Monthly Archives: October 2019

Open Seat Round-up

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 31, 2019 — With six US House seats coming open in October, it’s a good time to re-set where the incumbent-less districts stand for the next election.

To review the half-dozen October happenings in this regard, in consecutive order Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced her retirement, Elijah Cummings (D-MD) passed away, Francis Rooney (R-FL) declared that he would not seek re-election, Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) decided not to make another congressional run in order to concentrate on her presidential campaign, Katie Hill (D-CA) resigned in scandal, and Greg Walden (R-OR) released his statement saying he will not seek a 12th term in office.

Within the aggregate group of 30 opens, we now see four vacancies. In addition to Rep. Cummings passing away and Hill resigning, two more seats are also headed to special elections because of resignations. Those lie in New York (Chris Collins-R) and Wisconsin (Sean Duffy-R).

Two of the four have election calendars. The MD-7 seat will see a primary on Feb. 4 with a general April 28. The WI-7 district will hold a primary on Feb. 18, and a special general on May 12. Govs. Andrew Cuomo (NY) and Gavin Newsom (CA) will soon set special voting calendars in their states. Gov. Cuomo, who let the 25th District sit vacant for almost a year in 2018 after Rep. Louise Slaughter passed away, chose to fill the seat concurrently with the regular election cycle. The governor has already said he would like to follow the same course this year, but the law won’t allow such a long vacancy.

At this point, the Wisconsin and New York seats should remain Republican, but the GOP has a spotty record in holding NY districts in special elections including this 27th District (then numbered 26), which went Democratic that last time it went to special election in 2011. The Maryland seat will remain Democratic.

Though the House opens now reach 30 seats, a relative few are seriously in play for the districts’ next election. Of the majority Democrats’ nine open seats, seven are considered safe and the next Democratic nominee is a lock to win in each circumstance. For the GOP, which currently holds 21 of the 30, a total of 13 will assuredly elect another Republican.

In terms of competitive seats, the Democrats only risk two. The Hill seat in California is marginal and certainly competitive in an open special election. Democrats have carried the district in two of the last three presidential elections, but Republicans have won three of the four congressional elections in the current configuration during the decade.

The other is IA-2, the seat from which Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) is retiring. The 2nd District is generally reliably Democratic, but President Trump carried it in 2016, 49-45 percent. Democrats are coalescing behind former state Senator and 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Rita Hart as their candidate. It is here where former Illinois Rep. Bobby Schilling (R), hopes to make a serious run at an upset. First, however, he must clear the GOP primary and faces state Sen. Marianette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa) who will be making her fourth run for the US House.

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Rep. Walden to Retire; Ex-Rep. Knight to Return

Veteran Republican US Rep. Greg Walden (OR-2)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 30, 2019 — Veteran Republican US Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) joined the growing group of House members to announce that his congressional career will come to an end. Rep. Walden issued a statement Monday indicating that he will not seek a 12th term in office. OR-2 becomes the 30th open seat. There are now four vacancies in the House.

The veteran congressman, first elected in 1998, is the ranking Republican member on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, a panel he chaired while the GOP held the majority. He is also a past chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Oregon’s 2nd District is the only Republican seat in the Beaver State. It occupies 19 eastern counties and part of one other. The land mass covers three-quarters of the state and houses the two larger population centers of Jackson and Deschutes Counties, which contain the cities of Medford and Bend, respectively.

The Census Bureau indicates that the 2nd District now contains over 830,000 people, over 100,000 more people than originally constructed in 2011. In fact, all of the Oregon districts are now approximately this size, which explains why the state looks to be gaining an additional seat in congressional reapportionment.

Walden won 11 elections in the 2nd and has averaged 68.7 percent of the vote over his 11 victorious federal campaigns. The only time he dropped below 61 percent of the vote occurred last November when he was re-elected with 56.3 percent.

President Trump carried the district in 2016 with a 57-37 percent margin. Four years earlier, Mitt Romney notched a similar 57-41 percent victory spread. John McCain won 54-43 percent in 2008. Therefore, this seat should easily remain in Republican hands, but first the candidate fields must develop for both parties.

The district touches eight state Senate and 14 state House seats. Seven of the eight Senate seats are Republican held. In the House, the GOP advantage is twelve to two. We can expect several of these legislators to enter the open House race and what is likely to be a large number of local officials from the expansive regions.
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Two New House Opens

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Kailua) – Democrat running for president in 2020

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 29, 2019 — A pair of new open seats, both from the Democratic side of aisle, emerged over the weekend.

First, in a move that had been speculated upon, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Kailua) announced that she will not seek a fifth term in the House in order to concentrate on her presidential campaign.

Second, freshman California Rep. Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce/Palmdale), who has been under fire and facing a potential ethics investigation for alleged sexual affairs with members of her congressional staff and campaign team will reportedly resign from Congress at the end of this week. Additionally, her estranged husband is saying she used her past influence to acquire employment contracts for him with the non-profit organization she ran before her election.

Rep. Gabbard, at this point one of the minor presidential candidates, made her mark in the debates for which she qualified to participate. Unless her poll standing improves, she will not be part of the upcoming November and December forums since the Democratic National Committee just announced new polling requirements.

