Author Archives: Jim Ellis

2020 Open House Seats Review

By Jim Ellis

June 12, 2019 — Since the last national redistricting completed in 2011 for the 2012 election cycle, we have seen 222 US House seats come open, for a mean average of 55.5 per cycle during the eight-year period. Prior to this decade, the average House open seat factor was typically closer to 35.

In 2012, reflective of the new reapportionment from the 2010 census, the House featured 62 open seats. This was followed by 47 more in 2014, another 49 in 2016, and finally 64 opens in the 2018 election cycle.

So far in this current 2020 election cycle, the exodus syndrome appears to be winding down as we see only nine districts now opening, assuming that Montana at-large Rep. Greg Gianforte follows through with his stated plans to announce his gubernatorial campaign later this week. One open district, PA-12, was already filled at the end of May as Republican Rick Keller replaced resigned Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport).

Below is a listing of the nine seats and the preliminary replacement outlook:


Special Elections – Sept. 10, 2019

NC-3: Rep. Walter Jones (R) – passed away Feb. 10, 2019
The Republicans are in a run-off election that will be decided on July 9. Participants are state Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville) and physician Joan Perry of Kinston. The winner faces Democratic nominee Allen Thomas, the former mayor of Greenville. The eventual GOP nominee will begin the special general election as a heavy favorite for a seat that has been in Republican hands since 1995.


NC-9: Vacancy, non-declaration of 2018 election winner due to alleged voter fraud
Both parties nominated outright in this special election. Democrats feature 2018 nominee Dan McCready, who ran unopposed in the special primary. Republicans nominated outright state Sen. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte), who captured 48 percent of the vote in a crowded Republican primary. A minimum total of 30 percent was needed to win outright nomination and avoid a run-off. Two polls have been released, both showing the race in toss-up mode with each candidate leading in one of the surveys.


Regular-Cycle Open Seats

AL-1: Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) running for Senate
With the Republican presidential nominee topping 60 percent of the vote here in the past three national elections, including President Trump attracting 63.5 percent, the Republicans will be in strong position to hold this seat. With candidate filing coming on Nov. 8 for the March 3 primary, the field of four announced candidates could swell to as many as 10 before the filing cycle concludes. No Democrat has yet come forward to declare.


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Biden Beginning to Show Cracks

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden is the Democratic front-runner in the 2020 presidential bid.

June 11, 2019 — Two polls were just released in critical Democratic primary states that find former Vice President Joe Biden’s standing to be weaker than his latest national polling results.

In Texas, the Change Research poll (May 20-June 3; 1,218 likely Texas Democratic primary voters) projects that former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) has risen to the top of his home state electorate, leading Biden, 27-24 percent with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) posting 13 percent support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is right behind with 12 percent, while California Sen. Kamala Harris records only eight percent backing.

Turning to Iowa, Selzer & Company released another of their Iowa Polls (June 2-5; 600 likely Iowa Caucus attenders; 433 saying they would personally attend their precinct caucus meeting while another 167 said they were interested in participating in the new virtual caucus that will be an Iowa Caucus feature for the first time) and while Biden leads the group of Democratic candidates, the combined numbers from the second, third, and fourth place finishers outpaces the leader by almost a 2:1 ratio.

In the Iowa Poll, conducted for CNN, the Des Moines Register newspaper, and Mediacom, Biden posts only 24 percent support. He is followed by Sen. Sanders at 16 percent, Sen. Warren notching 15 percent, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg trailing closely with 14 percent. But, Sens. Sanders and Warren together top Biden by seven percentage points and when Buttigieg is added, the trio comes close to denying Biden even the possibility of reaching majority status.

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Democrat Debate Friction


By Jim Ellis

June 10, 2019 — The Politico publication ran a story late last week detailing building friction between the Democratic National Committee and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a late-entering Democratic presidential candidate, over the committee leaders apparently axing the western governor from the first debate forum coming later this month.

The source of controversy is the party leadership contending that Gov. Bullock, who looked to have qualified for the debate under the outlined criteria, now has not. Instead, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is in position to capture the 20th and final debate podium for the upcoming June 26-27 candidate forums from Miami.

As we have previously reported, the qualifications the party leaders have placed upon the candidates require them to either build a fundraising organization of 65,000 donors, with a minimum of 200 coming from 20 states, or score one percent support in at least three surveys from eight designated pollsters.

Gov. Bullock appeared to have met the polling requirement. He exceeded the one percent threshold in the ABC/Washington Post survey in January. But, the DNC is now disallowing this particular poll, and the action probably eliminates him from the debate.

Their reasoning is that the ABC/Post poll asked an open-ended presidential ballot test question — that is, where the names of the candidates are not read, but the respondents must voluntarily state a name. This type of question is usually employed to test hard name identification and candidate strength.

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Polling vs. Delegates:
“The Game Within the Game”

By Jim Ellis

Texas state senate districts

June 7, 2018 — Quinnipiac University released their latest Texas poll (May 29-June 4; 1,159 registered Texas voters) and it finds former Vice President Joe Biden doing well in opponents’ Beto O’Rourke and Joaquin Castro’s home state.

According to the results, Biden heads the Lone Star State Democratic presidential field and is the only candidate to top President Trump when the president is isolated against each competitive Democrat (Biden over Trump: 48-44 percent).

Arguably, Texas, with its 38 Electoral Votes and the largest cache that a Republican candidate can generally claim, is Trump’s most important state. Losing here would likely mean forfeiting the presidency. There is no mathematical way to compensate for Trump failing to win Texas’ electoral votes and still allow him a path to reach the 270 Electoral Votes to claim a national victory.

In the Democratic primary, scheduled for Super Tuesday, March 3, Biden leads the pack of candidates with 30 percent of the vote, topping ex-Rep. O’Rourke (16 percent), Sen. Bernie Sanders (15 percent), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (11 percent), and the nine others who recorded between one and four percent statewide support.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Govs. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Steve Bullock (D-MT), Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Seth Moulton (D-MA), and Mayors Bill de Blasio (New York, NY), Wayne Messam (Miramar, FL), failed to reach the one percent plateau.

But, how would such a vote split translate into delegates for the participating candidates? Under Democratic Party rules, each state has both at-large and district delegates. Another group, called PLEO’s, are comprised of state and local Democratic Party leaders along with elected officials.

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The Early Primary Cycle

By Jim Ellis

June 6, 2019 — Looking at the 2020 primary calendar, it is obvious that the presidential race is already having an impact upon what is becoming an accelerated congressional campaign schedule in many states.

The analysts for the Daily Kos Elections website released their research posting all of the 2020 state primary dates giving us a better indication of which congressional primaries will be held earlier than their traditional scheduled primary slot.

Several states that have moved to early presidential primary dates have also transferred their entire ballot, meaning the congressional cycle will start earlier than usual for many members and challengers.

Texas and Illinois are typically the first states to hold primary elections, and they are again at the forefront of the congressional calendar. Texas will hold its presidential and congressional nominating elections on March 3, which will become the 2020 Super Tuesday. Illinois, along with Florida and Arizona, will vote on March 17. But, on that date, only Illinois will hold congressional nomination elections.

Next year, however, several other states, will join Texas with a full ballot primary on March 3.

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