Author Archives: Jim Ellis

The Presidential Scorecard

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden is expected to make his 2020 presidential plans known at some point in February

Jan. 16, 2019 — As predicted, a great deal of action on the presidential front has already occurred in January, and we’re likely to see more very soon.

So far this month, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and former Housing & Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro announced their presidential campaigns. Billionaire Tom Steyer, thought to be preparing a run, publicly stated that he would not do so.

There are so many potential political players, however, it is difficult to tell them without a scorecard, as the old saying goes.

Below is an updated list of the 31 Democrats who have taken action on the presidential front or are rumored to be doing so in the near future.

Most Likely to Run (listed alphabetically)

  1. Former Vice President Joe Biden – expected to make his plans known at some point in February
  2. Ex-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg – already reportedly exploring what he will must do to divest himself of his media empire before running
  3. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) – expected to soon announce an exploratory committee if not an actual campaign committee. The NJ legislature and governor changed New Jersey election law to allow individuals to run for offices simultaneously. Sen. Booker is up for re-election in the 2020 election cycle.
  4. Ex-Secretary Julian Castro – announced candidacy
  5. Ex-Congressman John Delaney (D-MD) – announced candidacy; been traveling in Iowa and New Hampshire for most of last year
  6. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) – stated in a CNN interview that she will run for president and will shortly make a formal announcement
  7. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) – expected to soon form exploratory committee
  8. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) – planning presidential campaign announcement for the Martin Luther King holiday in her birthplace of Oakland, CA
  9. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) – expected to soon announce presidential exploratory committee
  10. Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) – stated publicly that he will form an exploratory committee
  11. Ex-Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) – making public moves to enter the presidential race
  12. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) – says he will run if he doesn’t believe any of the other candidates can defeat President Trump. Expected to again make the race.
  13. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) – has formed presidential exploratory committee, and is expected to become an official candidate

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NC-9: Vacant for the Year?

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 15, 2019 — The 9th District of North Carolina, still with uncertified electoral results from November, could conceivably remain vacant until the November municipal elections as the situation continues to unfold.

The NC State Board of Elections was supposed to have met on Friday, and at that point would likely have scheduled a new election, but the panel itself is a political football. A state judge acted to dissolve the membership by refusing to issue a stay of his previous ruling.

North Carolina Republican Mark Harris has filed a court challenge to the Board of Elections not certifying his win in NC-9 and claiming his 905-vote lead should stand.

The panel became a tug of war between Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and the Republican dominated state legislature even before the NC-9 controversy arose. During the transition between the time that Cooper unseated GOP Gov. Pat McCrory (R) in the 2016 statewide election and his taking office Republican legislators changed certain laws. One of those moves concerned the Board of Elections’ composition.

A judge eventually ruled that the legislature acted unconstitutionally regarding some of the changes including the legislation regarding the Board of Elections. The board was supposed to be dissolved after the election certification period, but the NC-9 problem earned the group a stay of the original ruling. The judge, however, did not see fit to allow them to continue in the new year.

At the end of the year, with Republican legislators desiring to change the special election law that would allow an open primary system instead of the general election rerun that would have been the previous board’s only option had they ordered a new vote, a new election law was enacted.

In a deal with the Democrats, the Republican leadership passed a bill that allows the open primary in exchange for giving Gov. Cooper what he wanted in terms of Board of Elections’ personnel. The bill passed overwhelmingly in both houses, but the governor vetoed. The legislature immediately overrode his action.

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Senate Approvals

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 14, 2019 — The Morning Consult firm just released their quarterly ranking of Senate job approval scores. All 100 senators are surveyed, and the numbers cover the fourth quarter of 2018. Several categories are of interest.

First, a number of ratings are similar for both senators in a particular state. Vermont respondents were particularly pleased with Sens. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) and Patrick Leahy (D). The duo placed first and second nationally, with approval ratings of 64:28 percent and 62:23 percent favorable to unfavorable, respectively.

They were closely followed by Republican senators John Barrasso (R-WY; 62:26 percent) and John Thune (R-SD; 59:27 percent). The two senators’ state mates, Sens. Mike Enzi (R-WY; 56:27 percent) and Mike Rounds (R-SD; 56:29 percent), were also in the top 10.

