Author Archives: Jim Ellis

New Mexico Special Called

By Jim Ellis

March 19, 2021 — The latest House vacancy now has a special election calendar.

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D) announced yesterday that the candidates from the 1st Congressional District, open since former Rep. Deb Haaland (D-Albuquerque) resigned the seat upon her confirmation as US Interior Secretary, will go to a vote on June 1. This will be the only election for the seat since New Mexico election law allows the political parties to choose special election nominees internally.

Each party will vote through their state central committees. These are political party governing boards where party members elect those serving from each of the state’s 33 counties.

Both major party committees will have many candidates from which to choose. At this point, eight Democrats, including four sitting state legislators, and eight Republicans are announced candidates. Libertarian Aubrey Dunn, a former New Mexico Land Commissioner where he served as a Republican, is also running.

Others still have time to join the race, and we may see a few more since there is no primary and campaigning among a finite group of party insiders is not particularly expensive. Therefore, more than an average number of individuals would be inclined to run since they would perceive the political risk as minimal.

The eventual Democratic nominee will be a heavy favorite for the June 1 election. Though the Albuquerque-anchored seat was competitive even at the beginning of the current decade, it no longer appears so. The last Republican to hold the seat was Heather Wilson who vacated to run unsuccessfully for US Senate in 2008. The CD-1 electorate then chose Democrats in the person of Martin Heinrich, now US senator; Michelle Lujan Grisham, now governor; and Haaland, now Interior Secretary; since Wilson left the House.

The district started to turn heavily Democratic with the first Obama presidential campaign in 2008. Obama scored a 60-40 percent victory within the 1st District confines. Four years later, he won 55-40 percent. In 2016, Hillary Clinton carried the seat with a 52-35 percent margin, and Joe Biden did best of all, recording a 60-37 percent spread last November.

In the subsequent House races, Heinrich averaged 54 percent in his two congressional elections; Grisham, 61 percent in her three campaigns; and Haaland 59 percent in her pair of victorious congressional contests.

The 1st District house 95 percent of Bernalillo County, and the state’s top city of Albuquerque. CD-1 also contains all of Torrance County and small portions of Sandoval, Valencia, and Santa Fe Counties. The district is basically a majority Hispanic seat with over 49 percent of the citizen population being recorded as such. The non-Hispanic white percentage is just under 41.

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Georgia: New Poll, Same Story

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Raphael Warnock will face an interesting challenge depending upon who emerges from the Republican primary.

March 18, 2021 — The Trafalgar Group and the Insider Advantage entity, both Atlanta-based firms, partnered to test the politically beleaguered Georgia electorate about freshman Sen. Raphael Warnock’s (D) standing as he looks to run for a full six-year term in 2022.

Being one of the top battleground states in the 2020 presidential contest and hosting two US Senate campaigns last year, 56 public polls were conducted of this electorate from July of last year through the Jan. 5 runoff election. Almost all of them repeatedly showed results within the margin of error on the presidential and both US Senate races; and, with the final total showing President Biden and former President Trump separated by just 11,779 votes while the Senate races came down to one and two-point finishes, the polling proved correct.

Now we see Trafalgar and IA beginning the 2022 Georgia election cycle polling. The new survey (March 7-9; 1,093 likely Georgia voters, interactive response system and online) again finds very tight hypothetical Senate race results. Because Sen. Warnock won the special election in January, he must stand for election to a full six-year term in 2022.

Trafalgar and IA tested three Republicans against Sen. Warnock: former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, ex-US Rep. Doug Collins, and the past University of Georgia and NFL football star Herschel Walker. None of the three have announced their candidacies but all confirm they are considering the race.

According to the results, Sen. Warnock fares best against the woman he defeated in January, ex-Sen. Loeffler. In this ballot test, he leads 46-41 percent. Both Collins and Walker perform better, especially the latter. The Warnock edge narrows to one point against Collins, 46-45 percent, and the new incumbent actually drops behind Walker, 46-48 percent. Notice that Sen. Warnock records 46 percent against all three potential opponents suggesting that he is vulnerable heading into what promises to be another hard-fought Peach State US Senate battle.

While the pollsters tested the job approval ratings for both President Biden and Gov. Brian Kemp (R), they surprisingly did not include such a question regarding Sen. Warnock.

