Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Florida Polling – What to Expect

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 20, 2021 — Two pollsters released Florida ballot test data yesterday, and the combined results are a likely prelude of what we can expect from the vast multitude of survey research firms that will be testing the Sen. Marco Rubio – Rep. Val Demings general election campaign in the coming year.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R)

Susquehanna Polling & Research (Aug. 4-10; 700 registered Florida voters, live interview) posted their survey result, which found Sen. Rubio topping Rep. Demings by a relatively substantial 50-39 percent clip.

This was immediately countered by a St. Pete Polls survey conducted later in the month (Aug. 16-17; 2,068 registered Florida voters, online) that sees the race already dropping into a virtual dead heat, with Sen. Rubio only holding a two-point edge, 48-46 percent.

Florida polling history suggests we will see this type of divergent pattern among pollsters probably until the next election. In Sen. Rubio’s 2016 re-election race, for example, where he defeated then-Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) with an eight-point victory spread (52-44 percent), most of the pollsters were forecasting a much closer finish.

During the period from Oct. 25 through election day 2016, 11 polls were released covering the Rubio-Murphy race according to the Real Clear Politics polling archives, and while all but one correctly predicted Sen. Rubio would win re-election, only five were within the correct final margin range. The others were forecasting a very close Rubio win of between a virtual tie and four percentage points.

Looking at the Biden-Trump 2020 Florida aggregate research studies tells a similar tale. Again, beginning with polling occurring from Oct. 25 through the election, 19 Florida presidential ballot test polls were published. Only six of the 19 correctly predicted a Trump Florida victory and all of those were close to the final margin of 3.3 percentage points. One of the pollsters who called this race almost exactly was Susquehanna Polling & Research. St. Pete Polls missed, wrongly projecting a close Biden win.

Looking at the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization’s polling firms rating chart, Susquehanna and St. Pete Polls are at parity. Susquehanna rates as the 92nd firm of the top 100, while St. Pete finishes three slots behind them at number 95. Both receive an accuracy letter grade of B+.

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North Carolina – A Different Take

North Carolina’s 12 Congressional Districts

    By Jim Ellis

    Aug. 19, 2021 — Based upon the 2019 census estimates, it appeared that the new North Carolina congressional seat was bound for the Charlotte area, but the actual 2020 census figures released late last week may be suggesting a different location.

    In looking at the current 13 congressional districts, all but Rep. G.K. Butterfield’s (D-Wilson) 1st District must shed population, hence the reason North Carolina was awarded a new seat. While the census estimates found Rep. Alma Adams’ (D-Charlotte) 12th District being the state’s most over-populated CD, the actual census data finds another district moving beyond the resident number that the Adams’ seat must shed (159,818) in order to reach the state’s target population figure of 745,671 individuals.

    The new data find that freshman Rep. Deborah Ross’ (D-Raleigh) 2nd District is the state’s largest, housing 165,703 people over the state’s new per CD quota. Additionally, neighboring Rep. David Price (D-Chapel Hill), whose 4th District also contains part of Raleigh’s Wake County, also must shed a large number (129,692).

    Looking at the neighboring districts in the Charlotte area, the 8th and 9th CDs of Reps. Richard Hudson (R-Concord) and Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte), along with one county from Rep. Virginia Foxx’s (R-Banner Elk) western 5th District, means that the Charlotte area’s population surplus is approximately 250,000, while the Raleigh districts are over-populated by a slightly larger approximate figure of 300,000 people.

    In the east, the Butterfield district is short just 6,238 people and neighboring Rep. Greg Murphy’s (R-Greenville) 3rd District must shed 10,979 individuals, meaning a relatively simple swap between these two seats and a sliver from a third, most likely Rep. David Rouzer’s (R-Wilmington) 7th District, will easily bring these seats into balance.

    The western sector is also relatively well defined. Freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s (R-Hendersonville) 11th District sits in the Tar Heel State’s far western corner. It needs to shed 22,890 people, but can only go one way, east, because this district is bordered on three sides by South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. Therefore, Reps. Cawthorn, Foxx, and Patrick McHenry’s (R-Lake Norman) 10th CD all shedding relatively small population segments to the east should also be a relatively easy population balancing exercise.

    This suggests the new seat could be placed in the region between Raleigh and Charlotte, meaning those existing districts that lie between the two metropolitan areas – those of Hudson, Bishop, and Rep. Ted Budd’s (R-Advance) open 13th District, in addition to the severely over-populated seats of Reps. Adams, Ross, and Price – will likely see the greatest change.

    This brings us to the Republican-controlled state legislature and how they might draw the new congressional map. In North Carolina, the governor has no veto power over redistricting, so Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will not be a factor in how the congressional and NC House and Senate maps are constructed. Republicans gained four seats in the state House in 2020 bringing their majority to 69-51. In the state Senate, Democrats added a net one seat thus lessening the GOP majority to 28-22. Therefore, the Republican leadership is in the driver’s seat.

