Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Pessimism Abounds Among Electorate

A new USA Today/Pew Research poll (Dec. 3-7, 1,507 adults; 408 Republicans, 445 Democrats, 574 Independents) tested a representative American sampling group about their attitudes and impressions toward national political institutions, now that we have moved into a post-election period.

Back in 2009, when asked whether the country was more politically divided than in the past respondents answered that it was, but only by a 46-45 percent margin. The latest data finds that 81 percent believe America is more ideologically divided, as compared to just 15 percent who say it is not. And, 77 percent say they believe the nation will become either even more divided or stay at this same apparently unbridgeable level. Additionally, 71 percent say that such a situation hurts the country “a lot”, with an additional 16 percent believing that seeing such a starkly divided ideological nation is “somewhat” harmful.

The pollsters then asked respondents to name the most important problem facing the country. Of those who answered, 76 percent (71 percent of Democrats, 78 percent among Republicans, and 80 percent from the Independent sector), said they believe President Obama and Republican congressional leaders will make little or no progress in solving the issue they identified, regardless of the topic.

In terms of job approval, 42 percent gave President Obama a positive rating as compared to just 22 percent who have a similar impression of Congress. This marks Continue reading >

New North Carolina Numbers … Already

The calendar is obviously not stopping Public Policy Polling from examining the impending 2016 campaign. In the company’s home state of North Carolina, an electorate they survey monthly, both Sen. Richard Burr (R) and Gov. Pat McCrory (R) are scheduled to stand for re-election.

In polling the state, PPP looked at defeated Sen. Kay Hagan as the Democrats’ most prominent 2016 candidate, at least for the Senate seat. The outgoing senator has not yet commented about what her future political plans may include, but her presence on a hypothetical ballot is a good indicator against which to measure Burr’s political strength.

For governor, the top Democrat appears to be four-term Attorney General Roy Cooper. Previously mentioned as a possible candidate for other statewide positions, Cooper has stayed put for what will be 16 years, racking up strong re-election percentages while doing so. At the present time he appears to be preparing for a gubernatorial run.

PPP’s Dec. 4-7 survey (823 registered North Carolina voters) finds Sen. Burr leading Hagan 46-43 percent. He scores identical 44-38 percent marks when paired with state Treasurer Janet Cowell (D) and current US Transportation Secretary and former Charlotte mayor, Anthony Foxx (D). Neither of the latter individuals has given any indication that they are considering launching a senatorial campaign challenge, however.
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Inconsistent Turnout/Voting Patterns

As more and more election data makes its way into the public domain, the less sense some key voting patterns seem to be making.

Last week we reported on the turnout patterns for all 50 states and made the observation that voter participation dropped in 35 states when comparing the 2014 mid-term election to the 2010 mid-term. At the time, 2010 was considered to have yielded a low voter model, even in a mid-term election context.

The main conclusion being drawn from the aggregate data is that we may be returning to a similar electoral pattern that we saw in the pre-Reagan era, where Republicans did well in low turnout elections and Democrats excelled when voter participation was higher. This pattern has clearly taken hold since 2006. But, we find more to the 2014 turnout model when looking beyond a cursory overview.

Senate

As we know, the Senate races dominated the political landscape in this past election and saw Republicans gain nine seats to create a new 54R-46D majority (counting the two Independents who caucus with the Democrats). One would figure that, when overlaying the aforementioned observation, the GOP victories came because turnout dropped lower than even four years ago. In fact, the exact opposite is true.
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What Boxer’s Retirement Would Mean

News reports are circulating that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) will soon announce she will not seek re-election in 2016. Boxer will turn 76 years old just days after the 2016 election. She has halted fundraising, is not hiring a campaign staff, and, now that she’s in the minority without a committee chairmanship, it appears that these aforementioned signs clearly suggest she will complete her legislative career at the end of the current term.

This means a great deal of California political action is likely to soon come our way. The Golden State has not seen an open Senate seat since Boxer first won in 1992. So, especially among Democrats who dominate California politics, we can predict a very lively campaign beginning immediately upon Boxer making her plans official.

The state’s top-two nominating system means a free-for-all is on tap for the June 2016 qualifying election, with some chance that two Democrats could advance to the general election.

On the other hand, splitting the Democratic vote among a large number of candidates in June could lead not only to a Republican advancing to November, but actually finishing first. In the last two primary elections, the GOP has run relatively well, mostly due to poor turnout among Democratic voters. But, an open presidential election year coupled with an incumbent-less US Senate race would likely Continue reading >

Cassidy Wins Louisiana in a Landslide; Republicans Also Take CDs 5 & 6

Louisiana Senate

The Louisiana run-offs were held Saturday night and, as expected, three-term Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) lost a landslide re-election bid. With just under 1.3 million people participating, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) claimed a 56-44 percent victory margin.

In the state’s jungle primary that runs concurrently with the national general election, Louisiana increased turnout more than any other state when compared to the 2010 mid-term election. A total of 16.4 percent more Louisianans voted in 2014 than four years ago. Conversely, only 15 states produced more voters this year than in 2010. With more than 1.472 million voting in the November jungle primary, Sen. Landrieu placed first, but with just 42 percent of the vote. In the combined party primary vote, 56 percent chose a Republican candidate, while 43 percent voted for a Democrat. Therefore, the aggregate primary totals proved a precursor to the almost identical run-off result.

Rep. Cassidy’s victory in the Senate race means that the Republicans gained nine seats in the 2014 election cycle and gives them a 56-44 majority in the new 114th Congress. Five Democratic incumbents, including Sen. Landrieu, were defeated.

In her 2008 victory (52-46 percent) over Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy, Continue reading >