Monthly Archives: May 2021

Arizona Sen. Kelly’s Latest Polling

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Mark Kelly (D) won the special election in November to fill the balance of the late Sen. John McCain’s (R) final term in office. He again comes before the voters in this election cycle to stand for a full six-year term.

May 17, 2021 — Arizona pollster OH Predictive Insights went into the field to test the Grand Canyon State’s early electorate as it relates to freshman Sen. Mark Kelly (D). As we remember, Kelly won the 2020 special election to fill the unexpired portion of the late Sen. John McCain’s (R) final term, and next year he stands for a full six-year term.

OHPI surveyed the sampling universe of 935 Arizona registered voters as part of an online opt-in panel during the May 3-5 period. The sample was weighted to properly reflect the partisan division within the state along with gender, age, education, region, and ethnicity segmentation.

The questionnaire first tested the job approval ratings of Arizona’s two Democratic senators, Kelly, and Kyrsten Sinema. Then, seven potential prominent Republicans were individually paired with Sen. Kelly to test his strength against each, one of whom is likely to be his 2022 general election opponent.

Regarding the approval ratings, Sen. Sinema scored a 44:36 percent positive to negative ratio with 10 percent landing in the very favorable category and 15 percent in the very unfavorable classification. Sen. Kelly posted a similar, but slightly worse, 45:38 percent ratio. Like Sen. Sinema, more respondents rated him very unfavorable (23 percent) than very favorable (18 percent). The upside-down extreme ratio suggests an underlying weakness since the very unfavorable outweighs the very favorable for both individuals.

Here’s how potential opponents matched up against Sen. Kelly:

CANDIDATE PERCENT
Sen. Mark Kelly (D) 45%
Kimberly Yee (R) 35%
CANDIDATE PERCENT
Sen. Mark Kelly (D) 43%
Jack McCain (R) 29%
CANDIDATE PERCENT
Sen. Mark Kelly (D) 46%
Karl Lake (R) 35%
CANDIDATE PERCENT
Sen. Mark Kelly (D) 47%
Kelli Ward (R) 36%
CANDIDATE PERCENT
Sen. Mark Kelly (D) 47%
Andy Biggs (R) 36%
CANDIDATE PERCENT
Sen. Mark Kelly (D) 44%
Michael McGuire (R) 35%
CANDIDATE PERCENT
Sen. Mark Kelly (D) 46%
Mark Brnovich (R) 36%

Yee is Arizona’s state treasurer. McCain is the son of the late Sen. McCain. Karl Lake is a former news anchor for one of the major network Phoenix television stations. Ward is the Arizona Republican Party chair who has previously served in the state legislature and run for the US Senate. Andy Biggs is the US congressman from the Maricopa County-anchored 5th District. Michael McGuire is a retired major general who headed the Arizona National Guard. Brnovich is the state’s attorney general.

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Rep. Murphy to Challenge Sen. Rubio

By Jim Ellis

Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park)

May 14, 2021 — According to the Axios news site, insiders close to Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) say that she has made the decision to challenge Sen. Marco Rubio (R) next year and will formally announce her campaign next month. The move had been expected for some time.

Rep. Murphy, a native of the country of Vietnam, was first elected to the House in 2016, defeating veteran Republican incumbent John Mica after the state Supreme Court had re-drawn the Florida congressional districts and made the 7th CD more Democratic. She unseated Rep. Mica 51-49 percent, and then scored re-election victories of 58 and 55 percent in 2018 and 2020, respectively.

A strong fundraiser, Rep. Murphy obtained over $3 million for both of her incumbent re-election campaigns. She ended the 1st quarter 2021 with a cash-on-hand figure of $1.43 million. Sen. Rubio posted $3.9 million in his campaign account during the same reporting period.

Assuming Murphy does enter the race next month, Democrats will have a credible challenger to Sen. Rubio, but one who still must be considered a decided underdog. In 2010, Sen. Rubio, then a state representative, defeated then-governor Charlie Crist, who was running as an Independent, and Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek by a 49-30-20 percent margin. He was re-elected in 2016 with a 52-44 percent vote spread over then-congressman Patrick Murphy (D).

Florida races, as we know, are always competitive and usually very close, though the state has been trending more Republican over the past several elections. A Rubio-Stephanie Murphy race promises to become a national campaign.

With the Democrats apparently attracting a strong candidate in Florida, it is a good time to review the other key races.

In Pennsylvania, both parties are headed for very crowded primaries as each works to nominate a candidate to hopefully succeed retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R). Afghan War veteran Sean Parnell entered the Republican primary earlier this week, but his only venture into elective politics was recording a two-point loss to Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) last November in an Allegheny County suburban district.

Rep. Lamb, himself, may join the Democratic Senate campaign, meaning both parties are going to host political dogfights for the party nomination. In any event, however, the Pennsylvania race will be a top-tier national campaign.

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Examining California
Gov. Newsom’s Vulnerabilities

By Jim Ellis

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D)

May 13, 2021 — The University of California at Berkeley’s Institute for Governmental Studies released another of its periodic polls this week, and while it finds Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) surviving the upcoming recall election it also identifies areas of underlying weakness.

According to the survey (April 29-May 5; 10,289 registered California voters with questions asked in English and Spanish, online), Gov. Newsom would win the impending recall vote as 49 percent of the respondents said they would vote to retain him in office and 36 percent support removal. Regarding his job approval and performance on certain issues, however, the poll identifies what could possibly become an opponent’s path to victory.

