Monthly Archives: July 2021

The Michigan Wild Card

Michigan Congressional Districts


By Jim Ellis

July 16, 2021 — For the third consecutive census, the Wolverine State of Michigan loses a congressional seat but this time it is more difficult to determine how the new map will be drawn and which of the state’s 14 US House members, comprised of seven Democrats and seven Republicans, will be the odd member out.

The big change is that for the first time a citizens’ commission, and not the state legislature, will draw the map. The 13-member commission has been conducting briefings to organizations around the state since April 3 and has public input meetings scheduled with those that began July 8 through Aug. 26.

What places Michigan in a wild card situation, however, won’t become clear until the US Census Bureau sends the state its individual tract data that will arrive on or around Aug. 15. At that point, the key question will be answered as to just how many people the city of Detroit has lost. This will be the critical factor in determining how the new congressional map is constructed.

Like every state, Michigan is bordered on all sides meaning the members with districts on the edge are typically in better defined position than those residing in the geographic middle. In this state’s case, the Great Lakes surround the split land masses on the north, east, and west, with Canada lying to its north and east, and Indiana and Ohio to the south.

Looking at the available public population data that only is current through July 1 of 2019, all current 14 districts must gain residents, hence the state losing a CD, with three most significantly holding the fewest people. Those three are the two Detroit seats, Districts 13 (Rep. Rashida Tlaib-D) and 14 (Rep. Brenda Lawrence-D), and the Flint-anchored seat, District 5 (Rep. Dan Kildee-D). All three are likely to need an influx of more than 100,000 people apiece.

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VA-Gov: Still Polling Close

Former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe

By Jim Ellis

July 15, 2021 — A new Trafalgar Group poll was released this week on the 2021 Virginia governor’s campaign, and the results supported data from two other pollsters that we analyzed in June.

The Trafalgar numbers (July 8-10; 1,104 likely Virginia voters, combination live interview and online) give former Virginia governor and ex-Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe a slight 47-45 percent edge over retired hedge fund CEO Glenn Youngkin (R) in a political contest that is much closer than analysts would have foretold at the very beginning of this election cycle.

The Trafalgar results were consistent with those found in June from WPA Intelligence (June 2-6; 508 likely Virginia voters, live interview) and JMC Analytics (June 9-12; 550 likely Virginia voters, live interview). In those surveys, McAuliffe held leads of 48-46 percent (WAPi) and 46-42 percent (JMC). Therefore, we see virtually no change within the five-week period, which has to be considered good news for underdog Youngkin.

None of the three polls published a geographic segmentation, which would have been interesting since Youngkin must hit certain benchmarks in the state’s most populous areas if he is to score an upset. All of these regions have been moving decidedly Democratic in the most recent elections.

Alternatively, if we look at the most competitive previous election result, one that elected McAuliffe, we can begin to pinpoint how the current race must form and if we are to see a Republican upset.

The first clue that a close race might develop came in this year’s Democratic primary held on June 8. Turnout, when compared with the 2017 primary that nominated current Gov. Ralph Northam in a lightly competitive race, reached 542,858. This year, the Democratic participation number fell by more than 34,000 voters to 508,616. This may suggest a lesser enthusiasm factor within the Democratic base for McAuliffe’s rerun campaign.

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OH-11: Special Election Tightening

By Jim Ellis

OH-11

July 14, 2021 — For most of the special election campaign to replace Housing & Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge in her vacated US House district, it appeared that former state senator and Bernie Sanders for President 2020 national co-chair Nina Turner was a lock for the Democratic nomination. As the contest steams toward an Aug. 3 special Democratic primary election date it appears, however, that the political battle is far from over.

Cuyahoga County Councilmember and County Democratic Party chair Shontel Brown is making major strides that have come to the surface in the past two weeks. According to a just-released Normington Petts survey for the Brown campaign (July 5-8; 400 OH-11 likely Democratic special primary election voters, live interview), ex-Sen. Turner now holds only a 43-36 percent margin over Brown with the 11 minor Democratic candidates splitting the remaining 7 percent preference total.

In the firm’s first poll of this race back in April, Turner led Brown, 42-10 percent. As Jill Normington notes in her released polling synopsis, the latest results find Brown gaining 26 support percentage points between the time the two Normington Petts polls were conducted as compared to just one for Turner.

With recently announced endorsements from Hillary Clinton, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Buckeye State 2018 gubernatorial nominee Richard Cordray, Ohio US Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus), the Congressional Black Caucus, and 18 local mayors, in addition to an impressive array of community, religious, and labor leaders from the district, it appears Brown is gaining serious momentum with three weeks remaining in the primary cycle.

