Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Lost and Found in Massachusetts and West Virginia

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) might be remembered as the candidate who “blew” the special election to then-state Sen. Scott Brown (R) in the early 2010 battle to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D). Her campaign became famous for its futility, and she was routinely disparaged throughout state and national Democratic circles.

But the 2010 election cycle was not a total wash out for Coakley. After losing the special election, she immediately announced a run for re-election to her current post, and won another term as Attorney General in a 61-36 percent landslide.

Now, with Gov. Deval Patrick (D) not seeking re-election, Coakley is again attempting to win a more prominent political position. Yesterday, she announced her campaign for governor.

Coakley has strong Democratic opposition, however. State Treasurer Steve Grossman is already in the race, as is Juliette Kayyem, a former Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary, pharmaceutical executive Joe Avellone, and former Medicare/Medicaid administrator Don Berwick. The winner will oppose 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker, who came within five points of unseating incumbent Patrick. Therefore, no candidate has an easy path to the Massachusetts state house.

West Virginia

The Democrats finally have a West Virginia senatorial candidate. Months after Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) announced that he would not seek re-election, the party has found its potential successor. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, long believed the Democrats’ best available candidate, yesterday announced her statewide challenge.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2), who made public her own candidacy even before Rockefeller proclaimed his decision to retire, is the consensus Republican candidate and the early race leader.

West Virginia has been trending Republican since the 2000 presidential campaign when Al Gore failed to carry the state for the  Continue reading >

AL-1: September Election

Alabama Congressional Districts

Alabama Congressional Districts

Another special election is fast coming upon us. Alabama Rep. Jo Bonner’s (R) resignation from the House means a special primary on Sept. 24. The underdog Democrats filed two candidates, so the party will select a nominee in the first vote. The two contenders are former state Representative candidate Burton LeFlore and retiree Lula Albert-Kaigler.

The Republican side is a much different affair. With nine candidates on the ballot, a Nov. 5 run-off is a virtual certainty. The special general election is scheduled for Dec. 16. If neither party requires a secondary election, the special general will move to Nov. 5.

Former state Sen. Bradley Byrne actually placed first in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary, outpacing the eventual winner, Robert Bentley, and Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James (Democrat to Republican).

Byrne scored 28 percent of the Republican primary vote against Bentley and James, who both scored in the 25 percent range. Bentley edged James by just a tenth of a percentage point. Judge Roy Moore, who came to notoriety for his insistence of displaying the Ten Commandments in the courthouse, was fourth.

In the run-off, Byrne fell to Bentley 44-56 percent, indicating the strength of the Republican Party’s conservative wing. Byrne, viewed as the establishment candidate, came through a crowded primary but quickly became the underdog in a head-to-head race. Bentley went on to easily  Continue reading >

New Michigan Numbers Raise Questions

A new EPIC-MRA poll (Sept. 7-10; 600 registered Michigan voters) places Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and potential Republican senatorial nominee Terri Lynn Land in an improved political position just as next year’s active campaign cycle is beginning. But, the poll’s methodology may contain a flaw. The sampling universe is arguably skewed slightly toward the GOP.

The survey’s ballot test posts Gov. Snyder to a 44-36 percent lead over former Rep. Mark Schauer (D-MI-7), a net seven-point swing in the incumbent’s favor since the last EPIC-MRA poll was conducted in May.

For the Senate race, Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14), the presumed Democratic nominee, is staked to only a one-point 38-37 percent edge over Land. In EPIC’s May poll, the firm tested Peters against Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI-8) who, at that time, was considering entering the race. The result found the Democratic congressman leading his Republican colleague 37-30 percent. The current EPIC findings are very similar to a late July Denno Research poll that plotted the two candidates – Peters and Land – in a 39 percent deadlock.

