Monthly Archives: September 2013

Another Bass Return?

In a race that has been quiet for many months, a reversal of course may be upon us. It appears that Republicans will soon end their dormancy against New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) as a pair of candidates may announce for the right to oppose her in the 2014 general election.

Former Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH-2) was first elected to the US House in the Republican landslide of 1994 and served without receiving a major challenge until 2006. That year, in what proved to be a Democratic landslide that swept the Republicans out of power in Washington, attorney Paul Hodes (D) scored a 53-46 percent win over the veteran GOP congressman. When Hodes launched a campaign for an open Senate seat in 2010, an effort doomed to fail in a crushing defeat, Bass returned to the political arena and re-claimed his 2nd District with a razor thin 48-47 percent win over attorney Ann McLane Kuster (D). Last year, Kuster sanctioned Rep. Bass back to former member status with a 50-45 percent victory in what again proved to be a Granite State Democratic sweep.

At the end of last week, Bass confirmed that he is “seriously considering” a return to elective politics by challenging Sen. Shaheen. Though the incumbent’s job approval ratings are very strong, 53:23 percent in the latest University of New Hampshire poll (late July), the New Hampshire electorate has swung wildly since 2006, alternating between giving both Democrats and Republicans sweeping wins from the top of the ticket to the bottom. Since 2006, inclusive, NH voters have defeated one senator (Shaheen over John E. Sununu in ’08) and five House incumbents (Bass and Jeb Bradley in ’06, Carol Shea-Porter in ’10, Bass and Frank Guinta in ’12) – in a state that possesses only two congressional districts. The state legislative chambers have changed party control several times during that six-year period, too.

Several weeks ago, former state Sen. Jim Rubens (R) opened a senatorial exploratory committee and reports favorable response toward his budding candidacy. Local political insiders predict that Rubens will announce his official campaign within the next two weeks. Should Bass actually decide to run, the former state legislator’s presence in the race means primary opposition – primary opposition that will undoubtedly be to his right before a conservative dominated Republican electorate.

Regardless of the impending 2014 turnout model, which conventional wisdom suggests  Continue reading >

California Competition Leads to Incumbent Turnover

california

In the previous decade, Californians defeated only one US House incumbent in more than 500 campaigns. This, among other factors, led voters to adopt a new electoral system creating a citizens’ redistricting commission and sending the top two finishers in a jungle primary format – that is, all candidates appearing on the same ballot – to the general election regardless of political party affiliation.

The changes have achieved their intended effect of creating more competition. Last year 22 races featured a winner receiving less than 60% of the vote, and seven incumbents were defeated.

This year, competitive campaigns appear to be already forming in at least 14 districts, including four seats that will likely feature two members of the same party advancing to the general election.

CA-3: Rep. John Garamendi (D) – 2012 result: 54 percent

Term-limited Assemblyman Dan Logue (R) has announced his challenge to Garamendi, the state’s former lieutenant governor. The competition level here should increase in comparison to 2012.

CA-7: Rep. Ami Bera (D) – 2012 result: 52 percent

Making his second attempt at running for Congress, Bera unseated former GOP Rep. Dan Lungren. Currently, ex-Rep. Doug Ose (R-CA-3), 2012 US Senate nominee Elizabeth Emken, and congressional chief of staff (Rep. Tom McClintock) Igor Birman have formally declared their intentions to run. One will advance to the November election against the freshman congressman. This Sacramento area race should be hotly contested.

CA-10: Rep. Jeff Denham (R) – 2012 result: 53 percent

Denham clinched a second term in a much different district than the one he originally claimed in 2010, defeating former astronaut  Continue reading >

Chafee Out in R.I.; Bentivolio Challenged in MI-11

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who began his political career as a Republican, switched to Independent to run for governor after losing his US Senate seat, and who then became a Democrat after attaining the state office, announced yesterday that he will not seek a second term next year.

Gov. Chafee is among the least-popular state chief executives according to various public opinion polls. The surveys project him languishing in upside-down job approval territory by sometimes greater than a 2:1 negative to positive ratio. His move to join the Democrats appeared to be a desperate attempt to retain his office, and a strategy he hoped would cause potential intra-party contenders to back away once he became an official member. That did not happen, and Chafee clearly has blinked.

