Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Final Pre-Primary Poll, Two Pairings Decided Today in Illinois

By Jim Ellis — June 28, 2022

Senate

Kathy Salvi

Illinois: Final Pre-Primary Poll — The Illinois primary is today, and the Ogden & Fry research firm tested the GOP field (June 24; 518 likely Illinois Republican primary voters). The results find Kathy Salvi, whose husband, Al Salvi, was the 1996 US Senate nominee, and who at the time was a conservative radio talk show host. She leads the field of seven candidates but with only 20 percent preference. Tonight’s winner will face Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D) in the Autumn, and begins this race as one of the bigger Senate underdogs in the country.

House

IL-6 and 15: Two Pairings Decided Today — The Illinois primary also features two sets of incumbent House members battling for two seats. In the Chicago suburbs, Democratic Reps. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) and Marie Newman (D-La Grange) square off for the state’s new 6th District. Downstate, Republican members Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) and Mary Miller (R-Oakland) are vying for the new safely Republican 15th CD. The 6th is the more competitive of the two seats for the general election. Both primaries are viewed as tight contests.

NE-1: Special Election Today — Two state senators are competing for the seat, and regardless of what happens tonight both will advance to the regular general election for the succeeding term in November. Both Sens. Mike Flood (R-Norfolk) and Patty Pansing Brooks (D-Lincoln) were nominated by the party leaders for the special election and the voters for the fall campaign.

The seat is rated R+17 and is 89 percent intact when overlaid with the current district. Former President Trump carried the seat 56-41 percent in 2020. Therefore, the stats make Sen. Flood the favorite to win tonight and in November. The competition from Sen. Brooks, however, will likely make this race closer than in the recent past.

RI-2: Surprising Poll Results — Though Rhode Island’s open 2nd District is rated as heavily Democratic — D+17 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization — a new Suffolk University poll (June 19-22; 423 likely Rhode Island general election voters; live interview) finds former Cranston mayor and 2014 and 2018 Republican gubernatorial nominee Allen Fung (R) taking a 45-38 percent lead over state Treasurer Seth Magaziner who is the Democratic primary polling leader. If this trend continues, we will see a surprisingly competitive race come forth in the New England region.

Governor

Illinois: Governor’s Race Could Be More Competitive — The Ogden & Fry firm also tested the Republican governor’s field (see Illinois Senate above). The GOP contest looks to be a competitive battle among state Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Louisville) and venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan and ex-Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin. Gov. J. B. Pritzker (D) is the clear favorite for the November election, but this race appears to be a bit more competitive than the companion US Senate contest.

Rhode Island: Gov. McKee Wins Party Endorsement — Gov. Dan McKee won a solid 56 percent endorsement vote at the Rhode Island Democratic convention, and he will be the official party supported candidate for the Sept. 13 primary. The Ocean State’s Secretary of State, Nellie Gorbea, however, leads in a new Democratic poll (Suffolk University; 353 likely Rhode Island Democratic primary voters; live interview), 24-20 percent.

Conflicting Polls in NC;
Fetterman Up in PA; Gubernatorial Challenger Drops Out in MA

By Jim Ellis — June 27, 2022

Senate

Cheri Beasley (left) holds a 44-40 percent edge over Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) in a recent poll in the open North Carolina Senate campaign.

North Carolina: Countering Poll — Last week, we reported on a Survey USA poll (June 8-12; 650 likely North Carolina voters; online) that gave Democratic former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley a 44-40 percent edge over US Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) in the open North Carolina Senate campaign. This week, the Cygnal polling firm released its latest data (June 17-19; 600 likely North Carolina voters; live interview & text) that projects a different conclusion. These results show Rep. Budd holding a virtual mirror image 45-40 percent lead. Of those definitely voting for one candidate or the other, Rep. Budd leads that response, 38-31 percent.

Pennsylvania: Fetterman Up in Two New Polls — Two surveys, a combined poll from Republican firm Fabrizio Ward & Associates and the Democratic Impact Research entity (June 12-19; 1,382 likely Pennsylvania voters; live interview & text), and Suffolk University (June 10-13; 500 likely Pennsylvania voters; live interview), both find Democrat John Fetterman leading Republican Mehmet Oz even though the Democratic fundamentals in terms of direction of the country, views on the economy, and wanting their vote to be a message to Washington, are inconsistent with the support level for the party’s nominee. Fabrizio/Impact finds Fetterman’s advantage at 50-44 percent. Suffolk reveals a similar 46-37 percent split in Fetterman’s favor.

