Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Election Turnout Down in 2014; Louisiana Run-off Tomorrow

Now that states are beginning to report their certified election numbers, we can better gauge the 2014 turnout patterns. It appears that over eight million fewer people voted in this mid-term election than did in 2010. This is a large number to be sure, but much of the participation fall-off comes from places that featured little in the way of competitive elections.

Thirty-five states are reporting turnout figures that are lower than their respective voter participation tabulations for 2010. This is a substantial number in any event, but even more so when one is cognizant of the fact that virtually all states have increased population and higher registered voter totals now than they did four years ago. Conversely, 15 states saw an increase in aggregate voter turnout when compared to 2010.

The three states with the steepest turnout drop are Missouri, California and Nevada.

The Show Me State found 34.2 percent fewer people voting in this past election than in the last mid-term, but that is likely due to the fact that the only statewide contest was for the office of auditor, and none of the eight congressional races were viewed as competitive heading into Election Day. With California Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) re-election being a foregone conclusion and no Golden State US Senate contest, mid-term turnout in America’s largest state dropped 27.6 percent. California did have a host of competitive congressional contests, but they were not enough to balance the Continue reading >

More Midwest Maneuverings

Indiana

Gov. Mike Pence (R), whose name appears from time to time on the ever-growing list of Republicans considering a presidential run, appears to be drawing at least one name opponent for the 2016 Indiana statewide race. The Hoosier State is one of 11 entities to hold their gubernatorial vote in the presidential election year, thus putting a potential crimp into any plan the governor may have about entering the national campaign.

Most believe Pence will seek re-election to a second term, especially since political heavyweights Evan Bayh, the Democratic former governor and senator, and former gubernatorial nominee John Gregg have both said they will not run for governor in 2016.

But, former US Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN-9) is making moves to suggest that he will enter the contest. Hill is leaving his DC lobbying firm and moving back to Indiana and reportedly is setting a financial budget as to what he will require to launch and conduct a competitive campaign.

Hill served 10 non-consecutive years in the House, and belongs to a small group of members who have twice lost their seats as incumbents. Hill was originally elected to the House in 1998, and fell to businessman Mike Sodrel (R) in the Bush re-election year of 2004. Undaunted, he ran once more two years later and re-claimed the seat in the 2006 Democratic landslide. But, in the Republican wave of 2010, Rep. Hill once Continue reading >

Potential Presidential Candidates Decide on Next Steps

Two informal pronouncements were made yesterday from potential presidential candidates, with a rather odd statement coming from a third. The first two comments came from a pair of US senators who surprisingly indicated that they plan to seek another term in their current political position.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) informed potential national supporters that he has decided not to run for president and will instead seek re-election to the Senate seat he won in 2010. Before returning to Congress, Portman served as President George W. Bush’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget after a short stint as the administration’s US trade representative. Before that, Portman was elected to six terms in the House of Representatives.

In a state just to the south of Portman’s Ohio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul appears intent on running for two political jobs: his current Senate position, and for president. Paul has a serious problem in trying to do both, however, as Kentucky election law does not allow an individual to appear on the ballot for more than one office.

The bid for Republicans to gain control of the Kentucky state House of Representatives failed, thus ending any chance of changing the state election law to allow candidates to simultaneously seek two offices.

Without having the ability to alter the election statute, another potential way exists Continue reading >

State Primary Dance Already Underway

As the calendar turns to 2015, we immediately usher in a new year of political jockeying. Come January, we will be reading many stories describing how political party leaders are attempting to move their state into a prime nomination position for the upcoming presidential campaign. With an open national race upon us for the first time in eight years, and on the threshold of what could become the most exciting political contest in generations, the schedule of primaries and caucuses become of tantamount importance.

With several exceptions, Republicans and Democrats generally have the same respective nominating schedule as it relates to voters participating in primaries or caucus events. Though the dates are not yet finalized, a projected schedule can be constructed. Most of the political musical chairs tend to occur on the Republican side because GOP leaders in states like Florida have a history of jumping ahead from their historical primary position into a more prominent spot.

From a big state, the Floridians gain significant leverage if they hold their primary just before what is normally pegged as “Super Tuesday”, the large gathering of mostly southern state primaries held on the same day in early March of the election year. But, Republican National Committees have previously punished state delegations for threatening the early positioning of the four sanctioned states. In fact, Florida itself has been stripped of its entire slate of delegates Continue reading >

Independent Outside Spending Grew at Significant Rate in 2014

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law just released a compilation of data relating to independent expenditures from the 2014 competitive senatorial campaigns. The compilation tells us some interesting facts about the scope of the outside group involvement, their impact upon the races (from an aggregate perspective), and whether Republicans or Democrats were the greater beneficiary from this campaign expenditure category.

The following are the Brennan Center’s tracked races – the ones the study conductors believed to be the 10 most competitive Senate races; Louisiana was excluded because a run-off appeared inevitable and no clear conclusion would be derived on Nov. 4 – providing totals for the independent money that was spent in each campaign.

The top indirect recipients of the independent outside spending (approximate figures) are as follows (winning candidates’ totals only):

• Thom Tillis (R-NC) – defeated Sen. Kay Hagan (D), 48-47% – $28 million
• Cory Gardner (R-CO) – defeated Sen. Mark Udall (D), 49-46% – $25 million
• Joni Ernst (R-IA) – defeated Rep. Bruce Braley (D), 52-44% – $23.5 million
• Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – def. Alison Grimes (D), 56-41% – $21.5 million
• Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) – def. Sen. Mark Pryor (D), 56-39% – $19 million Continue reading >