Author Archives: Jim Ellis

DCCC’s Initial Targets

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024

House

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released their first targeting list entitled “Red to Blue,” though the group of 17 House districts actually contained one already in the Democratic column.

In alphabetical order by state, the list of 17 includes 16 Republican districts where the DCCC has endorsed a Democratic candidate:

STATE DISTRICT INCUMBENT DCCC CANDIDATE
Arizona 13 DUARTE, JOHN ENGEL, KIRSTEN
California 6 CISCOMANI, JUAN GRAY, ADAM
California 22 VALADAO, DAVID SALAS, RUDY
California 27 GARCIA, MIKE WHITESIDES, GEORGE
California 41 CALVERT, KEN ROLLINS, WILL
Colorado 3 OPEN FRISCH, ADAM
Iowa 1 MILLER-MEEKS, M. BOHANNON, CHRISTINE
Iowa 3 NUNN, ZACH BACCAM, LANON
Michigan 7 OPEN HERTEL, CURTIS
Michigan 1 ZINKE, RYAN TRANEL, MONICA
Nebraska 2 BACON, DON VARGAS, TONY
New York 3 SPECIAL ELECTION SUOZZI, TOM
New York 17 LAWLER, MIKE JONES, MONDAIRE
New York 19 MOLINARO, MARC RILEY, JOSH
Oregon 5 CHAVEZ-DeREMER, L. BYNUM, JANELLE
Texas 15 de la CRUZ, MONICA VALLEJO, MICHELLE
Virginia 2 KIGGANS, JEN SMASAL, MISSY COTTER

The Michigan district included in the above list is that of Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing). Her run for the Senate leaves her central Michigan seat open, but the Democrats winning here in 2024 would not result in a party division gain.

President Joe Biden carried only six the 16 Republican districts, and the FiveThirtyEight data organization provided a numerical rank so as to consider lean Democratic in those same six districts. Therefore, on this list, the half-dozen names below should be viewed as the most achievable targets, which, as you will see, are California and New York dominant.

They are:

  1. CA-13 (Duarte)
  2. CA-22 (Valadao)
  3. CA-27 (Garcia)
  4. NY-3 (Special election; Santos)
  5. NY-17 (Lawler)
  6. OR-5 (Chavez-DeRemer)

This underscores that the key states to determine the next House majority are the Golden and Empire States.

Most of the endorsed Democratic candidates (12 in the 16 Republican held seats) previously ran and lost their race in 2022. A total of 10 unsuccessfully opposed the current GOP House incumbent, while two lost other races (Tom Suozzi, Governor; Mondaire Jones, NY-10).

Curiously, some other vulnerable districts were excluded from this first release. Likely, this is due to one of three reasons: the DCCC has not yet endorsed a candidate; they don’t see a sufficiently competitive challenger within the current field; or, they perceive the Republican incumbent as being too strong.

They are:

DISTRICT CANDIDATE
AZ-1 David Schweikert
CA-40 Young Kim
CA-45 Michelle Steel
FL-13 Anna Paulina Luna
FL-27 Maria Elvira Salazar
MI-10 John James
NJ-7 Tom Kean Jr.
NY-4 Anthony D’Esposito
NY-22 Brandon Williams
PA-1 Brian Fitzpatrick
PA-10 Scott Perry
WI-1 Bryan Steil

Most of the members included within this latter group will be added to later target lists. The fact that Rep. Steil’s name is not yet appended to the “Red to Blue” listing suggests that the Wisconsin State Supreme Court may not order a redraw of the congressional map this cycle. Keeping Rep. Steil’s congressional district intact would give him little incentive to launch a statewide campaign against Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D).

At this point in the new redistricting process, Republicans are likely gaining a net one seat, but the New York redraw hasn’t yet occurred.

The GOP is assuredly gaining three seats from North Carolina, while the Democrats look to increase by one each in Alabama and Louisiana. Since the Georgia and Florida maps will not likely change for the 2024 election portends good news for Republicans; likewise for the Democrats in New Mexico.

Hogan & Rosendale for Senate;
Montana Rep. Gallagher to Retire;
Final Nevada Primary, Caucus Results

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Feb. 12, 2024

Candidate announcements and a surprise retirement made Friday a very interesting political day even outside of the presidential-level happenings.

