viewed to be as reliable as the live interview surveys. This, in and of itself, does not invalidate the poll, but it’s very different result when matched to the aforementioned Marquette Law School survey must be scrutinized. Though the Marquette sample size is smaller than the Feldman Group poll for Baldwin, it still tells the more plausible story because it closely reflects the patterns reflected in the other available data.

Right now, with Thompson enjoying very high name ID and acceptable favorability ratings, it is reasonable to conclude that he is the likely Republican nominee. The crowded GOP field will actually help him secure the nomination because the anti-Thompson vote will split among more than one opponent. Though he might not obtain a majority of the vote, it is clear, six weeks away from the election, that Tommy Thompson has the inside track toward the nomination and, despite what the Baldwin campaign says, the four-term Republican governor is the most likely GOP Senatorial nominee.