Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Early Votes: Key Senate States

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Oct. 28, 2022

Early Voting Statistics — The Target Smart data organization continues to update early voting statistics from around the country, and we see several situations for both parties where the early vote totals in what should be more favorable states are showing a greater surge for the opposing party.

Of the key Senate races, we see four states where Republicans are either the incumbent party or should have a more favorable early vote performance, but Democrats are gaining the early edge: Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In four others, the GOP is performing better in places that are typically better for Democrats or where they have the incumbent candidate: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and New Hampshire.

Before delving into these key states, let’s take an updated look at Target Smart’s national report. Through Wednesday, Oct. 26, a total of 12,751,622 individuals have cast early votes in the 42 reporting states that employ an early voting procedure or are accepting and reporting mailed absentee ballots. At this point, 52.2 percent of the returned ballots come from Democrats, 37.9 percent from Republicans, and 9.9 percent from non-affiliated or independent voters.

Such a partisan pattern is consistent with previous years. Democrats tend to use early voting in a more prevalent manner than Republicans, with the GOP then dominating election day turnout. In comparison to the partisan complexion seen in 2020, so far, Democrats are up one full percentage point in the national early voting turnout while Republicans are down .4 percent. The non-affiliated total is down .6 percent.

These numbers are changing day by day, and now just about half-way through the early voting calendar, we can expect to see many differences occurring within the next week. The grand early vote total so far represents 31.1 percent of the aggregate number of people who voted early in the 2020 election.

Of the four states where Democrats have at least a preliminary advantage in early voting, the most significant are Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Pennsylvania — In the Keystone State, more than 683,000 people already have cast ballots. In 2020, a total of 1.179 million voted early according to Target Smart, so the 2022 number is a large sample. In 2020, just over 17 percent of the total electorate voted early.

Here, the Democrats have a wide advantage. A total of 73.4 percent of the recorded early vote are registered Democrats versus just 23.0 percent who are Republicans. These numbers represent a 6.3 percent increase in Democratic performance based upon 2020, while Republicans are down 2.8 percent.

Wisconsin — A little more than 302,000 people already have voted. Here, 39.9 percent of the early voters are Democrats, an improvement of 3.8 percentage points based upon their 2020 performance rate. Republicans are down a whopping 11.8 percentage points.

Iowa — Fewer than 100,000 people already have voted. Of those, 58.7 percent are registered Democrats, an improvement of 7.8 percentage points over the party’s 2020 performance. Republicans are just about even with their 2020 mark, down just half a percentage point.

Ohio — Numbers here also favor the Democrats. More than 529,000 people already have voted, which represents about 30 percent of the total early votes in 2020. A total of 44.2 percent of this year’s early voters are Democrats versus 40.3 percent who are Republican. This translates into a 3.0 percentage improvement for Democrats over their 2020 number, and a decline of 3.9 points for Republicans.

Republicans, however, are outperforming Democrats in another set of key Senate states.

Arizona — More than 530,000 people already have cast their 2022 midterm election ballot. This so far represents just over 50 percent of the number who voted early two years ago. Here, 48.0 percent of the voters are Republican, and 47.0 percent Democratic. These numbers represent a 2.6 percent increase for Republicans and a 1.2 percent decrease for Democrats.

Colorado — Surprising numbers are being seen here. In a state that has been moving decidedly toward the Democrats, it is the Republicans who have so far greatly increased their early voting participation rate.

Some 266,000 people have voted early this year in the Centennial State. This number represents just under a quarter of the number who voted early in 2022. A total of 49.3 percent of this year’s early voters are Democrats, down 4.4 points from two years ago. For Republicans, 43.2 percent of the early voters are their registrants. This represents a GOP increase of 5.8 percentage points from their 2020 performance.

