Monthly Archives: September 2018

The Spending Clues

By Jim Ellis

nrcc-dcccSept. 28, 2018 — The old saying, “put your money where your mouth is,” certainly applies to campaign politics, and we have new evidence of that. Currently, there is much conjecture and banter about which candidates are going to win various House races, including media prognosticators making predictions about how the Nov. 6 election will unfold, but a better clue as to what the party leaders actually believe can be found in their spending reports.

Looking at the most recent independent expenditures from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) tells us which races the party leadership believes are their top current priorities. For a full report on all recent expenditures, check the Daily Kos Elections blog, Daily-Kos-Elections-Live-Digest-9-26.

Though the latest expenditure reports tell us which are the hot, undecided races, they don’t provide the entire picture. Media market size and previous expenditure amounts also must be considered, particularly the former. For example, a $378,000 DCCC media buy in the 2nd District of Kansas is major, whereas spending $375,000 in Nevada’s 3rd District wholly contained in the expensive Las Vegas market isn’t nearly as large even though the dollar amounts are equivalent.

That being the said, the districts where the DCCC is spending more than $500,000 in current expenditures are:
• VA-10: Against Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-McLean) – $567,000
• MN-1: Open seat defense district – $539,000
• WA-8: Open seat conversion opportunity – $518,000
• NV-4: Open seat defense district – $508,000
• MN-8: Open seat defense district – $500,000

The NRCC is spending similar amounts but not as much in:
• WA-8: $484,000
• FL-26: Protecting Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Miami) – $435,000
• VA-10: $422,000

Obviously, the VA-10 and WA-8 races are very hot because both districts are at the top of each party’s expenditure lists.
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The Healthcare Attacks

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 27, 2018 — Now that the economy is rolling, surveys are beginning to show that jobs and taxes are lesser campaign issues.

Some state and district polls indicate that the economy is dropping from the most important issue commonly cited all the way down to number three. Depending on the district or state location, immigration moves into the second slot, while healthcare now becomes the top concern. Most research consistently finds these three issues, in some order, as the most important set of topics that could move voters in an election, however.

Therefore, it is not surprising to see the two major party congressional arms attacking their opponents about healthcare, but from very different perspectives. The method of attack is becoming prevalent in virtually all of the top campaigns.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) ad attacking Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) in a suburban Chicago race

Democrats, usually using the DCCC as their message delivery entity, though the House Majority PAC, which is the Democrats’ main outside organization commonly involved in congressional races, is also a major part of the attack portfolio, hits Republican incumbents for voting to end coverage for pre-existing conditions.

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TX-31: Carter vs. Hegar

TX-31 -- The 31st Congressional District in Texas

TX-31 — The 31st Congressional District in Texas


By Jim Ellis

Sept. 26, 2018
–For the first time since his original election to the House back in 2002, Texas Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock) has drawn a top-tier Democratic challenger.

Consultant and Afghanistan War veteran M.J. Hegar (D) is giving the veteran congressman all he can handle, but a new Democratic poll finds him still hanging onto to a lead despite absorbing over $1 million in money spent opposing him.

Some of Hegar’s expenditures included financing an introductory 3:29 minute promotional video that went viral nationally and attracted well over 2.8 million views. The video, mostly about Hegar’s military career and being wounded in action, her life after the service, and the battle to allow women in combat, also created a fundraising bonanza.

Much of the money was used to tangentially hit Rep. Carter because Hegar first had to clear a four-person Democratic primary and run-off, an election that saw her placing first in the primary (44 percent), and then scoring a 62-37 percent win in the Democratic run-off vote.

The Anzalone Liszt Grove Research firm just released their second 31st District poll and the first since July. The survey (Sept. 16-20; 500 likely TX-31 voters) finds Rep. Carter leading Hegar, 46-42 percent. In July, the congressman’s margin was 48-39 percent.

The analysis indicates that Hegar is the candidate who is moving forward because she has shaved a net five percentage points from the previous lead but, considering that her campaign has been on offense and Carter defense suggests that the race could have moved more substantially.

