Author Archives: Jim Ellis

New Virginia Polls: Race Not Over

There seems to be an air of defeatism surrounding many Virginia Republicans about the impending governor’s race, but three new polls still show that GOP nominee Ken Cuccinelli is within striking distance of Democrat Terry McAuliffe. All three polls, from Hampton University, Emerson College and the University of Mary Washington, give McAuliffe a lead ranging from five to seven points, with both candidates well under 50 percent – data that hardly concludes the front-runner is on the threshold of clinching the election.

Hampton University (Sept. 25-26 and 28-29; 800 likely Virginia voters) gives McAuliffe a 42-37 percent edge over Cuccinelli, with Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis scoring eight percent. The Emerson College Polling Society (Boston, MA) conducted their survey Sept. 26-30 and interviewed 519 Virginia registered voters. They found McAuliffe to be leading Cuccinelli and Sarvis 43-38-11 percent, a five-point reduction in the Democrat’s lead from the ECPS August poll. Finally the University of Mary Washington (Fredericksburg, VA), conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International during the Sept. 25-29 period of 823 Virginia registered voters (from a total resident sample of 1,001), posts McAuliffe to a 42-35 percent advantage, with Sarvis picking up 10 percent support.

The Sarvis number could be a wild card. Oftentimes when major party candidates display high unfavorable ratings, and all polling has consistently revealed such in this particular race, an Independent can score abnormally high in surveys, often reaching double-digits, as Sarvis is doing here. Such early support for Independents in polls, however, rarely translates into votes on Election Day. Should this pattern hold in the Virginia race, then Cuccinelli could be the benefactor because his lower numbers among conservative oriented independents portend that he is losing more support to Sarvis than is McAuliffe, thus his ability to gain may be greater once these people come to the conclusion that voting for a candidate with no potential to win is a waste.

Polling Segmentation

The Hampton poll segmented the state into regions. McAuliffe runs strongest in the Washington, DC suburbs (50-29 percent),  Continue reading >

Jockeying for Position in Montana

http://youtu.be/iOWdv1LcCFo

The Democratic Party leadership has successfully recruited their best contemporary Montana option, with Lt. Gov. John Walsh yesterday announcing his candidacy to replace retiring Sen. Max Baucus (D).

Montana is one of a trio of open Democrat seats, the others being West Virginia and South Dakota, that are must-wins for Republicans; voting trends are favoring the GOP in recent elections, and particularly so in mid-term election years. Therefore, the Democrats fielding a potentially strong candidate in such places becomes an important factor in their plan to hold the Senate majority.

It has been expected since the time former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat commonly viewed as the strongest potential candidate in either party, decided not to run that freshman at-large Rep. Steve Daines (R) would jump into the Senate race. To date, such a move has not happened but most political observers still believe it will.

Daines becomes the early favorite if he does run, and his lengthy decision-making process is the main reason that other candidates have not leapt into the race. It appears that those wanting to run for statewide office are waiting to see what Daines finally does, and then they will announce for either the Senate or House, whichever of the two races becomes the open seat.

Walsh is a former adjutant general in the Montana National Guard who led some 2,000 of the state’s troops to combat duty in Iraq, culminating in him being awarded the  Continue reading >

Wendy Davis to Announce in Texas

Later today, as expected, state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) will announce her campaign for governor. With incumbent Rick Perry (R) retiring after four terms, Texas voters will witness an open governor’s campaign for the first time since 1990, when Democrat Ann Richards defeated Republican businessman Clayton Williams.

The 2014 general election looks to match Sen. Davis and three-term Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott who, for years, has been waiting in the wings to run for the state’s top office. Davis attained notoriety over the summer by filibustering a bill that increased abortion restrictions and succeeded in delaying its passage for several weeks.

The GOP has dominated Texas politics ever since George W. Bush unseated Gov. Richards in 1994. Of the 29 statewide offices, Republicans continue to control all of them, in addition to the two US Senate positions, a majority in the congressional delegation, and both houses of the state legislature. Since the Bush gubernatorial re-election effort in 1998, the GOP has typically won the major statewide offices by margins between 12 and 16 points.

But, will the string continue in 2014? With an ever-growing populace – remember, Texas gained four seats in the last reapportionment – and a Hispanic population reaching 37.6 percent of the state’s total population, Lone Star State Democrats claim that the demographic changes are making them more competitive.

Two polls have been conducted, both showing similar patterns. The most recent, the Texas Lyceum Poll (Sept. 6-20; 800 registered Texas voters), gives Abbott only a 29-21 percent lead with a whopping 50 percent undecided/don’t know factor. In early summer, Public Policy Polling (June 28-July 1; 500 registered Texas voters), even before Gov. Perry announced his retirement, tested several candidates against one another. At that time, Abbott led Davis 48-40 percent, holding the same eight-point edge as the Lyceum poll projects, but one where 38 percent more respondents believed they knew enough about the candidates to make a decision.

The fact that the Lyceum poll has a very long sampling window, over two weeks, and  Continue reading >

Jousting in New Hampshire

In April, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) surprisingly admitted that he was considering moving to New Hampshire to challenge first-term Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D). Brown followed his statement by spending time in the Granite State, meeting with the party faithful and explaining that he truly does have New Hampshire bona fides.

After initial polling showed large Shaheen leads, talk of an impending Brown move seemed to dissipate. The political focus surrounding him shifted to whether he would run for governor of Massachusetts, a prospective race in which polling posted him well ahead of every potential candidate from both parties. Then, a show trip to Iowa immediately preceded his announcement declining a run for governor, but his verbiage certainly left the door wide open for a 2016 presidential run.

Now, however, the talk surrounding Brown’s next political move is returning to New Hampshire and even Sen. Shaheen, herself, is participating.

