Author Archives: Jim Ellis

When Will it End?

As we pull to within less than three weeks of the election, the Democrats appear to be in a free-fall. Nevada GOP Senatorial candidate Sharron Angle, opposing unpopular Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, raised a huge amount of money –– $14 million from July 1st to September 30th — an impressive haul for any candidate, but especially so for one from a small state. It’s even more stunning when you note that 94% of the money came from contributions of less than $100. In Florida, Senate GOP candidate Marco Rubio brought in more than $5 million for the quarter. In liberal Washington, Republican Dino Rossi locked in a tight battle with Sen. Patty Murray (D), exceeded $4.5 million.

In the House races, Reps. Gene Taylor (D-MS-4), Heath Shuler (D-NC-11), Walt Minnick (D-ID-1) and Bobby Bright (D-AL-2) are publicly saying they will vote for someone other than embattled House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-8), when the new Congress convenes. Reps. Chet Edwards (D-TX-17), Jason Altmire (D-PA-4) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN-2) have ads expressing their independence from Pelosi and President Obama. Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY-23), in serious trouble because the split among local Republicans and Conservatives has ostensibly healed and Matt Doheny now has virtually united support from the right-of-center, launched a rather desperate new ad saying that he “votes with the Republican leader 63% of the time.” These are obvious signs of a party in trouble.

And new competitive congressional races are popping up every day. Now the list is even reaching protected voting rights districts like AZ-7 (Rep. Raul Grijalva in a close contest with scientist Ruth McClung), and TX-27 (Rep. Solomon Ortiz actually trailing Republican opponent Blake Farenthold in both a campaign-released survey and a private independent poll).

All of these anecdotes are similar to what we were seeing for Democrats in both 2006 and 2008, and the results, as we all know, were landslide elections. Right now, it appears that Republican House candidates are likely to win in the neighborhood of 35 Democratically-held seats, with another 30 or so in range to win. The Democrats will at least pick up two GOP seats, and maybe as many as five. Thus, the GOP approaching or exceeding a 50-seat gain is not out of the question, and reclaiming the majority appears to be on the horizon.

Government Image Dragging Down Dems

The Democrats are clearly headed for a rough mid-term election, and one of the fundamental reasons for their downturn was uncovered by a late September Gallup study released just yesterday. According to their survey of 981 adults on Sept. 20-21, 72% of the respondents answered with a negative term when asked to describe their impression of the federal government. Only 10% reported having a positive view of our national institutions. (See Gallup poll)

The four topical areas of discontent centered around the government’s perceived inefficiency, its expanding size, ineptness, and corruption stemming from within, according to the Gallup analysis. This poor image of government, at a time when Democrats have widely expanded its institutions and authority, is contributing mightily to the majority party now being perilously close to losing control of the House and facing diminishing numbers in the Senate.

Gallup also found that the federal government came in ahead of only oil and gas companies on their list of industry preference rankings, and behind lawyers and pharmaceutical companies, in addition to the real estate, healthcare, and banking industries which helped make up the most negative sector of their chart. The computer and food industries dominated the top of the graph, with the two industries securing all five of the most positive positions.

The Potential Shockers

Which 2010 campaigns are long-shot upset possibilities? Does polling indicate that there are candidates in position to score such victories? The answer to the second question is clearly yes, as there are at least 10 Republican challengers in normally Democratic districts who surveys indicate are potential surprise winners.

Perhaps the most shocking race now in this category is the Arizona campaign (AZ-7) of Rep. Raul Grijalva (D) and GOP physicist Ruth McClung. Though possessing little in the way of financial resources, McClung has managed to whittle Grijalva’s normally substantial advantage into the low single-digits. If this trend progresses, and Arizona continues to languish in political turmoil over immigration and government spending while outside groups help neutralize Grijalva’s resource advantage, then the AZ-7 campaign could become the defining upset of what might become a Republican sweep.

Retired Army Col. Allen West (R) held freshman Rep. Ron Klein (D) to a 10-point win in Florida in 2008, the big year for Democrats, as you might recall. West has raised more than $2 million for the re-match, and polling indicates the current contest (FL-22) is too close to call.

