Author Archives: Jim Ellis

NY-2: Trump for Congress?

NOTE: Happy Thanksgiving. Our Political Updates will return on Monday, Dec. 2.

By Jim Ellis

Lara Trump

Nov. 27, 2019 — Action about who the Republicans might nominate to succeed retiring New York Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) is beginning to simmer, especially since the Club for Growth released a poll of the district’s GOP electorate late last week.

The Club contracted with WPA Intelligence to test Lara Trump, wife of Eric Trump and daughter-in-law of President Trump. Rumors had been surfacing that she might be contemplating running in the 2nd District; hence, the interest in gauging what type of support she might have for such a race. WPAi paired Lara with former congressman, Rick Lazio, who is considering becoming a candidate, in a hypothetical Republican primary. According to their data (Nov. 17-18; 400 likely NY-2 Republican primary voters), Lara Trump would lead Lazio by a whopping 53-19 percent.

The result is not particularly surprising because Donald Trump has a solid Republican base in the district. The WPAi survey finds the president’s favorability ratio at 78:19 percent within this GOP primary voter sample.

In response to the poll, Lara told Breitbart News that she’s, “ … incredibly honored by this showing of support from my fellow New Yorkers. While I would never close the door on anything in the future, right now I am focused on winning a second term for President Trump.” Lara serves as an advisor to the president’s re-election campaign.

So far, Islip Town Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt and Suffolk County Elections Commissioner Nick LaLota are announced Republican candidates. State Assemblyman Mike LiPetri (R-Massapequa) has formed a congressional exploratory committee and is expected to join the race. Early last week, former Suffolk County executive, Steve Levy, and County Legislature Minority Leader Tom Cilmi both said they would not run for the seat.

The Democrats appear to be coalescing around Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon, who is a retired Army officer. Gordon had announced a challenge campaign against Rep. King and raised just under $188,000 through the Sept. 30 deadline. The 2018 Democratic nominee, Liuba Grechen Shirley, who held the congressman to a surprisingly close 53-47 percent victory, has already announced that she will not enter the 2020 open seat campaign.

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Super Tuesday Senate Primaries

Super Tuesday 2020 States and Territories; *Important Senate primaries will also be occurring in four states — Texas, Arkansas, Alabama & North Carolina


By Jim Ellis

Nov. 26, 2019 — Super Tuesday is scheduled for March 3, and while the national focus will be on the 14 states and one territory whose electorates will vote in the Democratic presidential nomination contest, important Senate primaries will also be occurring in four states. Five places moved their regular-cycle primary to run concurrently with the early March presidential vote, and four from this group host 2020 Senate campaigns. The lone exception is California.

The Alabama Senate contest has drawn much attention lately since former US Attorney General and ex-Sen. Jeff Sessions has re-emerged as a candidate. His nomination is not a foregone conclusion, however. He faces a significant field of Republican opponents on March 3, all of whom became candidates before he decided to run again.

Along with Sessions, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile), retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, former state Supreme Court Chief Judge and 2017 Senate special election nominee Roy Moore, and state Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Shelby County) comprise the credible candidate field.

Polling since Sessions returned to the race suggests that both the former senator and Coach Tuberville would advance to an April 14 run-off, but campaign prime time still remains, and much could change. Though Sessions has a residual base, he is unlikely to win the nomination outright against this field, none of whom have departed the race since his return. Therefore, the eventual nomination victor is still in doubt. The winner will face Sen. Doug Jones (D) in the general election.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (R) stands for a second term and currently has no opponent. Democratic businessman and former congressional candidate Josh Mahony had been traveling the state to organize support from local party leaders and became the sole filer at the deadline against Sen. Cotton, but then ended his effort just two hours after submitting his candidate documentation citing family issues. Since the Democrats have no candidate, the party will convene to choose a replacement nominee. Regardless of whom they select, Sen. Cotton looks solid for re-election.

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Winning vs. Ideology

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 21, 2019 — As the 10 Democratic presidential candidates again took the debate stage last night, this time from Atlanta, they all needed recognize a few things: They needed to walk a fine line. The contenders needed to carefully navigate between appealing to their party’s ideological base, which is key to winning the nomination, and preparing for the general election where a more centrist approach appears to be the probable course toward achieving national victory.

The Gallup organization just completed a new national survey (Nov. 1-14; 1,015 US adults from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 437 self-identified Democrats and Independents who lean Democratic) that compared the importance between choosing an ideologically sound nominee with one who is best equipped to win the general election irrespective of where that individual stands on the party’s base issues.

