Author Archives: Jim Ellis

New Land of Enchantment Numbers

The Albuquerque Journal released the results of their Research & Polling, Inc. survey of 667 likely New Mexico voters over the Sept. 3-6 period, and it reveals an improved position for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. New Mexico, along with New Hampshire and Iowa, has performed as a pure swing state in national elections since 2000, but surveys to date have consistently given President Barack Obama double-digit leads.

In this poll, Obama has only a 45-40 percent advantage over Romney, with former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee for President, drawing 7 percent. With just a five-point gap now, the results show substantial movement for Romney, who had been trailing by as many as 15 points in previous surveys. The poll also shows that Johnson could play spoiler for Obama and not Romney. According to the Albuquerque Journal, “Johnson gets 12 percent of the Independent vote in the state, leaving Romney with a 38-35 lead over Obama among the key group.”

The study was conducted after the Republican convention but before the President made his official acceptance speech last week in Charlotte. According to the pollsters, about half of the respondents were questioned subsequent to First Lady Michelle Obama’s address.

In another race, Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM-1) leads former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM-1) by a 49-42 percent count. This is consistent with other polls that have shown both candidates in the 40-percentile range, with Heinrich leading. The numbers break down regionally as one would expect, except that Wilson, tied with Heinrich in the southwestern corner of the state, should be performing better in the region south of Albuquerque.

This poll suggests that the “lean Democrat” rating assigned to this campaign is correct, but also shows a growth pattern available to Wilson. The fact that she leads Heinrich 53-37 percent among Independents is highly encouraging for her campaign effort.

Last Primaries Tomorrow

Tomorrow marks the last regular primary election of this political cycle, as voters go to the polls in Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Louisianans also haven’t chosen their nominees and will do so in their unique version of the jungle primary that occurs on general election day, Nov. 6. In the Bayou State, if no 2012 candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, then the top two finishers will run-off on Dec. 1.

Tomorrow, however, will decide two key races: choosing gubernatorial nominees in the open New Hampshire statewide race, and whether freshman Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI-1) survives his competitive Democratic primary challenge.

The 1st Congressional District of Rhode Island encompasses the eastern part of the state, beginning at the Massachusetts border with the city of Woonsocket, taking part of the city of Providence, and then traveling south all the way through the upscale city of Newport and out to the Atlantic Ocean. Though the seat is heavily Democratic in nature (Obama ’08: 67 percent), Rhode Island voters do tend to send Republicans to Washington from time to time. Therefore, with former state police colonel Brendan Doherty (R) waiting in the wings for tomorrow’s winner, determining the Democratic nominee, especially in the person of a beleaguered Rep. Cicilline, will not end the battle for this seat.

Cicilline has problems tomorrow not so much for what he has done in Congress, but rather as a hangover from his tenure as Providence mayor. The city is teetering on bankruptcy, and Cicilline has been taking major hits in the local media for his expenditure budgets while he was the city’s chief executive. The Providence Journal newspaper has detailed the waste and abuse in city spending over the course of months, and popular local radio talk show host Buddy Cianci, the former Providence mayor who spent time in federal prison for his improprieties in office, uses Cicilline as his regular whipping boy.

The prolonged attention has caused the congressman grief and though he will likely be renominated tomorrow night, the margin between he and Democratic challenger Anthony Gemma could provide a clue as to how the general election will unfold.

Gemma is a marketing executive who ran two years ago when the seat was open, placing second to Cicilline in a four-person Democratic primary field with 23.3 percent to the winner’s 37.7 percent. Despite Cicilline being so well-known and facing three people who were largely unfamiliar to the voting populace, more than 62 percent of 2010 Democratic primary voters chose another candidate. He then won an unimpressive 51-45 percent victory in the general election. With increased negatives since that time, tomorrow’s race should be considered a serious challenge despite Gemma only raising slightly over $300,000 for the campaign.

The most competitive New Hampshire primary race is the Democratic battle for the right to succeed retiring four-term Gov. John Lynch (D). New Hampshire and Vermont are the only two states who still utilize two-year terms for their governors. So, even though Lynch has won four elections, the first New Hampshire chief executive in the modern era to do so, he has only served eight years.

