Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Incumbents Winning Big

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, May 23, 2024

Elections

At this point in the 2024 election cycle we have seen a number of budding primary challenges opposite US House members, and through this past Tuesday the incumbents are batting 1.000. It is likely, however, that the most competitive challenges are yet to come.

A total of 17 states have held their down-ballot primary elections. Within this number were 62 partisan challenges to US representatives. The California all-party jungle primary system does not produce traditional intra-party challenges. Therefore, the Golden State races are not included in the partisan statistics quoted in this column.

In only one race, that one in Alabama’s newly constructed 1st District, did an incumbent, Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile), lose. But, in a paired redistricting situation, a sitting member losing was the inevitable conclusion.

We have seen no serious nomination challenges to sitting in-cycle senators. In the House, of the 62 members who have faced an intra-party opponent, 18 have proven to be substantial challenges. This means that the top opponent received at least 30 percent of the vote.

In only two, however, was an incumbent victory even in doubt. On March 19, southern Illinois Congressman Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) defeated former state senator and 2022 Republican gubernatorial nominee Darren Bailey by a slight 51-49 percent count.

On May 7 in the Hoosier State of Indiana, Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville), who originally indicated she would not seek re-election but changed her mind before the candidate filing deadline, only scored 39 percent of the primary vote. The total, however, was enough to turn back eight GOP challengers including state Rep. Chuck Goodrich (R-Noblesville) who captured 33 percent support.

Therefore, at this point in the House cycle with now a bare majority of 218 district electorates having nominated their general election contenders, it appears the stage might be set to see another incumbent-favorable general election.

The primary vote to-date could be the precursor to seeing a similar result to what we saw in 2022, when incumbents fared extremely well even though polling suggested the electorate desired major change. Two years ago, 55 of 56 senators and governors who ran for re-election won, and the incumbent retention percentage in the House was 98.1.

Should the 2024 election result in a similar conclusion, we would again see very small margins in both the House and Senate. Yet, the primary season is only half over, and a number of key members remain embroiled in primary campaigns.

While we’ve only seen two primaries in the first half resulting in close finishes, several upcoming contests could end in close counts or even incumbent upsets. In fact, 13 members in 11 states face challengers who are positioning themselves for serious runs.

Arizona freshman Rep. Eli Crane (R-Oro Valley) sees former Yavapai County Supervisor Jack Smith coming forward. Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt), while changing to the open 4th District, must overcome Logan County Commissioner Jerry Sonnenberg and two state representatives to secure nomination in the new district.

In Florida, both Reps. Dan Webster (R-Clermont) and Vern Buchanan (R-Sarasota) face a former state representative and ex-school superintendent, respectively.

In what are proving to be the top challenges to Democratic members, Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), all members of far left “Squad,” each face serious opponents in the persons of Westchester County Executive George Latimer, St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell, and former Minneapolis City councilman and 2022 congressional candidate Don Samuels.

Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole (R-Moore/Norman) is repelling a multi-million dollar challenge from Texas transplant Paul Bondar. Two South Carolina members, Nancy Mace (R-Charleston) and William Timmons (R-Greenville), are attempting to defeat strong challenges from former Haley Administration official Catherine Templeton, and state Rep. Adam Morgan (R-Greenville).

Like Rep. Mace, who is under attack for voting to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Virginia Rep. Bob Good (R-Lynchburg) also has his hands full attempting to defend himself from state Sen. John McGuire’s (R) aggressive challenge.

Tennessee Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Columbia) and Utah’s Celeste Maloy (R-Cedar City), the latter of whom won her seat in a late 2023 special election, also are in serious battles for renomination.

While we have seen an unblemished nomination record for incumbent House members in the first half of primaries, the second half may threaten their so far perfect record.

Tuesday’s Primary Results

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Primary Results

California Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) / Photo by Kevin Sanders for California Globe

CA-20: Fong Wins Special Election — California Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), fresh from winning court challenges that could have prevented him from running for Congress, clinched the special election to replace former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R). Upon certification, Fong will be immediately sworn into the House and increase the party division to 218R – 213D. In last night’s election, Fong defeated Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux (R) by a 60-40 percent count.

