Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Is the McCrory Lead a Mirage
In North Carolina Senate Race?

By Jim Ellis

Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory

Oct. 28, 2021 — Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign did something rather strange this week.

They released their internal Pubic Opinion Strategies poll, which in and of itself is not unusual, and extolled how well McCrory was running, but they did not publish the ballot test numbers in the polling synopsis. Why? Because the figures aren’t as good as meets the eye.

Once found, the ballot test shows McCrory leading Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance), 40-25 percent, a 15-point edge, which was truthfully cast as a double-digit lead. The underlying story, however, is that the ballot test actually represents a net gain of 20 percentage points for Budd.

In April, POS released their first public poll of the GOP primary and it showed McCrory leading Rep. Budd, 48-13 percent. Comparing the latest 40-25 percent result shows some sustained momentum for Rep. Budd in that McCrory’s support has dropped eight points while his own climbed a dozen.

A third candidate, former Rep. Mark Walker, only registered eight percent in this poll, but it is possible that he will not even file for the Senate at the Dec. 17 deadline. If the legislature moves forward with a version of the redistricting plan that puts the Greensboro area seat back in play for Republicans – a court decision robbed Walker of the House seat he held for three terms with their ruling changing the state’s congressional map before the 2020 election – it is quite possible that Walker would have the option of returning to a winnable House contest.

If Walker were to abandon the Senate race, it would be another plus for Rep. Budd. It is likely that more Walker voters will gravitate toward Budd than McCrory since they clearly are familiar with the former governor but chose not to back him in the three-way contest.

Pat McCrory was elected governor in 2012, but lost to then-Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) on the same night that Donald Trump claimed North Carolina against Hillary Clinton. In fact, Republicans won eight of 12 statewide elections that evening, with McCrory being the only GOP incumbent to fall.

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Illinois Democrats
Alter Congressional Map

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 27, 2021 — A legal setback in court at the end of last week over the Illinois state legislative maps has apparently been part of the reason the Democratic leadership issued a new congressional map this Monday. The changes are very significant leading to three sets of incumbent pairings.

The overall partisan goal of creating a 14D-3R map from the current 13D-5R map looks on paper to be achieved, at least using the 2020 presidential race as a benchmark. The statisticians at Dave’s Redistricting App released their quick calculations to support the partisan division, but in previous data sets we saw the underlying races trending more Republican in some districts than the presidential race alone would have suggested.

Under this supposition, thinking the underlying races may show greater Republican strength when they are fully calculated, the new Illinois map may be a bit more competitive than meets the eye.

The big change is the creation of a second Hispanic plurality open seat in Chicago. The Mexican American Legal Defense Foundation was preparing to file suit on the first plan charging that, among other points and for the second time in two decades, the legislature bypassed the opportunity of drawing a second Hispanic seat in the city even though the numbers were clearly supporting such an addition. The various pressure points caused the leadership to draw a new map containing the second Hispanic district.

This draw causes a Democratic incumbent pairing in Chicago. Freshman Rep. Marie Newman (D-La Grange), who defeated former Rep. Dan Lipinski in the 2020 Democratic primary, would be placed in the same district as second-term Rep. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove). Originally, Rep. Newman was paired with GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon) in a general election battle that would have favored her.

This new 6th District is one of the seats that could play a bit more competitive than the 55-43 percent Biden-Trump result last November yields. Certainly, the pairing winner, and Rep. Casten is at least considered the early favorite, would have a big advantage in the general election. A strong Republican candidate and a wave GOP election could make even the general election in this district interesting.

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NJ Governor’s Race In Upset Range

Click on above image from TV ad to go to New Jersey gubernatorial Republican candidate Jack Ciattarelli’s ad about state taxes and opponent incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy (D).

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 26, 2021 — The most recent Emerson College poll for the New Jersey governor’s race (Oct. 15-18; 600 likely New Jersey voters; combination live interview, text, and interactive voice response system) suggests that Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli, a former state assemblyman and ex-county official, has an outside chance of scoring an upset victory over Gov. Phil Murphy (D) in next week’s statewide election.

While the odds still favor a Murphy win, the new survey certainly shows areas of weakness for the Democratic incumbent and a path to victory for the Republican challenger. According to Emerson, Gov. Murphy leads 50-44 percent, and when leaners are added to the mix, the margin tightens to an even closer 52-48 percent.

Among those who classify themselves as “very likely” voters, the Murphy lead shrinks well within the polling margin of error at 48-45 percent. The biggest Ciattarelli positive sectors are among undecided voters, who are breaking his way on a 59-41 percent clip, the Independent segment, 56-32 percent, men, 50-41 percent, and those in the 50-64 age range, 49-46 percent.

Gov. Murphy obviously can highlight positive sectors of his own. The most favorable sign pointing to a Murphy victory next Tuesday is among the people who say they have already voted. Of those, 76 percent indicated they supported Gov. Murphy as opposed to just 24 percent who cast their ballot for Ciattarelli.

The Emerson poll finds the governor leading among women, 57-40 percent, those aged 18-29, at 58-42 percent, the 30-49 aged sector, 47-41 percent, and the oldest and most reliable voting segment, the people aged 65 and older, 53-42 percent.

