Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Cortez Masto Rebounds in New Poll

By Jim Ellis

Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D)

Feb. 4, 2022 — Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D), who trailed in the most recent published statewide poll (Trafalgar Group; Nov. 24-29; 1,034 likely Nevada general election voters; Adam Laxalt (R) 44 percent, Cortez Masto (D) 41 percent) has rebounded to regain the lead according to a new OH Predictive Insights survey, but warning signs persist for the first-term incumbent.

The OHPI poll commissioned for the Nevada Independent news site (Jan. 19-26; 755 likely Nevada registered voters, online) finds Sen. Cortez Masto topping former state Attorney General Laxalt (R) in a general election ballot test by a 44-35 percent margin. While the spread is relatively strong in her favor, posting a 44 percent support number is low for any incumbent.

For example, the same poll tested Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, and found his preference figure reaching 52 percent if Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo were his Republican opponent, and 54 percent if former US Sen. Dean Heller were to become the Republican gubernatorial nominee. Because OHPI forced preference answers, meaning no recorded undecided responses for the governor’s ballot test, the Sisolak support numbers are high. It is unlikely, however, that a traditional preference question would find him dropping to the senator’s current support level.

The OHPI pollster isolated Sen. Cortez Masto’s most significant problem as her being tied to President Biden’s low approval ratings. According to this study, the president only posts a 41:53 percent favorable to unfavorable job approval index, and 33 percent, which is the poll’s top issue response, said that the economy and jobs are most important to them. Isolating Biden’s score on his handling of the economy, the president’s disapproval rose to 55 percent, darkening the political climate for the senator even further.

Laxalt’s low support number (35 percent) is likely due to him recording only a 76 percent preference factor among Republicans. This is likely due to the fact that challenger Sam Brown, a businessman and disabled Afghan War veteran, is becoming a significant contender for the Republican nomination.

Though the GOP sample segment is low in the OHPI survey – only 230 respondents and well below the 300 that becomes statistically significant in a state the size of Nevada – we still see only 37 percent of the Republican base supporting Laxalt while 14 percent names Brown as their preferred candidate. This means that 49 percent of those Republicans polled say they are undecided about whom to support in the GOP Senate primary. Despite having a short sample, the results suggest that Laxalt still has work to do in securing the nomination.

Another changing element that could affect this race, but in a heretofore unknown way, are the party registration changes occurring throughout 2021. Comparing the partisan breakdown in the state from January of 2021 through December of last year, both the Democrats and Republicans lost patrons. Democratic registration dropped 2.9 percent, while Republicans were down 2.5 percent. This meant that those registering Non-Partisan and “Other” were up substantially.

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Michigan House Action Wave

Michigan Congressional Redistricting Map. (Click on image to go to FiveThirtyEight.com to see interactive map.)

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 3, 2022 — Though the Michigan congressional lines are in litigation and filing time is still more than two months away in preparation for the state’s August 2nd primary election, Tuesday was a busy day on the Wolverine State’s US House front.

First, in the paired Republican incumbent 4th District where Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) is seeking re-election and appears ready to face fellow Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), a third candidate announced that he would not abandon his own Republican campaign despite seeing an unfavorable district draw.

State Rep. Steve Carra (R-Portage) said that he intends to remain in the new 4th Congressional District race despite potentially having to face two incumbents and not having any of his current state House District lying in the new 4th. His legislative district will now be fully contained in Rep. Tim Walberg’s (R-Tipton) new 5th CD that stretches the width of Michigan along the state’s southern border. Carra earned former President Trump’s endorsement in his pre-redistricting bid against Rep. Upton.

When queried about the difficulty of the paired nomination race for a non-incumbent such as himself, Carra said, “It doesn’t matter whether there’s one or two status quo Republicans in the race.”

For his part, Rep. Upton is not yet committing to run for a 19th term, saying he wants to further study the new district and see whether the courts disqualify the current map. A group of current and former Democratic state legislators have filed suit against the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission claiming the members violated the Voting Rights Act with their draw of the congressional and state legislative districts in Detroit and Wayne County.

