Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Budd Wins in NC; PA Senate Race
Still Too Close to Call

By Jim Ellis
May 18, 2022

Primary Results

Yesterday’s Voting — As predicted, North Carolina US Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) soundly defeated former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory to win the US Senate nomination, winning 99 of the state’s 100 counties. Former US Rep. Mark Walker and author Marjorie Eastman finished third and fourth. The general election is now set, as Rep. Budd advances to face former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, who became a consensus Democratic candidate. The Tar Heel contest will be one of the most important Senate races in the country.

US Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) lost his battle for re-nomination last night to state Sen. Chuck Edwards (R-Hendersonville). In the field of eight candidates, Edwards claimed the nomination with 33 percent of the vote, as compared to the scandal-plagued congressman’s 32 percent. In North Carolina, runoffs only occur if all of the candidates fall below a 30 percent threshold.

In what appears to be another congressional defeat, veteran Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-Canby) is running far behind his Democratic primary challenger, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a former city manager, but half of the vote is still outstanding under Oregon’s all-mail voting system. Still, with a 61-39 percent margin, Rep. Schrader appears too far behind to make up all of the vote difference.

The Pennsylvania Senate Republican race is still too close to call, as television Dr. Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick are locked in a battle separated with less than two-tenths of a percentage point. It is difficult to tell how many votes remain uncounted because the state will allow ballots postmarked yesterday to be received in the coming days. It will be some time before we know the outcome, but Dr. Oz has a 2,672-vote lead of the more than 1.31 million votes cast. Pennsylvania election law guarantees an automatic recount if the margin is within .5 percent. McCormick claims the remaining mail votes will hand him the victory.

As expected, the Pennsylvania Democrats nominated Lt. Gov. John Fetterman who lays in a hospital recovering from a recent stroke that occurred from a blood clot in his heart. Fetterman, who underwent a pacemaker procedure, is expected to make a full recovery but will be sidelined for some time.

In the election, Fetterman easily defeated US Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) with a 59-26-10 percent landslide victory margin. He won all of the state’s 67 counties in a turnout of more than 1.17 million voters. Surprisingly, Democratic turnout dropped below that of Republicans for the first time in decades. This, despite the party’s 45.8 to 35.9 percent voter registration advantage.

In the PA governor’s race, state Sen. Doug Mastriano (D-Fayetteville) easily won the open Republican nomination and will face Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) in the general election. The latter man was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Media reports suggest that Mastriano may be too conservative to win in Pennsylvania, but the large Republican primary turnout is a precursor that this race will be competitive.

In other key statewide races, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul romped to an 86 percent Republican primary victory. He will face former Louisville state Rep. Charles Booker who was an easy winner on the Democratic side. Sen. Paul is a heavy favorite for re-election. In the open 3rd Congressional District, state Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, also as expected, won a landslide Democratic primary victory last night and will succeed retiring Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Louisville) in the Autumn.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) defeated Trump backed Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, 53-32 percent, and becomes a prohibitive favorite in the general election. US Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) again defeated his 2014 primary opponent, attorney Bryan Smith, this time by 13 percentage points and will claim a 13th term in November.

Governor

Wisconsin: New Republican Leader According to Dem Poll — Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling surveyed the Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial primary and produced results not found in other polls. The study (May 9-10; 675 likely Wisconsin Republican primary voters) projected construction company executive and 2004 US Senate nominee Tim Michels taking a small lead over former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. This is the first poll find anyone but Kleefisch claiming the top position. The ballot test gave Michels a 27-26 percent edge, with businessman Kevin Nicholson trailing well behind in third place with nine percent preference. The Milwaukee Works, Inc. organization released the ballot test portion of the PPP survey.

States

Texas: Conflicting AG Polls — Next Tuesday, Texas Republican voters will decide the runoff election between incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton and Land Commissioner George P. Bush. The race has turned negative and earlier polls were giving Paxton, who is still under a stalled 2015 SEC indictment, a strong lead. The new University of Texas at Tyler survey (May 2-10; 570 likely Texas Republican runoff voters) projects Paxton’s lead to be only 41-35 percent.