The ALG analysis also points out that Hegar has more room to grow because her hard and soft name identification is 60 percent. Yet, they illustrate that Carter’s 63 percent name ID is weak for an incumbent. They omit to conclude, however, that the congressman can also better define himself among the 37 percent that do not possess a clear opinion of him, more of whom are more likely to be his voters than hers.

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The Democrats’ Path

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 25, 2018 — Most of the contemporary political talk surrounds the Democrats’ ability to gain the US House majority, but is there a viable path for a power shift in the Senate? Their road to a new Senate majority is much rockier than for the House, but at least a mathematical chance of that becoming reality does exist.

senate 2018 midterm election competitionLast week we reviewed the status of the 17 states that see legitimate competition for the in-cycle Senate seats. Now, looking at the latest Fox News Senate ratings, we can draw some conclusions about the Democrats’ victory chances.

It is important to remember that the minority Dems must defend 26 of the 35 in-cycle Senate races in the current election cycle. Thus, the party’s least complicated path is to run the table of their current 26 seats, and then take two of the five GOP states where they are fielding credible opposition candidates. Doing so would give the Dems a 51-49 majority.

But, this is easier said than done. According to Fox, and virtually all other media prognosticators, one of the Democratic seats, North Dakota, is already leaning to the Republicans, while three more (Florida, Indiana, and Missouri) reside in the “Toss-up” column.

Of the nine seats the Republicans need to defend, three reside in the Toss-up category (Arizona, Nevada, and Tennessee), while one is classified as a Lean Republican (Texas), and the remaining five (Nebraska, the two Mississippi seats, Utah, and Wyoming) are rated as Likely Republican. (Fox does not use a “safe” designation. The best a candidate of either party can achieve from a Fox News political rating is “likely.”)

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Senate Recap – Part II

By Jim Ellis

US Senate makeup

US Senate makeup

Sept. 24, 2018 — Today we continue our look at the most competitive 17 US Senate contests with our second and final installment. To take a look at our Part I recap, please see our writeup this past Friday at: Senate Recap – Part I.


NEVADA

Sen. Dean Heller (R) is embroiled in an intense re-election battle with freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) as the two compete for a toss-up Senate seat. Heller won here in 2012 by a single percentage point over then-Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Las Vegas), but that was in the election when President Obama carried Nevada, 52-46 percent.

Polls go back and forth between the senator and congresswoman, but neither leads beyond the margin of polling error. Since the beginning of September three polls have been released, and the average spread between the contenders is just two points. This is a pure toss-up election and, as a Republican defense seat, one of the most important campaigns in the nation.


NEW JERSEY

The Garden State is often a teaser for Republicans, meaning polls routinely suggest their candidates will fare better than actual results portend. The Senate race between incumbent Bob Menendez (D) and pharmaceutical CEO Bob Hugin (R) is likely no exception. Though several polls have indicated the race is competitive, it is probable that Sen. Menendez will pull away and score a comfortable win.

Polling has been scarce. The most recent survey was released in mid-August from Quinnipiac University (Aug. 15-20; 908 registered New Jersey voters) and projects the senator to be leading Hugin, 43-37 percent. Obviously, Menendez corruption trial that ended in the case against him falling apart and being dropped has taken a toll on his favorability index, but it is doubtful that even a 29:47 percent positive to negative personal approval rating (aforementioned Q-Poll) would cost him the election.


NORTH DAKOTA

If polling were the only factor in determining race outlook, then North Dakota would be the Republicans’ best conversion opportunity. Though polls have been anything but plentiful, those that have been published find at-large Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) leading incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D).

The most recent study came in early September from Fox News (Sept. 8-11; 701 likely North Dakota voters) and finds Rep. Cramer holding a 48-44 percent advantage. This is the first survey release since the beginning of July.

The North Dakota race is a strong Republican conversion opportunity, but though Cramer appears to have a discernible edge right now, this contest is far from over.


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