Author Archives: Jim Ellis

New NC State Poll

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis (R)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 16, 2019 — A new Meredith College political survey (Sept. 29-Oct. 7; 998 registered North Carolina voters) shows electoral weakness for Sen. Thom Tillis (R) as he seeks a second term next year.

The poll places the first-term US senator in a statistical tie with both of his potential Democratic opponents, state Sen. Erika Smith (D-Gaston) and former state Sen. Cal Cunningham. The large number of uncommitted voters, however, suggests the race could go to either party and will likely break late, similar to many previous North Carolina election results.

According to the Meredith data, Sen. Tillis would tie both Smith and Cunningham with each of the three candidates receiving 33 percent support in all pairings. Obviously, these are not particularly favorable numbers for any incumbent and must be taken more seriously in this instance because of North Carolina’s history of either defeating its senators or seeing them not serve a second term for another reason.

In fact, the only two Tar Heel senators who have been re-elected since 1974 are Jesse Helms (R) and current three-term incumbent Richard Burr (R). During that span, the following senators were no longer in office after one term:

ONE-TERM NORTH CAROLINA SENATORS

  • Robert Morgan (D), 1980 – lost re-election
  • John East (R), 1986 – committed suicide in June before seeking a second term
  • Jim Broyhill (R), 1986 – appointed to fill Sen. East’s term; lost 1986 election)
  • Terry Sanford (D), 1992 – lost re-election
  • Lauch Faircloth (R), 1998 – lost re-election
  • John Edwards (D), 2004 – did not seek a second term to instead run for president
  • Elizabeth Dole (R), 2008 – lost re-election
  • Kay Hagan (D), 2014 – lost re-election

The Meredith College pollsters also tested Gov. Roy Cooper (D) as he fights for a second term likely against Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R). Here, Meredith finds the incumbent holding a 46-33 percent margin over his eventual GOP challenger.

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First-Term Louisiana Gov. Edwards Forced to Run-Off Against Rispone

Republican challenger Eddie Rispone (R) and Louisiana Gov. John Bel-Edwards (D)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 15, 2019 — Saturday’s Louisiana statewide open primary election found first-term Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) failing to win re-election outright, meaning he and the second-place finisher, businessman Eddie Rispone (R), will advance to a Nov. 16 secondary vote.

The result suggests Edwards’ bid for re-election is in trouble since no governor in Louisiana history has won a secondary vote when forced into a run-off. The governor received 46.6 percent of the vote in the primary, an election where all candidates are placed on the same ballot irrespective of political party affiliation. If no contender receives majority support, as was the case on Saturday, the top two finishers advance to a second election.

Rispone (pronounced: ris-pony), a Baton Rouge-area developer who reportedly spent more than $11 million of his own money on the gubernatorial campaign, garnered 27.4 percent of the vote, more than 51,000 votes ahead of third place finisher and fellow Republican Ralph Abraham, a northern Louisiana US congressman. The remaining two-plus percentage points were spread among a minor Democrat, Republican, and Independent.

Combined, the Democratic vote, despite featuring the incumbent at the top of the ticket, reached only 47.4 percent, compared to the combined Republican percentage of 51.8. Upon being eliminated, Congressman Abraham, who did not have to risk his federal position to run for governor, immediately endorsed Rispone. The two appeared together at President Trump’s Louisiana rally on Friday night, at which point the president urged the attenders to vote for either GOP candidate.

Polling appeared to correctly predict the race. Going into the final campaign days, nine different pollsters through 11 separate polls surveyed the Louisiana electorate. Nine of the 11 predicted Edwards to finish below 50 percent. Eight of the surveys projected Rispone to finish second with Rep. Abraham close behind. The Trafalgar Group and Data for Progress firms predicted the final result almost exactly.

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New York’s Rep. Nita Lowey to Retire

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY-17) is retiring.