The additional debate conditions mandate that candidates obtain four percent support nationally in a minimum of four designated surveys or attain six percent in two sanctioned polls from the early states, meaning those voting in February: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

Recently, local polling suggests that Congresswoman Gabbard’s constituents do not look favorably upon her running for president. Just over 60 percent of the respondents said they preferred she exit the national race. Gabbard was also facing serious congressional primary competition from state Sen. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo).

Polling projected her with a definitive lead, 48-26 percent, according to a late September Public Policy Polling survey of the HI-2 constituency but falling below 50 percent is a clear indication of impending weakness. The study also reported that 38 percent of Democrats would have voted to re-elect Rep. Gabbard, but 50 percent indicated they would support someone new.

Sen. Kahele says he will continue in what is now a new open seat campaign to be decided in the Democratic primary. He had raised over $500,000 for his challenge to Rep. Gabbard and has just under $371,000 remaining in his campaign account at the Sept. 30 reporting deadline.

The Hawaii candidate filing deadline isn’t until June 2 for the Aug. 8 state primary. At this point no other Democratic candidate is coming forward, but we can expect a crowded field once potential contenders have an opportunity to assess their own political options. The 2nd District contains part of Oahu and the remainder of the state’s island chain.

Rep. Hill’s district political situation is much different. The northern Los Angeles County seat was reliably Republican when originally drawn before the 1992 election. That was the year when former Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Palmdale) was originally elected, and he would win 10 more elections in the 25th CD. After he retired, state legislator Steve Knight (R) won the seat and held it for two terms until Hill unseated him in November.

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A Polling Dichotomy for Joe Biden

Former Vice President and 2020 Presidential Candidate, Joe Biden (D)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 28, 2019 — We covered a series of polls Friday that were projecting former Vice President Joe Biden regaining his early campaign advantage. On closer review, however, it was found that only the small sample polls with a large error factor were yielding the unusual Biden margins. The large sample surveys found a much closer split among the top three candidates: Biden and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Several new polls were just released during the latter half of the month, all conducted after Oct. 15 with large or statistically acceptable sample sizes, yet the conclusions drawn nationally and in key states were very different.

The following table compares the analyzed polls, which are national, and two each from California and Iowa. Both of the states have unique positions in the Democratic nomination process. Iowa is the first voting state, and thus a trendsetter, while California has the largest contingent of delegates, 416 on the first ballot and 495 when the Super Delegates are added to the total.

The new Quinnipiac University survey released last Thursday (Oct. 17-21; 1,587 US registered voters; 713 likely Democratic primary voters) finds Sen. Warren capturing the national lead, with Biden and Sen. Sanders following. Mayor Pete Buttigieg breaks into double digits in a country-wide poll for the first time since early June.

National Polls Biden Warren Sanders Buttigieg Harris
Q-Poll 21 28 15 10 5
Morning Consult 30 21 18 6 6
Survey USA 32 22 17 5 7

 

Iowa Polls Biden Warren Sanders Buttigieg Harris
Civiqs 12 28 18 20 3
Suffolk 18 17 9 13 3

 

California Biden Warren Sanders Buttigieg Harris
Change Research 19 28 24 9 8
Survey USA 33 18 17 4 8

This result, however, directly conflicts with both the Morning Consult track (Oct. 16-20; 11,521 likely Democratic primary voters; online US) and Survey USA’s most recent national poll (Oct. 15-16; 1,071 US likely Democratic primary voters), both of which report consistent result spreads and a Biden edge.

Inconsistencies are also present in Iowa and California. The new Civiqs/Iowa State University poll (Oct. 18-22; 598 likely Iowa Democratic primary voters) returns the worst numbers for Biden of any poll either nationally or in a state.

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A Biden Resurgence?

Former Vice President, Joe Biden

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 25, 2019 — A series of recently released national political polls finds former Vice President Joe Biden re-establishing the type of horse race leads over the Democratic field that he enjoyed before the debate process first began. Yet, how reliable are the polls?

CNN, YouGov, Emerson College, and HarrisX, all report new data and see Biden again posting significant leads, two of which are well beyond the polling margin of error.

CNN (Oct. 17-20; 424 US Democratic registered voters) gives the ex-VP a 34-19-16 percent lead over Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). HarrisX (Oct. 21-22; 440 US registered Democratic voters) finds the Biden lead reaching 27-19-14 percent over Warren and Sanders. Emerson College (Oct. 18-21; 430 US Democratic likely voters) sees a similarly close cut among the top three candidates, but they find Sen. Sanders slipping past Warren into second place. The Emerson split shows Biden up 27-25-21 percent over Sanders and Warren, respectively.

Looking more closely at the polling methodology for each, we find that all three of these surveys have very low sample sizes, which means the error factor is high. The respective respondent universes are only between 424 and 440 people from which to derive a national trend. These numbers are more typically found in a congressional district or small state survey.

The YouGov poll (Oct. 20-22; 628 US Democratic likely voters) used a larger national sample and found a much tighter standing among the candidates, but with the prevalent Biden-Warren-Sanders order intact through a 24-21-15 percent result. In all of the aforementioned surveys, no other candidate reaches double-digit support.

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