Monthly Archives: December 2014

House Reruns Passed Over

With the AZ-2 race at last drawing to a close in the Tucson area (Martha McSally-R vs. Rep. Ron Barber-D), the political lineup for the 114th Congress is virtually finalized. Though McSally’s 161-vote lead in the original tally is obviously close, it is likely to hold since Arizona election law has no provision to challenge votes. Therefore, we can now delve more deeply into the 2014 electoral patterns.

One area worthy of examining is how former members attempting to return to the House fared. Often times, incumbents run for a different office, are defeated, or retire, and at a later date decide to launch a political comeback. In the 2014 cycle, a dozen former members ran campaigns to obtain their former positions. Looking at how this group fared could be an indicator as to what we might expect in 2016. In virtually every election cycle, there are individuals in this category.

Of the 12 ex-House members attempting to return, only two, Bob Dold (R-IL-10) and Frank Guinta (R-NH-1) were successful. The other 10, all running as Republicans with the exception of former representatives Joe Baca (D-CA-31) and Hansen Clarke (D-MI-14), were defeated. One of the unsuccessful former members, ex-Rep. Gene Taylor (MS-4), ran as a Republican in 2014, but served in the House for 11 terms as a Democrat. Baca, Clarke and Taylor all fell in their respective primaries, as did GOP former representatives Clyde Holloway (LA-5) and Todd Tiahrt (KS-4). The others: ex-representatives Doug Ose (CA-7), Charles Djou (HI-1), Bobby Schilling (IL-17) Continue reading >

Even More Presidential Candidates Emerge

Almost everyday now, a new individual is mentioned as someone considering a potential run for president in 2016. The latest to be attracting some attention are two big state Republican governors both named Rick. Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Michigan state chief executive Rick Snyder are reportedly floating national trial balloons, testing whether they might be viable GOP presidential candidates next year.

Though both are clearly considered long shot candidates at best, they do have several key obvious positives. First, they are governors, which has historically been the best office from which to successfully run for the White House. Second, if either were to capture the nomination, their home states should give them a key boost on the general election map, particularly in Gov. Scott’s case because a Republican realistically cannot win a presidential election without carrying Florida. Third, both have a fundraising base that could quickly reach national proportions.

But, both Scott and Snyder also possess clear negatives. Though they won re-election to a second term last month in their respective competitive states, neither did so impressively. Florida being the quintessential swing domain always yields a close race, but Scott’s 48-47 percent victory margin, virtually identical to his 49-48 percent win four years ago over then-Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink (D), should have been stronger against an opponent Continue reading >

Pessimism Abounds Among Electorate

A new USA Today/Pew Research poll (Dec. 3-7, 1,507 adults; 408 Republicans, 445 Democrats, 574 Independents) tested a representative American sampling group about their attitudes and impressions toward national political institutions, now that we have moved into a post-election period.

Back in 2009, when asked whether the country was more politically divided than in the past respondents answered that it was, but only by a 46-45 percent margin. The latest data finds that 81 percent believe America is more ideologically divided, as compared to just 15 percent who say it is not. And, 77 percent say they believe the nation will become either even more divided or stay at this same apparently unbridgeable level. Additionally, 71 percent say that such a situation hurts the country “a lot”, with an additional 16 percent believing that seeing such a starkly divided ideological nation is “somewhat” harmful.

The pollsters then asked respondents to name the most important problem facing the country. Of those who answered, 76 percent (71 percent of Democrats, 78 percent among Republicans, and 80 percent from the Independent sector), said they believe President Obama and Republican congressional leaders will make little or no progress in solving the issue they identified, regardless of the topic.

In terms of job approval, 42 percent gave President Obama a positive rating as compared to just 22 percent who have a similar impression of Congress. This marks Continue reading >

New North Carolina Numbers … Already

The calendar is obviously not stopping Public Policy Polling from examining the impending 2016 campaign. In the company’s home state of North Carolina, an electorate they survey monthly, both Sen. Richard Burr (R) and Gov. Pat McCrory (R) are scheduled to stand for re-election.

In polling the state, PPP looked at defeated Sen. Kay Hagan as the Democrats’ most prominent 2016 candidate, at least for the Senate seat. The outgoing senator has not yet commented about what her future political plans may include, but her presence on a hypothetical ballot is a good indicator against which to measure Burr’s political strength.

For governor, the top Democrat appears to be four-term Attorney General Roy Cooper. Previously mentioned as a possible candidate for other statewide positions, Cooper has stayed put for what will be 16 years, racking up strong re-election percentages while doing so. At the present time he appears to be preparing for a gubernatorial run.

PPP’s Dec. 4-7 survey (823 registered North Carolina voters) finds Sen. Burr leading Hagan 46-43 percent. He scores identical 44-38 percent marks when paired with state Treasurer Janet Cowell (D) and current US Transportation Secretary and former Charlotte mayor, Anthony Foxx (D). Neither of the latter individuals has given any indication that they are considering launching a senatorial campaign challenge, however.
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Inconsistent Turnout/Voting Patterns

As more and more election data makes its way into the public domain, the less sense some key voting patterns seem to be making.

Last week we reported on the turnout patterns for all 50 states and made the observation that voter participation dropped in 35 states when comparing the 2014 mid-term election to the 2010 mid-term. At the time, 2010 was considered to have yielded a low voter model, even in a mid-term election context.

The main conclusion being drawn from the aggregate data is that we may be returning to a similar electoral pattern that we saw in the pre-Reagan era, where Republicans did well in low turnout elections and Democrats excelled when voter participation was higher. This pattern has clearly taken hold since 2006. But, we find more to the 2014 turnout model when looking beyond a cursory overview.

Senate

As we know, the Senate races dominated the political landscape in this past election and saw Republicans gain nine seats to create a new 54R-46D majority (counting the two Independents who caucus with the Democrats). One would figure that, when overlaying the aforementioned observation, the GOP victories came because turnout dropped lower than even four years ago. In fact, the exact opposite is true.
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