Keith Fimian

Republican challenger Keith Fimian is returning for a re-match against freshman Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) with a better campaign and in a much better year for the GOP. Polling suggests a slight Fimian lead, as the Republican tries to build upon the party’s momentum from Gov. Bob McDonnell’s major 2009 victory. This is a classic liberal vs. conservative campaign in a district with a high concentration of government employees; hence a Fimian victory, though possible, would still rank as a major upset.

GOP businessman Bobby Schilling is proving to be a formidable contender against two-term Rep. Phil Hare in a race that has emerged as a top-tier challenger race in Illinois (IL-7). The margin between the candidates has been two points or less for weeks now, so this is a legitimate chance for a Republican victory. Hare has not approached 50% in any poll since the early summer.

This is just a handful of nearly a dozen races that I detail in my daily newsletter, the PRIsm Political Update. For all the details, insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please email me @PRIsm-us.com.

Senate Republicans Need to Pitch a Perfect Game

With speculation about the outcome of next month’s national election now rising to a fever pitch, it is important to take a step back and analyze what must happen for Republicans to wrest the Senate away from majority Democrats. While prospects of a House GOP takeover appear plausible, can the party also realistically paint the picture of a Senate Republican majority?

The defeat of At-Large Rep. Mike Castle in the Delaware Republican primary may have been a killer blow to GOP majority prospects. In every formula leading to a national Republican win, Delaware figured prominently. Now, factoring a Democratic hold of the First State, can Republicans still achieve majority status? Mathematically, such an outcome is possible, but …

To obtain 51 seats in the chamber, the Republicans will now have to win 17 of the 18 most competitive states — a situation that allows for only the slightest margin of error. To begin, the Republicans must first hold all of their six competitive open seats, beginning with the new three-way contest in Alaska. Florida’s Marco Rubio appears to have the inside track in Florida, and Rand Paul clings to a single-digit lead over state Attorney General Jack Conway in Kentucky. GOP candidates in Missouri, New Hampshire and Ohio all must win, and each appears poised for victory at this time.

If the Republicans secure those six contests, then they must convert all three Democratic states that decidedly appear headed their way. The North Dakota open seat seems to be the strongest of all conversion opportunities; Gov. John Hoeven is a lock to be the next Senator. Arkansas’ Blanche Lincoln may become the first incumbent to lose re-election on November 2nd, trailing Rep. John Boozman by double digits for months. The comeback bid of Indiana former Sen. Dan Coats is also strong, as he consistently leads his Democratic opponent by large margins.

It is important to remember that Republicans must win all nine of these races, merely to put the tougher contests into play. If you presume nine victories in the aforementioned races, the party will have only gained three net seats against the Democratic number, taking them from 41 to 44. Two more Dem states seem to be leaning Republican — Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

The next tier of campaigns is even more intense. The current toss-up races feature Colorado, Illinois and Nevada. All of these campaigns are tight and have been for months.

Reviewing the potential Republican majority track, the GOP, at this point, must win every race previously listed. But, even if they are victorious in all 14 of the aforementioned, they are still not finished. Four more competitive campaigns remain, and the GOP would have to win two more in order to reach 51 seats. Tight races remain in California, Connecticut, Washington and West Virginia; half of these must go Republican for them to claim majority status.

The Republicans will literally have to throw a perfect game on November 2nd in order to win the Senate; but such an outcome, while still unlikely, is not impossible.

For much more detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please email me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com.

West Virginia Shocker

While polls are now beginning to show some distance between Senate candidates in several states, perhaps the biggest bombshell is the continued strong performance by West Virginia Republican John Raese (pronounced Ray-cee). Running against one of the most popular Governors in the nation in the bid to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D), Raese, who has failed in previous statewide runs, has been surprisingly tenacious in the 2010 special election campaign. According to the latest Rasmussen Reports poll (10/5; 500 likely WV voters), the GOP challenger has now taken the lead over Gov. Joe Manchin. By a count of 50-44%, a spread beyond the margin of error, the Republican has a measurable advantage over the Democratic chief executive. This is largely due to Raese’s strong opposition to the Cap & Trade issue, which has devastating effects on the coal economy, and his linkage of Manchin to the Obama Administration and federal Democratic politics.

With what now appears to be a sure GOP loss in Delaware, a state they were counting on to make an improbable run for the majority, West Virginia could take its place in the national Republican formula. Democrats are still the favorites to retain control, and the GOP would need a perfect election night to gain the ten seats they need to overturn the Senate, but West Virginia may be one state that very well comes through for them on November 2nd.