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Virginia Polling: Still Close

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 18, 2021 — The co/efficient polling organization has conducted two surveys in the Virginia governor’s race within the last month and both continue to find a toss-up race.

Former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe (D)

While the Glenn Youngkin (R) campaign has so far not defined former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in definitive contrasting terms — something that must occur if the Republican is to remain in victory range from a state that is cutting against his party — the numbers still remain close.

In co/efficient’s first August poll, taken for the Virginia Conservatives for Clean Energy organization (July 25-27; 762 likely Virginia voters, interactive voice response system and text), McAuliffe’s lead was 45-40 percent. Six polls, from five different pollsters have been released in this race, and all show both candidates within the 40s. The first co/efficient survey, incidentally, returns the lowest individual support numbers for both candidates.

The second co/efficient survey, released yesterday according to The Hill newspaper (Aug. 8-9; 1,200 likely Virginia voters, interactive voice response system and text), sees a closer ballot test, 47-45 percent in favor of McAuliffe, again returning similar results with their previous study and consistent with all other public polling beginning with WPA Intelligence’s release in early June (McAuliffe 48-46 percent).

Averaging all six public ballot test results, McAuliffe scores a mean of 46.5 percent as compared to Youngkin’s 43.2 percent, which tells us that a group of professional polling teams finds the race as a virtual dead heat with the former governor holding a slight edge. These margins are similar to the 47.7 – 45.2 percent final result that McAuliffe recorded over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in their 2013 governor’s race.

The 2021 race could actually be even closer. Since polling in the past several elections has tended to understate Republican support typically by two or so percentage points, the idea that the current race is nip-and-tuck is even further supported. Additionally, looking at the Democratic primary election, just over 34,000 less people voted in the 2021 Democratic primary than did in 2017. This is opposite of almost all other elections during the same time period that find drastically increased voter turnout percentages.

McAuliffe has already been tying Youngkin to former President Donald Trump, attempting to paint him as an extremist and linking him to a national candidate who fared poorly in Virginia both in 2016 and 2020.

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Census by District

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 17, 2021 — We can now see exactly where each congressional district in the country stands in terms of population. The Census Bureau delivered the state redistricting data last week, and the Daily Kos Elections site data team segmented the numbers into individual congressional districts.

Below is a chart of the 38 states that have more than two districts, isolating the CDs that are the most over and under populated. The “High” column depicts the district that is the most over-populated in the state, while the “Low” is the one requiring the most new residents. The “+/-” column shows how many districts in the particular state are over and under populated.

The most robust district is that of Texas freshman Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Richmond). His southwest Houston seat houses just under one million people, at an exact count of 972,309. The least populated seat is West Virginia’s 3rd District (Rep. Carol Miller-R): 326,267 people under quota. With all of the Mountain State seats seriously down, it is clear as to why West Virginia lost a seat in reapportionment.

There are only two states, Colorado and Oregon, where all of the current districts are over-populated. Both entities gain one seat in reapportionment. On the other end of the spectrum, Michigan and Pennsylvania saw all districts falling below their new population quota, and in Illinois, 17 of their current 18 do as well. All three states are losing a district.

It is not surprising that California lost a seat for the first time in history. A total of 35 of their current 53 seats require more population versus 18 that must shed residents. New York barely lost a seat, by just 89 people statewide, which is surprising when seeing 23 of their current 27 districts requiring additional population.

The states are now converting their new data into their redistricting software systems. After that, most will hold hearings for public input prior to district construction beginning.

