Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Battleground Poll: Favorable Romney Trends

Mitt Romney

The Battleground Poll, now in partnership with George Washington University, released a new survey (Sept. 16-20; 1,000 likely voters) yesterday that contains some surprising trends. The Battleground survey is a joint, long-standing, non-partisan effort from Republican pollster Tarrance & Associates and the Democratic survey firm of Lake Research. Their new data posts Republican Mitt Romney to a substantial lead within critical swing demographic segments despite President Obama scoring a 50-47 percent national advantage.

Rather stunningly, Romney has a nine-point lead among white women and a seven-point advantage among people 45 years of age and older. Considering the Obama campaign strategy has been to paint the Romney-Ryan ticket as the enemy of senior citizens, this poll suggests that this tactic has not gained any traction within the targeted segment. A bit less surprising are Romney’s 14-point positive numbers with married respondents.

But, perhaps the most significant part of the data pertains to the candidates’ middle-class performance. According to Battleground, it is Romney, despite all of the middle-class emphasis put forth from the Obama campaign, who has a 14-point edge within this economic demographic sector.

If the Battleground data is accurate, it is telling us that the Obama campaign is failing in two of its core strategic objectives: creating the Romney negative image they want voters to envision as it relates to cutting Medicare, and middle-class tax policy. If true, the ballot test numbers should soon begin swinging Romney’s way.

Republican House Prospects Looking Strong

Last week, Anne Brady, former finance director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, analyzed the House races from her perspective. Today, Jeff Burton, the Deputy Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, offers the GOP analysis.

House Democrats held a press conference last Thursday where Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi proclaimed that her party has a “very excellent chance” of winning the majority in the upcoming general election. There’s just one problem – just about every pundit disagrees. Even other Democrat Party leaders fail to share their former Speaker’s opinion. Whoops. Last Monday, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (IL) said he expects the House to remain in Republican hands, and Robby Mook, Executive Director of the DCCC, said just a few weeks ago, “Today, we are in a neutral environment. It is a pretty steep climb in a neutral environment. It’s tough.”

Democrats need to pick up a net of 25 seats to take control. With a month and a half before Election Day, Republicans stand an excellent chance of not only keeping control, but also gaining seats and expanding our majority in the House.

Here’s why:

History is on Our Side – Only once since WWII has the party holding the White House gained more than 15 House seats in a presidential election year. That was in President Johnson’s 1964 landslide win over Sen. Barry Goldwater. President Obama’s negatives (ObamaCare, Cap & Trade, stimulus, economy & jobs) are so ingrained with voters that there is virtually no chance of a Democratic landslide.

Republicans on Offense – In 2010, the NRCC spent over 98 percent of our election money on offense. Going in to 2012, our strategy was to stay on offense and not let the Democrats spend the bulk of their money in Republican seats. Currently, of the $50+ million that the NRCC has reserved for TV this fall, we are spending 40 percent of it on offense, with Democrats following us in most places in an attempt to defend their endangered seats. Needless to say, a majority is not won by spending the bulk of your resources playing defense.

Message – Recent polling shows voters are putting more and more blame for the bad economy on President Obama. The Obama economy has precipitated the worst economic recovery in our nation’s history, and voters aren’t ready to let Democrats get away with it. Despite the Supreme Court ruling, ObamaCare is still an albatross around the necks of congressional Democrats. The Congressional Budget Office just upped both the overall cost of ObamaCare and the commensurate amount of Medicare cuts for current seniors that offset the massive new federal expenditure. Our message of reducing spending & debt, creating jobs, and repealing and replacing ObamaCare continues to resonate with voters. Our incumbents and candidates have done a great job of communicating this message.

Resources – The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) talks a lot about how they have out-raised the NRCC for the cycle. But, as any small business owner will say, ‘you can’t spend gross, you can only spend net’. According to the last report (end of August), the NRCC had $10 million more cash-on-hand than the DCCC. What does $10 million buy? It buys a month of television in Chicago, Sacramento, Denver and Las Vegas: all expensive markets where both parties are playing both offense and defense in multiple districts.

The Drive for 25 – This was the slogan the Democrats came up with after they lost the majority in record-breaking fashion back in 2010. Their math, however, doesn’t add up. Because of redistricting and key Democrat retirements in seats like OK-2 (R+14), AR-4 (R+9) and NC-13 (R+10), Republicans have a number of “gimmies” that we should pick up without spending any money. This, coupled with DCCC recruiting failures in seats in New York, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois and Florida, and redistricting victories in North Carolina and across the country, provides the basis for every non-partisan political analyst (and even the liberal New York Times) to say that Democrats really need to pick up somewhere between 35-40 Republican seats to win the majority.

