Author Archives: Jim Ellis

RFK Jr. Off Colorado Ballot;
Cruz’s Lead Dwindles in Texas; Baldwin Up in Wisconsin; Mondaire Jones Fails to Win Nomination

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, July 10, 2024

President

2024 Libertarian Party nominee, Chase Oliver.

Colorado: National Libertarians Rebuff State — The Colorado Libertarian Party’s plan to replace the Libertarian national nominee, Chase Oliver, with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on their state ballot has been thwarted. The national office has already sent the official nomination papers to the Colorado Secretary of State designating Oliver as the party’s nominee. Colorado authorities have declared the form, signed by the national Libertarian Party Secretary, as legal and valid. Therefore, it will be Oliver, and not Kennedy, who will appear on the Colorado ballot in November.

Senate

Texas: Cruz’s Lead Dwindles in New Poll — The Manhattan Institute conducted a poll of likely Texas voters (June 25-27; 600 likely Texas general election voters; live interview & text) asking electoral questions and probing the respondents on their positions involving transgender issues.

While the respondents self-identified as conservative by a 44-21 percent division over liberal, Sen. Ted Cruz (R) could only muster a 46-43 percent lead over Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas). This, while former President Donald Trump was leading President Joe Biden within the same polling universe, 45-36 percent.

Most of the disparity came from Sen. Cruz’s upside-down favorability index, which found a nine-point deficit when comparing those who have a favorable opinion of the two-term senator to those who do not (42:51 percent). While Rep. Allred has a positive favorability index, 33:21 percent, almost half of the respondents (45 percent) stated they are unfamiliar with the congressman.

Wisconsin: Sen. Baldwin Expands Advantage — SoCal Research, polling for the On Point Politics blog (June 30-July 2; 490 registered Wisconsin voters) finds Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) expanding her previously smaller lead to a double digit margin, 50-38 percent, over businessman Eric Hovde (R).

The poll, however, seems flawed. First, only 490 registered voters were sampled, a small number for a state with eight congressional districts. Second, the survey’s respondent universe was comprised of 37 percent self-identified Republicans and only 32 percent who aligned themselves with the Democratic Party. A total of 30 percent consider themselves Independents. While Wisconsin does not register voters by political party, this split appears too favorably Republican when compared with the electorate’s voting history, one that consistently delivers razor thin general election margins.

Surprisingly, such a sample gives Democrat Baldwin her best numbers since mid-May. For a Republican-favorable sample, this ballot test appears inconsistent. Comparing to the presidential contest, which is consistent with other polling, former President Trump records a one-point, 44-43 percent, edge over President Biden.

House

NY-17: Jones Loses Working Families Ballot Line — After a recount of the New York Working Families Party 17th Congressional District primary, candidate Anthony Frascone, as formally announced Monday, has officially won the party nomination and will appear on the November ballot.

Former New York Democratic Congressman Mondaire Jones was expected to win the nomination but failed to do so. In New York, the minor parties can award their ballot line to a major party candidate.

The fact that Jones will not have votes coming from the Working Families Party line will likely benefit freshman Rep. Mike Lawler (R-Pearl River), who is fighting to win re-election in a Hudson Valley-anchored district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+7 and carries a 56.6D – 41.3R partisan lean according to the Dave’s Redistricting App statisticians. In 2022, Lawler upset then-Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D) with a slight 49.3 – 48.6 percent victory margin.

MO-1: Rep. Bush Gaining Dem Leader Support — Over the July 4th holiday, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones (D) endorsed Rep. Cori Bush’s (D-St. Louis) bid for renomination on Aug. 6. She faces a strong challenge from former St. Louis County prosecutor Wesley Bell. Rep. Bush is viewed as highly vulnerable in the Democratic primary. Unlike when Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) was denied renomination on June 25, the House Democratic leadership is coming to Rep. Bush’s aide in united fashion. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-MA), and House Democratic Conference Chairman Pete Aguilar (D-CA), all signed a group endorsement statement for the congresswoman.

While Rep. Bowman’s defeat appeared evident for several weeks, the St. Louis Democratic battle looks to be a much tighter contest. Heavy outside spending is again present in this race, but not to the degree that we saw at a commensurate point against Rep. Bowman. This is still a battle to watch early next month. Rep. Bush, while vulnerable, is in a stronger political position than her fallen “Squad” colleague.

Surprising Swing State Polling

SWING STATES: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Polling

Bloomberg News, partnering with the Morning Consult public affairs organization, released post-debate polling data in the seven key swing states during the July 4th holiday break. The survey results raised eyebrows in several ways.

