Author Archives: Jim Ellis

The Governors’ Races & Veto Power

By Jim Ellis

2018-elections-open-seats-185Oct. 29, 2018 — The 2018 election cycle features 36 gubernatorial campaigns, 26 of which have federal redistricting ramifications. The ones that don’t are at-large congressional district states (Alaska, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming) or will be after the next reapportionment (Rhode Island), those that employ redistricting commissions (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho), or the multi-district state where the governor is only awarded a two-year term (New Hampshire).

Here is a breakdown of where things stand in the upcoming election in the 26 states where the governor will have redistricting veto power:


PURE TOSS UPS

FLORIDA: Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) vs. Ex-US Rep. Ron DeSantis (R)
• Most Recent Polls: Gravis Marketing (Oct. 22-23): Gillum 51 percent, DeSantis 46 percent
   Gray/Strategic Research (Oct. 16-23): DeSantis 48 percent; Gillum 45 percent

GEORGIA: Sec/State Brian Kemp (R) vs. Ex-state Rep. Stacey Abrams (D)
• Most Recent Poll: NBC News/Marist (Oct. 14-18): Kemp 49 percent; Abrams 47 percent

IOWA: Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) vs. Businessman Fred Hubbell (D)
• Most Recent Poll: Selzer & Co (Sept. 17-20): Hubbell 43 percent; Reynolds 41 percent

KANSAS: Sec of State Kris Kobach (R) vs. State Rep. Laura Kelly (D) & Greg Orman (I)
• Recent Poll: Public Policy Polling (Oct. 19-20): Kobach 41 percent; Kelly 41 percent; Orman 10 percent

NEVADA: Attorney Gen Adam Laxalt (R) vs. Commissioner Steve Sisolak (D)
• Most Recent Poll: Emerson College (Oct. 10-12): Laxalt 46 percent; Sisolak 41 percent

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With Media Focused on O’Rourke, Cruz Maintains Consistent Edge

By Jim Ellis

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) | Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso)

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) | Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso)

Oct. 25, 2018 — The Texas Senate race has become the premier political contest of this midterm election. With Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) becoming a national celebrity due to constant media attention, and now with record fundraising, this election has stretched beyond Texas and evolved into a national campaign.

Though the media continually promotes O’Rourke, extensive polling has only put him ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz (R) just once during the entire election cycle. Despite O’Rourke raising an eye-popping $38 million during the last quarter, an all-time record for any Senate race, Cruz’s margins are actually growing.

During this calendar year, 35 polls have been conducted of the Texas Senate race from 19 different polling firms. In only one, an online survey from Ipsos Reuters in early to mid-September (Sept. 6-14; 992 Texas respondents), did Rep. O’Rourke score an advantage over Sen. Cruz. In that poll, the El Paso congressman led 47-45 percent.

While Sen. Cruz held an advantage in the other 34 polls, his margin was typically small. His average support factor is 45.6 percent. He hits 50 percent or more in only 13 of the surveys. Rep. O’Rourke records an average of 41.1 percent and reaches 50 percent in one survey. While these numbers and margins clearly show weakness for an incumbent, as we pointed out when covering Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) in similar columns earlier this week, Sen. Cruz is demonstrating growth as the early voting period begins and Election Day draws nearer in contrast to the others who appear to be losing momentum.

In the last 10 polls, covering the Oct. 1-21 period from 10 different pollsters, Sen. Cruz averages 50.2 percent preference and posts majority support in seven of the 10 studies. Rep. O’Rourke averages 45.2 percent, leads in none, and obviously never reaches 50 percent. While Cruz maintains a consistent edge, O’Rourke remains in position if not to score an upset, at least to record the best Democratic statewide percentage since 1990, which was the last time a Democratic candidate won a Texas statewide office.

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Is Donnelly Faltering in Indiana?

By Jim Ellis

Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D)

Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D)

Oct. 25, 2018 — With only four 2018 Indiana Senate polls conducted before September, this campaign was the least surveyed toss-up race in the country, but that is changing. We now see a plethora of polling being released in October. In what appeared to be a contest trending toward Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) the results now appear to be turning.

In mid to late September, Ipsos Reuters (Sept. 12-20; 1,181 Indiana voters; online) and Fox News (Sept. 29-Oct. 2; 695 likely Indiana voters) found Sen. Donnelly leading former state representative and international businessman Mike Braun (R), 46-43 and 43-41 percent, respectively.

