Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Major Swing State Polling Figures Show Obama Support

A series of new polls from three major swing states -Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania – reveals that voters basically support President Barack Obama’s immigration policy, but are split on his handling of the economy.

Quinnipiac University released their research data this week from polls simultaneously conducted in those critical swing states, and the results reveal that the president has a discernible advantage over presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the three places, the culmination of which could decide the election. The polls, all from the June 19-25 period, report the following ballot test findings:

• Florida: Obama 45 percent – Romney 41 percent (1,200 Florida voters)
• Ohio: Obama 47 percent – Romney 38 percent (1,237 Ohio voters)
• Pennsylvania: Obama 45 percent – Romney 39 percent (1,252 Pennsylvania voters)

Since 1960, history dictates that no one has won the White House without taking at least two of the three aforementioned states. In comparing these results with the similar May 3 Q-Poll findings that gave Obama an eight-point lead in Pennsylvania with Florida and Ohio in virtual dead heats, suggests that the president has gained recent momentum. Today, Obama has clear leads over Romney in the three critically important states and, if such a pattern continues throughout the summer and into autumn, he stands in good position to secure a second term. Keeping in mind that voter disposition over a four-month time period in the modern campaign era can quickly change, this new data again suggests that the 2012 presidential contest will be tight in these three major battleground states.

The polls yield several basic conclusions. Initially, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania polling respondents support President Obama’s new immigration policy and are divided over whether he or Romney would be better for the country’s economy and their personal finances.

In Florida, on the heels of the President’s recent decision to prevent deportation of younger Illegal immigrants, Mr. Obama holds a sizable lead among Hispanic voters. Specifically, the Q-Poll indicates an Obama support factor within the Florida Hispanic cell segment at 56-32 percent, compared to 49-39 percent in the May Quinnipiac University poll. The earlier survey was in the field prior to Obama and Romney each making their respective immigration policy speeches. Increasing Republican share of the Hispanic voting block is crucial to a Romney win formula.

Furthermore, Obama leads in other demographic group cell sectors as well, including 85-6 percent support among black voters, which actually could be a low number when compared with voter history from 2008. White voters in Florida back Romney 50-35 percent. Obama also leads among Sunshine State women, 47-40 percent, while men are evenly divided with 43 percent for Obama and 42 percent for Romney.

In Ohio, we find similar results as the Buckeye State Q-Poll reveals 52-38 percent support for the president’s immigration policy. By a margin of 45-38 percent, respondents say he would do a better job than Romney in handling immigration. Obama currently possesses a discernible lead among Ohio Independents, which historically have proven to be a bellwether in determining which way the state will swing.

Pennsylvania women are strongly backing the president according to the Keystone State Q-Poll (48-36 percent), with men tipping 42-41 percent toward Romney. Voters in Pennsylvania don’t necessarily approve of the way Mr. Obama is handling his job as president, split 45-47 percent favorable to unfavorable, but his numbers are better than Romney’s upside down 34:39 percent personal image ratio.

In conclusion, the Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania polls provide strong indications about which way the country will swing this fall. Today, it is fair to say that this race is still up for grabs, but the president clearly maintains the easier path to ultimate victory in November.

Polling on Healthcare Shows Intriguing Results

On the eve of the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision announcement, Public Policy Polling (June 21-24; 1,000 registered voters) conducted a national survey of attitudes and impressions regarding the political leadership associated with the healthcare issue. The results are interesting, and potentially disheartening for President Obama and his party.

In answering the question about which candidate the respondents trusted more pertaining to healthcare issues of the greatest importance to they and their individual families, by a surprisingly close 45-44 percent count, the polling sample favored presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Perhaps even more stunning, by a margin of only 47-43 percent, the cell group said they trusted the president on healthcare more than the congressional Republicans. For the better part of time since the 2006 election campaign, congressional Republicans in particular, have been scoring poorly on favorability index questions. So, it is unusual to see them virtually at parity with the President on his signature issue.

But, perhaps the most surprising response of all came to the question as to which candidate had the most clear stance on healthcare. Despite the passage of his healthcare plan being the president’s most significant domestic agenda accomplishment and Romney being less defined, Obama only tops the Republican by a slight 45-42 percent margin when claiming that one candidate or the other has the more clear stances on the healthcare issue.

As one more indicator that the healthcare issue will be one that helps determine the outcome of this presidential election, the PPP survey sample would vote for the president over Romney by a 48-45% margin, quite in line with their specific healthcare answers.