Morning Consult conducted the studies in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. They surveyed voters from July 1-4 in Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. In Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the sampling period was extended to a fifth day, expanding the interview time to July 1-5.

The sampling universe in each state spanned from a low of 452 registered voters (Nevada) to a high of 794 registered voters (Pennsylvania). In each case, the respondent universe was selected through a stratified sampling process and the individuals answered the survey questions online.

In each state, the pollsters tested President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump with Independents Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and usually a combination of the other independent or minor party candidates, Jill Stein (Green Party), Dr. Cornel West (Independent), and Chase Oliver (Libertarian Party). The pollsters also asked a follow-up question that isolated Biden and Trump in a one-on-one pairing.

The Bloomberg/Morning Consult analysis indicated that the debate, contrary to the opinion of many television news pundits and several Democratic officials who are calling for President Biden to withdraw from the race, has changed little in terms of the political horse race among the states that will largely determine the November outcome.

This may or may not be the case, and further research is needed to better determine where the national election stands. Though President Biden was detected as leading in two states, Michigan and Wisconsin, over 55 percent from the aggregate seven-state sample stated their belief that he should withdraw from the campaign. This number includes 58 percent responding in such a manner from the Independent segment and 29 percent who self-identify as Democratic participants.

Conversely, former President Trump hit an all-time high in a Pennsylvania survey, as Bloomberg/Morning Consult detected a seven-point advantage when the two presumptive nominees were tested in a head-to-head question. Staying with the Pennsylvania head-to-head, the Trump support number reached 51 percent, which is the only such result for either candidate within the whole seven-state survey series. In two other states, Arizona and Nevada, Trump reached the 48 percent plateau on the head-to-head question. President Biden reached as high as 48 percent in only one state, Michigan, again in response to the head-to-head question.

In Arizona, Trump led Biden by seven percentage points when the independent and minor party candidates were included. His lead dropped to three points in the head-to-head question. The seven points represented an improvement here for Trump, though he has led in all 20 Arizona polls conducted since Jan. 1.

The Georgia numbers still favored Trump but appeared to be down a bit from other recent surveys. As in Arizona, Trump has led in every poll conducted here (17) since the first of this year.

Michigan has been back and forth all year, usually by a point or two. This Bloomberg/ Morning Consult poll, however, stakes Biden to one of his better showings, leading Trump by six points within the multiple candidate field and five in the head-to-head pairing.

Nevada is the third state where Trump has led or been tied in all 2024 surveys (17). In the Bloomberg/MC poll, his numbers are still strong. Within the multiple candidate field, Trump holds a six-point lead as compared to a plus-3 margin in the head-to-head.

North Carolina is another state where Trump continues to poll well. In the Bloomberg/MC study, he leads the multiple candidate field by two points, and three over Biden in the head-to-head. This from a state where he led in only 25 percent of the 2020 polls yet carried the final total by just over a percentage point.

As previously mentioned, Trump scores his best head-to-head number of the cycle (plus-7) in the Bloomberg/MC Pennsylvania poll. From the multiple candidate field, his lead is three percentage points.

Wisconsin is the other state where Biden forges a current lead according to the Bloomberg/MC data. Here, the president has a two-point edge within the multiple candidate field and three over Trump in the head-to-head.

As we have seen, several of the data segments produced unusual patterns, meaning more information is needed to obtain a better post-debate picture of how the electorate is responding. Even though this polling series generally shows Biden rebounding from the debate, it appears that former President Trump would convert four states (Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania) and keep North Carolina, which would allow him to exceed the 270 electoral vote threshold (287 EVs) and claim the presidency.

Sheehy Up in Montana; New Mexico Senate Race Tightens; Fong’s Opponent Drops Out; Nevada Abortion Initiative on Ballot

By Jim Ellis — Monday, July 8, 2024

Senate

Retired Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy

Montana: Sheehy Up Beyond Margin of Error — After not finding much polling data for this critically important Senate race during the early part of the election cycle, we are now seeing plentiful surveying activity. The latest poll comes from Torchlight Strategies for the Common Sense for America conservative political action committee. The study (June 22-26; 649 registered Montana voters) sees retired Navy SEAL and aerospace company CEO Tim Sheehy (R) leading three-term Sen. Jon Tester (D), 47-41 percent. Two recent surveys from Public Opinion Strategies and Fabrizio Lee & Associates both cast the Senate race as a dead heat.

Consistent with the two other most recent polls, former President Donald Trump is staked to a large lead in the Torchlight survey. The result finds Trump topping President Joe Biden, 51-35 percent. With such a strong Republican lead at the top of the ticket, thus setting the turnout model, it will be difficult for Sen. Tester to overcome what will likely be late Republican election momentum in this state.