The approval ratios were poor for both the president and governor. Biden scored a 41:55 percent favorable to unfavorable job approval rating, with 32 percent strongly approving and a large 46 percent strongly disapproving.

Gov. Kemp continues to show weakness as he heads into what will be a difficult run against his former opponent, ex-state House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams. The governor is again in upside-down territory, recording a 33:53 percent negative approval rating. Only nine percent responded that they strongly approve of the governor’s performance while 26 percent strongly disapproved.

At this point, the pollsters asked Republican primary questions to those most likely to vote in the 2022 GOP nomination election.

If Loeffler, Collins and Walker were all to oppose each other in the Senate primary, we see the latter two men virtually tied at 32 percent apiece. Loeffler trails with 24 percent support.

A Collins-Loeffler match would favor the former, as the ex-north Georgia congressman would record a strong 52-32 percent lead. Walker would lead Collins 50-36 percent in a one-on-one match-up, and the former football player would hold a commanding 62-26 percent advantage over Loeffler.

The Georgia Republican respondent cell is strongly pro-Donald Trump with 70 percent saying they would “absolutely” vote for the former president if he were to run again. Only 14 percent of this sample cell said they would vote for anyone other than Trump. Another eight percent said they would consider voting for the ex-president.

We can expect another very active Georgia election cycle, with the Senate and governor’s race assuredly being covered as if they are national campaigns.

California Recall Getting Interesting

By Jim Ellis

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D)

March 17, 2021 — Just days before reaching the recall petition deadline, Emerson College for the Nextar Media Group, an entity that owns several news stations throughout California, conducted a poll regarding the respondents’ predispositions about removing Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) from office.

The poll, conducted March 12-14 of 1,045 registered Golden State voters, finds Gov. Newsom’s position becoming more tenuous as the recall organizers prepare to deliver the last of their petitions today that will likely lead to a removal election.

It appears the proponents have a strong chance of qualifying. Last week, they reported gathering 2.055 million signatures. The minimum number of valid signatures to force an election is 1,495,709, which represents 12 percent of the total number of people voting in the preceding gubernatorial election, 2018 in this case. The organizers say they can withstand a 25 percent rejection rate and still qualify the recall. Of the signatures so far delivered and checked, the acceptance rate is 82 percent, far above the minimum needed to qualify.

According to the Emerson poll, the gap between those who would vote to retain Gov. Newsom and remove him has narrowed. Emerson found 42 percent of the respondents expressing a preference against recalling Gov. Newsom, while 38 percent favor doing so.

One year ago (March 17-18, 2020), 52 percent in a Remington Research Group poll said they would oppose recalling the governor with just 31 percent saying they would vote for removal from office. The University of California at Berkeley in late January of this year, found a 49-36 percent split in favor of retaining the governor. In February, however, a WPA Intelligence survey saw the retain lead dwindling to 47-43 percent. Now, Emerson College posts its 42-38 percent number.

Perhaps the more daunting part of the Emerson poll for Gov. Newsom was the 2022 re-elect question. Here, only 42 percent said they wanted to see him re-elected as opposed to 58 percent indicating they prefer someone different.

On the positive note for the governor, his overall job approval rating is still in positive territory, but just barely (45:44 percent); yet even better, a substantial margin of the sampling universe, 57-43 percent, believe California is on the right track.

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Rating Gubernatorial Races, 2021-22

Dr. Larry Sabato’s 2022 Gubernatorial Projection


By Jim Ellis

March 16, 2021 — The University of Virginia’s political prognosticator, Dr. Larry Sabato, released his 2021-22 governors’ race ratings late last week, which appear to be the first in the public domain for the early election cycle.

Currently, Republicans hold a 27-23 advantage in governorships. A total of 38 races are on tap in the 2022 election cycle, two of which will be decided this year (New Jersey; Virginia).

Surprisingly, Dr. Sabato rates the Democrats as completely safe in only one state, Hawaii, while nine Republicans are placed in the commensurate category.

We believe the Democrats are in better position in many of the states, but with a gubernatorial recall election likely to occur in California and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s problems in New York, these two normally secure seats now yield a more uncertain political climate.

