Author Archives: Jim Ellis

NC-3: Republicans Generate a Run-off, While Democrats Have a Nominee

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District

May 1, 2019 — Almost 69,000 eastern North Carolina voters cast ballots in the special Republican and Democratic primaries yesterday to choose a successor to the late Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville) who passed away in February.

Since Republicans featured a field of 17 candidates, it appeared obvious that no one would reach the 30 percent threshold necessary to nominate. That proved to be true, and second-place finisher, Joan Perry, confirmed last night that she will petition the NC Board of Elections for a run-off election. Perry, a Kinston area physician in Lenoir County, will face state Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville), another physician and first-place finisher, in a secondary Republican nomination election to be scheduled for July 9.

The Democrats, on the other hand, chose their nominee last night. Former Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas easily captured the party nod garnering just over 50 percent of the vote, 20 percentage points more than he needed. He defeated retired Marine Corps Colonel Richard Bew (25.2 percent), New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw (12.6 percent), and three minor candidates. none of whom reached double-digit support. Thomas now directly advances to the Sept. 10 special general election.

Rep. Murphy took advantage of his Greenville base, the largest population center in the 3rd District that encompasses most of coastal North Carolina, including the Outer Banks region. Dr. Murphy scored 22.5 percent of the vote, or 9,507 votes. Dr. Perry, with support from outside national and state pro-life organizations, drew 15.4 percent translating into 6,515 votes.

Continue reading

NC-3 Special Election Today

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District

April 30, 2019 — The first ballots in the three special congressional elections will be cast in today’s primary election in North Carolina’s 3rd District. By tonight, we will have some semblance of order among the 17 Republican candidates and six Democrats.

The passing of veteran Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville) in February precipitated this election with the eventual winner serving the balance of the 13-term congressman’s final legislative session. In November, Jones was unopposed for re-election.

Of the 17 Republicans, only seven candidates had even raised $100,000 by the April 10 filing deadline or have substantial outside backing. In fact, two of the three sitting state Representatives didn’t even make the $100,000 threshold. Three candidates are getting outside support from conservative organizations.

For the Democrats, two candidates exceeded the $100,000 mark for a district race that the party nominee hasn’t won since 1992. Former Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas and retired Marine Corps Colonel Richard Bew are the pair who have done so, with Thomas more than doubling Col. Bew’s financial assets.

Continue reading

The Senate Approvals

By Jim Ellis

April 29, 2019 — The Morning Consult organization released the first quarter approval ratios for all 100 senators, and it appears that quite a number of the 2020 in-cycle incumbents need to improve their ratings before facing the voters next year. In fact, when looking at the ratio spread from positive to negative, seven of the 10 weakest performers will be on the next ballot.

The senator with the highest positive score, 62 percent, is presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The Vermont electorate is the most pleased with their senators. Not only did Sen. Sanders score a 62 percent favorable job approval rating, but his veteran seat mate, seven-term incumbent Patrick Leahy (D), is right behind him with a 59 percent positive total.

But, the swing between the individual positive and negative scores may be the better indicator of an office holder’s actual standing. The senator with the widest range, in his case seeing his positive score (55 percent) run 33 points higher than his negative (22 percent), is North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven (R).

Continue reading

Texas Race Forming

By Jim Ellis

Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R)

April 25, 2019 — Three-term Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R) is obviously anticipating a tough 2020 fight for re-election. During this year’s first quarter, he led all incumbents in fundraising bringing in $7.8 million to his campaign account and ending the period with $7.4 million cash-on-hand.

It appears the senator will have credible opposition, but quite possibly not the person who most people believed would enter the race.

Though he still hasn’t confirmed or denied that he will become a Senate candidate, reading the figurative political tea leaves suggests that Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) will not run statewide. But, retired Army helicopter pilot, M.J. Hegar (D), will challenge the veteran incumbent who was Texas’ attorney general and a state Supreme Court Justice before running for federal office.

Hegar, who raised more than $5.12 million for her race against veteran Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock), to whom she lost, announced Tuesday that she is entering the Texas Senate campaign. Though her 2018 announcement video entitled “Doors” (below) — which detailed her wartime heroism and attracted more than 3 million viewers — didn’t result in victory in a strong Republican district against a popular incumbent (she lost 51-48 percent), it did put her on the national political map and raised her status to that of a national congressional candidate and led to her strong fundraising effort.


M.J. Hegar’s “Door” video


Earlier in the year, Rep. Castro began making statements strongly hinting that he would run for the Senate. But, his actions and the latest developments suggest otherwise.