During the same sampling period, as previously reported, the CWS Research group (May 4-10; 992 likely Texas Republican runoff voters) produced a much different 58-31 percent ballot test result in the attorney general’s favor. Since these polls were conducted during the same period, we will have to see more data to determine the correct trajectory. It appears clear, however, that Paxton is the race leader, but whether his margin is wide or tight is open to question.

Primaries Set for Five States Today

Pennsylvania primary GOP candidates Kathy Barnette, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and David McCormick are in a virtual dead heat with McCormick fading.

By Jim Ellis
May 17, 2022


Primaries

Today’s Voting — Primaries are being conducted in five states today, including the crucial Pennsylvania and North Carolina races. The most watched campaigns being decided tonight include the Pennsylvania Senate and governor’s races in both parties, the North Carolina Republican Senate race, freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s (R-NC) nomination challenge, and the hotly contested new open 13th District seat in the Tar Heel State.

In Oregon, Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Canby) faces a significant Democratic primary challenge, while Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) is defending himself from a challenge from his lieutenant governor, Janice McGeachin, who has former President Trump’s support. The open Louisville seat in Kentucky will be virtually decided today as state Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey (D) appears as a lock to capture the Democratic nomination. In this 3rd District seat, clinching the Democratic nomination is tantamount to winning the seat.

Senate

Pennsylvania: Final Polling Still Too Close to Call — Major occurrences are happening in both parties on primary eve. For the Republicans, The long-awaited Pennsylvania primary is on tap, and the Republican side is ending with a flurry of outside organizations running media attack ads. Supporters of former hedge fund CEO David McCormick and Dr. Mehmet Oz turned their attention in the final days of the race toward trying to blunt Army veteran and 2020 congressional candidate Kathy Barnette who has driven herself into the top tier and beginning to peak at the optimum time. Supporting Barnette is the Club for Growth organization, spending $2 million in a media blitz around the state to bolster her improving chances of winning the primary.

Susquehanna Polling & Research released their final poll before the votes are counted (May 12-15; 400 likely Pennsylvania Republican primary voters) and it projects a virtual dead heat at the top of the ticket. The Susquehanna numbers find Oz leading Barnette by just a single point, 28-27 percent, with a 24 percent undecided factor. Former hedge fund CEO David McCormick is way back, according to this study, with just 11 percent support.

Democratic front-runner John Fetterman was hospitalized with a stroke over the weekend, but appears well positioned to make a full recovery and capture the nomination today. Lt. Gov. Fetterman has a large polling lead over US Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) and looks to be the clear favorite on the Dem side today.

House

MI-13: Another Close Primary Race — Target Insyght completed a poll of Detroit’s open new 13th District (May 3-5; 600 likely MI-13 Democratic primary voters; live interview) and finds another political contest that is tight among several candidates. Eleven candidates are in the Democratic field, but only three enter double digits.

Former Detroit City Councilwoman Sharon McPhail leads the group at 20 percent, John Conyers III, son of former 52-year congressional veteran John Conyers, is second with 15, and state Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit) is third with 12. The Michigan primary is Aug. 2. The seat is open after Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) announced her retirement and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) decided to seek re-election in District 12.

Governor

Minnesota: Former State Senator Wins Party Endorsement — Minnesota Republicans met in their state nominating endorsement convention and chose, on the sixth ballot, former state Sen. Scott Jensen as their official party candidate. Others may oppose him in an Aug. 9 primary election. Should Jensen come through the primary, he will then challenge Gov. Tim Walz (D). A recent Survey USA poll (May 5-10; 629 registered Minnesota voters; 513 who identify themselves as likely general election voters; live interview) finds Gov. Walz leading Jensen only 44-39 percent, and carrying a favorability index of 44:41 percent positive to negative.

Pennsylvania: Mastriano Pulling Away — Susquehanna Polling & Research (see Senate post above) also tested today’s governor’s race. Here they find state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Fayetteville), despite two candidates dropping out in an attempt to deny him the nomination, expanding his polling lead. The results project Mastriano to a 29-18-15 percent lead over former US Attorney Bill McSwain and ex-US Rep. Lou Barletta. Tonight’s winner faces Attorney General Josh Shapiro who is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Redistricting

New York: Draft Map Sent to Judge — The special master hired to draw a replacement New York map after the judiciary ruled the legislature’s plan was a partisan gerrymander, presented his effort to the presiding judge yesterday, meeting the previously assigned deadline. The judge is now accepting public comments and pledged to finalize the congressional and state Senate plans by Friday. The congressional map improves the political situation for Republicans, giving them at least one more seat than the Democratic draw, but putting possibly as many as 10 of the 26 seats into potential competition.

