Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Labor Day Special — Opinion: How
Sen. Ted Cruz “Wins” the Dem Primary

Please click on the image above or go here to read: The Dallas Express.


By Jim Ellis — Monday, Sept. 4, 2023

Senate

As a Labor Day holiday bonus, I thought I’d connect you with an opinion piece I wrote with James Carter on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s re-election bid, published here: Dallas Express

Enjoy. We’ll be back with our regular posts tomorrow.

Blake Masters to Run Again in Arizona Senate Race; New Candidate in NC-13 Race; Pfaff Passes in WI-3;
A Polling Tie in Mississippi Gov. Race

By Jim Ellis — Sept. 1, 2023

Senate

Blake Masters / Photo by Gage Skidmore

Arizona: 2022 GOP Nominee Preparing ’24 Senate Run — Reports are surfacing from Arizona that 2022 Republican US Senate nominee Blake Masters, a venture capitalist who fell to Sen. Mark Kelly (D) by a 51-47 percent margin, will soon enter the current three-way Senate race. Independent incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I) is expected to seek re-election possibly as the No Labels Party candidate, while Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) is already becoming a likely consensus Democratic contender.

The Grand Canyon State contest will prove unpredictable because all three contenders, Sen. Sinema, Rep. Gallego, and the eventual Republican nominee, will have a pathway to victory.

Should Masters choose to enter the campaign, he will likely have Republican primary opposition. Kari Lake, the former news anchorwoman who received 49.6 percent of the gubernatorial vote in a losing effort against current incumbent Sen. Katie Hobbs (D), is also expected to become a Senate candidate. Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb is already in the race and has been campaigning for the party nomination over a period of months.

The Arizona primary is scheduled for Aug. 6, 2024, meaning this race will have a long development period.

House

NC-13: Republican State Rep Announces for Congress — State Rep. Erin Pare (R-Holly Springs), the only Republican to represent part of Wake County in the legislature, announced yesterday that she will seek the GOP congressional nomination with the goal of challenging 13th District freshman Rep. Wiley Nickel (D-Cary). This will be an interesting race since the NC-13 seat is sure to change, and likely in a dramatic way. The legislature is scheduled soon to redraw the congressional map, and it is expected that the 13th will become much more Republican.

In 2022, Nickel defeated Republican Bo Hines, 52-48 percent, in a district the FiveThirtyEight data organization rated R+3. Dave’s Redistricting App saw a different picture, however. This group calculates the partisan lean at 49.5D – 48.1R. President Joe Biden carried the district with a slight 50.1 – 48.4 percent victory margin even though he lost the statewide count.

After the redraw we can expect this seat to lean decidedly Republican, thus making Rep. Nickel a highly vulnerable Republican target.

WI-3: 2022 Dem Nominee Bypasses Rematch Opportunity — State Sen. Brad Pfaff (D-La Crosse), who did surprising well in the 2022 WI-3 congressional race in losing to freshman Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Prairie du Chien) 52-48 percent even though Democratic party leaders virtually conceded the open race, has made a decision about seeking a re-match. Since Sen. Pfaff’s four-year term in the legislature expires at the end of next year, he announced that he will seek re-election instead of embarking upon another congressional race.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the WI-3 district as R+9, and the Democratic presidential nominee lost here in both 2020 and 2016 by five percentage points, thus leading the national party leadership to spend outside resources in places they believed to be more competitive.

In the upcoming 2024 campaign, however, Democrats are likely to make a stronger run since Pfaff exceeded expectations in 2022, but now it will have to be with a new candidate.

Governor

Mississippi: Dem Poll Shows Tie — An Impact Research poll taken for Democrat Brandon Presley (D) in early August but just released Wednesday (Aug. 6-9; 600 likely Mississippi 2023 general election voters) produced interesting results in the Mississippi governor’s race. The ballot test finds Presley tied with Gov. Tate Reeves (R) at 46 percent, apiece. The pollsters note that Presley’s support has risen in all three of their previously conducted surveys, while Gov. Reeves has consistently dropped.

Similar polling trends were published in the 2019 governor’s race, and many believed that Reeves, then the state’s lieutenant governor, would lose to Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood. In the end, Reeves scored a 52-47 percent win, a much stronger performance for the Republican than most believed would occur. Expect the Reeves campaign to soon counter with their own polling data. This year’s general election is scheduled for Nov. 7.

