Monthly Archives: October 2015

Already Nasty in Louisiana

Oct. 30, 2015 — Just two days after the Louisiana gubernatorial jungle primary, run-off participants Sen. David Vitter (R) and state Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) and their allied Super PACs, are wasting no time launching hard-hitting attack ads in anticipation of the Nov. 21 general election.


It was clear the secondary campaign period was going to yield a nasty political affair, and the first ads may have already exceeded expectations. Edwards, knowing that Vitter would have to hit him hard because the latter has such poor approval ratings, comes out of the gate with an offensive defense of his record (above), predicting that Vitter will lie about him while simultaneously harpooning the senator throughout script.


But, the Super PAC ads go for the jugular. Gumbo PAC, a local trial lawyer financed anti-Vitter committee, features a well-conceived ad (above) comprised of clips from losing Republican gubernatorial candidates, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, with a two-fold purpose.

First, it shows Republican candidates viciously attacking a top GOP office holder in order to cement Vitter’s negative image, and second, reminding Angelle and Dardenne of their strong public anti-Vitter sentiments makes it more difficult for both to now endorse their Republican colleague, something that the sitting senator needs to better unite his party.


The Republican Governors Association immediately took to the airwaves to attack Edwards with the predicted strategic point of tying the Democratic gubernatorial nominee to an unpopular President Obama (above). They extend the political assault to include Edwards’ vote in the legislature to increase his own pay, what they say is cutting education funding, and then adding a new issue, that of the Democrat supporting “welfare for illegal aliens.”

The pre-election polling suggested that Edwards held what could be a substantial advantage over Sen. Vitter in the gubernatorial general election. But, those polls were taken before Edwards became an attack target. Shortly, we shall see what kind of an effect the ad messages are having upon the two-man race.

This governor’s contest could also change the 2016 US Senate campaigns, as we have previously discussed. Vitter’s seat is in-cycle next year and, should he become governor, the new chief executive will appoint his own successor. Such an individual will then be able to seek election to a full term as an appointed incumbent, an advantage that should negate most Republican opposition.

Should Vitter lose, which is now a distinct possibility, the senator will be faced with a tough decision whether to seek re-election. Seeing him fumble the governor’s race, the Democrats will come back with a strong campaign, thus possibly putting the seat in play. For Republicans to retain Senate control, the last thing they need is making what should be a safe seat competitive in a hotly contested national election cycle.

Hillary Storms Back; Kentucky Close

Oct. 29, 2015 — The first Democratic debate is proving to be an early turning point for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Prior to that event, Clinton was reeling and facing looming challenges ahead. Her strong performance may have at least partially contributed to Vice President Joe Biden’s decision to not enter the race. Her performance before the Benghazi Committee also helped her, and its momentum is a contributing factor to now launching her to a commanding lead in the latest Iowa polls.

Loras College, which released their Republican Iowa results earlier in the week, now reports a huge Clinton advantage over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. According to this data (Oct. 19-22; 500 likely Iowa Democratic Caucus attenders) the former First Lady is now taking a massive 62-24 percent lead over Sanders among those questioned in the Iowa poll. This is quite a reversal of fortunes considering that the Vermont self-proclaimed socialist had been leading in Iowa polling before the debate.

Monmouth University, in the field just after Loras (Oct. 22-25; 400 likely Iowa Democratic Caucus attenders), confirms the latter’s result, finding even a slightly better 65-24 percent split in Clinton’s favor.

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Iowa: Trump Falling

Oct. 28, 2015 — Several new Iowa Republican polls — the most stark examples coming from a pair of surveys released yesterday — project Donald Trump now falling behind in preparation for the Hawkeye State’s first-in-the-nation precinct caucus meetings scheduled for Feb. 1.

According to Monmouth University (Oct. 22-25; 400 likely Iowa GOP Caucus attenders, each of whom has voted in at least one of the last two primary elections), Dr. Ben Carson has opened a significant lead over Trump, topping him 32-18 percent in their October study. Looking back at their August poll, the two were tied at 23 percent. The swing represents a net 14-point gain for the retired neurosurgeon and first-time political candidate.

But, Monmouth is not the only pollster to detect a major switch among Iowa Republican poll respondents. Loras College (Oct. 19-22; 500 likely Iowa GOP Caucus attenders), polling just days before Monmouth, arrived at a similar conclusion. They find Carson ahead of Trump by an almost identical 31-19 percent.

The CBS News/YouGov survey (Oct. 15-22; 529 likely Iowa GOP Caucus attenders), again in the field during the same basic period, arrives at a much different result, however. This data finds Carson and Trump tied at 27 percent, but still points to the fact that latter is losing steam while the former is gaining within the Iowa Republican cell samples.

Interestingly, the three polls also detect similar second-tier findings. All show significant increases in support for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Monmouth finds Rubio and Cruz tied for third with 10 percent apiece. Loras also has Rubio at 10 percent, but Cruz following with six percent. CBS/YouGov predicts Cruz doing better than Rubio, leading him 12-9 percent. All three studies find Jeb Bush in a like position, still lagging in single-digits as he has been beginning in early summer, recording eight percent (Monmouth), seven percent (Loras), and six percent (CBS/YouGov).

