Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Senate Candidate Gibbons Confirmed to be in Top Tier of Ohio Race

By Jim Ellis

Ohio US Senate candidate Mike Gibbons forges into a small lead.

Feb. 15, 2022 — At the end of January, a Cygnal research poll found investment banker and 2018 Ohio US Senate candidate Mike Gibbons forging into a small lead over perennial GOP primary leader Josh Mandel, the state’s former treasurer and 2012 US Senate nominee. Two new polls now confirm Gibbons’ outright lead in the battle to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman.

The previously released internal Gibbons’ campaign Cygnal January poll (Jan. 28-30; 929 likely Ohio Republican primary voters, SMS text & email) gave their candidate a 16-13 percent lead over Mandel, with author J.D. Vance showing in double-digits at 10 percent.

The new pair of statewide Buckeye State Republican US Senate primary surveys find the businessman again overtaking Mandel to claim first place. A co/efficent independent survey (Feb. 6-8; 613 likely Ohio Republican primary voters, text & automated interview responses) posts Gibbons to a 20-18 percent lead over Mandel, with state senator and Cleveland Guardians MLB club minority owner Mike Dolan, former state Republican Party chair Jane Timken, and Vance trailing with 7, 6 and 5 percent support, respectively.

The new Cyngal research firm’s internal poll for the Gibbons campaign (Feb. 8-10; 609 likely Ohio Republican primary voters, SMS text & email), however, gives their candidate a much larger margin over the rest of the field.

One possible reason for the increase in support is that another business candidate, car dealer Bernie Moreno, who had reached as high as 11 percent in a January poll, withdrew from the race in early February, reportedly at the behest of former President Donald Trump. It is conceivable that much of the Moreno support base went to Gibbons, since the two candidates were similar in several ways.

The most recent Cygnal numbers find Gibbons holding a surprisingly large 23 percent support figure, with Mandel, Vance, Timken, and Dolan trailing with 11, 9, 8 and 6 percent, respectively. The Gibbons’ media blitz, to an extent featuring Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) endorsing the investment banker’s candidacy, has clearly achieved its goal of propelling Gibbons into serious contention for the party nomination that will be decided in the open May 3 primary election.

Though the study’s analysis report doesn’t provide segmented numbers, the Cygnal pollsters claim the Gibbons lead is widespread within the key Republican voter groups. They report Gibbons leads by double digits among “self-identified Trump Republicans as well as Traditional Republicans.”

Gibbons also maintains similar leads with “self-identified Extremely Conservative, Very Conservative, and Somewhat Conservative voters, and over the nearest competitor among both men and women.” He also “holds strong advantages among Evangelical Protestants, Mainline Protestants, and Catholic voters.”

Gibbons’ effort is almost exclusively self-financed, to the tune of $11.4 million, all as a loan to the campaign. He has spent $5.8 million and had a cash-on-hand reserve of $6.4 million at the end of 2021. Therefore, even if his fundraising operation does not raise major money, Gibbons has enough to compete for the nomination.

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The Pew Religious Voter Study

By Jim Ellis

Poll shows President Joe Biden’s future outlook is far from positive.

Feb. 14, 2022 — The Pew Research Center released their nationwide poll late last week studying the perception of President Biden’s job approval one year after taking office among various religious segments and found a downturn in almost all groups’ perceptions when compared to their same beliefs at the beginning of the new administration.

The poll, conducted during the Jan. 10-17 period, questioned 5,128 US adults who agreed to be surveyed as part of Pew’s American Trends Panel that features a total universe of 17,472 individuals who are asked to participate in various surveys.

The survey sample, which “included oversamples of Asian, Black and Hispanic Americans in order to provide more precise estimates of the opinions and experiences of these smaller demographic subgroups,” also included atheist, agnostic, religiously unaffiliated, and those who identified themselves as “nothing in particular” in reference to religious classifications.

Therefore, the respondent sample represents a much broader matrix of religious viewpoints than those who belong to traditional Christian religions. The Jewish sector was not included in this study.

The Pew Researchers’ top point was charting how far President Biden’s image had fallen with African American Protestants. While 65 percent of Black Protestants still approve of the president’s job performance, Pew notes that his number has fallen from 92 percent after his first few days in office. The Black Protestant segment is, however, one of only three religious segments who believe Biden will be regarded as a successful president at the end of his term. The other two groups are Hispanic Catholics and atheists.

