Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Will Gov. Haley Commit?

Gov. Nikki Haley

Gov. Nikki Haley

According to a report in the Florence (SC) Morning News, Gov. Nikki Haley (R) is not yet committed to running for re-election next year.

The governor, a former state Representative who was elected to South Carolina’s top post in 2010, is eligible to seek a second term under the state’s election law. But, she told a Florence news reporter in an interview, “… if we look and it’s too much on the family, I could absolutely see (not running again).”

If Haley did not seek re-election, it would not be altogether surprising. First, her husband is currently deployed in Afghanistan and the couple has young children. Second, computer hackers broke into the state revenue department’s online system, thus compromising the state taxpayers’ confidential financial information, which has caused the governor major political problems. Third, her election victory percentage against state Sen. Vincent Shaheen (D) was underwhelming: 51-47 percent in what proved to be a landslide Republican year. Fourth, Shaheen has already announced his 2014 candidacy.

Should Haley run again, and she did stress in the interview that her campaign apparatus is ready to go, the race will be competitive despite South Carolina’s strong Republican disposition. There will be much more to come from the Palmetto State.

Massachusetts Senate Snapshot

The long-anticipated special US Senate election to replace Secretary of State John Kerry (D) is being held today, and the final three polls all favor Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) to carry the vote over Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez.

Suffolk University (June 19-22; 500 likely Massachusetts voters) projects Markey to a 52-42 percent advantage. New England College (June 18-20; 579 likely voters) gives the congressman an even wider 56-36 percent majority. Finally, the Western New England University Polling Institute (June 16-20; 503 likely Massachusetts voters) shows a much closer 49-41 percent spread.

There has been no poll throughout the entire special election cycle that projected Markey to be trailing. One survey, a Republican study from McLaughlin & Associates, showed the congressman in the lead at one point, but that is as close as challenger Gomez has gotten.

The Suffolk U. and Western New England polls are clearly more reflective of each other, and in line with the vast majority of surveys commissioned during the previous weeks. The New England College poll appears to be skewed in favor of the Democratic nominee.

Though Gomez conducted a spirited campaign, it is not likely that the magic surrounding former Sen. Scott Brown (R) in his 2010 special election victory will reappear in this battle. There is simply no evidence to suggest that this Republican is close enough to score an upset victory.

Despite Rep. Markey being poised to win the race, his percentage might be below that of usual Democratic performance in Massachusetts. In such an open seat special election race, a Bay State Democratic nominee should finish in the high 50s. By most accounts, Markey will likely score in the low to mid-50s.

The winner of today’s election will serve the balance of Kerry’s term and be eligible to seek a full six-year term in 2014. If Markey does win, as predicted, Gov. Deval Patrick (D) will then schedule a new special election for his 5th Congressional District. Already several candidates are actively campaigning for this post, in anticipation of a Markey win today.

Maine’s Musical Chairs

Gov. Paul LePage

Gov. Paul LePage

Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage made a surprising public comment Friday that he is considering running for Congress instead of re-election. A little more than a week ago, Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) announced the formation of a gubernatorial exploratory committee for purposes of challenging the incumbent, thus creating the possibility of an open 2nd District. ME-2 contains about three-quarters of the state’s land mass and includes the cities of Bangor, Lewiston, Auburn, Caribou, and Presque Isle.

The Maine gubernatorial race is an interesting one because it will again be constructed as a major three-way race. In 2010, LePage, then the mayor of Waterville, rode to victory in a similar configuration. Taking advantage of Independent Eliot Cutler’s strong candidacy, the Republican was elected with just 37.6 percent of the vote, but that standing was strong enough for a first place finish. Cutler was a close second with 35.9 percent and the Democratic nominee, then-state Sen. Libby Mitchell, fell way back to 18.9 percent. Cutler has already announced his intention to run in 2014, guaranteeing another three-way race.

But, will the congressional seat be open? Two years ago, when Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) announced her retirement, Rep. Michaud immediately jumped into the statewide race. When former two-term Independent Gov. Angus King then became a candidate, Michaud quickly retreated to his House district fearing that he could not win the developing three-way campaign.

The 2014 Governor’s race looks more winnable for either Cutler or a Democrat because LePage’s approval numbers are low. The last statewide poll that gauged his job approval came from Public Policy Polling back in January when he registered only a 39:55 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio. Still, even with a low rating, LePage continued to top a three-way field. According to PPP, the Governor led  Continue reading >

Senate Candidate Update

Continuing our periodic reporting about who is currently running for the Senate next year, below is the latest look.

The following 13 senators do not yet have an announced significant opponent:

  1. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama)
  2. Chris Coons (D-Delaware)
  3. Jim Risch (R-Idaho)
  4. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas)
  5. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
  6. Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi)
  7. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon)
  8. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island)
  9. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina – special election)
  10. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee)
  11. John Cornyn (R-Texas)
  12. Mark Warner (D-Virginia)
  13. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming)

And the remaining state match-ups:

Alaska
Incumbent: Sen. Mark Begich (D) – originally elected 2008
Republicans: Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell
Joe Miller – 2010 nominee who defeated Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the GOP primary
Arkansas
Incumbent: Sen. Mark Pryor (D) – originally elected 2002
Republicans: Lt. Gov. Mark Darr
Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4)
Notes: Rep. Cotton is a possible candidate. Lt. Gov. Darr is highly likely to run for a different office than the one he currently holds. He announced his intention to run for the Senate but there is a good chance, should Mr. Cotton enter the statewide campaign, that he would instead run for the Congressman’s vacated 4th Congressional District.

