Author Archives: Jim Ellis

More on Louisiana

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 8, 2016 — A new, but questionable, poll was released from Tulane University covering the open Louisiana Senate run-off campaign to be decided this Saturday. The poll (Nov. 8-18; 960 Louisiana adults) finds state Treasurer John Kennedy (R) leading Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D), 60-40 percent. Incumbent Sen. David Vitter (R), who last year was defeated in a run for governor, is retiring.

A great deal is wrong with this survey. First, though the poll was completed on Nov. 18, it was only released this past Tuesday, Dec. 7, thus the time lag may not reflect the current race status. Second, the sampling period is 11 days, which is too long of a response window. Third, there is no proper screen for registered voters, let alone likely participants. Fourth, the first sampling day was the regular Election Day, which potentially skews responses, and fifth, the pollsters pushed sampling group participants into making a choice only between the two candidates, not allowing for an undecided position.

All that being said, the 60-40 split is still relatively consistent with the few other polls we have seen for this race. All indications point to a Kennedy victory Saturday evening. If successful in his quest for the Senate, the partisan division for the new body will be 52R-46D-2I.

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The Electoral College

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 7, 2016 — Is the Electoral College doomed, or coming into a new sphere of relevance? As we know, Hillary Clinton out-polled Donald Trump in the popular vote, now by some 2.3 million people as the totals are becoming finalized, but she failed to secure an Electoral College victory. Therefore, numerous efforts have begun to either change Electors’ votes or eliminate the system entirely.

The Gallup organization just completed a poll, as they did after the 2000 election when Al Gore suffered a similar fate at the hands of George W. Bush. Their recent results are surprising, especially when considering the tenor of the media arguments.

According to Gallup (Nov. 28-29; 1,021 US adults), 49 percent of the respondents would like to see the US Constitution amended to elect the president through an aggregate vote of the citizenry. Those in favor of keeping the current system totaled 47 percent.

In actuality, this result is a huge improvement for the pro-Electoral College segment. Just a week after the 2000 election, during the Nov. 11-12 period, Gallup conducted a similar survey and found 61 percent wanting to scrap the Electoral College versus only 35 percent status quo supporters.

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The Last Campaigns

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 6, 2016 — The marathon 2016 election cycle will come to a close on Saturday with the Louisiana run-off elections. The US Senate race and two congressional elections were forced to secondary contests, and Republicans appear poised to sweep the trio.

New Senate polling data again shows Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy holding a commanding lead with majority support. According to the new Southern Media & Opinion Research poll (Nov. 28-30; 500 likely Louisiana run-off voters) Kennedy leads his run-off opponent, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D), 52-38 percent.

Kennedy has a favorability rating of 57:35 percent positive to negative versus Campbell’s 46:44 percent. Kennedy runs strong in the five Republican congressional districts, losing only in the New Orleans-anchored 2nd CD. He posts best in the 1st (Slidell, Metairie, St. Bernard, Jefferson Parishes), 4th (Shreveport, Bossier City, Minden, Nachitoches), and 5th CD (Monroe, Alexandria, Bogalusa), recording around a 30-point spread in each. Campbell has a 40-point margin in the 2nd District (New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Plaquemine).

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Picking Democratic Senators;
Rep. Becerra Tapped for A.G.

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 5, 2016 — Donald Trump may be looking to find cabinet members who bring him immediate tangible policy and political benefits. A new prospective appointee, if chosen, would even increase the president-elect’s strength in the United States Senate.

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) made her way to New York yesterday to speak with Trump. If the president-elect tabbed her for an administration position, it would allow him to reach out to Democrats while simultaneously paving the way for incoming Gov. Doug Burgum (R) to appoint a Republican to replace her. Assuming John Kennedy (R) wins the Louisiana Senate run-off on Dec. 10, as expected, replacing Heitkamp would boost the Senate Republican Conference to 53 members.

The senator won a close upset victory in 2012, defeating one-term at-large Rep. Rick Berg (R) by a one-point margin. She is now preparing for what is likely to be a highly competitive 2018 re-election bid, but accepting a position in the Trump Administration would obviously require her to resign the Senate seat. With North Dakota voting patterns now going solidly Republican – Trump received 63 percent in the Nov. 8 election compared to 58 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012, and John McCain’s 53 percent eight years ago – Republican conversion prospects in a post-appointment election would be bright should Heitkamp depart.

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Alabama Strange

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 2, 2016 — Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is the US Attorney General-Designate as is common knowledge, and upon his confirmation to the position a situation filled with rather unique political intrigue will take center stage in Alabama’s capital city.

Gov. Robert Bentley (R) has the responsibility of filling any US Senate vacancy with at least an interim appointment, and then calling a special election to fill the remaining balance of the term. In this case, the special election for Sessions seat will likely be scheduled concurrently with the 2018 regular primary and general voting cycle. The winner then serves until the next in-cycle election, which will be 2020 for this particular Senate position.

Most of the time, the special election is run concurrently with the regular election cycle, but it doesn’t have to be scheduled in such a manner according to Alabama election law. Since the state is solidly Republican, the individual who Bentley appoints will have a major advantage in capturing the party nomination, and then the seat whenever the special is called.

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Elections & Aftermath

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 1, 2016 — Yesterday, House Democrats caucused and chose their leadership team for the 115th Congress. The major contested battle featured a race for Minority Leader, the first time that Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12) had been seriously challenged since she won the Democrats’ top intra-party position in the post-2002 election period.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) had been running hard for the internal post, but appeared to be making little headway. Of the 92 Democratic members who had announced their support for a Minority Leader candidate, only 12 had voiced support for Ryan. The other 80 were for incumbent Pelosi, meaning she would need only 20 more to secure the victory…assuming all of the announced hold true to their public position in a secret ballot contest.

With 63 women in the Democratic Conference, counting the Delegates from America’s territories who can vote in such elections, Pelosi has a strong base from which she began to develop her 100-vote support group. Of her 80 announced supporters, 25 are female.

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Political Overtime – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 30, 2016 — Aside from the two Louisiana run-off elections on Saturday, all of the US House campaigns have now been projected. As expected, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA-49) was confirmed as the winner of his re-election campaign, the last remaining undecided contest. Statistically, not enough votes remain to overturn the congressman’s 2,348 district-wide vote margin. Rep. Issa defeats retired Marine Corps Colonel Doug Applegate (D) with at least 50.4 percent of the vote, even though he scored only 47 percent in the anchor county of San Diego.

More information is forthcoming about the presidential election re-count requests for Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which are attracting more than their share of national attention. Green Party nominee Jill Stein, now joined by the Hillary Clinton Campaign, initiated the move to re-verify the electoral counts but the effort is already running into trouble.

Because there is no evidence of computer hacking or voting machine doctoring, as Stein portends, the Wisconsin Elections Commission rejected her request for a hand re-count, so now the minor candidate is suing to overturn that ruling. The mechanical re-count will move forward, however, if Stein pays $3.5 million to finance the process today.

In Pennsylvania, local election authorities say there will be no re-count because Stein missed the filing deadline.

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