Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Two New House Opens

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Kailua) – Democrat running for president in 2020

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 29, 2019 — A pair of new open seats, both from the Democratic side of aisle, emerged over the weekend.

First, in a move that had been speculated upon, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Kailua) announced that she will not seek a fifth term in the House in order to concentrate on her presidential campaign.

Second, freshman California Rep. Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce/Palmdale), who has been under fire and facing a potential ethics investigation for alleged sexual affairs with members of her congressional staff and campaign team will reportedly resign from Congress at the end of this week. Additionally, her estranged husband is saying she used her past influence to acquire employment contracts for him with the non-profit organization she ran before her election.

Rep. Gabbard, at this point one of the minor presidential candidates, made her mark in the debates for which she qualified to participate. Unless her poll standing improves, she will not be part of the upcoming November and December forums since the Democratic National Committee just announced new polling requirements.

The additional debate conditions mandate that candidates obtain four percent support nationally in a minimum of four designated surveys or attain six percent in two sanctioned polls from the early states, meaning those voting in February: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

Recently, local polling suggests that Congresswoman Gabbard’s constituents do not look favorably upon her running for president. Just over 60 percent of the respondents said they preferred she exit the national race. Gabbard was also facing serious congressional primary competition from state Sen. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo).

Polling projected her with a definitive lead, 48-26 percent, according to a late September Public Policy Polling survey of the HI-2 constituency but falling below 50 percent is a clear indication of impending weakness. The study also reported that 38 percent of Democrats would have voted to re-elect Rep. Gabbard, but 50 percent indicated they would support someone new.

Sen. Kahele says he will continue in what is now a new open seat campaign to be decided in the Democratic primary. He had raised over $500,000 for his challenge to Rep. Gabbard and has just under $371,000 remaining in his campaign account at the Sept. 30 reporting deadline.

The Hawaii candidate filing deadline isn’t until June 2 for the Aug. 8 state primary. At this point no other Democratic candidate is coming forward, but we can expect a crowded field once potential contenders have an opportunity to assess their own political options. The 2nd District contains part of Oahu and the remainder of the state’s island chain.

Rep. Hill’s district political situation is much different. The northern Los Angeles County seat was reliably Republican when originally drawn before the 1992 election. That was the year when former Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Palmdale) was originally elected, and he would win 10 more elections in the 25th CD. After he retired, state legislator Steve Knight (R) won the seat and held it for two terms until Hill unseated him in November.

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A Polling Dichotomy for Joe Biden

Former Vice President and 2020 Presidential Candidate, Joe Biden (D)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 28, 2019 — We covered a series of polls Friday that were projecting former Vice President Joe Biden regaining his early campaign advantage. On closer review, however, it was found that only the small sample polls with a large error factor were yielding the unusual Biden margins. The large sample surveys found a much closer split among the top three candidates: Biden and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Several new polls were just released during the latter half of the month, all conducted after Oct. 15 with large or statistically acceptable sample sizes, yet the conclusions drawn nationally and in key states were very different.

The following table compares the analyzed polls, which are national, and two each from California and Iowa. Both of the states have unique positions in the Democratic nomination process. Iowa is the first voting state, and thus a trendsetter, while California has the largest contingent of delegates, 416 on the first ballot and 495 when the Super Delegates are added to the total.

The new Quinnipiac University survey released last Thursday (Oct. 17-21; 1,587 US registered voters; 713 likely Democratic primary voters) finds Sen. Warren capturing the national lead, with Biden and Sen. Sanders following. Mayor Pete Buttigieg breaks into double digits in a country-wide poll for the first time since early June.

National Polls Biden Warren Sanders Buttigieg Harris
Q-Poll 21 28 15 10 5
Morning Consult 30 21 18 6 6
Survey USA 32 22 17 5 7

 

Iowa Polls Biden Warren Sanders Buttigieg Harris
Civiqs 12 28 18 20 3
Suffolk 18 17 9 13 3

 

California Biden Warren Sanders Buttigieg Harris
Change Research 19 28 24 9 8
Survey USA 33 18 17 4 8

This result, however, directly conflicts with both the Morning Consult track (Oct. 16-20; 11,521 likely Democratic primary voters; online US) and Survey USA’s most recent national poll (Oct. 15-16; 1,071 US likely Democratic primary voters), both of which report consistent result spreads and a Biden edge.

Inconsistencies are also present in Iowa and California. The new Civiqs/Iowa State University poll (Oct. 18-22; 598 likely Iowa Democratic primary voters) returns the worst numbers for Biden of any poll either nationally or in a state.

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A Biden Resurgence?

