Author Archives: Jim Ellis

The Florida Seesaw Race

florida-governor-candidates-2018By Jim Ellis

Aug. 16, 2018 — There has been no race in this current election cycle that has featured more swings among the candidates than the open Florida governor’s campaign. What makes it even more interesting is that the wide swings are happening virtually simultaneously in both parties.

Yesterday, several polls were released showing more change in both nomination contests as the Aug. 28 primary date draws nearer. On the Republican side, the new Survey USA poll (Aug. 10-13; 558 likely Florida Republican primary voters) finds the contest again reverting into the toss-up realm after Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach) had opened a discernible advantage over agriculture commissioner and former US Congressman Adam Putnam. According to this latest S-USA result, the DeSantis lead is now only 40-38 percent.

A pair of polls was also released on the Democratic side and, as for their Republican counterparts, the nomination race is again getting close. After leading for most of the early campaign, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine fell behind former US Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee), but studies from Survey USA (Aug. 10-13; 631 likely Florida Democratic primary voters) and Schroth, Eldon & Associates (Aug. 11-14; 600 likely Florida Democratic primary voters) see a re-tightening of this contest, too.

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Primary Results:
Pawlenty Falls; Wisconsin Set

the-primariesBy Jim Ellis

Aug. 15, 2018 — Forty states have now chosen their nominees for the fall, as voters in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin made their choices known yesterday.


MINNESOTA

The big story was former two-term Gov. Tim Pawlenty failing in his bid to return to the Governor’s mansion. Pawlenty, who served from 2003-2011 and won two tough general elections, lost last night to Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, the party’s 2014 gubernatorial nominee and this election’s endorsed Republican Party candidate. Johnson recorded a 53-44 percent primary victory.

For the Democrats, US Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato), who scored the barest of re-election victories in 2016, won a highly competitive party primary last night with a 42-32-24 percent win over state Rep. Erin Murphy (D-St. Paul), the party-endorsed candidate, and Attorney General Lori Swanson who was originally running for re-election but switched races when she failed to win the party endorsement at the state convention. Rep. Walz performed strongly in his southern Minnesota base, carrying every county from the Iowa border through the central part of the state while splitting the Twin Cities area. Though Rep. Murphy won a convincing victory at the party convention, she was never able to convert her momentum into a winning coalition among voters.

In the two Senate races, two-term Democratic incumbent Amy Klobuchar was easily re-nominated for the fall as was appointed Sen. Tina Smith. Sen. Klobuchar is a lock in the general election, while Sen. Smith will face a competitive challenge from state Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Croix River Valley), who scored a clear Republican primary victory.

In the competitive House races, Republican Jim Hagedorn, who came within less than one percentage point of upsetting Rep. Walz in 2016, again won the party nomination, this time over state Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) who had support from some conservative organizations. Hagedorn will face the Democratic winner, former Defense Department official Dan Feehan, in what should be a hotly contested general election campaign.

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Four More Primaries Today

the-primariesBy Jim Ellis

Aug. 14, 2018 — Voters in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin will choose their nominees today. Minnesota and Wisconsin, in particular, feature some key contests.


MINNESOTA

Most of today’s action will occur in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, as a major open race for governor will see party finalists determined in both political camps. Republicans feature former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner who is the officially endorsed party candidate.

Democrats have a three-way battle among state Rep. Erin Murphy (D-St. Paul), the official party endorsed candidate, Attorney General Lori Swanson, and US Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato). Though Murphy is the sanctioned candidate, she appears to be trailing both Swanson and Walz. The winners will set up a highly competitive general election that will probably be considered a toss-up campaign all the way to Election Day.

Both US senators are on the ballot. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) is a lock for re-election, while appointed Sen. Tina Smith (D) is finding a competitive battle coming from state Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Croix River Valley), but these scenarios are dependent upon all of the aforementioned easily winning their respective nominations tonight.

The state could yield as many as four competitive campaigns from their eight congressional districts, but today the real nomination battles are in Districts 1, 5, and 8.

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Hanabusa Defeated in Hawaii;
Case Nominated in Dem Contest

Gov. David Ige (D-HI)

Gov. David Ige (D-HI)

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 13, 2018 — The Hawaii primary was held on Saturday, and while Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) began her Democratic primary challenge as a virtual favorite to deny Gov. David Ige re-nomination — at one time she led by more than 20 points according to several polls — the incumbent rebounded to score a 51-44 percent victory. Winning the Democratic primary is tantamount to claiming the general election, meaning the November contest between Gov. Ige and state House Minority Leader Andrea Tupola (R-Kapolei), the new Republican nominee, is likely to be a mere formality.

Rep. Hanabusa was originally elected to the House in 2010, defeating then-Rep. Charles Djou (R-Honolulu) in that year’s general election. In 2014, she challenged appointed Sen. Brian Schatz in the Democratic primary after the passing of veteran Sen. Daniel Inouye (D), who served in Congress from the day when Hawaii became a state.

Hanabusa returned to the House in 2016 when her successor, Rep. Mark Takai (D-Aiea), passed away from pancreatic cancer. Quickly after making her way back to Washington, however, the congresswoman decided to launch the intra-party challenge to Gov. Ige who himself had unseated a Democratic governor, Neil Abercrombie, in the 2014 primary campaign.

Ige hit rock bottom in this contest when a false alarm catastrophic missile attack warning was unleashed, sending panic throughout the islands, and his poll numbers unsurprisingly dropped precipitously in the aftermath. But he rebounded to re-generate support from his Democratic base, improve his job approval ratio, and substantially increase his lagging fundraising operation. Polling had detected the momentum change within the last two weeks of the primary cycle, and an Ige lead was being widely reported as the two candidates headed into the election’s final days.

The Democratic turnout was 242,413 voters, most of whom voted early, which is about 5,000 more than voted in the last midterm when Ige defeat then-Gov. Abercrombie in a 66-31 percent landslide margin. By contrast, Saturday’s GOP turnout was only 31,134 individuals.

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Hyde-Smith Up in Mississippi

Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R)

Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R)

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 13, 2018 — A new Triumph Campaigns survey for the Y’all Politics blog (July 30-31; 2,100 likely Mississippi registered voters, 25 from each of the state’s four congressional districts) tested the two Mississippi US Senate campaigns. The results reveal interesting data for appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), who has been on the job since her April 9 induction ceremony after being appointed to succeed veteran Sen. Thad Cochran (R). The state’s senior senator, who amassed 40 years of service in the Senate, stepped down for health reasons.

According to the Triumph results, Sen. Hyde-Smith would lead former US Agriculture secretary and congressman Mike Espy (D), state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), and Independent Tobey Bartee, 41-27-15-1 percent in the statewide ballot test.

The new senator fares best in south and east congressional districts, numbers 3 and 4. The two Republicans do particularly well in the Biloxi-Gulfport anchored 4th District where the senator records 42 percent support and McDaniel has 24 percent, while Espy drops to 17 percent. Statewide, the preliminary data suggests that Hyde-Smith and Espy would move into a secondary run-off election.

In this special election, where the winner will fill the balance of the current term, all candidates will appear on the concurrent general election ballot. If no candidate receives majority support, the top two finishers will advance to a run-off election a few days after Thanksgiving, on Nov. 27.

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