Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Re-Capping the Senate

Current Senate makeup

Current Senate makeup

With last week’s announcement that Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4) would challenge Sen. Mark Pryor (D), thus setting the Arkansas field for 2014, it is a good time to check the national US Senate picture.

In 2014, 35 Senate races are on tap, including campaigns in Hawaii and South Carolina to affirm political appointments. Of the 35, the following 18 senators currently have little or no pending opposition for 2014:

Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Mark Udall (D-CO), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jim Risch (R-ID), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Susan Collins (R-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tim Scott (R-SC), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Mark Warner (D-VA).

Alaska:
Despite the potential of former Gov. Sarah Palin (R) running here, the likely 2014 pairing is first-term incumbent Sen. Mark Begich (D) and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R). This will be a tight race, but Alaskans don’t often unseat incumbents.

Arkansas: The match is already set – Sen. Mark Pryor (D) vs. Rep. Tom Cotton (R). Arkansas is now trending Republican, but unseating an incumbent – especially one who ran unopposed in the previous election – is never easy.

Georgia: Michelle Nunn (D), the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn (D), will be her party’s nominee. The Republican side is a free-for-all among five candidates, all of whom could conceivably win the nomination. The Republican general election candidate should have the advantage, but this primary battle could turn nasty.

Hawaii: Appointed Sen. Brian Schatz is drawing serious Democratic primary opposition from Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. The Dem primary, which must be rated a toss-up, will determine who wins the  Continue reading >

Louisiana House Vacancy

Two days ago, Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA-5) surprisingly announced that he would retire from Congress. Yesterday we find he means to exit right away, leaving mid-term in order to accept a position in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) administration as the state’s Veterans’ Affairs Director.

Jindal (R) has already taken action and defined the 5th District special election calendar. As you most likely remember, Louisiana employs the jungle primary system, which means all candidates appear on the same primary ballot regardless of political party affiliation. If a candidate receives an outright majority of the vote, said individual is elected. If no candidate secures at least 50 percent plus one vote, then the top two finishers advance to a final run-off election.

In this instance, Gov. Jindal has chosen Oct. 19 for the first election, with the run-off to occur on Nov. 16. The candidate filing deadline is a quick Aug. 21, therefore giving prospective candidates little time to decide whether they will make the race.

Already, two state legislators have announced their special election candidacies. Republican state Sen. Neil Riser and Democratic state Rep. Marcus Hunter will both soon form campaign committees. Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy admits that he is considering running, saying that he believes his “centrist Democrat” philosophy is in line with the majority of the 5th District’s constituency.

The 5th CD consumes all of northeastern Louisiana and then takes the upper half of the state’s eastern tail. The Alexandria and Monroe areas are the largest population centers, but each metropolitan region fails to top 65,000 residents.

Mitt Romney defeated President Obama here 61-38 percent in 2012. John McCain carried the seat 62-37 percent over Mr. Obama in 2008. Republicans are the early favorites to hold the district.

2013 Polling Notes:

Two new polls were released covering northeastern 2013 political action.

New Jersey

In the Garden State, Quinnipiac University (Aug. 1-5; 2,042 registered New Jersey voters) tested the upcoming governor’s race where incumbent Chris Christie (R) appears to be steaming toward re-election.
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NJ Senate Race: Already Over

Newark Mayor Cory Booker

Newark Mayor Cory Booker

The New Jersey special primary election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) is scheduled for next Tuesday (Aug. 13), but according to Quinnipiac University’s final poll before the vote, the race is virtually over.

When Lautenberg died in early June and Gov. Chris Christie (R) scheduled the special election to choose a replacement, the early polling showed Newark Mayor Cory Booker with numbers approaching or breaking 50 percent of the Democratic vote with the other candidates, representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6), Rush Holt (D-NJ-12), and state House Speaker Sheila Oliver, barely breaking past 10 percent or registering only in single digits.

In the just-released Q-Poll (Aug. 1-5; 2,042 registered New Jersey voters; 388 likely Democratic primary voters) the results have barely changed. According to the data, Booker commands support from 54 percent of the polling sample versus just 17 percent for Rep. Pallone, 15 percent for Rep. Holt, and only 5 percent for Speaker Oliver. With less than a week to go, it’s hard to conceive of any scenario that does not result in a Booker victory.

Forecasting toward the special general to be held Oct. 16, the Democrat vs. Republican results are similar. With former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan enjoying a commanding lead in the special Republican primary, a projected Booker-Lonegan pairing appears to be no contest. According to the Q-Poll, Booker would lead such a campaign 54-29 percent.

Though this primary battle has lacked serious competition, there are still some interesting points to be made. First, as it relates to the Q-Poll, there does appear to be some potential irregularities in the polling sample. With 2,042 people being interviewed, it’s hard to see how only 388 and 267 of them identify themselves as either Democratic or Republican primary voters, respectively. One would expect at least the Democratic number to be much  Continue reading >

Pryor vs. Cotton: It’s On in Arkansas

In what could become the premier Senate race of the election cycle, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4), as expected, officially announced his challenge campaign for the US Senate last evening. The freshman congressman spoke before a boisterous crowd in his small hometown of Dardanelle, just off Interstate 40 between Little Rock and Ft. Smith.

Anticipating the move, incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor (D) immediately launched a television attack ad (below), using the typical Democratic campaign strategy of painting his Republican opponent as favoring across the board reduction in government benefits from the farm bill to Medicare to Social Security:

http://youtu.be/OTZpvmkVRYQ

Polling here is already underway at a brisk pace. During the last two weeks, three polls have been released. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) first tested the Arkansas electorate (July 23-27; 729 registered Arkansas voters) and found Sen. Pryor to be leading Rep. Cotton 43-35 percent.

The Magellan Strategies organization (July 30-31; 1,600 registered Arkansas voters) just concentrated on Sen. Pryor’s re-elect score, not even bringing forth a ballot test question. They then added push questions after the original query. According to the initial results, 37 percent of the people would vote to re-elect Pryor while 47 percent would prefer to support someone new. After posing negative push questions that attack the senator for “adding to the deficit,” being the “deciding vote for Obamacare,” and “voting for President Obama’s 93 percent of the time” the second re-elect question swings to only 30 percent supporting Pryor’s re-election and 59 percent wanting a replacement.
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Polling Louisiana & Arkansas

LA-ARK

Magellan Strategies just polled two 2014 focal point state electorates from which we will be hearing a great deal in the coming months. Both the Arkansas and Louisiana statewide races could well determine the outcome of the battle for the Senate majority. Realistically, if the Republicans hope to have any chance of capturing control of the body late next year they will have to defeat three-term incumbent, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor (D) who is completing his second term in office.

The Magellan approach is interesting in that they asked virtually the same questions in each state during the same time period, and did not test either Sen. Landrieu or Pryor in a ballot test configuration. Rather, they concentrated solely on the incumbents’ re-elect score.

In both instances, the pollsters asked the respondents whether the incumbent in their state deserves re-election in 2014. After answering, several “push” questions were presented in order to determine attitudes and feelings about their senator’s support for the major Obama Administration policies. Then, a second re-elect was asked.

These are the push questions common to both surveys. In each instance, the respondent is asked if he/she is more or less likely to support the senator after hearing the statement:

1) The senator recently voted to support immigration reform legislation that offers amnesty to illegal aliens.

2) The senator supported President Obama’s agenda more than 95 percent (Landrieu) or 93 percent (Pryor) of the time.

3) The senator cast the deciding vote for Obamacare, which in some states has increased insurance premiums by 88 percent for people who buy their own insurance.

Here’s how the two senators fared:
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