Author Archives: Jim Ellis

The Amash Factor

By Jim Ellis

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash

July 9, 2019 — Michigan Rep. Justin Amash (I-Cascade Township) officially left the Republican Party as the 4th of July approached, but what does his decision mean for the 3rd District’s political future?

Rep. Amash has served his whole career as a Republican, being first elected in an open congressional seat back in 2010 after winning a state House district in 2008. Though he left the GOP, he did not affiliate with the Libertarian Party, which many expected. Still, he has the option of running for that party’s presidential nomination even if he does not serve in Congress as a Libertarian.

But Amash’s decision clearly changes the congressional race. If he ultimately decides to seek re-election, his decision to leave the GOP is somewhat curious, at least from an electoral perspective. At this point, already four Republicans have announced, with at least three of them clearly credible. Two are sitting state representatives and one an heir to the Meijer retail store chain that features more than 200 stores predominantly in the Midwest. With no run-off required under Michigan election law, a large competitive field would have played to Rep. Amash’s favor since the contest would have been a base vote nomination election.

Should he decide to seek re-election as an Independent, then all bets might be off. Under the same premise that a crowded field could have helped Amash win a Republican primary, at least a three-way general election candidate field could conceivably allow him to win re-election in similar plurality fashion. But, either major party candidate might have the same advantage making this a wild card race.

Additionally, the three-way set-up could put what is typically a reliable Republican seat in play for the Democrats. Should Amash and the eventual Republican split the right-of-center base, it is conceivable that the Democratic nominee could find him or herself in position to score the plurality victory.

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Is Sen. Markey (D-MA) Vulnerable?

By Jim Ellis

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey (D)

July 8, 2019 — The Politico news site ran a story last week befor the Fourth of July break quoting a Massachusetts consultant saying that Sen. Ed Markey’s seat “is there for the taking,” and predicted the state’s extremist Democratic Party faction will make defeating him a major objective in the guise of freshman Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s (D-Boston) successful challenge to then-veteran Rep. Mike Capuano (D) in the last election.

An early June Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll is cited as the source for concluding that Sen. Markey is having some political trouble. In our analysis of the study, we see some Markey vulnerability, but it is inaccurate to say that signs are pointing to the senator possibly losing his re-nomination campaign.

The Suffolk/Globe poll (June 5-9; 600 registered Massachusetts voters, 513 self-identified Massachusetts Democratic (207) or Independent voters (306), 370 Democratic responses to the US Senate ballot test) is the same one that drew some national publicity because it projected home state Sen. Elizabeth Warren posting only 10 percent support in the presidential Democratic primary ballot test, as former Vice President Joe Biden led the field with a 22 percent preference score. It is not a stretch to predict that this race would likely poll differently if re-tested today.

The main reason that Sen. Markey is viewed as vulnerable relates to his 44 percent preference among the Democratic respondents on the senatorial ballot test. While this number is indisputably low for an incumbent, we must also view the results in context. His two announced opponents, labor union attorney Sharon Liss-Riordan and businessman and author Steve Pemberton, both only record a support level of five percent. Though Sen. Markey should reasonably be commanding majority support, he is still almost 40 points ahead of his closest known competitor.

The upstarts who want to see Markey challenged generally hope one of the top name Democrats will jump into the race, such as Boston Mayor Marty Walsh or US Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Newton), but it is highly unlikely that either of these men will run.

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Intra-Party Primary Challenges On Both Sides Emerge This Week

By Jim Ellis

July 3, 2019 — If you thought the 2020 cycle might feature a smaller number of primary challenge campaigns than we’ve seen in recent election years, then Monday might have changed your opinion. No less than six combined intra-party incumbent opposition campaigns were announced, or at least publicly contemplated.

After seeing the results of some key primaries in the past couple of election cycles, such as the now famous Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 2018 victory over veteran Rep. Joe Crowley in New York, it’s hard to discount any early intra-party candidate at face value. But, it appears, at least today, that all of the potentially challenged incumbents begin their re-nomination campaigns as clear favorites.

In South Dakota, state Rep. Scyller Borglum (R-Rapid City), an engineer and theologian who was just elected to the legislature in November, announced that she will oppose first-term senator and former governor Mike Rounds in next year’s Republican primary. This challenge is particularly curious since no Democrat has yet even come forward to battle Sen. Rounds. The odds of Borglum finding a way to deny her opponent re-nomination look particularly long, but the contest should be watched for indicative early happenings.

Rep. Danny Davis (D) has represented the downtown Chicago and Oak Park areas in Congress since the beginning of 1997. Before that, he served on the Chicago City Council or Cook County Commission for another 18 years. But his long service has not made him immune from enduring a primary challenge. Attorney Kristine Schanbacher announced her opposition to Davis in the March Democratic primary. The congressman is a prohibitive favorite to again win re-nomination. Two other minor Democratic candidates had declared earlier.