Nevada — Home of another key Senate race, the GOP has an early vote growth advantage in the Silver State. At this point, Target Smart records slightly more than 142,000 early votes, meaning just over 32 percent of the 2020 aggregate early number. The breakdown is 50.8 percent for Democrats and 42.7 percent for Republicans. This means Democrats are down about .3 percent from their 2020 participation rate, while Republicans are up just under two full percentage points. Nevada elections are always tight, so even small fluctuations like these can mean a great deal.

New Hampshire — Our final state in this report; though the early totals are small, about 21,000 voters, which represents only about 16.5 percent of the 2020 early aggregate, the trends are significant. A total of 54.0 percent of the new early voters are Democratic, down .7 percent from 2020, while the Republican total has grown 4.7 percentage points.

While none of these numbers are indicative of the final vote totals in any of the eight states, the early totals have given us previous clues as to which party has the momentum and enthusiasm in a particular place. We will continue to monitor these and other important states through the early voting process.

Intriguing “Real Clear” Projections Show the GOP Winning the Senate

To see this map and the data behind it, visit Real Clear Politics (RCP).

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022

Senate

How Republicans Look to Claim Senate Majority — The Real Clear Politics (RCP) data group released their updated US Senate projections, and their formula suggests that Republicans will claim a surprising 53-47 majority.

Such a projection seems to cut against most of the data we currently see, and, in at least three cases, their win projection is opposite of what their own current Real Clear Politics formula shows.

The crux of their predictions lies in a field entitled “Polls Underestimated,” which factors in an average under-poll for one party or the other. In the 10 Senate races they isolated, Republicans are the under-polled party in most but not all of the targeted campaigns.

Utah, Alaska, Iowa, Washington — The two competitive Senate races not included were first, Utah, where they list Sen. Mike Lee (R) as a “likely” winner, though polling generally shows his race with Independent Evan McMullin falling to within single digits. The second is Alaska, which is excluded because the contest is evolving into a race between two Republicans; hence, the seat is not a factor in determining the overall Senate majority. Also, the race between Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) and retired Navy Adm. Michael Franken (D) is also not included, but Sen. Patty Murray’s (D) battle against Republican Tiffany Smiley in Washington is added.

As mentioned above, in three of the races the RCP prognosticators are expecting a turnaround since their own current data is suggesting an opposite result.

Nevada — The RCP current polling projection in the Silver State suggests that Republican former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt holds a slight 0.8 percent lead over Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D). Here, RCP estimates that Democrats under-poll in Nevada by one percentage point. This should leave Sen. Cortez Masto with a 0.2 percent edge, but the table shows Laxalt holding such a lead. This appears to be an error. In any event, their final prediction shows a Laxalt victory, which is reasonable.

Arizona — A state away, Sen. Mark Kelly (D) currently holds an RCP polling lead of 2.5 percentage points over Republican opponent Blake Masters. A Republican under-poll of 1.6 is factored from results during the last three election cycles, which reduces the senator’s advantage to 0.9 percent. In 2020, a total of 21 polls were conducted of the Kelly-Martha McSally Senate race, and Kelly’s average margin was 6.6 points, yet he won only 51-49 percent. Therefore, concluding a Republican under-poll exists in Arizona is reasonable. In this situation, while their model finds Sen. Kelly leading today, RCP predicts a Republican victory for venture capitalist Masters.

Georgia — The other conclusion that is perhaps inconsistent is their prediction for the Georgia Senate race. Showing Republican Herschel Walker with a 1.1 percentage point edge after an under-poll factor of 1.4 is added to the Republican column leads the RCP final prediction that Walker and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) would be forced into a post-election runoff on Dec. 6. Yet, in the overall count, Georgia is counted in the Republican column. Though not stated, RCP must be predicting that Walker would win the runoff election.

Under Georgia law, as we will remember from 2020, a candidate must receive majority support to win the general election. On the ballot with Sen. Warnock and Walker is Georgia Libertarian Party chairman Chase Oliver. If Warnock and Walker split the vote to where both candidates post in the neighborhood of the 48-49 percent number, then a few points going to Oliver could send the two major party nominees into a Dec. 6 secondary election with Oliver being eliminated from the mix. Thus, we will see more even intrigue on election night coming from the Peach State.