Sullivan Loses in Okla.; Other Incumbents Fare Well

The big story of yesterday’s Oklahoma primary voting is the defeat of six-term Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK-1), who fell to military reserve pilot Jim Bridenstine by a substantial 54-46 percent margin. Sullivan becomes the fourth non-paired incumbent to fail in a renomination bid during this election cycle. Reps. Jean Schmidt (R-OH-2), Tim Holden (D-PA-17), and Silvestre Reyes (D-TX-16) are the other three.

In the open 2nd District of Oklahoma, both parties will feature Aug. 28 run-off elections. The Republicans will battle between businessman Markwayne Mullin (42 percent) and state Rep. George Faught (23 percent). Democrats will likely have a close contest between former district attorney Rob Wallace (46 percent) and Tulsa County Farm Bureau President Wayne Herriman (42 percent). Rep. Dan Boren (D) is retiring. This may be the Republican’s best conversion opportunity in the country.

Turning to South Carolina, the general election candidates are now set in the Palmetto State’s new 7th District. Horry County Council chairman Tom Rice was a strong 56-44 percent winner over former lieutenant governor Andre Bauer in the Republican primary. Rice is a prohibitive favorite now in the general election. In the run-off campaign that lasted just four official days after the Horry County court ruled that the Democrats must hold a secondary vote, former Georgia state Rep. Gloria Tinubu easily beat back attorney Preston Brittain, 73-27 percent. The run-off was challenged because votes for a withdrawn candidate were not originally included in the final tally.

In Utah, Sen. Orrin Hatch, as expected, was an easy 67-33 percent winner in his Republican primary battle with former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist. Hatch will now cruise to re-election to a seventh term in November.

Another incumbent turned back a serious primary challenge with ease. Three-term Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO-5) repelled self-funding opponent Robert Blaha by a strong 62-38 percent margin despite the challenger spending more than $720,000 of his own money. Lamborn, who has had trouble solidifying what should be a safe Colorado Springs district, appears to be building the kind of strength one would expect to see from a now veteran incumbent.

Finally, in New York, a series of primaries produced no surprises. Embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY-13), challenged by four Democrats, again survived the onslaught but with only 45 percent of the vote. State Sen. Adriano Espaillat was his closest challenger with 40 percent; former Clinton Administration official and 2010 congressional candidate Clyde Williams only recorded 10 percent of the vote.

Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D) was a 58-31 percent winner over New York City Councilman Erik Dilan. Velazquez will now represent the new 7th District, which contains 71.2 percent of her current constituency. Neighboring Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY-9) was an easy winner in her primary with a huge 88 percent of the vote.

Elsewhere in the state, two individuals won open-seat New York City races that effectively punches their ticket to Congress. State Assemblywoman Grace Meng was an easy Democratic primary winner and will succeed retiring Rep. Gary Ackerman in the new 6th District. In Brooklyn, Democratic state Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries will replace retiring Rep. Ed Towns in the new 8th District.

New York City attorney Sean Mahoney won the right to challenge freshman Rep. Nan Hayworth (R) in the new 18th District. Mahoney won despite the district being anchored in Westchester County. As expected, Rep. Bill Owens (D) will defend his marginal district against 2010 nominee Matt Doheny (R). And, former Erie County Executive Chris Collins (R) will face Rep. Kathy Hochul (D) in a new district that heavily favors the Republicans.

Finally, in the US Senate race, conservative Wendy Long easily defeated New York City Rep. Bob Turner (R-NY-9), who had no legitimate chance of remaining in the House post-redistricting. Long, also officially carrying the Conservative Party line, will face Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) in a long shot November challenge effort.

Voters Choose Candidates Today in Utah, S.C., N.Y., Okla., Colo., Primaries

Voters in five states go to the polls today to nominate US Senate and House candidates.

• In Utah, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) is encouraged by a new poll (June 12-19; 500 eligible Utah voters) from Key Research, a local Utah-based firm, in conjunction with the Utah Data Points research and information blog. According to the data, Hatch leads former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist (R) 51-22 percent among eligible GOP primary voters and 56-25 percent among those self-described “likely” voters.

South Carolinians in the new 7th Congressional District will choose both a Republican and Democratic nominee in the run-off vote. The Democrats now have an official run-off election after a local Horry County court judge ruled that votes cast for a withdrawn candidate do count, meaning candidate Gloria Tinubu, who was originally declared the victor, is now forced to a run-off with second place finisher Preston Brittain. The Republican race is between former lieutenant governor Andre Bauer and Horry County Council Chairman Tom Rice, the latter of whom Gov. Nikki Haley (R) just publicly endorsed.