Wisconsin: Typical Close Polling — Pollsters haven’t fared too well in Wisconsin in recent election years. The last time Sen. Ron Johnson (R) was on the ballot in 2016, he led in just one of 30 public polls that were conducted that year. Now, we see Marquette Law School releasing new data projecting another close contest. According to their survey (June 14-20; 803 registered Wisconsin voters), Sen. Johnson would trail a pair of Democrats, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) and state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, by two percentage points apiece, 44-46 percent and 43-45 percent, but lead Milwaukee Bucks basketball club executive Alex Lasry, 45-42 percent.

Within this same time frame during the 2016 election cycle, Marquette found former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) leading Sen. Johnson, 51-42 percent. Johnson won the 2016 election, 50-47 percent.

Governor

Massachusetts: Challenger Drops Out — State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston) announced last week that she is ending her gubernatorial bid, saying that she has no “path to victory.” This leaves Attorney General Maura Healey unopposed for the Democratic nomination. Considering a weak Republican field, it appears that AG Healey is now the prohibitive favorite to convert the Massachusetts governor’s office away from the Republicans. Incumbent Gov. Charlie Baker (R) chose not to seek a third term.

New York: Hochul Up Big; GOP Tight — Survey USA went into the field in New York to test both major party primaries in anticipation of the June 28 vote for the statewide candidates. The candidates running for state legislature and US House will have their primary on Aug. 23.

According to S-USA (June 15-20; 2,987 registered New York voters; 1,002 likely Democratic primary voters; 538 likely Republican primary voters; online), Gov. Kathy Hochul has a big lead in the Dem primary, 54-18-11 percent over Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. For the Republicans, US Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley; East Long Island) holds only a 25-23 percent edge over Andrew Giuliani, son of former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, while businessman Henry Wilson commands 13 percent support.

Pennsylvania: Mastriano Close — While the aforementioned two Pennsylvania surveys, (see Pennsylvania in Senate section above; a combined poll from Republican firm Fabrizio Ward & Associates and the Democratic Impact Research entity and Suffolk University), find Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) topping Republican Mehmet Oz slightly beyond the polling margin of error, the governor’s contest is tighter. These same polls project Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) holding a bare 49-46 percent edge in the Fabrizio/Impact poll over state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Fayetteville), and a similarly tight 44-40 percent lead in the Suffolk poll.

Alaska Candidates Settle to Three; Conflicting Polls in IL-15; Economy Polls as Highest Concern in MN

By Jim Ellis — June 24, 2022

House

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, now running for US House Representative

AK-AL: Now Top Three — Officials from the Alaska Division of Elections, grappling with the new top-four qualifying system, have changed their initial ruling after finalist Al Gross (I/D), announced earlier this week that he was ending his campaign. Division officials initially were leaning toward placing the fifth-place finisher, Republican Tara Sweeney, into the group of four finalists, but they have since reversed themselves.

The final ruling does not add a replacement for Dr. Gross, meaning that only former Gov. Sarah Palin, businessman Nick Begich III (R), and former state Rep. Mary Peltola (D) will advance into the special general election scheduled for Aug. 16. Sweeney followed up with an announcement that she will not challenge the Elections Division’s ruling.

IL-15: Conflicting Polls — The next in a series of paired incumbent elections is scheduled in Illinois when two sets of paired incumbents will square off in the June 28 primary election. In the downstate Republican primary, Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) and Mary Miller (R-Oakland) are battling for the new gerrymandered 15th District, one of only three Land of Lincoln seats that will likely send a Republican to the House. This week, we see two polls released with conflicting conclusions.

The Victory Geek firm, polling for the Illinoize political blog (June 15-19; 515 IL-15 respondents; interactive voice response system), finds Rep. Davis leading Rep. Miller, 38-35 percent. When forcing the undecideds to make a choice, the full universe breaks for Davis, 51-49 percent. The bad news for him is when voters are informed that former President Trump has endorsed Miller, the preference factor switches to 47-39 percent in Miller’s favor.

The Miller campaign also released their internal Cygnal firm survey conducted during the same time period (June 18-19; 420 likely IL-15 Republican primary voters; peer-to-peer text) that gave the congresswoman a 45-40 percent edge over Davis. The other paired incumbent election features a Chicago suburban Democratic pairing between Reps. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) and Marie Newman (D-La Grange).