New Mexico: Senate Race Tightens — As the presidential race grows tighter and expands into several unlikely states, a new 1892 polling organization survey (June 19-24; 600 likely New Mexico voters) posts President Biden to only a one-point New Mexico lead over Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I), 43-42-8 percent, in a state that last went for a Republican presidential nominee in 2004.

In the Senate contest, 1892 projects Sen. Martin Heinrich (D), on the ballot seeking a third term, to only a 46-42 percent advantage over former hedge fund CEO Nella Domenici, the daughter of the late six-term New Mexico US Sen. Pete Domenici (R). This is a long-shot Republican conversion opportunity that is beginning to draw more political interest.

House

CA-20: Rep. Fong’s Opponent Suspends — Through various elections and court challenges, newly elected California US Rep. Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) has already secured his seat for a full term in the next Congress. Last week, Fong’s lone general election opponent, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux (R), who finished behind Fong in the regular and special primary elections before losing 61-39 percent in the May 21 special general election, announced that he is suspending his regular general election campaign and endorses the new incumbent for re-election.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates CA-20, the seat of former US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R), as R+31 making it the safest Republican seat in California. The fact that Fong had placed ahead of Sheriff Boudreaux three times suggested that him winning re-election in November was becoming a virtual certainty.

States

Nevada: Abortion Initiative Qualifies –– Silver State election officials yesterday announced that the initiative to codify the state’s abortion law into the Nevada Constitution will be on the general election ballot. The Secretary of State confirmed that the movement proponents had gathered the necessary valid petition signatures to put the measure before the voters.

Under Nevada election law, initiatives must qualify in consecutive elections. Therefore, even if this abortion related measure passes in 2024, it will return for a second vote in 2026. National Democratic strategists want abortion propositions on the ballot because they will likely spur turnout among some lower propensity left-of-center voters. The Nevada Democratic strategists will highlight their candidates’ support for this particular ballot measure, in order to increase support for President Biden, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and the party’s congressional nominees.

More States in Play

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, July 3, 2024

President

MORE SWING STATES IN PLAY: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin (and possibly Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New Mexico)

Recent polling data suggests that several surprising states are becoming competitive. In addition to Minnesota and Virginia, the former of which has been close for weeks and the latter showing dead heat signs within the last 14 days, four more states are now returning tight polling numbers.

As has been the case since the beginning of the year, Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada have been reporting strong numbers for former President Donald Trump. In fact, the 19 polls conducted in Arizona since Jan. 1 finds Trump leading in each. The Georgia data projects a similar pattern. There, 16 surveys have been conducted in 2024, again with Trump leading in all. The Nevada numbers report the same pattern as Georgia.

It’s also been common political knowledge that the three key Great Lakes states, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, have been in the toss-up category throughout the current year. Recently, the three have all leaned towards Trump, and likely will report an exaggerated trend at least for the short-term post-debate period.

If the Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada trends hold through the election, and Trump converts all three, he would only need one more state of any size to win the national election. Now, it appears several others are coming into the observance realm.

New polling finds the race coming into dead heat territory in Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New Mexico, all of which have been Democratic strongholds for years.

The last time Maine and New Jersey went for a Republican presidential candidate occurred in 1988, when the states’ electorates supported George H.W. Bush over Michael Dukakis. New Hampshire last voted Republican in 2000 for George W. Bush against Al Gore, while New Mexico supported the latter Bush in 2004 opposite John Kerry. The previously mentioned Minnesota hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1972, while Virginia, like New Mexico, also favored then-President Bush over Kerry 20 years ago.

St. Anselm College on Monday released their latest New Hampshire poll (June 28-29; 1,700 registered New Hampshire voters; online) and sees Trump taking a 44-42-4 percent lead over President Joe Biden and Independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The co/efficient firm tested the New Jersey electorate (June 26-27; 810 likely New Jersey voters; live interview & text) and these results also show Trump ahead in an unlikely state, 41-40-7 percent.

The New Mexico data still finds President Biden leading, but barely. The 1892 polling organization (June 19-24; 600 likely New Mexico voters) posts Biden to only a one-point lead, 43-42-8 percent over Trump and Kennedy.

In Minnesota, a place where the two presidential candidates have consistently battled in polls to within three-point margins for most of the year, Emerson College (June 13-18; 1,000 registered Minnesota voters; multiple sampling techniques) recently projected Trump to a one-point edge.

The Critical Insights firm tested the Maine electorate (June 12; 609 registered Maine voters; live interview and online) and found Trump recording a one-point advantage in this state as well, 41-40 percent, with 19 percent going to other candidates. Maine features a Ranked Choice Voting system, so even if Trump manages to secure plurality support in the regular election, he would likely lose in the Ranked Choice rounds.

