Author Archives: Jim Ellis

South Dakota Dems: Going, Going . . .

The Politico newspaper ran a story yesterday detailing a strategic political difference between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and former leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) over who should be the South Dakota Democratic senatorial nominee. The party is battling to hold retiring Sen. Tim Johnson’s (D) seat. We analyze a number of points related to this contest below.

First: Polling shows, and most people believe, that former representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin would be the Democrats’ strongest candidate. Sen. Reid was clearly in this camp, but Daschle was apparently a major force behind his former aide, Rick Weiland, entering the race. Last week, soon after Weiland’s announcement, the former congresswoman made public her decision not to run.

Analysis: While Herseth Sandlin showed best against GOP former governor Mike Rounds in early ballot test polling, she was still consistently trailing. Though she successfully served three terms, the ex-member did lose her House seat as a sitting incumbent. The fact that she fails to lead a poll in what could well be the apex of her candidacy is a good indication that she may not be the ideal 2014 Democratic standard bearer, and probably made the right decision in bypassing the race.

Second: The prevailing wisdom suggests that the Democrats should field a more conservative candidate who would have greater appeal to the South Dakota electorate. Conversely, Weiland argues, “You run a Republican against a Republican, you’re going to elect a Republican.”

Analysis: The record since 2006 seems to back Weiland’s assessment. Moderates of both parties have not fared well during this four-election period, as their ranks in both houses have become badly depleted. Particularly in 2006, ’08 and ’10, an anti-incumbency strain that affected both parties became more of a driving factor than  Continue reading >

Poll: Bachmann Already Trailing

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) ran a boisterous campaign for president last year, but after losing the Republican nomination she retreated to her House district to quietly run for re-election … and barely won. Against first-time Democratic candidate Jim Graves, a local Twin Cities area businessman, Bachmann only captured a scant 50.5 percent majority to secure a fourth term in the House.

Often times a US Representative reaching for a higher office, particularly president, and failing in the quest, leads to a less than stellar re-election performance. Such was the case for Rep. Bachmann. A new Public Policy Polling flash survey (May 15; 500 registered MN-6 voters) suggests that the congresswoman’s political troubles are not over.

According to the PPP results, Graves, who previously announced that he will seek a re-match, has jumped out to an early 47-45 percent lead. This, in a district that 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried 56-41 percent. The 6th CD is the strongest Republican district in Minnesota, which is typically a reliable blue state. Romney carried only two of the state’s eight congressional districts.

Not surprisingly, since this poll shows Bachmann trailing in a partisan district that should be strongly in the Republican column, her personal favorability index is upside down. Forty-four percent have a positive opinion of Bachmann, while 51 percent expressed holding negative feelings toward her. Graves recorded a 39:33 percent favorable to unfavorable score, which isn’t particularly good either.
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Georgia Senate Race Now Defined

On the heels of representatives John Barrow (D-GA-12) and Tom Price (D-GA-6) both making public their decisions not to run, it appears that a set open-seat field of Georgia Senate race contenders is in place, some 14 months before the 2014 primary election.

Former Secretary of State Karen Handel, who was expected to run for the Senate once Price made clear that he will stay in the House, and businessman David Perdue now join representatives Jack Kingston (R-GA-1), Paul Broun (R-GA-10), and Phil Gingrey (R-GA-11) in vying for the Republican senatorial nomination and the right to succeed retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R).

Handel and Perdue entering the race greatly changes the campaign. Now with five strong candidates, the Georgia Republican senatorial primary will likely be the most interesting nomination battle in the entire country.

Handel began her career in the private sector before landing a position on Marilyn Quayle’s staff when Dan Quayle, was vice president. Handel later became deputy chief of staff to Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-GA). Her first elected position was as Fulton County commission chair. From that office, she launched a successful bid for secretary of state in 2006.

Four years later, Handel joined a similarly crowded field in the open governor’s race. She placed first in the primary, capturing 34.1 percent of the vote, topping her six opponents. Former Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA-9) slipped into the second run-off position, gliding past insurance commissioner John Oxendine, who had been the early front-runner. But things did not go as well for her in the August run-off. She and Deal basically fought to a draw, but the former congressman (Deal had resigned his House seat prior to the primary election) nipped her at the end and claimed a 50.2-49.8 percent win, a margin of just 2,519 votes of just under 580,000 cast.

David Perdue is the former Chief Executive Officer of both the Dollar General and  Continue reading >

Polls: VA and MA are Real

Mass-VA

Two new polls were released yesterday, one for the looming battle in the Virginia governor’s race and the other in the Massachusetts Senate special election. Both continue to show a high degree of competitiveness.

In the Old Dominion, Quinnipiac University released their new study (May 8-13; 1,286 registered Virginia voters) that contradicts both last week’s Washington Post poll and the one from NBC News/Marist College showing Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli leading Democrat Terry McAuliffe among likely participants. The new Q-Poll gives the former Democratic National Committee chairman a 43-38 percent advantage among registered voters.

To the north, Public Policy Polling (May 13-15; 880 likely June 25 Massachusetts special election participants), surveying for the League of Conservation Voters, shows Democratic Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) expanding his lead over Republican private equity investor Gabriel Gomez to 48-41 percent. PPP’s first post-primary survey projected only a 44-40 percent split in the congressman’s favor.

The Quinnipiac poll may have over-sampled Virginia Democrats, however. Their analysis does not identify the number of individuals questioned by political party segmentation, but the responses suggest that many more Democrats than Republicans were included.

Here’s how we know: According to their statistical report, McAuliffe is winning the Democratic segment 83-5 percent. But Cuccinelli is scoring just about the same  Continue reading >

Shaheen Cruising While Brown Lags in NH

The New England College recently polled (May 2-5; 807 registered New Hampshire voters) the Granite State electorate and one of the office holders they tested was Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D). She is preparing for her first re-election, possibly against former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown (R).

About three weeks ago, Brown made public his consideration of launching a campaign against the senator in New Hampshire. He justifies the move by reminding voters that he was born in the state. Since making his statement, he has been actively exploring this potential political opportunity.

The NEC poll is the second publicly released survey since a Shaheen-Brown race became a possibility. The first, from Public Policy Polling (April 19-21; 933 registered New Hampshire voters) gave the New Hampshire senator a 52-41 percent advantage, but that was better than any bona-fide Granite State Republican fared against Shaheen.

New England College portends an even stronger incumbent than did PPP. They forecast a 54-35 percent ballot test, with a Shaheen favorability index of 61:29 percent positive to negative. Her approval among Republicans is 31 percent, 63 percent from Independents. Brown scores an overall 41:29 percent favorability index rating.

Delving further into the NEC poll, we find that Shaheen would command the support of 89 percent of self-identified Democrats, while Brown attracts 71 percent of Republicans. Independents break a solid 57-31 percent for the incumbent.

In the meantime, however, Public Policy Polling conducted a survey of Massachusetts voters (May 1-2; 1,539 registered Massachusetts voters) and found that Brown is the strongest candidate in the upcoming open governor’s race from either party and enjoys a 53:35 percent favorability rating among Bay State voters.

Tested against four major Democratic office holders, Brown would beat them all in hypothetical races for the state’s chief executive position.
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