Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Florida Primary Preview

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 18, 2020 — The largest of the states hosting a primary today, Florida joins Alaska and Wyoming in holding their nominating elections. With no Senate or governor campaign on the Florida ballot this year, we look to the 27 US House districts. Of those, we see action in eight CDs today, with two of them almost assuredly choosing congressional successors in two open Republican districts.


FL-3

In the northern Florida 3rd District, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Gainesville) is serving his fourth and final term in the House. Back in 2012, he pledged to serve no more than four terms to coincide with the state’s “Eight is Enough” (meaning years in office) term limit law for state legislative candidates.

This race could be a free-for-all finish tonight among the 10 Republican candidates in this 56-40 percent Trump ’16 district, as raised money is relatively evenly distributed among the top four candidates. Dr. James St. George, however, has added $600,000 of his own funds to the race.

The other top candidates appear to be businessman and former congressional staffer Judson Sapp, who has many endorsements from the Florida delegation, former Gainesville City commissioner Todd Chase, and an ex-Yoho House staff member, Kat Cammack. Tonight’s winner virtually punches his or her ticket to the succeeding Congress in January.


FL-19

The other open seat comes in southwest Florida, where two-term Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Naples/Ft. Myers) is retiring. This is another multi-candidate Republican primary for a seat that is even safer than the aforementioned Yoho district (Trump ’16: 60-37 percent).

This contest has a combination of wealthy self-funders, Marine Corps veteran and businessman Casey Askar who has invested over $3 million into his campaign, and local physician William Figlesthaler who has added $2 million of his own funds. Following are two local officeholders, state House Majority Leader Dane Eagle (R-Cape Coral), and state Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Naples). These four appear to be the top candidates, one of whom will prevail tonight and head to Washington as a member of the new House of Representatives.


FL-15

The other major attraction tonight is in the state’s 15th District, anchored in the city of Lakeland. Here, freshman Rep. Ross Spano (R-Dover) has been under investigation for accepting improper loans to his 2018 campaign. The controversy was one major reason that Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin (R) joined the race.

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Three States Vote Tomorrow

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 17, 2020 — August primary season continues tomorrow with nomination elections occurring in Alaska, Florida, and Wyoming. Today, we cover Alaska and Wyoming. Tomorrow, we look at all the races in Florida.


ALASKA

The Alaska primary is not a major event because the general elections are basically set. Here, Independent candidates have the option of coalescing with a major party, which has a major effect upon the state’s politics. This Independent/Democrat situation is likely to occur in the Senate race, as favored candidate Al Gross, an Anchorage surgeon, will run as an Independent but coalesce with the Democrats. Therefore, regardless of what happens in tomorrow’s primary, Dr. Gross is likely to have ballot position in the general election.

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) is seeking a second term. Several early polls found a tight race, but the latest survey, from the Alaska Survey Research firm (June 23-July 7; 66 likely Alaska voters), found the senator running ahead of Dr. Gross by 13 percentage points, 53-40 percent. At a commensurate time, Public Policy Polling (July 7-8; 1,081 Alaska voters via automated response device) found a five-point spread, with Sen. Sullivan holding only a 39-34 percent edge.

The latter PPP poll is suspect because Sen. Sullivan, as an incumbent, has an abnormally low ballot test standing, especially when comparing it to the Alaska Survey Research data. Additionally, when asked about President Trump’s job approval, the nation’s chief executive scored a 46:49 percent favorable to unfavorable rating. Also asked of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), her ratio was a surprisingly poor 29:55 percent. Yet, when asked whether the respondents have a higher opinion of President Trump or Sen. Murkowski, by an inconsistent 48-45 percent, the sampling universe answered Sen. Murkowski.

Sen. Sullivan remains a favorite for re-election, but this race could develop and become of some interest. It is a sleeper race for the Democrats that could come home if a political tsunami forms.

At-large Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), the Dean of the House who was originally elected in a 1973 special election, seeks a 25th term and can expect another competitive race. Should Rep. Young be re-elected he will have served a total of 50 years in the House upon completing the succeeding term. That would still place him almost a decade behind the all-time seniority leader, the late Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) who served 59 years.

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Plethora of House Polls Released; All Tell Unique Stories

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 14, 2020 — In the past several days, 14 polls in 13 competitive House districts were publicly released, and they all tell a unique story. The synopsis is below (in alphabetical order):


CO-3:
• GQR Research – Mitsch Bush (D) 43%; Boebert (R) 42%

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (Aug. 3-6; 400 likely CO-3 voters) went into the field to test Democratic candidate Diane Mitsch Bush versus Republican Lauren Boebert, who unseated Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) in the June Republican primary.

The result here is not particularly surprising considering that Boebert was a shocking upset winner in the GOP primary. Mitsch Bush has a huge cash advantage, but Republicans will likely rally around Boebert in a district where President Trump should comfortably win.


IL-13:
• RMG Research – Londrigan (D) 43%; Rep. Davis (R) 41%

After seeing the 2018 election between Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) and challenger Betsy Dirksen Londrigan (D) evolve into a 50.3 – 49.6 percent result, the pair returns for Round 2. The RMG poll (July 27-Aug. 7; 400 likely IL-13 voters), though over a very long sampling period, finds what has been clear for some time, that the 2020 edition will yield another tight race.


