Author Archives: Jim Ellis

The Senate’s Tenuous Balance of Power

Today, most political pundits and election handicappers are suggesting that Republicans will successfully wrest the Senate majority away from the Democrats in the November election, but is the GOP victory path really so clear?

To recap the situation for both sides, Democrats are risking 21 of the 36 in-cycle Senate seats, and the Republicans 15. The GOP needs a net conversion of six Democratic seats to claim the majority. Therefore, Democrats can lose five of their own seats and not gain a single Republican state, yet still retain control. Because Vice President Joe Biden (D) breaks any Senate tie vote, the Dems will retain the majority if the partisan division is 50-50.

Building the Republican and Democratic victory models from scratch, the Democrats begin with 34 hold-over seats of the 55 they currently possess. The Republican ratio is 30 (hold-over) to 45 (total seats).

The Democrats

Today, it appears that 10 of the 21 Dem in-cycle seats are well beyond any margin of  Continue reading >

Sen. Walsh’s First Polling Test in Montana; New NH Data

When Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) announced last April that he would not seek re-election in 2014, it was assumed that freshman at-large Rep. Steve Daines (R) would enter the race to replace the outgoing incumbent and become the strong favorite.

The Democrats’ plan, however, to neutralize the Republican advantage in Montana is a good one. Instead of finishing his final senatorial term, President Obama appointed Baucus as US Ambassador to China, thus allowing Gov. Steve Bullock (D) to install his lieutenant governor, John Walsh, who was already running for the Senate, as the interim replacement. The move gives now-Sen. Walsh, at the very least, abbreviated incumbent stature and is clearly the best political play the Montana Democrats could make.

In federal office since Feb. 7, the new senator has had some time to begin to decrease Daines’ double-digit polling leads. Rasmussen Reports (March 17-18; 750  Continue reading >

Illinois Results: Tighter Than Forecast

Primary voters went to the polls in the Land of Lincoln yesterday and the predicted winners performed as expected, but several victory margins were a bit of a surprise.

In the governor’s race, businessman Bruce Rauner, who personally spent lavishly on his own campaign, managed to clinch the Republican nomination but the race proved much closer than polling had indicated. Rauner defeated state Sen. Kirk Dillard, 2010 gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady, and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford by a 40-37-15-7 percent split, respectively, far below what late polling was projecting even though the order of finish was correctly predicted.

Dillard, just as he did four years ago, came on strong at the end and came up just short of placing first. In 2010, he finished only 193 votes statewide behind Brady. Last night, Dillard’s deficit was considerably larger, but he still managed to come within three percentage points of winning the election.
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Former Office Holders Reverse Retirement to Run Again

Candidate filing closed in three more states: Idaho, Iowa, and Nevada and, along with announcements in two other states, we find some former office holders reversing the retirement trend and re-entering the political arena.

Starting with an incumbent re-election statement, veteran Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN-7), who was first elected in 1990 and has been coy about his 2014 political plans, officially declared that he will seek a 13th term later this year. The congressman will likely receive general election opposition from Republican state Sen. Torrey Westrom.

In Idaho’s 2nd District, a surprise candidate entry was recorded as former Rep. Richard Stallings (D), who served four terms beginning in 1985, announced that he will again attempt to re-claim his former position. In 1992, Rep. Stallings left the House for a Senate run but fell to then-Boise  Continue reading >

Primary Time Continues in Illinois Tomorrow

Voters in the nation’s second earliest primary state, Illinois, go to the polls tomorrow to choose their party nominees for the fall elections. Though Texas already held its primaries on March 4, its nomination process is not yet complete because the run-off contests are scheduled for May 27. Since Illinois has no secondary election procedure, all nominations will be finalized tomorrow.

Governor

The most intense race on the ballot is the governor’s campaign, as four Republicans vie for the opportunity to face vulnerable Gov. Pat Quinn, who continues to poll as the nation’s weakest Democratic incumbent.

Businessman Bruce Rauner, spending copious amounts of his own money on television advertising, is leading his three GOP opponents in all polls and poised to claim victory tomorrow night. Three surveys  Continue reading >