Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Lone Star Status

Map of US Congressional districts in Texas

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 27, 2019 — Though the 2020 election is more than a year away, we can already see that the state of Texas is going to be the key to determining whether the Republicans will have a chance to re-claim the House majority next year, or if Democrats will actually expand their conference size. The GOP needs to convert 18 seats to again become the majority party and holding their margins in Texas is a prerequisite if they are to make a comeback in 2020.

Counting primary challenges, we are looking at political action in 13 of the state’s 36 congressional districts. Five are open seats, all Republican held, and three are highly competitive. Two of those retiring, Reps. Mike Conaway (R-Midland) and Bill Flores (R-Bryan/Waco), leave seats that will easily remain in GOP hands.

The most vulnerable open Republicans district is the 23rd CD, which begins in the northwestern part of San Antonio and stretches all the way to El Paso. The district goes back and forth between the two parties, and at no time during this decade has the winning candidate broken 50.5 percent. Democratic nominee in 2018, Gina Ortiz Jones, came within 926 votes of unseating Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio), and she now has a strong chance of becoming a consensus candidate for the open seat now that Hurd is retiring.

Republicans have no clear heir apparent to replace the retiring congressman, but it is likely that both eventual party nominees will start out with 48 percent of the vote. Expect another close contest here, but this is clearly the Democrats’ best Texas opportunity to convert another GOP seat.

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The Politics of Impeachment

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 26, 2019 — With the House beginning the impeachment inquiry, it is a good time to overlay the political map regarding those Democratic members who may find themselves in a difficult position as a result of this procedure.

In all, President Trump carried 31 congressional districts that elected a Democratic representative in 2018. In 16 of the 31 CDs, 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney also won. Additionally, the president carried 13 of the 31 districts by more than six percentage points.

To impeach, the Democratic leadership would need a minimum of 218 votes, and at the outset all but one will have to come from the majority side. Republican-turned-Independent Justin Amash (R-MI) left the GOP earlier in the year over the impeachment issue, so he is a likely “yes”, giving the leadership a little more cushion.

Turning back to the 2016 election, Trump carried Amash’s 3rd Congressional District with 51.6 – 42.2 percent victory margin, meaning this would likely be a tough vote for him, too, since he presumably will appear on the ballot as an Independent or minor party candidate.

In the end, however, should a vote proceed to the House floor, 15 of the 31 members listed below will more than likely have to vote for impeachment in order for the motion to carry.

With Trump being popular in their districts, 10 of the succeeding members with 2020 competition saw the President’s 2016 margin exceed six points. Three more with potential but as yet undeveloped competition, also saw Trump exceed a base six percentage point margin.

Therefore, one less than half of the following members will need to vote to impeach if the resolution is to move to the Senate.

ST-DIST INCUMBENT PARTY TRUMP % CLINTON % ROMNEY %
AZ-1 O’HALLERAN, TOM D 47.7 46.6 50.4
GA-6 McBATH, LUCY D 48.3 46.8 60.8
IA-1 FINKENAUER, ABBY D 48.7 45.2 42.5
IA-2 LOEBSACK, DAVID D 49.1 45.0 42.7
IA-3 AXNE, CINDY D 48.5 45.0 47.2
IA-3 AXNE, CINDY D 48.5 45.0 47.2
IL-14 UNDERWOOD, L. D 48.7 44.8 54.2
IL-17 BUSTOS, CHERI D 47.4 46.7 40.6
ME-2 GOLDEN, JARED D 51.4 41.1 44.4
MI-8 SLOTKIN, ELISSA D 50.6 43.9 51.1
MI-11 STEVENS, HALEY D 49.7 45.3 52.3
MN-7 PETERSON, COLLIN D 61.8 31.0 53.9
MN-2 CRAIG, ANGIE D 46.5 45.3 49.0
NH-1 PAPPAS, CHRIS D 48.2 46.6 48.6
NJ-2 VAN DREW, JEFF D 50.6 46.0 45.4
NJ-3 KIM, ANDY D 51.4 45.2 47.2
NJ-5 GOTTHEIMER, JOSH D 48.8 47.7 50.9
NJ-11 SHERRILL, MIKIE D 48.8 47.9 52.4
NM-2 TORRES SMALL, X. D 50.1 39.9 51.7
NV-3 LEE, SUSIE D 47.5 46.5 48.7
NY-11 ROSE, MAX D 53.6 43.8 47.3
NY-19 DELGADO, ANTONIO D 50.8 44.0 45.9
NY-22 BRINDISI, ANTHONY D 54.8 39.3 49.2
OK-5 HORN, KENDRA D 53.2 39.8 59.2
PA-8 CARTWRIGHT, MATT D 53.3 43.7 43.4
PA-17 LAMB, CONOR D 49.4 46.8 51.7
SC-1 CUNNINGHAM, JOE D 53.5 40.4 58.3
UT-4 McADAMS, BEN D 32.4 40.4 67.2
VA-2 LURIA, ELAINE D 48.8 45.4 50.5
VA-7 SPANBERGER, A. D 50.5 44.0 54.6

Red percentage figures: Denote districts Romney also carried

Warren Surges in California

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

Sept. 25, 2019 — The Capitol Weekly firm in California has been tracking the Golden State electorate monthly since April, and their September data shows a significant change from August. Now, it is Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) eclipsing former Vice President Joe Biden for the lead and coming all the way from last place in the original track to post an unweighted 33.1 percent support factor in September.