 Continue reading >

Obama’s Ratings

Photo: The White House

Photo: The White House

The Pew Center for the People and the Press just completed their monthly presidential approval survey (June 12-16; Princeton Survey Research Associates International; 1,512 US adults; 758 on landlines, 755 on cell phones, 575 Independents, 487 Democrats, 388 Republicans) and find that President Obama’s ratings are largely unchanged despite the multiple scandals building around him. According to the data, 49 percent approve of the president’s job performance versus 43 percent who do not. In May, the ratio was 51:43 percent.

While he continues to score high on his handling of the terrorism issue, 56:35 percent positive to negative, his worst numbers come, not surprisingly, in the area of privacy and civil liberties (42:51 percent). Considering the revelations surrounding the IRS and National Security Agency (NSA), the results again continue the phenomenon of largely not blaming the President himself for his own Administration’s policies and practices.

Economy

On the economy, the respondents’ outlook is still largely negative but clearly improving. Forty-four percent say they approve of the president’s handling of the economy versus 50 percent who disapprove, but that is up from his 40:56 percent ratio when last asked in Pew’s Feb. 13-16 poll.

Impressions of how the economy will perform in the future is up substantially just since their March 2013 study. Thirty-three percent of the current respondents view the economy as being better a year from now,  Continue reading >

Governors on the Edge

Some newly released polling shows three individual governors in serious re-election danger. Recording poor approval ratings for an extended period of months, governors Rick Scott (R-FL) and Pat Quinn (D-IL) were known to be in obvious trouble, but a Quinnipiac University poll from last week (June 5-10; 1,065 registered Colorado voters) also indicates that Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is beginning to teeter. The Q-Poll projects that former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO-6) is pulling to within just one-point (42-41 percent) of the Rocky Mountain chief executive. Such a result puts this governor, who was previously thought to be almost politically invincible, into a potentially competitive race.

In Florida, Republican Scott continues to trail two key Democratic potential opponents, but his standing is improving. To the northwest in Illinois, Democrat Quinn is also behind his top rivals — in this case fellow party members attempting to deny him re-nomination — and, he too, is on the upswing.

Florida

Quinnipiac just published the results of their new Florida poll (June 11-16; 1,176 registered Florida voters). They find that Gov. Scott has fought back to an almost even standing on his job approval rating (43:44 percent favorable to unfavorable), but still trails former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) and Sen. Bill Nelson, both by a substantial 10-point margin. Crist, the former Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat, holds a 47-37 percent lead over the incumbent. Sen. Nelson, fresh from winning election to a third term this past November, scores an almost identical 48-38 percent margin against Scott. The senator claims he’s staying in his current job, but never fully closes the door on the issue of challenging the governor. It is unlikely he will do so, but such rhetoric certainly keeps his name and profile at the political forefront.

Crist is a different story, however. He will almost assuredly run, and his favorables are surprisingly high considering his ignominious temporary exit from Florida politics in 2010. You will remember that Marco Rubio, at the time a former state House Speaker, was building such strong momentum that Crist, even as a sitting Republican governor, was forced out of the Republican Party, and then chose to run for the Senate as an Independent. In the  Continue reading >

NJ Senate Poll; SCOTUS’ Arizona Ruling

New Jersey

Immediately upon New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) scheduling the special Senate election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), both Quinnipiac University and Rutgers-Eagleton went into the field to measure the Garden State electorate. Both pollsters produced a similar conclusion — Newark Mayor Cory Booker is opening up a wide lead in the Democratic primary — but their samples sizes of less than 350 respondents were unacceptably low in a larger population state.

Now, Rasmussen Reports (June 12-13; 1,000 likely New Jersey voters) confirms that Booker does indeed have a huge lead derived from a much larger survey sample. Though the methodology does not specifically identify how many people (but undoubtedly larger than 350 individuals and presumably likely Democratic primary voters) were asked to choose among Mayor Booker, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ-12), and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, the results were almost identical to what Quinnipiac and Rutgers-Eagleton originally found.

According to RR, Booker would command support from 54 percent of the Democratic voters, followed by Holt with 11 percent, and Pallone at 8 percent. Oliver trailed the pack registering just 5 percent preference.

For the special general election, tested among all 1,000 respondents, Booker leads former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan (R) 50-33 percent.

The special primary is scheduled for Aug. 13, followed by the deciding vote on Oct. 16. The winner will serve the balance of Sen. Lautenberg’s final term, and is eligible to stand for election to a full six-year stint during the regular 2014 election.

Arizona

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court released its ruling on the Arizona v. The Arizona  Continue reading >