Monthly Archives: October 2021

Youngkin Closing on McAuliffe

By Jim Ellis

Glenn Youngkin, Virginia Republican governor candidate

Oct. 8, 2021 — A new Emerson College poll (Oct. 1-3; 620 likely Virginia voters, live interview and online panel with weighted responses) finds former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and ex-hedge fund CEO Glenn Youngkin in a virtual dead heat on the ballot test. McAuliffe is clinging to a bare 49-48 percent edge, but the underlying numbers suggest Youngkin may not be quite that close.

While Youngkin enjoys a very strong lead in the rural areas (57-42 percent) McAuliffe does better than he in the much larger urban areas (59-36 percent) thus negating, and then some, any edge the challenger may have established.

Surprisingly, considering recent poor Republican performance among suburban voters, Youngkin pulls slightly ahead of McAuliffe, 49-48 percent, within this category. Breaking even here would be a huge benefit for Youngkin should this trend prove real and is sustained.

Among women, McAuliffe has a 51-45 percent edge, which is actually a credible split for a Republican nominee in a Democratic state. Youngkin, however, needs to perform better among men than his 50-46 percent split found in this survey. Targeting men should be a key focal point for the Youngkin campaign in the closing days of the race.

Among minority groups, Emerson finds that Youngkin is outperforming a typical Republican candidate. The split among blacks, however, of 72-25 percent in McAuliffe’s favor, is suspect. Usually a Republican candidate is closer to the 10 percent level within this cell segment. It is not particularly unusual, however, to see a Republican polling better among blacks than what would be the actual performance factor once the votes are cast, and that pattern may appear again when the final votes are recorded in this contest.

The Hispanic segmentation is interesting. Republicans have been doing better within the Hispanic cell, and particularly so in 2020; so Youngkin actually leading McAuliffe within this group, 55-45 percent, may not be shocking but certainly appears inflated.

It wouldn’t be particularly surprising to see Youngkin pull more votes from Hispanics than a typical Republican candidate, but it is unlikely he would post a majority within this group. Still, while probably not as rosy a picture as this poll paints for Youngkin, it is probable that he will draw a greater Hispanic share than originally projected for him at the beginning of this campaign.

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Colorado Map Under Fire

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

Oct. 7, 2021 — As we reported last week, the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission, on an 11-1 vote, sent to the state Supreme Court an eight-district congressional map for legal approval. The commission members met the Sept. 28 deadline that the voter-passed initiatives mandated. Also under the measures, the high court has until Dec. 15 to approve the map.

Already, talk of legal challenges has begun. At least two organized groups according to the Colorado Sun news site, the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy and Research Organization and the national Campaign Legal Center, are considering filing challenges to the map based upon its grouping of Hispanic voters. The latter group is an unofficial legal arm for the national Democratic Party.

Additionally, the Colorado Democratic Party is also considering a challenge based upon the competitive nature of the overall map, citing the language outlined in the two initiatives that created the new redistricting process, Amendments Y and Z from the 2018 election.

State Sen. Kerry Donovan (D-Wolcott), the Senate President Pro Tempore, who is actively challenging Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) in the western slope 3rd District, is suspending her fundraising efforts until she sees what the court rules in relation to the congressional map, which she opposes. Concerning the entire map, but especially regarding the 3rd District, Sen. Donovan said the plan is, “an inexplicable change given that Colorado has grown significantly more Democratic since the last redistricting process 10 years ago.”

It’s interesting that the Democrats are beginning to object on a competitive argument. The commission plan favors them, though the new 8th District is clearly a swing seat. This, and the surrounding districts, comprise the heart of their argument regarding Hispanic voting power. The partisan arguments clearly concern the 3rd District, especially since their top priority is to unseat the conservative firebrand, Rep. Boebert.

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New Tight Nevada Polling

By Jim Ellis

Former Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)

Oct. 6, 2021 — The Nevada Independent online news site commissioned a September Mellman Group statewide poll (Sept. 15-22; 600 likely Nevada voters, live interview) just as former US Sen. Dean Heller (R) was announcing that he will join the Republican field vying to challenge Gov. Steve Sisolak (D). The results and analysis were released Monday.

The pollsters also tested the US Senate race between first-term Democratic incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and former Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R). Both the gubernatorial and the US Senate contest returned close general election projections.

Nevada has featured close elections in the previous decade leading up to the 2022 voting cycle. Of the 18 statewide electoral contests between and including 2012 and 2020, Democrats have averaged 49.0 percent of the vote and Republicans’ 45.2 percent. In eight of the 18 campaigns, the winner recorded only plurality support.

During the time span, Democrats won 10 statewide races and Republicans won eight, but the GOP has scored only one victory since 2016. Therefore, it is not surprising to again see close polling data, and we can expect similar results throughout the campaign cycle.

According to the Mellman data, Gov. Sisolak would lead ex-Sen. Heller, 46-43 percent, but the small margin tightens even further if Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo were to win the Republican nomination. In the Sisolak-Lombardo pairing, the governor edges the sheriff by half a percentage point, 44.9 – 44.4 percent.

