Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Sen. Levin to Retire

Sen. Carl Levin

Sen. Carl Levin

Michigan Sen. Carl Levin (D), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced yesterday afternoon that he will not seek a seventh term next year.

Originally elected in 1978, Levin will conclude 36 years of service at the end of the 113th Congress and becomes the eighth senator since the November election to either leave the body, or plan a defined departure; six incumbents have announced retirement plans for 2014, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) was appointed US Secretary of State, and Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) passed away in late December.

An open Michigan seat is potentially competitive, but the state’s voting history suggests that the eventual Democratic nominee will begin the general election as the early favorite. Though, as we saw in 2010 when Republicans swept the state, Michigan voting patterns can vary widely in low turnout mid-term elections.

For the Democrats, the two potential candidates who will garner the most attention are former Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Detroit Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14). Granholm served two full terms as the state’s chief executive, leaving office at the beginning of the 2011. Her tenure was  Continue reading >

Michigan Gov. Snyder Looks Vulnerable Early

Public Policy Polling just released its new survey of the Michigan electorate (March 2-4; 702 registered Michigan voters) and, after showing Gov. Rick Snyder (R) with poor job approval ratings (a 37:54 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio), the survey shows Detroit Congressman Gary Peters (D-MI-14) to be the Democrat with the best potential to unseat the one-term incumbent. According to their data, Peters would lead Snyder 44-37 percent in a hypothetical ballot test question. At the current time, no challenger from either party has announced an official campaign for governor.

When paired with the man he beat 58-40 percent in 2010, Gov. Snyder trails Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero 38-43 percent. Finally, against former Rep. Mark Schauer (D-MI-7), who was defeated in 2010 after serving one term in office, the potential challenger leads this ballot test, too, but by a smaller 40-36 percent.

Though these numbers clearly show that Snyder has political weakness, he is far from moribund status for next year’s re-election contest. Single-digit leads change frequently, and polling more than 19 months from the election doesn’t mean a great deal. Still — and even more so when considering Michigan’s voting history — the numbers do yield trends and they reasonably tell us to expect a competitive statewide campaign in 2014.

Though Snyder’s job approval is poor, such a conclusion must also be qualified. PPP tends to poll this question in a way that typically registers negative job approval responses for almost every public official. Even here, the very Democratic potential candidates who lead Snyder in their latest poll, also produce upside down favorability ratings about themselves.

Bernero scores a 20:26 percent ratio when asked if the respondents have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him. This result is actually a bit worse than the spread  Continue reading >

DCCC IDs Their Frontline Candidates

DCCC

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released the first of their “Frontline” incumbents, those that will get the most attention from the party as they build for re-election. All are either freshmen from competitive districts, won a tough open seat, or defeated a Republican incumbent in 2012.

Rep. Ron Barber (AZ-02) – Barber, who won a special election to replace resigned Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D), had a closer than expected general election against former Air Force pilot Martha McSally (R) winning just 50.4 to 49.6 percent. McSally is likely to return in 2014, and with a more favorable turnout model could conceivably score an upset. The fact that Mitt Romney won the seat 50-48 percent bodes well for the challenger, but it didn’t pull her through last November.

Rep. John Barrow (GA-12) – Rep. Barrow drew a second-tier opponent in what should have been a first-tier GOP conversion opportunity. With a projected lower African-American turnout for 2014,  Continue reading >

Virginia Lt. Gov. Bolling Still Lingering

Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) still says he’s deciding whether to run as an Independent for governor but a communication to previous political supporters “seeking [their] advice” clearly indicates a preference to join the battle. Bolling was originally planning to challenge Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in the Republican primary but, when the voting format was changed to a statewide convention, it became clear even to Bolling that he had little chance of prevailing.

Upset at being dashed by the Republican brass for a second time (four years ago Bolling stepped aside so that then-Attorney General Bob McDonnell could run for governor, with assurances that he would be next in line come 2013) he started publicly contemplating about running in the general election as a third candidate. He states that he would enter the race as an “Independent Republican” and it is clear to him “… that there is a great deal of uneasiness about the candidates the two major political parties appear poised to nominate, and a lot of people in our state are looking for a better option.”

Bolling also released his internally commissioned McLaughlin & Associates poll (released Feb. 26; 400 registered Virginia voters) that shows an overwhelming number of people would consider voting for an Independent candidate, but one that also projects him to be faring poorly against Cuccinelli and consensus Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe.

According to the McLaughlin data, Bolling enjoys a 44:11 percent favorability index. This compares to Cuccinelli’s 41:27 percent, and McAuliffe’s rather poor 25:22 percent ratio. In his analysis, chief pollster John McLaughlin then points to results saying that 67 percent of the survey sample would consider voting for an “Independent candidate running for governor.”
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Union Sequestration Ads Target Seven Republicans

With sequestration taking effect at the end of last week, which triggered an automatic $85 billion reduction in FY 2013 spending increases, a quartet of America’s largest labor unions responded by forming a coordinated effort to fire the 2014 election campaign’s first salvo.

The unions, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the National Education Association (NEA), financed television ads in a “six-figure buy” against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and six Republican House members who will likely face competitive re-election campaigns next year.

Obviously, a small “six-figure” buy divided among seven individuals in targeted cable markets in March of the off-year means very little in the scope of cementing a negative image against their targets, but it does provide us a glimpse into where the unions and Democratic Party organizations will  Continue reading >