The Iowa swing toward Carson again reveals the early volatility in the Republican race. From a national perspective, current events have not yielded a drastic change in the campaign but this shows us that what may be happening on the ground in small states can be different than what we see in the national media.

These results again reinforce that the there is no candidate, including Trump and Carson, anywhere close to dominating the field to the point where he or she can attract majority delegate support. Therefore, the race culminating in a brokered convention remains a distinct possibility.

Additionally, it is important to remember that in the Iowa system, individuals attend evening precinct meetings to cast their ballots in the middle of a cold winter; it is difficult to poll and the actual results could be much different than pre-election polling might indicate.

Vitter Barely Advances

Oct. 27, 2015 — Sen. David Vitter (R) who at one time appeared to be the early favorite to easily win the open Louisiana governor’s race, managed to advance to the general election Saturday night, but just barely.

As the polls had predicted, Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards took first place with 40 percent of the statewide vote, compared to only 23 percent for Vitter. Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle (R), showing strength in Cajun Country, placed a close third with 19 percent preference. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R) secured 15 percent and fourth position. Five minor candidates combined for three percent.

Edwards, a Baton Rouge state legislator, placed first in 45 of the state’s 64 parishes, Louisiana’s designation for counties. He scored an outright majority in seven parishes, including Orleans, which hosts the major city of New Orleans. Here, the lone major Democratic candidate garnered 72 percent of the overall vote. Edwards took between 40 and 49 percent, inclusive, in 20 parishes. He finished first with a plurality of 39 percent or less in 18 parishes.

By contrast, Vitter placed first in only 10 parishes, several from the 1st Congressional District where he used to represent, four in the central part of the state, and another in Bossier Parish, home to Bossier City just across the Red River from Shreveport.

Angelle proved strong in the southwestern Louisiana, as well as taking small Caldwell and West Carroll parishes in the northeast.

Vitter was the subject of a slew of negative attacks, political assaults that obviously took their toll when seeing his poor performance. A sitting US senator who has twice won statewide campaigns outright should have commanded better than 23 percent of the overall vote, understanding that more than three-quarters of those who cast a ballot chose another candidate.

It became apparent that Edwards would finish first, largely because he was the consensus Democrat against a fractured field of three Republicans. The polling correctly reflected that if all of the candidates ganged up on Vitter and emphasized his negatives – Washington politician, previous sex scandal, etc. – that it would work to a great degree. In the general election campaign, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 21, it will be Vitter’s turn to strike back against a lone opponent.

The voters here can expect a very negative and nasty general election campaign. For Vitter to win, he will have to make Edwards such an unacceptable figure that voters will choose the Republican senator because he is more conservative, not because they like, or hold a positive image of him.

Despite the fact that Democrats have a 46-28 percent partisan registration edge among the state’s almost 2.9 million voters, the GOP has been dominant here in many recent campaigns and Vitter will need to draw upon this type of support if he is to carry the day in the next vote.

Largely, the rest of Saturday’s voting held true for Republicans. Though the consensus Democrat barely placed first in the lieutenant governor’s race, again against several GOP candidates, the Republicans re-elected outright the secretary of state, treasurer, and agriculture and insurance commissioners. In the attorney general’s campaign, former US Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA-3), finished a close second to incumbent Buddy Caldwell (R), and has a good chance of winning the position in the double-Republican general election.

Voter participation was 38.5 percent of the qualified registrants, or slightly over 1.1 million individuals. This is actually a bit higher than the 1.022 million who voted in 2011, when the Louisiana electorate re-elected Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) outright. The turnout was 1.264 million when Vitter won his second Senate term in the regular 2010 election.

The pre-primary polls suggesting that Edwards is ahead of Vitter in the general could well prove true. Democrats are clearly in position to score an upset, but despite being less than a month in duration, this race has a very long way to go.

The Numbers Behind Dr. Ben Carson’s Upward Move in the Polls

Oct. 26, 2015 — Two new state polls released at the end of last week find Dr. Ben Carson breaking Donald Trump’s stranglehold on first place. The Quinnipiac University Iowa survey (Oct. 14-20; 574 likely Iowa Republican Caucus attenders) and the Norbert College Strategic Institute results for Wisconsin (Oct. 14-17; 600 Wisconsin state residents) reveal Carson snatching first place, though the latter poll has a questionable methodology.

Iowa, holding 30 proportional Republican delegates, is the first state to host a nominating event and will do so on the first day of next February.

According to the new Q-Poll, Carson has opened up a 28-20 percent advantage over Trump, with Sen. Marco Rubio jumping to third place (13 percent), and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz landing in fourth with 10 percent preference. Sen. Rand Paul follows at six percent, with Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina each attracting five percent support. And in a disappointing performance for a Midwestern regional candidate — a prototype that normally fares well in Iowa — Ohio Gov. John Kasich falls to just a three percent standing.

Dr. Carson has been inching closer to Trump for the past few weeks, so it’s not altogether surprising to see him beginning to move past the flamboyant international businessman. Now, Dr. Carson faces a staying power test. Thus, the upcoming Oct. 28 Republican debate may be this first-time candidate’s most important early campaign appearance.

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