Former Vice President, Joe Biden

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 25, 2019 — A series of recently released national political polls finds former Vice President Joe Biden re-establishing the type of horse race leads over the Democratic field that he enjoyed before the debate process first began. Yet, how reliable are the polls?

CNN, YouGov, Emerson College, and HarrisX, all report new data and see Biden again posting significant leads, two of which are well beyond the polling margin of error.

CNN (Oct. 17-20; 424 US Democratic registered voters) gives the ex-VP a 34-19-16 percent lead over Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). HarrisX (Oct. 21-22; 440 US registered Democratic voters) finds the Biden lead reaching 27-19-14 percent over Warren and Sanders. Emerson College (Oct. 18-21; 430 US Democratic likely voters) sees a similarly close cut among the top three candidates, but they find Sen. Sanders slipping past Warren into second place. The Emerson split shows Biden up 27-25-21 percent over Sanders and Warren, respectively.

Looking more closely at the polling methodology for each, we find that all three of these surveys have very low sample sizes, which means the error factor is high. The respective respondent universes are only between 424 and 440 people from which to derive a national trend. These numbers are more typically found in a congressional district or small state survey.

The YouGov poll (Oct. 20-22; 628 US Democratic likely voters) used a larger national sample and found a much tighter standing among the candidates, but with the prevalent Biden-Warren-Sanders order intact through a 24-21-15 percent result. In all of the aforementioned surveys, no other candidate reaches double-digit support.

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New Data in Mississippi Gov. Race

By Jim Ellis

Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R)

Oct. 24, 2019 — One of the more intriguing current elections is the Mississippi governor’s campaign. Here, GOP Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is attempting to continue the Magnolia State Republican advantage, since the only Democrat to clinch the top elected job since the 1991 election is Ronnie Musgrove in 1999. Prior to Kirk Fordice winning in ’91, Democrats had held the governorship for 116 consecutive years.

Reeves arguably faces the strongest Mississippi Democratic opponent in this century’s state politics. Attorney General Jim Hood (D) has won four consecutive statewide elections to his current position, making him the most successful Democratic politician in the Deep South.

A just released Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey (Oct. 17-19; 625 registered Mississippi voters) finds the electorate breaking closely between the two contenders, as Reeves leads AG Hood, 46-43 percent according to the ballot test responses.

But the Mississippi election, going to the voters on Nov. 5, has an interesting caveat. Winning a statewide majority is not enough to be elected governor. In addition to reaching the 50 percent plateau for the statewide vote, a candidate also must carry a majority of the state’s 122 (meaning 62) state House of Representatives’ districts.

If neither candidate wins both a majority of votes and districts, then the state House members will cast their own votes to choose the next governor. With Republicans holding a 74-44 state House majority with 2 Independents and two vacancies, the chances of the GOP nominee carrying the majority of districts are high, and the Republican winning a vote among House members is a virtual certainty.

According to Mason-Dixon, the two candidates’ favorability indexes are similar. Reeves records a 41:26 percent positive to negative ratio, while Hood posts a 39:29 percent favorable score.

Most of the segments break as one would expect: Democrats going for Hood, 87-2 percent; Republicans favoring Reeves, 82-8 percent. Men favor Reeves, 50-38 percent, while women choose Hood in a 47-43 percent cut. The under 50 years of age segment leans to Hood 46-41 percent, while the over 50 group chooses Reeves, 51-39 percent. Whites support Reeves, 66-24 percent, and blacks back Democrat Hood in their typical division, 80-7 percent.

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Florida Rep. Rooney to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Florida Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Naples)

Oct. 23, 2019 — Two-term Florida Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Naples) announced over the weekend that he would not seek election to a third term next year, thus FL-19 becomes the 27th open House seat for the current cycle.

Three of the open seats are vacant, meaning they will each go to special election to fill the balance of their respective terms. The trio of districts are: MD-7 (the late Elijah Cummings-D), NY-27 (Chris Collins-R), and WI-7 (Sean Duffy-R). The Wisconsin election calendar has been set for a Feb. 18 special primary and May 12 general. Maryland election law dictates that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announce the 7th District special election calendar on or before Oct. 28. No calendar announcement has yet been made for the New York situation.

Rooney, despite serving in Congress for only a brief while, had been on the unofficial retirement watch list because he had raised only $6,600 cycle-to-date for his next campaign and is at odds with his party on several issues. The congressman is independently wealthy, so the low total was not solely an indication of his intention since he has the wherewithal to self-fund his campaigns. Rep. Rooney had been a Republican critic of President Trump, took the no corporate PAC contribution pledge, and indicated he may support the impeachment inquiry.

