Monthly Archives: September 2021

Michigan Gov. Whitmer
Falters in New Polls

By Jim Ellis

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D)

Sept. 23, 2021 — We have further evidence that the Michigan governor’s race is going to be a highly competitive political contest next year. A pair of new polls, following one in late August, find Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) either in a virtual dead heat with, or trailing, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig (R).

The Trafalgar Group and Strategic National, Inc. were both in the Michigan field during virtually the same time realm to test the impending governor’s race. Trafalgar (Sept. 13-15; 1,097 likely Michigan voters; live interview, interactive voice response system, online, and text) actually finds the governor slipping behind Craig by a 50-44% count. Strategic National (Sept. 18-19; 600 likely Michigan voters) arrived at a much tighter contest with the governor still in the lead. Their result projected a razor thin 46.6 – 46.0 percent margin.

Gov. Whitmer has become controversial even nationally through her draconian COVID shut down measures, and then being caught on several occasions as eschewing the dictates for herself and family. As the Strategic National poll shows, however, the governor’s favorable and unfavorable opinions are equivalent … and almost everyone feels strongly about their preference.

In terms of her personal favorability index, the responses divide 50:48 percent favorable to unfavorable. The strongly held position, however, spins toward the negative category. Of those who comprise Gov. Whitmer’s 50 percent positive rating, 35 percent, or 70 percent of those professing a positive opinion, feel strongly.

The negative segmentation is more intense. From the 48 percent who hold a negative view of Whitmer, 42 percent, or 87 percent of those holding an adversarial opinion, believe so strongly. Her job approval rating responses, though a different question, yields an almost identical pattern.

The polarization factor is, unsurprisingly, extreme when it comes to the respondents’ opinion about how she’s handled the coronavirus. By a margin of 52:47 percent, the sampling universe approves of her measures to combat the disease. And, in this instance, those feeling strongly on both sides break about evenly.

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Nevada’s Gubernatorial Race:
Ex-Sen. Heller Announces

By Jim Ellis

Former Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (R)

Sept. 22, 2021 — The Silver State of Nevada has been home to some of the nation’s closest statewide elections during the past decade. In almost half of all Nevada statewide political contests since 2012, both party’s nominees have won their elections with only plurality support.

With that backdrop, ex-US Sen. Dean Heller (R), who lost his seat to current incumbent Jacky Rosen (D) in 2018, is making a political comeback attempt in next year’s governor’s race. Heller officially announced his plans Monday after the story broke last week that he would become a candidate.

Part of the announcement came as a surprise, and has more to do with winning the Republican primary than for what he hopes will be a challenge to incumbent Gov. Steve Sisolak (D). Heller, who throughout his career had aligned himself with the pro-choice caucus, pointedly spoke approvingly of the new Texas law governing abortion practices.

In the Republican primary, Heller faces Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee among others. At this point, Gov. Sisolak has no announced Democratic opposition.

According to a July OH Predictive Insights poll (July 6-11; 783 registered Nevada voters), which is the latest Nevada gubernatorial survey available, Gov. Sisolak recorded a 52:39 percent job approval ratio. As with most polls in today’s politics, the bulk of support comes from members of one’s own party, but in this case, 30 percent of the sampled Republicans also gave the governor a positive review.

Gov. Sisolak, a former Clark County Commissioner who previously served as a member of the Nevada Board of Regents, was elected the state’s chief executive three years ago with a 49-45 percent win over then-Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R), grandson of former US senator and Nevada governor, Paul Laxalt (R). Laxalt is also making a political comeback in 2022, running against incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto (D) for the US Senate.

Both the ’22 Nevada governor and US Senate have the potential of ending in close fashion. Since 2012, inclusive, 18 statewide races have been conducted. Democrats won 10 and Republicans’ eight, but six of the GOP victories came in the Republican wave year of 2014 when the Nevada Democratic turnout proved particularly low.

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Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez
Won’t Seek Re-Election

By Jim Ellis

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River)

Sept. 21, 2021 — Saying he believes that former President Donald Trump “shouldn’t ever be president again,” sophomore Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River) announced on Friday that he will not seek a third term in the House.

Rep. Gonzalez was one of 10 Republicans to support Trump’s second impeachment, and drew a strong Republican primary opponent as a result. Former President Trump responded to Gonzalez’s statement and decision with his own release saying, “1 down, 9 to go,” in reference to those Republican House members who supported removing him from office after the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion.

Gonzalez is the 19th member who will not be on the next election ballot for the US House seat he now holds, including the three vacancies to be filled in special elections. Of the 19, Republicans currently hold 10 seats as compared to nine for the Democrats. This is the first GOP opening with some competitive potential, however, though the Gonzalez decision will likely have a big impact upon the Ohio redistricting process currently under way within the state legislature in Columbus.

