Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Another Swing in Politically Volatile NH?

Since 2006, the state of New Hampshire has been the most politically volatile entity in the entire country. The swings in voter sentiment have been so severe that, since 2006 inclusive, more incumbent US House members have actually been defeated in this state than re-elected. The instability could again be present in the 2014 mid-term election, as the turnout model will return to lower participation territory, possibly creating a similar dynamic that led to a Republican sweep in 2010.

Hoping to make the latter statement a reality is former Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH-1), who defeated then-Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH-1) in 2010, but subsequently lost to her in a re-match during his first re-election attempt last year. For her part, Shea-Porter defeated then-Rep. Jeb Bradley (R-NH-1) in 2006, was re-elected in ’08, and lost to Guinta in 2010 before winning her comeback attempt.

Yesterday, Guinta officially announced that he will strive to come back in 2014. The move is not a surprise. He has been counted among several 2012 candidates or defeated incumbents who are potential re-match challengers. His path to the nomination isn’t clear, however. University of New Hampshire business school dean Dan Innis, who is referred to as a “gay married man” in certain local press articles, is leaning heavily toward running for the seat. Guinta in 2010, sitting as the mayor of Manchester, which is the state’s and 1st CD’s largest city, came to office in the Tea Party wave. So, if both men do in fact enter the primary race, the campaign should be lively assuming Innis can attract the necessary funds to run competitively.

The 1st District occupies the central and eastern regions of New Hampshire and is the more conservative of the two seats. Rep. Shea-Porter has scored 51, 52, 42, and 50 percent in her four House elections. Clearly, never topping 52 percent during her entire electoral career makes her highly vulnerable in the ensuing election.

AL-1 Primary Election Today

As reported yesterday, tonight the votes will be counted in Alabama’s special primary election to fill the vacancy for resigned Rep. Jo Bonner’s (R) seat. He left the House in August.

All the action will be on the Republican side, as the eventual GOP nominee will be the  Continue reading >

AL-1 Special is Tomorrow; Gov. Announcements in Mass. and Fla.

Alabama

Voters in southwest Alabama go to the polls tomorrow for the special primary election to fill resigned Rep. Jo Bonner’s (R-AL-1) Mobile-anchored district. While the Democrats probably will choose realtor and state representative candidate Burton LeFlore as their nominee, the favored Republicans are almost certainly headed to a run-off election scheduled for Nov. 5. The GOP’s second election will likely determine the identity of Bonner’s successor.

Nine Republicans are on the ballot tomorrow, and former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne appears favored to secure one of the two run-off positions. If things go according to script, the other qualifier will be one of the following: businessman and former congressional candidate Dean Young, conservative columnist Quin Hillyer, former Republican National Committee deputy chief of staff Webb Griffith, or state Rep. Chad Fincher.

Through the Sept. 4 pre-primary Federal Election Commission disclosure period, the aforementioned candidates all find themselves within the same fundraising realm. Byrne tops the list with just over $317,000 raised. The three others, with the exception of Fincher, are between $162,000 and $176,000 in receipts. Fincher has obtained just over $102,000.

If one of the Republicans does secure an outright majority, the special general will then be held on Nov. 5. If the primary results in the expected run-off, the general occurs on Dec. 17.

Massachusetts

Eight-term Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA-7) is expected to unveil a gubernatorial campaign bid this week. The congressman has run for statewide office before, losing to Attorney General Martha Coakley in the special Democratic senatorial primary election back in 2010. Coakley would then go on to lose to Republican Scott Brown in the special general. Capuano scored 28 percent of the primary vote compared to the Attorney General’s 47 percent.

The congressman flirted with the idea of running for the Senate in 2012, but backed  Continue reading >

U.S. House Outlook

With virtually all of the early election cycle attention being paid to the Senate races, it’s time to divert and take a preliminary look at the upcoming House projections. As we know, the Republicans have a 233-200 advantage with two vacant seats. Later this year, both the MA-5 seat of Sen. Ed Markey (D) and resigned Rep. Jo Bonner’s (R-AL-1) seat will be filled in special elections. Each party is expected to hold the seat they previously maintained.

Assuming the parties do hold, the Democrats will need to convert 17 Republican districts to claim a one seat majority. Based upon the early numbers, the paucity of open seats, quantity and quality of challengers, 2011 redistricting plans that generally created safe seats for both parties, and what should be a more favorable (to the GOP) mid-term turnout model, the Republicans should be able to hold the House majority if not modestly expand their numbers.