Pennsylvania — RCP is also predicting victory for two candidates who their model suggests are currently behind but who flip after adding the under-poll factor. In Pennsylvania, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is running ahead by 1.3 percentage points according to the current RCP survey average. Adding a 3.9 percent Republican under-poll to the aggregate gives Dr. Mehmet Oz a 2.6 percent adjusted lead. RCP predicts a Dr. Oz victory on Nov. 8.

New Hampshire — The race between Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) and retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc (R) has tightened. The RCP average sees a Hassan lead of 3.6 percent but adding a large 5.4 New Hampshire Republican under-poll actually gives Gen. Bolduc a 1.8 percent edge. Still, RCP predicts a Hassan Democratic victory on Election Day.

Other Wins — Finally, the Real Clear Politics data team predicts Republicans to win the Senate races in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin, with Democrats holding Washington.

Added up, these numbers result in a 53-47 Republican majority. Possible? Yes. Likely? No.

Murkowski’s Lead Tenuous in Alaska; Blumenthal Gains Momentum in Conn.; Still a Tight Race in NH; More House News

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022

Senate

Alaska incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R)

Alaska: Sen. Murkowski’s Tenuous Lead — A new Alaska Survey Research organization poll (Oct. 19-22; 1,276 likely Alaska general election voters; text to online) forecasts a tight US Senate election between incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) and former state Director of Administration Kelly Tshibaka (R).

The actual vote is projected to break 41-39-16-4 percent with Sen. Murkowski leading Tshibaka, Democrat Pat Chesbro, and Independent Buzz Kelley. Such a result would eliminate the fourth-place finisher who has already withdrawn from the race and endorsed Tshibaka. The first RCV round would eliminate Chesbro by a closer 41-40-17 percent. The final RCV round between Sen. Murkowski and Tshibaka would then break the incumbent’s way, according to the ASR poll, 56-44 percent. Therefore, while Sen. Murkowski will likely not reach an outright victory in the actual vote, she is positioned to fare well under the ranked choice system.

Connecticut: Momentum for Sen. Blumenthal — Last week we saw a Fabrizio Lee & Associates survey that found Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s (D) lead over Republican nominee Leora Levy shrinking to 49-44 percent. Countering this data is a new survey from Connecticut based Quinnipiac University (Oct. 19-23; 1,879 likely Connecticut general election voters) that restores Sen. Blumenthal to a 56-41 percent advantage, similar to what the September Q-Poll produced. The latter data is more consistent with other polls of this race, suggesting that the Fabrizio Lee survey may be an outlier.

New Hampshire: Not Quite Over — Three recent pollsters find that the New Hampshire Senate race, one many Republicans conceded to Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) once retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc (R) won the Sept. 13 Republican primary, may not yet be clinched. The three pollsters, all surveying the Granite State electorate within the Oct. 17-23 period with sample sizes ranging from 600 to 727 likely New Hampshire general election voters, finds Sen. Hassan’s lead dwindling to between one and three percentage points.

Fabrizio Ward & Associates, Emerson College, and Insider Advantage, found respective 49-47 percent, 48-45 percent, and 48-47 percent results. Such results suggest this race is headed back to toss-up status.

House

AK-AL: Rep. Peltola’s Strong Lead — The aforementioned Alaska Survey Research organization poll (see Alaska Senate above), while projecting a tight result for Sen. Murkowski (R) sees the opposite trend for August special congressional election winner Mary Peltola (D-Bethel). The House poll suggests that Rep. Peltola has a chance to win outright opposite former governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, businessman Nick Begich III (R), and Libertarian Chris Bye. Even if she does advance into the RCV round, it also appears that she would easily beat both Palin and Begich in one-on-one contests.

