Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Political Overtime – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 29 2016 — One campaign remains officially uncalled, the California congressional race between Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and challenger Doug Applegate (D), a retired Marine Corps Colonel. Three more, the Louisiana run-offs for Senate and a pair of US House districts, will be settled this Saturday in the state’s secondary election.

In California’s 49th CD, the latest count finds Rep. Issa continuing to lead Applegate at this writing, but the margin is tightening as expected. With approximately 30,000 votes remaining to be counted in this marathon process, Issa has 154,057 votes as compared to 151,633 for Applegate. Issa racked up 60.5 percent of the vote in Orange County but, unfortunately for the congressman, that entity comprises only 23 percent of the entire district vote. In the dominant San Diego County portion, Applegate has a 53-47 percent advantage that has held up virtually throughout the counting process.

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Setting the Record Straight

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 28, 2016 — With Thanksgiving and the long weekend having just passed, it’s a good time to correct some misconceptions about the 2016 election.

The media has long reported that voter participation levels dropped below the most recent elections, suggesting that the Nov. 8 vote was in the low turnout realm. But as we now know, more than 13 million votes have been processed since Election Day, and such a proclamation is no longer true.

Absentee, provisional, and overseas ballots have streamed into the tabulation centers across the country and are now assimilated into the various state counts. The California and Washington systems also allow voters to postmark their mail ballots on Election Day instead of requiring them to be received by Voting Day as is the case in virtually every other state; overseas ballots are excepted for late arrival in all places.

Due to California and Washington, literally millions of ballots went unreported on Election Night. In fact, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and challenger Doug Applegate (D) are still in an unresolved election in California’s 49th Congressional District as of this writing. Before the long Thanksgiving break, the secretary of state reported that more than two million ballots statewide remain to be processed.

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Bera Wins; Issa Close; More Jockeying

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 23, 2016 — The Associated Press yesterday projected California Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove/ Sacramento) the winner in the hotly contested CA-7 District campaign, even though there are approximately 43,000 ballots still left to count.

Rep. Bera has pushed his lead to 6,008 votes over Sacramento County Sheriff Doug Jones (R) at the end of the day’s counting. This means, with what will likely be just under 300,000 total votes cast in the district, that Jones would need approximately 57 percent of the outstanding ballots to overtake Bera. While not impossible, the projection appears legitimate considering that Jones has yet to lead this race.

The Bera victory means the Democrats are assured of at least 194 seats in the new Congress. Republicans are guaranteed of 239. The GOP looks to win the second of two Louisiana run-off elections, after wrapping up the first (District 3) on November 8th when two Republicans advanced to the general election run-off. The LA-4 contest is projected to go Republican on Dec. 10.
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Louisiana Run-off Numbers

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 22, 2016 — With the Dec. 10 run-off election fast approaching for the open Louisiana US Senate race and two congressional campaigns, new data has been released into the public domain.

The responses to a statewide poll suggest that state Treasurer John Kennedy (R) has developed a commanding lead over Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell. The 4th Congressional District sample is also large enough to project state Rep. Mike Johnson (R) with a clear advantage, but the 3rd District contest between two Republicans could bring a surprising conclusion.

The Atlanta based Trafalgar Group surveyed the state electorate (Nov. 14-17; 2,200-plus likely Louisiana run-off voters; 600-plus in each of congressional districts 3 and 4; via interactive voice response system) and found four-term treasurer Kennedy staked to a strong 58-35 percent advantage. Without adding the individuals leaning to one of the candidates Kennedy’s margin is 48-27 percent.

In the 4th District congressional race, GOP candidate Johnson is opening up a large 59-35 percent lead over Democratic attorney J. Marshall Jones. This is not particularly surprising since the western state district is solidly Republican (2012: Romney 59 percent; Obama 40 percent), and has not been represented by a Democrat since Buddy Roemer (D-Bossier City) vacated the seat back in 1988 to become governor.

Jones placed first in the jungle primary largely because he was the only Democrat in a field of eight candidates. The coalescing of Democratic votes meant that a 28 percent showing was enough for him to capture the first run-off position. But, 70 percent of the individuals supported a Republican candidate, thus giving credence to Trafalgar’s polling result that makes Johnson a big favorite for the December secondary election.