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 14, 2019 — House Appropriations Committee chair, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), who was first elected in 1988 and is now 82 years old, announced that she will not seek re-election next year. She joins Reps. Jose Serrano (D-Bronx) and Chris Collins (R-Clarence/Batavia) as New York members not seeking re-election. Rep. Collins has already resigned his seat.

Her released statement thanked the constituency for her long congressional career but did not cite any particular reason for the decision to leave the House when the 116th Congress adjourns.

Her 17th District, which includes all of Rockland and just over 40 percent of Westchester counties, will become the 25th open seat for this current election cycle. The congresswoman is now the sixth Democrat to either retire or run for another office.

Lowey’s retirement will ignite a pair of interesting political battles. Internally, and assuming the Democrats hold the House majority in the 2020 election, the congresswoman’s leaving potentially ignites a four-way succession contest for Appropriations Committee chair. Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-New Haven) immediately announced that she will be a candidate for chair once Lowey’s decision to leave the House became public.

In addition to DeLauro, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), who ranks sixth in House seniority and second among Democrats, is likely to seek the position as well as Reps. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) and David Price (D-NC).

Since it’s been so long for a Westchester County congressional seat to open – Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx) represents the county’s other half and was also first elected in 1988 – we can expect a very crowded Democratic primary with many candidates vying to succeed Lowey.

The state senators who represent most of the 17th are David Carlucci (D-Ossining) and Pete Harckham (D-Peekskill). The seat touches 10 Assembly districts, seven of which Democrats represent versus three that Republicans control.

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Biden Showing Up Strong in North Carolina – But Is It Enough?

Former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 11, 2019 — Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling just released their latest North Carolina survey (Oct. 4-6; 963 likely North Carolina voters, 410 likely North Carolina Democratic primary voters) Wednesday, which projects a two-person race developing in the Tar Heel State as former Vice President Joe Biden leads Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), 39-22 percent. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg receives nine percent support, while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) earns only a disappointing six percent. All other candidates fail to break the three percent level.

North Carolina is one of the Super Tuesday states, a state whose electorates will cast ballots on March 3, the largest voting day of the nominating season. On March 3, a total of 14 states and one territory will host primaries or caucuses, seven of which come from the south. It is here where former Biden would have to make his stand, since his southern numbers are the best of any candidate by a wide margin.

The question being posed is whether a sluggish Biden start in the first three voting states, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, where he could conceivably fail to place first in any, would derail his momentum to the point of lessening his southern advantage.

Making rudimentary delegate calculations from the 19 entities that would vote on or before Super Tuesday, we find that current polling would place the former vice president in the lead on the evening of March 3, but that his delegate edge would certainly not be dominating.

To re-cap, based upon the latest polling from Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, the delegate estimate prior to South Carolina would find the former VP and Sen. Warren tied with 37 delegates apiece, while Sen. Sanders would have 27, meaning a virtual three-way tie despite Biden not winning any of the states outright. If he can stay in the hunt — with neither of his key opponents establishing themselves as a clear leader — the tide turns Biden’s way.

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Behind the Polls: Is Warren Really Up?

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 10, 2019 — The publication, Market Watch, carried a story that the Drudge Report included on their daily national site yesterday indicating that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) had topped former Vice President Joe Biden in four of five most recent national polls, but they didn’t cover the entire polling picture. (Market Watch story: A new front-runner for the 2020 Democrats? Warren edges Biden in average of polls)

The MW story cited Warren leading Biden in the Quinnipiac University survey (Oct. 4-7; 646 registered US voters), the Investors Business Daily/TIPP Poll (Sept. 26-Oct. 3; 341 registered US voters), The Economist/YouGov study (Sept. 28-Oct. 1; 602 likely US Democratic primary voters), and the Monmouth University (Sept. 23-29; 434 registered US voters) survey. Her aggregate edge fell between one and four percentage points, yet neither candidate broke 30 percent in any of the polls.