Fong won big in Kern County, 74 percent at this writing, and carried Fresno County with about 55 percent of the vote. Kings County is too close to call, but the small number of votes won’t greatly affect the outcome. Sheriff Boudreaux easily carried his home county of Tulare.

Next, Representative-Elect Fong will again face Sheriff Boudreaux in the 2024 general election this November in a double-Republican general election contest where he will be favored to win a full term.

Georgia: Runoff in District 3; Reps. McBath & Scott Renominated — Both Reps. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta), running in a newly reconfigured 6th District and David Scott (D-Atlanta) were easily renominated last night.

Rep. McBath defeated Cobb County Commissioner Jerica Richardson and state Rep. Mandisha Thomas (D-Red Oak) with a whopping 85 percent of the vote. Rep. Scott defeated six opponents, scoring 58 percent of the vote and winning renomination outright. Both incumbents will face little in the way of re-election challenges in November.

In retiring Rep. Drew Ferguson’s (R-The Rock/Carrollton) open 3rd District, a pair of Republicans will advance to a June 18 runoff election, though former Trump White House aide Brian Jack came close to winning outright. Jack recorded 47 percent of the vote, just short of the 50 percent plus one vote mark that would have clinched the nomination.

Advancing into the runoff with 26 percent is former state Sen. Mike Dugan. Getting as close as he did to the majority threshold gives Jack a major advantage heading into the runoff. The secondary election will be the deciding factor since the eventual Republican nominee will be the prohibitive favorite to win the seat in the general election.

Idaho: Rep. Simpson Clinches Primary Win — Veteran Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) won renomination for a 14th US House term, defeating two Republican opponents with 57 percent of the vote, at this writing.

The state’s other House member, Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-Meridian) was unopposed for renomination. Idaho also has no US Senate race in this election cycle.

Kentucky: Easy Night for All Incumbents — Half of the state’s congressional delegation faced minor primary opponents and half were unopposed.

Reps. Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville), Thomas Massie (R-Garrison), and Hal Rogers (R-Somerset) were all renominated for new terms and will have easy runs in the general election. McGarvey won with 84 percent, Massie recorded 76 percent, and Rogers scored an 82 percent preference figure. All are locks to win the general election.

The same November outlook is on tap for unopposed congressional candidates James Comer (R-Tompkinsville), Brett Guthrie (R-Bowling Green), and Andy Barr (R-Lexington).

Oregon: Bynum Defeats McLeod-Skinner; Salinas-Erickson Re-Match — As expected, state Rep. Maxine Dexter (D-Portland) won the crowded 3rd District Democratic primary, which is tantamount to winning the general election and succeeding retiring 14-term Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland). Dexter, at this writing, was projected the winner with a 53-25 percent margin over former Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal, sister to Washington US Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Seattle), and five others.

With the Democratic leadership virtually united in backing state Rep. Janelle Bynum’s (D-Clackamas) attempt to deny 2022 congressional nominee Jamie McLeod-Skinner renomination because they viewed the former as the stronger opponent to 5th District freshman Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-Happy Valley), their goal was achieved in a landslide proportion. Rep. Bynum defeated McLeod-Skinner by what looks to be a 70-30 percent margin. Two years ago, McLeod-Skinner won the Democratic congressional primary unseating seven-term Rep. Kurt Schrader.

The CD-5 general election encompasses the state capital city of Salem and the outer southwestern Portland suburbs. This will be one of the most hotly contested House races in the nation.
In the adjacent 6th District, we will see a re-match from the 50-48 percent result posted in 2022. Rep. Andrea Salinas (D-Tigard) will defend her seat against businessman Mike Erickson, who scored a 75 percent victory in last night’s Republican primary. Though the race will be competitive, Rep. Salinas is certainly favored to successfully defend her seat.

In other Oregon results, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Washington County) was easily renominated for an eighth term with 91 percent of the Democratic primary vote in early returns. Sophomore Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) also won renomination for a third term defeating Prineville Mayor Jason Beebe (R) with 81 percent vote preference.

Primary Preview:
Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Oregon

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday May 21, 2024

Four states host primary elections today, and though none feature US Senate elections in this cycle several House members face competitive nomination battles.