First, in a look back to last week, Public Policy Polling (Sept. 13-16; 1,038 registered New Hampshire voters) released a poll showing Brown just four points behind Sen. Shaheen, 48-44 percent, hardly an insurmountable deficit and a net seven-point gain in his direction from PPP’s April poll.

Apparently Sen. Shaheen is not taking the survey nor the potential Brown move to her state lightly; or, she is simply using the potential threat as a fundraising ploy. In the past few days the senator began sending communications to supporters repeating a WMUR television report that Brown is selling his home in Massachusetts, while asking for “$5,780 in six hours” to make her arbitrary campaign finance deadline goal.

The Democrats and media’s talk of Brown now moving to New Hampshire in order to challenge Shaheen may be much ado about nothing, or it could have substance. The idea is certainly attractive to the national Republicans because they are desperate to expand the Senate playing field in order to maximize the number of opportunities necessary to convert the six Democratic seats they need to capture the majority.

While Scott Brown would certainly begin the campaign as an underdog to Sen. Shaheen, it is unlikely the Republicans could recruit a  Continue reading >

The Vote: Potential Aftermath

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

The Ted Cruz (R-TX) informal Obamacare funding filibuster is predicted to inflict political harm, but there is a myriad of opinion as to who will suffer the most severe consequences for their respective votes at the polling place, if anyone.

Below are the names of the 18 Republican senators who supported Cruz by voting “No” on the continuing resolution cloture petition last Friday, and when they next face the voters:

    Senators voting NO (alphabetical by state):

  • Jeff Sessions (R-AL), 2014
  • Richard Shelby (R-AL), 2016
  • Marco Rubio (R-FL), 2016
  • Mike Crapo (R-ID), 2016
  • Jim Risch (R-ID), 2014
  • Chuck Grassley (R-IA), 2016
  • Pat Roberts (R-KS), 2014
  • Jerry Moran (R-KS), 2016
  • Rand Paul (R-KY), 2016
  • David Vitter (R-LA), 2016
  • Deb Fischer (R-NE), 2018
  • Dean Heller (R-NV), 2018
  • Rob Portman (R-OH), 2016
  • Jim Inhofe (R-OK), 2014
  • Pat Toomey (R-PA), 2016
  • Tim Scott (R-SC), 2014
  • Mike Lee (R-UT), 2016
  • Mike Enzi (R-WY), 2014
  •  
    Not Voting:

  • Jeff Flake (R-AZ), 2018
  • Orrin Hatch (R-UT), 2018
  • It’s possible, however, that certain Republican senators voting “Aye” and standing for election next year are in the more vulnerable position. The senators facing primary opposition include Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), himself. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is the other  Continue reading >

    Trust in Government Falls; Capuano Backs Out – Again – in Mass.

    The Gallup research organization just completed a study about people’s level of trust in the various branches of government. The poll, conducted Sept. 5-8 of 1,510 adults but released just yesterday, reveals that governmental trust levels have fallen across the board since 2009, and are well under the levels found at the beginning of 2003.

    According to the study, remembering that the sampling universe is simply of adults who are not necessarily registered voters, trust in the Judiciary, the highest rated governmental entity, is off 14 points from 2009. Sixty-two percent of the respondents say they trust the Judiciary as compared to 76 percent who did four years ago.

    The Executive branch is also down during the same interval, in this case 10 points, from 61 percent who expressed trust to 51 percent. Finally, the Legislative branch, which has been pilloried in opinion polls for the past several years, again finishes as the least trusted governmental segment at 34 percent. This represents a decline of 11 points from our benchmark year of 2009, but the result actually ticks upward from 30 percent at a point in 2011.

    The fact that all levels of government are down significantly suggests a negative trend about Americans’ confidence in their governmental entities’ ability to implement their responsibilities.

    The same sample also believes that the government has too much power. A full 60 percent of the polling sample (81 percent of Republicans; 68 percent of Independents; 38 percent of Democrats) believe government’s role in society is too vast. Thirty-two percent say the level of governmental authority is “about right”, and 7 percent say the government has too little power. Interestingly, the 7 percent “too little power” response has varied only one point during the past 10 years.

    Predictably, Democrats have the highest levels of trust in government almost across the board; Independents next; and Republicans the least. The only entity rated higher among Republicans than any other partisan segment is, unsurprisingly, the Legislative branch.

    Interestingly, the parties switch their views when questioned about state and local government. It is the Republicans who have  Continue reading >

    A Tight Contest in MA-5; New Data in NJ Gov. Race

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3S1zcbWkoM&feature=youtu.be

    MA-5

    A new Garin Hart Yang Research Group poll conducted for the Karen Spilka (D) campaign in anticipation of the Oct. 15 Massachusetts special primary election, reveals that the five strongest Democrat candidates are all within eight points of each other.

    The top five are all elected officials, a field that features three state senators, one state representative, and a county sheriff. A total of seven candidates will appear on the Democrat ballot. The winner of this primary becomes the prohibitive favorite to claim the Dec. 10 special general election.

    The results show that virtually any of the five can win the nomination, a single-election primary system that requires only garnering a plurality of votes to achieve victory.

    According to the data, state Sen. Katherine Clark leads with just 18 percent support, followed by Spilka, also a state senator, with 17 percent, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian is next at 15 percent, and state Sen. Will Brownsberger and state Rep. Carl Sciortino are tied at 11 percent.

    Though Sciortino lags toward the end of the poll, it is he who is the biggest gainer, up from 4 percent based upon the last GHY Research survey released in July. His rise is generally credited to a rather clever and amusing ad his campaign is running (above) featuring his father, who is a Tea Party member.

    The Spilka poll suggests any of the five  Continue reading >