Trump Way Up in Georgia

Donald Trump continues to defy American political logic as is evidenced in a new Atlanta Journal-Constitution primary poll. (Go to AJC story)

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023

President

Trump: Georgia Numbers Jump — Former President Donald Trump continues to defy American political logic as is evidenced in a new Atlanta Journal-Constitution primary poll of the Georgia Republican electorate.

Once again we see polling evidence of Trump gaining support after being indicted. This particular study first went into the field one day after the former president and his associates were officially accused of breaking Georgia election law.

The University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs regularly conducts the research studies for the AJC. According to their just-released survey (Aug. 16-23; 807 likely and probable Republican primary voters; live interview), Trump captures 57 percent of the Republican primary respondents’ support.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is a distant second at 15 percent and no other contender even reaches the five percent support threshold.

Since pollsters began testing the Georgia 2024 Republican presidential race, this current AJC poll reveals Trump’s strongest standing within the Peach State electorate. At the end of March, for example, WPA Intelligence detected a one-point DeSantis lead over Trump at 37-36 percent.

It is the crosstabs, however, that tell an even more interesting story. While Trump largely lost the 2020 presidential race because too many female suburban voters who supported him in 2016 turned toward Joe Biden four years later, this poll surprisingly projects his standing among female respondents who plan to vote in the Georgia Republican primary at 57.9 percent, an even stronger number than their male counterparts at 54.5 percent.

In fact, of the seven categories and 23 segments within the AJC respondent sample, Trump leads in all categories and fails to claim the top spot in just one segment. The seven categories are gender, race, age, education level, ideology, income, and partisan persuasion. The 23 segments are response cells within those categories.

A small number of Democrats (number undisclosed) responded that they intended to vote in the Republican presidential primary. Not surprisingly, this is the group in which Trump fails to lead.

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is the favorite among the small number of Democrats who plan to cast their ballot in the GOP primary. In this category, Haley scores 26.1 percent support with New Jersey former Gov. Chris Christie posting 21.7 percent support. Conversely, Trump attracts only 4.3 percent among Democratic Republican primary voters.

He does rather surprisingly lead among those who identify as liberals at 30.0 percent and who say they will vote in the Republican primary. Trump holds a 12.5 point edge over Haley within this segment, and a 17.5 point advantage over Christie.

Trump’s strongest segment is found with those making between $25,000 – $49,999 annually. Here, the former president captures a whopping 76.0 percent support factor.

Though leading among the wealthiest in the sampling pool ($150,000+ annual income level), many of whom are Trump’s own peers, he records his weakest showing within a favorable cell. Within this group, the former president scores only a 30 percent support figure, though still better than any of his opponents.

The final question on the AJC poll relates to the indictment charges and just how seriously the respondents view the accusations. Here, again, we see the female respondent cell performing more in Trump’s favor than the men. A total of 46.5 percent of the female respondents believe the charges are very serious or somewhat serious. Among male respondents, that figure is a larger 52.3 percent.

Minorities break in the opposite manner, which is another surprise from this survey. Only 40 percent of minorities believe the charges are very or somewhat serious, while 48.5 percent believe they are not too serious, or not serious at all.

This poll confirms that Trump continues to enjoy strong support within the Republican primary base, which alone may be enough for him to win the presidential nomination. It is undeniably significant that these favorable partisan numbers are coming from Georgia, the state of his most recent indictment and the most important swing state overall in the general election.

Francis Suarez: Drops Presidential Bid — Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (R), who was unable to jump-start a long-shot presidential campaign, culminating with not qualifying for the first presidential debate, announced that he is officially ending his national bid. The move came with little in the way of surprise since, for the most part, he was not even registering in national polls.

Trump Leads Biden in Polls; One Less Candidate in RI-1; Texas Sheriff Out of House Race; Top Utah Candidate Lags

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023

President

Former President Donald Trump up in polling.

National Polling: Two More Pollsters Show Trump Leading Biden — Emerson College and Ipsos/Reuters just released their post-debate, post-indictment national surveys and they become the third and fourth consecutive pollsters to find former President Donald Trump topping incumbent President Joe Biden.

The Emerson numbers (Aug. 25-26; 1,000 US registered voters; multiple sampling techniques) give Trump a 46-44 perecent edge without including a minor party candidate. In the question that added Green Party candidate Dr. Cornel West, Trump increased his lead over Biden to 44-39 perecent. Dr. West garnered four percent support, which is consistent with his showing in other polls.

