Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Intra-Party Primary Challenges On Both Sides Emerge This Week

By Jim Ellis

July 3, 2019 — If you thought the 2020 cycle might feature a smaller number of primary challenge campaigns than we’ve seen in recent election years, then Monday might have changed your opinion. No less than six combined intra-party incumbent opposition campaigns were announced, or at least publicly contemplated.

After seeing the results of some key primaries in the past couple of election cycles, such as the now famous Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 2018 victory over veteran Rep. Joe Crowley in New York, it’s hard to discount any early intra-party candidate at face value. But, it appears, at least today, that all of the potentially challenged incumbents begin their re-nomination campaigns as clear favorites.

In South Dakota, state Rep. Scyller Borglum (R-Rapid City), an engineer and theologian who was just elected to the legislature in November, announced that she will oppose first-term senator and former governor Mike Rounds in next year’s Republican primary. This challenge is particularly curious since no Democrat has yet even come forward to battle Sen. Rounds. The odds of Borglum finding a way to deny her opponent re-nomination look particularly long, but the contest should be watched for indicative early happenings.

Rep. Danny Davis (D) has represented the downtown Chicago and Oak Park areas in Congress since the beginning of 1997. Before that, he served on the Chicago City Council or Cook County Commission for another 18 years. But his long service has not made him immune from enduring a primary challenge. Attorney Kristine Schanbacher announced her opposition to Davis in the March Democratic primary. The congressman is a prohibitive favorite to again win re-nomination. Two other minor Democratic candidates had declared earlier.

Indiana’s 3rd District will feature a “family affair.” Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City/Ft. Wayne) largely won the safe Republican seat in the 2016 GOP primary against former Wisconsin state senator Pam Galloway and four others when he captured over one-third of the vote in a plurality victory scenario.

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Poll: Biden Falling

By Jim Ellis

July 2, 2019 — The Morning Consult organization immediately went into the field after the second night of the Democratic presidential forum (June 27-28; 2,407 US self-identified Democratic registered voters) and found that former Vice President Joe Biden’s support slipped, at least as an immediate reaction to what is commonly viewed as his poor debate performance, while Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), evaluated as performing quite well, gained.

The MC data still finds Biden in first place, but down five points from their previous survey. On June 23, just three days before the first forum, Biden led Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 38-19 percent while Sen. Harris lagged at six percent support. Just after the debate, when completing the poll on June 28, Biden dropped to 33 percent, but Sanders remained constant at the 19 percent level. Conversely, Sen. Harris doubled her past support to 12 percent.

MORNING CONSULT POLL RESULTS:

Click on above graphic to go to complete Media Consult poll results story.

In the Morning Consult survey, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) also posted 12 percent support, which was virtually on par with her standing in their June 23 poll when she recorded 13 percent preference. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who actually scored well on the second debate night, had a similar result to Sen. Warren. While he was polling seven percent on the June 23 poll, he basically remained constant one week later, dropping to six percent on the MC June 28 survey.

Former Texas representative, Beto O’Rourke, who was dogged with poor debate reviews from his first night performance, also dropped in the Morning Consult polling. Before the forum, O’Rourke was only in the four percent range, and after, even lost half that support base, dropping to two percent.

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Next for Democrat Candidates

By Jim Ellis

July 1, 2019 — The first Democratic candidate forum is in the books, and the question being posed is how the various performances over the two-night process will affect the candidates’ standing.

On the first night, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), really the only top-tier candidate on stage, seemed to dominate the proceedings and clearly scored with her hard left base … a constituency she must wrest away from Sen. Bernie Sanders in order to become a major threat to win the nomination. Some post-debate polling suggests that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) is the lower-tier candidate who significantly improved her standing from the first night group, but she still may not be able to break through to the top.

The general consensus for the candidate performing the worst on the first night, even though he rated his own performance as an “A”, was former Texas congressman, Beto O’Rourke. His attempt at answering questions in Spanish did not seem to be well delivered or received.

The second night, Thursday night, the center stage seemed to go to a pair of candidates, California Sen. Kamala Harris and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Sen. Harris scored points in bringing the out of control group to order early, and then directly confronted former Vice President Joe Biden on his busing position from decades ago. Even Biden’s explanation of him opposing the Department of Education’s policy was fumbling and incorrect. The votes they were discussing occurred in 1975. The Department of Education didn’t even come into existence until 1979.