First, there appears to be no internal momentum associated with his building a major campaign. Leading to that conclusion is Castro’s own first quarter fundraising support. From Jan. 1 through March 31, the four-term incumbent and former Texas state representative raised only $36,028 and has just $87,572 in his campaign treasury.
Continue reading

Joe Biden Announces 2020 Bid

By Jim Ellis

April 25, 2019 — After months of speculation, Joe Biden finally enters the Democratic presidential nomination process amid heavy speculation that he will be targeted with negative attacks once the overall campaign develops. The Biden operation released a video of the candidate (above) detailing just why he wants to run for President in 2020.

Already, there have been multiple stories about the former vice president and ex-Delaware senator’s role in the Anita Hill controversy during the 1991 Justice Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, his vote for the Iraq War, his opposition to forced busing in the 1970s, and even the eulogy he gave Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) at his funeral. Additionally, several women have come forward to claim he made them uncomfortable at certain meetings or events, and we can be assured that this issue has not yet died.

Biden, at least until the last couple of weeks, was viewed as the clear front runner, and polling demonstrated that he and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) were pulling away from the large pack of what is now 20 candidates. Yet, more recent national surveys and some state data from both Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two voting events, suggest that the two are falling into a virtual tie, or that Sen. Sanders has a small lead.

A newly-released national study, from Ipsos Reuters, again establishes Biden as the clear leader, but methodological questions surround the survey. The poll, conducted from April 17-23, included a sampling universe of 4,018 adults, with 1,449 self-identified as Democrats in addition to 788 self-identified Independents. But the pollsters did not segment registered voters, or, what is usually most reliable, likely primary voters or caucus attenders.

Continue reading

Moulton Announces; New Data
From Iowa & New Hampshire

By Jim Ellis

Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Salem)

April 24, 2019 — Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton (D-Salem) made his flirtation with running for president real over the weekend. Moulton officially joined the field of now 19 candidates and will clearly make neighboring New Hampshire, the site of the nation’s first primary, a key launching point for his campaign.

Rep. Moulton, a decorated military veteran with four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan in addition to leading a group of insurgents to prevent Nancy Pelosi from returning to the House speakership, would make an attractive general election candidate. But he will have a difficult time convincing his own party’s activists, who will dominate the elected delegate membership, to support his presidential effort.

This would not be the first political race for Moulton that featured long odds, however. In 2014, he denied nine-term US Rep. John Tierney (D-Salem) re-nomination in the Democratic primary. Rep. Moulton has averaged 63.7 percent of the vote in his three congressional general elections. While not having to risk his seat to run for president, the congressman will likely face serious Democratic primary opposition should he eventually choose to seek re-election. Continue reading

A Momentum Poll For the Democrats

By Jim Ellis

April 23, 2019 — A new poll was released at week’s end last week, and it may be our best glimpse of the national Democratic presidential picture. As we know, the national count matters little in how the individual states will select delegates, but this polling category does provide a sound measurement of candidate momentum.

Change Research (April 12-15; 2,519 likely Democratic primary voters) just returned results from their latest field poll. Though the 538 statistical research organization only rates Change Research as a C+ pollster, the large respondent universe of just over 2,500 participants certainly gives us the largest national sample sector producing data. Contrast this, for example, with Emerson College’s national primary poll released last week that segmented only 356 respondents.

The Change results find Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) pulling into a virtual tie with former Vice President Joe Biden. Looking at the numbers, Sen. Sanders polls 20 percent, just one point behind Biden’s 21 percent.

Jumping all the way to third place is South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg with a healthy 17 percent support factor. Dropping back into single-digits (nine percent) is former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX). Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren records her typical eight percent, within the tight range she finds in most surveys, which, in this case, is one point ahead of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). The latter senator’s seven percent also represents a considerable support drop, as much as 50 percent when compared to early surveys.

Change also surveyed the field without Biden included. Under this scenario, Sen. Sanders pulls just over a quarter of the sampling universe at 26 percent with Mayor Buttigieg moving into a strong second place with 21 percent, and O’Rourke rebounding to secure 14 percent and third place. Sens. Harris and Warren tie for fourth place with 10 percent.

From a momentum perspective, the Change poll provides further evidence that Sen. Sanders is clearly on the upswing, Biden has stalled just before what is expected to be his official announcement week, Buttigieg is the candidate leaping forward from the back, Harris and O’Rourke appear to be losing support, and Warren remains stagnant at a low level.

Continue reading