Author Archives: Jim Ellis

“Admiral Joe” Is Now 25th Candidate

By Jim Ellis

“Admiral Joe” Sestak

June 26, 2019 — The Democratic presidential field has now grown as large as a professional baseball team, as the 25th candidate came forward this week. Former Pennsylvania representative and defeated US Senate nominee Joe Sestak, who is emphasizing his long military career in rising to the rank of a Navy three-star admiral and serving on President Clinton’s National Security Council, officially entered the national campaign.

Sestak was first elected to the House in 2006 and served two terms from southeastern Pennsylvania’s 7th District. The new presidential candidate unseated 20-year congressional veteran Curt Weldon (R) in his first election and was easily re-elected in 2008. He chose to run for the Senate in 2010, defeating party-switching Sen. Arlen Specter 54-46 percent in the Democratic primary, but then lost to Republican Pat Toomey 51-49 percent in the succeeding general.

Sestak would return in the 2016 Democratic senatorial primary but fell to former gubernatorial chief of staff Katie McGinty after running a rather bizarre campaign that featured the ex-congressman walking the entire state of Pennsylvania but doing very few candidate appearances or media events along the way.

He joins the presidential field long after his new opponents have been campaigning for weeks and months but says he delayed his entry for family reasons. Sestak points out that his daughter has again been fighting brain cancer, which he claims she has beaten for the second time during her life.

Regardless of the reason, Sestak, who is calling himself “Admiral Joe” in this campaign and doesn’t use his congressional title in his new slogan, which reads, “ADM JOE, Accountability to America,” is likely entering too late to become an effective candidate with the ability to challenge for the party nomination.

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The Early Delegate Projections

By Jim Ellis

June 25, 2019 — There have been several important state polls recently released that provide us data about where the Democratic presidential candidates stand in relation to popular preference. But that is only half the story.

In order to gauge where the candidates might stand in terms of delegate apportionment, we have taken the available published polls from 16 states and began extrapolating a reasonable delegate projection for each.

For purposes of this exercise, all of the polling data is considered accurate, even though in some instances such a conclusion is a stretch. Additionally, these projections were only based upon the at-large numbers but understand more than half of the delegates come from the state’s chosen districts (usually congressional district, though Texas uses their state Senate seats).

It is reasonable to believe, however, that the district apportionment will, in most cases, be similar to the statewide total. At this point, the at-large ratios are the only data set from which we can begin to draw statistical conclusions.

With that short background, the states and their most recent polling result are listed below along with our unofficial delegate projections listed in chronological order based upon voting schedule:

February 3

Iowa Caucus

(YouGov – May 31-June 12; 587 likely Iowa Democratic primary voters)
• First-Ballot Delegates: 41

Biden 30%
Sanders 22%
Warren 12%
Buttigieg 11%

Delegate Projection:

Biden 15
Sanders 11
Warren   8
Buttigieg   7

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He’s Baaaaaack!

By Jim Ellis

                      Judge Roy Moore

June 24, 2019 — As expected and despite urgings from President Trump not to do so, former Alabama state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore announced his Senate 2020 candidacy late last week.

We will remember Judge Moore’s ill-fated 2017 special Senate election effort that resulted in Democrat Doug Jones becoming the first member of his party to win an Alabama Senate seat since Howell Heflin was last re-elected in 1990.

Even before the announcement, Moore and Sen. Richard Shelby (R) were again trading barbs. Judge Moore argued that Shelby’s involvement, which culminated in the senior senator saying he was placing “country before party,” led to Jones’ victory, while Shelby retorted that he still thinks “Alabama can do better,” in a reference about electing Judge Moore.

Arguably, Alabama is the most important Senate race on the 2020 election board. If the Republicans take back the seat, which is a must if they want to cement their hold on the majority, the Senate party division would increase to 54 Republicans. Looking at the remaining seats in play for the current election cycle it becomes increasingly difficult for the Democrats to reach majority status if they lose this race.

In 2017, Judge Moore, after defeating appointed incumbent Luther Strange 55-45 percent in a run-off election after placing first with 39 percent in the original special primary, was found to have attempted to date, or did date, between two and nine underage girls when he was a deputy district attorney in Etowah County some 40 years ago. The controversy likely cost Moore the election, a battle that he lost to Jones 50.0 to 48.3 percent.

The 2020 regular primary appears to feature a more difficult field of opponents for Moore than did the special election. Appointed Sen. Strange waded into his own batch of quicksand when allegations surfaced that he allegedly cut a deal with Gov. Robert Bentley (R) when the former man was Alabama’s attorney general and the state chief executive was being scrutinized for spending and utilizing state resources for his personal use.

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Coming to Grips With
The Tar Heel State Electorate

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Congressional Districts

June 21, 2019 — A new North Carolina poll from Harper Polling conducted for the state’s conservative Civitas Institute (June 8-10; 500 likely North Carolina voters) charts just how difficult it may be for any candidate to strike a balance with the current inconstant Tar Heel State electorate.

As we know, North Carolina is one of the nation’s genuine swing states, and how they break in the 2020 national election will go a long way toward determining the outcome of the next presidential election. Looking at the national electorate from a partisan presidential context, the state is a must-win for President Trump, but less so for the eventual Democratic nominee. If the Democrat were to convert North Carolina, however, a national victory for his or her party would be the likely result.

The survey was fielded to look at several issues and attitudes in the state, and mostly test the 2020 governor’s race. The respondent sample correctly reflects the North Carolina party division (actual: 37.1 percent Democrat, 30.1 percent Republican; poll: 37 percent Democrat, 31 percent Republican), and shows an ideological bent toward the conservatives (combination of strongly and somewhat conservative: 52 percent, strongly and somewhat liberal: 20 percent); but lurches heavily female: 54-46 percent (actual state: 51.3 percent female, 48.7 percent male).

Additionally, the sample claims to have supported President Trump in greater numbers than the actual vote: Trump 46-38 percent in the Harper Poll versus 50-46 percent in the actual 2016 vote count. This is surprising considering the respondent sample leans so heavily female.

But on the two issues tested: college student loans and the tariffs with China, the respondents provide some unexpected answers. Their retorts suggest that candidates from both parties may have a difficult time forging a winning path through the North Carolina electorate.

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Florida: Biden Up

Former vice president, Joe Biden (Getty Images)


By Jim Ellis

June 20, 2019 — Quinnipiac University surveyed the Florida electorate (June 12-17; 1,279 registered Florida voters, 417 self-identified Democrats) and found former Vice President Joe Biden opening a substantial lead over Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) there. He also posts a healthy advantage against President Trump in a hypothetical general election pairing in what is always a critical voting domain.

The Q-Poll numbers find Biden scoring a 41-14-12 percent advantage over Sens. Sanders and Warren, respectively, with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) trailing in single-digits with eight and six percent, sequentially.

As Nate Silver, founder of the 538 statistical website, said in an interview this week that looking at general election polling this early is basically a futile exercise. It does, however, provide us a clue into candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. In the general election Q-Poll pairing, Biden records a 50-41 percent advantage over President Trump in Florida. This poll, of course, was taken before Trump’s Florida rally Tuesday night in which he kicked off his 2020 campaign.

Silver’s spoken sentiments are true because, among other reasons, so much time remains between now and the 2020 Nov. 3 election, and so many unknown events will occur that could alter the final outcome. Additionally, the campaign will drastically change when both parties have nominees and voters begin paying serious attention to the race.

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