All these factors lead to a neutral political environment. Head to head, I would take our incumbents and challengers over theirs any day. So Nancy Pelosi’s “very excellent chance” to take back the House is nothing more than a pipe dream. She won’t be wielding the Speaker’s gavel anytime soon. Hopefully, she never will again.

A Senate Shift to the Left? Not Quite

Angus King, Independent

Several surveys were released this week that revealed a leftward polling shift in key Senate races, but new data publicized late yesterday returned to the previous pattern.

With only six-plus weeks left until Election Day, Democratic Senate candidates have made considerable gains, and earlier this week national trends were showing a clear shift in races that are pivotal to a Senate majority.

With 51 seats needed to maintain the Senate majority, a current combination of returning senators and candidates leading in 2012 contests would give the Democrats 48 members. One Independent candidate (Angus King), should he win the open seat three-way race in Maine, is likely to caucus with the Democrats, while another six races where neither candidate has led consistently are considered toss-ups. In three of the too-close-to-call states – Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Virginia – the Democratic candidates appear to have made gains since the national convention period, and early week polls showed a definite change in voter support. But, studies released late yesterday afternoon projected the Republican candidate to now be gaining in all three of those particular places.

In Wisconsin, the battle between former governor Tommy Thompson and Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin continues to make news. Polling completed after the Democratic gathering in Charlotte, N.C., ended showing a major shift in the race. A New York Times/CBS News/Quinnipiac University survey projected Rep. Baldwin to have drawn into a tie with Thompson, after trailing him by six percentage points in August. Additionally, a Marquette University poll, also released Wednesday, revealed Rep. Baldwin catapulting from a nine-point deficit all the way into a nine-point lead. The new CBS/Quinnipiac poll, however, brings the race back to an even footing.

In the Old Dominion, we see another slight shift to the left as two polls give the Democrat, former governor Tim Kaine, leads of four and seven percentage points over Republican ex-senator George Allen. The polls, including one from the Washington Post, found that Kaine has an eight percentage point lead over Allen, 51-43 percent. That’s a significant shift since May when their last poll found the two candidates – both universally known in Virginia politics – tied. The second poll, a Quinnipac University/CBS News/New York Times study released Wednesday found Kaine to hold a seven percentage point lead over Allen, 51-44 percent, but their respondent universe contained a substantial over-sampling of Democrats. Previously, the same partnering organizations’ poll conducted in late July posted Kaine to a smaller, two percentage point lead.

In New England, we see more movement. On Wednesday, a fourth consecutive poll was published putting Democrat Elizabeth Warren ahead of Sen. Scott Brown (R). The incumbent, who recently distanced himself from GOP nominee and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and continues to battle for the opportunity to win a full six-year term in office, must overcome the highest hurdle of adverse political voting history of any Republican candidate in the country.

The Republicans may be coming through their down polling period because of the positive consistency associated with the numbers released yesterday. This tells us it is too soon to tell if a pro-Democratic pattern is beginning to crystallize, or whether the recent upturn was a mere blip in the ebb and flow of the election cycle.

With only 46 days until Election Day it is a certainty that each of the long-term close Senate races will continue to help define which of the two parties will claim majority status when the new Congress convenes in January.

Angus King Fading in Maine

Ever since Independent former Gov. Angus King announced his candidacy for the open Maine Senate seat, he has been considered a strong favorite to win. And, there is a realistic scenario suggesting that he alone would decide who controls the Senate if by caucusing with one party or the other he either breaks a tie or creates one. Now, however, two new polls both show King to be in a weaker position in his three-way battle with GOP Secretary of State Charlie Summers and Democratic state Sen. Cynthia Dill.

According to the liberal Maine’s People’s Resource Center (Sept. 15-17; 856 likely Maine voters) that polled the race now and earlier in the year, King still posts a lead but it’s only about half as strong as it was in June. Today, they project King to have a 44-28-15 percent advantage over Summers and Dill, respectively. Public Policy Polling (Sept. 17-18; 804 likely Maine voters), surveying in the same time period, shows an even closer race. They have King leading only 43-35-14 percent.