Fox News conducted the most recent Virginia poll (June 1-3; 1,107 registered Virginia voters; live interview) and this solidly Democratic state, too, turned in a ballot test within dead-heat range. According to the Fox results, Biden would hold a very slim 42-41-9 percent edge.

Typically, a Democratic presidential nominee would not have to exert much effort to hold these aforementioned states in the party column. The fact that they are currently in toss-up range, and all the studies but the New Hampshire poll were conducted before Thursday’s CNN presidential debate, suggests that the electoral map is legitimately becoming more expansive.

At least for the short term, it appears evident that the campaign will expand beyond the traditional seven swing states that have been the deciding factors in the last two elections.

Surprising Wisconsin Presidential Poll, Yet Sen. Baldwin Maintains Lead & Close WI House Race; Sheehy Leading in Latest Montana Survey; Good’s Virginia Recount Timetable

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, July 2, 2024

President

Wisconsin: Marquette Poll Yields Surprising Responses — Marquette University Law School released their quarterly Wisconsin electorate poll (June 12-20; 871 registered Wisconsin voters; live interview) and found some seemingly inconsistent answers particularly relating to former President Donald Trump’s New York conviction.

Marquette poll yields surprising results. (Click here or on image above to see: Marquette University Law School’s released quarterly Wisconsin electorate poll)

On the presidential ballot test question, the registered voter sample broke 50-50 percent between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump when undecideds were pushed, and 44-44 percent on the initial question. Among those respondents considering themselves definite or likely voters, Biden held a 51-49 percent edge when respondents were pushed. When the independent and minor party candidates were added to the questionnaire, Trump went ahead 43-40 percent.

Perhaps most noteworthy, in responding to the question regarding Trump’s conviction, by a 54-28 percent margin, independents believe the former president is guilty of the charges. Yet, on the ballot test question, independents still broke for Trump 57-41 percent. This means that many of the Wisconsin respondents who believe Trump was guilty are still willing to vote for him in the general election.

Senate

Montana: Sheehy Leading in Latest Survey — Largely confirming the previously published Emerson College poll, a new survey again shows former President Trump with a huge Montana lead and GOP US Senate candidate Tim Sheehy far behind the top of the ticket but still within a position to win. The Fabrizio Lee & Associates survey (June 3-5; 500 likely Montana general election voters; live interview & text) finds Sheehy pulling ahead of Sen. Jon Tester (D) with a 46-43-4 percent lead. The ballot test included Libertarian candidate Sid Daoud, but not Green Party nominee Robert Barb. Both are expected to be on the general election ballot.

In a straight Tester-Sheehy head-to-head result, the two men are tied at 48 percent apiece, but 41 of Sheehy’s 48 percent say they are definitely voting for him versus only 35 percent of Sen. Tester’s contingent who say likewise.

Former President Trump leads President Biden by a whopping 54-36 percent. The generic question, i.e., “would you be most likely to vote for the Republican candidate or Democratic candidate for senator,” breaks 52-40 percent in favor of the Republican.

Wisconsin: Sen. Baldwin Maintains Lead in Regular Poll — As stated in the presidential section above, the Marquette Law School released their regular quarterly poll of the Wisconsin electorate (June 12-20; 871 registered Wisconsin voters; live interview) and in the Senate race again finds Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) leading Republican Eric Hovde by a 52-47 percent count when the undecided respondents were prompted to make a choice. On the initial question, Sen. Baldwin led 45-38 percent with 17 percent indicating they are undecided.

House

WI-3: Looming Close Race — The GQR survey research firm went into the field over the June 10-16 period (400 likely WI-3 general election voters; live interview) and finds western Wisconsin Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Prairie du Chien) holding only a small lead over small business owner Rebecca Cooke (D). The ballot test favors the freshman congressman by just a 50-46 percent margin. Van Orden’s favorability index, however, is barely positive at 41:40 percent.

Wisconsin’s 3rd District is anchored in the city of La Crosse and spans through all or part of 19 western counties. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+9, but the Dave’s Redistricting App statisticians calculate a virtually even partisan lean. Former President Trump carried the seat in 2020 with a 51.5 – 46.8 percent victory margin despite losing the statewide count. Prior to Van Orden converting this seat to the Republican column in 2022, Democrat Ron Kind represented the district for 26 years.