Georgia

Three House primaries are of note in the Peach State.

Retiring Rep. Drew Ferguson’s (R-The Rock/Carrollton) 3rd District is open, and the eventual GOP nominee will succeed the outgoing congressman. Five candidates are on the ballot, but the race appears to be evolving into a three-way contest among former Trump White House aide Brian Jack, and ex-state Sens. Mike Dugan and Mike Crane.

The western Georgia seat is largely rural with no major population center. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+38. A runoff is likely, meaning a new election for the top two finishers on June 18.

Redistricting changed the congressional map earlier this year, thus drastically altering Rep. Lucy McBath’s (D-Marietta) 7th District. Now labeled District 6, the McBath seat returns to a boundary configuration closer to where she was originally elected in 2018. Coming back to a western Atlanta suburban seat, Rep. McBath now faces Democratic competition in the person of Cobb County Commissioner Jerica Richardson and state Rep. Mandisha Thomas (D-Red Oak). Though Rep. McBath’s challengers are elected officials, neither seems to have made a major effort in this primary. Therefore, expect McBath to win outright tonight.

Another Democratic member facing a primary challenge is veteran Rep. David Scott (D-Atlanta), which is nothing new for him. Throughout his 22-year congressional career, Rep. Scott has routinely faced primary challenges. This year, he has six opponents including Marcus Flowers who raised almost $13 million in a 2022 challenge against Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Rome). This year, his campaign receipts are in the more modest $200,000 range. He is the largest fundraiser against Rep. Scott, which tells us the congressman will again prevail.

Reps. Buddy Carter (R-Savannah), Sanford Bishop (D-Albany), Hank Johnson (D-Lithonia), Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta), Rich McCormick (R-Suwanee), Austin Scott (R-Tifton), Andrew Clyde (R-Athens), Mike Collins (R-Jackson), Rick Allen (R-Augusta), and Greene face no primary opposition. Only minor competition awaits Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville/Kennesaw).

Idaho

Today will feature a quiet primary election in the Gem State. Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-Meridian) is unopposed, and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) faces only a pair of minor challengers.

The most interesting 2024 Idaho election cycle ballot point may be the Ranked Choice Voting proposition that voters will decide in November. Proponents are attempting to qualify an Alaska-style Top Four/Ranked Choice Voting system for the state.

Kentucky

Blue Grass State voters will also see a quiet primary election. No major nomination challenges are occurring though Reps. Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville), Thomas Massie (R-Garrison), and Hal Rogers (R-Somerset) do face minor competition.

Reps. James Comer (R-Tompkinsville), Brett Guthrie (R-Bowling Green), and Andy Barr (R-Lexington) are unopposed for renomination. All six House incumbents look set for the general election, as well.

Oregon

While Idaho and Kentucky are headed for quiet elections tomorrow, we will see more action unfolding in the Beaver State of Oregon.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland) retiring after serving what will be 14 US House terms leaves a crowded Democratic primary in his wake. With the FiveThirtyEight data organization rating OR-3 as D+43, Blumenauer’s successor will be determined in tonight’s Democratic primary.

Seven Democrats are competing, but the race appears to have winnowed to a battle among state Rep. Maxine Dexter (D-Portland), ex-Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal, sister to Washington US Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Seattle), and Gresham City Councilman Eddy Morales. Negative independent expenditures have been run against Jayapal. While a competitive battle, it appears that Dexter has the inside track toward the party nomination tomorrow and winning the general election in November.

Perhaps the most interesting of the evening primaries lies in the Portland/Salem metro area’s 5th District. The national and local Democratic Party leadership want to replace 2022 nominee Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who lost to freshman Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-Happy Valley), with state Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas). Bynum has done better on the fundraising front, but we will see if her advantages can rob McLeod-Skinner of the nomination she earned two years ago when upsetting then-Rep. Kurt Schrader (D).

The final primary of the night comes in Oregon’s 6th District, the extra seat the state earned in the 2020 census. Freshman Rep. Andrea Salinas (D-Tigard) won a closer than expected victory in the ’22 election (50-48%) but should have little trouble winning renomination tomorrow night. Her likely Republican opponent is again businessman Mike Erickson who is expected to triumph in the GOP primary.

