Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Special Elections Are Preeminent This Week

Action is now occurring in three separate special elections: New Jersey, Louisiana and Alabama. In two of those states, voters will cast ballots this week.

New Jersey

On Wednesday, the New Jersey Senate special election will be decided as Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) and former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan (R) face each other in the final vote. The winner of Wednesday’s electoral contest serves the remaining portion of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s (D) term and will be eligible to seek a full six-year term next November.

The race has yielded rather extraordinary polling numbers in that several diverse survey research firms all agree over the race’s status. In the past week alone, four pollsters all projected Mayor Booker to have a low double-digit lead; two, Rasmussen Reports and Quinnipiac University, found exactly the same margin, 53-41 percent. Most other pollsters have been around this same range for the better part of two weeks.

The numbers still strongly suggest a Booker win, but a closer result than originally projected – an analysis that we have been reporting for the better part of a week. Such unanimity of exact polling results from multiple sources is quite unusual, however.

Come Thursday morning, it is more than probable that Mayor Booker will be a senator-elect and the chamber’s party division will return to 55D-45R.

LA-5

The special election not attracting much national attention is scheduled for this coming Saturday in northeastern Louisiana.

Rep. Rodney Alexander (R) resigned mid-term to accept a position as director of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration. Upon Alexander’s announcement, the governor quickly scheduled a new election so that the winner would be able to serve the entire second session of the 113th Congress, which begins in January.

Saturday’s election features all of the candidates appearing on the same ballot,  Continue reading >

Battleground Michigan

There’s a great deal of news affecting Michigan politics this week.

First, Republican senatorial nominee Terri Lynn Land announcing that she will report more than $2 million raised in the quarter ending Sept. 30 is clearly a positive sign for her campaign. Irrespective of the fact that $1 million of the money came as a self-funding donation, the aggregate figure suggests that her campaign is off the ground in a significant way. This, coupled with relatively recent polling data projecting that she and Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14), the consensus Democratic candidate, are virtually tied, is making the GOP leaders’ case that the open Michigan Senate race will become a highly competitive national campaign.

At the end of the previous quarter, Rep. Peters had already banked more than $1.7 million. His third quarter entry is expected to top $3 million in aggregate dollars raised. The combined Democrat and Republican monetary amounts is beginning to boost this race into the top national tier.

Second, earlier in the week Public Policy Polling, surveying for the MoveOn.org PAC, examined 24 Republican congressional districts in order to test GOP incumbents against the charge that they are solely responsible for shutting down the government. Though the timing of the polling and slanted questionnaires skews the data, some tangible information did come forth. Of the 24 tested Republican House members, seven found themselves trailing a generic Democratic placebo by nine points or more. Three of the seven hail from Michigan.

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI-7), who scored a strong but not overwhelming 53-43 percent win last November in his post-redistricting 7th CD, trailed the generic Democrat 42-51 percent.

Freshman Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI-11), who is already facing a strong Republican primary challenger, placed 15 points behind the generic D, 39-54 percent.

The member faring the worst of all 24 tested, sophomore Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI-1), drops behind a Democratic placebo by 22 full points, 35-57 percent. While these numbers come from polls  Continue reading >

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 >