IN-5:
• WPA Intelligence – Spartz (R) 47%; Hale (D) 40%

The new WPA Intelligence poll (Aug. 4-6; 400 likely IN-5 voters) produces the opposite result of a survey we saw from the GBAO research organization in late June (June 25-28; 500 likely IN-5 voters). The latter study projected Democratic former state representative and ex-lieutenant governor nominee Christina Hale topping Republican state Sen. Victoria Spartz, 51-45 percent.

According to the current WPA data, Sen. Spartz, a Ukrainian immigrant, now holds a 47-40 percent advantage. The latter numbers are more consistent with the district’s voting history. Incumbent Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) is retiring.


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Sen. Markey Surges in Massachusetts

By Jim Ellis

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey (D)

Aug. 13, 2020 — A new University of Massachusetts statewide Democratic primary survey posts Sen. Ed Markey (D) to a surprisingly large lead over four-term Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Newton) in their impending US Senate battle. The poll has methodology flaws, however, as the high error factor suggests.

The UMass survey (July 31-Aug. 7; 50 registered Massachusetts voters, 199 likely Democratic primary voters, 163 Independents saying they will choose to vote in the Democratic primary) posts Sen. Markey to a 50-32 percent first question ballot test lead, and 51-36 percent margin when those who say they are leaning to one candidate or the other are added.

The self-stated error factor is 5.9 percent for all registered voters and a whopping 7.0 percent for those likely to cast a Democratic primary ballot. Asking the ballot test and individual candidate profile questions to only the likely voters limits the sampling universe to 362; hence, the high error factor because the segmentation is too low for a statewide campaign in a place with a population large enough to fill nine congressional districts.

Even when taking into account the high error rate the new Markey advantage is beyond doubt, and it appears the senator’s campaign may be peaking at the proper time considering the primary is Sept. 1 and early voting begins Aug. 22.

Recently, Sen. Markey has been on an aggressive upswing. He’s receiving outside support from strong environmental groups that are delivering a seven-figure independent expenditure; he earned an endorsement from the largest state teacher’s union; and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) is narrating his closing ads. The moves forced another group of unions and the Kennedy Family to counter by announcing a $1.6 million independent expenditure effort on the Representative’s behalf.

The UMass questionnaire asked the entire sample if they would describe the two candidates with one word apiece, and the results suggest Rep. Kennedy has a more negative image than Sen. Markey. While not all the top one-word answers were favorable to the veteran office holder – “old” was one of the most often mentioned terms, for example – he received more positive descriptions than negative. The top responses were, “progressive, good, dedicated, liberal, smart, and experienced.” Negative terms about Markey included “useless, unknown, and unsure.”

For Rep. Kennedy, we see a different picture. The top three words describing him were, “entitled, young, and ambitious.” Other major descriptors were, “opportunist, privileged, arrogant, and fake.” On the positive side, Kennedy was characterized as, “good, smart, energetic, and honest.”

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Rep. Omar, Georgia’s Greene Both Win

By Jim Ellis

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis) won a hard-fought Democratic primary challenge from attorney Antone Melton-Meaux for a 57-39 percent re-nomination victory last night.

Aug. 12, 2020 — The two most controversial candidates on the primary ballot yesterday were both nominated and advance into safe general election campaigns from their respective states.

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis) withstood a hard-fought and expensive Democratic primary challenge from attorney Antone Melton-Meaux for a 57-39 percent re-nomination victory last night in a district election that drew the highest turnout of the night (just over 160,000 voters). Both candidates raised well over $4 million apiece for their respective campaigns.

In Northwest Georgia, businesswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R) who has drawn attention for her association with the QAnon movement, a loose organization of individuals who believe that the government’s “deep state bureaucrats” are conspiring to take down President Trump, won the Georgia 14th District Republican runoff election.

Greene defeated Rome area surgeon John Cowan by a 57-43 percent margin from what will likely be over 75,000 voters who participated in the runoff vote. The final turnout number could soar, however, since a relatively substantial number of mailed ballots remain to be counted. The primary election in this district drew over 108,000 voters.


CONNECTICUT

Very little fanfare occurred here as few races were contested. The only result of interest came in the state’s 2nd District Republican primary where the two candidates are separated by just 78 votes with approximately 90 percent of the precincts reporting. The winner advances to the general election and a sure loss opposite Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Vernon). All five Democratic candidates were unopposed for re-nomination last night and each is a heavy favorite for re-election in the Fall.


GEORGIA

In addition to Greene winning the 14th District Republican runoff and stamping her ticket for Washington, DC from her politically safe congressional district from which Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ranger/Rome) is retiring (Trump ’16: 75-22 percent), three other runoffs were settled.

In the Savannah-anchored 1st District, attorney and retired Army officer Joyce Griggs defeated former local Democratic county chair Lisa Ring in the party runoff. Griggs’ victory margin was 56-44 percent, but from a low in-person turnout of only about 28,000 individual voters. Griggs now becomes a heavy underdog against incumbent Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) who is running for a fourth term.

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