Monthly Archives: November 2015

Democracy Corps: Four-State Senate Data

Nov. 12, 2015 — The Democracy Corps, a liberal political research group founded and run by James Carville and national Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, just released their new study on four pivotal Senate races. The organization, Women’s Voices Women Votes Action Fund is a co-sponsor of this particular survey. Though the analysis spin was pro-Democratic Party for the upcoming election, the actual numbers suggest something that’s not quite as conclusive.

The purpose of the four state poll — conducted during the Oct. 24-28 period of 400 likely voters in each domain — Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin — was to demonstrate the power of what they are terming the “RAE Coalition” (defined as the progressive “Rising American Electorate”). The demographic groups comprising this subset are unmarried women, people of color, and millennials (those born in the early 80s to the early 2000s). The premise is that this coalition now claims a majority of people in each of these states. The Democrats’ problem is that the aforementioned demographic segments have low voter participation rates.

Interestingly, the Democracy Corps poll, as it relates to ballot questions for each tested state, actually produced better Republican numbers than most other recent polls. This is particularly true in Ohio and Colorado.

The pollsters, Greenberg Rosner Quinlan Research, developed a two-way race in each state and, in two instances (Colorado and Florida), picking potential candidates who may, or may not, be on a general election statewide ballot.

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In Arkansas, Dems Concede Three of Four Races

Nov. 11, 2015 — Candidate filing closed in Arkansas Monday night, the second state to qualify their upcoming slate of political aspirants, and already Democrats have virtually conceded all of the state’s congressional seats for the 2016 election. Three Republican representatives: Rick Crawford (R-AR-1), Steve Womack (R-AR-3), and Bruce Westerman (R-AR-4), will run without Democratic opposition next fall. This, in a state where the Dems controlled three of the four congressional positions as late as 2010. Republicans captured all four districts only in 2012.

The one incumbent facing general election competition will be freshman Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock), in the 2nd District. Though this seat is marginally Republican today, it has elected many more Democrats than Republicans throughout its history. French likely will face former Little Rock School Board president Dianne Curry (D) in the general election.

Representatives Crawford, Womack, and Westerman face only Libertarian opposition, and all three are therefore guaranteed re-election. Rep. Hill has also drawn Republican primary competition, in the person of educator Brock Olree. Rep. Hill is a prohibitive favorite to win both re-nomination and re-election.

The lack of any Democratic congressional ticket tells us that the party establishment could not convince prospective candidates that former Secretary of State and Arkansas First Lady Hillary Clinton will be a major draw at the presidential nominee come next November. The lack of a strong undercard also says that the state party leaders, and possibly those at the national level, are conceding former President Bill Clinton’s home state without a fight. The trends in the past three elections have been so strongly Republican that it is unlikely such a swing will begin to sway back to the Democrats anytime soon.

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Pennsylvania’s Rep. Pitts to Retire;
A Rundown of Ala., Ark. Filings

Nov. 10, 2015 — On Friday, veteran Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Joe Pitts, first elected to the US House in 1996 after spending 24 consecutive years in the state legislature, announced that he will not seek re-election next year. Pitts’ retirement means that 27 seats are now open in the 2016 election cycle — 16 from Republican districts compared to 11 Democratic.

The congressman serves on the Energy & Commerce Committee, where he is fifth in seniority and chairs the Health Subcommittee. His 16th District is anchored in the cities of Reading and Lancaster, though the congressman hails from Kennett Square just north of Wilmington, Del. The seat is reliably Republican, though the Democrats could become competitive with the right candidate. Mitt Romney carried the district 52-46 percent in 2012, but then-Sen. Barack Obama slipped passed John McCain here four years earlier, 50-49 percent.

The name most mentioned as a potential successor is Republican state Sen. Lloyd Smucker. Lancaster County Commissioner Scott Martin (R) is also a prospective candidate, but reports suggest that he is more likely to seek Smucker’s open state Senate seat should the latter run for Congress.

Alabama, Arkansas Filings

Alabama — With early presidential nomination events occurring in March, some states are holding their 2016 primaries concurrently. Two of those, Alabama and Arkansas, feature the earliest filing periods in the country. Alabama closed Friday, while Arkansas ended Monday.

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Worsening News for Vitter in Louisiana; Webster’s Landing Zone

Nov. 9, 2015 — We’ve been spending a lot of time analyzing and reporting upon the Louisiana governor’s race, and with good reason. It isn’t often that we see a sitting US senator who attempts to run for his state’s gubernatorial office fail to win. Yet that very scenario may occur later this month when Sen. David Vitter (R) attempts to switch offices.