Maryland

Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R)

Candidate Filing Closed — Maryland 2024 candidate filing closed on Friday and, after saying he would not run for Senate, former two-term Gov. Larry Hogan (R) unexpectedly agreed to seek the GOP nomination. Despite leaving office with the highest approval rating of any Maryland governor after eight years, Hogan will still be in an underdog position for the general election in heavily Democratic Maryland during a presidential year.

The Democratic nominee will be either US Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac) or Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. The May 14 primary will likely produce a close result. Trone, the founder of the Total Beverage chain store, has already spent $23 million on his Senate campaign through the end of 2023, all but $427,000 from his own pocket.

Knowing that she cannot match his virtually unlimited personal war chest, Alsobrooks had raised just over $5 million for her campaign, and had more than $3 million in her campaign treasury at the end of 2023. She will obviously stockpile as much money as she can for the final month in hopes of coming close to parity with Trone in late campaign advertising.

The latest released internal polling from the Trone campaign (Hickman Analytics; Jan. 18-24; 1,500 likely Maryland Democratic primary voters) finds the congressman leading Alsobrooks 45-34 percent. The poll shows his ads are working, since Hickman’s November survey (Nov. 27-30; 1,000 likely Maryland Democratic primary voters) staked Trone to a 41-34 percent advantage.

Considering her support within the African American community and its strength in the Democratic primary, particularly in her home county of Prince George’s and Baltimore, this primary campaign is far from over regardless of Trone’s insurmountable financial edge.

For Hogan, despite winning two terms as governor, his task to win a federal election in Maryland is daunting. The last Republican to win a Senate race here was then-two term incumbent Charles Mathias back in 1980.

Hogan, an avowed “Never Trumper,” has clearly distanced himself from the former president, but that will be of only marginal assistance. Donald Trump is extremely unpopular in Maryland, and Hogan will be forced to share a ballot with him in November. Therefore, Trump as the Republican presidential nominee will negatively affect the GOP general election turnout model.

Though Hogan will run a competitive race and certainly do better than any Republican at least since Michael Steele pulled to within the 54-44 percent margin that first elected current Sen.Ben Cardin (D) in 2006, the eventual Democratic nominee must still be rated as the favorite to win in November.

Montana

Rosendale to Run — In a move that has been anticipated for well over a year, US Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) announced on Friday that he will run for the Senate later this year.

Immediately after the announcement, former President Donald Trump endorsed Rosendale’s Republican primary opponent, aerospace company CEO and retired Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy, as have Gov. Greg Gianforte (R), Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), and Montana US Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Whitefish). In 2018, Rep. Rosendale, then the state auditor, challenged Sen. Jon Tester (D) and lost 50-47 percent.

Campaigning for a different office is nothing new for Rosendale. Since 2010, he has run for state House of Representatives, state Senate, US House (at-large), state auditor, US Senate, US House (at-large), and US House (District 2), and won five of the seven campaigns. His move into the Senate race opens the 2nd District to what will be a crowded Republican primary.
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It’s a Trump Sweep in Nevada; Williamson Ends Her Campaign;
Close Special Election Poll in NY-3;
WA-5’s McMorris Rodgers to Retire

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Feb. 9, 2024

President

Former President Donald Trump sweeps in Nevada.

Nevada Caucus: A Trump Sweep — Former President Donald Trump, as expected, won almost unanimous support last night at the Nevada Republican Caucuses where the state’s 26 delegates are apportioned. Trump will be awarded all of the state’s national convention delegates. Reports of high turnout around the state are numerous. A complete report will be forthcoming when the final results are formally released.

Marianne Williamson: Draws Campaign to a Close — After placing behind the “None of These Candidates” ballot line in the Nevada primary, Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson suspended her national campaign reducing the field to President Joe Biden and US Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN). With the president recording a mean average of 93 percent in the last two primaries, it is already a foregone conclusion that Biden will clinch the Democratic nomination no matter how long Phillips remains an active candidate.

House

NY-3: Another Close Special Election Poll — Siena College, conducting a congressional poll for the Newsday publication (Feb. 3-6; 694 likely NY-3 voters) finds a tight special election race to replace expelled US Rep. George Santos (R).