The study, however, may not accurately reflect the proper composition of the Michigan electorate. Generally a state that leans Democrat, the sampling universe constructed for this particular survey is comprised of 39 percent self-identified Democrats, 36 percent who affiliate with the Republicans, and 25 percent either saying they are independent or named a minor party with which they associate. Michigan voters do not register as political party members, so it is difficult to ascertain an accurate total of each party’s loyalists. But, considering the electorate has supported President Obama twice with percentage splits of 54-45 percent (2012) and 57-41 percent (2008), it is reasonable to argue that EPIC’s Democratic share is low.

On the other hand, in the 2010 mid-term election, Snyder carried the state 58-40 percent under a much lower voter participation factor (in 2008, five million people cast ballots; in 2010, the total turnout was only 3.2 million). Therefore, considering that we are soon headed into another mid-term election, the partisan spread of just over three points could, in fact, be close to accurate for such a projected turnout model.

The Candidates

Though the Democratic leadership has  Continue reading >

Graham Below 50%; NYC Mayoral Update

Sen. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham

A new poll shows South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) dropping below majority support in his battle for renomination in next year’s Republican senatorial primary. Graham, running for a third six-year term, is opposed by three Republicans, only one of whom has been elected to any office. The poll, however, possesses a significant methodological flaw, which could cast doubt upon the results.

The survey, from Landmark Communications and Rosetta Stone Communications (Aug. 25; 500 South Carolina Republican voters; released Sept. 5) posts Sen. Graham to a 42-13-10-7 percent lead over state Sen. Lee Bright, businesswoman Nancy Mace – the first female graduate from The Citadel – and businessman and former 3rd Congressional District candidate Richard Cash, respectively.

While Graham clearly has a large cumulative lead over his opponents, this study projects him far away from reaching the 50 percent mark necessary for clinching the party nomination without a run-off election.

Under South Carolina law, such run-off elections are generally held only two weeks after the primary vote. Considering that the 2010 federal MOVE Act requires a 45-day period for military and overseas voters to receive and return their ballots, it is conceivable that a court could force the state to schedule a longer time between elections, just as judges in at least New York, Texas, and Georgia have done. Should the run-off be rescheduled to create a longer election cycle, the conventional wisdom is such a change may help a potential Graham head-to-head challenger because the individual will have some time to raise the  Continue reading >

NYC Results; Colorado Recall

New York

As expected, public advocate Bill de Blasio finished first in his bid for the Democrat mayoral nomination last night and continues to hover around the 40 percent mark. Under New York City election law, a candidate must reach the 40 percent plateau or a run-off between the top two finishers occurs at a later date – Oct. 1, in this case. Former NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson is second with 26 percent. The campaign’s original leader, City Council President Christine Quinn, finished a distant third with only 16 percent of the vote. Disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9) actually dropped to fifth position, capturing a mere 5 percent of his party’s vote.

Despite a turnout approaching 10 times less than the Democratic participation number, former NY Metropolitan Transit Authority chairman Joe Lhota won the Republican nomination outright, capturing 53 percent of the vote. Supermarket magnate John Catsamitidis was second with 41 percent. Doe Foundation founder George McDonald finished way back attracting just 7 percent support.

It might take several days to determine if de Blasio actually reached 40 percent, allowing for uncounted precinct, absentee and provisional ballots. Should he fall short, it will literally be by only a handful of votes, so it will be interesting to see if Thompson pushes for the run-off, or concedes the nomination. Late polls gave the first place finisher double-digit leads over the former New York comptroller, but things can certainly change in a new election between just two candidates. More likely than not, however, de Blasio will claim his party’s nomination whether it be this week or on Oct. 1. He then will face Lhota in the Nov. 5 general election.

Though the Republicans are badly outnumbered in terms of voter registration, they have kept the Democrats from winning the mayor’s office for the past 20 consecutive years. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani served two terms beginning in 1993, and current incumbent Michael Bloomberg has held the office since 2001. The latter man was originally elected as a Republican, but later switched to Independent status. De Blasio will be favored in the general election, but expect Lhota to be competitive, especially with a public financing system that ensures he will have more than $6 million to spend on the campaign.
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