“With Biden facing questions over the Ukraine and China because of the Trump impeachment inquiry, and Sen. Sanders now experiencing health problems, Sen. Warren could soon be establishing herself as the clear front-runner and person to beat …”

The only other highlighted survey came from Politico/Morning Consult (Sept. 30-Oct. 6; 16,529 likely US Democratic primary voters) that actually found the former vice president continuing to lead by his typical 12-point margin, 33-21 percent, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recording 19 percent support.

The story’s premise is that these polls suggest that Sen. Warren has already caught Biden and that she may well be the new national Democratic leader. There are several reasons why this might not be the correct conclusion, however.

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Impeachment in the States

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 9, 2019 — The Civiqs polling firm, as covered in the Daily Kos Elections site, has been testing all 50 states regarding impeachment in a national tracking survey that attracted 150,070 online respondents from May 16 through Oct. 6. The latest numbers suggest that 51 percent of those respondents favor impeaching President Trump, while 45 percent oppose. But, it is in the breakdown of the states’ numbers where the true political story is being told.

Looking at the 50 individual states, it is no surprise that the respondents from almost all of the places that voted for Hillary Clinton support impeachment. But at this point, it appears President Trump has the potential of losing some of his coalition states. Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin all are now leaning toward impeachment.

Whether a person would or would not vote for an impeached president is not necessarily indicative about how their state would vote regarding a 2020 national candidate, but it does appear to be a reasonable gauge.

Arizona, a normally reliable Republican state but one that appears to be moving leftward, has 11 electoral votes. The Civiqs poll finds the Arizona respondents supporting impeachment 50-46 percent. The Michigan sample favors the impeachment inquiry, 51-45 percent. The Wolverine State has 18 electoral votes. Wisconsin, with 10 votes, also sees its Civiqs respondents currently favoring impeachment by a tight 49-47 percent margin.

Nevada, a Clinton 2016 state, and Iowa, a Trump state, are in flat ties according to Civiqs’ impeachment track. If the electoral vote count were based upon these results, the presidential election might come down to one state, or could even conceivably evolve into a 269-269 tie.

It is impossible to predict what twists and turns we will see before the impeachment issue is settled, nor can anyone accurate forecast how the electorate will respond. Right now, at least the Civiqs state tracking operation slightly favors the Democratic position on the impeachment question, but most of the margins are tight enough to quickly change.

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Democratic National Convention Shaping Up to be Historic

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 8, 2019 — At this point, Democratic presidential primary patterns are beginning to reveal themselves.

The February First Four states are becoming a hodgepodge of political strength with both Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and/or Bernie Sanders (I-VT) potentially stealing Iowa and New Hampshire away from national front-runner Joe Biden. That means the former vice president may have his back up against the proverbial wall when the campaign streams into Nevada, the third voting state whose caucus participants will convene on Feb. 22. He may well need a victory there, before getting to South Carolina and his southern states political oasis.

As the new Fox News South Carolina Democratic primary poll shows (Sept. 29-Oct. 2; 803 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters), Biden’s lead is very strong in the Palmetto State at 41-12-10 percent over Sens. Warren and Sanders, respectively. These numbers are commensurate with his standing in other recently polled southern domains.

But new data coming from delegate-rich states that are not frequently polled give us a further perspective about just how the nomination drama might unfold.

Four new state surveys were released at the end of last week with clear separation only detected in Arizona. Data coming from California and Ohio show dead heats among the three major candidates. Additionally, the latest Wisconsin poll gives Biden only a small lead.

The first three states in this group will vote in March, on Super Tuesday (March 3, California), March 10 (Ohio), and March 17 (Arizona). The fourth state’s electorate, Wisconsin, will cast their ballots on April 7.

Change Research (Oct. 27-28; 396 likely Arizona Democratic primary voters) finds that Arizona is polling as one of the ex-vice president’s weakest states and the only one that shows a relatively competitive four-way race. The Change results finds Sen. Warren claiming a significant lead with 35 percent support, ahead of Sen. Sanders’ 19 percent, Biden’s 15 percent, with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg making a viable appearance with 13 percent preference.

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