Author Archives: Jim Ellis

NC Poll: Tillis Vulnerable

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis (R)

May 29, 2019 — One of the key 2020 Senate races lies in North Carolina where first-term Sen. Thom Tillis (R) is seeking his second term and finds himself in a shaky political situation. A new poll suggests he has vulnerability even within the Republican primary.

A WPA Intelligence poll for the Club for Growth PAC (May 19-21; 502 likely North Carolina Republican primary voters) finds Sen. Tillis leading a hypothetical GOP primary against three-term Rep. Mark Walker (R-Greensboro) wealthy businessman Garland Tucker, and accountant Sandy Smith, 40-17-11-2 percent. Though Tillis is below 50 percent, North Carolina election law requires only a 30 percent vote total to win nomination, meaning the senator would be well over the required minimum.

At this point, Tucker and Smith are announced Republican primary opponents, with the former having the potential of becoming a competitive candidate. Several weeks ago, Rep. Walker ruled out running for the Senate, but his latest statements appear to suggest that he is more open to entering the statewide campaign.

Isolating Sen. Tillis and Rep. Walker into a head-to-head contest, which is not realistic from a probable political perspective but is helpful in a polling context, finds Sen. Tillis leading 43-34 percent. But, WPA finds it takes little in the way of persuasion to arrive at a very different result.

According to poll results, when just the following bios are read, the ballot test virtually switches:

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Trump’s Ballot Politics

President Donald Trump | whitehouse.gov


By Jim Ellis

May 28, 2019 — Earlier this month, the California state Senate approved a bill that would require presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to qualify for the Golden State ballot. A similar measure was vetoed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in 2017, but current Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is expected to sign the measure.

A total of 17 other states also have similar pending legislation, with the strongest chances for enactment coming most probably in New York and Washington.

The move, of course, is targeted at President Trump who will not release his tax returns. But, would denying him ballot placement in states that he won’t carry actually hurt him?

A contrary argument exists to suggest that Trump and the down-ballot Republican candidates in those states might actually receive some tangential benefits from the president not being on the official ballot in places like California and New York, in particular.

First, if Trump didn’t appear on the California, New York, and Washington ballots, it would not change the Electoral College outcome because he won’t carry any of those states. He will likely concede them at the outset and spend no campaign money in any of those locations. Therefore, his ballot placement in these places could arguably be irrelevant.

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The 2020 Democratic Nomination
Will Look Much Different From 2016

By Jim Ellis

May 24, 2019 — As the Democratic presidential field swells to 24 candidates — with the first Democratic presidential forum on tap for late June in Miami, and the first votes being cast in Iowa now just over eight full months away — it’s a good time to review how different this presidential nomination contest will be from the 2016 version.

To review, Hillary Clinton won 34 primaries and caucuses in 2016 as compared to 23 for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). There are 57 sanctioned delegate voting entities in the Democratic nomination universe. The 57 are comprised of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the five territories, and a Democrats Abroad category that combines all US citizens living in foreign countries who will still have voting privileges in US elections.

Clinton won 55.2 percent of the 2016 national Democratic popular vote versus Sen. Sanders’ 43.1 percent when combining the totals from all the primaries and caucuses. Though the Sanders Campaign called foul over the Super Delegate voting inflating Clinton’s delegate total, and actually turning six states’ first-ballot roll call from Sanders to Clinton and sending one more state into a tie, Clinton still carried the pledged, or elected delegate, count 2,205 to 1,846, translating to a 54.4 percent margin. When adding the Super Delegate and uncommitted delegate votes, she captured 58.3 percent of the convention total.

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Republican Amash Challenged After Call For Impeaching President Trump

By Jim Ellis

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash (left) & Michigan state Rep. Jim Lower

May 22, 2019 — Michigan Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township/Grand Rapids) has just drawn a major Republican primary challenge, the announcement timing influenced because of his call for impeaching President Trump. Rep. Amash is the first Republican to make such a statement, and national Democrats were seizing upon his comment as a signal that bipartisan support for their desired action does exist.

After reading the Mueller Report, Rep. Amash publicly released a statement saying he is joining those in favor of impeachment. Taking action against his stand, state Rep. Jim Lower (R-Greenville) announced his congressional candidacy and released a Mitchell Research & Communications survey (April 30-May 1; 440 likely MI-3 Republican primary voters) to support his claim that the congressman would be vulnerable in a primary.

