Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Cruz Edging Trump in California

Jan. 8, 2016 — The California Field Poll was released early this week and the results show a surge for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential race, but their conclusions are largely irrelevant. California polling can’t accurately project the state’s all-important delegate count, hence the statewide ballot test total is less important here than in other places.

Despite Republicans performing poorly in California since the turn of the century, the Golden State still sends the largest delegation to the Republican National Convention (172). The California apportionment system yields a more open contest than most states because finishing first statewide is worth only 10 at-large delegates.

As in six other states (Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, South Carolina and Wisconsin), California apportions upon congressional district vote in addition to the aggregate statewide total. Since the Golden State possesses 53 CDs, California primary day actually yields 54 separate elections: one in each congressional district in addition to the statewide tally. The candidate placing first in each individual district, regardless of vote percentage or raw total, is awarded three delegates in winner-take-all fashion.

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Another Democrat Retirement;
New Nevada Senate Polling

Jan. 7, 2016 — Former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel (D-NY-3) announced that he will not seek a ninth term from his Long Island congressional district yesterday, bringing the total 2016 open seat number to 35, 15 of which are Democrat-held.

New York’s 3rd District changed significantly in the 2011 redistricting plan, as did GOP Rep. Peter King’s 2nd District that adjoins it to the south. Both seats were made surprisingly more competitive when compared to their previous districts. Israel’s district, formerly the 2nd, was made more Republican. King’s CD, previously labeled District 3, became more Democratic. Both incumbents won two re-elections under the new boundaries, but the prevailing political wisdom suggested that both seats could flip to the opposite party in an open seat scenario. Since Israel will not be on the ballot here this November, Republicans will likely make a move to covert the district.

In 2012, President Obama carried the new 3rd District, but only with a 51-48 percent spread. Rep. Israel won re-election in 2014 with a margin of 53-44 percent against a candidate, Republican Grant Lally, who spent less than $200,000 on his campaign effort. Two years earlier, versus similar opposition, Israel claimed a 51-37 percent win.

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Rep. McDermott to Retire;
Re-Setting the Democrats

Jan. 6, 2016 — Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Seattle), who would turn 80 years of age at the beginning of the next Congress, announced yesterday that he will not seek a 15th term later this year. McDermott becomes the 34th House member not to run for re-election, and the 14th Democrat to voluntarily end his or her service as a federal Representative. Fourteen of the retiring members are instead running for the Senate.

The congressman leaves the downtown Seattle 7th district — which contains most of Seattle city proper along with the Vashon Island community sitting in the Puget Sound — that will assuredly elect a Democrat in his place. President Obama scored a huge 79 percent victory here in 2012, and the 7th proves itself to be one of the nation’s most liberal districts.

We can expect a very crowded Aug. 2 Democratic primary, one featuring a large number of elected officials. With no run-off system in Washington, the winning candidate will be able to claim the party nomination, which is tantamount to victory in November, with a low number of votes.

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Re-setting the Republicans

Jan. 5, 2015 — We’re now within one month of the first votes being cast in the 2016 presidential campaign, and though there is disagreement about just how important the “February Four” states will be in determining the ultimate Republican winner, the early entities, at a minimum, are of clear significance. Today, we cover the Republicans; tomorrow, we reset the Democrats.

The voting calendar begins with the Iowa Caucuses on Feb. 1, followed by the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9. Eleven days later, South Carolina Republicans vote in their party run primary. On Tuesday, Feb. 23, both parties will conduct the Nevada Caucuses.

The four states, for the hotly contested Republicans, are assigned an aggregate of just 133 delegates. The February results will serve as a prelude to Super Tuesday voting, which will occur this year on March 1. Fourteen entities will host either primaries or caucuses on that day.

The latest 10 published polls from Iowa, taken from Nov. 16 through Dec. 21, either find businessman Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) holding the lead. Five surveys, from Monmouth University, the Des Moines Register, Loras College, Fox News, and CBS/YouGov post Cruz to an advantage. Four give Trump a slight edge: Quinnipiac University (twice), CNN, and Public Policy Polling. One pollster, Gravis Marketing, has the two tied at 31 percent in the latest released poll (Dec. 18-21/15). Cruz’s average lead is 8.6 percent. Trump’s average advantage is a much smaller 4.7 percent.

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North Carolina Filing

Jan. 4, 2015 — Candidate filing closed in North Carolina before Christmas, and nine of the 14 federal incumbents standing for re-election will face 2016 primary opponents. Two of the challenges appear serious.

Sen. Richard Burr (R) draws a Tea Party challenge from physician Greg Brannon, who placed second (27.5 percent) against now-Sen. Thom Tillis in the 2014 Republican primary. He returns in a four-way contest against the two-term GOP incumbent. Former District Judge Paul Wright and retired advertising executive Larry Holmquist are the other GOP contenders.

North Carolina has 40 percent run-off law. If no candidate exceeds 40 percent, then a secondary election occurs. Sen. Burr is a cinch for the party nomination, and figures to have a strong general election performance against what will be a second-tier Democratic opponent. In 2010, Burr became the first incumbent since 1968 to be re-elected in this particular Senate seat. With Democratic recruitment failing, he is in very strong shape to win a third term.

Representatives Renee Ellmers (R-NC-2), Walter Jones (R-NC-3), Virginia Foxx (R-NC-5), Mark Walker (R-NC-6), David Rouzer (R-NC-7), Robert Pittenger (R-NC-9), Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10), and Alma Adams (D-NC-12) all drew primary challengers. Only the campaigns against Representatives Ellmers and Jones appear serious at the outset. The North Carolina primary will be held concurrently with the presidential nomination event, on March 15.

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