MN-1 Special: Virtual Tie — An Expedition Strategies survey of the MN-1 special election (June 6-9; 400 likely MN-1 special election voters; live interview) scheduled for Aug. 9 finds the two party nominees, former Republican state Rep. Brad Finstad and ex-Hormel corporation CEO Jeff Ettinger (D) falling into a virtual tie. The ballot test gives Finstad a 48-47 percent edge in a district that is no stranger to close elections. The winning percentage in the past three congressional elections was 48.6 percent, 50.1 percent, and 50.3 percent in 2020, 2018, and 2016. The seat is in special election because incumbent Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) passed away in February.

In terms of what the survey respondents perceive as the most important issue, the “economy and cost of living” registered 27 percent, “guns” was second with a 12 percent mention, and “election integrity” was third with 10 percent. Interestingly, the healthcare issue, which now includes COVID, registered as the most important issue from only six percent of the respondents. Ettinger scored a 53-40 percent advantage on preferring a candidate with experience running a business as compared to Finstad’s career in government and rural policy making.

NY-19 Special: Republican Molinaro Launched to Big Led — A Triton Polling & Research survey conducted for the Freedom Council USA (June 16-20; 505 current NY-19 registered voters; interactive voice response system) finds Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro (R) leading Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan (D) by a large 52-38 percent clip in the special election race to replace resigned US Rep. Antonio Delgado (D). The congressman left the House to accept his appointment as lieutenant governor.

A Molinaro victory would mean another special election GOP conversion of a Democratic seat as we saw in Texas on June 14 when Republican Mayra Flores defeated Democrat Dan Sanchez and two minor candidates to win the seat from which Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) resigned. If the GOP is successful in NY-19, and holds their other 2022 special elections in AK-AL, MN-1, NE-1, and NY-23, the conference will increase to 215 members, just three away from majority status.

TX-28: Rep. Cuellar Officially Wins — The tight Democratic primary and runoff campaign featuring veteran Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) and attorney and 2020 congressional candidate Jessica Cisneros has finally come to an official end. The Texas Secretary of State has reported the final results of the runoff recount. Counting the ballots again actually increased Cuellar’s lead by eight votes. The final counts shows a 22,901 to 22,612 margin in favor of Rep. Cuellar, a spread of 289 votes, or 50.3 percent of the runoff electorate.

Rep. Cuellar now advances into a general election against former Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) staff member Cassy Garcia. This could become a competitive general election in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+7. Though Garcia will have the ability to run a credible campaign, Rep. Cuellar is now viewed as the favorite to win a 10th term.

Governor

Florida: Crist Rebounds With Substantial Lead — A surprising poll released earlier in June (Global Strategy Group; June 8-13; 600 likely Florida Democratic primary voters; live interview) found state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried pulling to within a 38-34 percent margin against US representative and former Gov. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg). Now, a new St. Pete Polls survey (June 16-17; 1,007 likely Florida Democratic primary voters; interactive voice response system) posts Crist back to a more substantial lead, 49-24 percent. The Florida primary is scheduled for Aug. 23. The Democratic winner will then challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

Lee Ahead in Utah; Louisiana Redistricting; Tight Gubernatorial Race in New Mexico

By Jim Ellis — June 23, 2022

Senate

Utah Sen. Mike Lee

Utah: Sen. Lee Well Ahead in Latest Survey — Coming on the heels of a Dan Jones & Associates survey (May 24-June4; 810 registered Utah voters) that found Sen. Mike Lee (R) holding only a 41-37 percent lead over Independent Evan McMullin, who has coalesced with the Democrats, a new WPA Intelligence poll puts the senator in much better position. According to the WPA results (June 14-16; 300 likely Utah general election voters) the senator’s lead is 52-33 percent.

Both surveys have issues. The Dan Jones poll has a very long sampling period and is of registered and not likely voters. The WPAi survey has a sampling university of only 300 individuals, which is low for a statewide study in Utah.

Redistricting

Louisiana: Federal Judge to Draw New Black Seat — Federal Judge Shelly Dick, since the legislature did not produce a new congressional map that adds a second black district to the delegation by her imposed June 20 deadline, says she will draw such a map before June 29. Currently, the Louisiana delegation stands at 5R-1D, with the one Democratic seat being majority black and stretching from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. The move will likely add a Democratic district to the delegation and cost the Republicans a seat. Republicans have asked the US Supreme Court to stay Judge Dick’s ruling, but so far the high court has not taken any action.

