Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Look for at Least One Surprise Tomorrow on Election Day

It appears all of the “big” race outcomes, except one, are foregone conclusions in tomorrow’s significant 2013 election.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, incumbent Republican Gov. Chris Christie has maintained leads approaching or exceeding 25 points for virtually the entire election cycle, and he will easily cruise to a second term when the ballots are actually tabulated. No one is predicting an upset for Democratic nominee Barbara Buono, a state senator. The only intrigue is whether Christie will extend political coattails to Republican legislative candidates in order to increase the party strength in the state legislature. Democrats are expected to maintain control of both the state Senate and Assembly.

Virginia

Turning to Virginia, former Democratic National Committee chairman, Terry McAuliffe, is likewise poised for victory tomorrow night. Every poll has staked him to a lead of at least four to as many as 12 points over Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Christopher Newport University released the latest of the public surveys (Oct. 25-30; 1,185 registered Virginia voters; 1,038 characterized as likely voters) and the academic pollster projects McAuliffe to hold a seven-point lead over Cuccinelli, 45-38 percent, with Libertarian Robert Sarvis capturing 10 percent.

The CNU researchers asked further questions about why Sarvis respondents are supporting the independent gubernatorial candidate. They also queried those in the sampling universe about the Virginia down ballot races.

In responding to whether the Sarvis voters are supporting their candidate as a form of protest against both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, 68 percent said yes. Thirty-seven percent said if Sarvis were not a candidate they would be supporting Cuccinelli; 17 percent made the same statement regarding McAuliffe. These findings are more dramatic than published elsewhere. When other pollsters have asked this question, they have reported results suggesting a more even distribution of Sarvis voters vis-a-vis major party candidate preference.
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Will History Repeat in Alabama?

Bradley Byrne

Bradley Byrne

According to a brand new flash poll, history may repeat itself in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District special run-off election scheduled for next Tuesday.

In 2010, Alabama state Sen. Bradley Byrne scored 27.9 percent of the statewide Republican gubernatorial vote to finish in first place and advance to the two-person run-off election. He was paired with Tuscaloosa dermatologist and state Rep. Robert Bentley, who qualified for the secondary vote with the barest of margins over the man placing third, Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James. Backed by the various Tea Party organizations and his strongly conservative base voter, Bentley soared past Sen. Byrne to capture a 56-44 percent Republican nomination run-off victory, and then was elected governor in the general election.

Now, as a candidate in the special congressional election for resigned Rep. Jo Bonner’s (R-AL-1) former position, Byrne again placed first in the original primary, garnering 35 percent of the total Republican vote. He faces businessman and conservative activist Dean Young, who scored 23 percent on Sept. 24, but is now running much closer according to late race polling.

Byrne is leaving no stone unturned in this run-off campaign, employing aggressive fundraising and advertising techniques, capturing more endorsements, benefiting from outside independent expenditure advocacy, and attracting establishment Republican support. But, according to a new Cygnal consulting firm flash poll conducted on Oct. 30, Byrne has dropped behind his opponent, Young, by a 43-40 percent  Continue reading >

Is Cuccinelli Suddenly Narrowing the Gap in Virginia?

Two just-released polls suggest that Virginia’s embattled Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli is making strides in his battle against Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, but even this data still portends that the latter will win the race next Tuesday.

The least credible of the two surveys comes from Zogby-Newsmax (dates and sample size not released). The results reveal a McAuliffe lead of only 35-30 percent, with nine percent headed for Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis. No other poll has shown such a low determined number of voters. Zogby then removed all of the undecideds and the adjusted report gives McAuliffe a 43-37 percent advantage, with Sarvis posting 11 percent.

Two additional sector reports also initiate skepticism. First, the pollster suggests that Libertarian Sarvis “hitting double-digits is very doable.” Often times third-party candidates poll well during a race, normally when both major party candidates are negatively viewed as in this Virginia race. Rarely, if ever, do they exceed the 10 percent figure, however. The Zogby statement about Sarvis’ potential performance ignores virtually all previous trends.

