Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Dems Eye House Takeover

Considering the events of the past few weeks, Democrats are now buoyed over their improved chances of wresting the House majority away from the Republicans next year. Most of the early election cycle analysis has been about the Republicans’ chances in the Senate, but the Democrat’s offensive in district elections certainly deserves further attention.

First, a series of MoveOn.org government shutdown polls in Republican-held congressional districts, 61 to be exact, showed most of those particular GOP incumbents to be already trailing a generic Democrat candidate.

Second, the death of Rep. Bill Young (R-FL-13) opens one of 16 seats that in 2012 voted both for President Obama and a Republican congressman. The special election format could further aid the Democrats in their quest to win this seat.

Third, the surprise retirement announcement from sophomore Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR-2) puts a “Lean Republican” seat into play that had previously elected a Democrat in every term since 1982, consecutively, until the current incumbent won in 2010.

Fourth, the Democratic Party leaders report that their House candidate recruitment has substantially improved.

Though the cumulative effect of these recent events has, at least for the short term, improved the Democrat’s prospects, substantial hurdles remain to be overcome if they are to gain the net 17 seats needed to claim a one-seat majority.

The Dems’ top impediment is the small number of open seats (20), which feature only four currently competitive Republican incumbent-less seats. Therefore, the number of realistic conversion opportunities is modest. In the last cycle, by comparison, the number of open seats was a huge 62.

Second, the Democrats must defend at least 18 of their own seats where Republicans themselves have strong, or relatively strong, conversion opportunities. Realistically, the Dems will have to sweep this category to have any real chance of regaining chamber control.
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Poll on Government Shows its Parts are Greater than the Whole

The Pew Center for the People & The Press released their “trust in government” poll (Oct. 9-13; 1,504 US adults) during the past week, and the results cause analysts to question what the conclusions really mean.

According to the Pew data, people’s trust in the US government “to do what is right just about always or most of the time” has fallen to tie an all-time low of 19 percent, and those who say they are angry with the government has risen to a record high of 30 percent, exceeding the 26 percent barrier recorded for this same question in late September.

But when asked their feelings about the individual government agencies only one, the Internal Revenue Service, draws negative ratings. Federal employees are well thought of, too. The percentage of respondents expressing a favorable view of government workers reached 62 percent in this poll.

To review, taken as a whole the government is poorly viewed but its parts are rated positively, and the people implementing the programs well liked. For example, the Center for Disease Control draws the best reviews, scoring a 75:14 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio. NASA is a close second, registering 73:15 percent positive to negative. Next, and somewhat surprisingly so, is the Department of Defense (72:23 percent). Following are the Veterans Administration (68:25 percent), Department of Homeland Security (66:30 percent), and the Food & Drug Administration (65:29 percent).

As mentioned previously, it is the IRS that scores upside down ratings, largely due to a vast amount of negative publicity surrounding the agency in the past few months. According to these respondents, 44 percent have a positive view of the IRS as opposed to 51 percent who express a negative opinion. But, even this ratio is not particularly bad. More surprisingly, the National Security Agency, regularly in the news for conducting extensive monitoring of the citizenry still enjoys a respectable 54:35 percent positive ratio. Though the NSA ratio  Continue reading >

Senate $$$ Snap Shot

Since Senate candidates still file their financial disclosure reports on paper, the numbers always take a longer time to publish. Thanks to the Roll Call newspaper staff who tracked down the key, but unofficial, monetary figures, we have an early picture of the third quarter fundraising.

Alaska

As we know, Republicans need to convert six Democratic seats to wrest the majority away from the controlling party. One of their key targets is Alaska, where first-term Sen. Mark Begich (D) is on the ballot next year. With Sarah Palin continuing to lurk in the background as a long-shot potential candidate, Republican Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell needs to show campaign strength. Though he is polling within low single digits of Sen. Begich, his financial take is underwhelming. According to the Roll Call report, Treadwell raised only $196,000 for the quarter and has just $155,000 cash-on-hand. This compares unfavorably with Sen. Begich, who banked $813,000 and commands more than $2.433 million in his campaign account.

