Monthly Archives: February 2019

Numbers Continue to Grow in 2020
Democratic Presidential Field

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden: Will he jump into, or stay out of, the 2020 presidential race?

Feb. 13, 2019 — Major action is beginning to occur within the Democratic presidential field. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) announcement entering the race on Sunday means that now 11 individuals are official candidates or have working exploratory committees. Expect more to be on the way.

Three more Democrats, men who we have yet to hear much from, confirmed that they in fact are taking serious steps to potentially enter the presidential field just a couple days ago. US Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) told media sources that they both may become candidates. Ryan is going so far as to travel to Iowa and New Hampshire later this week. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is also making a trip to the Granite State, site of the first-in-the-nation primary, but he has, at least until now, been categorized in the “less than likely to enter” group.

Former Vice President Joe Biden continues to hover above the active candidates with a great deal of speculation surrounding his potential candidacy. Many believe he will soon enter the race, but just as many are also predicting that he will ultimately decline to run.

The McClatchy news organization, owner of 31 local newspapers that stretches from California to North and South Carolina, published an analysis article early this week from DC Bureau reporter Kevin Roarty summarizing his interviews of 31 Democratic strategists who largely believe that Biden might actually prove to be a weaker candidate than Hillary Clinton.

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House Democrats Release “Frontline Program” Targeting Perceived
Vulnerable GOP CDs

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 12, 2019 — Countering the previously announced National Republican Congressional Committee Patriot Program targeting list, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released their Frontline Program protection listing late last week.

Since the Democrats are now in the House majority, their list is wholly defensive in nature while the Republicans are the minority challengers, a juxtaposition of roles from the past four election cycles. Of the 44 Frontline defense districts, 43 are also GOP Patriot Program targets. The lone exception is Connecticut freshman Jahana Hayes (D-Wolcott), a former national Teacher of the Year award winner who won a 56-44 percent victory in her maiden general election campaign.

The targeting organizational programs are important because both official political party apparatuses help the candidates with fundraising, a campaign element where Democrats overwhelmed Republicans in the 2018 election cycle. Therefore, it is likely that the Patriot Program is more important to the previously identified GOP members than the Frontline operation is to the Democratic incumbents, most of whom raised multi-millions in their own right.

Comparing the lists, the 43 top Democratic protection members who are also found on the Republican register could more realistically be narrowed to 27 campaigns that should reasonably be placed in the highest vulnerability category.

In 19 of the 27, President Trump carried the district over Hillary Clinton, and four years earlier Mitt Romney topped President Obama in 17 of the CDs. The Republicans had won all three post-redistricting congressional elections (2012, ’14, ’16) in 22 of the 27 districts prior to the 2018 vote.

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Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall to Retire:
A Look at the Seat’s 2020 Contenders

By Jim Ellis

Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville)

Feb. 11, 2019 — Five-term Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville), who survived the closest raw vote election of any winning incumbent last November (419 votes from just over 280,000 ballots cast against former state Senate committee staff director Carolyn Bourdeaux), announced late last week that he won’t seek re-election in 2020.

This opens a seat that was obviously highly competitive in the ’18 election cycle, but this lone result might not tell the entire story.

Only at the very end of the election cycle did Rep. Woodall launch a campaign, previously believing that his seat would perform as a safe Republican enclave just as it had since its inception under the 2001 redistricting plan, and then reconfigured in the 2011 remap. Then-Congressman John Linder (R) represented the district at the time and until his retirement before the 2010 election, always enjoying landslide re-election percentages.

Woodall was badly outspent by challenger Bourdeaux, falling behind her by a 2:1 ratio as his campaign posted less than $1.5 million in direct expenditures.

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The Campaign Begins

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 8, 2019 — President Donald Trump used his State of the Union Address on Tuesday night to informally begin his re-election drive.

While some theorized that the president might decide not to seek a second term as we got closer to the primaries, the text of his speech told us just the opposite. In fact, instead of being a State of the Union Address, his subject matter and delivery made it closer to a campaign announcement speech.

In addition to using the address to frame the beginning of his re-election effort, the president also outlined what will likely become his key strategic tenets. In other words, he showcased the speech to begin painting the picture of his Democratic opponents that he wants the electorate to see.

It was clear from his emphasis points that Trump intends to create a clear contrast between he and the Democrats, and certainly the future party nominee whomever that may be, by attempting to position himself as the center-right candidate and driving his opponents into the far left ideological realm.

He also displayed the key points that will likely serve as the foundation for his campaign offensive: increasing jobs, economic prosperity, and the number of small businesses; re-emphasizing his America First theme with both the country’s allies and adversaries in relation to foreign affairs and trade issues; and, how the Trump Administration has made the world a safer place because of its foreign policy decisions and initiatives.

The president also used the speech as a tool to put the Democrats on the defensive, and even apparently shocked them at least a couple of times if their initial reaction is any indication.

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Mississippi’s Dead Heat

By Jim Ellis

Mississippi state flag

Feb. 7, 2019 — The open Mississippi governor’s race will be decided later this year, and a new Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey (Jan. 30-Feb. 1; 625 registered Mississippi voters) finds Attorney General Jim Hood (D) and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) locked in a virtual tie. The Republican incumbent, Gov. Phil Bryant, is ineligible to seek a third term.

While Hood, a four-term AG, holds a slight 44-42 percent edge, Reeves has closed the original six-point spread that Mason-Dixon first found in their December 2017 poll (Hood 43 percent; Reeves 37 percent). In April of last year, M-D projected Hood’s advantage to be 44-39 percent.

But, winning the popular vote is not all that’s required to win a Mississippi statewide race. In similar fashion to a presidential candidate needing to score a victory in the Electoral College, a Mississippi gubernatorial candidate must not only record the most votes in the statewide aggregate count, he or she must also win a majority of the 122 state House districts.

Currently, Republicans hold a 72-46 split in the state House with four vacancies. Thus, it would appear Reeves would have a strong opportunity to capture at least a bare majority 63 House districts, assuming the statewide count is close. If no candidate carries a majority of state House districts, the state House members would then vote to decide the election between the top two finishers.

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