Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Camp Says No in Michigan; Brown for President?

Michigan

House Ways & Means Committee chairman Dave Camp (R-MI-4), after flirting with running for his state’s open Senate seat, again says that he will remain in his current position so he can continue leading his committee’s tax relief efforts.

Back in March, when veteran US Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) announced that he would not seek a seventh term next year, Camp immediately declined to run statewide. Last month, however, the congressman appeared to come full circle by publicly indicating that he was reconsidering his previous decision to remain in the House.

His move gave national and local Republicans reason to begin upgrading their chances to defeat Detroit Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14), who already appears to be the Democrats’ consensus candidate. Virtually all political analysts gave Camp higher marks as a Michigan Senate candidate than ex-Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R), partly due to his ability to amass funds as Ways & Means Committee chairman.

Now, Camp has yet again re-reconsidered his position and invokes his initial decision to forgo a statewide run. He again said, over the weekend, that he wants to remain in his current position to concentrate on tax relief legislation. The northern Michigan representative will continue to chair the committee until the end of this current Congress. Under party rules, his allotted service will then end.

The Republicans need six seats to wrest Senate control away from the Democrats, and the open Michigan contest is an important one if they are to achieve such a goal.

Today, it appears highly likely that GOP candidates will capture open Democratic seats in West Virginia, South Dakota, and Montana, leaving them with three more conversion victories to obtain, assuming the three aforementioned states do come through. Realistically, even with Michigan included as a target, there are only six more seats where competition is likely to occur, assuming the GOP holds their own potentially vulnerable positions in Georgia and Kentucky. A lesser Michigan Republican challenge obviously reduces their chances of gaining the majority.

Brown in Iowa
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Assessing the House in the 2014 Election Cycle

House-Chart

The US Senate races are rightly attracting almost all of the attention during the early portion of the 2014 election cycle, as minimal action is occurring in House campaigns. Right now, the Republicans appear poised to hold their majority, and may be more likely to add a small number of seats.

Comparing the 2014 House lineup to what we saw during the last cycle yields a much different situation. Due to reapportionment, redistricting, and retirements, no fewer than 62 seats were open for the last campaign. Today, we look at only 17 vacated districts in the current cycle, three of which will be decided in special elections before 2013 ends.

Seats projected as toss-ups are way down, too. Right now, only seven races appear as pure toss-ups – five currently held by Democratic House members compared with only two majority Republican controlled districts.

The pair of Republican toss-ups are:

CA-31: Rep. Gary Miller
CO-6: Rep. Mike Coffman

The five Democratic toss-ups are:

AZ-2: Rep. Ron Barber
CA-52: Rep. Scott Peters
FL-26: Rep. Joe Garcia
NC-7: Rep. Mike McIntyre
UT-4: Rep. Jim Matheson

Overall, according to our PRIsm Information Network race tracking scoreboard, here’s how we have things lining up:

It appears there are 154 Safe Republican seats, 59 Likely Republican districts, and 19 Lean Republican campaigns for a grand total of 232 contests today headed toward the GOP.

For the Democrats, 163 seats are categorized as Safe, only 15 as Likely Democrat, and 18 as Lean Democrat, for a grand total of 196 districts in the Democratic stable. Adding the seven toss-up seats brings us to our grand total of 435.
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Three States, Three Different Approaches

Pennsylvania

A major political decision announced just yesterday will help a Pennsylvania freshman Republican congressman. In November, businessman Keith Rothfus (R) unseated incumbent Rep. Mark Critz (D) in the newly drawn 12th Congressional District.

Critz was originally paired with then-Rep. Jason Altmire (D) in the one district after PA lost a seat in reapportionment. The sophomore congressman prevailed over Altmire in a close, hard-fought contest, but then Critz went on to lose the general election to Rothfus 48-52 percent, despite President Obama again carrying Pennsylvania.

Since the election, it was assumed that Critz would seek a re-match with congressman Rothfus in an attempt to regain his lost position. Critz, however, has decided on a different political direction. Instead of again running for Congress, the ex-member will now run for lieutenant governor. With the Democrats appearing well positioned to unseat Gov. Tom Corbett (R), riding on a ticket with the Democratic gubernatorial nominee could allow Critz to sail back into office.