Expect the 6th District to feature a moderately competitive general election race. Though Salinas under-performed in the 2022 election, the presidential turnout should help increase her 2024 victory percentage.

Curtis Leads in New Utah Poll; California Dem Party Endorses Low; Michigan Candidate in Danger of Disqualification; Three Incumbents Being Outspent in NY, VA, SC

By Jim Ellis — Monday, May 20, 2024

Senate

Utah Rep. John Curtis (R-Provo)

Utah: Rep. Curtis Leading in New GOP Poll — Four Republican candidates are vying for the right to succeed retiring Sen. Mitt Romney (R) in Utah’s June 25 primary election, but one is pulling away from the field. The Conservative Values for Utah super PAC commissioned a Guidant Polling & Strategy survey for the Utah Senate race (April 30-May 3; 600 likely Utah Republican primary voters) and released the results late last week. The ballot test finds US Rep. John Curtis (R-Provo) developing a large 41-14-9-2 percent GOP primary advantage over Riverton Mayor John Staggs, former state House Speaker Brad Wilson, and businessman Jason Walton, respectively.

Mayor Staggs was officially endorsed at the Utah Republican Party Convention and earned former President Donald Trump’s support. Through submitting 28,000 valid signatures, Rep. Curtis and Wilson and Walton all successfully petitioned onto the primary ballot. The eventual Republican nominee will be a heavy favorite in the open general election.

House

CA-16: State Dem Party Endorses Low — With the recount of the tied jungle primary finish between San Mateo County Supervisor Joe Simitian (D) and state Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), and awarding Low the second qualifying general election ballot position by five votes, the California Democratic Party has taken action. With Simitian not requesting a recount, even though many expected him to ask for a second canvass, the official California party issued an endorsement for Assemblyman Low.

The first-place finisher, former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (D), wrapped up his qualifying position on the March 5 primary election date. Neither Low nor Simitian requested an original recount because under California election procedure, tied candidates both advance into the general election. Instead, allies of Liccardo paid for the recount figuring the tally would move by a handful of votes, which proved true. Later, polling surfaced showing Liccardo doing better in a two-way race against either Low or Simitian, as opposed to a three-way all-Democratic battle. The November winner will replace retiring Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Atherton).

MI-13: Former State Senator in Danger of Being Disqualified — In 2022, then-state Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) lost a close crowded primary to then-state Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit), 28-24 percent, and vowed to try again in 2024. While Hollier announced for the seat and circulated petitions, the preliminary city clerk staff report indicates that his valid signature petitions will fall short of the minimum required number for ballot qualification. After the two-day public comment period expires, the city clerk will make the final decision of whether to award Hollier a ballot line.

Even without Hollier on the ballot, Rep. Thanedar will likely face a Democratic primary challenge from Detroit City Councilwoman Mary Waters and former Southfield City Clerk Shakira Hawkins. The Michigan primary is scheduled for Aug. 6.

House Incumbents: Three Being Outspent — Three US House incumbents are on the short end of spending battles in their respective primaries. Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Nancy Mace (R-SC), and Bob Good (R-VA) all face tough challenges against credible opponents.

Reports are surfacing that, led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s United Democracy Project, Westchester County Executive George Latimer is the beneficiary of a media spending advantage against Rep. Bowman of about $3 million to $171,000 according to the AdImpact media monitoring organization. The congressman had more than $1.4 million in his account through March 31 and can expect further outside money to help him close the voter contact gap in the final six weeks of the primary campaign.

Largely due to a PAC that former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s allies run, AdImpact estimates spending against Rep. Mace is approximately $4.3 million as compared to $2.5 million backing the congresswoman. Mace’s opponent is former Nikki Haley Administration official Catherine Templeton.

While there are no reported figures for the Virginia race to date, it is clear that challenger John McGuire, a Virginia state senator who has former President Trump’s endorsement, is well ahead of Rep. Good in advertising and polling. An early May Battleground Connect poll found Sen. McGuire leading Rep. Good, 45-31 percent. The congressman, like Rep. Mace, voted to oust former Speaker McCarthy.