Indiana’s 3rd District will feature a “family affair.” Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City/Ft. Wayne) largely won the safe Republican seat in the 2016 GOP primary against former Wisconsin state senator Pam Galloway and four others when he captured over one-third of the vote in a plurality victory scenario.

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Poll: Biden Falling

By Jim Ellis

July 2, 2019 — The Morning Consult organization immediately went into the field after the second night of the Democratic presidential forum (June 27-28; 2,407 US self-identified Democratic registered voters) and found that former Vice President Joe Biden’s support slipped, at least as an immediate reaction to what is commonly viewed as his poor debate performance, while Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), evaluated as performing quite well, gained.

The MC data still finds Biden in first place, but down five points from their previous survey. On June 23, just three days before the first forum, Biden led Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 38-19 percent while Sen. Harris lagged at six percent support. Just after the debate, when completing the poll on June 28, Biden dropped to 33 percent, but Sanders remained constant at the 19 percent level. Conversely, Sen. Harris doubled her past support to 12 percent.

MORNING CONSULT POLL RESULTS:

Click on above graphic to go to complete Media Consult poll results story.

In the Morning Consult survey, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) also posted 12 percent support, which was virtually on par with her standing in their June 23 poll when she recorded 13 percent preference. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who actually scored well on the second debate night, had a similar result to Sen. Warren. While he was polling seven percent on the June 23 poll, he basically remained constant one week later, dropping to six percent on the MC June 28 survey.

Former Texas representative, Beto O’Rourke, who was dogged with poor debate reviews from his first night performance, also dropped in the Morning Consult polling. Before the forum, O’Rourke was only in the four percent range, and after, even lost half that support base, dropping to two percent.

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Next for Democrat Candidates

By Jim Ellis

July 1, 2019 — The first Democratic candidate forum is in the books, and the question being posed is how the various performances over the two-night process will affect the candidates’ standing.

On the first night, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), really the only top-tier candidate on stage, seemed to dominate the proceedings and clearly scored with her hard left base … a constituency she must wrest away from Sen. Bernie Sanders in order to become a major threat to win the nomination. Some post-debate polling suggests that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) is the lower-tier candidate who significantly improved her standing from the first night group, but she still may not be able to break through to the top.

The general consensus for the candidate performing the worst on the first night, even though he rated his own performance as an “A”, was former Texas congressman, Beto O’Rourke. His attempt at answering questions in Spanish did not seem to be well delivered or received.

The second night, Thursday night, the center stage seemed to go to a pair of candidates, California Sen. Kamala Harris and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Sen. Harris scored points in bringing the out of control group to order early, and then directly confronted former Vice President Joe Biden on his busing position from decades ago. Even Biden’s explanation of him opposing the Department of Education’s policy was fumbling and incorrect. The votes they were discussing occurred in 1975. The Department of Education didn’t even come into existence until 1979.

Mayor Buttigieg needed a strong performance to solidify his early rise in the polls, and it appears he delivered. He seemed to successfully diffuse the point about the police shooting in his home of South Bend by simply admitting that he failed to do the job. There wasn’t much to say on the topic after that, and none of the other candidates brought it back after Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) made a follow-up point that he should have fired the police chief.

Now, we will see how the candidates fare in post-debate polling, and whether their strategies change.

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Debates Begin; Some Polls Tighten

By Jim Ellis

June 28, 2019 — Several polls were released just before the presidential debate series began and we see some inconsistency. Former Vice President Joe Biden leads in the most recent national surveys, but by varying margins.

The closest poll comes from YouGov (June 22-25; 522 likely US Democratic primary voters) and finds Biden’s lead over Sen. Elizabeth Warren to be 24-18 percent. In a close third place is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with 15 percent.

All other candidates are in single digits. Those who have been experiencing a recent downward trend, Sen. Kamala Harris, and ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke, again posted poor support scores, this time seven and three percent, respectively. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been polling inconsistently in recent surveys. Here, we see downward movement, as he registers only five percent support, a polling range that has also been detected in other late June polling.

YouGov also finds two of the lower-tier candidates performing a bit better in this survey. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard reaches three percent national support, and Sen. Cory Booker posts two percent support. All others are at one percent or below.

But the Morning Consult data, with a much larger survey sample, tells a much different story. Their poll (June 19-26; 7,150 likely US Democratic primary voters via automated response device) detects a much larger Biden lead. The results find the former vice president at 35 percent support with Sen. Sanders in second place – as he has been in most national polls – with 18 percent, and Sen. Warren in third at 12 percent. Like in the YouGov poll, only the top three finishers posted double-digit support numbers.

The lower tier is very similar to the YouGov results sans Gabbard. They find Sen. Harris (six percent), Mayor Buttigieg (six percent), O’Rourke (four percent), and Sen. Booker (three percent) comprising a second tier. All the rest are at one percent or less.

The HarrisX survey (June 24-26; 892 self-identified Democratic registered voters) brandished a middle-sized sample with commensurate results. HarrisX also finds Biden leading the Democratic race, but his 29 percent support factor falls virtually evenly between what was found in YouGov and Morning Consult.

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