Author Archives: Jim Ellis

An Ohio Curve Ball

Ohio Senate Candidate Josh Mandel

Ohio State treasurer and presumed Senate candidate Josh Mandel

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 9, 2018 — Most people believed the 2018 Ohio Senate general election would be a re-match of the 2012 contest, but now big changes are afoot. On Friday, presumed Republican nominee Josh Mandel, the Ohio State treasurer, announced that he will not file for the Senate race when the deadline expires on Feb. 7. Unfortunately, Mandel says that his wife’s undisclosed health situation, apparently just recently diagnosed, has forced him to the political sideline. He did not indicate whether or not he would seek re-election to his current position.

Mandel was quoted as saying, “[I] recently learned that my wife has a health issue that will require my time, attention and presence,” and that it “has become clear to us that it’s no longer possible for me to be away from home and on the campaign trail for the time needed to run a US Senate race,” as reported on the Daily Kos Elections website.

This means there will not be a repeat performance between Mandel and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D). The two ran against each other six years ago, with the Democratic incumbent winning 51-45 percent. At the time, Mandel, a first-term state treasurer elected only two years before, raised an impressive $18.9 million for the race, losing by only six points while Sen. Brown had the advantage of President Obama topping the Democratic ticket and carrying the Buckeye State. In comparison, Sen. Brown expended just under $21.5 million to secure his first re-election.

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New Year House Preview

US-House-of-Representatives-balance-of-power-January-2018By Jim Ellis

Jan. 8, 2018 — Continuing our federal race outlook to set the political stage in this first week of the actual midterm election year, we now turn to the House races.

Republicans have a 24-seat margin (counting their three vacant seats that will go to special election in the early part of this year: PA-18, AZ-8, and OH-12), and though Democrats and most in the media claim that a new majority is just around the corner, a race-by-race House analysis shows that the road to converting the majority remains difficult to attain. This is so for several key reasons, not the least of which is the typical House incumbent retention factor. In 2016 the rate hit 97 percent (377 victories for the 389 House members who ran for re-election).

Additionally, even though President Trump’s job approval rating is historically low, we must remember that he won the 2016 national election with a personal approval index no higher than his present positive to negative ratios. And, even though congressional approval was well below 20 percent for the entire 2016 election year, Republicans lost only six House seats from their previous modern era record majority of 247 that was attained in the 2014 election.

When we have seen major seat changes occur in past elections, the winning party has done well in converting open seats. For the fourth election cycle in a row, the 2018 House cycle features an above average quantity of incumbent-less US House campaigns – the current number is 45, counting the two latest announced retirees, Reps. Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Gregg Harper (R-MS).

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New Year Senate Preview – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 5, 2018 — Continuing our New Year’s preview, today we look at the 2018 Senate races from the Democrats’ perspective.

THE DEMOCRATS

Sen. Claire McKaskill | (Facebook)

Sen. Claire McKaskill | (Facebook)

Because they are now defending 26 of the 34 in-cycle seats, with the addition of the Minnesota special election, the Dems must primarily develop a solid defense before venturing into attack mode. If they are to have any chance of gaining a 51-49 majority, they will realistically have to win all 26 of the incumbent and open seat races they are forced to risk. This includes three contests already considered toss-up campaigns: Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill likely facing Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), Sen. Joe Donnelly in the Indiana race, and the budding Florida campaign likely between Sen. Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott.

Regardless of whom Sen. Donnelly ultimately faces in the Hoosier State, he will draw a top-tier opponent. Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie) battle for the Republican senatorial nomination, and they also face a credible third challenger in former state Rep. Mike Braun (R-Jasper). Braun has the strong ability to finance his own campaign, thus allowing him to adequately compete with the two congressmen. Since he has the promise of becoming his own force, Braun could conceivably strike a chord with the Republican electorate if the two congressmen continue fighting amongst themselves and allow him to slip by both of them.

Republicans will also be competitive in several other Senate races, as they project to have a strong opponent against West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Rep. Evan Jenkins battle for the GOP nomination to be decided in May), while state Treasurer Josh Mandel looks to provide a stronger challenge to Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) than he did in 2012 when he fell 51-45 percent. The Pennsylvania GOP electorate looks to be coalescing behind Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton) but upsetting Sen. Bob Casey Jr. is still a highly formidable task, and this developing contest must be considered a long shot as the new year begins.

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New Year Senate Preview – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 4, 2018 — Now that we are officially in election year 2018, it is a good time to set the stage for the coming campaign season. With Democrat Doug Jones converting the Alabama special election last month, and new Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) standing for a concurrent special election this November, a different picture exists for the coming Senate election campaigns.

THE REPUBLICANS

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)

Before Alabama, it was a virtual mathematical certainty that the Republicans would retain Senate control after the 2018 vote because the Democrats had too few viable conversion targets. The Jones’ special election victory to permanently replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who left the Senate in order to accept his Trump Administration position, now gives the Democrats a path to attaining the majority but they still must overcome the GOP’s strong defensive wall.

Only forced to defend eight of the now 34 in-cycle seats, the Republicans are most at risk in Nevada and Arizona.

In the Silver State, first-term Sen. Dean Heller (R) currently defends his statewide position against two known opponents, only one of which is a Democrat.

Perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian, who has lost campaigns for five different offices (state Senate, Secretary of State, US Senate, Congressional District 4, and Congressional District 3), is nevertheless 4-1 in Republican primaries. Therefore, Sen. Heller’s first task is to secure the GOP nomination in June. Already we have seen erratic polling, with the Tarkanian camp and some national pollsters posting him ahead of Heller, but the senator and other independent research firms countering with the opposite result.

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Gainers and Losers in 2017

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 3, 2018 — The Census Bureau just released their year-end population estimates and we again see a familiar pattern with regard to populace ebbs and flows. People are continuing to relocate south and west, while the Midwest and northeast fail to keep pace.

Eight states in the Great Lakes, northeast, and Midwest are again projected to see their congressional representation reduced, while the south, Pacific Northwest, and Rocky Mountain sectors will likely elect additional House members.

Idaho in Nation's Fastest-Growing State[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

As always, there are quirks within the population numbers. While Idaho was the fastest growing place with a 2.2 percent increase in total population during this calendar year, the Gem State will again be nowhere close to gaining a third seat for its congressional delegation. Nevada, which added a fourth district in the 2010 reapportionment, is the second-fastest growing state with a 2.0 percent increase, but it doesn’t appear the trends will be sufficient for them to gain a fifth seat in the 2020 distribution. It is very difficult for the small states to gain or lose districts, as the Idaho and Nevada numbers demonstrate.

Though Idaho had the fastest growth rate, Texas saw the greatest raw number resident increase. From the beginning of 2017, the Lone Star State population grew by just under 400,000 people. Florida was second with more than 327,000 new individuals now living there, while California saw their populace grow by more than 240,000 people. Washington, North Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona all had increases between 125,000 and 107,000 people, respectively.

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