The ballot test gives former US Rep. Tom Suozzi (D) a 48-44 percent edge over Republican Nassau County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip. A second survey, from Emerson College (Feb. 4-5; 742 likely NY-3 voters; multiple sampling techniques), reported a similar result: Suozzi leading 52-48 percent when respondents were pushed for a choice between the two candidates. Previously, Emerson conducted a survey in mid-January (Jan. 13-15; 975 registered NY-3 voters; multiple sampling techniques) again finding Suozzi holding a similarly small 45-42 percent edge.

All of this data suggests that the Feb. 13 special election contest is within the polling margin of error and will come down to a turnout battle between the Democratic and Republican teams. The survey research suggests the race is close enough that the side doing a better job getting their voters to cast a ballot will claim the seat in the special election.

WA-5: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R) to Retire — Another House member has joined the retirement list. Ten-term Washington US Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Spokane), the House Energy & Commerce Committee chair, announced yesterday that she will not seek re-election later this year. In a long statement that thanks and extolls the virtues of her eastern Washington constituents, McMorris Rodgers formally announced her political intentions.

The open seat count now returns to 47, accounting for Rep. McMorris Rodgers retiring and Indiana Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville) changing her mind about not seeking re-election. Within the group, 24 Democrats are not seeking another term in the House, and the Republican number now grows to 22. The new Alabama redistricting plan creates an open seat that begins in Montgomery and stretches to Mobile.

The 5th District of Washington occupies the furthermost eastern part of the state from Canada to Oregon and is anchored in the city of Spokane. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates WA-5 as R+17. In the 2020 election, former President Donald Trump won the district by a 53-43 percent margin. The Daily Kos Elections site statisticians rank the district as the 56th most vulnerable seat in the Republican Conference. We can expect a crowded jungle primary in August leading to a general election where the Republican candidate should be favored.

McDaniel Reported Out at RNC; Trump Way Ahead in New Poll; Schiff Helps Garvey; Another Close Ohio Poll; Utah’s Tight Senate Race; House News

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024

President

Ronna McDaniel / Photo by Gage Skidmore

Republican National Committee: Trump Recommends New Chairman — As reports intensify that RNC chair Ronna McDaniel will be leaving the committee after the South Carolina primary, former President Donald Trump has made a replacement recommendation.

The news media is reporting that North Carolina Republican Party chairman Michael Whatley is Trump’s choice largely because he was “so powerful on election fraud” in 2020, according to the ex-president’s statement. It is a virtual certainty that the committee members will adopt Trump’s recommendation, but the question to be asked is how strong a fundraiser is Whatley? While Trump may be most concerned with his election fraud narrative, the RNC is under-performing in the campaign resource battle and must quickly upgrade their efforts.

South Carolina: Trump Way Ahead in New Poll — A new Monmouth University poll for the Washington Post (Jan. 26-30; 815 registered South Carolina voters; live interview & online) sees former President Donald Trump posting a significant 58-32 percent lead over former Gov. Nikki Haley in her home state of South Carolina leading to the Feb. 24 Republican primary election.

Trump holds an advantage among both men and women in the statewide voter sample, and within all age groups. He trails Haley only among college-educated voters, but by only two points, and certain non-evangelical voter groups. Additionally, 90 percent of the respondents saying they would vote for Trump in the primary election would do so in the general election even if he is convicted of some of the many legal charges he faces.

Senate

California: Schiff Helps Garvey — Confident he will finish first in the March 5 open California US Senate primary, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) is running ads “against” Republican baseball great Steve Garvey claiming he is too conservative for California in that he twice voted for Donald Trump. In reality, Schiff is attempting to help Garvey finish second in the top two jungle primary, thus eliminating Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine), which would allow him to escape having to run a double-Democratic general election.

Having Garvey, or any Republican as an opponent, would virtually guarantee that Schiff would win the seat in November. The ads’ actual purpose is to move more Republicans to Garvey, and thus edge him into second place.

A new University of Southern California for the Center for Urban Politics and Policy at California State University at Long Beach (Jan. 21-29; 1,416 likely Califoria jungle primary voters) survey sees Rep. Schiff holding a 25-15-15-7 percent lead over Garvey and Rep. Porter (D-Irvine). Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) trailed the other major candidates in fourth position. Therefore, a small push from Schiff might just help Garvey succeed.

Ohio: Another Close Poll — The March 19 Ohio Republican primary will be a hugely important election. Among other races, it will decide which GOP candidate will challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in one of the country’s most compelling statewide campaigns. The Emerson College poll (Jan. 23-25; 1,844 registered Ohio voters; multiple sampling techniques) sees all three Republican candidates coming to within one or two points of Sen. Brown with the incumbent failing to reach 40 percent support in all iterations.