An early October survey from American Viewpoint (Oct. 7-10; 800 likely Indiana voters) reversed the trend, posting Braun to a 44-40 percent lead. After that, a series of three surveys from a trio of independent polling firms, all conducted between October 12-16, found Sen. Donnelly regaining the lead.

In consecutive order, Gravis Marketing (377 likely Indiana voters), Survey USA (816 likely Indiana voters), and Vox Populi (783 likely Indiana voters) posted Donnelly to leads of four (44-40 percent), one (41-40 percent), and eight (44-36 percent) percentage points, respectively.

The two latest surveys, again from American Viewpoint (Oct. 14-17; 800 likely Indiana voters) and a new one from Mason Strategies (Oct. 15-20; 600 likely Indiana voters), find Braun seesawing back into the lead. American Viewpoint yields the Republican a 44-40 percent advantage, while Mason Strategies sees Braun up 47-43 percent.

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Florida Polling: Inconsistent Results

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 23, 2018 — Four statewide Florida polls were just released, and we continue to see conflicting results across the board two weeks prior to Election Day. As usual, the Sunshine State political situation appears too close to call from a place that seems to specialize in razor-thin elections.

Left: Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) | Right: Gov. Rick Scott (R)

Left: Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) | Right: Gov. Rick Scott (R)

During the period of Oct. 17-21, St. Pete Polls, Survey USA, Quinnipiac University, and the Democratic polling firm of Schroth, Eldon & Associates all conducted Florida surveys.

In the Senate race, two of the surveys find incumbent Bill Nelson (D) putting some distance between he and his opponent, Gov. Rick Scott (R), while the other two project to give Scott a slight edge. In the governor’s race, three of these firms released numbers (Quinnipiac did not, but will likely do so today), and Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor, holds a varying lead over former US Rep. Ron DeSantis (R).

There is quite a difference in the Senate margins, and this is largely due to how the female vote is being recorded. Both Survey USA (Oct. 18-21; 1,050 Florida adults, 859 registered Florida voters, 665 likely Florida voters) and Quinnipiac (Oct. 17-21; 1,161 registered Florida voters) find Sen. Nelson holding full-sample leads beyond the polling margin of error, 49-41 percent (S-USA) and 52-46 percent (Quinnipiac). They see females breaking for Nelson, 49-37 percent (S-USA) and 59-39 percent (Quinnipiac). Men are going the opposite way, favoring Scott, 49-46 percent (S-USA) and 54-44 percent (Quinnipiac).

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The Democrat’s House Target Lineup

By Jim Ellis

2018-us-house-racesOct. 22, 2018 — Democrats appear to be on the cusp of regaining the House majority, but actually achieving their goal is not yet guaranteed.

The Dems have accomplished three major objectives that have put them in position to claim the majority. They have recruited strong candidates, many with military service credentials, supported them with record-setting fundraising, and initiated viable competition in an incredible 95 Republican seats.

With the Democrats fielding so many candidates, it makes their odds of obtaining approximately 25 conversion victories reasonable. It is obviously much more realistic to clinch such a number when the competitive pool covers 95 congressional districts rather than 40 or even 50.

From the following group, the Dems will convert three seats, meaning they need a net 21 more to claim a bare majority at 218:

NJ-2 – Open – (Rep. LoBiondo) Jeff Van Drew (D) vs. Seth Grossman (R)
PA-5 – Vacant – (Rep. Meehan) Mary Gay Scanlon (D) vs. Pearl Kim (R)
PA-6 – Open – (Rep. Costello) Chrissy Houlahan (D) vs. Greg McCauley (R)

From the succeeding most competitive tier, the Dems need to win 21 of these 41 campaigns to claim a bare majority at 218:

