Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Ohio Specials Prelude

By Jim Ellis

OH-11

July 28, 2021 — Voters in north Texas went to the polls yesterday to decide the double-Republican runoff in their state’s vacant 6th District, but there is unfolding action in the two Ohio special elections right now. The Buckeye State’s vacant CD’s will culminate with partisan primary elections next week, on Aug. 3.

First, the Mellman Group, polling for the Democratic Majority for Israel PAC (July 13-17; 400 OH-11 likely Democratic primary voters, live interview), sees the multi-candidate contest in the Cleveland-Akron seat that has evolved into a race between two candidates getting even closer.

Mellman’s ballot test finds former state senator and ex-Bernie Sanders for president national co-chair Nina Turner leading Cuyahoga County ouncilmember and local Democratic Party chair Shontel Brown by a tightening 41-36 percent spread with the momentum again flowing toward the latter woman. The remaining 11 candidates all split an aggregate five percent, with the remainder categorized as undecided/don’t know/refused to answer.

We can expect a very active final week as the candidates continue attempting to convince their voters to cast early ballots or visit the polls a week from tomorrow. The eventual Democratic nominee will become the prohibitive favorite heading into the Nov. 2 special general election. The winner will replace former Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland) who resigned the seat upon her confirmation as Housing & Urban Development Secretary in President Biden’s cabinet.

Mellman’s most recent effort delivered the closest result from a Democratic polling firm. Compared to their June poll, Brown is the beneficiary of a net 19-point swing. In the June poll, Mellman found a 50-26 percent spread in favor of Turner. In early July, Normington Petts, polling for the Brown campaign, also detected movement toward their client. They forecast a 43-36 percent result, certainly in the same realm as the Mellman poll conducted more than a week later. The original Mellman poll came in April and found Turner more than doubling Brown’s support, at 42-19 percent.

The primary campaign is dividing along the past Democratic primary presidential lines. The Bernie Sanders’ group, including the candidate himself, has endorsed Turner, along with the Justice Democrats PAC associated with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and their individual congressional supporters.

Continue reading

TX-6 Special Election Today

By Jim Ellis

Susan Wright, favored in today’s TX-6 special election

July 27, 2021 — The late Texas US Rep. Ron Wright’s (R-Arlington) replacement will be chosen today as the double-Republican special congressional runoff election draws to a conclusion. The late congressman’s widow, Susan Wright (R), is favored over state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie), but low turnout elections often produce surprising results.

From a partisan context, the race is anti-climactic since we already know a Republican will claim the seat and expand the House Republican conference total to the 212 mark. Democrats hold 220 seats.

Two more vacant House seats will largely be decided next Tuesday when voters in two Ohio districts will go to the polls in partisan primary contests. In each case, winning the party nomination is virtually tantamount to claiming the seat, so it is highly likely that the two parties will split the elections. The Ohio nominees, however, will have to wait until Nov. 2 for their final vote. The special election season will conclude on Jan. 11, 2022, when South Florida voters will choose a successor to the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Delray Beach) in the state’s 20th District.

As is generally the case in special elections, voter turnout is the critical factor. The Texas Secretary of State has released the 6th District early voting participation numbers, and we see 20,534 ballots having been cast through July 23. In the May 1 jungle primary election, 45,259 people voted early, or 57.7 percent of the total voting universe for that election (78,471).

So far in this runoff, only 4.2 percent of the registered voter universe of 493,077 individuals have cast their ballot. Considering that 65.4 percent of Ellzey’s vote came via early voting in the special primary as compared to 47.2 percent for Wright, the low early totals should prove a benefit to the latter candidate.

Continue reading

New Special Election Data

By Jim Ellis

Susan Wright

July 26, 2021 — The Texas 6th District special election to replace the late Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington) is scheduled for Tuesday, and the Susan Wright campaign has just released the results of their most recent American Viewpoint poll.