The double Republican 3rd District run-off is the more interesting contest, however. Here, retired police captain Clay Higgins, who spent just over $200,000 for the jungle primary, leads state public service commissioner and ex-lieutenant governor Scott Angelle, 50-42 percent. Angelle, who expended more than $1.3 million and placed a strong third in the 2015 governor’s race, finished first in the jungle primary but with only a 29-26 percent margin over Higgins while 10 other candidates lagged behind.

Magellan Strategies (Nov. 15-16; 400 LA-3 likely run-off voters) also tested this congressional race and found Higgins’ advantage to be an even stronger 50-32 percent.

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Jockeying for Position

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 21, 2016 — Already, there is a lot of talk about various senators considering races for governor in their respective states, while at least one term-limited governor publicly muses about running for Senate.

With 38 governors’ races coming to the forefront in the next 24 months — two (New Jersey, Virgninia) in 2017 and 36 in 2018 — we already know that 20 of these states, due to term limits, will choose new governors.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) cannot succeed himself after four years at the state’s helm. Virginia is still the only state in the country that limits its governors to just one term. In New Jersey, Republican Gov. Chris Christie is ineligible to seek a third term. There is a chance, should Christie obtain an appointment from the Trump Administration, that Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) would ascend to the governorship and be in a position to run as an appointed incumbent, however.

In the coming even-numbered year 36 gubernatorial chairs are in-cycle. Eighteen state chief executives are barred from seeking a third term (15 Republicans; 3 Democrats), while eight GOP governors and six Democrats can run for re-election. Alaska Independent Gov. Bill Walker is also eligible for a second term.

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Update: Outstanding Races

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 18, 2016 — California’s two uncalled congressional races are still not complete because of a counting process moving at what feels like a glacial pace.

In Sacramento County’s 7th District, Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) is in a political overtime situation for the third consecutive election. The latest count finds the congressman garnering 119,448 votes (51.0 percent) as compared to Sheriff Scott Jones’ (R) 114,646 tallies (49.0 percent). Despite being 10 days beyond the election, an estimated 67,000+ District 7 ballots await tabulation.

With Bera leading here by 4,802 votes, and assuming the outstanding ballots estimate is correct, Jones would need to garner at least 53.5 percent of uncounted votes to overtake the incumbent. Since these ballots are mail-only, either from the regular mail, provisional, or overseas voting options, it is unlikely that the remaining tallies are from a particular set of precincts or region. This means it is difficult to gauge whether these votes are predominantly Democratic or Republican. Rather, the mailed votes are probably dispersed uniformly throughout the district.

The 7th CD is wholly contained within Sacramento County and occupies 49.54 percent of the local entity’s territory. Since the county election officials report that 136,644 ballots remain to be processed, simply taking half of the number allows us to arrive at the conclusion that approximately 67,000 ballots are destined for the 7th District.

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Already, an Open Seat

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 17, 2016 — This week also brings us the 2018 election cycle’s first open seat. South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem (R-AL) announced that she will run for governor in the next election. Incumbent Dennis Daugaard (R) is ineligible to run for a third term under South Dakota election law, so the open seat is guaranteed.

The timing of her announcement, extremely early in the brand new election cycle, directly related to a new South Dakota election law. Beginning today, a new campaign finance initiative, passed by voters last week, takes effect. This will limit to $4,000 the amount an individual or entity can contribute to a South Dakota statewide candidate. By officially declaring herself a candidate Tuesday, Noem can still transfer all $1.9 million remaining in her congressional campaign account to her new gubernatorial campaign committee. Obviously, this will give her a major advantage in preparing for a different statewide run.

The congresswoman can count on drawing tough primary and general election opponents, however. Attorney General Marty Jackley (R) has also indicated his intention to run, and many others are soon likely to follow suit.

We can now expect a spirited battle for the open at-large congressional race, particularly in the Republican primary. Even though this race has almost one and one-half years remaining before any votes are cast, the new 2018 election cycle is apparently already underway.