Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Primary Preview – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 29, 2016 — Arizona and Florida voters go to the polls tomorrow in what has become the most important of the late summer primaries.

Today, we cover Arizona and half of the competitive Florida campaigns. Tomorrow, the remaining Sunshine State races will be updated. Resulting from the court-ordered mid-decade redistricting changes and an unusually large number of open seats, competition is developing in no less than 17 of the state’s 27 congressional districts. Both states also host critical Senate contests.

Arizona

• Senate: Sen. John McCain (R) is seeking a sixth term after originally winning in 1986, four years after his initial election to the House. What was thought to be a potentially competitive Republican primary at the outset seemingly fizzled when McCain drew a lesser primary opponent. For a time, it appeared that either Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Mesa) or Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills/Scottsdale) might enter the statewide contest, but neither chose to do so. In fact, Rep. Salmon would later decide to retire altogether.

Former state Senator Kelli Ward, who resigned her position in order to spend her full energies in challenging McCain, has raised about $1.5 million, but it would likely require more in the way of resources and outside support to deny the veteran incumbent and former Republican presidential nominee a re-nomination victory. Expect Sen. McCain to do better than his 56 percent Republican primary performance in 2010.

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Topsy Turvy Florida

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 26, 2016 — Yesterday, we reported about a Florida shock poll from St. Leo University that projected Donald Trump to be lagging 14 percentage points behind Hillary Clinton, but already the situation has changed.

Now, Florida Atlantic University releases its new data finding Trump actually ahead of Clinton, 43-41 percent. Confirming that trend, the Florida Chamber of Commerce also reported their new data, taken over the Aug. 17-22 period (sample size not available). This poll also finds Trump leading, 44-41 percent.

Methodologically, the set-up between the St. Leo and FAU surveys is similar, though there is no evidence that FAU uses online polling and St. Leo exclusively does. The latter organization’s poll directors were in the field from Aug. 14-18, FAU, Aug. 19-22. The St. Leo sampling universe began with 1,500 Florida adults and winnowed to 1,380 likely voters. FAU’s sample size was 1,200 registered voters. Thus, the time periods and sample sizes are similar.

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Trump’s Troubling Florida Poll

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 25, 2016 — The St. Leo University Polling Institute dropped a shock poll on the Donald Trump campaign a couple days ago, but the numbers appear inconsistent when comparing other available data.

The Florida poll finds Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by a whopping 52-38 percent margin when counting those individuals leaning to both candidates. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson receives eight percent, and the Green Party’s Jill Stein attracts just over two percent support. Without leaners, Clinton’s margin is 48-34-6-2 percent consecutively over Trump, Johnson, and Stein. But, these numbers are far from what other pollsters are finding within the Sunshine State.

The St. Leo survey (Aug. 14-18; 1,500 Florida adults, 1,380 likely Florida voters), conducted online “ … uses cutting-edge online methodology … [that draws a] sample from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups.” The quoted passage comes from the institute’s official methodology explanation. St. Leo is a 16,000-plus student Catholic liberal arts university located 35 miles northeast of Tampa that was originally established in 1889, and re-established in 1959. Their Polling Institute was initiated in December of 2013.

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Senate Trends

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 24, 2016 — While national pollsters are detecting a tightening presidential race, the US Senate campaigns are also beginning to reveal some potentially defining trends.

Safe Republicans & Democrats

Of the 34 in-cycle US Senate campaigns currently underway in 2016, half of them are in the safe category and won’t change. Nine Republican senators and eight Democrats are assured of re-election:

Republican senators: Shelby (AL), Murkowski (AK), Crapo (ID), Moran (KS), Hoeven (ND), Lankford (OK), Scott (SC), Thune (SD), Lee (UT)

Democrat sentors: California (Open Boxer), Maryland (Open Mikulski); Blumenthal (CT), Schatz (HI), Schumer (NY), Wyden (OR), Leahy (VT), Murray (WA)
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New Wasserman Schultz Poll

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 23, 2016 — The Democratic National Convention controversy surrounding former national party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has dissipated, but her Democratic congressional primary battle against law professor Tim Canova is running in high gear.

With the vote coming on Aug. 30, the South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper and Florida Atlantic University together sponsored a survey of 400 likely Democratic primary voters in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. The poll, administered by the Business and Economics Polling Initiative, suggests that Wasserman Schultz will likely win re-nomination, but she may find the final tally uncomfortably close.

According to the respondent group, polled during the Aug. 17-19 period, Rep. Wasserman Schultz leads Canova 50-40 percent, but delving into the poll suggests some interesting patterns that could lead to a much closer final result.

Despite Wasserman Schultz’s national problems, Democrats in her district, as evidenced by this 400-member polling sample, still view her relatively favorably. By a margin of 58:35 percent, these Democrats have a positive impression of the congresswoman. Canova scores in similar territory. The same group rated him 46:22 percent favorable to unfavorable.

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