• In New York, Democrats are looking at eight contested primaries, including those for incumbents Nydia Velazquez (D-NY-7), Yvette Clarke (D-NY-9), and Charlie Rangel (D-NY-13). Republicans have just one seriously contested primary, that in the new 27th District for the right to challenge freshman Rep. Kathy Hochul (D).

• Both Democrats and Republicans in Oklahoma will vote in the first round of polling in the open 2nd District (Rep. Dan Boren (D) retiring). Run-offs, to be held on Aug. 28, are likely for both parties.

• Finally, Colorado will also hold a primary. The only race of any significance is the Republican intra-party challenge to Rep. Doug Lamborn in the Colorado Springs-based 5th District. Wealthy businessman Robert Blaha is running a major self-funded effort against the incumbent, dropping more than $700,000 of his own money into the race even before the end of March.

We will provide results and analysis on Wednesday morning.

Assessing Congressional Decisions Facing S.C., Ill.

SC-7: A Horry County court judge finally ordered the South Carolina Election Commission to conduct a Democratic run-off election in the state’s new 7th Congressional District, just days before the secondary election is to be held. The ruling came down Friday and the run-off election will be held as originally scheduled, tomorrow. Controversy arose on primary election night over whether to count the votes cast for withdrawn candidate Ted Vick, whose name appeared on the ballot because he officially left the race after the ballots were printed.

Relying on past Election Commission procedure, votes, for the purposes of determining whether a candidate obtained majority support from the participating electorate, were not typically counted for withdrawn contestants. Eliminating Vick’s votes in this instance allowed former Georgia state representative Gloria Tinubu to exceed the 50-percent mark and clinch the Democratic congressional nomination. Democratic officials objected to the commission ruling and asked a judge to overturn their decision not to conduct a run-off.

Since the court agreed with the plaintiffs, and Vick’s 2,341 votes now have officially been added to the aggregate total, Tinubu’s final tally drops from 52.5 percent to 48.8 percent. Second-place finisher Preston Brittain’s now scores 36.7 percent.

With a run-off campaign that will last just four official days, it remains to be seen if the Democratic vote will change much in such a short pre-election campaign period. Republicans Andre Bauer, the state’s former lieutenant governor, and Horry County Council Chairman Tom Rice continue to compete for the GOP nomination.

IL-12: Democrats now have a new nominee in Illinois’ 12th District. Local party county chairmen interviewed prospective Democratic candidates on Saturday and chose Illinois National Guard adjutant general and attorney William Enyart as the party standard bearer. He replaces Brad Harriman, the man who won the March 20 primary, but was forced to withdraw from the campaign due to health reasons.

IL-12 is a sleeper campaign on the national scene in that Republicans have an improving chance to win this election. The 12th, in open-seat status because veteran Rep. Jerry Costello (D) is retiring, is the only Democratically held district that did not precipitously improve it’s Obama-McCain 2008 score (new IL-12: 55 percent; current IL-12: 54 percent) under the Illinois congressional redistricting map. The Illinois plan is clearly the one in which Democrats can make their most significant national gains. The district ranks 13th of 18 Illinois seats on the Obama scale and is the weakest of the new Democratic seats. To put the Obama home-state performance in perspective, in only two Land of Lincoln congressional districts did the president fail to secure a majority in his 2008 race.

The new 12th CD begins in East St. Louis, encompassing St. Clair County. It then covers southwestern Illinois, including the area between the St. Louis metropolitan area and the Missouri and Kentucky borders at the southern tip of the state.

Gen. Enyart was the unanimous choice of the fourteen Democratic county chairmen who had authority to choose the replacement candidate. Seven prospective nominees were interviewed, including former representative David Phelps (D-IL-19), who served for two terms before losing a paired incumbent contest to Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL-19) in 2002, and state Rep. John Bradley. Obviously, having to launch a congressional campaign from ground zero three months after your general election opponent officially begins is a major disadvantage and one Enyart must quickly overcome in order to reach parity and ultimate victory.

The GOP features, as its 12th District congressional candidate, 2010 lieutenant governor nominee, Jason Plummer, who together with gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady came within one point of defeating Gov. Pat Quinn (D). The Brady-Plummer ticket carried the new 12th District two years ago. Since the Republicans are clearly on defense in the rest of the state, CD 12 represents one Illinois GOP conversion opportunity that the party can use to blunt what is otherwise a strong Democratic offensive.