Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Two Kansas Races:
Retirement & Special

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 27, 2017 — Rep. Lynn Jenkins bows out of politics, opening up the KS-2 congressional district, and Rep. Mike Pompeo’s confirmation as CIA director under President Trump opens up the KS-4 congressional district. Here’s a look at how those openings are expected to play out:

KS-2

It was expected that five-term Kansas Rep. Jenkins (R-Topeka) would not seek re-election in 2018, but her actual announcement contained a surprise. Most politicos believed Rep. Jenkins would enter the open governor’s campaign, but that will not be the case.

The congresswoman did, in fact, announce that she will leave the House at the end of the current term, but will not be running for governor or any other office. Jenkins intends to return to the private sector after completing her final term in Congress.

Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is ineligible to seek a third term, and a great many names have been mentioned as potential statewide candidates. Now that Rep. Jenkins will not be a gubernatorial contender, the race to succeed Brownback becomes even more wide open. Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer (R), Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R), and Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) are attracting attention as prospective candidates. For the Democrats, 2014 gubernatorial nominee Paul Davis, the former state House minority leader, resides in this district and could potentially become a congressional candidate.

CD-2 lies in eastern Kansas, stretching in a north-south direction from Nebraska to Oklahoma. The two largest population centers are the capital city of Topeka and Lawrence, the home of Kansas University. The seat is reliably Republican but has elected Democrats from time to time. President Trump carried the 2nd, 56-37 percent. Four years ago, Mitt Romney out-polled then-President Obama, 56-42 percent.

Once this open seat race takes shape, the eventual Republican nominee will be viewed as a strong favorite, but a Democratic wave year, if such were to form, could potentially make this open seat race competitive.

KS-4

Since Rep. Pompeo (R-Wichita) immediately resigned his congressional seat upon being confirmed as President Trump’s CIA Director earlier in the week, Gov. Brownback (R) scheduled the replacement election for Tuesday, April 11. The two parties will determine for themselves how their nominees will be chosen, but it will be through an internal party procedure that must be completed by Feb. 18.

The Republicans have already announced that the 126-member 4th District Republican Committee will choose the special election nominee. The eventual GOP candidate will likely be a prohibitive favorite to win in April. Democrats have not yet announced their nomination structure.

The 4th is a strongly Republican seat. President Trump scored a 60-33 percent victory here over Hillary Clinton. In 2012, Mitt Romney’s victory margin over then-President Obama was 62-36 percent.

In anticipation of the special election, several individuals have already announced their candidacies, including former US Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R). Also petitioning the Republican committee members are state Treasurer Ron Estes, Wichita City Councilman Pete Meitzner, former radio talk show host Joseph Ashby, petroleum company CEO George Bruce, and Trump Transition Team member Alan Cobb.

For the Democrats, former state Treasurer Dennis McKinney and international relations consultant Laura Lombard are the two most prominent announced candidates.

Kansas’ largest city, Wichita, anchors the 4th District that occupies the south-central region in the state, just along the Oklahoma border. Much more will develop on this special election now that the vacancy is official, and with a newly defined short election cycle.

Election 2016: Urban vs. Rural

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 26, 2017 — Now that the election returns are official and divided into congressional district and county totals, we can now see exactly how the presidential election unfolded.

It became clear from early Election Night totals that Donald Trump won the national vote because of his performance in the outer suburbs and rural areas in the 30 states that he carried over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. His margins there, largely because of turnout, were enough to compensate for Clinton’s larger-than-expected advantages in the major cities and inner suburbs.

In looking at the country’s largest metropolitan statistical areas, we find that Clinton scored an average 59.9 percent of the vote, when averaging her percentage performance in the nation’s 10 most populous urban regions. This compares to President Trump’s 35.8 percent. Keep in mind that the national popular vote percentage total was 48.1 – 46.0 percent.

In the rural areas surrounding these specific urban centers, the numbers dramatically changed. Counterbalancing the Clinton margins in the metroplexes, Trump’s lead in the outer suburban and rural regions in the states he carried was roughly equivalent to the former secretary of state’s urban advantage but with greater turnout. In the corresponding Trump state rural regions, the new president averaged 56.8 percent as compared to Clinton’s 39.7 percent.

Continue reading

Election 2016:
How the Electoral College Won

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 25, 2016 — Over the past few decades we have witnessed a great debate in American politics involving the Founding Fathers’ implementation of the Electoral College to govern the presidential election. The just-completed 2016 contest provided many definitive answers to questions surrounding whether the system has outlived its usefulness, or is even needed.

Understanding that the Electoral College was created largely to protect the lesser populated states, rural issues and concerns, and prevent the large population areas from dominating the outcome at all others’ expense, 2016 proved all of those tenets are still salient in the modern political era.

Looking at the presidential election results divided into congressional districts and counties, we can begin to pinpoint the ebbs and flows of the Trump and Clinton vote characterizations and begin to understand how this election truly unfolded. We knew from Election Night that the 2016 electorate was badly polarized in terms of the metropolitan areas versus outer suburb and rural regions, but now we have the tools to see just how deep a divide actually exists. Such appears to be cavernous.

Breaking down the top 10 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) relating to population, we generally see an overwhelming support trend in Hillary Clinton’s favor, which makes the increased turnout and overpowering Trump advantage in the outer suburban and rural areas all the more stunning.

Continue reading

The Cross-Districts

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 24, 2017 — With all but North Carolina now publishing their final county returns –- a glitch in absentee balloting still remains unsolved, so the final Tar Heel State numbers are not yet officially reported –- we can now look at which congressional districts split their votes.

In 2016, for the first time in electoral history, we saw all Senate race states voting consistently. That is, each of the 34 states holding a Senate race voted for one party’s candidates at both the presidential and senatorial levels.

In House districts, we see some divergence, but again very little. As in the 2012 campaign, when only 7.1 percent of the districts chose one party’s candidate for president and the other’s for the US House, a similar pattern arose this time. In the election just completed, voters in 400 CDs chose the same party’s candidates for president and the US House. In 2012, that number was 404.

While Hillary Clinton was carrying the national popular vote, and Donald Trump took 30 of the 50 states, the Republican also carried a majority of House districts, 230-205.

Continue reading

A Perplexed America

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 23, 2017 — On the day that Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States this past Friday, new surveys just out suggest the American people are polarized about how they view the present and future.

While Trump was sworn in as the fifth minority president (in terms of popular vote) since 1960, his 46.1 percent share of the popular vote is not the lowest among the last 10 to attain the office. Actually, looking at the initial election of Presidents #35 (Kennedy) to 45 (Trump), his popular vote total is actually close to the average election percentage of this relatively contemporary group. When first winning office, and not counting President Lyndon B. Johnson who assumed the position after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the average incoming presidential victory percentage is 48.5 percent. Of the group, the two lowest are Presidents Bill Clinton (43.0 percent) and Richard Nixon (43.4 percent).

Trump is the oldest person ever to be sworn in as the nation’s chief executive, at 70 years and 220 days. The previous two oldest were Presidents Ronald Reagan at 69 years, 349 days, and William Henry Harrison who was 68 years and 23 days of age. The youngest to be sworn in was Theodore Roosevelt at 42 years, 322 days, while John Kennedy aged 43 years, 236 days, was the youngest to be elected. Roosevelt assumed office after President William McKinley was assassinated.

Continue reading