The map also pairs two sets of Democratic incumbents. In New York City, Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney are placed in one district. Both said yesterday that they would run. The new district contains 61 percent of Maloney’s district and 39 percent of Nadler’s. It is safely Democratic in the general election.

Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-Westchester County) finds himself having to choose a Democratic pairing either against Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring) or Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-Yonkers), or possibly running in an open 18th District that is relatively far from his current CD. If this map is adopted, we will see a much different New York election cycle than what was originally intended.

Rep. Budd’s Nomination Secure in NC?
A Close Gov. Race Brewing in NM

By Jim Ellis
May 16, 2022

Senate

North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance)

North Carolina: Dueling General Election Polls — With US Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) now substantially ahead in 12 consecutive Republican primary polls from the end of March to present, it appears clear he is going to be nominated on Tuesday. Therefore, attention is already being paid to the formulating general election. Two polls featuring Rep. Budd and consensus Democratic nominee Cheri Beasley, the former state Supreme Court Chief Justice, have just been released.

The first, from the Beasley campaign that the Global Strategy Group conducted (April 28-May 4; 800 likely North Carolina general election voters) finds the poll sponsor and Rep. Budd tied at 45 percent. Emerson College also released their survey (May 7-9; 1,000 registered North Carolina voters) that gives Budd a 48-41 percent advantage. We can expect this to be one of the top Senate races in the country come November and will feature a plethora of public polls.

House

NC-1: Dems Have Clear Poll Leader; Republicans Attacking Their Own — The GQR survey research firm ran a poll of the open 1st District Democratic primary (May 6-8; 407 likely NC-1 Democratic primary voters) and find state Sen. Don Davis (D-Snow Hill) leading former state senator and 2020 US Senate candidate Erica Smith, 44-31 percent, as the candidates make their final pitch before Tuesday’s primary election.

The Republican-oriented Congressional Leadership Fund, loosely associated with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), is actively running ads against GOP candidate Sandy Smith, the 2020 CD-1 nominee who held incumbent Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson) to a 54-46 percent re-election victory.

The CLF does not indicate support for another candidate, but former Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson appears to be Smith’s strongest competitor. The move is curious in that the ads lay out personal negatives against Smith that could be used against her in the general election should she win the GOP nomination. The new 1st, which the state Supreme Court drafted, is rated D+5, thus suggesting a competitive general election.

Governor

New Mexico: Close Race Brewing — Survey USA polling for KOB-TV in Albuquerque (April 29-May 7; 1,389 likely New Mexico general election voters; interactive voice response system and online) tested the upcoming governor’s race and finds 2020 US Senate Republican nominee and former television weatherman Mark Ronchetti pulling to within the margin of polling error against Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D).

The ballot test breaks 47-43 percent in favor of the incumbent. More troubling for Gov. Lujan Grisham, however, is her results against the entire Republican field. Paired individually with each of five candidates, Gov. Lujan Grisham, though leading in every case, fails to reach 50 percent against any of her GOP opponents. The cumulative results portend a highly competitive November race.

Pennsylvania: Senate President Drops Out — Just days before Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary, state Senate President Jake Corman has dropped his Republican gubernatorial bid and endorsed fellow contender Lou Barletta, the former congressman and 2020 US Senate nominee. With Corman never able to increase his support from low single digits, his withdrawal is designed to help Barletta overcome the polling lead that state Sen. Doug Mastriano (D-Fayetteville) has established.

Pennsylvania Republican leaders are reportedly nervous that Sen. Mastriano, who was a legislative leader in attempting to determine if there was widespread fraud in the state during the 2020 election, would be unable to defeat Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who is the consensus Democratic gubernatorial nominee. It is likely that the Corman-Barletta move will prove too little, too late, however.