Governor

New Mexico: A Pair of Polls Predict Tight Gov Contest — A pair of new surveys coming from two different polling organizations simultaneously arrived at virtually the same conclusion — that is, that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) and challenger Mark Ronchetti (R) are already in a toss-up campaign.

Public Policy Polling, surveying for the New Mexico Political Report (June 13-14; 642 New Mexico voters; live interview & text), finds Gov. Lujan Grisham topping Ronchetti, a former Albuquerque weatherman who was the 2020 Republican US Senate nominee, by only a 45-42 percent margin. The closeness is confirmed and then some from an internal Public Opinion Strategies poll that the Ronchetti campaign released. According to this study (June 11-14; 600 likely New Mexico general election voters; live interview), Ronchetti holds a tight one-point lead, 46-45 percent. The New Mexico gubernatorial race is quickly becoming a key nationally watched race.

Britt Wins Alabama Runoff; Al Gross Exits Alaska Race; Tough Night For Trump in Peach State

By Jim Ellis — June 22, 2022

Senate

Katie Britt won the Republican US Senate nomination in Alabama.

Alabama: Britt Wins Runoff — As the post-primary polling unanimously foretold, Katie Britt, the former president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama organization and ex-chief of staff to retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R), won the Republican US Senate nomination with a landslide 63-37 percent margin over Alabama US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) in last night’s runoff election.

Britt’s victory was complete in that she carried 66 of Alabama’s 67 counties en route to claiming the party nomination, and a veritable ticket to the US Senate. She now faces pastor Will Boyd, who won the Democratic nomination outright on May 24 in what will prove to be a perfunctory general election in this safely Republican state.

House

AL-5: Dale Strong Headed to DC — Madison County Commission chairman Dale Strong (R) defeated former Deputy Army Secretary Casey Wardynski with just over 63 percent of the Republican runoff vote. Like Britt, Strong has punched his ticket to Washington with last night’s victory.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates AL-5 as R+32, leaving little doubt that Strong is now the prohibitive favorite to defeat Democratic nominee Kathy Warner-Stanton who won her party’s nomination outright in the regular primary contest.

AK-AL: Al Gross Exits Race — Yesterday, surgeon Al Gross, who was the 2020 Democratic US Senate nominee against Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) but running as an Independent in the US House special election, decided to end his campaign. Dr. Gross had qualified for the four-candidate runoff with his third-place finish in the special primary on June 11. He simply said he had “great hope for Alaska” in his departing statement but did not offer a particular reason for making the decision to prematurely end his campaign.

It appears the fifth place finisher, Republican Tara Sweeney a former Deputy Assistant Secretary in the US Department of Interior will move into the fourth position, but even officials at the Board of Elections could not confidently confirm that such is the procedure.

Former governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin qualified in first position, followed consecutively by businessman Nick Begich III (R), Dr. Gross, and former state Rep. Mary Peltola (D).  In his statement, Dr. Gross endorsed both Peltola and Sweeney saying “they are two outstanding Native women who will serve our state well.” The special general election is Aug. 16.
 
Georgia: Trump has Another Tough Night in Peach State — Georgia proved another tough night for former President Donald Trump, as his two key candidates in House runoff races, Jake Evans in the newly reformed open District 6 and Vernon Jones in the open 10th CD, both went down in landslide proportions. These results, added to Trump candidates David Perdue and Rep. Hice losing the governor and Secretary of State’s races respectively in the May 24 primary, suggests that the Peach State will likely prove to be Trump’s poorest endorsement state.

Dr. Rich McCormick, a retired Navy physician who was the 7th District GOP nominee in 2020, scored a 67 percent win over Evans. In District 10, businessman Mike Collins, a trucking company owner and son of the late former Congressman Mac Collins, recorded almost 75 percent of the runoff vote.

Virginia: Two Congressional Primaries Decided — As predicted, state Sen. Jen Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach), a US Navy veteran and nurse practitioner, topped a field of four Republican candidates with a convincing 56 percent of the vote. She will now oppose Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Norfolk) in what promises to be one of the most hotly contested GOP challenger races in the country.

Moving to northern Virginia, Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s (D-Glen Allen) politically marginal 7th CD produced a general election Republican challenger last night. Prince William County supervisor and former law enforcement officer Yesli Vega defeated five GOP opponents on her way to a tight 29-24-20 percent victory spread. The Spanberger-Vega general election will be hard fought. While the congresswoman has a slight advantage in partisan voting history, the potential turnout pattern suggests that this seat is still very much in play for a potential GOP upset.