Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Nebraska, West Virginia Primaries

By Jim Ellis

May 11, 2016 — Though the presidential nomination contests are virtually over, voters are still streaming to the polls for nine Republican and 13 Democratic intra-party elections. Now that we are progressing further into the election cycle more states include down ballot races along with the presidential contest. That was the case in Nebraska and West Virginia yesterday. Though Hillary Clinton remains the presumed Democratic nominee, she lost yet another primary. It was expected she would fall in West Virginia after coming out earlier for shutting down the coal industry. True to form, Bernie Sanders beat her 51-36 percent. She did manage to place first in the Nebraska primary, a beauty contest for Democrats since the delegates were apportioned weeks ago.

Nebraska

It was interesting to see how presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump fared in Nebraska, capturing 60 percent of the vote. Original projections slated this state for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and with it 36 winner-take-all Cornhusker delegates. Trump now wins, but the percentage is worth noting. The Midwest and Rocky Mountain region has been Cruz’s strongest territory, in addition to his home state of Texas, which is one reason Trump’s Indiana victory last week became so significant. The changing regional political winds in a state originally thought certain to go to Cruz helped end the race.

With many Republican establishment leaders publicly eschewing Trump’s candidacy, it doesn’t appear these actions hurt the future nominee and may actually have helped reinforce his independent, anti-establishment persona.

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Pivotal Minnesota

By Jim Ellis

May 10, 2016 — If the Democrats are to have any chance of making major gains in the 2016 House of Representatives elections, they must take advantage of seats in states like Minnesota where they traditionally perform well. Now, it appears the slates are virtually set for the North Star State’s fall elections.

The Republicans held their party endorsing convention over the weekend, which likely produced their congressional nominees. The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) held their convention at an earlier date.

While the DFL candidates are challenging for two of the state’s three Republican seats, the Minnesota GOP also has two potential conversion opportunities.

The weekend’s major convention fight came in Rep. John Kline’s (R-Burnsville) open 2nd District. There, radio talk show host and 1990 congressional candidate Jason Lewis (R) prevailed on the sixth ballot to win the party endorsement. Normally, the convention victory is tantamount to nomination but two of the losing candidates in this district, manufacturing executive Darlene Miller, who enjoys outgoing Rep. Kline’s endorsement, and former state Sen. John Howe look to force an Aug. 9 primary.

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McCain Complains

By Jim Ellis

May 9, 2016 — Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) said late last week that he is “worried that [Donald] Trump as the GOP nominee puts his own seat in play”. Later in the day McCain partially walked back his comments by saying he would vote for Trump.

McCain’s observation about his own re-election status is both right and wrong. He’s correct in detecting that his seat is competitive this year, and a sleeper race for the Democrats, but erroneous in attributing the reason to Donald Trump’s impending national presidential candidacy as the Republican nominee.

The Arizona Senate race may well be in play, but it has been trending that way for some time and before Trump became a serious fixture in the presidential campaign. In surveys dating back to mid-January, McCain was seen as dropping into a virtual tie with Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1), his presumptive general election opponent.

The Behavioral Research Center tested the Grand Canyon State electorate in January and again in April. In between, Arizona-based Merrill Polling also fielded a survey (March 7-11). Two of the three polls found McCain leading Kirkpatrick by just one point. The other found the pair tied.

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Trump’s Makeover

By Jim Ellis

May 6, 2016 — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) departing the 2016 presidential campaign on successive days unofficially awards Donald Trump with the Republican presidential nomination. Though it will still take the New York real estate mogul until the final primary day (June 7) to commit the 1,237 delegates he needs for a first-ballot nomination victory, he is, nevertheless, now beginning a general election campaign effort against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Cruz’s abrupt about-face on previous statements that he would not leave the race is a bit curious. With the ebbs and flows of this campaign, it would not have been surprising to see yet another switch in campaign momentum. In mid-April, for example, it was Trump who was floundering and on the political ropes just before the New York and eastern regional primaries launched him back on the final course toward the nomination.

It is clear, however, that what looked to be coming Cruz winner-take-all victories in Nebraska, South Dakota, and possibly Montana, along with surely accumulating more delegates in the remaining proportional states of Oregon, Washington and New Mexico, the Cruz campaign analysts obviously came to the conclusion that they could not overcome Trump.

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The End; Sanders, Again; State Results

By Jim Ellis

May 5, 2016 — Speculation as to whether the Republicans would host their first contested, or brokered, presidential nominating convention since the 1940s ended when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) suspended his presidential campaign after a bruising loss in Indiana.

Though the party nomination is still not officially, mathematically clinched, and won’t be for some time, Cruz’s departure followed a day later by Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) as an active candidate, leaves Donald Trump a solid month to campaign against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, boxing her in from the right while she must continue to court her party’s left base in order to become the nominee while the Democratic race still is ongoing. It will be an important period for Trump, since he will have a distinct short-term strategic advantage.

Indiana, as Trump has been saying since his major victory in the eastern regional primary April 26, proved to be definitive. The new unofficial nominee racked up a 53-37-7 percent victory over Cruz and Kasich, and possibly scored a backdoor winner-take-all result with a sweep of the statewide vote and possibly all nine Indiana congressional districts.

The CDs, which produce three delegates apiece for the candidate placing first in the particular domain, are going at least eight strong for Trump. The 3rd District (Rep. Marlin Stutzman-R) was not fully reported at this writing and Trump led Sen. Cruz here by only 926 votes. If he holds the 3rd, Trump will have secured a winner-take-all 57 delegates, far beyond the 39 he needed to establish a first ballot track.

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