Monthly Archives: October 2016

Early Voting: Definitive?

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 31, 2016 — Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia have some form of what is commonly called “no excuse” early voting, and some of those release the number and type of ballots being returned well before Election Day. Can this provide us an insight into how the election is already unfolding?

There are many analytical pieces now in the public domain featuring many different conclusions. It doesn’t appear likely, however, that the early voting numbers are really telling us much. It appears that no matter what your electoral preference, you can find an early voting analysis that supports your individual political outlook.

Therefore, with so many more voters projected to take advantage of the early voting process, it’s difficult to make comparisons between this election and those from the past. It is likely that either a majority of 2016 voters, or close to one, will cast their ballots prior to the actual Nov. 8 Election Day, up from approximately 40 percent in the last presidential election.

Forty states have some type of no-excuse early voting procedure, including every individual entity west of the Mississippi River. Six states: Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, South Carolina, and Virginia, technically allow early voting, but one must indicate a coming absence from the home area during the Election Day period in order to cast an early ballot.

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Nevada: Who Knows?

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 28, 2014 — Nevada has proven itself as one of the most critical swing states in the 2016 election. When the presidential race was closer, carrying the 6-electoral vote Silver State was a staple towards constructing a potential Donald Trump winning coalition.

Being the only Democratic-held Senate seat where competition exists, Nevada also plays a preeminent role in determining which party will control the Senate in the next Congress. In the race to succeed retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D), we are now seeing recent polling numbers bouncing clear across the political spectrum.

For most of the year, the open Senate campaign has been relatively stable. Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) continually held a small lead over former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D), usually ranging in the 2-4 point sphere. From the period beginning July 7 and stretching to Oct. 4, 12 public Nevada Senate surveys were released. Rep. Heck led in 11 of them (the one outlier was a tie), and his average advantage was 3.2 percentage points.

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North Carolina & New Hampshire – Tables Turning

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 27, 2016 — It is very possible that the US Senate majority, if not the presidential race, will be decided when the hard fought races in New Hampshire and North Carolina conclude.

In the past two weeks, New Hampshire polling trends have been suggesting that the top of the ticket is becoming a lock for Hillary Clinton, which should be very important for down ballot Democrats. During the past 10 years the Granite State electorate has consistently voted top-to-bottom sweeps for one party or the other, so a big Clinton New Hampshire victory is a positive sign for all other Democratic candidates here. But, a new poll shows a potential breaking of this paradigm.

The latest University of Massachusetts/YouGov poll, conducted during the Oct. 17-21 period and interviewing 848 individuals that narrowed to 772 likely voters, found Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) assuming a three point, 46-43 percent, re-election advantage over Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan that grew to 48-44 percent when “leaners” were added to the calculation.

Conversely, in the equally close and important US Senate race to the south, the latest Tar Heel State polls had been pointing to small but consistent leads for Republican incumbent Richard Burr. The release of a North Carolina university poll from the New York Times/Siena College (Oct. 20-23; 792 likely North Carolina voters), however, posts challenger Deborah Ross (D) ahead of Sen. Burr (R) by a scant one-point margin, 47-46 percent.

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Pressure Point Races

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 26, 2016 — It is widely believed that Republicans will keep the House majority in the Nov. 8 election, though Democrats will gain seats. Determining the party division change level is a point of conjecture, however.

Most believe Democrats will gain between 12-15 seats. More optimistic party strategists think they could top 20 districts. Taking the majority would require a net of more than 30 seats, because it also appears a small number of seats are poised to convert to the Republicans.

The Donald Trump presidential scenario continues to unfold, and while some polls actually show him creeping closer on the national popular vote track (Tied – IBD/TIPP, Oct. 18-23, 815 likely US voters; Trump +2 – Rasmussen Reports, Oct. 19-23, 1,500 likely US voters), the all-important state numbers continue to project Hillary Clinton leading in the critical states of Florida and Nevada, while the North Carolina numbers bounce about. Understanding that Trump needs all of the aforementioned states – not to mention each of the 23 normally Republican states, and he has trouble at least in Utah and Arizona – his victory prospects continue to dim daily.

The question looming over the down-ballot races is whether Republican turnout will be demoralized to the point of allowing Democrats to form a wave even though they are following an unpopular Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket.

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More Senate Movement

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 25, 2015 — Entering the final two weeks of campaigning, the Senate majority is still in limbo even though Hillary Clinton is breaking away in the presidential campaign.

Republicans hope to hold the Senate largely by relying on taking a majority of independent voters and banking on a significant group of ticket-splitters. Though partisanship has been at all-time high levels among self-identified voters of both parties, the Republicans believe this year is different because Clinton, despite building what appears to be an unstoppable majority in the presidential campaign, may have very short coattails.

The fact that her overall favorability numbers are still upside-down creates the highly unusual situation of people voting for someone who they ostensibly don’t like. Therefore, it is unlikely a Democratic wave election will occur around someone whose negatives exceed her positives. Thus, the argument to balance the presidential outcome by voting Republican for the Senate and House may be a salient one.

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