In the Republican primary, the battle is equally close. Businessman Bernie Moreno, who former President Trump and Sen. J.D. Vance support, nips Secretary of State Frank LaRose, 22-21 percent, with state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) trailing with 15 percent. In 2022, Sen. Dolan came on strong at the end, failing to reach second place by one percentage point after lagging during the early part of the campaign. Therefore, the Republican nomination is still very much in doubt.

Ohio features a modified primary system that allows voters to change their registration on the day of the election in order to choose a selected primary.

Utah: Rep. Curtis Begins with Small Lead — Dan Jones & Associates, Utah’s top media polling firm, released a new US Senate Republican primary survey, the first since US Rep. John Curtis (R-Provo) joined the field. The survey (Jan. 16-21; 428 registered Utah Republican voters) finds Rep. Curtis posting a tepid 18-14 percent lead over attorney Brent Orrin Hatch, the son of the late seven-term Sen. Orrin Hatch (R). Following at eight percent is former state House Speaker Brad Wilson. With a majority of the Republican voters still undecided, this contest is wide open.

The state’s April Republican nominating convention will send two candidates to the primary ballot. The others will have to petition for a ballot line. The Utah primary is scheduled for June 25. Sen. Mitt Romney (R) is retiring after one term.
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In Nevada, Haley Loses to “None of These Candidates”; Biden Romps Again

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024

President

Nikki Haley loses to “None of These Candidates.” / Photo by Gage Skidmore

Nevada Primary: Haley’s Big “Beauty Contest” Loss — Former President Donald Trump at least indirectly won a primary last night without his name even appearing on the ballot.

In the Nevada Republican election, the names of former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, ex-Vice President Mike Pence, and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) were on the ballot, along with the option, “None of These Candidates,” a voting choice unique to Nevada elections. The candidate filing deadline was in October, thus explaining why Pence and Scott, though now withdrawn from the presidential campaign, are still on the Silver State ballot.

In the new Nevada system, Republicans held what is commonly referred to as a “beauty contest” primary, meaning an election that does not apportion delegates from the popular vote totals. An accompanying caucus system will be in place tomorrow night, which is the Republican mechanism that has the power to apportion delegates. Under the party rules, candidates could enter the primary or the caucuses, but not both.

On the caucus ballot will be the names of only Donald Trump and also-ran candidate Ryan Binkley. Therefore, expect Trump to sweep all of Nevada’s 26 Republican delegates.

Clearly, most of the “None of These Candidates” voters were Trump supporters. They were likely following Gov. Joe Lombardo’s (R) lead who announced days before the primary that he would vote in the beauty contest event and choose the “None of These Candidates” options.

It appears that the “None of These Candidates” ballot line will end the counting with approximately 63 percent of the vote as compared to Haley’s 31 percent, and place first in all 17 of Nevada’s counties.

The primary was held because a new Nevada election law required presidential primary elections for all political parties. The Nevada Republican Party, however, chose to continue effectively operating through their traditional caucus system; hence, the reason for their beauty contest-style vote prior to tomorrow’s caucus meetings.

Turnout is difficult to gauge. Approximately 70,000 total votes will be cast in this first-ever Nevada Republican presidential primary once the final tally is recorded. This number must then be added to those who will attend Thursday’s caucus meetings to draw a true picture of the Nevada GOP participation rate. At that point, we will be able to measure this state’s 2024 voter enthusiasm.

The Democrats — President Biden easily won the party primary with approximately 89 percent of the vote, defeating “None of These Candidates” (six percent) and author Marianne Williamson (three percent). Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) was not on the ballot because he became a candidate after the state’s filing deadline had closed.

Since this is the first Democratic presidential primary, as well, it is again difficult to gauge turnout. It appears the complete participation total could end as high as 114,000. In comparison, when then-Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) was running for re-election in 2022, the Democratic primary participation number topped 157,000, in a race featuring only the governor and a minor candidate. Sisolak would then go onto lose to Lombardo, who at the time was the Clark County Sheriff, in the general election.

The big question concerning Haley is to see how long she will continue her campaign, since it is abundantly clear that the national Republican electorate favors Trump. The next Republican primary is scheduled for Feb. 24 in Haley’s home state of South Carolina.

