Author Archives: Jim Ellis

The Sestak Factor in the
Pennsylvania Senate Race

April 7, 2015 — The Pennsylvania US Senate campaign, a race that could well decide which party controls the majority in the next Congress, is beginning in bizarre fashion. While many people think that first-term Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is highly vulnerable under a presidential year turnout model, the Democratic situation is suspect, at best.

Former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7), who served two terms from Delaware County in the Philadelphia suburbs after unseating veteran Rep. Curt Weldon (R) in 2006, has been running his 2016 Senate campaign virtually since the time he suffered a 51-49 percent statewide loss to Toomey in 2010. Sestak officially announced his new effort well before the 2014 election.

Normally, having a nominee who lost by just two points return to challenge the opposite party’s incumbent in the next campaign is a positive occurrence, but relations between Sestak and the national and state Democratic Party leadership are so poor that such is not the case.
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Déjà vu All Over Again
In Three House Races

April 6, 2015 — Familiarity is already returning to at least three congressional races. Two will be in the form of 2016 re-matches from last November, while a new special election appears to be a walk in the park for a recognizable family member.

TX-23

Last week, former Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) announced that he will seek a re-match with freshman Rep. Will Hurd (R-Helotes) next year in the Texas swing congressional district that stretches from San Antonio all the way to El Paso.

After this seat was created in a special redistricting during the 1960s, the six TX-23 incumbents prior to Hurd winning in November were all eventually defeated for re-election. This is quite noteworthy when compared to a nationwide electorate that routinely re-elects almost all of its congressmen. Typically, well over 90 percent of House members who seek re-election win.
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Republican Presidential
Candidates Tightly Bunched

April 3, 2015 — Public Policy Polling conducted an intriguing new national survey of GOP voters (March 26-31; 443 national Republican primary voters), but the tiny respondent sample size casts a reliability question concerning the results.

Though the pollster cites a large polling error factor of 4.7 percent, such a small sample –- a national poll should be in the 1,000 respondent range -– usually yields an even greater unreliability factor.

Understanding such, the PPP results are still interesting; it shows the Republican presidential candidates closely bunched with five reaching double-digits, which suggests a free-for-all campaign. Should similar results be confirmed and continue through the early stages of primary and caucus voting next year, the preliminary states will produce no discernible pattern or consensus front runner. If so, the chance of moving to an open, or “brokered”, convention multiplies exponentially.
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A Convoluted Nevada Poll

April 2, 2015 — Gravis Marketing is the first to test the Nevada electorate since Sen. Harry Reid (D) announced his retirement, but their flash poll results are difficult to follow. The methodology appears to substantially over-sample Republicans, yet the Democrats inconsistently fare much better on the ballot test questions.

On March 27, Gravis utilized the Interactive Voice Response system to question 850 registered Nevada voters. Within this universe, 443 respondents are self-identified Republicans compared with 319 Democrats; 88 individuals did not state a party preference.

In Nevada, however, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans, thus making this sampling universe almost the exact opposite of reality. According to the 2015 state voter registration statistics as reported by the Secretary of State, 40.2 percent of the registrants are Democrats, 33.4 percent are Republicans, and 26.4 percent are Independent or affiliated in some other fashion. The survey universe features 52.1 percent who self-identify as Republicans, 37.5 percent Democrats, and just 10.3 percent Independent/Other.
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Developments in MS-1 Special,
Illinois Senate, Virginia Redistricting

April 1, 2015 — Candidate filing closed this past Friday for the MS-1 special election, which Rep. Alan Nunnelee’s (R) death made necessary. Twelve Republicans and one Democrat will be on the May 12 Mississippi jungle primary ballot. With so many candidates qualifying, a June 2 run-off between the top two finishers is a virtual certainty, since it would be very difficult for any one contender to attract a majority of the vote.

One prominent name missing from the list is former Rep. Travis Childers (D), who won the last special election held here, and then claimed a full term later in 2008. He was unseated in 2010, and then lost to Sen. Thad Cochran (R) last November in a statewide general election contest. Though it is always possible lightning could have again struck for him in a special election, the chance of Childers holding this strongly Republican northern Mississippi district for a long duration is an unlikely one, at best. Hence, his decision not to run.

The lone Democrat running is former Jackson mayoral aide Walter Zinn. His prospects of qualifying for the run-off are somewhat realistic because the Republican vote will be split literally a dozen ways. His prospects are thin, however, to capture the seat in the run-off. Aside from being a prohibitive underdog against a Republican in a one-on-one battle, Zinn’s Jackson political base is not even in the 1st District.
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