VA-5: Rep. Good’s Recount Timetable — Local news reports are confirming that Virginia US Rep. Bob Good (R-Lynchburg) will request and pay for a recount of the June 18 primary results that find him trailing state Sen. John McGuire (R-Manakin Sabot) by 374 votes according to the Virginia Board of Elections official count. The certification deadline is July 2 — today. After certification, a candidate can request a recount.

Though a 374-vote difference is not large — it translates into six tenths of a percentage point from a turnout of 62,792 votes — it is unlikely that a recount will change the final totals by such an amount. Rep. Good is also challenging the handling of ballots in the city of Lynchburg, a locality where the congressman won. Lynchburg election officials say the Good challenge would affect less than 10 ballots, even if his argument is proven correct.

Replacing Biden? Guess Again

By Jim Ellis — Monday, July 1, 2024

President

Since last Thursday’s debate, speculation in the media has been rampant that Democratic leaders are going to find a way to convince President Joe Biden to end his re-election effort and allow another to become the party nominee.

President Joe Biden at Thursday night’s CNN debate.

It is important to remember that because Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee, meaning he has enough bound delegate votes to win the nomination on the first convention ballot, any change in this status would require the affected candidate’s consent.

According to an opinion piece and follow up interview from and with Federal Election Commissioner Trey Trainor, making such a move would be difficult even if the president were to voluntarily step down and the national convention delegates chose a replacement nominee.

The chances of the Democrats replacing Biden are very slim, and the procedural logistics, of which most who are publicly calling for a new candidate are not even considering, could cause major problems.

In Commissioner Trainor’s piece (Replacing Joe Biden Wouldn’t Be So Easy) the first stated point is that a new nominee would have to traverse 50 different state ballot processes and comply with all requirements in a short amount of time.

Other conditions might be impossible to overcome. Remember, the delegates are compelled, in most cases by state law (versus party rule) to support, at least on the first ballot, the candidate who the electorate chose through the primary vote. The common view is that President Biden, should he agree to leave the campaign, would free his delegates, but a candidate might not have such power over every state delegation.

As a result, some states wouldn’t allow a new candidate to assume the delegate votes that the Democratic primary voters pledged to Biden. Or, for those places that would allow the swap, we could see lawsuits arising on behalf of the voters to block a particular state’s delegates from casting a nomination floor vote for a candidate who their electorate did not support.

It also wouldn’t be surprising to see some of these lawsuits originating from conservative-oriented groups attempting to keep Biden on the ballot. While most of the lawsuits would probably not succeed, the new nominee’s campaign could be tied up with court procedures in multiple states, which would consume valuable time and money.

Trainor also underscores that if the Democratic National Convention closes on Aug. 22 as currently scheduled, a new nominee would have to quickly qualify in each state prior to the mail deadline for military and overseas ballots. In 2024, the date to mail such ballots is Sept. 21, which would give any new campaign committee scarce time in which to comply since states will be well underway with printing ballots considerably before the mail date.

Another point not covered in the article, but gleaned in a subsequent interview with Trainor, is the issue of the Biden campaign having a joint fundraising agreement with the Democratic National Committee.

According to the latest available FEC finance information, Biden’s campaign has approximately $92 million in his campaign accounts. It is presumed that if the president were to not continue his campaign, he could simply transfer the remaining financial balance to the DNC. Such a move would be complicated, Trainor says.

He further explained that the Michael Bloomberg presidential campaign of 2020 made a similar move upon the candidate exiting the race. The difference, however, between the Bloomberg 2020 and Biden 2024 campaigns is the existence of Biden’s joint fundraising agreement. The Bloomberg campaign had no such agreement with the DNC; therefore, it was able to transfer all funds to the national party entity.

With the existence of such an agreement for Biden’s campaign, transferring large sums becomes much more complicated because of how it could affect the coordinated expenditures that a political party can execute for a candidate. Trainor indicated that the candidate committee and the DNC would likely need to request an Advisory Opinion from the FEC regarding how to receive and spend the money, which would take some time. There is virtually no precedent on this described move, so many legal questions would have to be answered.

Because of the legal coordinated expenditure requirements and considering where some of the money was raised or from where it was sent, a new Democratic campaign could find itself having to spend a specific minimum dollar amount in states where they normally would not actively compete, meaning voting localities that are either strongly for or against the new candidate.

Now with key Democratic leaders such as former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, along with prominent Democratic members of Congress such as Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) strongly voicing support for President Biden, and the cumbersome logistics even to launch a new campaign at this point in the cycle, is one other clue that the party leadership will not attempt to remove the president from the re-election campaign.

Therefore, the banter about “switching Biden out” for a stronger general election candidate will soon quell. In the end, President Biden will approach unanimous support to win his party’s nomination either at the convention as scheduled or from a virtual roll call sometime later this month.