States

Texas Attorney General: Paxton Leading Big — A CWS Research poll (May 4-10; 992 likely Texas Republican primary runoff voters; interactive voice response system and text) reports that Attorney General Ken Paxton is substantially ahead of Land Commissioner George P. Bush, the son of former Florida governor and 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush. The CWS results find AG Paxton holding a whopping 58-31 percent lead as the candidates move toward the state’s May 24 runoff election date. In the primary, Paxton garnered 42.7 percent of the vote, which is obviously short of the majority vote a candidate needs to win the nomination outright. In a field of four candidates, Bush finished second with 22.8 percent.

Alaska’s Palin in Trouble?
Florida Redistricting Map Tossed

By Jim Ellis
May 13, 2022

House

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, now running for US House Representative

AK-AL: Palin Begins Special with Slight Lead, but May Not Prevail — The Alaska Survey Research firm, headed by longtime local pollster Ivan Moore, released their new special election US House study featuring 48 candidates. The survey (May 6-9; 605 AK-AL likely special election voters; online) finds former governor and 2008 vice presidential Republican nominee Sarah Palin leading the huge field with 19 percent, followed closely by officially endorsed Republican Party candidate Nick Begich III at 16 percent, with Independent and former 2020 Democratic US Senate nominee Al Gross and North Pole City Councilman Santa Claus (the former Thomas O’Connor) capturing the third and fourth qualifying positions with 13 and six percent, respectively.

Under the new Alaska election law, the top four finishers from the jungle primary, in this case scheduled for June 11, will advance to the Aug. 16 special general election. If no one receives majority support among the finishing four in the succeeding vote, the Ranked Choice Voting System takes effect. It is here where Palin may find trouble. Under this configuration, ASR projects that Claus would be first eliminated, then Palin in the next round. A Begich-Gross final round would favor Begich at 53-47 percent.

Nick Begich III is the grandson of former US Rep. Nick Begich (D), who died in a plane crash before the 1972 election. His uncle is former US Sen. Mark Begich (D). Nick Begich, III, however, is a Republican. ASR tested four different iterations with four separate fourth-place contenders, and in each scenario Begich ultimately wins the seat.

NE-2: Dem Group Poll Shows Rep. Bacon Trailing — Democratic pollster Change Research, polling for the left of center 314 Action group (May 6-10; 564 NE-2 general election voters of whom 94 percent say are definite or probable voters; online) finds Omaha Democratic state Sen. Tony Vargas leading US Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion/Omaha), 42-39 percent, in a survey conducted just before the Nebraska primary.

The poll skews slightly left, meaning that the race is likely no worse then being tied from Rep. Bacon’s perspective. Approximately 25,000 more people voted in the NE-2 Republican primary than Democratic suggesting the enthusiasm level favors the GOP. The seat became three points more Republican in redistricting. Despite this particular poll result, Rep. Bacon is still favored for re-election.

Redistricting

Florida: Congressional Map Tossed — A Florida state judge, whom Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) appointed, disqualified the new Florida congressional map, ruling that the elimination of Rep. Al Lawson’s (D-Tallahassee) majority minority District 5 violates Florida’s Fair Districts Act. The state will clearly appeal, but the map’s fate, the Republicans’ best in the country, now is suspended in political limbo.

Governor

Alabama: Gov. Ivey Below 50 Percent — A Cygnal group poll for the Alabama Daily News and Gray Television (May 6-7; 600 likely Alabama Republican primary voters) two days ago covered the Alabama Senate race confirming that Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) is gaining on his two GOP opponents. Wednesday, Cygnal released its data on the state’s gubernatorial campaign. While Gov. Kay Ivey (R) still holds a comfortable lead according to the poll, the survey shows that she has dropped to 40 percent support.

Real Estate developer Tim James, son of former Gov. Fob James, is second with 18 percent, and former US ambassador to Slovenia, Lindy Blanchard, is a close third with 15 percent. Three more candidates divide 14 percent of the vote, while the remainder is recorded as undecided/won’t say. There is little doubt that Gov. Ivey will finish first, but the question remains whether she can attain the 50 percent threshold to avoid being forced into a secondary runoff election. The Alabama primary is May 24. If a runoff becomes necessary, that election would occur on June 21.