Now-former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) recorded the worst rating in the body, with a 28:49 percent negative ratio. Two Senate leaders, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY; 38:47 percent) and Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL; 36:39 percent) were also in the Bottom 10.

Since this is the fourth quarter 2018 report, the five senators who lost re-election along with those who won competitive races are included. Below are their favorability scores Continue reading

What 2018’s Closest Races Mean
While Looking Ahead to 2020

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 11, 2019 — Now that the various state elections’ offices have certified the Nov. 6 final voting totals, we can begin to reflect and better analyze the particulars of the 2018 campaigns, which will provide clues to future targeting and possible performance.

Below are the 29 US House winners who received a final vote total of 51 percent or less, and we can be assured that most, if not all, of these veteran and new members will be major targets in the 2020 elections.

Fifteen of the districts yielded Democratic victories with 14 going to or remaining Republican. All US House results are final with the exception of the NC-9 contest that remains uncertified and is likely to go to a new election. The North Carolina State Board of Elections is scheduled to meet this week, and it is probable that they will order a new election as part of the proceedings.

Listed in order by party from the winner with the lowest percentages:

  • IA-3: Cindy Axne (D) – 49.3% (Rep. David Young – 47.1%)
  • NJ-3: Andy Kim (D) – 50.0% (Rep. Tom MacArthur – 48.7%)
  • UT-4: Ben McAdams (D) – 50.1% (Rep. Mia Love – 49.9%)
  • NY-22: Anthony Brindisi (D) – 50.1% (Rep. Claudia Tenney – 48.3%)
  • VA-7: Abigail Spanberger (D) – 50.3% (Rep. Dave Brat – 48.4%)
  • CA-21: T.J. Cox (D) – 50.4% (Rep. David Valadao – 49.6%)
  • NY-19: Antonio Delgado (D) – 50.4% (Rep. John Faso – 45.3%)
  • GA-6: Lucy McBath (D) – 50.5% (Rep. Karen Handel – 49.5%)
  • ME-2: Jared Golden (D) – 50.5% (Rep. Bruce Poliquin – 49.5%)
  • MI-8: Elissa Slotkin (D) – 50.6% (Rep. Mike Bishop – 46.8%)
  • SC-1: Joe Cunningham (D) – 50.6% (Katie Arrington – 49.2%)
  • OK-5: Kendra Horn (D) – 50.7% (Rep. Steve Russell – 49.3%)
  • FL-26: Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D) – 50.9% (Rep. Carlos Curbelo – 49.1%)
  • NM-2: Xochitl Torres-Small (D) – 50.9% (Yvette Herrell – 49.1%)
  • IA-1: Abby Finkenauer (D) – 51.0% (Rep. Rod Blum – 45.9%)
  • KS-2: Steve Watkins (R) – 47.6% (Paul Davis – 46.8% – Rep. Lynn Jenkins retiring)
  • NY-27: Chris Collins (R) – 47.8% (Nate McMurray – 47.4%)
  • TX-23: Will Hurd (R) – 49.2% (Gina Ortiz Jones – 48.7%)
  • GA-7: Rob Woodall (R) – 50.1% (Carolyn Bourdeaux – 49.9%)
  • MN-1: Jim Hagedorn (R) – 50.1% (Dan Feehan – 49.7%)
  • MI-6: Fred Upton (R) – 50.2% (Matt Longjohn – 45.7%)
  • IA-4: Steve King (R) – 50.3% (JD Scholten – 47.0%)
  • IL-13: Rodney Davis (R) – 50.4% (Betsy Dirksen Londrigen – 49.6%)
  • TX-31: John Carter (R) – 50.6% (MJ Hegar – 47.7%)
  • MN-8: Pete Stauber (R) – 50.7% (Joe Radinovich – 45.2%)
  • NY-1: Lee Zeldin (R) – 50.7% (Perry Gershon – 46.6%)
  • MT-AL: Greg Gianforte (R) – 50.9% (Kathleen Williams – 46.2%)
  • KY-6: Andy Barr (R) – 51.0% (Amy McGrath – 47.8%)
  • NE-2: Don Bacon (R) – 51.0% (Kara Eastman – 49.0%)

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Potential Presidential Candidates:
The Moves They’re Making

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 10, 2019 — January promised to be an active month on the budding presidential campaign front, and we are already seeing movement in that regard. Below is a synopsis of the latest activity from major and not so major potential national candidates.