According to AV (July 19-21; 400 TX-6 likely runoff voters, live interview), Wright, the late congressman’s widow who placed first in the original May 1 special jungle primary, leads state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie) by a 44-34 percent count with 12 percent saying they are undecided. The sample’s remaining ten percent apparently didn’t answer the ballot test question since they appear unsegmented.

The Wright pollsters argue in their survey synopsis that the ballot test numbers are actually stronger than presented for underlying reasons. Among the voters who rate themselves as most enthusiastic about voting in the special election (a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 having the highest level of enthusiasm), Wright expands her lead to 54-33 percent.

The pollsters reason the most enthusiastic voters, in this case ones who rated themselves at or between 8 to 10 on this scale, are the most likely group to vote. On the negative side, however, this segment is small. Only 8 percent of the entire sampling universe rated themselves in the highest positive category.

Drilling further into the polling sample’s core, American Viewpoint finds that among the respondents who said they are “certain to vote,” Wright leads Ellzey, 51-33 percent.

Where the state representative scores higher in this double-Republican runoff contest is among the Democrats who choose to participate. Here, Ellzey leads 44-31 percent. The pollsters conclude that Democrats who are motivated to vote largely want to make a statement in supporting the candidate that former President Donald Trump did not endorse…in the 6th District race, Ellzey.

Among what the pollsters describe as the “Trump Movement Republicans,” presumably those who have a positive impression of the former president and generally are inclined to back his endorsement choice, favors Wright by a 61-28 percent spread.

Rep. Ellzey first ran for office in 2018, when he opposed Wright in the 6th District open seat regular congressional election. Underestimated in the primary election, Ellzey finished second and forced Wright, then the Tarrant County Assessor, into a runoff. With Wright favored, Ellzey reduced the former man’s margin of victory to 52-48%, again exceeding expectations.

Continue reading

Cheney: The Battle Intensifies

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Liz Cheney, (R-WY)

July 23, 2021 –The internal Republican strife involving Wyoming at-large Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson/Jackson) reached a heightened negative level Wednesday.

In what seems like a news story that won’t die, Rep. Cheney again sided with the Democrats regarding the continuing saga of reviewing the violent situation that occurred at the Capitol on Jan. 6th and this time publicly attacked her party’s top House leader.

The controversy again erupted on Wednesday when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected two of the Republican members that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) appointed to the select committee charged with investigating what occurred in the Capitol building on that January day.

Leader McCarthy had appointed Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) as the ranking Republican for the select committee and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) among his five designated appointments. Earlier, Pelosi had already chosen Rep. Cheney as her lone Republican committee selection, leaving McCarthy to recommend members to fill the remaining GOP slots.

After the Speaker rejected Reps. Banks and Jordan, Leader McCarthy pulled the remaining members on his slate and called the committee a partisan sham. Cheney, however, chose to remain as part of the Speaker’s contingent.

Rep. Cheney then held a news availability in front of the Capitol where she slammed McCarthy as being unfit to serve as Speaker, if the Republicans re-claim the majority in the next election, saying that “any person who would be the third in line to the Presidency must demonstrate a commitment to the Constitution and a commitment to the rule of law, and Minority Leader McCarthy has not done that.”

Those comments then led to Texas Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Terrell) tweeting, “when will Liz Cheney officially switch to the party that she truly represents? We don’t want her in the Republican Party any longer! She is a disgrace!”

Continue reading

WI-Senate: Lt. Gov. Announces

By Jim Ellis

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes

July 22, 2021 — As expected, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) declared his candidacy Tuesday for a Wisconsin Senate seat. Incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R) has yet to say if he will seek a third term (when he first ran in 2010, he committed to serving only two terms) but there is no question whatever the senator decides that the Wisconsin race will be highly competitive and become a national campaign.

Before the eventual Democratic nominee even gets the opportunity to face Sen. Johnson, he or she must traverse a difficult primary battle that won’t conclude until August of next year. Already vying for the party nomination in addition now to Lt. Gov. Barnes are state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, state Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, and Milwaukee Bucks basketball club senior executive and former Obama White House aide Alex Lasry. Still others may enter.