Biden, on the other hand, began with an unweighted 20.4 percent preference from a universe of over 5,000 individuals from which selected respondents were polled in April. This was the best score among the candidates at the time, but the former vice president and veteran senator began to seesaw through the succeeding months after rising to a high of 29.6 percent in May. Gradually he began dropping to his September level of 18.0 percent, now well behind Sen. Warren and less than one point ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

The September weighted numbers from the 599 most likely Democratic primary voters find Sen. Warren leading with 29 percent, Sen. Sanders moving into second with 21 percent, Biden with 18 percent, and home-state Sen. Kamala Harris dropping to just 11 percent from her high of 20.6 percent in July.

The California vote is critically important to winning the nomination because the state possesses 416 first-ballot delegates at the Democratic National Convention. Texas has the second-largest delegation with 228 first-ballot delegates, thus providing a measure of California’s prominence within the Democratic nomination process. Under the weighted percentages, Sens. Warren, Sanders, and Biden would be the only candidates to qualify for delegate apportionment because they would exceed the minimum 15 percent threshold.

The underlying questions asked of September’s weighted respondents reveal an even more stark difference between Warren and Biden. It is here where we see a fundamental shifting of strength between the two, with her on the ascent and him falling back.

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Warren Overtakes Biden in Iowa Poll

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 24, 2019 — Des Moines-based Selzer & Company, largely regarded as the most accurate pollster of the Iowa electorate, just released their latest data for the Des Moines Register newspaper (Sept. 14-18; 602 likely Iowa Democratic Caucus attenders) and it contains significant positive news for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren

On the ballot test, Selzer finds that Warren has eclipsed former Vice President Joe Biden, leading him 22-20 percent with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) following with support factors of 11, nine, and six percent, respectively. But the data goes deeper than projecting who simply leads the ballot test.

The Selzer pollsters also asked the individuals’ second choice if for some reason their original chosen candidate was no longer in the race. Combining the results provides us a further gauge into Warren’s underlying strength as defined in this particular poll.

Selzer projects Warren scoring 42 percent support on the combined first and second choice ballot test response. This is 12 points better than Biden’s 30 percent, and doubles Sen. Sanders’ combined figure of 21 percent. Mayor Buttigieg and Sen. Harris follow with 18 and 12 percent, respectively.

The large percentage going to Warren and, perhaps more significantly, the margin between she and Biden, and Warren and Sanders, suggests a greater underlying electoral strength than any of the other candidates within this Iowa respondent group. In a limited participation caucus meeting nominating event, depth of support is highly likely to be the winning difference.

It is clear that Biden is attempting to establish himself as the national front runner for the party nomination and Iowa is very important toward such an end. As the leading national candidate, losing the first event could send a campaign into a downward spiral because the first set of high campaign expectations was not met.

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Delegate Projections

Super Delegates at the Democratic National Convention: Just how big an impact could they have?

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 23, 2019 — Recent polling data has been released in 11 Democratic presidential primary states that allows us to make rudimentary delegate vote calculation projections as to where the top candidates stand in the nomination process.

The data-producing 11 states include all of the early voting entities: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, along with big states such as California, Texas, and Florida. Also included is Massachusetts, another Super Tuesday state that is of course Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s home, along with Arizona and the later voting states of Wisconsin and New Jersey.

The polling data allows us to look at the particular state and then assign the candidates specific delegate votes based upon their standing. Obviously, the projections are mere estimates because they are based upon polls and not actual votes, and we extrapolate the statewide totals for each congressional district, which is also not reality. Actual delegate votes are awarded on an at-large and district basis.

But, as basic as they are, these calculations still yield an idea as to where the candidates would land if the actual voting is truly within range of the available polling results.

To qualify for delegates either through state at-large or district delegates, a candidate must exceed a 15 percent popular vote threshold. In the 11 polls, only three candidates would qualify for delegate votes in any of the tested states: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Warren, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Based upon their polling standing in each state and calculating the delegate formula thereupon reveals that each of the three obtains a substantial share. The 11 states’ aggregate delegate total of 1,360 represents 36.1 percent of the entire first ballot total. To be nominated, a candidate is required to earn 1,885 first ballot delegate votes.

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