STATE DIST INCUMBENT HIGH LOW +/-
Alabama 5 Mo Brooks (R) 43,348 4, 3
7 Terri Swell (D) -53,143
Arizona 5 Andy Biggs (R) 86,414 3, 6
2 Ann Kirkpatrick (D) -50,133
Arkansas 3 Steve Womack (R) 86,266 2, 2
4 Bruce Westerman (R) -66,283
California 45 Katie Porter (D) 53,645 18, 35
-1 40 Lucille Roybal-Allard (D) -70,139
Colorado 4 Ken Buck (R) 148,823 7, 0
+1 3 Lauren Boebert (R) 36,543
Connecticut 4 Jim Himes (D) 25,627 2, 3
2 Joe Courtney (D) -21,288
Florida 9 Darren Soto (D) 186,381 21, 6
+1 13 Charlie Crist (D) -41,756
Georgia 7 Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) 94,304 8, 6
2 Sanford Bishop (D) -92,108
Illinois 7 Danny Davis (D) 10,986 1, 17
-1 17 Cheri Bustos (D) -79,907
Indiana 5 Victoria Spartz (R) 50,921 5, 4
8 Larry Bucshon (R) -38,579
Iowa 3 Cindy Axne (D) 61,382 1, 3
4 Randy Feenstra (R) -31,730
Kansas 3 Sharice Davids (D) 57,816 1, 3
1 Tracey Mann (R) -33,697
Kentucky 6 Andy Barr (R) 33,300 4, 2
5 Hal Rogers (R) -57,592
Louisiana 6 Garret Graves (R) 40,173 3, 3
4 Mike Johnson (R) -47,947
Maryland 4 Anthony Brown (D) 26,772 6, 2
7 Kweisi Mfume (D) -68,401
Massachusetts 7 Ayanna Pressley (D) 18,714 4, 5
1 Richard Neal (D) -50,635
Michigan 11 Haley Stevens (D) -17,368 0, 14
-1 5 Dan Kildee (D) -104,476
Minnesota 3 Dean Phillips (D) 24,586 5, 3
7 Michelle Fischbach (D) -39,978
Mississippi 4 Steven Palazzo (R) 37,196 3, 1
2 Bennie Thompson (D) -65,829
Missouri 3 Blaine Luetkemeyer (R) 35,121 6, 2
1 Cori Bush (D) -54,618
Nebraska 2 Don Bacon (R) 47,170 2, 1
3 Adrian Smith (R) -53,152
Nevada 3 Susie Lee (D) 79,374 2, 2
1 Dina Titus (D) -73,332
New Jerseyy 8 Albio Sires (D) 47,314 5, 7
2 Jeff Van Drew (R) -41,606
New Mexico 2 Yvette Harrell (R) 8,181 2, 1
1 Melanie Stansbury (D) -11,264
New York 12 Carolyn Maloney (D) 34,717 4, 23
-1 23 Tom Reed (R) -83,462
North Carolina 2 Deborah Ross (D) 165,703 12, 1
+1 1 G.K. Butterfield (D) -6,238
Ohio 3 Joyce Beatty (D) 23,119 2, 14
-1 6 Bill Johnson (R) -99,512
Oklahoma 1 Kevin Hern (R) 36,806 3, 2
2 Markwayne Mullin (R) -69,793
Oregon 1 Suzanne Bonamici (D) 157,843 5, 0
+1 4 Peter DeFazio (D) 117,399
Pennsylvania 10 Scott Perry (R) -5,379 0, 18
-1 15 Glenn Thompson (R) -90,540
South Carolina 1 Nancy Mace (R) 87,689 3, 4
6 Jim Clyburn (D) -84,741
Tennessee 4 Scott DesJarlais (R) 62,976 5, 4
9 Steve Cohen (D) -77,122
Texas 22 Troy Nehls (R) 205,322 28, 8
+2 13 Ronny Jackson (R) -59,517
Utah 4 Burgess Owens (R) 65,265 1, 3
3 John Curtis (R) -31,190
Virginia 10 Jennifer Wexton (D) 100,750 6, 5
9 Morgan Griffith (R) -87,917
Washington 7 Pramila Jayapal (D) 28,862 6, 4
6 Derek Kilmer (D) -33,730
West Virginia 2 Alex Mooney (R) -275,777 0, 3
-1 3 Carol Miller (R) -326,627
Wisconsin 2 Mark Pocan (D) 52,678 2, 6
4 Gwen Moore (D) -41,320

Redistricting Is Now Underway

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 13, 2021 — Now four full months past the original deadline, the Census Bureau finally is scheduled to deliver to the states their census tract data, thus enabling the map-drawing process to begin.

While data was received yesterday, it will still be awhile before the public begins seeing even preliminary maps. The data must first be configured to the individual state’s redistricting software. Secondly, most state processes mandate hearings for public comment once the data is released. Each of these factors will happen prior to actual map construction. This notwithstanding, the critical element for each state, having the necessary data, is at long last occurring.

At the end of last year, we published a redistricting outlook that suggested Republicans, even though they control the process in a preponderance of states, could still find themselves down several seats in reapportionment and redistricting simply because of what could happen in the states that are gaining and losing congressional seats. (Go to: Ellis Insight Redistricting Outlook)

Some notable changes have occurred since the original piece was written, and now it appears the tables have turned toward the GOP as the party in best position to benefit nationally from the decennial district reconstruction process.

Below is a recap of the state situations that have changed:


Alabama: The original reapportionment prognostications suggested that Alabama would lose a congressional district. Republicans, because they control all but a Civil Rights-protected seat, were sure to take the loss. Likely due to a population surge in the latter part of the decade, Alabama did not lose a seat, thus the GOP saves a sure net loss.


Colorado: Though Colorado has adopted a redistricting commission for the first time, the swing toward the Democrats suggested that their party would gain the new seat. The Colorado commission is the first to release a congressional map, based upon Census Bureau estimates, and while the new 8th District looked solidly Democratic, the newly configured 7th District, currently Democratic, slightly favors the GOP.

Though this map is just a preliminary draw, should this be the direction in which the commission heads Republicans could actually reap a one seat gain when the 2022 election cycle concludes.


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