In Pennsylvania, candidates for lieutenant governor run independently in the primary but, once nominated, are paired with the gubernatorial nominee on a general election ticket. The leading Democratic gubernatorial contender is Critz’s former congressional colleague, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13). As a political team, the two would strike a balance between the dominant liberal wing of the Democratic Party and its more moderate faction.

Maine

With the polls showing that Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) would defeat Gov. Paul LePage (R) even in a three-way match with Independent attorney Eliot Cutler, the congressman will officially announce his gubernatorial campaign later today. Earlier, Michaud had formed a gubernatorial exploratory committee.

While Michaud’s prospects appear strong in the governor’s contest, the battle for his open House seat could reflect a different complexion. Though the Democrats will be viewed as likely winners early in the race, a strong Republican candidate could become highly competitive in an inland western  Continue reading >

Booker Cruises to a Win

Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D)

Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D)

Yesterday, just 8.8 percent of New Jersey voters went to the polls (481,847 of more than 5.47 million registered with 98 percent of precincts reporting) to participate in the special primary election for US Senate, a process that will prove to be the determinative step in choosing the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s (D) successor.

As aggregate polling had almost exactly predicted since the first day of this special election cycle, Newark Mayor Cory Booker commanded the Democratic primary. He racked up 59 percent of the vote compared to second place Rep. Frank Pallone’s (D-NJ-6) 20 percent, third-place finisher Rep. Rush Holt’s (D-NJ-12) 17 percent, with Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver tallying only 4 percent.

Under Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) special election schedule, the general election vote is Wednesday, Oct. 16, and will officially feature Booker and Republican former Mayor Steve Lonegan (R-Bogota) who easily won the GOP nomination. Lonegan attracted 79 percent of the GOP vote against physician Alieta Eck. Six Independents will also appear on the general election ballot. The national Republican Party apparatus is not expected to actively support Lonegan, virtually conceding the seat to Booker.

The Newark mayor raised close to $10 million for the special primary election ($8.6 million through the final July 24 pre-primary disclosure period) as compared to Pallone’s $729,000 through the same period, though the congressman was able to transfer some $3.3 million from his US House committee. Holt raised over $962,000 during the same time frame and transferred an additional $500,000 from his congressional account to exceed $1.4 million in total Senate campaign receipts. Oliver reported raising less than $12,000.

Of the more than 481,000 people who voted yesterday, 352,120 participated in the Democratic primary. In a state where  Continue reading >

The Affordable Care Act and the Arkansas Senate Race

As we predicted last week when Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4) announced his challenge to Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), this campaign could conceivably draw the most attention of any political race in the country. Yesterday, as reported in several political publications, already two more Arkansas Senate surveys were released.

Both of the new studies are from Republican pollsters, The Polling Company for the Washington Free Bacon conservative political website and OnMessage for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Both project the race to be a dead heat. The Polling Company (Aug. 6-7; 600 registered Arkansas voters) scores the battle 45-43 percent in favor of Sen. Pryor. OnMessage (July 29-30; 600 registered Arkansas voters) gives Cotton a similar 44-42 percent edge.

These numbers are on the heels of another poll, from Harper Polling (Aug. 4-5; 587 registered Arkansas voters) that shows the same two point spread, this version 43-41 percent in favor of Republican Cotton.

But the ballot test questions do not give us the most salient clues as to how this campaign will likely unfold. It is clear from examining the questions asked, and the respondents’ answers, that the new national healthcare law’s implementation can become the over-riding driver of the campaign. Looking ahead through next year, if Obamacare implementation does become the determining focal point, Cotton likely will win. Conversely, if the new healthcare law is being implemented in a satisfactory manner and other issues evolve into greater or equal importance, Sen. Pryor probably survives.

According to The Polling Company data, 50 percent of the respondent pool would be less likely to support Sen. Pryor because of his vote in favor of Obamacare, versus the 40 percent who answered more likely. The OnMessage totals are more stark. According to their data tables, 55 percent would be more likely to support Cotton because he voted to repeal Obamacare, contrasting with 33 percent who say they are more likely to support Sen. Pryor because he voted for Obamacare.

Most analysts believe that the public view of the new healthcare law will deteriorate over the next year as more people understand how the legislation will directly affect them. Therefore, Cotton must use his campaign to  Continue reading >