Ipsos/Reuters (Aug. 24-25; 1,004 US adults; online) finds Trump leading President Biden, 38-32 perecent, with a high undecided factor. The poll analysis indicated that those not choosing Trump or Biden were either undecided, would vote for another candidate, or wouldn’t vote at all.

House

RI-1: One Less Candidate — Democratic attorney Don Carlson has withdrawn from the special congressional election, just eight days before the Sept. 5 special primary election conducted to replace resigned US Rep. David Cicilline (D). Reports surfacing that he was fired in 2019 from his position as an educator at Williams College due to “sexually inappropriate conduct” created enough negative publicity to force Carlson from the race before voting began, but it is too late to remove his name from the ballot.

The leading candidates for the party nomination appear to be former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg and ex-Biden and Obama White House aide Gabe Amo.

TX-23: Sheriff Decides not to Challenge Rep. Gonzales — Terrell County Sheriff Thaddeus Cleveland (R) announced that he would not follow through with plans to challenge two-term Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-San Antonio). Earlier in the year, Sheriff Cleveland had filed a congressional exploratory committee. In the Republican primary race are retired ICE agent Victor Avila and Medina County Republican chair Julie Clark, along with two minor candidates.

Surprisingly, Democrats have yet to recruit a strong candidate in this district, which has a history of flipping back and forth between the parties. Redistricting made the seat more Republican, however. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+13, while Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 52.5R – 45.4D.

UT-2: Convention Choice Badly Trails in Poll — Dan Jones & Associates, a regular Utah pollster, just published the UT-2 special election survey conducted for the Deseret News and the University of Utah earlier in the month.

The study (Aug. 7-14; 471 registered UT-2 Republican voters) sees ex-state representative and 2022 US Senate candidate Becky Edwards leading her two opponents with 32 percent of the vote. Former Republican National Committeeman Bruce Hough trails with 11 percent support, while congressional legal counsel Celeste Maloy, who won the special congressional district convention, well back with only nine percent support.

The special primary election is scheduled for Sept. 5. State Sen. Kathleen Riebe (D-Cottonwood Heights) is unopposed for the Democratic nomination. Incumbent Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Farmington) will resign his seat due to family matters on Sept. 15. The special general election will be held Nov. 21.

Nikki Haley Gets 8-Point Bump in Iowa; Ricketts May Avoid Challenge in Nebraska; IN-1 New GOP Candidate; NY-18 Candidate Stepping Up

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023

President

Nikki Haley gained eight points in Iowa poll. / Photo by Gage Skidmore

Iowa Poll: Margin Tightening — Public Opinion Strategies tested the Iowa electorate just after the Republican presidential debate (POS for Citizen Awareness Project; Aug. 24; 400 likely Iowa Republican Caucus attenders; live interview) and their flash poll numbers show some movement within the Hawkeye State voting pool. The ballot test projects former President Donald Trump to hold a 41-21-11-7-7 percent lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy.

The numbers represent a seven-point gain for Gov. DeSantis, who most believe delivered the strongest debate performance. Haley also gained eight points while Sen. Scott and Ramaswamy lost one and three points, respectively, when compared with the pre-debate POS survey.

Senate

Nebraska: Ricketts May Avoid Challenge — Rancher and former gubernatorial candidate Chuck Herbster (R), who lost the 2022 open Republican nomination for governor despite receiving former President Trump’s endorsement, indicates he is still “considering” challenging appointed senator and former Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) next year, but clearly doesn’t have running on his front burner. He said, while still thinking about the race, his top objective is working to see that Trump returns to the White House.

The response suggests that Herbster is unlikely to challenge Sen. Ricketts. If not, it is probable that the new senator will have an easy run for the Republican nomination and in the general election. Sen. Ricketts, appointed when former Sen. Ben Sasse (R) resigned to become the University of Florida’s president, must stand for election in 2024 to fill the balance of the unexpired term. Assuming he wins next year, he will then seek a full six-year term in 2026.

House

IN-1: New GOP Candidate Emerging Against Rep. Mrvan — In 2022, then-freshman Rep. Frank Mrvan (D-Highland/Gary) fought back a tough challenge from Republican Jennifer-Ruth Green and recorded a 53-47 percent victory in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+7 and Dave’s Redistricting App sees the partisan lean dividing 56.5D – 41.0R. Though Rep. Mrvan, an upset winner in the 2020 Democratic primary after veteran Rep. Peter Visclosky (D) retired, was re-elected his victory percentage should be viewed as an under-performance. Thus, he is somewhat vulnerable in 2024.

