Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Senate Trends

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 15, 2016 — A plethora of new swing state Senate polls have been conducted and already released in August, and both parties are getting some good news in specific races.

The two states ripe for electing a senator from a different party are Illinois and Wisconsin. Such has been known for the better part of a year, and the latest polls are no exception to the developing trends.

Illinois Senate Democratic nominee Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) released her internal Normington Petts research firm poll (Aug. 1-4; 800 likely Illinois general election voters) projecting a 44-37 percent Duckworth lead over Sen. Mark Kirk (R). Marquette University Law School, again polling the Wisconsin electorate (Aug. 4-7; 805 registered Wisconsin voters) as they have done regularly since the 2012 election, finds former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) topping incumbent Ron Johnson (R), 53-42 percent. This result swings a net of six points in Feingold’s favor when compared to the institution’s July survey. At that time, Feingold led 49-44 percent.

All the key Republican defense battleground states reported new August numbers. The good news for Democrats comes in Pennsylvania where challenger Katie McGinty (D) made a significant gain on Sen. Pat Toomey (R), to the point where several polls find her building a small lead.

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Trump Trends

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 12, 2016 — Despite major media coverage to the contrary, Donald Trump’s polling standing in comparison to Hillary Clinton appears to be improving nationally, and in certain key states. Other surveys point to Clinton sustaining her large leads.

The latest national poll, from Bloomberg News/Selzer & Company (Aug. 5-8; 1,007 adults, 749 likely US voters) finds Trump pulling back to within four points of Clinton, 44-40 percent, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson attracting a nine percent share, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein obtaining a four percent preference vote.

A day earlier, the UPI/C-Voter survey (Aug. 2-8; 993 likely US voters) came out with Clinton also maintaining a four-point advantage over Trump, 49-45 percent. In this survey, the third-party candidates were not included on the ballot test questionnaire.

Twenty-four hours before the UPI poll was released, NBC/Survey Monkey publicized the results of their latest large sample national poll (Aug. 1-7; 11,480 registered US voters). While showing a 10-point, 51-41 percent spread in a head-to-head question, the margin declines to six points (44-38-10-4 percent) when Johnson and Stein are added. The polls including the third party candidates are more realistic because Johnson will appear on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, while Stein has so far qualified in 27 states and is awaiting a favorable petition decision in an additional 10.

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Ryan Crushes; Other Results

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 11, 2016
— House Speaker Paul Ryan recorded an 84-16 percent landslide victory against Republican primary opponent Paul Nehlen Tuesday night in southern Wisconsin. Nehlen was on his way to approaching the $1 million mark in campaign expenditures, but it did little to help expose any weakness in the Ryan political base.

Ryan followed the lead of his predecessor, former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-8), when faced with a similar primary circumstance in 2014. Boehner re-invented himself as the local congressman for that particular race, returning to his roots in western Ohio and never mentioning his GOP opponent in ads or speeches. In fact, never did Ryan even indicate that he was the House Speaker, instead confining his personal description to that of local congressman.

Nehlen attacked heavily on immigration and trade, but it was Ryan’s years of work in the district and never losing touch with his political base and core constituency that allowed him to record such a big primary victory. In fact, the current Speaker actually ran 13 points ahead of the former Speaker’s final primary performance against a more difficult political opponent.

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Ryan Primary; 4 States Vote

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 10, 2016 — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) won re-nomination easily in his Wisconsin district by a margin of 84-16 percent. Businessman Paul Nehlen (R), a first-time candidate who made immigration and trade policies the centerpiece of his campaign, opposed him.

Nehlen had attracted a great deal of local and national attention, particularly when regularly holding events in front of Ryan’s Janesville home. The congressman countered with running positive television ads, using his extreme financial advantage to his benefit, never advertising that he is the Speaker of the House, and relying upon a strong connection with his district Republican voters who have nine times nominated and elected him to the House.

Ryan raised almost $15 million and spent $8 million through July 20, but determining actual re-election expenditures versus national political commitments and expenses is difficult at this point. By contrast, Nehlen had raised and spent close to $900,000 through the same date, a very respectable amount for a challenger to a top House leader.

Turning to northeastern Wisconsin, Rep. Reid Ribble’s (R-Sherwood/Green Bay) open 8th District voters also chose nominees. Democrats have coalesced around Outagamie (Appleton) County Executive Tom Nelson, who is unopposed in the party primary. Already raising just over $600,000, Nelson will be a competitive general election factor in a district that has five times elected a Democrat since 1974.

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Signs of Tightening

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 9, 2016 — The latest presidential polls are providing new sweeping numbers that again suggest the race is becoming more fluid. Four polls were released with sampling periods ending Aug. 2-6, producing very different results.

Conducted over several days in early August, the six polls reported last week projected average Hillary Clinton leads of approximately 8.5 percent. Now, additional data finds the Clinton advantage dropping to five percentage points, including the Los Angeles Times/USC poll that suggests the two are tied.

The LA Times/USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research in partnership with the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics poll is interesting from the perspective that it continually surveys a universe of over 3,200 people that persistently grows. The surveyors hope to reach a respondent pool of 6,000 individuals. One-seventh of the aggregate polling respondents are asked daily whether they will vote in the 2016 presidential election, about their presidential preference, and who they believe will win the contest.

During the four-day swing from Aug. 3-6, the LA Times/USC daily margin between Clinton and Donald Trump fluctuated only between four-tenths of one percent and seven-tenths of one percent. The conclusions are quite different from the other field studies conducted during this time segment but are not necessarily inaccurate.

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