In the Republican primary, asked of only those who said they plan to vote in that contest though the sample number was not released, Heller led Sheriff Lombardo, 31-23 percent, with former professional boxer Joey Gilbert and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee trailing with 11 and three percent, respectively.

On the positive side for Gov. Sisolak, his favorability index is only slightly upside-down at 46:48 percent, despite his handling of the COVID-19 virus getting a heavy 38:59 percent negative rating. He leads in all-important Clark County by 10 and seven points against Heller and Lombardo, respectively.

The governor saw a negative reading coming from Washoe County (Reno), however, which tends to act as a bellwether of the Nevada vote and an entity that Sisolak carried in 2018 against then-Attorney General Laxalt. The Mellman poll posted Heller to an eight-point lead over Sisolak in Washoe, while Sheriff Lombardo enjoyed a six-point edge.

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Texans Planning Moves

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 5, 2021 — The Texas congressional map was unveiled in the state Senate last week, and already many incumbents and challengers are making or announcing political plans based upon what they are seeing … but this congressional plan is a long way from enactment.

In the past few days we have seen Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) concede that he would consider moving to run in the open 34th District, which is due east of his own 15th CD and anchored in the city of Brownsville. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) is not seeking re-election to a sixth term, and he reportedly is favorable toward Gonzalez coming into his district.

The 34th remains solidly Democratic under the Senate introduced congressional map, but the 15th, already trending more Republican than in past elections, would actually have favored former President Trump by three percentage points under the proposed boundaries. Thus, Republicans would have a strong chance of winning here in an open seat race.

The 2020 GOP nominee, Monica de la Cruz-Hernandez, who held Rep. Gonzalez to a 50-48 percent re-election victory while spending barely over $400,000, has announced she is running again and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has already endorsed her for the 2022 race.

Gonzalez is not the only one working on his next political move. Wesley Hunt (R), who lost 51-47 percent to Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Houston) in 2020, said months ago that he would run for the House again, but was mum on exactly where he would land in hopes that one of the new seats would fall into his area. Under this proposed map, the new 38th District does encompass part of the current Fletcher district, and it is highly favorable to an eventual Republican nominee.

For her part, Rep. Fletcher gets a much stronger Democratic district in southern Harris County and now into Ft. Bend County, which is one of the fastest growing regions in the state. Reports also suggest that Hunt has over $1 million in his campaign account at the reporting period ending Sept. 30 despite not previously declaring where he would run. He announced last week that he has chosen District 38 if this new map becomes law.

Late last week, Republican businessman and retired Air Force officer Steve Fowler announced his congressional candidacy in the 28th District, Rep. Henry Cuellar’s (D-Laredo) seat that begins in San Antonio and spans to the Mexican border. Earlier this year, Jessica Cisneros, who held Cuellar to a 52-48 percent Democratic primary win in 2020, announced she is returning for a re-match.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) will also have a decision to make. The new 37th District is wholly contained within Travis County and safely Democratic. He could easily run in this seat, thus leaving his 35th CD that is co-anchored in Austin and San Antonio for a Hispanic Democrat to likely win.

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Nebraska Redistricting Map Set; Surprises in Arizona Senate Polling

Nebraska’s new three-district congressional map

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 4, 2021 — The Cornhusker State of Nebraska has joined Oregon and Colorado in completing its redistricting process as Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) late last week signed into law the new three-district congressional map.

The new map is similar to the previous plan. It slightly improves Rep. Don Bacon’s (R-Papillon/Omaha) 2nd District while keeping the Omaha metro area together as a complete unit. The 2nd will remain competitive, though Rep. Bacon will be in stronger position to seek a fourth term. He was re-elected last November with a 51-46 percent margin in defeating Democrat Kara Eastman for the second time and defending himself against a $4.5 million opposition campaign.

Rep. Adrian Smith’s (R-Gering) 3rd District again stretches the width of the state, from Colorado and Wyoming all the way to Iowa and the northwestern corner of Missouri. This time the 3rd even goes so far as to border Omaha’s Douglas County.

It is likely the new Nebraska map will continue to send three Republicans to the House, though Democrats will undoubtedly return to target Rep. Bacon in District 2.

Arizona Senate

Phoenix-based OH Predictive Insights tested the Arizona electorate as they regularly do (released Sept. 29 & Sept. 7-12; 882 registered Arizona voters, online opt-in panel) and finds freshman Sen. Mark Kelly (D) leading all potential Republican general election opponents, but with percentages well below majority support in all tested instances.

As you will remember, Sen. Kelly, after a difficult and expensive 2020 campaign in which he raised an incredible $101 million to defeat appointed Martha McSally (R), won the special election, 51-49 percent, to fill the remainder of the late Sen. John McCain’s (R) final term. He now returns to the campaign trail in order to win a full six-year term in 2022.

At this point, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, venture capitalist Blake Masters, solar energy company Jim Lamon, and retired Arizona National Guard Adjutant General Mick McGuire comprise the top tier of the Republican field. OHPI tested each man individually opposite Sen. Kelly.

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