With polling suggesting leads for Trump approaching a 2:1 ratio in the Palmetto State, will she risk losing before a partisan electorate that has twice propelled her to the governorship? This may be the last remaining unanswered question of the 2024 Republican presidential nomination campaign.

Nevada Primary Underway, Caucus Begins Thursday; Spartz “Un-Retires”; Louisiana Redistricting Fight;
Strong Challenger in MI-3

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024

President

Nevada: Primary Today; GOP Caucus Thursday — Nevada voters will cast their votes for a Democratic presidential nominee with 49 delegates at stake in their primary, while Republicans will be participating in what is termed as only a “beauty contest” primary because delegate apportionment will not correspond to the cast ballots. The delegates will be awarded in a caucus system with meetings scheduled for Thursday.

President Joe Biden will easily sweep the small Democratic field, maybe not to the point of getting 97 percent support as he did in South Carolina, but he will win in a substantial landslide. On the Republican side, where the candidates chose to enter either the primary or caucus, sees ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on the outside; she will win a virtually meaningless primary, against virtually meaningless minor candidates, while former President Donald Trump opted to enter the caucus and is likely to sweep Nevada’s 26 convention delegates.

House

IN-5: Rep. Spartz “Un-Retires” — In early 2023, Indiana sophomore US Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville) became the session’s first lame duck House member when announcing that she would not seek a third term in order to spend more time with her two daughters who are entering their teenage years. Yesterday, Spartz reversed course and now becomes the first of the burgeoning departing group of members to “unretire.”

Rep. Spartz said the urging from many of her constituents to run again and what she termed as the “failed leadership in Washington,” were her reasons for deciding to stand for another term just as the Indiana candidate filing deadline approaches on Friday.

The focus now turns to the 10 Republicans who are vying to succeed Spartz and see just how many, if any, will terminate their campaigns. State Rep. Chuck Goodrich (R-Noblesville) is viewed as the leading contender and has already spent over $1 million on his congressional effort. He also has more than twice the amount of money in the bank than does Rep. Spartz ($679,000 to $313,000) according to the year-end (2023) Federal Election Commission disclosure report. No other candidate has significant resources.

Louisiana: New Map Challenged — While the Louisiana legislature and governor complied with a court order to draw a new majority minority seat in the congressional delegation, a group of “non African-American voters” have filed suit against the new plan as a racial gerrymander.

A different three-judge panel will hear the lawsuit suggesting the possibility that this map could be rendered illegal, too. The plaintiffs site a 1994 case where a similarly drawn district, one that stretches from Baton Rouge to Shreveport to create a black majority district, was in fact declared a racial gerrymander, which forced a redraw then. This lawsuit suggests that Louisiana congressional redistricting may not be quite over.

Now, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) weighed in on “X” saying, “there are multiple other map options that are legally compliant and do not require the unnecessary surrender of a Republican seat in Congress.” The new 6th District virtually cuts Johnson’s 4th District into two parts, driving through the middle of the Speaker’s current territory in order to annex the black dominated precincts in Shreveport.

MI-13: A Second Strong Democrat to Challenge Rep. Thanedar — In 2022, then-Detroit state Rep. Shri Thanedar won an eight-person Democratic congressional primary with 28 percent of the vote to claim his seat in the US House. In doing so, Thanedar self-financed his effort to the tune of $9.1 million.

In October, Rep. Thanedar’s top 2022 challenger, former state Sen. Adam Hollier, announced that he would return for a Democratic primary rematch. Yesterday, another major Detroit political figure joined the primary race. Detroit City council member and former state House Minority Leader Mary Waters filed a congressional campaign committee with the FEC. She did not run in 2022. Another potential entry is two-time former candidate John Conyers III, the son of the late Congressman John Conyers (D-Detroit), who held the seat from his initial election in 1964 to his resignation from the House in 2017.

From the freshman incumbent’s perspective, he benefits from having more opponents that will split the vote just the way the 2022 race unfolded.

Regardless of his number of opponents, the congressman looks again to be the biggest spender. According to the year-end (2023) Federal Election Commission campaign finance disclosure report, Rep. Thanedar shows $2.6 million in his political committee bank account. The Michigan candidate filing deadline is April 23 in conjunction with the Aug. 6 primary election.