Two former state legislators are squaring off for their party’s nomination, Democratic former state Senate majority leader Maggie Hassan and ex-state senator Jackie Cilley. The winner – and Hassan is only a slight favorite tomorrow – will likely face GOP former gubernatorial nominee and ex-chairman of the state Board of Education, Ovide Lamontagne. The November contest will likely be as close as the presidential election here will be, in what will prove to be a tight and politically pivotal state.

At the congressional level, the general election contests are virtually set as Rep. Frank Guinta (R) defends his 1st District seat against the woman he unseated two years ago, former representative Carol Shea-Porter (D). The 2nd District contest will also feature a re-match of the 2010 campaign, a fierce one-point race between current Rep. Charlie Bass (R) and lobbyist Ann McLane Kuster (D). An equally close contest is forecast for this year. The two Republican incumbents face multiple primary opponents tomorrow, but none are serious. Both Democratic candidates are unopposed.

Massachusetts Primary Results

Richard Tisei – Republican hopeful?

The Massachusetts primary bore no surprises last night, as all incumbents breezed to renomination victories.

In the western state 1st District, a redistricting combination of current CDs 1 and 2 (remember, the state lost a seat in reapportionment), incumbent Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA-2) easily overcame his Democratic primary challenge from former state senator Andrea Nuciforo Jr. Neal won 65-25%. The congressman has unofficially already won re-election as he is unopposed in the general election.

Worcester Rep. Jim McGovern crushed his Democratic primary opponent, garnering more than 91 percent of the vote. He, too, is unopposed in the general election.

In the newly configured District 3 (Lowell-Lawrence-north/central Mass.), incumbent Rep. Niki Tsongas will face GOP primary winner Jon Golnik, a businessman. The general election campaign will not be competitive.

In the southern part of the state, as expected, Joseph P. Kennedy III, the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, broke 90 percent in the Democratic primary and moves to the general election. He is a prohibitive favorite against 2010 Republican nominee Sean Bielat in the battle to replace the retiring Congressman Barney Frank (D).

Checking the Malden-Melrose-Framingham seat, 18-term incumbent Ed Markey (D) will face military veteran Tom Tierney who won the three-way Republican primary with 43 percent of the vote. Tierney will have little chance against Markey in the fall.

The 6th District, in the northeastern corner of the Bay State, breaks the trend of non-competitive general election campaigns as Rep. John Tierney (D) and former state senator Richard Tisei (R) will square-off in what has the potential of becoming a close contest. Tierney, originally elected in 1996, won a 55-41 percent re-election victory two years ago after his wife was convicted of tax fraud for her activities in her brother’s off-shore internet gambling business. Tisei, who has already raised more than $1.4 million for the campaign and had $630,000 still remaining in his campaign bank account at the Aug. 17 pre-primary financial disclosure deadline, is a top-tier challenger. The 6th is one of the few Massachusetts congressional districts that could elect a Republican.

In the 7th District, Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA-8) had no Democratic opposition last night and faces only a minor party candidate in November. Another easy win is in store for the congressman who, for a time, considered a Senate challenge to Republican incumbent Scott Brown but backed away and chose to remain in the House.

In the Boston-Quincy 8th District, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-9) will face GOP businessman Joe Selvaggi in what will be an easy run for a seventh term. The congressman was unopposed for renomination last night.

Finally, the new 9th District, which covers the southeastern part of the state starting in Brockton and then travels due east to encompass the Cape Cod peninsula, freshman Rep. Bill Keating, who only represents 59 percent of this new constituency, scored a 60 percent victory in last night’s Democratic primary against Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter. Keating now faces local town Selectman Adam Chaprales who won a close Republican primary. The general election will not be competitive.

Considering the November vote, Massachusetts will host two hot races, the US Senate contest between incumbent Scott Brown (R) and challenger Elizabeth Warren (D) and the 6th Congressional District battle between Rep. Tierney (D) and former state legislator Tisei (R). The 20-percent competitive factor (two of 10 federal races) is actually a high number for Massachusetts, which historically is the quintessential one-party state.

Massachusetts Primary Today

As President Obama makes his Democratic nomination acceptance speech tonight, Massachusetts voters will go to the polls to choose federal and state political party nominees in the nation’s second primary election held on a Thursday. Tennessee is the other state that chose such a voting day.