Brooks Rebounds in Alabama After Trump Pulls Endorsement

By Jim Ellis
May 12, 2022

Senate

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville)

Alabama: Brooks Rebounding — It appears that analyses of US Rep. Mo Brooks’ (R-Huntsville) Senate campaign being dead in the water after former President Trump pulled his earlier endorsement have proven incorrect. Two new surveys point to Rep. Brooks rebounding to the point of again becoming competitive for the second runoff position from the May 24 primary. The Republican primary is among Brooks, former Business Council of Alabama President & CEO Katie Britt, and businessman and former “Black Hawk Down” pilot Mike Durant.

Two new polls have surfaced suggesting that Rep. Brooks is now making this a three-way race. The Moore Information Group (May 2-5; 400 likely Alabama Republican primary voters; live interview) finds Britt leading the field with 27 percent, followed by Rep. Brooks and Durant in a tie at 20 percent apiece for the second runoff position. In Alabama, if no one reaches the 50 percent mark in this year’s May 24 primary, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election on June 21.

The second poll, from McLaughlin & Associates (May 2-5; 500 likely Alabama Republican primary voters; live interview & text), gives Britt a larger lead at 37 percent, before projecting Durant in second place with 27 percent, and Rep. Brooks closely trailing at 22 percent. The combined data suggests that Britt is the race leader, while the second runoff slot is clearly undecided.

Missouri: Greitens Releases Internal Poll — Resigned Gov. Eric Greitens (R), attempting to rebound from domestic and child abuse accusations from his ex-wife, yesterday released an internal Fabrizio Lee & Associates survey. The poll, conducted for the Greitens campaign (May 2-4; 806 likely Missouri Republican primary voters), sees Greitens leading the group of Republican candidates, but with only 26 percent of the vote. Trailing are US Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Columbia) with 19 percent and Attorney General Eric Schmitt with 14 percent.

In the last four polls prior to the Fabrizio Lee release, from four different pollsters, Greitens led in none, with Rep. Hartzler and AG Schmitt topping the field in two apiece. Despite the polls trading leaders, Greitens’ support level remains consistent between 21 and 26 percent in all of the latest publicly released research studies.

Pennsylvania: Trump Endorsement Questioned — Former hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick (R) is calling out former President Trump’s endorsement of Dr. Mehmet Oz (R) in the Pennsylvania Senate race.

In new commercials, the McCormick effort points to television statements that Dr. Oz made supporting the less conservative positions relating to abortion and transgender sex change operations. One of the ads features a clip of Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham stating that Trump endorsing Dr. Oz “is a mistake.” This is the first time we’ve seen an active campaign aggressively oppose a Trump endorsement.

House

HI-2: Rep. Kahele Finally Announces — Coming as no surprise since four elected or formerly elected Democratic officials had already declared their candidacy for what they knew would become an open congressional seat, freshman US Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo) made public Monday his decision to run for governor and not seek re-election to the House this year.

Rep. Kahele has come under fire for casting the most proxy congressional votes of any member and continuing to fly commercial flights for Hawaiian Airlines while he is a sitting member of the House. The Kahele decision means that a minimum of 61 seats will be open for the 2022 election. The congressman enters a gubernatorial primary where Lt. Gov. Josh Green enjoys large polling leads.

Governor

Nebraska: Close Primary — Two late tracking polls from WPA Intelligence (April 30-May 2; 500 likely Nebraska Republican primary voters; live interview and April 26-28; 505 likely Nebraska Republican primary voters; live interview) find the poll sponsor, University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen, leading both company CEO and rancher Charles Herbster and Omaha state Sen. Brett Lindstrom. The largest margin is 31-26-16 percent, and while this does suggest some late momentum for Pillen, the previous WPAi poll found the Pillen lead to be only 24-23-20 percent.

Therefore, the Republican gubernatorial nomination appeared to be up for grabs heading into the primary. Former President Trump endorsed Herbster, but several accusations of sexual harassment have arisen against Herbster, thus causing some support to peel away. Herbster denies the claims. The winner has the inside track toward claiming the November election and succeeding term-limited Gov. Pete Ricketts (R).