Biden Sweeps SC Amid Low Turnout; Sen. Hawley Up 13; Sen. Bob Menendez Can’t Escape Single-Digit Support;
Sen. Bob Casey Jr.’s Strong Showing

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Feb. 5, 2024

President

President Joe Biden

South Carolina: Biden Romps in Dem Primary — President Joe Biden claimed Saturday’s South Carolina Democratic presidential primary, capturing an almost unanimous vote share. Biden recorded a 97 percent support figure over author Marianne Williamson (2.1 percent) and Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips (1.7 percent). Not surprisingly, the president swept all 55 of the state’s national Democratic delegate votes and placed first in each of the Palmetto State’s 46 counties.

Turnout, however, was extremely low with only about 131,000 ballots being cast. The unofficial count represents just 24 percent of the number of voters when compared to the 2020 South Carolina Democratic primary. The president was virtually unopposed in terms of the campaign efforts from Williamson and Phillips; therefore, it is not surprising to see a low participation rate. Still, three-quarters of the past electorate failing to return in 2024 does suggest a lack of enthusiasm for the pending national election.

Next, the candidates move to the Nevada primary on Tuesday where a similar result is expected. Unlike the Republicans, the Democratic primary is a delegate-apportionment event, so all candidates will be on the ballot. On the Republican side, the Nevada delegates will be awarded from the accompanying caucus events scheduled two days later, on Feb. 8. GOP candidate Nikki Haley chose to enter the primary and not the caucus, so former President Donald Trump is virtually assured of a Nevada delegate sweep.

Senate

Missouri: Sen. Hawley Up 13 — Emerson College released the first Missouri polling results of the new year. In the state’s US Senate campaign, the Emerson poll (Jan. 3-28; 1,830 registered Missouri voters; multiple sampling techniques) yields Sen. Josh Hawley (R) a 43-30 percent lead over attorney and Afghan/Iraq War veteran Lucas Kunce (D).

In 2022, Kunce ran for the Senate and performed well on the fundraising circuit, raising $5.7 million, but lost the Democratic nomination to philanthropist Trudy Busch Valentine, who was a late entry into the race. He now returns in better position to win the party nomination and has already almost equaled his 2022 fundraising total but remains a severe underdog to Sen. Hawley in a state where the Biden national campaign is sure to concede.

Therefore, considering Sen. Hawley’s incumbency and the political winds blowing against the Democrats in the Show Me State, this race is not likely to become a battleground Senate contest.

New Jersey: Sen. Menendez Again Languishing in Single Digits — Madison, New Jersey-based Fairleigh Dickinson University went into the field to test the Garden State’s Democratic electorate pertaining to the upcoming US Senate race. The survey (Braun Research conducting; Jan. 21-28; 504 likely New Jersey Democratic primary voters; live interview & text) projects US Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) to be opening a double-digit lead over New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy of 32-20 percent, while indicted incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez can outpace little-known labor union official Patricia Campos-Medina by only a single point, as he again polls under 10 percent.

According to the just-released Federal Election Commission year-end campaign finance reports, both Rep. Kim and Murphy held $2.7 million cash-on-hand at the end of 2023. Largely due to funds raised before being indicted, Sen. Menendez has just over $6.1 million in his campaign account.

The New Jersey primary is June 4. At this point, Sen. Menendez maintains that he is running for re-election, but a final decision from him will be likely be made just before the March 25 candidate filing deadline.

Pennsylvania: Sen. Casey Again Posts Double Digit Lead — Franklin & Marshall College, a regular Pennsylvania pollster, just released their latest statewide research iteration. The survey (Jan. 17-28; 1,006 registered Pennsylvania voters; live interview) sees Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) again posting a sizable lead over former hedge fund CEO David McCormick (R). The ballot test gives Sen. Casey a 12-point advantage, 47-35 percent. This counters Susquehanna Polling & Research’s findings in their Pennsylvania poll, taken partially within the same sampling period, that showed only a four-point separation between the two candidates.

The F&M result is more consistent with other released polls since mid-December. The Bullfinch Group saw a 15-point Casey margin, while Quinnipiac University projected a 10-point split. The Pennsylvania Senate race could become a top-tier contest assuming the presidential race here remains close in polling. In both the presidential and Senate contests, however, the Democratic candidate maintains the edge.