In the 2012 cycle, due to redistricting and an abnormally large number of House members retiring or running for different offices, 62 seats were open. Therefore, the fact that only 17 seats are incumbent-less at this point in time, including both of the vacant seats and Rep. Rodney Alexander’s LA-5 district that he will leave before the end of the month to accept an appointment in Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) administration, means even fewer contested campaigns.

Of the 17 opens, 10 are Republican-held with the remaining seven under Democratic Party control. No open seat is in the toss-up category and only a pair could be conceivably considered a lean (R or D) CD depending upon the final candidate field developing in each situation. The two opens that could be headed in the lean direction are AR-4 (Rep. Tom Cotton – Lean R) and WV-2 (Rep. Shelley Moore Capito – Lean R).

Only seven seats are today considered toss-ups, and five of those are Democratic districts. Obviously, if the Dems are to make a serious run at the Republican majority, the number of GOP seats in this segment must drastically increase.

The seven toss-up contests are:

• AZ-2 – Rep. Ron Barber (D) – 2012 re-election %: 50
Barber again will likely face 2012 nominee  Continue reading >

Virginia Race Tightens

A brand new Quinnipiac University poll (Sept. 9-15; 1,005 registered Virginia voters) shows Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli closing the gap between he and Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe in the state’s gubernatorial race. According to the Q-Poll results, McAuliffe tops Cuccinelli 44-41 percent, a spread now within the polling margin of error. Previous studies from Quinnipiac and a myriad of other pollsters were consistently projecting McAuliffe to be holding a five to seven-point lead during the past month.

Though the trend suggests the momentum may be shifting back to Cuccinelli after going McAuliffe’s way for a considerable period of time, there is a major point of concern for the Republican political forces. Despite Cuccinelli pulling to within three points on the ballot test, his ability to personally connect with voters is poor.

Cuccinelli’s favorability index is an alarming 34:51 percent favorable to unfavorable. McAuliffe’s rating is better, but not stellar. His score is an even 38:38 percent.

There is a two-fold explanation for the Republican’s severely upside down rating. Most acutely, the sampling universe does not believe that Cuccinelli understands their problems. By a margin of 35:56 percent, the respondents believe that the Republican nominee does not understand problems of “people like me.”

Additionally, almost an outright majority of the sample does not believe Cuccinelli is “honest and trustworthy.” In answer to this particular question, the ratio is 39:49 percent with the higher number representing those who do not agree that the attorney general is honest and trustworthy.

The answers to both of these questions highlight a very serious image problem that the Cuccinelli team will have to correct if their candidate is to remain competitive.

McAuliffe does not score particularly well on these questions either, but he is stronger than Cuccinelli. He, too, is upside-down in regard to whether people believe he understands their problems, but is closer to parity than Cuccinelli. By a margin of 40:44 percent, the respondents don’t believe McAuliffe understands their problems. The Democrat, too, sees a higher number of people viewing him as not being particularly honest and trustworthy, but again his rating is not as negative as his Republican opponent’s. McAuliffe’s tally on this question is 39:42 percent.
 Continue reading >

Daley Out in Illinois; Brown Improves in NH

Bill Daley

Bill Daley

Illinois

As quick and surprising as former US Commerce Secretary Bill Daley’s entry was into the Democratic gubernatorial campaign, so too is his exit. Daley, also a former White House chief of staff to President Obama, had been challenging Gov. Pat Quinn in the Democratic primary. Quinn assumed office when then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was sentenced to prison and then won a razor-thin one point victory in the regular election against Republican Bill Brady back in 2010.

With Quinn’s approval numbers lagging and the state facing serious financial difficulty, Daley launched his effort to deny the governor renomination in April when he formed an exploratory committee. But now the former cabinet secretary and son of legendary Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley says he cannot “commit to what the voters may need,” meaning that he does not feel up to serving at least five and potentially nine years (counting the campaign time) in order to get the state “on the right track.”

The decision is good news for at least two people, Gov. Quinn and the eventual Republican nominee. Quinn will now likely avoid a serious primary contest that could heavily damage him for the general election. Early polling showed both he and Daley in the high 30s percentile. Obviously, an incumbent failing to break even 40 percent among members of his own party is a clear sign of inherent political weakness.

Despite abandoning his campaign, Daley reiterated that he believes he could win the race and that Quinn will lose his re-election, asking for “forgiveness” for being honest. Through the last financial disclosure report in June, Daley had raised over $800,000 for his gubernatorial campaign. He says he will conduct an audit of his committee and return contribution money that was not  Continue reading >