The 4th District will be one of the most interesting primary campaigns in the state and possibly the nation if Huizenga and Upton ultimately face each other. With Carra coming to the race with the Trump endorsement and potentially testing just how much the ex-President’s support actually means, he becomes a wild card entry.

Another incumbent who did not fare well in the redistricting process is freshman Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids). His 3rd District moves from an R+9 to a D+3 seat according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical site. Dave’s Redistricting App scores the CD at 50.1 percent Democratic and 46.5 percent Republican. President Biden would have carried the new 3rd, 53-45 percent. Therefore, Rep. Meijer, along with potential primary problems because he, too, voted in favor of the Trump impeachment, has a difficult political road ahead.

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Redistricting Boom Hits

New York 2022 redistricting map. (Click on map to go to FiveThirtyEight.com’s interactive map to see breakdown of each Congressional district.)


By Jim Ellis

Feb. 2, 2022 — The redistricting boom that political observers were awaiting has hit. The New York legislature unveiled their new congressional map, and akin to what the Democratic leadership passed in Illinois, the Empire State plan decimates the Republicans just as expected.

As we will remember, New York lost one congressional seat in national reapportionment (by just 89 people statewide) thereby reducing the delegation size to 26 seats. The current 27-district map yields 19 Democrats and 8 Republicans. The new map is projected to reduce the GOP contingent to just four seats.

Starting on Long Island and knowing that Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is leaving his 1st District to run for governor and understanding that the four districts covering the island are a cumulative 148,780 people short of the per congressional district quota of 776,971 residents, means major differences for these seats.

The map drawers brought the 1st District further west, the only thing they could do to capture the number of needed new people, and as a result were able to turn this R+10 district according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical site into a Biden +10.8 percent seat according to an analysis in the Washington Post.

Note that because the New York presidential election was so lopsided, largely because the Trump campaign never tried to become competitive, using just the 2020 presidential numbers to project voter history is likely slanted even more distinctly toward the Democrats. Once more analyses come into the public domain, we will be better able to pinpoint the partisan trend in each new district.

The 1st District draw makes Rep. Andrew Garbarino’s (R-Sayville) 2nd much redder. His CD, designed to now follow the open 1st District’s borderline to the south, would register as a Trump +14.3 percent district as compared to the previous R+8 calculation from FiveThirtyEight.

The plan would then improve both Rep. Tom Suozzi’s (D-Glen Cove) open 3rd District (Biden +14.2 percent) as it moves further into Queens, and Rep. Kathleen Rice’s (D-Garden City) 4th CD. The latter district would record a 12.1 percent Biden performance, up from the 538 total of D+9.

All of the New York City Democrats would again retain safe seats. The big change would come in the Staten Island-Brooklyn district of freshman Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island). Her current 11th CD voted for Trump in 2020 by a 10.5 percent margin (538: R+13). Under this plan, the Washington Post rates the newly configured 11th for Biden with a +9.9 percentage point spread. Former Rep. Max Rose (D), who Malliotakis unseated in 2020, is back for a re-match. If this map becomes law, as expected, the 11th District playing field will be greatly altered.

The upstate region also significantly changes. Freshman Rep. Mondaire Jones’ (D-Westchester County) district becomes slightly more competitive, from a D+17 to a Biden +13.3 percent. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring) would go from representing a district that 538 rated as even between the two parties to a Biden +8.3 percent edge. Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-Rhinebeck) would see his 19th CD strengthen from R+4 to Biden +10.0 percent.

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A Curiously Conflicting Georgia Poll

By Jim Ellis

“The negative driver for this [Georgia poll] appears to be President Biden.”

Feb. 1, 2022 — The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) released one of their regular Georgia statewide polls that the School of Public and International Affairs from the University of Georgia administers (Jan. 13-24; 872 registered Georgia voters, live interview) and the results reflect an electorate with some conflicting views.