In the most recent race where the Independent candidate was a potentially serious factor occurred in New Jersey back in 2009. Then, Chris Daggett was polling far better against Chris Christie and then-Gov. Jon Corzine than Sarvis is against McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, but finished with just under 6 percent of the vote.

Second, the Zogby poll projects that approximately one-third of African-American voters are still undecided. Based upon voting history and turnout projections, this is an unrealistic and clearly incorrect conclusion. Factoring in the typical African-American share of the electorate added to their traditional overwhelming support of the Democratic candidate would then allow McAuliffe to claim a much bigger lead than the five points illuminated in the spread above.

The second poll, from Quinnipiac University (Oct. 22-28; 1,182 likely Virginia voters) – an organization that regularly surveys the  Continue reading >

Senate Conservatives Tackle McConnell

http://youtu.be/VKBTQhTTUnY

It didn’t take long for at least one conservative organization to begin launching an air attack against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) for his role in failing to stop the funding mechanism for the Affordable Care Act, now commonly referred to as “Obamacare.” The Senate Conservatives Fund, through its Senate Conservatives Action issue organization, originally founded by then-Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), has launched a $300,000 Kentucky television ad buy to claim that the five-term senator has “let us (Kentuckians) down” (above). The context directly relates to the healthcare issue.

The message is clearly intended to rile the Kentucky conservative base against Sen. McConnell to an even greater degree than previously noted. Already, investment executive Matt Bevin is actively pursuing a primary challenge against the Republican leader, a candidacy that the Senate Conservatives Fund has endorsed. Early polls show McConnell to be holding an overwhelming lead over Bevin, but data posted for the general election tells a different story.

The Kentucky Senate campaign is shaping up to be one of the 2014 bellwether races, and one of two key Republican must-holds (Georgia is the other) if the party is to have any chance of gaining the majority for the next Congress.

In the general election, Democrats have  Continue reading >

Is this the Death Knell for Cuccinelli We’re Hearing?

The Washington Post’s latest survey portends good news for Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe and the rest of his ticket, and signals what could be the figurative death knell for Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the state’s gubernatorial contest. All of the various pollsters who have been studying the Virginia governor’s race will be releasing their final numbers in the next few days, meaning we will be exposed to a continual stream of Virginia political data.

According to the Post figures (Oct. 24-27; 1,061 registered Virgnia voters; 762 likely Virginia voters) McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli 51-39 percent, which is the largest Democratic lead recorded in any Virginia poll to date. Dozens of surveys have been conducted in the past eight weeks, reporting remarkably consistent results, with all of them posting McAuliffe to leads but within a five- to eight-point range.

The Post results are both believable and unsurprising. McAuliffe has overwhelmed Cuccinelli with late campaign advertising and continues to feature prominent Republicans around the state who have endorsed him over their own nominee. This has helped achieve McAuliffe’s goal of splitting the Republican base wide open, and thus exacerbate the rift between the Virginia conservative and moderate base Republicans.

According to the Post, the Cuccinelli collapse is likewise beginning to affect the rest of the ticket; in the lieutenant governor’s race, their data shows state Sen. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk/Virginia Beach) running ahead of Republican nominee E.W. Jackson by a 52-39 percent margin. In the attorney general’s race between two sitting state senators, in which Republican nominee Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) has led Mark Herring (D-Loudon County) by small margins for weeks, the Post forecasts a change here, too. The poll yields Herring a slight 49-46 percent advantage.

The Washington Post survey also underscores that McAuliffe’s success in this race is less due to voters’ positive feelings about him than their negative views toward Cuccinelli. Asking people who earlier said they intend to vote for McAuliffe: “is your vote more for McAuliffe or more against Cuccinelli”, only 34 percent of the McAuliffe  Continue reading >