Below are the Sabato ratings:


Safe Democratic:

• Hawaii – open – Gov. David Ige (D) term-limited

Expect a crowded and contested Democratic primary in Hawaii with the winner easily claiming the 2022 general election.


Safe Republican:

• Alabama – Gov. Kay Ivey (R) – has not yet committed to a re-election effort
• Arkansas – open – Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) term-limited
• Idaho – Gov. Brad Little (R) is expected to seek re-election
• Nebraska – open – Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) term-limited
• Oklahoma – Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) is seeking re-election
• South Carolina – Gov. Henry McMaster (R) is seeking re-election
• South Dakota – Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is seeking re-election
• Tennessee – Gov. Bill Lee (R) is seeking re-election
• Wyoming – Gov. Mark Gordon (R) is seeking re-election

We are in agreement with all of these ratings.

Republicans are expected to have a competitive open nomination contest in Nebraska.

It appears that former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the early GOP leader in Arkansas.


Likely Democratic

• California – Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) facing recall election before regular vote
• Colorado – Gov. Jared Polis (D) is seeking re-election
• Connecticut – Gov. Ned Lamont (D) is seeking re-election
• Illinois – Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) is seeking re-election
• Minnesota – Gov. Tim Walz (D) is seeking re-election
• New Jersey – Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is favored for re-election in the 2021 campaign
• New Mexico – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) is seeking re-election
• New York – Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) may be impeached or forced to resign
• Rhode Island – Gov. Dan McKee (D) is seeking election to his first term

At this point, we would move Colorado (Gov. Polis), Connecticut (Gov. Lamont), and Illinois (Gov. Pritzker) into the Safe Democratic category, at least based upon the present campaign status.

California will almost assuredly elect a Democratic governor, but whether that individual is again Gov. Newsom remains a bit of a question mark. The recall effort is likely to qualify later this month which allows the removal election to be scheduled.

New York, once the Cuomo situation is determined, is likely to return to the Safe Democratic column before the 2022 election.

In Rhode Island, new Gov. McKee assumed office after elected Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) resigned to accept her appointment as US Secretary of Commerce. Election year 2022 will feature a competitive Democratic gubernatorial primary, but the party will remain in control regardless of who eventually wins the primary election.
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Louisiana Special Election Poll Suggests at Least One District Runoff

Louisiana congressional districts


By Jim Ellis

March 15, 2021 — Two of the upcoming special elections to fill vacancies in the US House will occur next weekend, and a new Louisiana poll suggests one of them will likely advance two candidates into a secondary April 24 runoff election.

The Edgewater Research/My People Vote survey tested 651 likely voters in Louisiana’s vacant 2nd Congressional District over the March 2-7 period in preparation for the March 20 jungle primary election. A likely voter for purposes of this study were people who have voted at least seven times in the last 10 statewide elections.

The pollsters, however, only named three of the 15 candidates on the ballot in testing the electorate. The query asked if the respondent is supporting “Troy Carter, Karen Carter Peterson, Gary Chambers, or someone else.”

The names refer to state Sens. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) and Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans), and Baton Rouge community activist Gary Chambers. No Republican was named in the survey even though author Claston Bernard and Greg Lirette have raised more money than Chambers, for example. The latter man, however, is well known as an activist who attracts a great deal of attention in the Baton Rouge media market.

The ballot test found the electorate breaking 35-24-11 percent in favor of Sen. Carter, with Peterson and Chambers following, respectively. The response for “someone else” was 16 percent. Sen. Carter, however, leads Sen. Peterson only 39-35 percent among Democratic voters, the dominant party in this district that captures most of the city of New Orleans and meanders northwest to include heavily African American Baton Rouge precincts.

The 2nd District basically divides into just two races: black and white. Of the citizen voting age population, blacks account for 61.5 percent and whites 31.7 percent. All other race categories comprise the remaining 6.8 percent of the demographic composition.

Within the black vote, Sen. Carter leads Sen. Peterson, 40-26 percent with Chambers getting 11 percent and someone else 8 percent. Within the white vote, the contest is much closer. In this case, the someone else category places first at 28 percent with Sen. Carter then topping Sen. Peterson in a much tighter 23-20 percent spread. Chambers had 10 percent support in the white category.