Neither candidate has a particular advantage on the favorability index. Gov. Murphy records a 49:47 percent favorable to unfavorable rating, while Ciattarelli posts an even 40:40 percent ratio.

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New Hampshire Senate:
Toss-up Results

By Jim Ellis

New Hampshire first-term incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D)

Oct. 25, 2021 — Only needing to gain a net one seat to claim the Senate majority, Republicans face a frustrating in-cycle map that yields few 2022 Democratic targets. One of those scarce opportunities, however, lies in the Granite State of New Hampshire.

Arguably, the New Hampshire race is the party’s best conversion opportunity and becomes a Republican prerequisite toward building a winning coalition of states. The latest University of New Hampshire poll, released late last week, suggests the GOP is well positioned to compete in the “Live Free or Die” region of New England.

The regular UNH Granite State poll (Oct. 14-18; 1,061 New Hampshire panel members, 979 likely New Hampshire voters, online) tested first-term incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) against several potential Republican opponents … and she falls into an early toss-up result against all.

First, a word about the UNH polling operation. Several years ago it was among the most inaccurate of pollsters, largely because they utilized long sampling periods sometimes lasting three weeks, and small respondent universes. They have improved since that time, though their online format chosen for this poll is typically not optimal.

The FiveThirtyEight statistical organization, in their latest pollster rankings, rates the UNH operation as their 112th best pollster, with a B- rating. They assign a 2.4 percent Democratic bias factor to the organization’s polling results over 122 tested surveys.

That being said, yesterday’s survey release finds Gov. Chris Sununu (R) again leading Sen. Hassan in a hypothetical ballot test pairing. There is no doubt Republican leaders are trying to persuade Gov. Sununu to run, but so far he has not committed to the race. He has the opportunity of running for a fourth gubernatorial term – New Hampshire has two-year terms for their governors – or pursing opportunities in the private sector.

This poll finds the Sununu advantage at three percentage points, 45-42 percent, which is of course in toss-up range, but seeing an incumbent well below 50 percent does not bode well for Sen. Hassan.

UNH also tested the senator against the woman she defeated by a tenth of a percentage point in 2016, or just over 1,000 votes statewide, former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R). The new poll virtually replays that result, posting Sen. Hassan to a bare 44-43 percent edge.

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Q3 FEC Senate Cash Updates

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 22, 2021 — The 3rd Quarter campaign finance summaries and reports are now publicly available at the Federal Election Commission website, and we have the recap for the key competitive Senate races in this Update. As typical for political campaigns since the latter part of the previous decade, the dollar figures are again astronomical.

The amounts are in hundreds of thousands, and COH refers to the candidates’ total cash-on-hand figures since the 2022 election cycle began. The Daily Kos Election website statisticians calculated the 3rd Quarter dollar amounts.

Alaska

CANDIDATE 3rd QTR RAISED (,000) TOTAL COH (,000)
Murkowski $1,062 $3,244
Tshibaka $460 $294

Sen. Lisa Murkowski and former State Administration Director Kelly Tshibaka are the only two candidates who filed disclosure reports. Despite an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, the Tshibaka financial figures are less than expected. With Alaska’s new top four primary system, the early money is rather irrelevant since four candidates, including Sen. Murkowski and Ms. Tshibaka, will advance into the general election.


Arizona

CANDIDATE 3rd QTR RAISED (,000) TOTAL COH (,000)
Kelly $7,217 $13,001
Masters $1,008 $864
Brnovich $559 $515
Lamon $133 $3,606

Sen. Mark Kelly continues to be one of the most prolific fundraisers of all Senate candidates. His huge $13.1 million cash-on-hand figure is topped only by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s $31.8 million, and Sens. Raphael Warnock’s (D-GA) $17.2 million and John Thune’s (R-SD) $14.8 million. Candidate Blake Masters is rumored to be benefiting from an outside $10 million Super PAC that billionaire Peter Thiel funds. Candidate Jim Lamon self-funded most of his $3 million-plus cash-on-hand total.


Florida

CANDIDATE 3rd QTR RAISED (,000) TOTAL COH (,000)
Demings $8,351 $5,967
Rubio $5,928 $9,612

Sen. Marco Rubio had a very strong fundraising quarter, but so did his opponent, Rep. Val Demings. Both have large war chests, but each has already spent millions to achieve these totals. Both candidates will advance into a competitive and expensive general election campaign in the Sunshine State.


Georgia

CANDIDATE 3rd QTR RAISED (,000) TOTAL COH (,000)
Warnock $9,432 $17,217
Walker $3,764 $2,477
Black $564 $928

Sen. Raphael Warnock raised more money in the quarter than any Senate candidate and already has a huge war chest. Herschel Walker’s first fundraising quarter as a candidate, and a partial one at that, has to be considered highly successful, but his resources pale in comparison to the incumbent’s dollar raising machine.


Iowa

CANDIDATE 3rd QTR RAISED (,000) TOTAL COH (,000)
Finkenauer $1,019 $598
Grassley $814 $3,064

Sen. Chuck Grassley announced his intention to seek re-election just a week before the third-period fundraising cycle ended. While he didn’t raise as much as his present chief opponent during the third quarter, former US Rep. Abby Finkenauer, his resource total is substantially better than hers and sets him in strong position to launch a massive fundraising effort.


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