Outside organizations have recently spent almost $2 million attacking King, and the operation appears to be working. The key to denying the state’s former governor victory is actually the Cynthia Dill number, which is more important than Summers’ support level. If Dill can break 20 percent, then King has trouble. In that scenario, all Summers has to do is hold the Republican base vote and he might have enough support to win. All of a sudden, the Maine campaign is knocking on the door of becoming a real race.

A Quintet of Close New House Polls

Rep. Mary Bono Mack

Now that we’ve passed Labor Day, congressional polls are going to be released at a fast and furious pace. Yesterday several surveys came into the public domain, each revealing close races for the tested subjects. Some of the new data appears surprising, but considering the redistricting or political situation surrounding the incumbent such results should have been expected.

Around the horn, close races are confirmed for Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA-36), Mike Coffman (R-CO-6), Bill Johnson (R-OH-6), David Rivera (R-FL-26) and the open WA-1 campaign between Republican John Koster and Democrat Suzan DelBene.

Polling for the liberal advocacy group Democracy for America, Public Policy Polling (Sept. 12-13; 1,281 likely CA-36 voters via automated interviews) gives California Rep. Bono Mack only a 47-44 percent lead over physician Raul Ruiz (D). The Riverside County district favors Republicans in registration by a 40.3 to 38.6 percent margin and the PPP sampling universe showed a 41-40 percent Republican to Democrat ratio. Therefore, the poll accurately reflects the desert district’s political division. This is the second poll that has projected the campaign to be within the margin of error. Such is not a surprise because this district can be competitive and Dr. Ruiz is proving to be a formidable opponent.

In Colorado, when the court re-drew the 2011 congressional map, the incumbent receiving the most adverse district was sophomore Rep. Mike Coffman. His 6th District went from 53-46 percent McCain to a 54-45 percent Obama, a net swing of 16 points toward the Democrats. So, it’s no surprise that he would be in a tough 2012 campaign. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released another of their methodologically questionable interactive voice response polls, this one of only 350 people. The results show Coffman leading 42-39 percent, which on this type of survey, and being unaware of the types of questions asked, may not be a bad result for the Republican incumbent. The new confines of the district will yield a close race, but it is reasonable to conclude that the DCCC three-point Republican advantage conclusion most likely understates Rep. Coffman’s true support.

The 6th District in Ohio is a Democratic-leaning district at the very least. Freshman Rep. Bill Johnson’s upset of two-term Rep. Charlie Wilson (D) was one of the biggest surprises of the 2010 cycle. Therefore, it was expected that the re-match would be close. According to an Anzalone-Liszt survey for the Wilson campaign (Sept. 9-12; 500 likely OH-6 voters), the results confirm such a prediction. The Democratic internal data projects the race to be a 46-46 percent tie. Both candidates are accusing the other of voting to cut Medicare. The 6th, Ohio’s largest coal-producing district, could well vote based upon energy policy. The Cap & Trade issue was a major reason for Johnson’s 2010 win, even though Wilson had opposed the bill when he was in the House. This race appears to be a pure toss-up.

In Florida, Public Policy Polling, again for Democracy for America (dates and sample size not released) fielded a survey that was basically in the push-poll category as it asked several questions regarding the FBI investigating freshman Rep. David Rivera (R-FL-26). The pre-push result showed two-time former congressional nominee Joe Garcia (D) leading the first-term representative 46-39 percent. After the push questions were asked and recorded, the secondary ballot test gave Garcia a 49-36 percent lead. There is no doubt that Rivera has political problems, and since the new 26th CD is politically marginal the six point Democratic lead is certainly within the realm of possibility.

Finally, in Washington state, a Survey USA poll (Sept. 13-15; 593 likely WA-1 voters) gives Republican John Koster a 46-42 percent lead over Democrat Suzan DelBene. Both individuals are former congressional nominees. The new 1st is much different from the current CD-1 that Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jay Inslee formerly represented. Fifty-two percent of the territory is new to the 1st District, but it’s an area largely comprised of places Koster represented during his tenure in the legislature and on the Snohomish County Commission. While 56 percent of the CD-1 voters supported President Obama in 2008, such a number represents a swing of 12 points toward the Republicans from WA-1’s former configuration. The S-USA poll shows Koster trailing DelBene by just one point among female voters, which is likely to expand in DelBene’s favor as the campaign continues toward Election Day. This race is expected to be close, but in a presidential year, the Democrats should command at least a slight edge.