Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Manchin Polls Governor’s Race
In West Virginia

April 16, 2015 — Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), making no secret of the fact that he is considering returning to his former job as governor next year, just released the results of an internal poll that places him in very strong political position.

One might believe, since the Manchin campaign organization commissioned the Global Strategy Group (GSG) poll, that such favorable data might be skewed. A companion Harper Polling (HP) independent survey dissuades such an argument, however, confirming the results with their own similar numbers.

But the West Virginia political intrigue isn’t derived from Manchin’s prospects of being elected governor. Rather, greater speculation surrounds what may happen with his Senate seat should Manchin win the 2016 election. The senator and former governor says he will announce whether he will seek the governorship before Memorial Day.

The Manchin GSG poll was conducted during the March 15-18 period and questioned 600 West Virginia registered voters. Though now a month old, the senator’s political operatives released the data just this week. Whether the questionnaire explored the race more deeply is not certain, but the answers to only two Manchin-related queries were released. GSG tested Manchin against Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R), a potential general election opponent. The result gave the Democrat an overwhelming 60-30 percent lead. Harper Polling detected a similar conclusion: Manchin leading 58-29 percent.
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Florida Senate Chain Reaction

April 15, 2015 — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), as expected, officially announced his presidential campaign, which also put into motion the political war for what will be an open Florida Senate seat.

We already know that Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) is in the race, but with Rubio now out of the coming Senate contest the Republicans can start to make moves of their own.

Staying with the Democrats, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL-9) continues to confirm interest in the race, and drops big hints that he will enter. He has said repeatedly that an early start does not equate to winning an election, so it is highly possible that he will begin his own campaign later in the year. Because he has the ability to self-fund, immediately constructing an external fundraising operation is not as important in this instance as for someone without such ability. Grayson appeals to the hard left, which is of significance in a Democratic primary battle.

In reviewing where the Florida Republicans stand, several decisions already have been made. As we reported yesterday, state CFO Jeff Atwater, after appearing to take every necessary step to prepare for a Senate race, abruptly announced that he would not run. Since he appeared to be performing best in preliminary polling, his absence now creates a wide-open political playing field.
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Wrong Candidate in
The Nevada Senate?

April 14, 2015 — Retiring Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) already have endorsed former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to replace the outgoing Minority Leader, but have they chosen the right person? A new poll casts doubt.

The Nevada consulting group calling themselves “Silver Bullet” conducted a poll of between 500-600 Nevada Democrats (the exact number of people polled is not specified) on April 7 and found that Masto is not the top choice of Nevada Democratic primary voters, and by quite a margin. The only other survey question asked presidential preference, and the Silver Bullet conclusions appear consistent with other independent data giving their polling methodology some credibility. According to the result, Hillary Clinton would lead Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) among Nevada Democrats, 55-14 percent.

Instead of professing support for Masto in the Senate race, the respondents, on a 44-20 percent split, prefer Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-1). For her part, Titus, a former gubernatorial nominee, is clearly sending signals that she would like to run. Saying publicly that she is seriously considering entering the Senate campaign, while her Washington fundraising staff members aggressively tell PAC directors that the congresswoman could well become a Senate candidate, suggests a Titus for Senate campaign is certainly within the realm of possibility.
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While Other Candidates Opt In,
Four Decide to Opt Out of Running

April 13, 2015 — While individuals such as Hillary Clinton and senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) are officially becoming presidential candidates, several potential US Senate and House candidates pursued a different course over the weekend.

Florida Senate

For Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater (R), Sen. Rubio’s presidential announcement appeared to provide him an opening to run for what will now be an open US Senate seat next year. But, Atwater is rather surprisingly backing away from entering the race.

Despite early polls suggesting he might be the strongest Republican who could attempt to succeed Rubio and with supporters already forming a federal Super PAC on his behalf, Atwater, citing family considerations, announced over the weekend that he will not enter the Senate race next year.
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Capps Out in California;
The Cortez Masto Effect In Nevada

April 10, 2015 — Veteran California Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara), aged 77, announced Wednesday that she will not seek re-election to an eleventh term in office next year for her CA-24 seat. The congresswoman entered the House via a special election victory in 1998 after her husband, Rep. Walter Capps (D-CA), passed away suddenly; he was first elected in 1996 but suffered a fatal heart attack at the Washington Dulles Airport less than a year after winning his seat. Lois Capps finished her husband’s term and has been re-elected ever since.

The 24th District contains Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, along with part of Ventura. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission made this district much more competitive as Capps’ 55 and 52 percent victory margins in the past two elections suggest. The 2001 congressional map created a coastal district for Capps (then numbered CA-23), slanting the seat to the ideological left in order to help the Democratic incumbent hold the seat. Thanks in large part to map construction, Capps had little in the way of challenges throughout the decade.

But it was becoming clearer that Republicans have a chance to convert the new 24th as a direct result of including all of the more conservative San Luis Obispo County in the district. Republican Chris Mitchum, son of deceased actor Robert Mitchum, pulled 48 percent against the congresswoman in the last election despite spending less than one-quarter the amount of money of his opponent. A stronger candidate could possibly have done better perhaps even scored an upset over Capps in what became a very favorable Republican year.
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