Mayor Buttigieg needed a strong performance to solidify his early rise in the polls, and it appears he delivered. He seemed to successfully diffuse the point about the police shooting in his home of South Bend by simply admitting that he failed to do the job. There wasn’t much to say on the topic after that, and none of the other candidates brought it back after Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) made a follow-up point that he should have fired the police chief.

Now, we will see how the candidates fare in post-debate polling, and whether their strategies change.

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Debates Begin; Some Polls Tighten

By Jim Ellis

June 28, 2019 — Several polls were released just before the presidential debate series began and we see some inconsistency. Former Vice President Joe Biden leads in the most recent national surveys, but by varying margins.

The closest poll comes from YouGov (June 22-25; 522 likely US Democratic primary voters) and finds Biden’s lead over Sen. Elizabeth Warren to be 24-18 percent. In a close third place is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with 15 percent.

All other candidates are in single digits. Those who have been experiencing a recent downward trend, Sen. Kamala Harris, and ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke, again posted poor support scores, this time seven and three percent, respectively. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been polling inconsistently in recent surveys. Here, we see downward movement, as he registers only five percent support, a polling range that has also been detected in other late June polling.

YouGov also finds two of the lower-tier candidates performing a bit better in this survey. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard reaches three percent national support, and Sen. Cory Booker posts two percent support. All others are at one percent or below.

But the Morning Consult data, with a much larger survey sample, tells a much different story. Their poll (June 19-26; 7,150 likely US Democratic primary voters via automated response device) detects a much larger Biden lead. The results find the former vice president at 35 percent support with Sen. Sanders in second place – as he has been in most national polls – with 18 percent, and Sen. Warren in third at 12 percent. Like in the YouGov poll, only the top three finishers posted double-digit support numbers.

The lower tier is very similar to the YouGov results sans Gabbard. They find Sen. Harris (six percent), Mayor Buttigieg (six percent), O’Rourke (four percent), and Sen. Booker (three percent) comprising a second tier. All the rest are at one percent or less.

The HarrisX survey (June 24-26; 892 self-identified Democratic registered voters) brandished a middle-sized sample with commensurate results. HarrisX also finds Biden leading the Democratic race, but his 29 percent support factor falls virtually evenly between what was found in YouGov and Morning Consult.

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Biden’s Early Obstacle

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden

June 27, 2019 — One of the reasons that Hillary Clinton’s campaign began to come unglued in 2016 was failing to meet expectations in the early places.

Unfortunately for her, Iowa was always one of her weakest states and the fact that it is first on the voting schedule caused her air of inevitability to be pierced rather quickly.

As you may remember, Clinton won the Iowa Caucus, but the result was a virtual tie with Sen. Bernie Sanders, forcing the local committee people to decide some precinct results with the flip of a coin — tosses in which Clinton prevailed every time. With her inevitability veil coming off, Clinton then headed to New Hampshire where she would lose 60-38 percent.

Because the race winnowed to a two-person affair, Clinton was successfully able to rebound, scoring early victories in Nevada and South Carolina to get her campaign back on track.

Two new polls suggest that former Vice President Joe Biden may be facing a similar pattern in the early states, and being mired in a crowded field suggests we may see a different final result than what Clinton achieved.

Two new surveys suggest that Biden may already be weakening in the first two states. Though small in terms of first ballot delegate votes (Iowa, 41; New Hampshire, 24), the pair are critically important in casting early momentum. With 25 candidates now beginning the campaign, and at least six appearing viable, developing early momentum is more important than within the much smaller 2016 nomination field.

Change Research conducted the Iowa and New Hampshire polls (along with one in South Carolina where Biden has a comfortable 39-15-13-11 percent edge over Warren, Sanders, and Buttigieg) and their findings suggest that Biden could have some early trouble. Though the polling samples are small — 308 respondents for each state — the sample size may accurately reflect the diminutive voting universes found in the two places. All the surveys were conducted from June 17-20.

In Iowa, Biden leads, but with only a 27-20-18-17 percent margin over Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Sanders, while South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg posts a close 17 percent support. Having four candidates within 10 points suggests that any one of them could break out with a win, especially with the Feb. 3 Caucus still months away.

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