Author Archives: Jim Ellis

California Redistricting: Big Shake-up

The new California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CCRC) released their proposed congressional map late Friday afternoon and the early numbers suggest that 30 of the 53 current incumbents will have districts with at least 40% new constituents. Three incumbents, Reps. Gary Miller (R-CA-42), Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-CA-26) and Energy & Commerce Ranking Minority Member Henry Waxman (D-CA-30) will all have districts that are more than 70 percent new. Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA-39) will see a new seat with 69 percent new territory.

Tomorrow we will have a full analysis on the new map in a Tuesday morning PRIsm Redistricting Report, but it appears that the Democrats will be in position to improve upon their already lopsided 34D-19R edge. Many believed the Republicans would have a better chance to remain steady or even increase their position under the commission process rather than through the Democratic-dominated state legislature, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Several members are paired, as will be detailed tomorrow, but it appears that Rep. Gary Miller and Chairman Dreier are in the toughest re-election positions, along with Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA-50). Many Democrats are drawn into substantially new districts, but most of the newly configured districts are safe for the Democratic Party. The Central Valley region appears to be where the Democrats may have the toughest time holding all of their seats because some of the Fresno area districts look to be swing.

The CCRC is comprised of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four Independents. To pass a map, four Democrats, four Republicans, and three Indpendents have to vote in favor. The proposed congressional map attracted unanimous support from the 14 members. The maps are now open for public comment. A final vote will occur on or before August 15th.

Much more coming tomorrow …
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Campaign Staff Deserts Gingrich En Masse

The wheels appear to be coming off of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign. After a series of post-announcement gaffes, the most serious of which appears to be attacking House Budget chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI-1) federal fiscal plan, more than 10 campaign consultants and staff members yesterday resigned from the Gingrich effort. The spokesman for the group indicated they were leaving because the departing staff members all saw a different strategic path to achieve victory than does the candidate.

The key factor influencing the mass exit appears to be a lack of fundraising progress. Reports say that after Gingrich’s attack on the Ryan budget, fundraising became exceeding difficult for the presidential effort because the candidate cut the heart out of his political base. Additionally, Mr. Gingrich himself was apparently unwilling to participate in donor recruitment efforts to the degree that the staff wanted, hence the failure to meet campaign budgetary goals.

There were further rumors alluding to Gingrich not working particularly hard on this campaign. The departing staffers’ spokesman, news secretary Rick Tyler, said such conjecture was untrue but did confirm the former Speaker and his wife are embarking on a two-week Mediterranean cruise, the timing of which was criticized internally.

Two of those resigning, consultant David Carney and campaign manager Rob Johnson, came from Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s organization. With rumors and speculation mounting that Perry may soon enter the race, it is an obvious conclusion that at least these two will go back to anchor their former boss’ presidential effort. Some have further speculated that Perry’s budding effort precipitated the Gingrich staff departure, but this does not appear to be the case. Since the departing group is so large it is unreasonable to believe that all are bolting Gingrich to join Perry. Dissatisfaction with the progression of the campaign can be the only reason for such a mass exodus.

So what does this development mean for the ex-Speaker’s presidential bid? According to Mr. Gingrich, the campaign begins anew next week and he will continue to fight for the Republican nomination.

In many ways, Newt Gingrich is an unconventional candidate. Therefore, the things that would derail most political efforts will not necessarily extinguish the Gingrich campaign. Though money is necessary to run any political operation, and presidential campaigns both attract and spend the greatest amount of cash resources, a national candidate can often times go relatively far without huge financial assets. Gingrich, with his almost universal name ID, may be in that category. Attracting as much news coverage as he does, the former Speaker has the ability to communicate his message even if he doesn’t spend heavily on paid advertisements or direct mail programs.

A presidential campaign that puts little emphasis on resources can do reasonably well in small primary states like New Hampshire and South Carolina, but caucus states are in a different category, as are big primary states like California, Florida and Texas. Organizational efforts in caucus states like Iowa do require heavy staff coordination and expenditures to identify, convince, and turnout supporters who must attend actual meetings to cast their votes instead of simply marking a ballot. Though well-known candidates who de-emphasize fundraising and campaign mechanics attract a fair amount of attention, such a person rarely, if ever, wins the nomination or election.

In early polling, Mr. Gingrich has consistently polled at the bottom of the first tier of candidates. Without a professional campaign structure committed to campaign mechanics, however, it is likely he will drop into the second tier and out of serious contention for the nomination. The new Gingrich operation will certainly be a campaign of ideas, but not of implementation. The collapse of his organization means the overall race becomes an even more wide open contest.
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Weiner’s Real Political Problem

The sexting controversy surrounding Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9) rages on in the media, but his ultimate political problem may not be whether to resign. Rather, with New York losing two seats in reapportionment, the scandal could give the legislature all the reason it needs to collapse his 9th district. The other lost seat will certainly come from upstate, probably near the Buffalo area. In terms of redistricting, NY-9 would be relatively easy to cut into pieces. First, it needs an additional 57,401 people just to reach its population quota. Second, because it already contains parts of two boroughs (Kings and Queens) and cuts across New York’s Lower Bay to enjoin other precincts in order to comply with the contiguous requirements, it would be a simple task for map drawers to parcel its distinct parts to other seats.