Trump’s Non-Voters

By Jim Ellis — Friday, May 17, 2024

President

Former President Donald Trump / Photo by Gage Skidmore

Trump: Expanding Voter Universe — We’ve seen considerable recent evidence of a changing American electorate, such as more minority voters being open to supporting Republicans and higher educated individuals almost exclusively heading to the Democratic camp, but a series of Public Opinion Strategies surveys for NBC News is confirming another surprise data point.

In presidential polls throughout the election cycle, it is former President Donald Trump and not President Joe Biden who consistently fares better when a pollster expands the surveyed universe. This means Trump’s numbers have been consistently better in this election cycle when the sample consists of “adults” as opposed only to registered or likely voters. This is highly unusual since it is typically the Democrats who do better when the respondent universe expands.

Public Opinion Strategies pollster George Nassar released an analysis of a series of polls that his organization conducted exploring the responses of the high propensity voter versus those who are either only casual or habitual non-voters. The results are again consistent with other research conducted in the current election cycle, namely that we again see Trump and the Republicans doing better when the universe expands.

According to the Nassar analysis, when looking only at the highest propensity voters from both the 2022 and 2020 elections, President Biden posts a 49-44 percent lead over Trump. This group would also “prefer a Democratic Congress,” by three percentage points, 49-46 percent, and Democrats have a five percentage point advantage in party identification within the group.

When looking at the segment who voted in 2020, but not 2022, i.e., the presidential election only voters, we see a starkly different response, and one that defies American voting history.

Within this lower propensity segment, the respondents favor Trump over Biden by 12 percentage points, 50-38 percent. The unit would prefer a Republican Congress by a 50-41 percent margin, and Republicans would enjoy the five-point identification advantage.

As we have seen in other survey research, the working class voter is becoming much more favorable to the GOP. Within this presidential election only segment, 47 percent would identify themselves as working class, and 32 percent are voters of color. Looking at the higher propensity contrasting segment, 31 percent are working class, and 24 percent voters of color.

Then Nassar isolated the non-voter segment, meaning those who voted in neither the 2020 nor 2022 election. This group shockingly would favor Trump over Biden by a whopping 20 percentage point margin, 54-34 percent; and, by a 49-40 percent spread, they would prefer a Republican Congress, and the GOP identification factor is R+10. Just over one-third (35 percent) are people of color, and 49 percent consider themselves working class.

Again, these are numbers never before seen, and help confirm the analysis that the overall electorate is in a state of flux.

Furthermore, as Nassar highlights in his memo, “the lower propensity voters are much less favorable to Biden and more likely to be younger, downscale, and less white. The higher the turnout, the better for the GOP.” He further states that, “this could have consequences when pollsters start deploying their likely voter models and perhaps overstating Biden’s vote.”

The question remains as to whether the Trump campaign and the Republican political apparatus can find ways to identify individuals who comprise the low propensity/non-voter segment, get a large percentage registered, and motivate them to vote in the 2024 election.

There is no question that a difficult implementation operation lies ahead, but numbers such as uncovered in the POS research could provide a heretofore untapped voting resource that could well provide Republicans the opportunity of converting a close loss into a game-changing tight win.

Why Trone Lost in Maryland; North Dakota House Primary Tightening, Armstrong Up in Two Polls; Virginia Gambling Initiative Opposed

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, May 16, 2024

Senate

Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac)

Maryland: Why Trone Lost — There are specific reasons as to why Maryland Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac) lost to Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) by a large margin even with his huge financial advantage. First, as we had been stating in these posts all along, Trone’s exorbitant spending, estimated to be a self-contributed $62 million, which is an all-time record candidate investment for a Senate primary, was placing him ahead in polling but not to the point where he was substantially pulling away from Alsobrooks.

In contrast, she had strong grassroots support within the African-American communities in PG County and Baltimore, which is very important in a Maryland Democratic primary and could partially compensate for being outspent. She was also smart about how to spend the money she did have, working the ground early and spending her funds late in the campaign, knowing that she could not equal Trone’s largess.

Additionally, Trone likely became over-saturated to the point people were tuning him out because of over-exposure. His last ads, attacking former Gov. Larry Hogan, also reverberated negatively toward Trone. Though Hogan is a Republican, he generally possesses a positive image among most Democrats.