The Cal-Berkeley result is very similar to another poll conducted within the same time period. Survey USA went into the field during the April 30 – May 2 time segment and interviewed 750 California registered voters of which 642 were identified as likely to vote in the gubernatorial recall election. S-USA found the sampling universe broke 47-36 percent in favor of Gov. Newsom remaining in office, almost identical to Cal-Berkeley’s tally from their much larger online sample.

Cal-Berkeley delved deeper into how the respondent sample was viewing the governor’s job performance and his standing within the electorate, and its results suggest that a focused opposition campaign could yield a close outcome.

Perhaps most troubling to the Newsom strategy team is the question that tested enthusiasm within the electorate. While Democrats were breaking 75-8 percent to retain the governor, the enthusiasm metric showed that only 36 percent of them have a high interest in the election. Another 30 percent fell into a moderate interest level, and 34 percent of the self-identified Democratic voter base said they had little or no interest.

Republicans, on the other hand, registered a 75 percent high interest level, suggesting that their turnout for the eventual election will be much greater. Though Democrats hold a large 46-24 percent party registration advantage, the interest level suggests the eventual election result could fall into a closer range. Among GOP voters, the governor would be ousted in a whopping 85-8 percent margin.

Those registering under the No Party Preference category, who account for another 24 percent of the California voting universe, would retain the governor with a 45-33 percent margin, while the six percent who identify with a minor party break 48-29 percent for removal.

Overall, Gov. Newsom’s job performance improved from Cal-Berkeley’s late January poll and stands at a 52:43 percent positive to negative ratio. In January, the performance ratio was an upside-down 46:48 percent. This is largely due to improvement regarding his handling of the Coronavirus issue, as 45 percent rate his performance as excellent or good, while 35 percent say poor or very poor. Another 16 percent gave him a fair rating, which on this poll seems to indicate a moderate support level as opposed to leaning in a negative direction as some other pollsters characterize the term.

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Youngkin Wins VA GOP Nomination

By Jim Ellis

Glenn Youngkin officially captured the Virginia Republican gubernatorial nomination earlier this week.

May 12, 2021 — Glenn Youngkin officially captured the Virginia Republican gubernatorial nomination earlier this week on the second day of ranked choice vote counting.

Early in the sixth tabulation round the other remaining participant from the original field of seven, businessman Pete Snyder, conceded the nomination when state Sen. Amanda Chase’s (R-Midlothian) second choice votes began to be dispersed. Chase was eliminated from further competition after the fifth round, finishing third overall.

Youngkin led in all the voting rounds, and even as early as the end of round two little evidence surfaced to suggest anything would occur through the ranking process to deny him winning the gubernatorial nomination.

The international investment executive, who, like Snyder, spent several million dollars to advertise around the state on electronic media for a closed convention with a universe of 53,000-plus delegates, will very likely face former governor and ex-Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe once the traditional Democratic primary concludes on June 8.

Understanding the voting trends from the past several elections, McAuliffe, assuming he is nominated in the party primary where he has consistently appeared as the prohibitive favorite, will begin the general election campaign with a major advantage.

Though more than 53,000 people had registered as delegates, the actual turnout was considerably less. Due to the manner in which votes are being reported and the weighting formula governing the ballots, the raw number of people attending the drive-thru formatted convention is not obvious. Only 12,557 weighted votes were reported.

Using a ranked choice voting system where individuals tiered their gubernatorial choices from 1-7, the participants’ tallies were then weighted by unit. According to the official party statement, each unit has a fixed number of delegate votes. The formula to determine each candidate’s weighted vote is the number of ballots received divided by the total ballots cast and then multiplied by the number of assigned delegate votes to the particular unit.

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Disputing the Georgia Poll

By Jim Ellis

Former DeKalb County, Georgia chief executive officer and ex-state representative, Vernon Jones

May 11, 2021 — At the end of last week, the Remington Research Group released a survey of the Georgia 2022 Republican gubernatorial primary for their client, former DeKalb County chief executive officer and ex-state representative Vernon Jones. The results were met with some derision.

The poll (May 1-3; 1,040 likely Republican primary voters, interactive voice response system) finds Gov. Brian Kemp leading Jones only 39-35 percent, and an Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter responded with negative comments about the poll’s credibility and cited unnamed GOP consultants who allegedly agree with this analysis.

Greg Bluestein of the AJC said in response to the poll’s publishing, “suffice it to say we have not found one person with proven knowledge about Georgia politics who believes the poll is credible.” He further stated that, “the last two independent polls I’ve seen show Gov. Kemp leading Jones 74-17 percent and Kemp up 64-14 percent.” There is no evidence that these latter polls have been publicly released, however.

To reject the Remington poll in such a manner should not be considered a legitimate response. The Remington Research Group is a national pollster that specializes in interactive voice response systems and are certainly a well-established survey research firm.

According to the FiveThirtyEight statistical website that ranks polling firms, we find the RRG earning a B grade and placed as the 103rd entity of the 482 polling organizations in the FiveThirtyEight universe. This means the pollster lands in the top 22 percent of all tested survey research firms. Therefore, to reject Remington’s latest Georgia findings as not credible is an analysis and comment trail that should be discounted.

Gov. Kemp’s popularity among Georgia Republicans clearly suffered after the election controversy in his state. At the low point, according to the Morning Consult data intelligence firm, his personal favorability rating stood with a 62:31 percent positive to negative ratio among members of his own party, which is touching the danger zone for any office holder.

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