Looking at the current results in the prism of Gallup asking the same questions of Republican respondents when President Obama was running for re-election in 2012, and a Democratic cell group when President George W. Bush was seeking a second term in 2004, this sample skews towards electability over ideology in the starkest proportion.

According to Gallup’s questions asked of Democrats and lean Democrats whether they believed it is more important to find a candidate who can unseat President Trump or one who agrees with the individual respondent on issues, by a margin of 60-36 percent the poll showed that the favored candidate would be the one having the best chance to win the November 2020 election.

In 2012, Republican responses to this choice involving replacing President Obama, surveyed in mid-September of 2011, leaned toward a candidate who could win over the ideologically pure contender in a 53-43 percent spread. Eight years earlier, when President Bush was seeking his second term, the ratio among Democrats at the end of 2003 was 50-44 percent in favor of ideology, but six weeks later, in early February 2004, the margin switched to 55-40 percent toward finding the candidate who was best equipped to unseat Bush.

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Unending North Carolina Redistricting

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 20, 2019 — If it seems like the North Carolina redistricting process has dragged on for the entire decade, then your senses are correct, because it has. After seeing a mid-decade re-draw before the 2016 elections, another set of lines will be in place for 2020, and then another plan for the ensuing electoral decade beginning in 2022 will be enacted during the regular decennial process. North Carolina is a sure bet to gain a new congressional seat in 2020 reapportionment.

Last week, the Republican legislature produced a new map per court order that will concede two more seats to the Democrats. This plan is not final, however, as the new map still has must clear the legal process and certainly the Democrats will challenge in an attempt to get more. Republicans will counter and attempt to move the process away from the state three-judge panel which has been favorable to the Democratic arguments, and into federal court where they feel their own points may be given a more sympathetic hearing.

Racial gerrymandering was the subject of the original challenges, but when those arguments led to a new map without a net gain of Democratic seats, the plaintiffs filed political gerrymandering lawsuits. With the Supreme Court basically returning the political gerrymandering arguments back to the state courts, the Democrats, at least in North Carolina, are in much better position to get a map that better reflects their intended outcome.

With the current split being 10R-3D, which of the current members are in the deepest trouble under the new map? Though the map looks fundamentally similar to the current plan, there are sizable differences in district configuration from a political context.

The Daily Kos Elections site ran a voting analysis of the new seats, and it appears a new Tar Heel State delegation under this map would feature eight Republicans and five Democrats, or a net gain of two seats for the latter party.

The two current incumbents who would not likely return under the plan are Reps. George Holding (R-Raleigh) and Mark Walker (R-Greensboro). Their districts go from being a plus-10 Trump district for Holding to a minus-14 CD, and for Walker an original plus-15 Trump to a minus-11.

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Buttigieg a Clear Factor in Iowa

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 19, 2019 — Selzer & Company, again polling for the Des Moines Register publication (Nov. 8-13; 2,012 active registered Iowa voters, 500 likely Democratic Caucus attenders), finds South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg pulling away from the rest of the field. YouGov, polling for CBS News (Nov. 6-13; 856 registered Democratic voters), projects a different perspective, however, in finding a virtual four-way tie.

Selzer sees Mayor Buttigieg leading the pack with 25 percent, nine points ahead of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and 10 points beyond both Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Vice President Joe Biden.

YouGov, however, finds Sanders and Biden tied at the top with 22 percent, while Buttigieg is only one point behind. The top pair leads Sen. Warren by four points. All are clearly within the polling margin of error.

The numbers again suggest that the Democratic caucus, now less than three months away on February 3rd, is a wide-open affair. All of the most recent polling also yields that Mayor Buttigieg has transformed the campaign, at least in Iowa, into a legitimate four-way race. There is also no recent poll suggesting that any one candidate is in position to secure a majority vote among the prospective Iowa Caucus attenders.

How the Iowa vote will affect the rest of the primaries is anybody’s guess at this point, but the state has proven to be a trend-setter in the past. Whether a strong showing for Mayor Buttigieg will keep him in the top tier as the process moves through New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina prior to Super Tuesday is difficult to currently assess.

Louisiana Elects a Governor;
Bevin Concedes in Kentucky

By Jim Ellis

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), left, and Republican challenger Eddie Rispone (R)

Nov. 18, 2019 — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) defied typical southern electoral history on Saturday as an incumbent winning a run-off election. Usually, when an office holder is forced into a run-off because he or she failed to secure majority support in the primary election, that individual loses the secondary vote. Not so, for Gov. Edwards as he scored a 51.3 – 48.7 percent victory over Baton Rouge developer Eddie Rispone (R).