AZ-2 – Open (Rep. McSally) – Ann Kirkpatrick (D) vs. Lea Marquez-Peterson (R)
CA-10 – Rep. Jeff Denham (R) vs. Josh Harder (D)
CA-25 – Rep. Steve Knight (R) vs. Katie Hill (D)
CA-39 – Open (Rep. Royce) – Young Kim (R) vs. Gil Cisneros (D)
CA-45 – Rep. Mimi Walters (R) vs. Katie Porter (D)
CA-48 – Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) vs. Harley Rouda (D)
CA-49 – Open (Rep. Issa) – Mike Levin (D) vs. Diane Harkey (R)
CA-50 – Rep. Duncan Hunter (R) vs. Ammar Campa-Najjar (D)
CO-6 – Rep. Mike Coffman (R) vs. Jason Crow (D)
FL-26 – Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R) vs. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D)
FL-27 – Open (Rep. Ros-Lehtinen) – Maria Elvira Salazar (R) vs. Donna Shalala (D)
IL-6 – Rep. Peter Roskam (R) vs. Sean Casten (D)
IL-12 – Rep. Mike Bost (R) vs. Brendan Kelly (D)
IA-1 – Rep. Rod Blum (R) vs. Abby Finkenauer (D)
IA-3 – Rep. David Young (R) vs. Cindy Axne (D)
KS-2 – Open (Rep. Jenkins) – Paul Davis (D) vs. Steve Watkins (R)
KS-3 – Rep. Kevin Yoder (R) vs. Sharice Davids (D)
KY-6 – Rep. Andy Barr (R) vs. Amy McGrath (D)
ME-2 – Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) vs. Jared Golden (D)
MI-8 – Rep. Mike Bishop (R) vs. Elissa Slotkin (D)
MI-11 – Open (Rep. Trott) – Haley Stevens (D) vs. Lena Epstein (R)
MN-2 – Rep. Jason Lewis (R) vs. Angie Craig (D)
MN-3 – Rep. Erik Paulsen (R) vs. Dean Phillips (D)
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The Six Swing Senate Seats

By Jim Ellis

1200px-Seal_of_the_United_States_Senate.svgOct. 22, 2018 — As we move close to Election Day, it is becoming clearer that the Republicans will maintain control of the US Senate and likely expand their small majority from one to three, and maybe even four, seats.

At this writing, it appears that Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) will lose to at-large Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck). If so, the GOP would gain one, assuming they hold their three vulnerable states.

Democrats appear as locks to hold Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Though polling suggests tightening races, Democrats will more than likely hold the Minnesota special election, and the races in Montana, New Jersey, and West Virginia, while Republicans probably win the tight Texas campaign. In the Mississippi special election, it is expected that a Republican and Democratic candidate will advance to a run-off election on Nov. 27.

Assuming the previous analysis is correct, then the six most competitive Senate states will determine the Senate’s balance of power. Furthermore, if the aforementioned is accurate it would mean the Democrats’ only chance to win the majority would be to sweep the following half-dozen campaigns.

The list below provides the October published polling data for each of the toss-up campaigns:


ARIZONA

Change Research (for the David Garcia for Governor campaign), Oct. 9-10; 783 likely voters:
Rep. Martha McSally (R) 48%
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) 48%

CBS News/YouGov (Oct. 2-5; 898 likely voters)
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) 47%
Rep. Martha McSally (R) 44%

OH Predictive Insights (Oct. 1-2; 600 likely voters)
Rep. Martha McSally (R) 47%
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) 41%

Fox News (Sept. 29-Oct. 2; 716 likely voters)
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) 47%
Rep. Martha McSally (R) 45%

Vox Populi (Sept. 29-Oct. 1; 702 likely voters)
Rep. Martha McSally (R) 45%
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) 42%


FLORIDA

St. Pete Polls (Oct. 15-16; 1,974 likely voters via interactive voice response system):
Gov. Rick Scott (R) 49%
Sen. Bill Nelson (D) 47%

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Surprising Q3 Financial Disclosures

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 19, 2018 — The third quarter financial disclosure reports are now public, and more details are readily available. Thus, we are able to learn about various record-setting fundraising efforts.

FEC-moneyIn addition to Texas US Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke (D) attracting $38 million in the third quarter, an all-time record for any such campaign, several House candidates also reported financial numbers that have never been seen for district-level politics.

In the third quarter of 2018, nine House contenders exceeded raising $3 million, eight Democrats and one Republican.

In California’s 22nd District, incumbent Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was the top Republican fundraiser and appears to have accumulated more financial resources for the entire campaign than any other congressional candidate of either party. In the quarter, Rep. Nunes raised $3.14 million. For the campaign, he has exceeded the $10.5 million mark.

But his Democratic opponent, attorney Andrew Janz, brought in over $4 million for the quarter, the only congressional candidate in the US to do so, and an all-time record for a quarter. He still trails Rep. Nunes in overall receipts (Janz posted $7.13 million for the campaign), however. Together, this campaign leads the nation in combined fundraising with over $17 million. For a regular cycle congressional campaign – not including the special elections we saw earlier that became national contests – this, too, is likely an all-time record for a House contest.

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