  • Billionaire Tom Steyer (D) scheduled a political announcement from Iowa yesterday, which yielded a statement that he is forming a presidential exploratory committee in addition to calling for President Trump’s outright impeachment and removal from office.
  • On Saturday, former Housing & Urban Development secretary Julian Castro (D) is expected to announce his candidacy after beginning the exploratory phase of his effort in early December. Should his presidential effort fizzle early, pivoting into a Senate race against three-term Texas incumbent John Cornyn (R) could become a viable political option.
  • Former US representative and Texas senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke (D) has asked staff members, according to the Wall Street Journal, to begin developing a meeting and events schedule in states other than his own.
  • California Sen. Kamala Harris (D) is beginning a book tour next Tuesday for her publication, “The Truths We Hold”, which appears to be a precursor to officially forming a presidential exploratory committee.
  • Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe has changed his personal website to look like a campaign website, including a disclaimer that indicates he is paying for the site himself. The design and content makes transitioning into a presidential campaign website simple and efficient.
  • Former vice president, Joe Biden, is holding intense meetings with former staff members and campaign advisors to assess whether he will enter the 2020 nationwide contest. At this point, Biden has a substantial lead in national Democratic nomination polls, and in the key early state of Iowa, but is still nowhere close to securing majority support in any survey. It is likely that we will begin to obtain substantial clues to his ultimate intention sometime in February or early March.

Previously declaring their candidacies are former US Rep. John Delaney (D-MD), West Virginia state senator and 2018 congressional nominee Richard Ojeda (D), and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

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Kentucky Gubernatorial Race
Challengers Emerging

By Jim Ellis

Unpopular Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R)

Jan. 9, 2019 — Blue Grass State politics are beginning to boil, all centered around the 2019 governor’s race. With the candidate filing deadline fast approaching on Jan. 29 for the May 21 statewide primary, several individuals are announcing that they will challenge unpopular Gov. Matt Bevin (R), including a Republican state legislator who is expected to make his formal declaration today.

Though the governor has said he intends to seek a second term, and did so again a week before Christmas, the fact that he has yet to file a 2019 campaign committee has fueled speculation that he may decide to retire. Bevin was elected in 2015 with a relatively substantial 52.5 – 43.8 percent victory over then-Attorney General Jack Conway (D) after upsetting then-agriculture commissioner and now US congressman, James Comer (R-Tompkinsville), by just 83 votes in a May Republican primary that drew almost 215,000 voters.

Bevin’s popularity ratings, however, have largely been upside-down throughout his tenure in office. According to the Morning Consult quarterly national gubernatorial approval rankings that were released just before the November elections in mid-October, Gov. Bevin ranked 46th on the nationwide list, with a 30:55 percent positive to negative ratio.

None of those finishing below the Kentucky governor on that particular scale in October remains in office. The least popular, according to the survey, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), was ineligible to seek a third term last November. Republican Kevin Stitt replaced her. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) did not seek a third term and Democrat Ned Lamont held the office. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) was defeated for re-election, and Alaska Independent Gov. Bill Walker withdrew before the election because his political situation was hopeless.

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Kansas Sen. Roberts Announces
Retirement; Can Seat Stay With GOP?

By Jim Ellis

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts (R)

Jan. 8, 2018 — Veteran Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts (R), who will turn 84 years of age before the next election, announced last Friday that he will not seek re-election to a fifth term in 2020. He becomes the second Senate incumbent to announce his retirement effective 2021, following Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander (R) who made his decision public just before Christmas.

In 2014, Sen. Roberts faced a competitive election against Independent Greg Orman who appeared to coalesce the anti-Roberts vote when Democrat Chad Taylor withdrew from the race because the latter man knew that the senator was certain to win a three-way contest.

With early October polls finding Orman leading Sen. Roberts by as many as 10 percentage points, the veteran Kansas office holder pulled out all of the stops to rebound with a 53-43 percent win. The 2014 Republican wave helped Roberts sweep to victory, overcoming what proved to be largely inaccurate polling along the way.

Pat Roberts was originally elected to Congress in 1980, winning the western 1st District, a seat he would hold for eight terms before claiming an open Senate position in 1996. At the end of the current term he will conclude 40 years of congressional service.

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