Wisconsin has been the site of very close election in the latter part of the decade. Two presidential campaigns and a gubernatorial race fell within one percentage point (2016 Presidential: Trump: 47.2 – 46.5 percent; 2020 Presidential: Biden 49.4 – 48.8 percent; 2018 Governor: Tony Evers-D: 49.5 – 48.4 percent; 2016 US Senate: Johnson: 50-47 percent), and another photo finish is expected for 2022.

Polling will again be another question mark since the survey research community’s joint record in Wisconsin has been poor since 2016.

In the Trump-Clinton race, pollsters ran 32 polls and Donald Trump led in none, yet he won the state. In the 2016 Senate race, Sen. Johnson was ahead only once in 29 public polls, yet claimed a three-point re-election victory when the actual votes were tabulated. Again, in the 2020 presidential race, while correctly predicting that Biden would carry Wisconsin, their average margin was way off the mark, finding the Democrat leading by a mean average of 6.7 percentage points in eight polls conducted after Oct. 20. The actual Biden victory margin was just beyond 22,000 votes.

Continue reading

Re-Mapping Ohio

Ohio’s Congressional Districts


By Jim Ellis

July 21, 2021 — Thanks to the state of Ohio, the redistricting calendar has new life. The Buckeye State’s lawsuit against the Census Bureau and a negotiated out of court settlement led to an agreement that all 50 states will receive their redistricting census tract data on or around Aug. 15 instead of well into October or beyond.

Typically, states receive their individual data, mandatory for drawing federal congressional districts that must be drawn to a factor of plus or minus one person, during the early part of the year. The Census Bureau largely blames this year’s delays on COVID-19, though a great deal of the problem centers around the bureaucracy attempting to impose differential privacy on part of the data, meaning some of the key statistical information would not be released. The states not having full access would lead to the new districts being less statistically reliable.

Even the August data distribution agreement, however, creates a tenuous situation for the states to complete their redistricting work and still adhere to mandatory internal local deadlines. This is particularly true for the states like Ohio that are losing or gaining congressional representation.

Ohio grew at a percentage rate of just 2.3 through the decade, ranking 44th in the nation and just over a full percentage point below the national average. The 2020 census numbers add to the continuing trend for this state of failing to keep pace with national population growth. In the 1980 census, for example, Ohio held 21 congressional districts. It would lose two congressional seats in the 1990 apportionment, one more in 2000, and two more in 2010 to bring us to its current total of 16. The 2020 census reduces the delegation to 15 seats.

Currently, the Ohio US House delegation stands at a party division of 12R-4D. Since the count is so lopsided in the Republicans’ favor, it looks on paper that the GOP would be the party that loses one of its members.

Looking closely at the individual district population data, however, that may not be the case. Despite the Dems having only four seats, three of their four are among Ohio’s most under-populated CDs, while one, the 3rd District of Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus), actually must shed the most population, some 34,000-plus residents according to the latest published figures (July 2019). Adding the last year of population statistics could change the situation, but at first glance the statewide and district totals suggest alterations will only be minor.
Continue reading

New State Fundraising Figures

By Jim Ellis

No surprise that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) tops the fundraising list.

July 20, 2021 — The second quarter Federal Election Commission financial disclosure reports are now public, and while it will take some time to comprehend the individual filings, we can look at the aggregate state data to begin drawing some early US House political situation conclusions:

The following is a list of the 80 office holders and candidates who exceeded $1 million-plus in receipts since Jan. 1, 2021, including 74 incumbents.

A total of 45 are Democrats as compared to 35 Republicans. A brief explanation of why certain individuals have raised this much money is also included.