The poll finds that Amash would lead Lower, 44-23 percent in the initial ballot test. But, that is obviously not the damaging part for the congressman. When testing Trump among the Republican respondent sample, a full 92 percent say they strongly or somewhat approve of the president’s job performance. Therefore, it becomes reasonable to conclude that the overwhelming majority of these individuals, if not all of them, would oppose impeaching the president.

The questionnaire delved further into Rep. Amash’s record of largely being a thorn in the side of House GOP leadership, and generally opposing virtually every Republican policy initiative because of typically not being purely consistent with his more Libertarian Party-oriented beliefs.

Looking at the verbiage from the Mitchell poll questionnaire, the following paragraph is how they describe Rep. Amash:

“Justin Amash was elected to Congress 10 years ago. Amash has consistently voted against President Donald Trump on important issues, most recently against Trump’s declaration calling a national emergency on the Southern border.

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The Scorecard – Part II

By Jim Ellis

May 21, 2019 — Today we continue with our overview of the 24 Democratic presidential candidates. Yesterday we outlined the first 12, and today we’ll finish up with the remaining candidates (listed alphabetically):

• Ex-Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO): Eschewing a Senate race against first-term Republican incumbent Cory Gardner, Hickenlooper, after leaving the Colorado governor’s office in January, became a presidential candidate in early March. But, his early results have been uninspiring.
Lagging in the polls but getting just enough to qualify for a debate podium, Hickenlooper is attempting to establish himself as a reasonable left-of-center candidate, but the constituent segment responding to such a message may simply be too small to make him viable. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet’s presence in the race even cuts into Hickenlooper’s geographic support base. It is likely that the former two-term Colorado governor and Denver mayor will continue to languish in the second tier for the duration of his candidacy.

• Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA): One of the also-ran candidates, Gov. Inslee, one of only two state chief executives in the field, is not a factor for the nomination. In fact, he has previously indicated that he would not rule out running for a third term as Washington’s governor next year if he fares poorly in the early presidential voting. It appears barely registering on key polls will be enough to place him in the presidential forums, but it is unlikely that he will receive enough of a boost from those events to make him a viable candidate.

• Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): From her announcement event where she spoke at an outside podium in a Minnesota snow storm, Sen. Klobuchar has yet to catch fire in any meaningful way. As the only candidate from the Midwest, Klobuchar has the opportunity of cobbling together a geographic coalition. The Iowa Caucus will be an important event for her to establish a legitimacy foothold. The Hawkeye State presidential electorate usually looks favorably on neighboring candidates, so it will be important for her to use this first-in-the-nation caucus as a way to become a top-tier candidate.

• Mayor Wayne Messam (D-Miramar, Fla.): Though Miramar is larger than Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s South Bend, Indiana, this local mayor has yet to catch fire. Many media publications do not even count him as part of the candidates’ list. Mayor Messam is unlikely to qualify for the candidate forums and faces major obstacles in developing national credibility for this presidential race.
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The Scorecard – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden is the Democratic front-runner in the 2020 presidential campaign.

May 20, 2019 — It is often said, “you can’t tell the players without a scorecard,” and that is certainly becoming the case with the presidential campaign. A 24th candidate entered the national political fray just late last week — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Greeted with the reminder that the last Quinnipiac University poll of New York City residents found that 76 percent of those polled didn’t want the mayor to run for president, de Blasio launched his late-starting campaign with a video of him talking about “putting working people first,” interspersed with video footage of being chauffeured around the city in a limousine. Saddled with poor approval ratings within his home base and a late start, de Blasio is the longest of shots to become a viable candidate.

It is likely that the de Blasio declaration is the last significant announcement, meaning all of the major players are finally in the race. Seeing two dozen candidates – and while many media networks report different numbers, the total clearly exceeds 20 – it is a good time to review the field (alphabetically) and summarize how the plethora of candidates is doing. We’ll go through the first 12, and tomorrow finish up the field:

• Former Vice President Joe Biden: The clear early race leader. Biden received the announcement bump that he desired and is proving to be the man to beat. Still, much will happen before he can legitimately clinch the party nomination. In the first 24 hours after his announcement, the former VP raised $6.3 million.

• Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO): A prostate cancer diagnosis and surgery delayed Sen. Bennet’s entry into the race, so his campaign is just getting underway. He is a second-tier candidate who is unlikely to seriously challenge for the nomination.

• Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ): Has not gotten much early attention, but reports suggest his campaign is among the best organized in terms of ground operation. Sen. Booker could surprise in the national candidate forums and, despite current low polling performance, might become a factor as the campaign develops.

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