Author Archives: Jim Ellis

New Poll: Jones vs. Sessions

By Jim Ellis

Former Senator and US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions (R)

Jan. 8, 2020 — JMC Analytics and Polling just released their December statewide Alabama poll (Dec. 16-18; 525 likely Alabama voters) testing Sen. Doug Jones (D) against the Republican senatorial field including former senator and US attorney general Jeff Sessions.

Though JMC segmented demographics and geography within the polling universe they surprisingly did not identify partisan leanings. Therefore, it becomes difficult to see just how Republicans, Democrats, and Independents individually break and whether or not Sessions’ past public feud with President Trump is hurting him among GOP base voters.

The ballot test results, however, lead us to conclude that the former senator’s support within the Trump universe may be somewhat weak largely because he does no better than lesser known Republican candidates.

Sen. Jones is clearly the most vulnerable of the 11 Democratic incumbents standing for re-election in the 2020 cycle, not including Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey’s Democratic primary challenge from Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Newton). Considering that Republicans have a 53-47 advantage in the Senate and must defend 23 of the 35 in-cycle seats, re-taking Alabama is critically important to Republican majority goals.

According to the JMC data, Sessions would lead Sen. Jones, 46-41 percent, which is a credible showing for a Democrat in Alabama irrespective of incumbency. Pairing with the other Republican candidates produces similar results. Against former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville (R), Sen. Jones would trail 40-47 percent. If US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) were the GOP nominee, the spread would be 44-40 percent in the Republican’s favor.

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Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City/Kingsport)

Jan. 7, 2020 — The House open seat total reached 40 over the weekend as veteran Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City/Kingsport) announced that he will not seek a seventh term later this year. Rep. Roe is the former mayor of Johnson City, Tenn., and ostensibly entered federal office when he defeated first-term Congressman David Davis in the 2008 Republican primary.

Roe initially pledged to serve only five terms. He changed his mind and successfully sought re-election in 2018 saying that he had unfinished business as chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. As we know, the Democrats would go onto win the majority that year, thus relegating Roe to the committee’s ranking minority member position. Losing the chairmanship virtually eliminated the foremost reason for him remaining in Congress.

The 1st District is one of the safest Republican seats in the country. The last time a Democrat was elected to the House from easternmost Tennessee dates all the way back to 1878. The longest-serving representative from the region is former Rep. Jamie Quillen (R) who held the seat for 34 years after his original election in 1962.

The 1st District occupies the eastern tail of the Volunteer State. It contains 11 counties and part of Jefferson, a domain it shares with the 2nd District that is anchored in Knoxville. The largest 1st District population centers surround the cities of Johnson City and Kingsport. Sevier County, with a population figure of just under 90,000, is the third largest segment. It contains the cities of Sevierville and the tourist centers of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in the district’s southern sector.

The TN-1 electorate votes heavily Republican. President Trump carried the seat 77-20 percent in 2016. Mitt Romney defeated President Obama here, 73-26 percent, and John McCain recorded a 70-29 percent victory margin in 2008. In his six victorious congressional elections, Rep. Roe averaged 77.8 percent of the vote in what were always lightly contested general election campaigns.

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Castro Out; Bernie Brings in $34.5M

Julian Castro, 2020 Presidential candidate and Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary, bows out of the race.


By Jim Ellis

Jan. 6, 2020 — Saying that it simply “isn’t our time,” former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro announced late last week that he is ending his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination now, exactly one month before the campaign’s first votes are cast in the Iowa Caucuses.

Castro, who served the final two-and-a-half years of the Obama Administration in the president’s cabinet after a five-year stint as mayor of San Antonio and previously being elected to one term on the city council, was one of the first candidates to enter the 2020 presidential campaign. Beginning the race as a little-known political figure despite serving in a national office, Castro couldn’t get his campaign untracked. He never came close to attaining high single digit support in any poll, even when including those from his home state of Texas.

On the money front, Castro raised slightly over $10 million for his national effort. Through Sept. 30, he attracted $7.6 million in financial backing with estimates of approximately $3.5 million for his final quarter in the race. Castro qualified for participation in four of the six national candidate forums, taking a major risk in one of them that proved to backfire.

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New House Census Projections

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 3, 2020 — The Census Bureau just released its new population growth estimates for the 12-month period between July 1, 2018 and July 1, 2019. Their data allows us to assess just which states will likely gain and lose congressional districts in 2020 reapportionment, both in terms of the real numbers just presented and for projecting the final count once the decade’s final-year patterns are calculated and the census is actually conducted.

The national population growth rate was analyzed to be 0.5 percent, down from the peak period of the decade, the July 1, 2014 through July 1, 2015 time segment, when the growth factor reached 0.73 percent. The population patterns of movement to the south and west continue, with the northeast actually seeing a population decrease during the aforementioned reported 12-month period that ended on July 1. The Midwest is not keeping up with the national rate of growth, either, but not losing overall population.