Furthermore, the Trone campaign strategy appeared misapplied. He attempted to secure the left flank of the party while Alsobrooks was firmly entrenched within the faction. Therefore, he left more centrist Democrats in places like Baltimore County and the Annapolis area with no place to go. The fact that the entire Democratic congressional delegation, with the exception of retiring Sen. Ben Cardin who stayed neutral, and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Cockeysville) who supported Trone, along with Gov. Wes Moore, all not backing the congressman also proved damaging to his credibility.

For Trone to win the nomination, he would have needed to carry five of the state’s eight congressional domains, including Districts 1 (Rep. Andy Harris-R), which he did, 2 (Rep. Ruppersberger), which he did not, 3 (retiring Rep. John Sarbanes-D), which he did not, and 8 (Rep. Jamie Raskin-D), which he did not. In the end, he topped Alsobrooks only in the lone Eastern Shore Republican district and his own western Maryland 6th District. Adding the sum of these factors, in addition to making three verbal and strategic gaffes at the end, culminated in what appears to be a 12-point loss even with his approximate 10:1 spending advantage.

House

ND-AL: Tight Primary Unfolding — As part of their statewide polling project, DFM Research (May 6-8; 550 likely North Dakota Republican primary voters; live interview & text) tested the open Republican primary for the state’s at-large US House seat. Three-term incumbent Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-Bismarck) is running for governor, thus leaving a competitive GOP congressional primary in his wake.

The contest, heading for a June 11 primary election, appears too close to call. The DFM results find former state Rep. Rich Becker leading Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak by a 29-26 percent margin with former Miss America Cara Mund trailing at 14 percent. Thus, between Becker and Fedorchak, the race appears as a toss-up. The plurality primary winner will have the inside track toward winning the seat in November.

Governor

North Dakota: Rep. Armstrong Up in Two Polls — DFM Research and Guidant Polling & Strategy returned Republican primary survey data on the impending North Dakota open governor’s race, which is headed for a June 11 nomination election. Both find Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-Bismarck) posting major, and almost identical, leads over Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller.

DFM Research (May 6-8; 550 likely North Dakota Republican primary voters; live interview & text) posts Rep. Armstrong to a 56-18 percent advantage. Guidant (May 4-8; 500 likely North Dakota Republican primary voters; live interview & text) sees virtually the same result favoring Armstrong, 60-19 percent. The eventual Republican nominee will be a heavy favorite in the general election to replace retiring Gov. Doug Burgum (R).

States

Virginia: Statewide Gambling & Candidate Polling Results — An organization attempting to defeat a proposed Virginia gambling ballot proposition, Virginians Against Neighborhood Slot Machines, commissioned a joint statewide poll from two major polling organizations, Fabrizio Ward & Associates, a Republican firm, and the Democratic polling group, Impact Research. The pollsters (released May 10; surveyed April 26-28; 500 registered Virginia voters; live interview & text) found wide opposition to the gambling measure (opponents outnumbering supporters by a 20 point margin), and then tested the key statewide contests.

On the candidate front, surprisingly President Joe Biden held only a one-point ballot test lead over former President Donald Trump, 43-32 percent, while Sen. Tim Kaine (D) outpaced retired US Navy captain and 2022 congressional candidate Hung Cao (R) by 12 percentage points, 48-36 percent. If additional research suggests a tightening at the presidential level, Virginia could move into a more competitive political realm in the coming months.

Primary Results; Key Senate Race Polling

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Primary Results

Angela Alsobrooks

Maryland: Alsobrooks Upsets Trone — The big story coming from last night’s Maryland primary is Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks defeating US Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac) for the open Democratic US Senate nomination despite Trone spending what some believe will total $62 million for his campaign. The spending imbalance did not only not lead to a Trone victory, but his loss was substantial, 54-42 percent.

The over-spending apparently backfired; that, coupled with several Trone gaffes in the final three weeks, led to a shift in momentum. As we had been saying for weeks in this race, turnout with the state’s substantial African American communities would be a key indicating factor if Alsobrooks was to have a chance to win. This, and her strong support from the congressional delegation and Gov. Wes Moore (D) helped her overcome the huge financial imbalance.