While President Biden’s job approval ratio has taken a steep dive since the news entity’s May 2021 survey was published, and the right track/wrong track question is heavily lopsided toward the negative, the current statewide office holders and even the state legislature land in the positive approval realm. Yet, in the accompanying ballot test numbers, the tested Democratic officials are trailing despite brandishing the relatively positive approval ratios.

President Biden now records a combined 34:61 percent favorable to unfavorable index (13 percent strongly approve; 21 percent somewhat approve; 11 percent somewhat disapprove; 50 percent strongly disapprove), which is a huge net reduction of 32 percentage points from his combined 51:46 percent score in May (28 percent strongly approve; 23 percent somewhat approve; 9 percent somewhat disapprove; 37 percent strongly disapprove).

In the new January poll, the respondents believe, in a very poor 17:71 percent ratio, that the country is on the wrong track. They also feel Georgia is headed in the wrong direction, but with less intensity, 34:48 percent negative. The May AJC poll, with a shorter questionnaire, did not ask similar track questions.

The sense of the nation figures in the January study, however, also seem inconsistent with how these same respondents rate their elected federal officials. Sens. Raphael Warnock (D) and Jon Ossoff (D) record 44:35 percent and 43:35 percent positive ratios, respectively. This tells us that the sampling universe members don’t hold their senators particularly responsible for the country being on the perceived wrong track.

In another inconsistency, the senator who is on the 2022 ballot, Rev. Warnock, actually trails his prospective general election opponent, former Georgia and NFL football star Herschel Walker (R), despite the positive job approval sentiment. In this AJC poll, Walker holds a 47-44 percent lead. This latter finding is also consistent with a recent Quinnipiac University study (Jan. 19-24; 1,702 registered Georgia voters, live interview) that gave the challenger an edge, but with a smaller 49-48 percent split.

The governor’s numbers show a similar inconsistency. In Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) case, while the state is viewed as headed in the wrong direction, the chief executive does not appear to be shouldering an excessive amount of blame. His job approval lies in the positive realm at 49:43 percent favorable to unfavorable. Paired with his likely general election opponent, 2018 gubernatorial nominee and former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D), Kemp leads 48-41 percent.

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Another Close Arizona Race Beckons

By Jim Ellis

Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly (D)

Jan. 31, 2022 — The state of Arizona has become a volatile political domain, and a new poll suggests we will see another razor-thin US Senate race evolve later this year.

Over the course of history, the Arizona voting universe boasts a pattern of electing similar numbers of candidates from both parties. Admitted to the Union in 1912 as the 48th state, Arizonans have elected just 14 individuals to their two Senate seats, seven of whom have been Democrats with an equal number of Republicans. Since 2010, however, the electorate has strayed from its conservative political roots and moved toward the ideological center.

With this backdrop, the Data for Progress research organization just released their major statewide survey of the Grand Canyon State electorate (Jan. 21-24; 1,469 likely Arizona general election voters, online & text). The DfP finds Sen. Mark Kelly (D) already falling into a tight battle with Attorney General Mark Brnovich, should the latter man win the GOP nomination.

In the campaign from two years ago, you will remember that Sen. Kelly won a special election in 2020 and now serves the remaining two years of the late Sen. John McCain’s (R) final term. In this election year, he stands for a full six-year term.

The ballot test found Kelly holding a slight 49-47 percent edge over AG Brnovich, but with the senator’s personal approval rating lapsing into the negative realm, 46:49 percent favorable to unfavorable. He still rates higher, however, than President Biden (45:54 percent), fellow Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (42:52 percent), and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey (39:57 percent).

Brnovich also records a negative personal approval rating at 26:32 percent, while venture capitalist Blake Masters, another top Republican in the US Senate field, posts a 16:17 percent ratio, with 68 percent replying that they “haven’t heard enough (about him) to say.”

In a ballot test against Gov. Ducey, who is not a Senate candidate, Sen. Kelly’s advantage is 50-47 percent. Masters was not included in the head-to-head pairing questions with Sen. Kelly.

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