Arkansas

One Republican challenger who had a strong dollar-producing quarter after officially announcing his senatorial campaign, is Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4) who is challenging two-term Sen. Mark Pryor (D). Cotton attracted $1.073 million for the quarter, just ahead of Sen. Pryor’s $1.068 million. But, the senator has a huge cash-on-hand advantage, $4.419 million to $1.806 million.

Iowa

An open seat race where Republicans are very slow to initiate their campaigns is in Iowa. The consensus Democrat candidate, Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1) topped $900,000 in receipts for the quarter and holds $2.323 million in his campaign account. State Sen. Joni Ernst led the Republicans, bringing in $252,000, and has $224,000 in the bank. David Young, the former chief of staff to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) and is expected to be one of the stronger candidates, only attracted $112,000 for the  Continue reading >

Bradley Byrne’s Blistering Ad Raises Concerns in AL-1 Race

DeanYoung

It looks as if the proverbial gloves are coming off in the AL-1 Republican special run-off election (Nov. 5), because presumed front-runner Bradley Byrne, a former Alabama state senator and gubernatorial candidate, has unleashed a rather surprising television attack ad against opponent Dean Young.

Citing that Young started a political action committee called the Christian Family Association PAC, the ad accuses Young of “fooling Christians for profit.” According to the Byrne ad, 95 percent of the money contributed to the organization – over $168,000 – went to Young’s company. The ad claims that Young “can’t be trusted” and says he is “the last guy we need in Washington.” The ad, which was on YouTube, has been pulled down.

The Byrne campaign’s frontal attack strategy is curious. By all measures, he leads this race and his headed for victory on Nov. 5. Such a position normally dictates a more passive campaign action plan.

On the money front, Byrne had out-raised Young by a ratio of almost 10:1 through the Sept. 4 pre-primary campaign disclosure filing ($317,245 to $36,713).

Since the Sept. 24 primary, where Byrne placed first with 35 percent in a 12-person Republican field as compared to Young’s 23 percent, the third and fourth-place finishers have each endorsed the former state legislator. The National Rifle Association soon followed suit. After that, resigned incumbent Jo Bonner (R), who left office in August to accept a position with the University of Alabama, also publicly put his political capital behind Byrne.

Additionally, an early October Wenzel Strategies poll (Oct. 6-7; 412 registered AL-1 voters), gave Byrne a 44-37 percent lead over Young.
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Griffin to Retire in Arkansas; New NH Polls

As was widely reported yesterday, sophomore Arkansas Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR-2) announced that he will not seek a third term in the House, saying that he needs to spend more time with his young children, whom he described as being in their “formative” years.

With Griffin’s retirement, a 20th open seat will now be present in the 2014 election cycle and this one has a good chance of becoming competitive. Though Rep. Griffin and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney each garnered a healthy 55 percent of the vote in this Little Rock metropolitan district, Democrat Rep. Vic Snyder represented a similar configuration of the 2nd District for 14 years.

Recognizing that the Griffin retirement announcement came as a major surprise, names of potential candidates in both parties are quickly beginning to surface, nonetheless. For his fellow Republicans, who Griffin said he wanted to help by announcing his decision early, state senators David Sanders, Jeremy Hutchinson, Jason Rapert, ex-Senate Minority Leader Gilbert Baker, former state Rep. Ed Garner, and businessman French Hill are the most prominent names mentioned.

On the Democrat side, former North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays is expected to announce his candidacy today. Considering forming a campaign committee are former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, state Sen. David Johnson, state Rep. Tommy Thompson, former state Rep. Linda Tyler, and Conway Mayor Tab Townsell.

The campaign’s early sector should yield a “Lean Republican” rating, but it would not be surprising to see this contest tip toward “Toss-up” territory once campaigning becomes heavy.

New Hampshire

Over the past few election cycles the University of New Hampshire has conducted political polling, but their reliability factor has proved questionable. The new UNH release is not likely to engender improvement because the  Continue reading >