Author Archives: Jim Ellis

NC-9: Certification Problems

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Republican Mark Harris

Nov. 30, 2018 — The North Carolina Board of Elections has failed to certify Republican Mark Harris’ victory in the open 9th Congressional District, action that may initiate a long legal battle.

Board Vice Chairman Joshua Malcolm (D) objected to certifying Harris’ 905-vote victory over businessman Dan McCready (D) from 282,717 total votes cast. The seat was open after Harris, a Baptist former pastor and ex-US Senate and congressional candidate, defeated Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) in the May Republican primary.

Malcolm cited “irregularities” in Republican Bladen County, an entity that Harris carried by 1,557 votes, obviously more than his district-wide margin, as his reasoning to the other board members as to why the result should be at least temporarily suspended.

The 9th District begins in Mecklenburg County and then travels down the South Carolina border to the Fayetteville area. It includes five complete counties and parts of three others including Mecklenburg and Bladen. Harris carried only Union County and Bladen’s 9th District section, but his margins were large enough in these two places to overcome McCready’s advantage in the other six local entities.

The North Carolina Board of Elections (BoE) is a nine-member panel that has been at the center of controversy between Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and the Republican legislature. After Cooper defeated then-Gov. Pat McCrory (R), the legislators passed a series of bills that limited some of the governor’s power. One of the measures involved changing how the Board of Elections’ membership was appointed.

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Looks Like the House Settles at 235

California Congressional Districts


By Jim Ellis

Nov. 29, 2018 — The 2018 House election cycle is finally drawing to a close, and it looks like the Democrats are gaining their 40th conversion seat. Monday night in California, as the state’s marathon vote counting process meanders on, Democratic challenger T.J. Cox overtook Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford/Bakersfield) and may well be headed toward victory.

Rep. Valadao, who had earlier been projected as the winner, trails his opponent by 438 votes, but the counting is still not complete. New votes were counted in Kern County that greatly favored Cox, allowing him to take the lead for the first time.

The California counting system literally takes weeks because the state allows voters to postmark their mail ballots on Election Day, and the counties only process ballots on certain days. The 21st District is split among four counties, so it is difficult to know exactly how many mail, overseas, and provisional ballots still remain since the numbers are only released by complete county domain.

It is probable that we will not have a final result until next week because Kern won’t release more totals until Monday. The remaining counties: Fresno, Kings, and Tulare, should record their final numbers this week.

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Hyde-Smith Wins in Mississippi

By Jim Ellis

Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R)

Nov. 28, 2018 — The 2018 election cycle ended in Mississippi last night as appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), overcoming several campaign gaffes and misstatements, defeated former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi congressman, Mike Espy (D), by a 54-46 percent margin from a robust turnout of what will exceed 880,000 voters.

In comparison, back on Nov. 6, Sen. Roger Wicker (R) was re-elected from a turnout of just over 936,000 individuals. Wicker’s vote total of 547,540 is roughly 73,000 tallies more than Hyde-Smith’s 474,471 unofficial total, but she outpaced Espy by more than 69,000 votes.

In what was predicted to be a relatively small special election turnout, the actual participation number, and a figure that will likely grow once remaining provisional and absentee ballots are fully counted, rather surprisingly exceeds 93 percent of the number participating in the general election just past.

Sen. Hyde-Smith carried 51 of the state’s 82 counties. Aside from the Columbus area in eastern Mississippi, Hyde-Smith swept most of the northern counties, ran very strong in the northeast counties, particularly in and around the city of Tupelo, as well as taking 14 counties from the southeastern group, including the six that directly border the Gulf of Mexico.

Espy virtually swept the western counties, those that largely comprise the 2nd Congressional District. This is the seat that he initially won in 1986, and which Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Bolton) currently holds.

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Yet Another Election

By Jim Ellis

Appointed Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), left, and Democrat challenger Mike Espy

Nov. 27, 2018 — The 2018 election cycle’s final contest comes today in Mississippi. The special run-off campaign between appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) and former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi congressman, Mike Espy (D), will decide if the 116th Congress will feature a Senate that brandishes a 53-47 Republican majority or a lesser 52-48.

The run-off occurs because no candidate received an absolute majority in the Nov. 6 special jungle primary. The special election is necessary because Sen. Thad Cochran (R) resigned for health reasons in the middle of his final term in office, thus necessitating an appointed replacement and this confirming electoral vote for the winner to serve the balance of the term. Whether Sen. Hyde-Smith or Espy wins today, there will be another election in the regular 2020 cycle for the full six-year term.

In the first vote, Sen. Hyde-Smith placed first, but barely, with a 41.5 percent plurality compared to Espy’s 40.6 percent, a difference of 8,284 votes from more than 883,600 ballots cast. The third-place finisher, Tea Party activist state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), captured the remaining 16.4 percent with Independent Tobey Bartee picking up the final 1.4 percent. Once the run-off began, Sen. McDaniel announced his support of Sen. Hyde-Smith, which should go a long way toward unifying her Republican base.

Controversy in this run-off campaign arose when Hyde-Smith made several unforced errors. Making statements about wanting to be present at a lynching, visiting a Confederate Museum where she donned a uniform, and now under attack for attending what was commonly referred to as a “segregation academy” for high school has put the appointed senator clearly on the defensive.

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Analyzing Midterm Turnout

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 26, 2018 — Preliminary final turnout numbers are being reported from around the country and the analysis suggests some surprising conclusions.

As we know, the 2018 midterm turnout was certainly the highest for like elections in this century and featured one of the top participation rates of all time. And, according to research completed at the University of Florida’s United States Elections Project, turnout exceeded the previous midterm (2014) in 48 of the 50 states with Alaska and Louisiana being the lone exceptions.

In some states, 2018 turnout actually came close to the state’s presidential participation mark in 2016. Montana placed highest. Their 2018 aggregate turnout number was 98.7 percent that of the 2016 presidential rate, with an estimated 510,000 voters (once a certified final count is produced) participating earlier this month versus 516,901 in 2016.

Overall, 11 states recorded turnout numbers for the Nov. 6 election that exceeded 90 percent of their 2016 presidential turnout aggregate total. In addition to Montana, they are:

  • Georgia (94.8 percent of 2016 total)
  • North Dakota (94.5 percent)
  • Oregon (93.1 percent)
  • Texas (92.9 percent)
  • Washington (92.8 percent)
  • Utah (91.6 percent)
  • Hawaii (91.2 percent)
  • Arizona (90.6 percent)
  • South Dakota (90.2 percent)
  • Colorado (90.1 percent)

Another 29 states fell between 80.2 (Rhode Island) and 89.7% (Tennessee) of their 2016 turnout number.

The combined number of states that exceeded 80 percent of their 2016 total is so large that the national average in comparing 2018 to 2016 is 84.1 percent. This compares to a 60.0 percent average when paralleling 2014 aggregate turnout to 2016. But, even the lowest turnout state in 2018, Louisiana, shattered the average comparison to 2016. In the Bayou State, the 2018 participation number was 71.2 percent that of 2016. To put this in perspective, the 2014 low in comparison to 2016 was Nevada at just 49.1 percent.

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