The primary election features Sen. Scott Brown (R) and consumer advocate and Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren (D) poised to easily win their respective party nominations. In the House races, two incumbents have significant challenges from credible opponents, but no upsets are predicted.

In the western 1st District, which is basically a combination of the current 1st and 2nd Districts because Massachusetts lost a seat in reapportionment, veteran Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA-2) faces former state senator Andrea Nuciforo Jr., who is now a local official in Berkshire County. Since Neal’s Springfield base also comes to this new 1st CD, the incumbent will be difficult to dislodge, especially from a challenger with inferior resources.

In the 9th District, which now includes the hook-shaped Cape Cod peninsula, freshman Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA-10) attempts to win renomination from a very different district than the one to which he was originally elected. Almost 40 percent of the seat is new territory for Keating, and he goes into the primary seeing his home base of Quincy placed in another district. The congressman faces Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter today, but the challenger lacks the resources to defeat the one-term incumbent.

In the open 4th District (Democrat Rep. Barney Frank retiring) Joseph P. Kennedy III, grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, will cruise to the Democratic nomination today and easily win the seat in November. His victory will mark a return to Congress for the Kennedy family after a two-year absence from having anyone in federal office.

Florida Wavering

Sen. Bill Nelson

From Florida, the nation’s quintessential swing state, who would expect anything but close political contests? Therefore, it’s no surprise that the Sunshine State Senate race is again rendering new survey data suggesting yet another hotly contested statewide campaign.

Two polls were just released yesterday, each projecting very different results in the US Senate contest, which is also nothing new for this race. Much as we saw in the Hawaii Democratic primary, almost every publicly released survey shows a radically different result when compared with the study released directly before.

Often times, conflicting polls will indicate a very close race because the electorate is volatile. In this case, we have individual polls showing a very different cumulative Senate race result, but consistent patterns within their own particular sampling universes when testing other races and individual approval ratios.

Public Policy Polling (Aug. 31-Sept. 2; 1,548 likely Florida voters) gives Sen. Bill Nelson (D) a 45-38 percent lead over Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-FL-14). But Gravis Marketing, on a one-day (Sept. 2) automated survey of 1,288 likely Florida voters, reveals a much tighter race. According to Gravis, Nelson’s lead is only one point, 43-42 percent.

The PPP sample projects a decidedly negative impression of Rep. Mack, suggesting that the adverse attacks against him have taken their toll. By a ratio of 27:45 percent, the respondents voiced an unfavorable impression of the Ft. Myers congressman, who is the son of a popular former Florida senator. But, incumbent Nelson doesn’t fare much better. Asked whether the sampling universe approves or disapproves of the job he’s doing in office, the respondents registered a 35:42 percent overall negative impression.

Gravis didn’t test job or personal approval, but they did assess the presidential race. According to their sampling universe, Mitt Romney leads President Obama 48-47 percent. The firm also tested presidential preference within the two gender groups. The sample stated that Florida men favor Romney 54-42 percent. Women break for the President 51-44 percent. All of these numbers are in range with other polls, though the Romney share of the female vote projection is a bit higher than typically reported from other surveys. The fact that Gravis is consistent with the others on the presidential race and in range on the gender segmentation gives greater credibility to their conclusion suggesting that the Nelson-Mack contest is a dead heat.

The PPP survey did not test the Obama-Romney campaign, but they did ask other questions. Many had to do with former governor Charlie Crist and his impending switch from being an Independent to becoming a Democrat. You will remember Crist was elected governor in 2006 as a Republican and attempted to seek the GOP nomination for Senate in 2010, but when it became evident he could not overtake Marco Rubio for the party nomination, he bolted and ran unsuccessfully as an Independent.

Now, it is likely that Crist will become a Democrat and oppose GOP Gov. Rick Scott in 2014. The survey data pertaining to the party-switching former governor does little to verify PPP’s Senatorial numbers, because voting trends are not relevant with the Crist situation due to the impressions and attitudes expressed about him being personal in nature. Therefore, with the supporting data that is available it is difficult to gauge the PPP Senate ballot test reliability.

Sen. Nelson may very well hold a lead beyond the margin of error against Rep. Mack, but verifiable indications still point to a race that will get much closer before it is finally decided in November.