Ten states actually lost population during the reported period, led by West Virginia’s 0.7 percent drop. Alaska declined by 0.5 percent, with New York and Illinois each losing 0.4 percent. Hawaii dropped by 0.3 percent, Connecticut, Louisiana and Mississippi 0.2 percent, and Vermont (0.1 percent). New Jersey is the tenth population reduction state, but it lost only 3,835 people from a population of more than 8.9 million individuals for a 0.0004 percent decrease.

The fastest growing states at this point in the decade are Idaho (2.1 percent since July 1, 2010), Nevada, Arizona, and Utah (all at 1.7 percent increase during the same period), Texas and South Carolina (1.3 percent), Washington and Colorado (1.2 percent), Florida (1.1 percent), and North Carolina (1.0 percent).

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The North Carolina Filings

All the best for a wonderful holiday season.
Ellis Insight daily updates will return on Jan. 3, 2020.

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 24, 2019 — Candidate filing in the Tar Heel State closed Friday, and the North Carolina political contestants are now set for the March 3 Super Tuesday state primary. In addition to the presidential race, North Carolina voters will choose nominees for governor, US Senate, 13 congressional races, the state constitutional offices, and state legislature.

No surprises came from the presidential filings, though 38 individuals filed to run for the nation’s highest office. Twenty of the 38 are minor party candidates, however. Fifteen Democrats are running, including all of the major contenders. President Trump draws Republican primary opposition from former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld and Illinois ex-congressman Joe Walsh.

Sen. Thom Tillis sees only minor Republican primary opposition and now is a cinch for re-nomination. Businessman Garland Tucker was expected to run a competitive primary race but decided to end his effort prior to the filing deadline. When Rep. Mark Walker (R-Greensboro) was drawn out of a winnable district in the court-mandated redistricting plan, he began considering entering the Senate race. The congressman, however, ultimately decided to wait a cycle and looks to run for Sen. Richard Burr’s (R) open seat in 2022.

Five Democrats filed for the Senate, but the nomination battle is realistically between former state senator Cal Cunningham, who is the party leadership favorite, and state Sen. Erica Smith (D-Gaston). The eventual Democratic nominee will face Sen. Tillis in what promises to be a competitive general election in a state that has defeated more incumbents in the modern political era than any other place.

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Rep. Mark Meadows to Retire

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Skyland/ Asheville)

Dec. 23, 2019 — Four-term North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Skyland/ Asheville), the former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, surprisingly announced that he would not file for re-election this past Friday, and immediately rumors began circulating that he will soon accept a position in the Trump Administration.

Prospective candidates had less than two full days to decide if they wanted to enter the now open congressional race since he sent his announcement tweet on Wednesday night and candidate filing closed at noon Friday, Dec. 20. Six Democrats had already announced their candidacies, so the onus is on Republican potential contenders to make a quick decision and complete the filing process.

Stronger potential Democratic candidates only had that same small time window to make a decision, as well. Of those six already running no one has yet reported even raising $40,000.

The new redistricting plan changed North Carolina’s 11th District to the degree where just under a quarter of the constituency is new but no more Democratic even though the entire city of Asheville was placed back into the CD.

The 11th District sits in the far western tail of North Carolina, nestled among the bordering states of Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina. The new 11th District encompasses 16 whole counties along with a part of Rutherford County. The changes included adding all of Buncombe (Asheville) and Avery Counties, while annexing about half of Rutherford County. In exchange, Burke and Caldwell Counties are transferred to Rep. Virginia Foxx’s (R-Banner Elk) new 5th District.

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Impeachment Politics

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 20, 2019 — As the most recent polling from national research sources and in key states shows President Trump gaining political strength, the US House last night, on a virtual party line vote, approved the resolution to send the Articles of Impeachment to the US Senate for trial.

The vote was 229-198, with three Democrats voting against the articles and one Republican-turned-Independent, Michigan’s Justin Amash, supporting the measures. Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, who represents the 2nd District of Hawaii, voted “Present”. Three members, two Republicans and one Democrat, were absent. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) will soon resign his seat due to pleading guilty to a federal campaign finance charge. Retiring Reps. Jose Serrano (D-NY) and John Shimkus (R-IL) were the others who did not vote. All present and voting Republicans opposed the impeachment measures.

Two of the three opposition Democrats were expected to vote no, Reps. Collin Peterson (D-MN) who represents the strongest Trump district in the country to elect a Democrat to the House, and New Jersey’s Jeff Van Drew who is about to leave his party to join the Republicans. The third no vote came from freshman Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME), who represents the northern district in Maine that delivered its electoral vote to Trump in 2016 even though the state voted for Hillary Clinton. Maine and Nebraska are the only two states that choose to divide their electoral votes.

Two pollsters who had been showing national political support for the impeachment are now projecting a swing toward the opposite conclusion.

The CNN poll, conducted by their usual research partner, the SSRS firm, surveyed 1,005 adult respondents over the Dec. 12-15 period. A total of 45 percent of the respondents favored impeaching the president, while 47 percent said, “they don’t feel that way.” In contrast, their Nov. 21-24 survey found 50 percent favoring impeachment while 43 percent said they didn’t agree with the move. Previously, the CNN polls had reported positions consistently favoring impeachment since late September.

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