The ASR polling results find the initial vote cutting 49-26-21-5 percent for Peltola, Palin, Begich, and Bye, respectively. Obviously, the polling margin of error could mean that Rep. Peltola wins at this point since she is so close to the majority mark. Should Rep. Peltola fail to reach 50 percent, she would then likely advance to a final RCV round with Palin. The poll projects that the congresswoman would win the one-on-one pairing with 57 percent of the Ranked Choice Vote.

MN-1: Rep. Finstad Expands Lead — August special congressional election winner Brad Finstad (R-New Elm/Rochester) has jumped out to a nine-point lead in his re-match race with retired Hormel Corporation CEO Jeff Ettinger (D) according to a just released Survey USA poll (Oct. 20-23; 563 likely MN-1 general election voters). In what many believed to be a toss-up general election campaign, this study producing a 46-37 percent advantage for Rep. Finstad suggests that the race is clearly leaning to the Republican side.

First Early Vote Report; NY Judge Nixes Pre-Election Absentee Ballot Counting, Zeldin Gains Momentum; Grassley’s Lead More Comfortable

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022

Voting

Target Smart: First Early Vote Report — The Target Smart data organization has released their first major report highlighting the earliest of early voting figures (through Oct. 19). Though the pre-election ballot casting cycle still has multiple days remaining for the 45 states that employ some form of an early voting procedure, we already see turnout figures very similar to the 2020 partisan voting pattern.

In the Senate battleground states, Target Smart has recorded over 2.7 million ballots already cast. This is just under one-third the number of people who voted early in these states back in 2020 and already a half-million more than the total early votes cast in the 2018 midterm.

At this point, it appears that the partisan early vote complexion nationally and in the battleground states is similar to what we saw unfold in 2020. Therefore, if Republicans are headed for a significant bump in this midterm turnout, it is not yet evident from the preliminary early voting reports.

New York: Judge Strikes Down Absentee Ballot Pre-Election Counting — New York is already one of the slowest ballot counting states, and a judicial ruling rendered on Friday will likely lead to an even slower count. The legislature and governor had enacted a law that allowed election officials to count the received absentee ballots before the election with the caveat that no results were released. The judicial ruling struck down this new law, saying such a process is unconstitutional under New York law. Therefore, we can count on not receiving final returns until some six weeks post-election day.

Senate

Iowa: Sen. Grassley’s More Comfortable Lead — On the heels of the Des Moines Register/ Selzer & Company poll (Oct. 9-12; 620 likely Iowa voters) that found Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) holding only a three-point lead over retired Navy Adm. Michael Franken (D), The Tarrance Group followed with their own study. This poll (Oct. 15-19; 600 likely Iowa general election voters; live interview) restores the senator to a double-digit lead, 53-42 percent. Still, this is a competitive contest and a race to watch in this election cycle’s final days.

Washington: Big Conflict — Once again, we see two polling firms testing at exactly the same time in the same Senate race (Oct. 19-20) but arriving at radically different conclusions. Public Policy Polling, surveying for the Northwest Progressive Institute (782 likely Washington voters; live interview & text) sees Sen. Patty Murray (D) topping Republican Tiffany Smiley, 52-42 percent, which is consistent with most other surveys and the Aug. 2 jungle primary vote (Murray 54-Smiley 32 percent). Conversely, the co/efficient firm (1,181 likely Washington voters; live interview & text) sees only a three-point margin between the two candidates, 48-45 percent, in the senator’s favor.

Survey USA was also in the field during the similar period (Oct. 14-19; 589 likely Washington voters; online) and they split the difference between PPP and co/efficient. S-USA returned a 49-41 percent Murray advantage. Though this race has several times touched upon competitiveness, the jungle primary and Washington voter history again suggests an impending victory for Sen. Murray.