Former White House aide Max Miller had been Rep. Gonzalez’s top Republican competitor. Through the June 30 campaign financial disclosure period, Miller had raised just under $1 million ($951,520), but had only $533,153 remaining in cash-on-hand.

Despite Miller’s strong fundraising effort, Rep. Gonzalez still held the upper hand, reporting $1.22 million raised with over $1.5 million in the bank. Therefore, while the Miller challenge appeared formidable, it was not a foregone conclusion that he would have denied Rep. Gonzalez re-nomination had the congressman decided to continue running.

Rep. Gonzalez’s 16th Congressional District begins in the Westlake area to the west of Cleveland and stretches south toward the rural areas southwest of Canton. It then meanders to the northeast around Akron to end in the city of Edinburg.

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Colorado Redistricting Map:
Congressional Version 3

The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission members released for public input the third congressional map — and second staff offering. (Click on map to see bigger map, more detail)

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 20, 2021 — The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission (congressional) members are on a tight time schedule so they are moving fast. The third congressional map, and second staff offering, was released for public input late last week.

Under the commission parameters, the members produced the first map and the staff constructed the second after completing public hearings. Once both maps were publicized, further comments were recorded. Responding again, the staff amended their draw and released the newest iteration.

The ballot initiative that created the commission process mandates that the members agree upon a map by Sept. 28. A super majority of eight of the 12 members is required to approve a final plan. If the commission members are unable to agree upon a map in such a ratio, the staff would then directly submit a version to the state Supreme Court. The high court must confirm the new congressional plan by Dec. 15. Therefore, it is reasonable to argue that the commission staff possesses more power than the members.

Clearly there were objections, likely from both parties, to the original staff map. Based upon public input, they claimed, a seat that occupied most of the state’s southern quadrant was placed into District 3, historically known as the “western slope” seat. It has traditionally stretched from the Rocky Mountains west of Denver all the way to the Utah border and from Wyoming to New Mexico.

The original staff map changed the 3rd District’s direction, eliminating its northern sector. This had the effect of pairing Reps. Joe Neguse (D-Boulder) and freshman Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) technically into one seat. The heart of District 3 largely remained intact under this map, so even though Boebert’s home was placed in District 2, she still had a place to run. Therefore, the potential incumbent pairing, a political set-up that would have greatly favored Rep. Neguse, is likely alleviated.

Drawing the southern seat had the effect of taking Neguse’s 2nd District from Boulder County all the way to Utah and significantly changing his district, as well. Though it would remain a solid Democratic seat, many conservative western slope voters would have been introduced into a new CD that also included liberal Boulder.

It is highly likely that neither Boebert nor Neguse liked that particular draw, and many leaders of both parties also probably lobbied the commission members and staff to change the map. If so, the persuasion worked.

The new staff map restores the western slope district to its previous formation, meaning encompassing Colorado’s western quadrant from Wyoming to New Mexico along the Utah border. It does include Democratic Pueblo County, which brings some competition to the district. According to the commission’s political statistical package, a historical eight-race averaging of significant electoral contests, the 3rd District would become relatively safe for Rep. Boebert with an R+9 political performance.

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First Indiana Map Published

Indiana Congressional Districts Draft Map (click on map to see larger file size details)

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 17, 2021 — The Indiana House Republican majority caucus released the state’s first 2021 congressional redistricting map, and it appears to strengthen the party’s 7-2 grip on the Hoosier State federal delegation.

Political data is not readily accessible, but the geographic outline and reaction from at least one former Democratic congressional candidate suggests the biggest change comes in the state’s 5th District. IN-5 is the geographically central seat that had been trending away from being the safe Republican CD we saw during the previous decade’s early period.

Former state representative and 2016 lieutenant governor nominee Christina Hale (D), who lost to freshman Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville) by a relatively close open seat 50-46 percent count last November, claims the House Republicans “kneecapped” any Democrat wanting to run in this district for the foreseeable future.

Though the official political data is not available, the Daily Kos Elections team calculated that former President Trump would have carried this new version of the 5th District with a 57-41 percent margin. His victory totals in the present 5th from 2020 and 2016 were 50-48 and 53-41 percent, respectively.

The current 5th District encompasses all or part of eight central Indiana counties including just over 180,000 people from Marion County in the northern Indianapolis suburbs. These are the precincts making the 5th more competitive as they now lean Democratic.

The proposed CD-5, and this released map, are a long way from being adopted through the legislative process; it would see a jettisoning of all of its Marion County population. Instead, the new district would occupy five whole counties north of Indianapolis and the Marion County line in addition to annexing almost all of Howard County.

The district coming into Marion County to replace the residents shed from the 5th is Rep. Greg Pence’s (R-Columbus) 6th District. Instead of moving in a north south direction along the Ohio border as is the current configuration, the proposed IN-6 would move from the Ohio border and enjoin counties to the west all the way into Marion County. The 6th, however, would assume the necessary Marion County population in the southern portion of the Indianapolis metropolitan area instead of the northern territory.

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