Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Ohio Senate Race:
A Strange Beginning

Oct. 16, 2015 — So far, the Ohio Senate campaign has begun as the new election cycle’s most peculiar contest. Sen. Rob Portman (R), seeking a second term, is leading in every aspect of the campaign but the polls. According to the last four surveys, former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) has a small edge over the Ohio senator, who was previously the Director of the US Office of Management and Budget, and a Cincinnati congressman.

Just last week the Harstad Strategic Group, polling for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, released early September data giving Strickland a 46-43 percent lead over Sen. Portman. Interestingly, Quinnipiac University, polling at the end of September and into early October, found exactly the same split: again Strickland topping Portman, 46-43 percent.

But, that’s not all. In Quinnipiac’s August version, they posted Strickland to a 44-41 percent advantage following their late June study that gave the former governor an even larger 46-40 percent margin. It was commonly viewed at the time that this first data finding Strickland with the edge was potentially an anomaly, but seeing other findings that supported the original result requires further examination before such a conclusion could be drawn. The last public poll to show Portman ahead came in early June from Public Policy Polling. In that survey the senator held a 43-41 percent lead.

The ballot test tilting toward Strickland makes little sense when we see that the same polls reported the incumbent’s personal favorability and job approval scores as being good. While the June Q-Poll found Strickland up six points, Portman scored a job approval of 49:28 percent and a personal rating of 43:21 percent.

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Louisiana’s Vitter in Trouble

Oct. 16, 2015 — The latest Louisiana gubernatorial campaign survey, from KPLC Television/ Raycom Media and released Wednesday, projects Sen. David Vitter (R) to be in real trouble in his quest to become the state’s chief executive, which is reflected in the above negative ad (see the Vitter campaign response below).

The 2015 governor’s race – voters will go to the polls to decide the jungle primary on Oct. 24, with the top two advancing to a Nov. 21 general election – has been extensively polled. Sen. Vitter, despite winning two previous statewide elections and both without run-offs, has never polled particularly well but excelled when the actual votes were counted. He wasn’t projected to win the 1999 special congressional election, nor did surveys predict his outright win in the 2004 Senate race. But, these latest numbers appear to reveal tangible problems for the incumbent Senator in attempting to transfer to state office.

The KPLC/Raycom survey (Oct. 7-13; 602 registered Louisiana voters, 400 likely gubernatorial primary voters) finds Vitter trailing state Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) in jungle primary ballot tests. This is not particularly unusual because four other September statewide primary election studies from three different pollsters also find the senator trailing his chief Democratic opponent.

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Dems Debate While Biden Postpones

Oct. 15, 2015 — While the announced Democratic candidates faced each other in their first official forum at the Wynn Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas Tuesday night, Vice President Joe Biden continued to indicate that he won’t commit to making a decision about whether to enter the presidential contest until at least month’s end.

The continual postponing of the eventual candidacy decision suggests that Biden won’t enter the race. While he does have people around the country who would quickly come to his aid should he begin to construct a campaign, he is simply running out of time to qualify for the Democratic primary ballot separately in all 50 states if he were to begin from scratch in November. Though it would not be impossible for him to qualify, his task becomes immeasurably more difficult.

Waiting until next month to get in the race, when the first vote would be just three months away in Iowa followed by a string of primary and caucus participants casting ballots in non-stop fashion in 56 additional entities through mid-June, would add tremendous pressure to a Biden for President effort. The timing would force the vice president to immediately overcome major campaign logistical obstacles, such as the aforementioned ballot qualification process, hiring staff, developing a fundraising operation, crafting a campaign theme and message, etc. Additionally, he would have to spend virtually all available energy and staff time attempting to take down former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT), both of whom are well entrenched in Democratic primary polling.

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Hillary’s Rebounding Numbers

Oct. 14, 2015 — Several new polls were released at the beginning of this week displaying national and individual state Democratic primary results. All find former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton improving her position within the party nomination framework. Conversely, the cumulative data’s biggest surprise is Vice President Joe Biden’s relatively poor standing.

Biden’s deficit may be large enough to possibly preclude his entrance into the race. With him trailing even Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) in more places than not, according to this recent wave of publicly released polling, it seems the late-starting Biden would have a difficult time eclipsing Clinton if he were to officially launch his candidacy.

The new national CBS/New York Times poll (Oct. 4-8; 1,251 adults; 1,038 registered voters, 343 Democratic primary voters) finds Clinton leading Sen. Sanders and the vice president 46-27-16 percent, respectively. Clinton still falling below the 50 percent mark notwithstanding, Sanders dropping under 30 percent and Biden failing to even reach 20 percent is a clear indication of her relative strength.

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Florida Redistricting Lines
Almost Complete

Oct. 13, 2015 — The Republican troubles in the US House look to be getting worse as the long-awaited Florida redistricting process is at last taking shape. The state Supreme Court struck down portions of the map back in early July and, with the state legislature not passing new legislation in their abbreviated special session, the high court returned the plan to Circuit Judge Terry Lewis to serve as the redistricting special master. The original lawsuit was filed in Lewis’ court.

On Friday, Judge Lewis released his map, choosing one of the Democratic plaintiffs’ submissions, saying this plan best fulfills the Supreme Court’s sated objectives. The new map now goes to the Supreme Court for final approval.

The partisan numbers figure to favor Democrats by one to as many as four seats. Most likely, assuming no additional retirements among incumbents, the Democrats will probably gain one or two seats. There is a scenario, however, where Republicans could still break even. The Florida delegation splits 17R-10D under the current map.

The members likely to lose under the new configuration are representatives Gwen Graham (D-FL-2) and Dan Webster (R-FL-10) the latter of whom, ironically, is currently a candidate for House Speaker. Rep. David Jolly’s 13th District will also go Democratic, likely to former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) who said he would run if his St. Petersburg home was drawn into the district.

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