Two polls of New York City residents were made public yesterday, and it appears that Rep. Weiner has a split constituency regarding his future. According to Survey USA (June 6; 500 New York City residents), 46 percent favor his resignation versus 41 percent who believe he should remain in office. The Marist College poll, conducted on the same day (June 6; 379 NYC registered voters) produces better numbers for the congressman. Fifty-one percent say he should remain in office, while 30 percent believe resignation is his proper course of action.

But when it comes to Weiner’s future mayoral plans — the congressman was a virtual certainty to enter the 2013 city-wide campaign — his numbers dive bomb. Asked if they would vote for Weiner should he run for mayor, just 11 percent of S-USA respondents said they would, versus 43 percent who said, “NO.” An additional 46 percent say it is too early to decide. Marist asked the question a different way, querying the respondents as to whether or not they think he should run for mayor. According to these results, 56 percent say he should not run for Mayor while 25 percent believe he should.
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In Oklahoma’s 2nd D, Boren to Retire; ex-Rep. Carson to Run Again

Oklahoma Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK-2), 37, announced that he will not seek re-election to a fifth term in Congress next year. Mr. Boren, arguably one of the most conservative House Democrats, clearly is part of a minority within a minority, being a right-of-center congressman in an increasingly liberal party conference. Boren says being in Washington and away from his young family, coupled with the time demands of campaigning, are the reasons for his retirement.

Rep. Boren becomes the 14th non-redistricting-related House member to either resign or say they won’t run again, but is the first to do so without seeking higher office or escaping scandal. He will serve the balance of the term and did not say what he plans to do when he leaves the House.

The 2nd district of Oklahoma is one of the most conservative seats held by a Democrat in the United States. Once a “yellow dog” Democrat region, OK-2 trended much more Republican as the previous decade progressed. President Obama could only manage 34 percent of the vote here in 2008, compared to John McCain’s 66 percent. Former President George W. Bush notched 59 percent in 2004, seven points better than the 52 percent he recorded four years earlier.

The 2nd district encompasses the entire eastern quadrant of Oklahoma, beginning at the Kansas border and traveling south all the way to Texas. On the northeast, the seat borders Missouri; Arkansas lies to the southeast. The largest city is Muskogee.

Because Oklahoma had little in the way of population change, their new congressional redistricting plan looks very much like the current map. The new legislation has already been enacted into law. While the 2nd district traditionally elects a Democrat to Congress, in an open seat with an unpopular Barack Obama leading the 2012 Democratic Party ticket, a different result could be realized.

While two early GOP names pop up on the potential candidate list — Josh Brecheen, a state Senator from Coalgate, and state Rep. George Faught — the Democrats already have a likely successor waiting in the wings, and he will run. Former 2nd District Rep. Brad Carson (D), who vacated the seat to run unsuccessfully for Senate in 2004, announced his congressional comeback attempt next year on the heels of Boren’s retirement announcement. Kenneth Corn, a former state senator and the 2010 Democratic lieutenant governor nominee is also reportedly considering the race, but Carson appears to be the strongest possible Democrat to run in this seat, outside of Boren.

If the president cannot perform better than the 34 percent he scored in his last election, what effect will this have upon Carson’s race? Obviously, there will be a Democratic drag, hence the Republican nominee will have a legitimate chance to win even against the former congressman and Senatorial nominee.
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For further detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com.

South Carolina’s DeMint Considers Presidential Run

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint (R)

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint confirms reports that he is now considering entering the GOP presidential contest. Previously, he said he would not become a candidate. Like former VP nominee Sarah Palin who is sending outward signs that she might jump into the fray and Texas Gov. Rick Perry also confirming new interest in a presidential campaign, DeMint sees opportunity for a newcomer who could carry the Southern states. The south is the heart of the Republican voter base. Since former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels have all said they won’t run for President, the south is left without an obvious candidate to support.

Sen. DeMint actually has two bases of support, both of which are formidable. As a Tea Party spokesman within the halls of Congress, the Palmetto State solon would command sizable backing from the grassroots within the Republican Party base, which is significant in primary elections. Secondly, his own state of South Carolina is one of the key early nomination battlegrounds, following the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Since no non-incumbent Republican presidential candidate has ever carried both Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina plays a major role in defining the pre-Super Tuesday momentum. Though DeMint is likely to be a second-tier candidate if he enters the race, his inherent bases of support could generate more for him than originally meets the eye.
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For further detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com.