California

INCUMBENT PARTY DIST RECEIPTS CASH-ON-HAND
Pelosi, Nancy D CA-12 $6,873,128 $7,150,847
McCarthy, Kevin R CA-23 $6,312,663 $6,305,397
Porter, Katie D CA-45 $4,887,831 $12,859,730
Schiff, Adam D CA-28 $3,979,554 $15,639,499
Nunes, Devin R CA-22 $2,525,366 $11,539,624
Khanna, Ro D CA-17 $2,307,112 $3,822,319
Harder, Josh D CA-10 $1,987,919 $5,040,053
Kim, Young R CA-39 $1,594,073 $1,447,568
Garcia, Mike R CA-25 $1,353,194 $822,554
Steel, Michelle R CA-48 $1,352,557 $1,008,266
Collins, Joe R CA-43 $1,199,044 $180,383
Swalwell, Eric D CA-15 $1,085,947 $654,799

No surprise that the two party leaders, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) top the fundraising list, though House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) exceeded by just over $600,000 the top GOP total.

Reps. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) and Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) had their typically strong fundraising periods. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) has the lowest population number of any district, and he sits in the middle of the San Fernando Valley. Both points make him vulnerable in redistricting from a state that is losing a congressional district. Joe Collins (R) is opposing Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles). It is obvious from his large receipt total and small cash-on-hand figure that he is raising his money through direct mail prospecting, which is an expensive proposition.

Colorado

INCUMBENT PARTY DIST RECEIPTS CASH-ON-HAND
Boebert, Lauren R CO-3 $1,794,955 $1,252,630
Donovan, Kerry D CO-3 $1,179,347 $479,246

Obviously, the western slope 3rd District race will be competitive and expensive.

Florida

INCUMBENT PARTY DIST RECEIPTS CASH-ON-HAND
Gaetz, Matt R FL-1 $3,277,058 $1,585,935
Cherfilus-McCormick, Sheila D FL-20 $2,409,407 $2,081,704
Mast, Brian R FL-18 $1,749,636 $1,720,117
Donalds, Byron R FL-19 $1,468,065 $958,339
Salazar, Maria Elvira R FL-27 $1,201,681 $672,473
Murphy, Stephanie D FL-7 $1,165,011 $1,973,288

Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D) is in the special election to replace the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL). Most of her money is self-contributed. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Ft. Walton Beach) may soon be facing legal charges, so much of his campaign treasury may be paying legal fees. Reps. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Miami) and Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) look to be facing serious re-election opposition.

Georgia

INCUMBENT PARTY DIST RECEIPTS CASH-ON-HAND
Greene, Marjorie T. R GA-14 $4,775,059 $2,792,569
Flowers, Marcus D GA-14 $2,018,385 $547,579
McBath, Lucy D GA-6 $1,575,051 $1,326,020
Bourdeaux, Carolyn D GA-7 $1,240,567 $1,131,140

There is no doubt that the 14th District race featuring controversial Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Rome) will be expensive and attract a great deal of media attention. Reps. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) and Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Suwanee) face uncertain redistricting challenges.

Illinois

INCUMBENT PARTY DIST RECEIPTS CASH-ON-HAND
Krishnamoorthi, R. D IL-8 $2,282,380 $10,090,383
Kinzinger, Adam R IL-16 $1,954,927 $3,075,610
Underwood, Lauren D IL-14 $1,685,298 $1,479,294

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Schaumberg) is a consistent major fundraiser. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon) faces an uncertain redistricting situation along with a strong Republican primary challenge. Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Naperville) will likely receive a more Democratic seat in redistricting.

Iowa

INCUMBENT PARTY DIST RECEIPTS CASH-ON-HAND
Hinson, Ashley R IA-1 $1,443,371 $929,482
Axne, Cindy D IA-3 $1,292,496 $1,038,635
Miller-Meeks, M. R IA-2 $1,045,361 $1,174,066

As we can see from the fundraising totals, Iowa could be the most competitive US House state in 2022 with three of the state’s four seats being top-tier challenger races.

Kansas

INCUMBENT PARTY DIST RECEIPTS CASH-ON-HAND
Davids, Sharice D KS-3 $1,192,865 $1,222,016