Monthly Archives: October 2017

Follow the Money

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 24, 2017 — The 3rd Quarter Federal Election Commission US House disclosure reports are available, and they provide valuable clues as to which campaigns could become first-tier efforts next year. The Daily Kos Elections Page once again completed their quarterly analysis, which became the major source for this column.

federal-elections-commission-logoThirty-five incumbents and two challengers have already raised more than $1 million for the current election cycle. Another seven (six incumbents; one challenger) have crossed the $900,000 mark in current cycle receipts.

Most of the million-dollar incumbents are in projected competitive primary or general election campaigns.

Arizona two-term incumbent Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) is again raising and spending huge amounts in the early going. She has gathered $2.8 million, a great deal of which comes through expensive direct mail, hence her cash-on-hand total is $1.453 million. Her potential leading Democratic opponent, former 1st District Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) who has re-located to Tucson in order to challenge McSally, is showing only $269,000 on hand in comparison, but that is the largest amount among the five Democrats filing disclosure reports in this district.

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Pence In, Tiberi Out


Greg Pence, brother of VP Mike Pence, announces he is running for Indiana’s open 6th District.


By Jim Ellis

Oct. 23, 2017 — Greg Pence, brother of Vice President Mike Pence, is now a congressional candidate in Indiana. Greg Pence made public late last week his intention to run for the open 6th District, the seat his brother held for 12 years before being elected governor (see video above). He is attempting to replace Rep. Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie), who is running for Senate. Before he entered the congressional race, Greg Pence was serving as Messer’s finance chairman for the Senate campaign.

The 6th District is safely Republican, voting 68-27 percent for the Trump-Pence ticket, after supporting Mitt Romney with a 60-37 percent split. Back in 2008 when then-Sen. Barack Obama (D) won Indiana in the year that he was first elected president, Sen. John McCain still carried the 6th with a substantial 55-44 percent spread.

Under this backdrop, the vice president’s brother begins his congressional quest in a campaign where he will very likely only need to win the Republican nomination to secure his seat in the US House. And, with the VP’s help, particularly with his national finance network, it will be very difficult for any Republican candidate to keep Greg Pence from winning the primary.

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Fox Poll: Moore Tied – Dubious

By Jim Ellis

Left: Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) Right: Ex-US Attorney Doug Jones (D)

Left: Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) Right: Ex-US Attorney Doug Jones (D)

Oct. 20, 2017 — A new Fox Poll (Oct. 14-16; 801 registered Alabama voters) just released earlier this week finds former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) and ex-US Attorney Doug Jones (D) tied at 42 percent in the special Alabama Senate race to be decided Dec. 12, but such a result begs further analysis.

Though the sample size appears sound from a numerical perspective, its composition causes one to doubt the final result. The actual segment cell sizes are not revealed in the analysis section, but it appears they are not wholly reflective of the Alabama electorate. Those with the greatest error factors: non-whites (+/-7 percent), liberals (+/-7 percent), moderates (+/-7 percent), and independents (+/-8.5 percent) all are strong cells for Jones. The error factors for other segments: whites (+/-4 percent), conservatives (+/-4.5 percent), and gun owners (+/-4.5 percent) are all much lower than the other tested subgroups and each of those favor Judge Moore.

While the overall error rating within the entire sample of registered voters is only listed at +/-3.5 percent, all 18 of the subgroups have corresponding rates that are much higher. This is not particularly unusual since the subgroups, by definition, are smaller than the overall sample, but the considerably larger error factor among Jones’ best groups provides us clues that the poll is skewed in the Democratic nominee’s favor.

Earlier, the Cygnal polling firm released its statewide poll (Oct. 2-5; 497 likely Alabama special election voters) finding Moore leading 49-41 percent, a survey we analyzed last week, and the ex-Judge does particularly well among those identified as most likely to vote. By contrast, the Fox sample is only of registered voters and did not screen for voting propensity. Not isolating voting likelihood is another polling factor that favors Jones’ standing.

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Virginia Starting to Sway

https://youtu.be/2SHf9iQh8mA

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 19, 2017 — It has been presumed for the past week that Republican Ed Gillespie is gaining momentum in his quest to become governor of Virginia. The emphasis on attacking Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) with a series of ads (see video above) casting him as being weak on crime and illegal immigration was thought to be paying political dividends. Now we have some independent data verifying that the race is significantly tightening.

Three new polls came into the public domain yesterday, with one actually showing Gillespie forging into a slight lead, another finding him closing the gap, and a third from an entity with a history of inaccurate polling results that makes us want to discard their latest data.

New Jersey’s Monmouth University (Oct. 12-16; 408 likely Virginia voters) now finds Gillespie taking a one-point lead over Northam, 48-47 percent. The analysis segments the state into geographic divisions and compares their previous poll to the current data. Though this is a small sample poll – likely too small for a state the size of Virginia – the geographic delineations appear believable.

As one knew would be inevitable, Monmouth projects that Democratic Northern Virginia is becoming stronger for Northam, while Gillespie is now racking up big margins in the western part of the state. According to the Monmouth analysis, the central part of the state continues to be a swing area. This, too, provides good news for Gillespie as he now leads there 47-44 percent after trailing in the September Monmouth poll, 49-48 percent.

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A Reversal in Tennessee?

By Jim Ellis

Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D)

Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D)

Oct. 18, 2017 — Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) obviously is under intense pressure from Democrats to enter the newly open Senate race. When Sen. Bob Corker (R) announced his retirement last week, Bredesen quickly announced he would not become a candidate for the newly open seat. US Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville), Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, and wealthy Democratic donor and businessman Bill Freeman all quickly followed suit. Now, however, the former two-term governor is not so quick to rule out a succeeding candidacy.

According to the Associated Press, Bredesen admits to be receiving calls encouraging him to run. “In the days ahead, I’m going to do some research, talk with people and carefully think this through,” the former governor stated in an interview with AP. “I’ll make a decision quickly,” he was quoted as saying.

The Democrats are in a major bind regarding the 2018 Senate races because they have so few Republican targets to attack. Even though they only need a net swing of three seats to change the balance of power in the legislative body, they simply don’t have that many vulnerable Republican incumbents to oppose. At this time, it appears only Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) are in seriously competitive re-election battles. Therefore, the party is forced to contend for an open seat in solidly Republican Tennessee even if their victory chances are poor.

Bredesen is the last Democrat elected as Tennessee’s governor. He won both in 2002 (50.6 percent over then-Rep. Van Hilleary, R) and 2006 (68.6 percent against then-state Sen. Jim Bryson, R), after serving eight years as mayor of Nashville. So far, the only announced credible Democratic candidate is attorney and Iraq War veteran James Mackler.

Though he would be the strongest candidate the Democrats could field, Bredesen would begin the 2018 cycle as a decided underdog despite his previous winning record.

There is likely additional movement coming on the Republican side this week, too. Former US Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Crockett County) is traveling the state on a “listening tour”, but is expected to enter the race quickly, possibly even today. Fincher served three terms in the House but did not seek re-election last year because of a sibling’s illness that affected his family’s substantial agriculture enterprise.

Should Fincher become a candidate, he will face Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) and Andy Ogles, the former Tennessee director of Americans for Prosperity. The latter man had announced a primary challenge to Corker but remains in the race even after the senator indicated that he won’t seek a third term.

Though Fincher is no longer in the House, his campaign account maintains over $2.4 million, meaning he will have the resources to launch his Senate campaign. On the other hand, Rep. Blackburn raised $1.24 for the campaign to-date and has an impressive $3.2 million in her federal account.