Late polling suggested a different outcome, as the latest data proposed a trend line where Rispone might have well gone over the top. A new JMC Analytics poll (Nov. 12-13; 600 likely Louisiana voters) showed that Baton Rouge developer Rispone could slip past Gov. Edwards by a 46-45 percent count. The one-point margin was not particularly significant, since the result meant the two candidates were locked in a virtual tie, but the aggregate late-polling trend was more telling.

Since Nov. 1, five studies have been publicly released from five different pollsters and each find the spread ranging from a flat tie to four points. But even the four-point margin, 50-46 percent from Targoz Market Research (Nov. 7-13; 803 likely Louisiana voters) in Edwards’ favor, is inconsistent with the others. Removing this poll, with its strong sample size but long sampling period, means the average percentage difference between the two candidates from the four remaining surveys is only 1.25.

The actual turnout said something different, however, and the first clue came from early voting. According to the latest count on Thursday night, 46 percent of the early votes were coming from Democrats as compared to 38 percent from Republicans. In the jungle primary election, the Democratic early voting advantage was only 44-41 percent, and the GOP candidates secured 52 percent of the vote.

The Daily Kos Elections site authors calculated the percentages that Gov. Edwards would need to attain in key parishes in order to reach 50 percent. We see that the governor reached his projected benchmark in 13 of the 15 representative parishes selected, which accounts for his statewide total.

Over 1.5 million voters participated in the election, meaning a turnout percentage of 50.7 percent of registered voters. This was up 4.8 percent from the recorded primary turnout figure. Four years ago, when Gov. Edwards was first elected in defeating then-US Sen. David Vitter (R), just 40.2 percent of registered Louisiana voters cast their ballots.

Rispone centered his campaign around attacking Edwards over Louisiana ranking near the bottom of state statistics in job creation, and that he was fully in President Trump’s camp. The President came to the state to hold one of his rallies for Rispone, but even this did not help engender a victory.

Edwards’ campaign contended that Louisiana is in the top 10 of fastest growing state economies, that the $2 billion deficit the governor inherited is now a surplus and that was accomplished while increasing teacher pay and expanding Medicare.

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Alabama & Arkansas: The Filings

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 15, 2019 — Candidate filing for the 2020 election cycle is now closed in two states, Alabama and Arkansas, and several individuals unexpectedly became candidates.

First, in the presidential race, not only did former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg file in Alabama, as was widely reported last week, but he also submitted papers for the Arkansas presidential primary. This doesn’t necessarily mean he will enter the national race, but it certainly gives him the option to become an active candidate.

Reports are now surfacing, however, that Bloomberg will not file for the New Hampshire presidential primary at today’s deadline. This move is even more surprising in light of his filing in Alabama and Arkansas. Polling must tell him he would be shut out in the Granite State and, with only a total of 24 first-ballot delegates, skipping the state would not greatly affect his potential delegate acquisition count.

Another surprise came in Arkansas where, at least for now, first-term Sen. Tom Cotton (R) has no Democratic opponent. When filing closed, Fayetteville Democrat and former congressional candidate Josh Mahony complied with the deadline requirements and said in his exit statement said he had been working the state for six months in order to lay groundwork for his statewide campaign. Before the day ended, however, he decided to rescind his candidacy.

Mahony said a family issue keeps him from running, but the Arkansas Republican Party had also just filed an ethics complaint against him, so it is possible that this development also had some influence on his decision to leave the race. In any event, Mahony is no longer a candidate even though he would have been unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

At this point, the Democrats have no Senate candidate, but state law will allow the party members to meet and choose a new nominee to oppose Sen. Cotton. Either way, Cotton’s re-election prospects appear completely sound.

Of course, the Alabama Senate race, now that former US attorney general and Alabama senator, Jeff Sessions, is returning in an attempt to re-capture his previous position, has drawn the most political attention. The entire Republican field for the office includes the aforementioned Sessions, Secretary of State John Merrill, US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile), former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, ex-state Supreme Court Chief Judge and 2017 special Senate nominee Roy Moore, state Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Shelby County), and businessman Stanley Adair.

The other somewhat surprising filing came in Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District, where state Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock) will run to oppose three-term Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock). The 2nd District, which is comprised of the Little Rock metropolitan area, is the most politically marginal of Arkansas’ four congressional districts.

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