The news got even worse for the embattled candidate yesterday when Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who placed fourth in the jungle primary last week, publicly endorsed Democrat John Bel Edwards. Dardenne’s message was obviously personal. “The Republican brand has been damaged by the failed leadership of Bobby Jindal during this last term. David Vitter’s governorship will further damage that brand as I and others have pointed out during the campaign,” he said with Edwards standing next to him at the podium.

As we’ve repeatedly cited, the governor’s race has been trending badly for Vitter during the past two months and the chances of a Democratic upset now appear good. Therefore, with his Senate seat in the cycle next year, what will happen to his federal position should Vitter lose the governor’s race?

It is reasonable to believe that should a Vitter loss occur, the state’s 2016 Senate election will become a more viable Democratic target opportunity. Originally believed to be a safe seat for a Vitter re-election, a new campaign involving the embattled senator would obviously be a difficult one should he seek another term.

To complicate matters, at least two members of the state’s congressional delegation, representatives Charles Boustany (R-LA-3) and John Fleming (R-LA-4), have already expressed interest in running statewide next year. Both, among others, are already vying behind the scenes to replace Vitter by appointment should he actually be elected governor.

Since Vitter is already willing to relinquish the Senate seat in exchange for becoming governor, it is reasonable to assume that, should he be unsuccessful on Nov. 21, he will not seek re-election. Such would actually be the best Republican Party scenario, because the state and national political leaders could then start anew with a fresh candidate, presumably either Boustany, Fleming, or another elected official, who could run free of the negative baggage that Vitter obviously possesses.

FL-10; 11

We have reported on several occasions that representatives David Jolly (R-FL-13), Gwen Graham (D-FL-2), and Daniel Webster (R-FL-10), will be left without seats once the new Florida redistricting plan is formally adopted. The state Supreme Court will likely take final action on Nov. 10.

Jolly is already abandoning his House re-election effort, and instead is running for the state’s open Senate seat. Graham says she will make a decision about her own political future after the new lines are officially adopted. It is unlikely that she will run for the House, and she, too, could hop into the Senate contest, or sit out a cycle and challenge for a statewide position in 2018.

Rep. Webster attracted a great deal of attention in the past few weeks by running for House Speaker even though his 10th District seat is sure to go Democratic, this by his own admission. But now, Webster may be finding a political life preserver. Rep. Rich Nugent’s (R) announcement this week that he will not seek re-election in the 11th District, which the court generally left intact as a Republican seat, is now open for the 2016 election. The 11th borders Webster’s Orlando-anchored district before moving northwest stretching as far as the city of Ocala. It is conceivable that Webster would have a fighting chance to win here in a Republican primary. He does have a home within the confines of this CD, which gives him some background within the region.

Earlier this week Webster confirmed that he is at least considering hopping into the 11th, likely his best option from which to continue his congressional career. But, it is certain that he will attract primary opposition from sitting and former elected officials who either already or previously represent large chunks of the current district.

Odd-Year Election Recap;
Louisiana Governor’s Poll

Nov. 6, 2015 — Looking beyond the vote tallies in Tuesday night’s odd-year election we find that at least two voting patterns reappeared. First, we again see, as has been the case since the beginning of this century, that Republicans have a clear advantage in low-turnout elections while the Democrats do much better when participation factors are higher.

This same situation was evident in the pre-Reagan era of the 60s and 70s, but changed after the 1980 election. During the 80s and some of the 90s, it was Republicans who generally performed better when turnouts went higher.

In Kentucky, for example, Republican Matt Bevin scored a surprising 53-44 percent victory and, even though voter turnout increased by more than 150,000 people when compared to the last gubernatorial contest of four years ago, the participation rate was only 30.4 percent. Tuesday, just under 975,000 voters cast ballots in the race for governor. By contrast, the 2012 Kentucky presidential vote reached near the 1.8 million range, a turnout percentage closer to 60 percent of the registered voter universe for that particular election.

We also saw Republicans perform well in Virginia, where they held their majorities in both the state Senate and House of Delegates, losing no seats. The Mississippi races went heavily Republican with Gov. Phil Bryant (R) scoring a 67 percent re-election victory, the GOP taking most of the statewide races, and gaining a net one seat on the entire state legislative scorecard, within an aggregate of 174 (52 Senate seats; 122 House districts) electoral contests.

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