Florida’s 19th District is a safely Republican southwest Florida seat. President Trump carried the district, 60-37 percent, while Mitt Romney won here with a similar 60-39 percent margin. In his two elections, Rep. Rooney racked up victory percentages of 62 (2018) and 66 percent (2016).

In a similar configuration over four previous terms, then-Rep. Connie Mack IV (R) averaged 65 percent of the vote. And, after Mack left the House to run for the Senate, Republican Trey Radel, who a year later would be convicted for cocaine possession and forced to resign, scored a 62 percent victory in 2012. GOP businessman Curt Clawson followed with win margins of 67-29 percent in the 2014 special election, and then 65-33 percent in the regular election cycle before choosing not to seek re-election in 2016.

Therefore, it is probable that the next Republican primary winner will summarily be elected to the House in November, 2020. The 19th District contains two-thirds of Lee County along with approximately half of Collier County. Its main population centers are the Cape Coral, Ft. Myers, Naples, and Marco Island localities.

Is Buttigieg a One-State Wonder?

By Jim Ellis

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Oct. 23, 2019 — The new Suffolk University/USA Today poll of Iowa voters (Oct. 16-18; 500 likely Iowa Democratic caucus attenders) was conducted immediately after the most recent Democratic presidential debate and confirms that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg registered a strong performance.

According to the Suffolk results, former Vice President Joe Biden posts only 18 percent support, a drop of six points from their July Iowa poll, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is in a virtual tie with him at 17 percent. She gained four percentage points since mid-summer. Mayor Buttigieg now moves into a close third place with 13 percent, more than doubling his support from the July poll when he registered only six percent preference. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) remains constant with nine percent and holds fourth position.

The remainder of the field includes four candidates tied with three percent support: billionaire Tom Steyer who made his first debate appearance in the October forum, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) who dropped a whopping 13 percentage points from the July Suffolk U. survey, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar who, like Mayor Buttigieg, needs to take advantage of her Midwestern roots and reap a solid support percentage from the Iowa Democratic electorate. So far, however, she has failed to generate significant support.

While Mayor Buttigieg has appreciably increased his Iowa standing, it remains to be seen if this poll is reflective of a short-term bounce from a strong debate performance or whether seeds are being sown for a legitimate push into the top tier. And, even if he proves himself in Iowa, will that momentum carry over into other states? At this point, the available data suggests that Buttigieg could be a one-state wonder.

Some Surprises Top the List
Of Third-Quarter Dollars Raised

Kentucky challenger Amy McGrath (D) is the surprise top Senate fundraiser for Q3.

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 22, 2019 — The campaign financial disclosure reports are now published and, as usual, the Daily Kos Elections site has compiled a cumulative activity summary. The list of top fundraisers includes some familiar names, but also features a few newcomers.

The top Senate fundraiser is a surprise, as Kentucky challenger Amy McGrath (D) attracted more than $10.7 million in the quarter, over $7 million of which came in small-dollar unitemized contributions. She is opposing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), which explains why she has attracted such a large amount of national activist money.

As they have for the entire cycle, Arizona candidates Mark Kelly (D) and appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) again posted impressive combined quarter fundraising figures.

Kelly, a retired astronaut and husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Tucson), raised over $5 million more for the quarter taking his election cycle total to almost $14 million. Sen. McSally is close behind. She pulled in just over $3 million for the quarter and has accumulated approximately $8.3 million since the campaign began. These numbers are more in line with a big state Senate race, making them extraordinary for an Arizona political contest, a state that has only nine congressional districts.

The Senate candidates breaking the $3 million barrier for the quarter are Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC; $3.24 million in the 3rd Quarter, $12.9 million for the election cycle), Maine challenger Sara Gideon (D; $3.18 million; $4.2 million), John Cornyn (R-TX; $3.11 million, $13.5 million), and Michigan challenger John James (R; $3.1 million, $4.7 million).

Those banking over $2 million for the past 12 weeks are, Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI; $2.48 million for the 3rd Quarter, $9.2 million for the election cycle), Cory Gardner (R-CO; $2.42 million, $9.1 million), Mitch McConnell (R-KY; $2.24 million, $13.4 million), Jeanne Shaheen (R-NH; $2.23 million, $7.3 million), South Carolina challenger Jamie Harrison ($2.21 million, $4.0 million), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Colorado challenger John Hickenlooper (D) both with $2.12 million, and Alabama Sen. Doug Jones (D; $2.01 million, $5.7 million). Sen. Collins has raised $8.6 million for the election cycle and Hickenlooper, $2.1 million for a Senate campaign that began in September.

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