Author Archives: Jim Ellis

With Bush Officially In, New Polls Suggest Broker

June 17, 2015 — Just as former Florida governor and presidential son and brother Jeb Bush formally declared his national candidacy, several new polls were released all pointing to Republicans’ having no clear leader. The surveys provide further evidence that the underpinnings for a brokered convention continue to solidify.

Monmouth University (June 11-14; 1,002 adults; 351 likely Republican voters) released the results of their national poll, while the Morning Consult group (weekly surveying equaling 2,000 respondents; combination of live phone interviews and online responses) simultaneously tested the Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina Republican electorates.

National polls, particularly in nomination contests, are not particularly useful because the contests are state-based. But, they can be a good momentum indicator. In this instance, Monmouth, using a very small 351-person sample segment, finds Dr. Ben Carson leading the group of 16 candidates but with just 11 percent preference.
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A Lot of Noes

June 16, 2015 — We witnessed a great many political “noes” this weekend, as Iowa Republicans voted to do away with their famous August straw poll event, and two potential major Senate candidates announced they would not run next year.

President

The Iowa Republican Party began the straw poll event in August of 1979, as a way to showcase their first-in-the nation caucus contest. Over the years, the event attracted major media attention and was generally viewed as the first official contest of the respective presidential campaign cycle. In the most recent years, it became the Iowa GOP’s top fundraising event for their entire election season. But, over this past weekend, the Iowa Republican Party Executive Committee voted 17-0 to end the famous informal poll.

Several reasons exist for the event’s elimination, which previously drew thousands to Iowa State University in Ames, the traditional event venue. First, the straw poll was never a good predictor as to who would win the Caucus event. For example, then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) placed first in the 2011 straw poll, which proved to be the high point of her campaign. Basically she was not heard from in a serious way after that. In fact, of the six straw poll events, only once did the outright August vote correctly foretell the actual Caucus winner (George W. Bush in 2000).
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Redistricting Moves Far From Over

June 15, 2015 — It’s very possible that a large number of the nation’s congressional districts will be re-drawn before the next census; the key unanswered question is, will most of it happen before the next regular vote, or will the district line adjustment process be pushed forward to the 2018 election cycle?

The US Supreme Court has been active in cases involving the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and methodology used to draw congressional districts. They first struck down a key VRA section in the Shelby County (AL) case that virtually eliminated the pre-clearance requirement associated with Voting Rights Act, Section V. This took a great deal of redistricting power away from the federal government (Department of Justice) and strengthened the states.

Awaiting a decision to be released before the end of the month is the Arizona congressional commission case. In this instance, Grand Canyon State Republicans filed suit against the voter-created special redistricting commission that has power to create state legislative and congressional districts. The Arizona Republicans are challenging the legitimacy of the commission itself, arguing that the US Constitution gives power to redistrict the House of Representatives only to the state legislatures.

Legal experts suggest the Arizona Republicans have a 50/50 chance of prevailing, and most agree the final vote will be 5-4, one way or the other.
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Data: Bush, Rubio in Florida

June 12, 2015 — A new poll of Florida Republicans gives us an early perspective on the largest Republican Winner-Take-All state (99 delegates) and it’s two favorite sons, former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio. The results represent yet a further warning sign for Bush, and could be a prelude for the future.

The St. Leo University Polling Institute from Pasco County went into the field during the May 25-31 period and interviewed 535 Florida adults, 410 of who are judged as likely voters. The Republican and Democratic cell segments are extremely small, however. Only 146 respondents are likely GOP primary voters and 166 reside in the latter political party group. This creates a major error factor in relation to survey conclusions about each party’s nominating situation.

From what information is available, St. Leo’s finds that former Gov. Bush holds a 30-24 percent lead over Sen. Rubio with all other GOP candidates well below the 10 percent threshold.

But the mere six-point lead for the state’s former two-term chief executive hardly tells the full story. In March, the Institute found Bush ahead of Rubio 31-16 percent. Therefore, the senator has gained a net nine points in what could well turn into a two-candidate state race.
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Sandoval’s Decision in Nevada;
Portman Race Tightens in Ohio

June 11, 2015 — The Republicans’ first choice to succeed retiring Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, will take a pass. In an announcement made Tuesday, Gov. Sandoval, who never showed any real interest in running for the Senate, formally stated that he will not seek the seat.

Sandoval, who wants to complete his second term as Nevada’s chief executive said, “My undivided attention must be devoted to being the best governor, husband and father I can be. For these reasons, I will not seek the United States Senate seat that will be available in 2016.”

All attention now turns to Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3). While it was no secret that Sandoval was a long shot to run for the Senate at best, GOP leaders simultaneously courted Heck, and it is apparent that a Senate campaign announcement from him will soon be forthcoming. At that point, in what will likely be a marathon general election campaign, the battle between Heck and presumed-Democratic nominee Catherine Cortez Masto (former attorney general) will begin.
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Democrats Cheer Virginia Redistricting Decision; VA-3 to be Redrawn

June 10, 2015 — Last October, an Eastern District of Virginia special three-judge panel declared VA District 3 (Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Richmond/ Norfolk) unconstitutional. According to the ruling, the draw packed African Americans, thereby diluting the black community’s influence in other districts even though the map was constructed to the dictates of the Voting Rights Act and previous court decisions.

The Republican appeal went to the US Supreme Court, which in turn sent the congressional plan back to the court of origination in order to determine the next course of action. The Supreme Court is using an Alabama state legislative case to chart new ground in relation to minority district redistricting and appears to be returning maps from cases before them back to the lower courts with instructions to add specifics.

The federal Virginia panel took action late last Friday and sent the map to the legislature with instructions to re-draw the 3rd District. As is the case with all redistricting, changes to one CD will affect at least two and possibly several districts. Most likely, Rep. Randy Forbes (R) will find his 4th District significantly changed, much to his chagrin.
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Why Cillizza’s Senate Dems’ “Stellar”
Recruitment Analysis is Wrong

June 9, 2015 — The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza wrote a story at the end of last week that rated 2016 Senate Democratic candidate recruitment as “stellar”, but he omits some rather major analytical points in drawing that conclusion. Mainly, he fails to mention the large number of cumulative losses these individuals have recently absorbed.

He first starts with the Nevada race and says the Democrats recruited the top potential candidate, former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto who outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D) prompted to run and supports. He gives the party further points by citing that Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-1) will not challenge Masto. This is all true, and avoiding a primary does make things better for them during the general election, but Masto should not be considered to be a prohibitive favorite against what should be a strong Republican. She won her first AG race in 2006, a Democratic landslide year, with a solid 59.0 percent vote count. Four years later she significantly regressed, scoring 52.8 percent, though 2010 was clearly a better Republican year.

In Florida, he cites Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) as a strong recruitment, and we agree. As Cillizza correctly mentions, Rep. Alan Grayson’s (D-FL-9) potential candidacy certainly clouds the Democratic picture. The Florida seat is open because Sen. Marco Rubio (R) is running for president.
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