Even including these favorable sectors, the Biden future outlook is far from positive. While more Black Protestants believe he will be successful at this point than not, the aggregate sector percentage is still only 35, as compared to 14 percent who believe he will be unsuccessful. Almost half, at 49 percent, believe it is too early to tell, again a rather unacceptably high number from a group who Biden has heavily emphasized in his early Administration policy objectives.

Among Hispanic Catholics, his successful vs. unsuccessful ratio is 32:19 percent. The atheists rate him 32:30 percent successful vs. unsuccessful. A total of 48 percent of Hispanic Catholics and 38 percent of atheists believe it is too early to tell whether the Biden Administration will be regarded as successful in what Pew terms as “the long run.”

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The Redistricting Scorecard

By Jim Ellis

In the trifecta of political parties controlling the House, Senate and Executive branches in a state, how many will really benefit from that power in the redistricting process?

Feb. 11, 2022 — There has been quite a bit of redistricting news surfacing during the past few weeks, with many analysts now reversing their earlier predictions about which party is the clear beneficiary from the re-draw process.

Most said early that the Republicans would benefit the most from redistricting and that map drawing alone would be enough to allow the party to reclaim the House majority. We, on the other hand, were showing that the cut would more than likely be about equal even though the GOP has a major advantage in trifecta states, that is, those where one party controls all three legs of the legislative stool, meaning the state Senate, state House, and the governor’s office.

Though the Republicans control 25 states outright from a redistricting perspective compared to the Democrats’ 15, the number of states where each can draw maps to expand their party’s congressional delegation really comes down to seven where Republicans control and a commensurate four for the Democrats.

What balances the process this year is that Republicans appear to have have only one state where they can gain multiple seats — North Carolina — while Democrats can run the table, and have, in two big states, New York and Illinois.

Where both parties suffer in their trifecta states is the number of places where they already control the maximum number of seats, or redistricting power has been transferred to a commission. Either one party already has all the seats in a state like the Democrats do in Massachusetts and the Republicans have in Arkansas, for example, or the state has only one at-large member.

In one place, West Virginia, even though the Republicans have a legislative trifecta, they will drop a seat post election. Currently, the West Virginia delegation consists of three Republicans, but the state loses a seat in national reapportionment. Therefore, the GOP majority had no choice but to collapse one of their own districts.

Articles are now appearing that suggest it is the Democrats who could end the redistricting process with a net seat advantage rather than the Republicans. This, as it has been from the beginning, is true.

In looking at the states once all 50 have adopted new congressional lines, it projects today that the Republicans would add approximately 13 seats, while the Democrats, with multiple seat additions in Illinois and New York, would gain 11 new members. Seven states remain undecided because their level of political competition is predicted to be intense.

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Dissecting the New York Map

The recently enacted New York congressional map (go to FiveThirtyEight.com to see fully interactive map, or click on the map above.)

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 10, 2022 — The recently enacted New York congressional map is one of the most gerrymandered in the country and designed to reduce the Republican contingent to just four of 26 seats. While Republicans will no doubt challenge the map in court, some of the moves, however, will prove justifiable.

Since the Democrats control the redistricting process in only four states, national pressure came upon the party’s legislative leaders in New York, Illinois, New Mexico, and Oregon to draw the maximum partisan maps. They did so in each case, but when such a map is constructed, invariably some of the majority seats are weakened to the point of being competitive in wave election years for the opposite party. Such appears to be the case with the New York lines.

To begin, the map drawers were able to cut the Republican contingent in half by executing several fundamental strategic moves.

First, they reduced Democratic strength (even with the current map or weaker) in 15 of the current 19 party held districts but still made the seats untouchable. Second, the remaining four Republican districts saw an increase in GOP loyalty. Third, the Republicans were forced to absorb the seat the state lost in national reapportionment, and the Dems were able to take advantage of three GOP members not seeking re-election: Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley; running for governor), Tom Reed (R-Corning; retiring) and John Katko (R-Syracuse; retiring).

Using the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization’s rating of each new district, we can draw conclusions about party performance in each of the new 26 CDs.

The Democratic members receiving politically safe seats ranging from D+20 all the way to D+77 are mostly from New York City: Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens; D+54), Grace Meng (D-Queens; D+24), Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn; D+65), Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn; D+55), Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn; D+55), Jerrold Nadler (D-New York City; D+52), Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan; D+67), Adriano Espaillat (D-Bronx; D+77), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx; D+50), Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx; D+72), Jamaal Bowman (D-Yonkers; D+36), and Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo; D+20).