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Will Miller-Meeks’ 6-Vote Win Stand?

By Jim Ellis

IA-2 Republican congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks

March 12, 2021 — Yesterday, the House Administration Committee met virtually to consider Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) motion to dismiss the Federal Contested Elections Act challenge from Democrat Rita Hart in relation to the state certified results of the 2020 congressional election in Iowa’s 2nd District. The committee voted 6-3 on partisan lines to postpone the dismissal action.

To review, Rep. Miller-Meeks’ victory margin is only six votes of 394,800 ballots cast. Hart is challenging the results before the House Administration Committee claiming that 22 ballots, enough to overturn the final result, were legal but not counted.

Yesterday’s hearing was procedural in that committee chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) moved to postpone hearing the dismissal motion in order for the members to fully consider Hart’s argument of contestant. Rep. Lofgren indicated that both the Iowa Republican and Democratic Parties, along with Iowa election officials, will be sent identical questionnaires to fully investigate the matter. This means we can expect a much longer process to fully examine the contested ballots, allow testimony, and review the Iowa recount process.

Committee Minority Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL) countered, indicating that the Iowa officials have twice counted the votes and, as committee member Bryan Steil (R-WI) reported, recount boards in all 24 counties that form the 2nd District – three member panels comprised of a Miller-Meeks’ appointed member, a Hart appointed member, and a county appointed member – all agreed on the final totals in each local entity.

Davis further explained to the committee members and listening audience that Hart, a former Iowa state senator and 2018 nominee for lieutenant governor, had eschewed the available legal process, which is to petition the Iowa court system. Davis said he concludes Hart made the decision to come directly to the House because she knew the courts would reject her legal arguments.

The Iowa recount process changed the original totals. The first reported outcome revealed a 44-vote Miller-Meeks margin. It then dropped to 30 votes during the recount and Scott County (Davenport), the district’s largest entity, reduced the number even further culminating in the current six-vote final result that the Iowa secretary of state certified as official, with which the bipartisan Iowa Election Canvass Board unanimously concurred. On Jan. 3rd, the House voted to provisionally seat Miller-Meeks until the Hart challenge is resolved.

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New Mason-Dixon Poll Shows
Rubio’s Re-Election Potential

By Jim Ellis

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R)

March 11, 2021 — Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy completed a new Florida political poll testing Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R) standing as he begins to construct a re-election campaign for a third term.

Though M-D did not test Sen. Rubio against another potential opponent, either Democratic or Republican, they did ask whether the respondents would vote to re-elect him.

The poll, conducted during the Feb. 24-28 period, asked a sampling universe of 625 Florida registered voters a series of questions about Sen. Rubio and President Joe Biden. The results identified areas of political strength and potential weakness for the Republican senator and contrasted them with those for the new president.

According to the data, Sen. Rubio posts a 47:42 percent positive job approval rating statewide. This compares to President Biden already landing in slight upside-down territory, 47:49 percent.

Asking whether the respondents would vote to re-elect Sen. Rubio, by a margin of 46-40 percent, the sampling group participants said they would. Region, gender, age, ethnicity, and party registration segmented the respondent universe.

Comparing Sen. Rubio and President Biden’s numbers, the results were almost exactly opposite. From geographic regions, Sen. Rubio recorded positive numbers in north and central Florida, the Tampa Bay area, and southwest Florida. He was upside-down in the southeastern part of the state. For President Biden, his disapproval scores outpaced his approval ratings in all but southeast Florida.

In terms of gender, President Biden does better with women than men (49:46 percent, female; 45:53 percent, male), while Sen. Rubio is much more positive with men (51:39 percent, male; 44:45 percent, female). President Biden does well with those 50 years of age and younger (51:44 percent positive), while he falls into negative territory with those aged 50 and older (44:53 percent). Again, Sen. Rubio scores the exact opposite (39:48 percent, <50; 54:37 percent, >50).

In the race segment, it is not surprising that President Biden’s strongest group was blacks, where he scored an 86:9 percent favorability rating. Among whites, the president was upside-down, recording a 38:59 percent negative ratio. Again, unsurprisingly, Senator Rubio performed in the opposite manner. He posted a 51:39 percent approval ratio with whites and a negative 15:69 percent ratio with blacks.

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