Author Archives: Jim Ellis

2020 Senate Review – Part II

By Jim Ellis

March 26, 2019 — The second of our three-part Senate review covers the races alphabetically from Louisiana through New Mexico:

  • Louisiana – Sen. Bill Cassidy (R) – Sen. Cassidy will seek a second term next year but, as in Kentucky, no real action will occur in the federal campaigns until the 2019 governor’s race is decided. Currently, Sen. Cassidy faces no serious opposition. Likely Republican

  • Maine – Sen. Susan Collins (R) – Sen. Collins appears near the top of the 2020 Democratic target list, but she may not be as vulnerable as it might appear on paper. The four-term senator is a good fit for her constituency; she racked up win percentages of 67 and 61 in her past two elections (2014; 2008) and, unless Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-North Haven/ Portland) runs, the Dems don’t appear to have a top tier candidate.
    Neither newly elected Democratic Gov. Janet Mills nor Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) appear to be looking at a Senate run. Currently, Lean Republican and closer to Likely Republican than Toss-up

  • Massachusetts – Sen. Ed Markey (D) – Sen. Markey’s only concern is a potential Democratic primary challenger and, with Rep. Seth Moulten (D-Salem) looking more toward the presidential contest than the Senate, the veteran incumbent should be secure for a second full term. Adding his long tenure in the House, Sen. Markey will be in Congress 44 consecutive years at the end of the current session. Safe Democratic

  • Michigan – Sen. Gary Peters (D) – Republican manufacturing company owner and retired Army Ranger John James’ better-than-expected performance against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) last year, and first-term Sen. Peters’ below-average polling numbers are moving Michigan fast up the Republican target list. Assuming James runs, the Michigan Senate race could become quite interesting. Lean Democratic

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2020 Senate Review – Part I

By Jim Ellis

March 25, 2018 — Only nearing the end of March in the off-year, already a great deal of early 2020 Senate action has occurred. Thus, it is a good time to begin reviewing all 34 statewide federal races that will adorn next year’s ballot in a three-part series. Today, we look at the first dozen in alphabetical order:

  • Alabama – Sen. Doug Jones (D) – From the Republican perspective, this could be the most important race in the country. The GOP must convert this seat in order to provide a better cushion to protect their Senate majority.
    The 2017 special election became a debacle for the Republicans that allowed Sen. Jones to unexpectedly slip past politically wounded former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. Already, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) and state Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) have announced their 2020 Senate candidacies. Judge Moore claims to be seriously considering running again, which could again create the same adverse situation that previously plagued the Republicans. Toss-up

  • Alaska – Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) – At this point, there seems little in the way of opposition developing either in the Republican primary or general election against Sen. Sullivan. Safe Republican

  • Arizona – Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) – Another critically important Senate race that has already featured substantial action. Sen. McSally’s appointment came after her defeat in the 2018 Senate race and she faces a difficult campaign ahead to win the 2020 special election. Whoever wins next year serves the remaining two years of the late Sen. John McCain’s (R) final term. The seat next comes in-cycle for a full six-year term in 2022.
    Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut and husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Tucson), has already announced his candidacy and will be a major candidate. In early April, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix), whose ex-wife, Kate Gallego, was just elected Mayor of Phoenix in a special election, is expected to enter the Democratic primary. Since Arizona holds a late August primary, a tough Democratic nomination fight would benefit McSally just as her difficult 2018 Republican primary played to Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s advantage. Toss-up

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New CNN National Numbers Are Out

By Jim Ellis

March 22, 2019 — The CNN television network released their new national survey of the Democratic presidential contest (conducted by SSRS research company; March 14-17; 1,003 US adults, 456 self-identified Democrats and those Independents who lean to the Democratic Party, 448 self-identified Republicans and those Independents who lean to the Republican Party), and while the ballot test results were consistent with most other polling, some different and interesting questions were asked.

CNN compared this poll to their previous study conducted during the Dec. 6-9 period. The first four finishers remain in relatively the same order, but the percentages have shifted and some significantly.

In the current poll, former Vice President Joe Biden continues to lead the pack of 17 tested candidates. He tops the field with 28 percent, down from the 30 percent support he held in December. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is second with 20 percent, making a big jump from the 14 percent base CNN found three months earlier.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) surpasses former US Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), and tripled her preference from December. Sen. Harris leaps from 4 to 12 percent support. For his part, O’Rourke drops to fourth but still gains two percentage points in comparison to December (rising from 9 to 11 percent). All of the others remain in single-digits, though Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) doubled her support from 3 to 6 percent.

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Biden’s Strong Rebound, and a
Michigan Senate Surprise

By Jim Ellis

March 21, 2019 — Earlier this week, Emerson College Polling released a survey of Wisconsin Democrats that found Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) leading former Vice President Joe Biden, 39-24 percent, but an even newer Emerson offering detects that the tables have already turned.

According to the latest Emerson Michigan poll (March 7-10; 743 registered Michigan voters; 317 likely Michigan Democratic presidential primary voters), it is Biden who is claiming 40 percent support within the Democratic sample, while Sen. Sanders pulls 23 percent. As is the case with the Wisconsin poll, California Sen. Kamala Harris is third, well back with 12 percent, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) follows with 11 percent. All others fall into low single digits. New entry Beto O’Rourke was not included on the survey questionnaire.

The results are not surprising. Biden has long been a favorite of the private sector unions, which are a strong force in Michigan politics. Additionally, President Obama, with Biden on the ticket, ran strongly here. In 2012, he defeated Mitt Romney, 54-45 percent. The former Republican nominee’s father, George Romney, is a past governor of Michigan. Four years earlier, Obama’s margin over John McCain was an even greater 57-41 percent.

Michigan is an important state on the Democratic nomination circuit, eighth largest of the 57 voting entities. Currently scheduled for a March 10 primary, the Wolverine State is awarded 125 elected delegates, ballooning to an aggregate 147 when Super Delegates are added to the total. The Super Delegates, or party leaders, may not vote on the first ballot, but are eligible if more than one roll call becomes necessary.

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Understanding Independent Voters

By Jim Ellis

March 20, 2019 — In most elections, particularly in today’s polarized political climate, the independent vote is often the determining factor. As the non-affiliated share grows within the American electorate, these individuals become even more important.

But, who are the independents and how different are they from the average partisan Republican or Democrat? The Pew Research Center released a new study at the end of last week about the independent voter. Their data sources were a compilation of polls taken during the past few years, up to and including 2019.

The Pew conclusions are interesting in that the study basically reveals the lion’s share of independents align very closely with partisan Republicans and Democrats. Or, in other words, they generally vote with one party or the other, hold similar views and values as one of the major parties, but don’t want to associate themselves with the particular entity.

Based upon the sourced data, Pew denotes that approximately 38 percent of the electorate considers themselves to be independent. This compares with 31 percent who self-identify as Democrats and 26 percent who say they are Republican. Within the aggregate independent segment, 46 percent align with the Democrats while 35 percent identify with Republicans. Therefore, 19 percent of this group can be considered the true swing voter.

While those identifying more closely with the Republican Party are fewer, they have a higher voter turnout proclivity. According to the 2018 midterm election statistics, 54 percent of the Independent/Lean Republicans cast a ballot versus 48 percent of those generally identifying with the Democrats. The greater turnout figure for Republicans, even in a more Democratic year like 2018, suggest that the two parties are basically at parity within the independent voting sector.

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