While Green may still be thinking about launching a re-match campaign, Lake County councilman, business owner, and local Republican Party chairman Randy Niemeyer is making plans to enter the race. Though the district is definitively Democratic, and the African American population reaches just under 20 percent to form a solid base for any Democratic standard bearer, the seat appears to becoming more competitive. Whether the eventual Republican nominee is Green or Niemeyer, the IN-1 race is 2024 will merit political attention.

NY-18: Former Lieutenant Governor Nominee Readies Congressional Campaign — Lieutenant governor nominee from 2022, Alison Esposito (R), is reportedly stepping up her efforts to soon declare her congressional candidacy hoping clinch the GOP nomination in order to challenge freshman Rep. Pat Ryan (D-Gardiner). Ryan won the regular 2022 general election, defeating then-Assemblyman Colin Schmitt (R) by a tight 49.6 – 48.3 percent margin. Rep. Ryan was first elected to the House in a special election a few months earlier in the neighboring 19th District. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates NY-18 as D+3, meaning this seat Orange County-anchored CD will again become a political battleground in 2024.

Florida Poll: Trump Cruising

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Aug. 28, 2023

President

This booking photo provided by Fulton County, Georgia Sheriff’s Office of former President Donald Trump was taken Thursday, Aug. 24 as he was booked at the county jail. He surrendered to face charges of trying to steal the 2020 election in Georgia.

Florida Poll: Trump Cruising — The Victory Polling organization surveyed Gov. Ron DeSantis’ home state of Florida’s electorate (Aug. 21-23; 590 likely Florida Republican primary voters) and delivered bad news for the host politician. The Victory results find former President Donald Trump holding a commanding Sunshine State lead of 59-23 percent over Gov. DeSantis with no other candidate even reaching five percent support. The former president now lives in Florida, having filed a “declaration of domicile” that declared his Mar-a-Lago property in Palm Beach as his permanent residence in 2019. It will be curious to see if Gov. DeSantis’ strong debate performance begins to change some voters’ allegiance.

Pennsylvania Poll: Getting Closer — Franklin & Marshall College, a Lancaster, PA institution that regularly polls the Keystone State, released their new small-sample Republican statewide survey (Aug. 9-20; 723 PA registered voters; 297 Republican primary voters; live interview) and the results show a tightening presidential field when compared with most other states. While former President Trump still leads the group, his margin is becoming somewhat smaller. The F&M numbers find him commanding 39 percent support as compared to Gov. DeSantis’ 21 percent. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy is third with nine percent, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) pulls six percent, and no other candidate exceeds the five percent threshold.

House

RI-1: Lead Change in New Poll — Apparently, the controversy over Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos’ petition signatures has taken a toll on her approval rating. The previous polling leader has slipped to an upside-down favorability index of 29:44 percent positive to negative. A new Blueprint Polling survey (Aug. 15-17; 451 definite and probable RI-1 special election voters), the source of the Matos approval rating data, finds former state representative and 2018 lieutenant governor candidate Aaron Regunberg now leading the large field of 12 candidates vying for the all-important Democratic primary in this district.

Regunberg tops former Obama and Biden White House aide Gabe Amo, 28-19 percent. Lt. Gov. Matos drops to a virtual tie for third place with state Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Pawtucket) with 11 percent apiece. The special primary is scheduled for Sept. 5. Former Rep. David Cicilline (D-Providence) resigned in June. Winning the Democratic primary here is tantamount to clinching the Nov. 7 special general.

Governor

Louisiana: Landry, Wilson Look to Advance — Louisiana voters will choose a new governor later this year, and a new Faucheux Associates poll conducted for the Advocate online publication, the Urban League of Louisiana, the Public Affairs Research Council of Baton Rouge, and three Louisiana television stations (Aug. 14-19; 800 likely Louisiana voters; live interview) finds Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) and former LA Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson (D) developing strong leads to capture the two runoff positions from the upcoming Oct. 14 jungle primary.

Landry attracts 36 percent support as compared to Wilson’s 26 percent. The two are far ahead of the other five candidates, none of whom even reach eight percent support. Should no candidate receive majority support in the Oct. 14 primary, the top two finishers will advance to a Nov. 18 runoff election. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

North Carolina: Retiring Judge May Enter Gov Race — North Carolina state Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan (D) announced that he will resign his seat 16 months prior to his term expiring. Justice Morgan had already said he would not seek another eight-year term on the high court largely because the state imposed age limit on judges would only allow him to serve only half of the next term. No North Carolina judge may serve past the age of 72.

