Author Archives: Jim Ellis

SCOTUS: Arizona Ruling Upholds Initiative

July 1, 2015 — The US Supreme Court released their long-awaited ruling on the Arizona redistricting case on Tuesday. In a common 5-4 decision, the high court allowed the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) to stand and, as a result, similar commissions in other multi-district states (California, New Jersey, Washington) have affirmed legitimacy. The practical result is that congressional districts in these aforementioned places will stay intact for the remainder of the decade.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority. Her final two sections illuminate the crux of the ruling (see below), that the initiative process allowing the voters to decide legislative issues is the major tenet of this case and not just the Arizona redistricting circumstance.

The Arizona Legislature brought the suit, and the SCOTUS decision affirmed that the body had legal standing to bring such action. Their argument was that the US Constitution gave exclusive power to the state legislature to redistrict post reapportionment.
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Surprising Choice in Virginia; Strange Poll in Illinois

June 30, 2015 — Saturday’s meeting of the Virginia Republican State Central Committee (SCC) was thought to be the venue for adopting the convention presidential nominating option, but a surprise secret ballot vote changed the committee’s direction.

Eighty-two SCC members participated in the Staunton, Va. meeting to determine the apportionment system for the state’s 49 Republican presidential delegates. Though a primary was held in 2008, Virginia has typically been known as a convention state. Most of the state Republican nominees have been chosen in this fashion before assemblages usually exceeding 12,000 individuals.

Things started to unravel for the pro-convention contingent when a motion was made to convene in executive session for purposes of considering a measure to allow a secret ballot vote on the question of convention or primary, instead of employing the traditional roll call method. When the vote to adopt a secret ballot procedure passed on a 41-39 vote with two abstentions, it became apparent that the primary forces had a shot at carrying the day. When tabulated, the vote for a primary system was adopted 42-39, with one member abstaining.
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Rand Paul’s Numbers – Kentucky

June 29, 2015 — There has been some skepticism expressed about whether Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) can successfully run for both the Republican presidential nomination and re-election to his current position. A new survey suggests that at least this particular Kentucky polling segment doesn’t seem to mind his simultaneous campaigns.

Public Policy Polling (June 18-21; 1,108 KY registered voters) finds that Sen. Paul should have little difficulty in securing a second six-year term. If the election were today, and his opponent is outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear (D), the senator would enjoy a full 10-point, 49-39 percent, advantage over the retiring chief executive. It is conventional political wisdom that Beshear would be the strongest possible general election opponent to Sen. Paul and, if so, these polling results undoubtedly cast the Kentucky Democratic leadership into a state of despair.

Not only is Gov. Beshear trailing Sen. Paul, but the former has given no indication of even considering making such a challenge. Ineligible to seek a third term this year, it appears that the governor is heading toward political retirement rather than gearing up for a new campaign.
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Hagan Says No; Senate Recruitment Lineup To Date

June 26, 2015 — Former Sen. Kay Hagan (D), who unseated then-Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) in 2008 only to lose six years later to Sen. Thom Tillis (R), 47-49 percent, Wednesday announced that she would not challenge Sen. Richard Burr (R). Polling consistently made her the strongest Democrat to challenge the two-term incumbent Republican, but even she was nowhere near upset position.

Democrats do not yet have a viable candidate in the state that has defeated the most senators since the 1960s.

Red and Blue Recruitment

As we approach the midway point of the off-year, it is a good time to check how the two parties are faring in regard to candidate recruitment. A quick, cursory glance tells us that each side has a success ratio of about .500.
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Trump Surges in Polls

June 25, 2015 — Despite universal media condemnation and being the butt of almost every joke on the late night TV circuit after officially launching his presidential campaign last week, international businessman Donald Trump has already moved into second place according to a new poll of New Hampshire Republican voters.

The Suffolk University Political Research Center (June 18-22; 500 highly to moderately likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters) finds Trump jumping from the low single-digits to moving ahead of every opponent but one, and trails former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush by just three points.

Obviously, some members of the New Hampshire electorate do find Trump’s brash and blunt style attractive. He has been making appearances throughout the state, and is clearly having at least a modicum of success.

The fact that he could make such a quick move also reveals extreme fluidity within the massive field of Republican candidates. It is important to remember that, among the unwieldy group of almost 20 contenders, no candidate even touches 15 percent. Additionally, even individuals receiving one and zero votes are still within 15 points of topping the field.
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