The four safe Republican seats are mostly in upstate New York, with one Long Island exception. Those seats are for Reps. Andrew Garbarino (R-Sayville; R+20), Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville; R+23), Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford; R+26), and Chris Jacobs (R-Orchard Park; R+25).

The collapsed seat is actually Rep. Tenney’s current 22nd District. It was justified combining the 22nd with Rep. Reed’s 23rd because those districts, located adjacent to one another, are the two lowest in population.

The current 22nd District was then combined with Rep. Katko’s current 24th to make the new open 22nd District, which resulted in a D+13 rating and a district again anchored in Syracuse. The voting trends in the new 22nd increase from the D+4 rating that the current 24th carries.

The new draw and Rep. Reed’s retirement allows Rep. Tenney to run in the new 23rd where she will likely have to win a competitive Republican primary, but would have a safe seat in the general election. The new 23rd, however, contains only 10 percent of her current constituency.

Rep. Jacobs’ current 27th District is then pushed northward from his Buffalo and Rochester outer suburbs district into a new safely Republican 24th CD that contains just under 60 percent of his current constituency. He, too, could face GOP primary opposition but will have a safe seat for the general election.

Democrats will have a strong chance of converting open District 1 on Long Island. This seat goes from a R+10 rating that Zeldin held to a D+6. Currently, with Suffolk County Legislators Bridget Fleming and Kara Hahn in the race, along with ex-Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon who was the District 2 nominee in 2020, the Democrats have the stronger early contenders. The candidate filing deadline is not until April 7 for the June 28 primary, so the GOP has time to coalesce around a viable candidate of their own.

Rep. Tom Suozzi’s (D-Glen Cove) Long Island-anchored 3rd District increases to D+10 from D+6. He is running for governor and leaves behind a crowded Democratic primary field. The winner will face consensus Republican candidate George Santos (R) who performed surprisingly well as the 2020 nominee.

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Alabama Map Ruling Stayed; Redistricting Update

By Jim Ellis

Alabama redistricting map (Click on the map above or go to DavesRedistricting.org to see interactive map)

Feb. 9, 2022 — On a 5-4 vote, the US Supreme Court voted to stay the lower court ruling that invalidated the new Alabama congressional map. A Republican three-judge panel had ruled that a second majority minority district could have been drawn among the state’s seven congressional districts, and thus disqualified the plan on Jan. 23.

Writing a concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh stated that the lower court decision was made too close to the 2022 election, meaning that the judicial process would not have proper time to hear the appeal and make an educated ruling prior to the state’s scheduled primary election. The ruling does not mean the appeal was granted, but merely postpones hearing the case to a later date.

Analysts say the stay ensures that the original map will be in place for this year’s election. It does not mean, however, that the map won’t be altered for the 2024 election and beyond.

The new plan is virtually an extension of the current map, which elected six Republicans and one Democrat in the 2020 election. It was a curious original decision, not only because the judges that ruled against the GOP map drawers were appointed by former President Donald Trump (2) and the late President Ronald Reagan (1), but that the same map footprint stood unencumbered for the past 10 years.

The major change made from the current map to the new draw came in the 7th CD, which is the Voting Rights district. The legislature, however, had no choice but to make a substantial change. AL-7 was 53,143 people short of reaching the state’s congressional district population quota of 717,754 individuals.

The previous ruling also postponed the Jan. 28 candidate filing deadline for the Alabama US House candidates. Those running for all other offices have now already filed and been qualified for the respective party primary ballots. The congressional candidates will now file on Feb. 11.

Redistricting Notes

• Summarizing the legal action in other states, the North Carolina map has been disqualified and the legislature will now return to redraw the congressional and state legislative maps. As has been the case throughout the previous decade, the partisan Republican legislature and the partisan Democratic state Supreme Court continue to go back and forth over the issue of partisan gerrymandering.

• The lower court ruling in Michigan rejected the Detroit area Democratic current and former state legislators’ claim that the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission members violated the Voting Rights Act in drawing the city of Detroit’s congressional and state legislative maps. Unless an appeal is granted, the new Michigan maps will stand for this year’s elections.

• The Kansas legislature adjourned without voting to override Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) veto of the state’s congressional map. The hasty adjournment move, however, allows the legislature to reconsider the veto override. Without a successful override vote, the map will go to the courts for a redrawing of the Kansas City metro area.

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