It is now likely that the early resignation means Justice Morgan will enter the Democratic primary for governor and oppose Attorney General Josh Stein, who so far is unchallenged for the party nomination. A Morgan candidacy would create a seriously contested Democratic primary. Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is purportedly the leading GOP candidate. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term in the 2024 election.

Good News / Bad News for DeSantis; Pastor Withdraws in Arizona;
A Challenger in GA-13

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Aug. 25, 2023

President

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) Photo by Gage Skidmore

Iowa: Selzer & Company Releases Survey — The Hawkeye State’s proven most accurate pollster, Selzer & Company, released a pre-debate poll in partnership with NBC News and the Des Moines Register newspaper. This research study provides some needed good news for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as his 66 percent positive rating is the best of any presidential candidate, although only one percentage point better than former President Donald Trump.

Trump still leads the first choice ballot test, however, with 42-19-9-6-6 percent split over Gov. DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), former Vice President Mike Pence, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, and ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, respectively. He tops Gov. DeSantis by only two points when first, second, and “considering” categories are added and assigned an aggregate point value. The Iowa Republican Caucus is scheduled for Jan. 15, 2024.

New Hampshire: DeSantis Drops to Fourth — The Granite State Echelon Insights data (8/15-17; 800 NH likely Republican primary voters; live interview & text) sees former President Donald Trump leading the pack of candidates with a rather low support factor of 34 percent. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was second with 14 percent, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy follows in third position at 11 percent support. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis posts a disappointing nine percent.

It is likely the New Hampshire primary will be scheduled for Jan. 23, eight days after the Iowa Caucus and 11 days before the South Carolina Democratic primary. The South Carolina Republicans will vote on Feb. 24, followed by the Michigan primary three days later. Super Tuesday is scheduled for March 5, 2024.

Senate

Nevada: Brown Leads in First Primary Poll — Public Opinion Strategies, polling for the Duty First Super PAC, an organization supporting candidate Sam Brown (R), released the result of their first Nevada Senate Republican primary survey (Public Opinion Strategies; Aug. 15-17; 500 likely Nevada Republican primary voters; live interview). The results find Brown, an Afghan War veteran, leading former state assemblyman and frequent candidate Jim Marchant, 33-15 percent, with five other announced candidates failing to reach even the three percent support plateau.

Brown, the 2022 US Senate candidate who raised over $4 million for his unsuccessful primary effort against former Attorney General Adam Laxalt and now has National Senate Republican Committee chairman Steve Daines’ endorsement, also leads in all segmentation divisions. Most importantly, of the respondents who are familiar with both Brown and Marchant, the former leads the latter by a strong 59-21 percent cut. The Nevada primary is scheduled for June 11, 2024. The eventual Republican nominee will challenge first-term Sen. Jacky Rosen (D) in what promises to be a hotly contested general election campaign.

House

AZ-3: Laura Pastor (D) Withdraws — Phoenix City Councilwoman Laura Pastor (D), whose late father, Ed Pastor (D), represented Phoenix in the US House for 12 terms, announced that she is withdrawing from the open seat race to replace present incumbent Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix). Ms. Pastor says her withdrawal is due to a non-life threatening health issue, but one serious enough to force her from the campaign trail.

With Congressman Gallego running for Senate, the Democratic primary will determine the 3rd District’s next Representative. At this point, four Democrats have announced for the seat including Phoenix City Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari and former state Senate Minority Leader Raquel Teran. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates AZ-3, which is wholly contained within Maricopa County, as D+44. The Arizona primary is late, scheduled for August 6, 2024, so much can happen to change the race between now and the April 8, 2024, candidate filing deadline.

GA-13: Rep. David Scott Draws Dem Primary Challenger — Veteran Georgia US Rep. David Scott (D-Atlanta) surprised many by recently announcing he would run for a 12th term. Now, he has drawn a Democratic primary challenger. East Point Utility Board chairman Mark Herring did not attack Rep. Scott in his announcement address, only saying he is running to make a “positive difference.” Others are expected to join, thus creating a multi-candidate Democratic primary.

GA-13 is another district where winning the Democratic nomination is tantamount to election. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as D+52. Rep. Scott faced three Democrats in the 2022 congressional primary, winning with 66 percent of the vote. In 2020, however, the outcome was much tighter as he avoided a runoff with just 52.9 percent, again opposite three opponents.