Author Archives: Jim Ellis

New Poll: Biden Still Holds First

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden

April 4, 2019 — Former Vice President Joe Biden has been under attack in recent days over past inappropriate behavior around women but, so far, it hasn’t yet damaged his standing with Democratic primary voters according to the latest monthly Morning Consult poll (March 25-29; 12,940 US likely Democratic primary or caucus voters).

While Biden has been hit with a series of negative articles and television news reports, which may be only the beginning of political assaults as the other candidates need to dislodge the former vice president from the front runner position, he still stands atop the Democratic field with his best showing from any recent poll.

According to the Morning Consult data, Biden has open up a 33-25-8-8 percent advantage over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), and ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), respectively. The 33 percent figure is the single-best number that Biden has attracted from any poll during his pre-announcement period.

For his part, Sen. Sanders continues to command a strong-second place position, while Harris drops back a bit from her 10 percent showing in the March 10 Morning Consult track. Her high point from any MC survey came in early February when she touched 14 percent. O’Rourke continues to hover consistently around his eight percent mark, always placing either in third or fourth position.

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The Early Targets

By Jim Ellis

April 3, 2019 — Continuing our early outlook of the 2020 House situation, we can begin by narrowing the field to those districts where Republicans will be concentrating at least their initial efforts in order to reclaim the majority they lost in November.

After the 2016 election, there were 12 districts that supported President Trump but elected a Democrat to the House. After the 2018 midterm, that number rose to 31. For the Republicans to regain the majority, they will need to convert a net 18 seats back to their column, or 19 if the Democrats score a victory in the NC-9 special election to be held later this year in the Charlotte-Fayetteville metro areas in southern North Carolina.

The other two House special elections, PA-12 (May 21) and NC-3 (Sept. 10), unless huge upsets occur, look to remain within the Republican stable of districts.

Of the 31 Trump/House Democrat seats, 16 of them also voted for Mitt Romney over President Obama in 2012. Furthermore, a dozen within this group elected a Republican Representative until the 2018 election. They are:

  • GA-6 – Rep. Lucy McBath (D) – Defeated Karen Handel (R)
  • IL-14 – Rep. Lauren Underwood (D) – Defeated Randy Hultgren (R)
  • MI-8 – Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D) – Defeated Mike Bishop (R)
  • MI-11 – Rep. Haley Stevens (D) – Replaced David Trott (R)
  • NJ-11 – Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D) – Replaced Rodney Frelinghuysen
  • NM-2 – Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D) – Replaced Steve Pearce (R)
  • NY-22 – Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D) – Defeated Claudia Tenney (R)
  • OK-5 – Rep. Kendra Horn (D) – Defeated Steve Russell (R)
  • SC-1 – Rep. Joe Cunningham (D) – Replaced Mark Sanford (R)
  • UT-4 – Rep. Ben McAdams (D) – Defeated Mia Love (R)
  • VA-2 – Rep. Elaine Luria (D) – Defeated Scott Taylor (R)
  • VA-7 – Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) – Defeated Dave Brat (R)

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House Activity Percolates With Open Seats in 2020: Here’s an Overview

By Jim Ellis

April 2, 2019 — Last week we spent a great deal of time analyzing the 2020 Senate races, and now we begin to take a look at some of the expected US House activity.

With Republicans now fighting to regain the majority they lost in November, are there enough opportunities for them to convert the 18 or 19 (depending upon the NC-9 special election result) districts that they will need to reclaim the House?

After the November vote, we see 31 seats that President Trump carried in 2016, which a Democrat now represents. That number rose from 12 before the election. These districts will form the basis of the Republican target list, but it doesn’t appear they will have enough open seats to augment their conversion inroad opportunities. And, as has been the case in the previous four elections, Republicans are already risking many more of these latter seats than Democrats.

Generally, a feature of the House flipping is the winning party converting a sizable number of open seats. That certainly happened in 2018 as we again saw an unusually large number of incumbent-less campaigns (64), with 16 of them going to the opposite party (13 R to D; 3 D to R). Since the congressional seats were re-drawn before the 2012 election, a total of 64 (2012), 47 (2014), and 49 (2016) districts were open, in addition to the aforementioned 64 for the last cycle.

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Democratic Presidential Candidate Field Could Number 23 Very Shortly

By Jim Ellis

April 1, 2019
— Several presumed presidential candidates whose aspirations appeared dormant have suddenly sprung to life. In reading the current political tea leaves, and should the latest trends prove true, we could return to projections of a Democratic presidential field as large as 23 candidates.

While it has been generally regarded as a given that former Vice President Joe Biden would enter the race next month, and all indications are that he will, as many as six others may also soon join according to individual published reports late last week.

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), whose name surfaced months ago as an individual contemplating becoming a national candidate, all of a sudden says that he will likely do so. This, after seemingly weeks of not even being mentioned in the long list of aspiring candidates.

Ex-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who looked to be gearing up early but hadn’t been heard from lately, also confirms that he is headed toward announcing his candidacy this month.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has brandished more overt signs of planning to run. Always admitting that he was considering becoming a candidate, Gov. Bullock has spent some time in Iowa conducting meetings and getting to know the political terrain. He has also firmly ruled out challenging Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) and appears headed toward the national stage. Bullock is ineligible to seek a third term as governor, so these underlying signals seem more indicative that he will, in fact, run for president.

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Democratic Primary Simmering in New Mexico: Candidates Waste No Time Lining Up to Succeed Udall

By Jim Ellis

March 29, 2019 — Sen. Tom Udall (D) surprised the political world on Monday when he released a video announcing that the will retire when this session of Congress adjourns instead of running for a third term. Though he appeared to be a lock for re-election, the 70-year-old senator said it was time for him to look for other political avenues from which to contribute.

Potential Democratic successors are wasting no time. Later today, state Attorney General Hector Balderas (D) is releasing a video message that will presumably contain his Senate announcement. He may soon have company from Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-Nambe/Santa Fe).

Balderas is no stranger to statewide office in the Land of Enchantment. After winning a seat in the state House of Representatives in 2004, the freshman legislator was elected state Auditor in 2006. He then ran for an open Senate seat in 2008, but decisively lost the Democratic primary to now-incumbent Sen. Martin Heinrich (D). He was re-elected Auditor in 2010, and then ran for, and won, the attorney general’s post in 2014. Balderas was re-elected in November with 62 percent of the vote.

Though he ran for re-election last year, it was originally thought that Balderas would challenge Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) for the open gubernatorial nomination. But, Grisham opened with a large lead, took advantage of her strong inside connections, and Banderas, knowing he could not afford to lose another statewide race, decided to stay put. Therefore, instead of running for governor, he made a major public production of supporting Grisham and unifying the party for the gubernatorial push. That move may well pay-off for him in this open Senate election.

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