Turner has her own strong support organization, too, most notably from Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, state Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, former Ohio Democratic Party chairman David Pepper, and the Justice Democrats led by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Turner also draws support from her own group of a dozen Ohio state legislators and many local officials, along with a large number of Cleveland and Akron community and religious leaders.

Originally, Turner was lapping the entire field in terms of money raised and spent. Now, however, Brown has caught her in this area, too. According to the Daily Kos Elections site, Turner has spent $1.2 million in the campaign as compared to Brown’s $617,000, but they also track another $475,000 coming in from an outside negative ad expenditure targeted against Turner from the Democratic Majority for Israel organization.
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House Vulnerables – Part II

By Jim Ellis

July 13, 2021 — On Monday, we began a two-part series on what are arguably the most vulnerable dozen US House seats based upon the individual district’s political performance over the past two elections.

Below is the priority order update covering the second half of the top 12 most vulnerable CDs. As you will continue to see below, all of the seats except one are Republican held.

To refresh, the first six covered were:

• IA-2 (Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Ottumwa)
• IA-1 (Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion/Cedar Rapids)
• IA-3 (Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Des Moines)
• FL-27 (Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Miami)
• CA-48 (Rep. Michelle Steel, R-Orange County)
• NY-22 (Rep. Cynthia Tenney, R-New Hartford)

Here’s our look at the next six:

UT-4: Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Salt Lake City) – Ave R vote: 48.8%
• Former NFL football star and businessman Burgess Owens defeated freshman Rep. Ben McAdams (D) by one percentage point in 2020, and we can expect another competitive race here again within this mostly suburban Salt Lake City congressional district located in the metropolitan area’s southern sector.

Republicans, who are in full control of the Utah redistricting process, will attempt to improve the district for Owens, which is possible since the 4th CD is the fastest growing district in the fastest growing state over the past decade. The best estimates suggest that the 4th District must shed approximately 50,000 people to other CDs. This should allow map drawers to subtract a substantial number of Democratic voters from the district, thus yielding Burgess a slightly more favorable political domain.

At this point, McAdams, who was the Salt Lake County mayor prior to his election to Congress, has not indicated whether he will return for a re-match.

MN-1: Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Rochester) – Ave R vote: 49.3%
• Two-term Rep. Hagedorn just announced that his cancer has returned, meaning an immediate treatment regimen. How this will affect his re-election campaign is yet to be determined. Hagedorn has won two close elections, as has his Democratic colleague in the adjacent district, Rep. Angie Craig (D-Eagan).

Minnesota is the only state in the nation that sees a split control legislature, meaning each party controls one house. Since the state did not lose a congressional district in apportionment as originally projected, it would not be surprising to see a legislative deal made where Democrats and Republicans are flipped between the two adjoining districts. The changes would result in Hagedorn gaining Republicans and Craig adding Democrats. Redistricting will perhaps be the most critical factor in determining the outcome of both districts come 2022 and beyond.

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House Vulnerables – Part I

By Jim Ellis

July 12, 2021 — Much of the early 2022 election cycle narrative places the Republicans in an advantageous position to re-claim the US House majority they lost in 2018, but there are mitigating factors that make predicting such an outcome premature.

To begin, analysts cite the historical voting pattern that yields large midterm losses for the party that wins the White House in the previous election – a mean average House seat loss of 25 for the president’s party in the first midterm in the 11 such elections from Eisenhower in 1954 to Trump in 2018 – which is a key influence factor for the 2022 election cycle.

Since we are immediately following a new census, redistricting will change at least to a small degree all of the districts in the 44 states that will have more than one seat. Most analysts believe Republicans will be at least slight beneficiaries of the new maps because their party controls most of the state legislatures that will draw the new lines.

The states, however, do not yet even have their census tract data and won’t until mid-August at the earliest; therefore, redistricting will be later and even more chaotic than we are accustomed to seeing. The delays could lead to more interim court maps being placed for the 2022 election, which could neutralize any gain the GOP achieves from their favorable position in the majority of state legislatures that have redistricting power.

Additionally, one must look at the 2020 race results to determine which of the seats will become major targets. In November, 53 current House members won their elections with less than 52 percent of the vote, 27 Democrats and 26 Republicans. In terms of the closest election results, and likely meaning the most vulnerable conversion targets for the 2022 re-election cycle, we see 11 Republicans in the 12 seats where the incumbent’s party averaged 50 percent of the vote or below in the previous two electoral contests.

This tells us that the national Republican strength factor heading into the midterm vote may be somewhat weaker than noted in a cursory overview.

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