Governor

New York: Rep. Zeldin Takes Lead — The last week has brought new data regarding the New York governor’s race. Several pollsters are suggesting that US Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley/East Long Island) is gaining momentum against Gov. Kathy Hochul (D). The co/efficient firm (Oct. 18-19; 1,056 likely New York general election voters; live interview & text) reports their ballot test showing, for the first time, Rep. Zeldin taking a one-point, 46-45 percent, lead.

The five previously released October polls saw Rep. Zeldin trailing by 8 (Marist College), 6 (Schoen Cooperman Research), 11 (Siena College), 4 (Quinnipiac University), and 6 points (Survey USA). Now, co/efficient takes him to a one-point edge. It appears that the New York governor’s race is heading toward an interesting conclusion.

Nevada Electorate Trending to Laxalt, GOP in General; Budd Edging Beasley in NC; CO-8 Race Tight; Oregon’s Gubernatorial Race Leaning Towards Drazan

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Oct. 24, 2022

Senate

Former Nevada Attorney General and current Senate candidate, Adam Laxalt (R)

Nevada: Trending Laxalt — The latest CBS News/YouGov poll (Oct. 14-19; 1,057 likely Nevada general election voters; online panels) finds former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) regaining a one point lead, 49-48 percent, over Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) in the race now featured as the most likely Democratic seat that potentially flips to the GOP. The CBS/YouGov poll marks the eighth of the most recent nine polls projecting Laxalt to a small lead. Considering there is likely a Republican undercount, chances are good that Laxalt’s edge is slightly larger.

The YouGov pollsters also tested the state’s tight governor’s race. There, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo (R) are tied at 48 percent. Nevada becomes a critical state in determining the Senate majority along with deciding a key governor’s race. The state also features three lean Democratic seats in Las Vegas, all of which are competitive and each has some chance of flipping to the GOP, as well.

North Carolina: Budd’s Breathing Room — The new Trafalgar Group poll is following the East Carolina University survey that projected breathing room for US Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) in his open-seat Senate race against former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (D). The Trafalgar data (Oct. 16-19; 1,081 likely North Carolina general election voters; multiple sampling techniques) gives Budd a 48-44 percent lead over Beasley. A few days earlier, the ECU data projected a 50-44 percent Budd margin.

Until these pollsters detected a swing toward Budd, the two candidates had been tied or separated by one percentage point in the last six consecutive polls from six unique pollsters. Though the race is still rated a toss-up, a break toward Budd could be forming.

House

CO-8: As Tight as Predicted — Colorado’s new 8th Congressional District that stretches from the Denver suburbs north to the city of Greeley was drawn to be a hotly contested CD. A new Global Strategy Group survey for the Yadira Caraveo (D) campaign (Oct. 11-16; 600 likely CO-8 general election voters; live interview) finds Republican state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer (R-Weld County) claiming a two-point, 46-44 percent, edge over Caraveo a Democratic state representative from Adams County.

The race margin hasn’t changed since Global Strategy Group’s released August poll that also found Kirkmeyer holding a two point advantage. Expect this contest to go down to the wire.

Governor

Oregon: Drazan Still Holding Top Spot — The three-way Oregon gubernatorial campaign, featuring strong Independent candidate Betsy Johnson, who served as a Democrat in the state legislature for 20 years, is one of the nation’s most interesting campaigns. More race data is now available as a Hoffman Research Group survey (Oct. 17-18; 684 likely Oregon general election voters; live interview) produces a result that continues to post Republican Christine Drazan, the former state House Minority Leader, to a two-point, 37-35 percent lead over ex-state House Speaker Tina Kotek (D) with Independent Johnson dropping to 17 percent support.

The negative campaign ads have taken their toll on all of the candidates. Drazan fares best of the three contenders with a favorability index of just 35:32 percent favorable to unfavorable. Kotek is upside-down at 31:43 percent, while Johnson posts a 23:32 percent ratio. If successful in the three-way race that features no runoff election, Drazan would become the state’s first Republican governor since Victor Atiyeh left office in January of 1987.