For the Democrats – the dominant political party in Rhode Island – state Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Tavares have been expected to enter the race against Chafee and now will assuredly do so under an open seat situation. Republicans Allen Fung, the mayor of Cranston, and 2010 nominee John Robitaille, who lost to Chafee by only three points, are the minority party’s prospective candidates. The Democrat nominee, however, will be the overwhelming favorite to win the general election.

Chafee’s retirement means that eight of the 38 in-cycle gubernatorial elections will be open races, five of which are term limit related.

MI-11

Freshman Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R) is considered by many to be an “accidental” congressman. When first filing to run for office in Michigan back in early 2012, he did not anticipate actually winning the seat. Rather, he was attempting to make a political statement from the Libertarian right.

After the candidate filing deadline passed, ensuing events began to develop. Then-Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s (R) organization self-destructed, failing to submit enough qualified petition signatures to legally secure the incumbent’s ballot placement. As a result, McCotter was forced into retirement and Bentivolio found himself as the only legally qualified Republican candidate in a nominal Republican district. He repelled a write-in primary opponent backed by established Republican Party  Continue reading >

San Diego Shocker

Councilman Carl DeMaio

Councilman Carl DeMaio

It looked to be a foregone conclusion that former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio (R), who lost a close 52-48 percent election to now-resigned Mayor Bob Filner (D) just last November, would run in the special mayoral election to be held before the end of this year. Not so, according to DeMaio’s announcement yesterday.

Almost immediately after his 2012 loss, DeMaio switched gears into a congressional campaign against freshman Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA-52). Peters unseated Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA-50) by an even closer 51-49 percent count on the same day that DeMaio lost to Filner. With strong fundraising and polling – two surveys actually posted DeMaio ahead of Peters by 10 and 11 points from data collected two months apart – the former municipal candidate was becoming one of the strongest Republican congressional challengers in the nation.

There appear to be several major reasons DeMaio has decided to bypass what looks to be a winnable mayor’s race in order to stay in what, on paper, should be a tougher congressional contest against a well-funded incumbent, and they all relate to mathematics. In fact, multiple numbers point to DeMaio having a better chance to attain victory in the congressional race than running citywide.

First, while the early congressional polls place him ahead of Rep. Peters, as we previously mentioned, the one public survey released for the prospective mayoral campaign showed him trailing; one point behind former state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher who has flipped his voter registration from Republican to Independent to Democrat in less than  Continue reading >

West Virginia Numbers; Ilinois Developments

For an open Senate race in a cycle where the majority is up for grabs, the West Virginia effort to replace the retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) has attracted little attention. This is largely due to the fact that Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) is the only major announced candidate from either party. Considering how political events have unfolded here to date, the Mountaineer State contest appears to be the best Republican conversion opportunity in the country.

The biggest Democratic name who could still become a Senate candidate is Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. She has yet to enter the campaign, but is reportedly at the top of national Democratic recruitment lists for the state.

Testing a hypothetical Capito-Tennant pairing, R.L. Repass & Partners, a Charleston-based survey research organization, went into the field (Aug. 15-22; 400 registered West Virginia voters) and found a potentially close political battle. According to the results, Capito would lead Tennant only 45-40 percent, but certain methodology points need addressing and explaining.

First, the eight-day polling period is much longer than normal and tends to weaken reliability. Most pollsters attempt to complete the questioning process within three days.

Second, the sample size of 400 is slightly low for a statewide campaign, understanding that West Virginia is a small state. This, too, decreases reliability.

Third, according to local analysts, 53 percent of the polling sample self-identifies as college graduates, yet only 17 percent of the actual residents fit into that category using the 2010 US Census figures as the benchmark source.

Similarly, 54 percent of the polling respondents reported an annual income of greater than $50,000, while only 26 percent of statewide residents fall into that category.

How the skewing affects the ballot test remains to be seen. In the past two cycles, Republicans have fared poorly with college-educated voters so, at least on face value, such a skew probably improves Democrat Tennant’s polling standing. Likewise, when examining West Virginia voting behavior since 2000, skewing with a higher income sample also probably helps the Democrat candidate.
 Continue reading >