The new Democratic nominee will now face former Gov. Larry Hogan in the general election. Hogan won the Republican primary with approximately 62 percent of the vote. This is a strong showing, but not overwhelmingly so. It is indicative of the strong conservative GOP flank not embracing the former governor’s eight-year record in leading the state, and his outspoken position against former President Donald Trump.

Trone, however, was not the only big spender to lose in Maryland last night. Former Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn, who gained notoriety for his role in the Jan. 6 controversy, raised over $5.4 million for his attempt to replace retiring Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Baltimore). It was state Sen. Sarah Elfreth (D-Annapolis), however, who would record the victory.

The open 2nd District, as expected, easily went to Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, who won the Democratic primary going away with 78 percent of the vote. He will be a prohibitive favorite to replace retiring Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Cockeysville) in the general election.

In District 6, also as expected, former US Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney, the wife of former Congressman John Delaney (D), won the plurality primary in Rep. Trone’s open seat. On the Republican side, the primary winner was two-time congressional nominee and ex-state Delegate Neil Parrott. Though both parties can win this district, McClain Delaney will be the heavy favorite based upon Parrott’s poor previous performances.

Nebraska: All Incumbents Easily Win — The state’s two US senators hovered around the 80 percent mark in their individual Republican primaries last night. Sen. Deb Fischer (R), now unopposed in the general election, is the in-cycle senator, while appointed incumbent Pete Ricketts (R) must win the right to serve the final two years of the current term and then be on the ballot again in 2026 when he will compete for a full six-year stint. The strength of Ricketts’ win last night, and his familiarity with the voting public after serving two terms as governor, means he will skate to an easy victory in the general election.

Reps. Mike Flood (R-Norfolk) and Adrian Smith (R-Gering) recorded easy renomination wins in their respective 1st and 3rd Districts with 81 and 74 percent vote totals, respectively. Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion/Omaha), who represents the most competitive seat in the state, clinched renomination with 62 percent vote preference. Bacon will again face his 2022 opponent, state Sen. Tony Vargas (D-Omaha) whom he defeated 53-47 percent two years ago.

West Virginia: Justice, Morrisey & Moore Win the Contested Races — The open Senate and governors’ races were the key battles in the Mountain State last night. As expected, Gov. Jim Justice (R) scored a landslide 62-27 percent victory over US Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) to clinch the Republican Senate nomination. The governor now becomes the prohibitive favorite to defeat the newly crowned Democratic nominee, Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott. Sen. Joe Manchin (D) is retiring, which gives the Republicans their strongest conversion opportunity in the country.

In the open governor’s race to replace the term-limited incumbent, Attorney General Pat Morrisey, as polling correctly predicted, defeated former state Delegate Moore Capito, businessman Chris Miller, and Secretary of State Mac Warner, 34-27-20-16 percent, to capture the Republican nomination. Morrisey will now be a heavy favorite to turn away the new Democratic nominee, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, who was unopposed in his party’s primary.

In Rep. Mooney’s open 2nd District, also as expected, state Treasurer Riley Moore, nephew of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R) and cousin to gubernatorial candidate Moore Capito (R) is the new Republican nominee. Mr. Moore captured 45 percent of the plurality vote in a field of five candidates. He is now considered a lock to win the general election in the state’s northern seat.

Senate

Polling: Numbers Released on Key Senate Races — The New York Times and Siena College again teamed to survey some of the key Senate races. The polls were conducted within the April 28 – May 9 period and interviewed between 614 and 1,023 likely voters in Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The top Republican targets of Maryland, Michigan, Montana, and Ohio were not included in this series.

The results found tight races in all but Wisconsin. The most vulnerable within this group appears to be Nevada where disabled Afghan War veteran Sam Brown (R) has pulled into a 41-41 percent tie with Sen. Jacky Rosen (D). In Arizona, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) leads 2022 gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake (R) by just three points, 46-43 percent.

The Pennsylvania result is similar. Here, NYT/Siena sees a 46-44 percent split in favor of three-term incumbent Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D). Finally, the Democrat from this group in the best position is Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D). She leads businessman Eric Hovde (R) by seven percentage points among the likely voters, 49-42 percent.